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Prior to it's remodel and modernization in 2000, The House of Many Flowers was owned by Hollywood set and costume designer Tony Duquette. Here's a wonderful article about him and the home from Architectural Digest.
From Architectural Digest, 2000
Like so much in life, it began with a dinner party. The setting was Los Angeles, the year was 1941, and the star of the evening was a witty plaster-and-glass centerpiece, playfully encrusted with faux jewels. This preposterous creation—around which sat a clutch of fine decorators, including the septuagenarian Elsie de Wolfe and the host, Hollywood designer James Pendleton—represented the decorating debut of a twenty-seven-year-old named Tony Duquette. And it was a triumph.
"Everyone who sat at that table ended up hiring Tony," remembers Hutton Wilkinson, his business partner for thirty years. Most distinguished of these was de Wolfe herself, who had returned to the United States to escape the war and would become one of the gifted youth's most fervent champions. "She'd just bought a house in Beverly Hills, and she and Tony transformed it," Wilkinson reports.
Duquette was raised in southern California in a musically inclined family; there was even a touch of design history in his background—a great-uncle had been a partner of William Morris's in London. While some parents might have been nonplussed by their son's early eccentric style, his were not. In fact, it was his father who drove his son, a recent art school graduate who was then working as a store designer, to his first meeting with the Hollywood decorator William Haines.
What Duquette brought to the table—not just on that storied Californian night but for the rest of his long designing life—was "his own naive, wonderful style," says Wilkinson. "He'd transform things right before your eyes," says James Coburn, for whom, in the 1960s, the designer turned a Beverly Hills house into a brilliantly hued, Eastern-inspired extravaganza. "He came up with things that blew your mind." At Coburn's house, these included an enormous Chinese lantern that "Tony dolled up and made extraordinary," a polychromatic stuffed bird of paradise and shell-encrusted ceiling beams. "You felt there was magic all around you," the actor adds, using a word that comes up often when people talk about Duquette. "He was the Merlin of the design world," decorator Ron Mann observes.
Some of Duquette's best environments weren't done for his clients, who included Elizabeth Arden and Doris Duke. He was a voracious shopper—an activity he referred to as "scavenging"—and many of his finds ended up in his own lavish, overblown residences, which he shared with his artist wife, Elizabeth. Although based in southern California, the couple spent part of their time in a San Francisco Victorian; like all of their places, this one was a universe unto itself. It teemed with fantastic things, from the myriad Asian elements in its grotto-like entrance hall to the Tiffany stained-glass window on the enclosed terrace. The designer's shimmering, green-hued sculpture pavilion—also in San Francisco—was quintessentially Duquette-like, a place of rare power. It was destroyed by fire in 1989, an event that inspired Duquette to create a series of sculptures called The Phoenix Rising from His Flames.
Duquette found inspiration everywhere. "Venice, the natural Baroque, old movies, Renaissance architecture, Arthurian legends," says Wilkinson, reeling off a list of the things that moved his friend and partner. "He felt insects had great style."
When Duquette died, in a Los Angeles hospital room last September, at the age of eighty-five, it was "without pain, struggle or fear," says Wilkinson. This description could apply to his life. Tony Duquette went his own way—fancifully, with a certain lightness—and, in so doing, he left the rest of the world behind.
Hailed by Architectural Digest as a “Birdcage Victorian,” this magical 4,310 sq. ft. home was remodeled from the ground up to create a warm and welcoming retreat. The masterful design, with soaring ceilings and majestic scale, creates elegant entertaining areas and offers comfortable living with custom designer finishes throughout.
The dramatic foyer opens to a sophisticated living room with a fireplace and cozy window seat, adjacent to a gracious formal dining room. An expansive chef's kitchen with Viking and Sub-Zero appliances boasts a center island, a buffet with wine refrigerator, a peninsula with overhang for informal dining, and a built-in breakfast banquette. Around the corner from the kitchen is an amazing pantry for storage, a home office area, and a chic powder room. The kitchen extends into an inviting family room with great natural light. Off the family room is a deck, perfect for BBQing, and stairs down to the lovely garden with tall fencing for privacy and a unique backdrop consisting of ornate columns.
The second floor is ideally laid out for a family with four bedrooms on one level, including a large primary suite with two custom-built walk-in closets and a gorgeous ensuite bathroom including a separate steam shower and jacuzzi tub.
The penthouse level offers two window-wrapped rooms: one with a wet bar, perfect for entertaining, and a separate home office with stunning views. The two rooms each have French doors opening to a picturesque roof deck, featuring a fire pit, seating and dining areas, and spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Palace of Fine Arts.
The lower level features a fabulous guest suite, with bedroom, bathroom and seating area/family room, as well as a custom wine cellar, and direct access from the family room through French doors to a beautiful backyard patio with a gas fire pit, surrounded by mature trees and landscaping. The roomy four car garage is equipped with a commercial grade dog washing station/sink, laundry, and additional parking in the driveway.
This ideal Cow Hollow location is just one block from the wonderful shops and dining on Union Street! With a 99 walk score, the home is walking distance from restaurants and stores on Chestnut Street and Polk Street, as well as both Lafayette Park and Moscone Recreation Center.
This scenic Bay Area neighborhood is nestled between the Marina and Pacific Heights districts. The Cow Hollow neighborhood features the condo/row houses that are synonymous with San Francisco. Located between Lyon Street and the Presidio to the West and Van Ness to the East, Cow Hollow is near a wide variety of popular San Francisco landmarks. When it’s time for Cow Hollow residents to go shopping or out to eat, Union Street is where all the excitement happens. Starting from the intersection of Steiner and Union you will find Rose’s Cafe, which features Italian fare including breakfast pizza. Other popular restaurants on Union Street include Gamine (French cuisine), West Coast Wine + Cheese, and Flores. The shopping available on Union Street is both diverse and unique. Some of the notable shops include Krimsa Fine Rugs & Decor, the health and beauty boutique LUSH, and Lorna Jane. Residents of Cow Hollow are within a half-mile of Presidio’s incredible activities and museums. Enjoy a refreshing walk up and around the park’s grassy hills, followed by a picnic near El Polin Spring. Bowl a few games at the Presidio Bowling Center, or explore the history of one of the pioneers of animation at The Walt Disney Family Museum. The Palace of Fine Arts is one of San Francisco’s most unique landmarks and can be visited with ease from the Cow Hollow neighborhood. Accessing the rest of the Bay Area is both easy and convenient. A short walk to the intersection of Union and Fillmore Street will take you to the Route 41 Transit Stop.From there, you can ride to the Financial District in less than 30 minutes. Film industry workers who live in Cow Hollow can walk easily to Industrial Light & Magic, while the Google Headquarters is just a 45-minute commute. If you are looking for a vibrant neighborhood with plenty to see and do, Cow Hollow is perfect for you!