photographs by MELANIE ACEVEDO text by SHARON PORTNOY
For this restaurant-owning family, domestic bliss is a combination
of love, Velcro and silver paint. domino enjoyed a romp through
their kid-friendly, utterly ingenious San Francisco oasis.
The first clue that the white-trimmed yellow house in San Francisco’s Potrero Hill neighborhood is no ordinary building is the steel front door.
Correction: galvanized sheet steel over “you know, just a regular door that I laminated,” says Natascha Couvreur, who shares the place with her husband, Olivier Azancot, and their three daughters. Couvreur tosses out these comments
off-handedly, as if we all laminate our front doors with steel. Her attitude: If you can’t find what you like or need, make it yourself.
This pendant is a sheet
of fiberglass fastened around
two hula hoops with Velcro!
bistro at home
Stocked with equipment from a local restaurant-supply store, the family kitchen has a warm, industrial quality. Metro shelving provides easy access to dishes and cookware and supports bottles that dispense the couple’s favorite aperitifs. Family dinners are held around a pair of rectangular tables (united by a runner artfully deployed over the seam) that can be pulled apart to accommodate Friday-night meals with friends. “I just cook a big pot of stew or something, and everyone knows they can come over,” says Couvreur, who makes sure the family eats together every evening. “Isn't that how it's supposed to be?” she asks.
This loftlike space is all about comfort and whimsy—and it’s a showcase of Couvreur’s clever DIY skills. Unable to find a sofa large enough to anchor the living area, she bought three twin mattresses and made 2 x 4 plywood box frames for them (the lids along the arms and back flip up to reveal storage for books, magazines and liquor). She assembled the tic-tac-toe board above the sofa with wood, acrylic paints and three plaster-cast sculptures of her girls’ bottoms. The sliding panels were created from sheet plastic mounted on wood frames. The center panel (not shown) has a square cutout that blocks everything but the TV. “Because we don't have a fireplace, when we want one, we put on the fireplace video," Couvreur says.
There's room for all three sisters and a friend
in these IKEA bunk beds, which Couvreur
painted silver to match the wall trim.
communal kids’ rooms
Though not wanting for space, the couple chose to put their three daughters in a single bedroom and devote two other rooms to kids’ space: one for study and one for playtime. The togetherness, they hope, will foster a greater connection among the siblings. A trompe l’oeil painter friend simulated the look of raw concrete on the walls (left), a nod to the neighborhood’s industrial feel, and Couvreur made the giant portrait of the girls and hung it from bulldog clips nailed to the wall. “I took a photo and had it blown up in black and white on the Xerox machine at Kinko’s,” she says.
Decked in the same silvery wall finish as the bedroom, the girls’ work area is equally playful. Couvreur constructed the desk, a flat hollow-core door painted white and set atop inexpensive melamine shelf units; Velcro secures the entire assembly. She also used Velcro to affix the shadow boxes, filled with favorite photos and curios, to the wall. Couvreur is not the only one in the family with talent: Kaya made the abstract canvas to the right of the desk with masking tape and acrylic paint.
Couvreur turned this attic into a master bedroom devoted solely to relaxation. Limiting the palette to white, she was able to tie together the remaining furniture for a peaceful, restorative space. A pair of matching plant stands from “I can't remember where‚” she says, frame a Pottery Barn bed. Tabletop bins and hanging lamps from IKEA keep nightstand clutter at bay, and wicker baskets spray-painted white allow the bed to serve as a storage unit. A sheer screen filters the sunlight and view, while white canvas drapes provide the blackout capacity required for serious slumber.