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Moving on to Modern
Anh-Minh Le | Photo: Matthew Millman | September 5, 2018
A big house to fill and a short timeline in which to do it? Interior designer Jay Jeffers is up for the challenge.
There’s no question about it: Eight thousand square feet is a lot of house to fill. When the structure is replete with glass, steel and sharp angles, imbuing such a large venue with warmth can present an additional challenge. Then factor in that the clients want to move in as soon as possible—say, in 10 months—and it may seem like a mission impossible. Thankfully, for a couple in Portola Valley though, Jay Jeffers was just the interior designer to pull off this project.
In purchasing the property, the clients were transitioning from a craftsman-style dwelling to an all-out modernist’s dream. Since not many of their existing furnishings would make the move with them and their young son to the brand-new build—a collaboration between Noel Cross+Architects and Eric B. Evans Construction—Jeffers and his team were given a blank slate, with about 1,600 square feet of terraces, as well as the interiors. “It was a beautiful house to start with,” says Jeffers, who, with the exception of a living room wall that now boasts a plaster treatment by decorative painter Willem Racké, left the finishes intact. “We already had great bones.”
'While a project of this magnitude would typically require at least a year to decorate—allowing for tasks like devising robust presentations with renderings and production time for custom designs—Jeffers managed to accelerate things. He brought in items from his own namesake shop in San Francisco. In conversations with manufacturers, he asked about goods that were in stock or could ship quickly. He mixed in vintage finds that simply needed new upholstery. In the end, including furniture, accessories and even artwork—which Jeffers enjoys assisting clients in selecting—he estimates that the installation was completed in under 10 months.
The fast-tracked timeline was no doubt aided by the clients’ open-mindedness. Their only significant request was that the end result offer an ease of living and comfort that works well for family gatherings, school-related functions and such. Immediately, in the entry corridor, Jeffers set the tone by introducing drapery panels to soften the lines created by the steel beams and expanses of glass. Between two vertical beams, he placed a console of his own design, fabricated by Thomas Sellars, to delineate the entry from the living room. A Poliform sofa backs up to the console and faces out toward the spectacular view. Nearby, a Monterey pine coffee table by Stefan Bishop takes pride of place. “It has this great handcarved look and feel to it,” says Jeffers of the stunner, part of Bishop’s Ring series that suggests cross-sections of a tree. “It’s also obviously very curvy—the opposite of the hard glass and steel and corners.” The designer also instituted another tactic for cozying up a space: a custom rug that covers the entire floor, so that all of the furniture sits atop the rug, rather than some on and some off.
On the far end of the room, a Holly Hunt table is flanked by Tom Faulkner’s Havana chairs covered in a blue Kvadrat wool, which are available through Jay Jeffers — The Store, as is the Grand Dynamic Stilk chandelier, handcrafted by Daikon and composed of five illuminated steel and brass arms that swivel. When the glass doors separating the patio from the living and dining areas are open, they become “one giant room,” as Jeffers puts it. The azure hues found indoors continue outside, where a sofa and sun loungers by RODA, along with Holly Hunt side chairs, beckon (not to mention a pool).
Throughout the residence, Jeffers was judicious in his deployment of color and pattern. “Where can we take more risks?” he often posits during the design process. In this case, a primary candidate was the family room, where a Montauk sectional in a solid gray linen by Kerry Joyce Textiles is accompanied by pieces done up in geometric prints: a Lumifer ottoman and a pair of Bernhardt Design chairs. “I love patterns that have repetition,” says Jeffers. “I think they work well in modern homes.” Elsewhere, wallpaper is used to playful effect—for example, in the son’s bedroom, which includes a Cole & Son’s Fornasetti fish motif called Acquario; and the gym is lined in Dupenny’s Strongman, featuring muscular and mustachioed figures. The more daring choices in the house are in keeping with the premise for Jeffers’ second book, Be Bold: Bespoke Modern Interiors, which comes out mid-September; the Portola Valley project is among the 14 in the tome. “It’s about doing things that are exciting and might be out there, but in an edited way,” he notes.
With such an enormous abode, there are surely plenty of contenders for standout elements. For Jeffers, at the top of the list is the art adorning the family room. The wife is a hobbyist photographer, and Jeffers had some of her travel images framed for display. “It’s colorful and bold and really personalizes the space,” he observes. “I think that’s what makes a house like this, that could easily feel very cold, feel very much like home.
Originally published in the September issue of Silicon Valley