Creating the Perfect Backdrop

Designer Kari McIntosh transforms her clients’ interiors into boldly hued havens for living and entertaining.

Cambria design shown: SMITHFIELD™

San Francisco interior designer Kari McIntosh has a way with color. Spend a few minutes perusing her PORTFOLIO and you’ll see project after project defined by a range of moody, complex palettes that take timeless design in a fresh, modern direction that is hard not to love. “My clients really respond to my more colorful projects,” McIntosh says. “Those are always the ones they mention when we first meet.”

The designer’s recent update of an Edwardian home in San Francisco’s Noe Valley is a perfect example of her color confidence. From the navy and brass kitchen with white quartz countertops—featured in Cambria Style’s Winter 2023 issue—to the watery blue woodwork throughout, to the primary bedroom’s gold-leaf ceiling, the home is a beautiful retreat for a couple that loves color as much as they love to entertain. “They definitely drove the design,” says McIntosh. “They love jewel tones–blues, emerald greens, violet … but also drab browns and dusty pink, and they wanted some organic touches. So, we worked to incorporate all of those in different places.” The pink shows up in the primary bedroom, where it offers a soothing counterpoint to the gleaming gold overhead, and the dining room has a nearly neutral landscape mural on the walls—and dramatic electric blue chairs. The so-called “bourbon room,” feels rich and cozy thanks to its mix of warm browns; cool, thanks to the textural gray wall treatment; and a little glamorous, courtesy of the gleaming gold-tone accents that link the room to the rest of the house.

The bourbon room—and the wine bar on the home’s lower level—represent another specialty that draws clients to McIntosh: her ability to create hospitality-type luxury in residential homes. “A lot of my clients travel, and they love the feeling of being in a boutique hotel. During the pandemic, many people have looked to their own homes for those kinds of experiences, so we try to create that getaway effect for them,” she says. With so many beautiful spaces to enjoy, thanks to McIntosh, it’s hard to imagine why anyone would ever leave.

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