A Room With a View

Every room has its challenges. But what if your challenge is a fantastic view? I mean a breathtaking, page-from-a-coffee-table-book view. How do you design a room that embraces and complements such a view?



Photographs by Caren Alpert. Special thanks to Diane Horne.

That’s what designer Heather Hilliard faced when she took on the Penthouse floor at this year’s San Francisco Decorator Showcase.

Spectacular Golden Gate Bridge and sweeping bay views inspired the color palette of international orange and blue greens combined with neutral colors.

“I tried to bring the outside into the room by using all one color for the walls, paint and window coverings. The uniform color creates a serene backdrop so the view becomes the dominant feature,” said Hilliard.


The penthouse is a casual space where the family relaxes and hosts guests for cocktails and bridge games while the other side of the room serves as a quiet office retreat. The emphasis is on comfortable furniture upholstered in understated natural linens, soft chenilles and textured wovens and patterns, mixed with period antiques.


Hilliard had two armless sofas made for the family room. “I designed the length and height of the sofas to fit under the two large picture windows,” she said. “The custom-designed, leather-wrapped ottomans…are tucked under the coffee tables so they can be pulled out when additional seating is needed in the space.” Notice the subtle bridge motif on these and on the game table chairs.


The game chairs are custom as well. “Recently, I saw chairs like these at a gallery in Paris,” said Hilliard. “They were originally designed by Le Corbusier’s cousin, Pierre Jeanneret, in the 1940s. I tweaked the design just a bit and had them built by my upholsterer and frame maker. They are the perfect size to be used as game or dining chairs.” The chairs ring a 19th Century, Charles X “Tric-trac” table.


Antiques in the office are the a late 18th century Louis XVI flame mahogany desk and an early 19th century olive wood chair inlaid with bone. The untitled oil on canvas by artist Esteban Vicente echoes the colors of the bridge and the bay.



The space Hilliard started with didn’t capitalize on the view as it now does.

“The room was most recently used as the owner’s son’s bedroom,” said Hilliard. “It was divided into three separate areas including the main room…a closed in closet and the elevator entry room area.”

Hilliard worked with the architect to eliminate walls wherever possible. “To open up the room and make for a more cohesive space, I suggested removing the closet and surrounding walls,” said Hilliard. The walls at the stair were cut down to 42 inches high to allow for a bridge view while sitting at the desk in the office area.” She also eliminated a step up in floor level to the family room to do away with a cramped seven foot, six inch ceiling height.

What’s Hilliard’s advice for a homeowner or a designer who is fortunate enough to have a room with a striking view?

“Let the view be the dominant focal point in the room, don’t try to compete with it.”

Heather Hilliard is designer and principal of Heather Hilliard Design, a full-service interior architecture and design firm in San Francisco. At the time of the Showcase, most of the artwork and furnishings were available for sale by Heather.

How have you worked with a great view in a room? What do you think of this penthouse space?

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3 Comments for “A Room With a View”

Wow! That has to be hard to not fight with a view like that. I have not had to deal with this issue (yet), but I think she pulled it off rather well.

Kathy, this is one of those rooms you step into and never want to leave; like living in a postcard. She did pull it off well, didn’t she?

[…] inspired by: The Decorista, Freshome, Brian O’Leary, Brisbane Times, Home Workshop Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Animators’ Corner8. 6. 2010.my dream […]

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