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Mollie Makes (US) - - CONTENTS - Words: kather­ine Steven­son Pho­tog­ra­phy: mark madeo

Painter and il­lus­tra­tor Scott Idle­man ex­plains how his home has in­spired his work

After years of liv­ing in the Bay Area sub­urb of San Rafael, artist and il­lus­tra­tor Scott Idle­man found the pull of nearby San Francisco too great to ig­nore. So much so that he was will­ing to sell his mid-cen­tury Eich­ler “dream house” that abut­ted miles of beau­ti­ful wilder­ness in or­der to an­swer that call. As Scott puts it, “Hav­ing al­ways worked from home, liv­ing in the sub­urbs was very isolating and there was just not a lot go­ing on cul­tur­ally. I’d lived in San Francisco prior to be­ing in Marin, so I de­cided to sell my house and rent a house with a friend in the city to

get my bear­ings back. Go­ing to art gal­leries and open­ings down­town, I got very in­spired right away to start my own paint­ings and draw­ings when not busy with de­sign work.” Con­vinced that this was where he be­longed, Scott joined forces with a good friend in search of a two-unit build­ing to buy. They fo­cused on San Francisco’s Mis­sion Dis­trict. “Lots of Vic­to­ri­ans on tree-lined streets, taque­rias, mom-and-pop shops, and mu­rals ev­ery­where you look.... It re­ally re­minds me of the way New York’s East Vil­lage used to be when I lived there in the late 1980s,” says Scott. “Pretty gritty and ur­ban but mixed and vi­brant. Oh, and sunny, which was a big draw.”

As is typ­i­cal of San Francisco real es­tate, the two ex­pe­ri­enced some bid­ding wars and bit­ter dis­ap­point­ments be­fore fi­nally land­ing the Eastlake Stick–style Vic­to­rian du­plex they now own. As Scott re­calls, “We nick­named the house Vam­pire Bill’s place, after the show True Blood, be­cause it was truly spooky – run-down with plas­ter fall­ing off the ceil­ings and a creepy wooden hu­man-size box in the base­ment. But there was a lot of charm and po­ten­tial, with 12 foot ceil­ings and lovely orig­i­nal de­tails. Even beau­ti­ful golden oak floors pre­served un­der old moldy car­pet­ing.”

So be­gan a ma­jor ren­o­va­tion. “After an ar­chi­tect drew up plans, the con­trac­tors be­gan de­mo­li­tion of the en­tire in­te­rior down to the ‘lathe and plas­ter.’ It was stripped down to bare walls with a few support beams,” Scott says. The only orig­i­nal de­tails re­main­ing are the bay

win­dow at the front of the house and those afore­men­tioned golden oak floors.

Ac­cord­ing to Scott, the big­gest chal­lenges of the ren­o­va­tion were deal­ing with con­trac­tors (natch), but also all the decision-mak­ing around fin­ish­ing. “One would think, be­ing a cre­ative per­son, that I’d en­joy the process of pick­ing fin­ishes, but spend­ing days at a time driv­ing all over the Bay Area try­ing to find de­cent yet af­ford­able tile while try­ing to main­tain my de­sign business was a lot!”

Once com­pleted, there was the chal­lenge of dec­o­rat­ing. “My orig­i­nal in­ten­tion was to mix con­tem­po­rary, mid-cen­tury, and tra­di­tional. I was look­ing at too many Elle Decor mag­a­zines, where they fea­ture pala­tial spa­ces. The tra­di­tional pieces are now stacked up in a closet, and I opted in­stead for some or­ganic wood pieces to warm things up. Since I have a lot of art­work, my own and pieces from artist friends, I knew I wanted pre­dom­i­nantly white walls as a neu­tral back­drop. For con­trast, I went for a very dark brown paint in my bed­room.To try out a mono­tone look, I had the liv­ing room painted black since I al­ready had a dark gray sofa and black leather chair and there was a dark gray field­stone fire­place. There’s been a lot of jug­gling things around, but I’m fi­nally pleased with the mix. I have some nice col­lectible pieces, cheap flea-mar­ket finds, Ikea, clear­ance sale rugs, you name it!”

The things Scott loves most about his house are the deck (“On sunny days I keep the back door open so my cat and dog can sun them­selves out there among the suc­cu­lents

and palms”); the kitchen (“I never had a home with a large or up­dated kitchen, so I feel re­ally spoiled now with new ap­pli­ances and a large is­land for ex­tra prep space”); and his stu­dio, which Scott says is re­spon­si­ble for his evolv­ing style. “This is the first place where I’ve had a large work space.... This has al­lowed me to work much larger or on a few pieces at once.”

His work has also been in­flu­enced by the neigh­bor­hood. “There’s a real mix of styles – Latino artists work­ing in tra­di­tional mu­ral styles to graf­fiti artists to artists work­ing in con­tem­po­rary il­lus­tra­tion gen­res. I feel like the art I’ve cre­ated since mov­ing here is much more bold and trop­i­cal in color, plus I’ve ex­per­i­mented with work­ing more fig­u­ra­tively.”

Not only that, but his new home turns out to be a great space for show­ing his work to prospec­tive buy­ers. Large white walls and lots of light com­ple­ment his big­ger paint­ings and a long hall­way lead­ing from the front door in­vites closer in­spec­tion of his smaller, more de­tailed draw­ings.

For Scott Idle­man, the move to San Francisco has paid off hand­somely, with a home that’s cus­tom­ized to his ex­act tastes and an en­vi­ron­ment that in­spires him ar­tis­ti­cally.

01 01 Dark-brown painted walls add in­ter­est to the bed­room; a wall­mounted wa­ter­fall evokes tran­quil­ity.

02 02 The din­ing area showcases Scott’s paint­ings, as well as his Ikea din­ing ta­ble and knock-off Saari­nen tulip chairs.

01 01 Scott’s paint­ingZwartkop is an homage to suc­cu­lent plants.

02 02 Scott mixes dif­fer­ent col­ors for the oil can­dle hold­ers ar­rayed on his din­ing room ta­ble and changes the hues to suit his mood.

01 01 Scott at work in his large, light stu­dio.

02 02 Scott uses squeeze bot­tles to ap­ply a mix­ture of gesso primer and col­ored paint to can­vas, cre­at­ing raised lines and shapes.

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