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Beneath a window overlooking Golden Gate Park, freestanding metal shelves extend counter space in a small kitchen.
Frances Schultz: We hear a lot about ‘spare and pared down’ in decorating today, and these rooms are anything but. Charming anachronism or timeless tradition?
Scot Meacham Wood: I hope I can be charming, anachronistic, and timeless all at once! I certainly feel the apartment recalls the romantic, ‘collected’ style of the Edwardian era. And no one is going to mistake my home for a clean-lined, modern space. I have friends with homes like that and I love them, but they truly are not for me. Even after working all day surrounded by textiles and case goods, the swirling lushness of my place comforts and calms me.
Schultz: How did you get from Louisville, Mississippi, to San Francisco?
Wood: An odd confluence of events. After college, I moved to Colorado to be a ski-lift attendant. Because my father was in the military when I was growing up, I was always on time, and I was shocked at the number of things for which I got hired. Within months, I was running two stores, playing the organ at church and the piano at cocktail bars, and waiting tables.
Schultz: Renaissance Man meets Energizer Bunny. Good heavens, child.
Wood: But I began to get tired. That’s when I decided I wanted to work for Ralph Lauren. I was hired first in Vail and then in San Francisco. I was 23 years old, and it was kind of a whim — let’s go to California! I worked with Polo for almost 14 years, until 2001.
Schultz: How did you make the move from clothes to interiors?
Wood: I was on the sales floor and then moved into the creative services department. We did all the windows and interior styling — everything but sell clothes. We’d create an English manor house one season and a French beach resort the next. It was an amazing design education — dealing with all the details that make a room sing, layering accessories and madcap pattern-mixing.
Schultz: Is that a coat of arms on the door?
Wood: It’s original to the building, as are the picture rail moldings and the painting on the living room beams. All from 1929. That it survived the ’70s is staggering to me.
Schultz: Was the black-and-white hall floor original?
Wood: No, I painted that myself. I love black-and-white floors because they pull your eye into the space.
Schultz: The hallway is a visual feast in itself.
Wood: It’s almost six feet wide and lends itself to a nice little library, dark and moody. And I love that big gallery wall opposite the bookcase.
Schultz: What prompted you to paint the ceiling red?
Wood: I love the chinoiserie chest, and over the course of a long weekend — seven layers of different red paints later — I matched the color of the chest. With all the books and artwork, there needed to be a marquee design note, and that red fit the bill.
Schultz: You’re confident with color. That blue on the living room walls is ‘wow.’
Wood: Isn’t it marvelous? It’s an old color from Benjamin Moore called Gentleman’s Gray, though I can’t figure out why they named it that. It’s almost a navy version of turquoise. I love a dark room. The blue made it feel a little more modern than the olive green it was before. I painted it while I was watching the Oscars.
Schultz: Your bedroom is the epitome of cozy, and yet it is masculine and strong.
It is less heavily layered than other parts of the home. The bed is inspired by old English half-testers that give a great sense of privacy. We sized the depth of the wing to be the same as the pillows, so I’m nice and tucked in there. The tweed wallpaper on the ceiling evokes a men’s suit, and the small check balances the larger-scaled tartans in the room.
Schultz: Speaking of tartan, is that a Ralph Lauren influence, too?
Wood: My heritage is Scottish, so some of it is genetic. I have a fascination with tartan and with Scottish history. I’m actually working on a new fabric line of imported custom tartans.
Schultz: And when might we look forward to seeing them?
Wood: Fingers crossed, in fall of 2014.
Schultz: That is one tiny kitchen.
Wood: It is the smallest kitchen on earth. I can stand in the middle and touch all four sides. A couple of years ago I brought in extra metal shelving, which gives me more workable counter and storage space.
Schultz: Why did you paint the cabinets black?
Wood: That was another time I drank too much coffee. With so much going on in the space, black seemed more neutral, and I like the drama of it. It had been brown before, and the black brought it more into the present — and it’s not as predictable.
Schultz: Do you entertain here?
Wood: I do. Those two little cocktail tables in the living room pop into a closet and a dining table sits there. I gather odd chairs and can seat eight on not much notice. That’s the convertible part of the apartment.
Schultz: As a designer, are you always ‘converting’ something here?
My home is such a laboratory. I rotate things in and out of storage, and in a couple of years it will all be pulled apart and reimagined. It’s how I keep things fresh.
This article originally appeared in House Beautiful. Interview by Frances Schultz. Photography by Thayer Allyson Gowdy. Produced by Doretta Sperduto.