The Proper Hotel offers a masterclass in contemporary eclecticism
Kelly Wearstler’s design for San Francisco’s highly anticipated Proper Hotel is a visual feast of clashing patterns, colours and textures.
Taking a cue from pre-modernist European styles, the elegant overhaul combines hand-selected vintage furnishings alongside notable furniture pieces from various European design movements, custom-print wallpapers, a range of colorful textiles, modern statement lighting and hundreds of pieces of artwork.
While the space feels opulent, it’s far from stuffy.
The new hotel sits inside a historic, flatiron-shaped structure built in 1926, with tall ceilings, original plasterwork, arched doorways, original pillars and moulding and plenty of marble detailing.
Tasked with reflecting the original building’s rich history as well as San Francisco’s contemporary culture, Wearstler took inspiration from the building’s unique Beaux-Arts architecture.
A historical team used old documents, building plans and field measurements to meticulously restore meaningful features. Original marble floors were discovered under layers of old carpet, the lobby ceiling was carefully restored, and the hotel’s original elevator shafts underwent a painstaking makeover too.
When it came to the exterior, no expense was spared to clean the historic façade brick-by-brick and renovate the existing window frames to retain the original look.
By stripping away layers of modifications and unveiling its original design, Wearstler managed to retain the building’s original character.
She then reworked and reupholstered vintage sofas and chairs with new fabrics, annointing them with her trademark magic.
She designed custom wall coverings based on vintage patterns and commissioned local artists, Jonathan Anzalone and Joseph Ferriso, to create bespoke artworks – who helped bridge the gap between past and present.
As a result, the hotel feels fresh, while still feeling as if every detail has been handpicked over time.
The lobby is a sophisticated and sensual mix of modern geometric shapes, Victorian floral patterns, natural materials, sculptural design elements and art, creating an eclectic and curated look. The walls were kept white, allowing colourful artwork and furniture pieces to stand out.
The residential feel follows through to each of the 131 bedrooms, which are decorated with wallpapers in throwback prints, their moody black, white, and gray palette creating a cool atmosphere, while a bold mix of graphic patterns and textures provides urban edge.
Wearstler even manages to make bunk beds look glamorous.
Meanwhile, in true Wearstler fashion, the hotel’s three dining venues aren’t short of wow factor.
There’s formal restaurant Villon which is covered in an intricate ribbed paneling that looks like a Cubist mural; a more casual all-day eatery called La Bande; and Charmaine’s, the rooftop bar, with salon-style seating arrangements anchored by vintage rugs.
Villon, named after French Cubist artist Jacques Villon, is decorated using various European styles. Shades of blue, black and gold decorate the space, with geometric forms found in triangular chairbacks and gridded flooring, while marble and black wall sconces are evocative of work from French architect and designer Pierre Chareau.
With its lush, inviting banquettes and deep hues, it has luxe written all over it.
Then there’s a private dining room, which feels more like a residential dining space than a hotel.
Charmaine’s rooftop bar offers a more relaxed, speakeasy atmosphere, with elegant striped lounges, fire pits and stunning panoramic views of the city skyline and the bay.
Leave it to Kelly Wearstler to create a hotel that feels like home.