T W G : Design Journal


Traditional oak paneling is the jumping off point for this sophisticated powder room


ACT I, Scene I: SF Peninsula

As part of a large remodeling project, the owners of a Tudor-style home ask The Wiseman Group to create a powder room off the main entry hall. While the home is traditional, the clients are collectors of 20th c. art. They are open to the creation of something fresh and unusual. Paul Wiseman and Senior Designer Lauren Daley take on the challenge.

ACT I, Scene II: Potrero Hill Office of TWG

In order to visually tie the powder room to the adjacent hallway and echo the home's traditional oak paneling, Paul and Lauren conceive the idea of using trompe l'oeil fabric "paneling." Arriving at this concept is key to the overall story. Now that the character of the walls is developed, the rest of the plot can unfold.

One of the many sample panels created in designing the upholstered walls

ACT I, Scene III: Lauren Daley's Office at TWG

Lauren and Paul gather inspiration from various books in the TWG library, including the work of Jean-Michel Frank, Christian Bérard, Jean Cocteau, and Alberto Giacometti. They decide on a direction and sketch their ideas. They now turn their attention to forming a team of talented artisans to execute their vision.

Charley Brown painting one of the powder room surfaces

ACT II, Scene I: Evans & Brown in SF

Charley Brown, one of the best decorative painters in San Francisco, is chosen to develop the pattern, line weight, and color of the trompe l'oeil fabric panels. After many rounds of gouache elevations and painted samples, the protagonists settle on a design for the walls.

Plaster swag and "sack" tissue box made by Michael H. Casey

ACT II, Scene II: Michael H. Casey Designs in SF

Paul and Lauren enlist the help of master plaster artist Michael H. Casey to make several objets d'art for the powder room: a table lamp evocative of Giacometti, a swagged curtain for the window, and a playful tissue box in the form of a small sack tied with a rope.

Hand towels  embroidered by E. Braun from a drawing by Charley Brown 

Vintage Lalique calla lily stoppers made into a unique lavatory set

ACT II, Scene III: Remaining Details Are Perfected 

A talented team is chosen to complete the job. Page & Pio Construction partners on the installation;  Charley Brown paints the fabric panels and creates a design for the hand towels, which are embroidered by E. Braun in New York; Fabric Walls installs the wall upholstery; Fox Marble in SF realizes the TWG design for a stone vanity top with raised lip; and, in a move deserving of a standing ovation, Lauren tracks down two vintage Chloe perfume stoppers (made by Lalique for use in a factice, or large display bottle) and sends them to P.E. Guerin in New York where they are beautifully transformed into a lavatory set for the powder room.



VERANDA magazine article on the powder room

VERANDA magazine lifts the curtain to give a tantalizing glimpse of the completed powder room in their April 2013 edition. The one-page article runs under the title: "Sleight of Hand: A trompe l'oeil powder room captures what we love about a timeless trick that suddenly feels new again" (page 68). Readers of TWG : Design Journal, however, are treated to front row seats for the entire performance.




AUTHOR: Paul V. Wiseman

DIRECTOR: Lauren Daley, Senior Designer

PHOTOGRAPHER: Matthew Millman