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Magazine    July 2001

photo by David Livingston
Click on image for enlarged view

photo by David Livingston

photo by Andrew Watson

The Art of the Drape

Some spaces present interior designers with the opportunity to imagine. The room pictured above is in the Seacliff area of San Francisco. Its clifftop perch gives one the illusion of being in a boat sailing by the Golden Gate Bridge.

Paul Vincent Wiseman, who has decorated America's finest homes—from San Francisco mansions to Wyoming ranches to New York penthouses—plans every detail in the design of a house, from the placement of each piece of furniture, whether purchased in his home base of San Francisco or in one of the several cities in Europe where he regularly shops, down to the wall finishes and the hardware. In addition to the stunning antiques and upholstered furniture that he chooses for a room, one of the elements in Wiseman's interiors that stands out is his creative approach to curtain treatments. For Seacliff, he decided on balloon shades for the living room, which looks out onto the Golden Gate. But, he installed them outside to give the appearance of awnings, and he used the same striped fabric, Fenice from Clarence House, on the terrace (left). Because of the high winds in the area, he cut vents into the fabric so that the curtains wouldn't blow away. "I'd seen this done in Europe before," Wiseman says, "and I thought it would be appropriate here." His associate Douglas Durkin chose "handsome and strong furniture" for the room, which reinforced the feeling of being on solid ground.

Durkin was given carte blanche in the design of a study (left). The space was small and boxy, so he dreamed up the idea of creating a room within a room by putting a daybed curtained on all four sides in the center. Durkin hung the curtains, made of a Donghia jacquard linen-cotton casement called Stella, from the ceiling because, as he puts it, "Dropping the curtains from the ceiling is a handy device to create height in a small room."

Looking to create an air of exoticism in the room, Durkin had Penn and Fletcher of New York embroider the curtains and edge them with glass beading from M&J Trimmings, also in Manhattan. Always keen on using the most luxurious fabrics, the Wiseman Group designer lined the curtains with a Holland and Sherry wool from the deSousa Hughes showroom in San Francisco, and he used Donghia velvet on the daybed. To accentuate the exotic, Middle Eastern feel in the room, he furnished the study with a Syrian table from Ed Hardy, 17th-century Dutch mirrors, an 18th-century lacquered Chinese bamboo table and African baskets and other objects.

Stephen McKay designed the bronze chandelier, whose amber glass light covers were handblown in France.

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The Wiseman Group
Paul Wiseman
Douglas Durkin
636 San Bruno Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94107
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