Some people toss their wardrobe every year or two, looking to reset their lives and start anew by donning novel silhouettes and a fresh palette. The Northern California–based interior designer Patrick Printy has perfected his own sort of ritual metamorphosis: Every few years, he reimagines the 1,800-square-foot Arts and Crafts bungalow that he and his partner, Dan Holland, a corporate psychologist, have owned for 22 years.
Their place, in a cozy Oakland neighborhood near the Berkeley border, is not merely a home, but a laboratory for ideas and a reflection of how their tastes keep evolving.
An antique chair in the foyer is covered in a China Seas fabric, the ceiling light is by Circa Lighting, the kilim is vintage and the walls are painted in White Dove and the ceiling in Stone Brown, both by Benjamin Moore.
When they got the place, it was done in lots of “really terrible” pale yellows, says Printy, who began his career as a stylist and art director for brands including Pottery Barn, Levi’s and Restoration Hardware. But the plaster walls, original oak floors and vintage hardware were intact, which gave the place instant gravitas — and enabled the couple to experiment.
“We regarded it as pretty much a blank canvas,” he adds. Since then, the home has “gone through many incarnations,” he says, laughing at the folly. “There was a jewel-toned phase, with plums, cobalt blue and loden. Then for a while it was all white and minimal, with just black-and-white photographs. And we can’t forget the Anglophile stage, dark with an English club feel, grays and red plaids, with old portraits in gilt frames.”
The upstairs landing, with a photograph by Richard Misrach, top.
The current scheme may be less easily categorized, but it is no less appealing. Swathed in men’s suiting fabrics and shades of blue and green, the rooms are elegant yet modern, airy and sophisticated.
The guest room’s custom bed is upholstered in a Holland & Sherry check, the linens are by Ralph Lauren Home, the floor lamp is by Original BTC, the rug is Persian and the glitter-on-canvas artwork is by René Garcia, Jr.
In a tiny guest bedroom, for example, there is a bed covered in a windowpane motif, along with half a dozen additional patterns ranging from plaids to stripes.
“There’s a lot of visual interest, but it’s very calm and soothing,” says Printy. The redecoration was sparked by several fabrics and colors that Printy had long dreamed of using in his own home. “I’ve always loved Peter Dunham’s peacock paisley, and I finally got to use it on my living room sofa,” he says.
In the living room of Patrick Printy and Dan Holland’s Arts and Crafts bungalow in Oakland, California, the custom sofa is covered in a linen by Peter Dunham Textiles, a pair of vintage John Stuart Clingman chairs is upholstered in a Ralph Lauren Home tartan, the bust on the custom cocktail table is by Oly and the rug is from Iran. The fireplace, repainted a high-gloss black, the bookcases and the oak flooring are all original to the house and the walls are painted in Benjamin Moore’s Smoke Embers.
Earth tones, especially taupe, balance all the blues and greens; he didn’t want to veer back into “jewel-tone glam or take it too ethnic.” Such concerns echo his singular aesthetic: American East Coast preppy tinged by visual memories of his childhood growing up in Phoenix.
“It was the ’70s and ’80s, and the look out there was influenced by the influx of well-established, well-off Easterners. It was cruisewear year-round — lots of plaid pants and handbags with bamboo handles. For the house in Oakland, I picked up on that.”
An essential part of that desert vibe, he feels, is the “geometry, craft and patterns” of Native American and Mexican textiles, which he used as a counterpoint to rooms filled with clean-lined, classic furnishings.
In the master bedroom, the bed by Room & Board is dressed with a Libeco duvet, the antique chest is English, the custom love seat is upholstered in a China Seas fabric and the George Nelson pendant light is from Design Within Reach. The rug is an antique Heriz and the walls are painted in Benjamin Moore’s Anchor Gray.
The master bedroom is a good example of the way Printy has successfully embraced the unfussy ethos of traditional decor while giving it clever tweaks. Though others might have covered up the original plaster walls to hide their imperfections, or at the very least painted them matte, he went with a high-gloss sheen.
“I love to see the layers of time and renovations,” he says. “To me, it deepens the effect.” Achieving a sense of harmony that feels organic is what drives Printy, particularly in his own space.
The dining room’s antique farm table was given a new lacquer finish, and the chairs were re-covered in a Katie Leede stripe and a Holland & Sherry houndstooth; the curtains are of a linen by Calvin Fabrics, the wallpaper is by Schumacher, the pendant light is by Kartell, the vintage hooked rug is American and the photograph is by Katy Grannan.
“The process is a little slower than when you are working for someone else,” he observes. “You know that there are some things, especially art, that you are going to keep, and objects that you’ve always wanted to display better. The ideas develop as you look at it all, and you have the luxury of time.”
In Printy’s studio, a pair of vintage sofas is upholstered in a Ralph Lauren Home stripe, the Eero Saarinen table is from Design Within Reach, barstools by CB2 are covered in a Katie Ridder fabric, the ceiling lantern is by Visual Comfort, the rug is by Ralph Lauren Home, and the busts are by Oly; the artworks include photographs by Jason Fulford, Garry Winogrand and Richard Misrach, flanked by silhouette portraits by Julian Opie.
Holland has been the one in charge of assembling their stunning collection of photography, which includes works by Ryan McGinley, Richard Misrach and Julius Schulman.
The lounge chairs in the garden are from Design Within Reach, the bench is in the style of Lutyens, the windows are by Sierra Pacific Windows and the exterior is painted in Benjamin Moore’s Jet Black.
Meanwhile, out back, the small building that houses Printy’s studio has been redone to complement the house’s classical architecture. A 500-square-foot space with Greek Revival details, it overlooks a compact garden. Two large trees form a canopy over the house, lending an effect that is surprisingly bucolic.
“The neighborhood is pretty urban, so it’s a bit of an oasis,” says Printy. But the couple has retained their larger-scale sanctuary — a weekend home they built several years ago in Sonoma Valley that is spacious, loftlike and flooded with light, with a gabled facade reminiscent of the Cape Dutch farmhouses of South Africa.
A path lined with boxwood globes leads to the entrance, the facade is painted in Benjamin Moore’s Ashwood Moss.
Printy muses on one unintended effect of having all that sunshine, after years in their shady bungalow: “Before we had our weekend place, we used to try desperately to bring light into our Oakland house. But now that’s one thing we don’t worry about. We’re free. We just see where the inspiration takes us, and we go with it.”
This story was originally published in the April 2017 issue of ELLE DECOR.