Samuel’s Glamorous Collector’s Paradise
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Name: Samuel Barrett Genthner
Location: Duboce Triangle/Mint Hill, San Francisco
Size: 2 bedrooms, 1500 square feet
Years lived in: Almost 3 years
If you’ve ever stepped foot inside Monument, the fabulous vintage and antiques shop in the Mission co-owned by Samuel Barrett Genthner, you won’t be surprised by the impeccable, interesting style that defines his home. Emphasis on interesting, because Samuel’s home is a luxurious antidote to mid-century modern fatigue; he imbues classic designs with a truly personal and even whimsical aesthetic, one that combines Regency-style glamour with Victorian curiosities, and high-design iconic furnishings with art that celebrates the natural world.
Almost every San Francisco house tour seems to mention Monument as a favorite source and inspiration; touring Samuel’s home, it’s easy to see why. The rooms house seemingly endless collections of objects, and yet they don’t have the regimented feel of a museum. Rather, the displays are inviting, styled with obvious love and attention. Objects are arranged within grabbing distance of comfortable seating areas, creating the sense that one ought to settle in and touch and enjoy, rather than admiring the objects from afar.
The objects themselves demonstrate a curiosity about the world, natural and otherwise. Birds are everywhere: glass, brass, pen-and-ink. A globe collection is a riot of warm color and pattern. Vintage wig stands on an elaborate built-in cabinet are funny and odd, a wonderful juxtaposition with the collection of formal busts nearby.
And of course, Sam’s furniture is the perfect foil for his objects: glamorous, with a Hollywood Regency bent, and meticulously curated. These are obvious personal favorites. Inviting textures abound, from lush velvets to shiny lacquers. And while Sam lists the Victorian original details of his flat as a challenge, we love the way they contrast with the glamorous and playful feel of his furnishings.
My Style: My style is eclectic. I like it all—unique objects and beautiful things. Especially something I haven’t seen before that catches my eye, like a Murano lamp, or a sculptural shape. I’m attracted to big, bold patterns, and have always loved shades of blue. I like contrast and friction—like juxtaposing an 18th-century pen-and-ink drawing with a Saarinen chair. I love mixing eras and displaying items that pop, whether it’s a statement made with color or accessories.
I’ve decorated my home more towards the period of the house and the existing built-ins. My art collection has been slowly amassed over time from vintage shops and flea-marketing. I aspire to purchase art from galleries and mix it in with my existing collection. I love mid-century modern design, but find myself more and more attracted to unique, antique objects.
If I find something I love, I will find a way to incorporate it into my home. There isn’t a lot of thought process that goes into it. I instinctively build on what I have.
Inspiration: I turned my obsession into my business. I love the thrill of the hunt. When you find something unique, it’s very rewarding. Nature inspires me. I can get excited by finding a polished rock while walking on the beach. It doesn’t have to be a material thing. I think of myself like the bower bird, decorating my arched nest with collected objects. I also love environmental/land artist Andy Goldsworthy. He takes simple objects from nature (leaves, rocks, twigs, ice) and creates the most beautiful pieces of art displayed within their natural landscapes.
Favorite Element: If it pertains to astrology: Air (I love breathing).
Biggest Challenge: Dealing with the built-in original dark wood Victorian mantles and fretwork, and the pot-bellied stove in the kitchen.
What Friends Say: Does an old woman live here?
Biggest Embarrassment: The overhead light fixtures. I would love to have a beautiful Italian chandelier instead.
Proudest DIY: My bedroom dresser. It’s 1950’s American made. Originally it was chipped, gouged and stained—in poor repair. I had it re-plated and lacquered.
Biggest Indulgence: The Dunbar snack table, next to the wingback chair in the dining room. My biggest expense.
Best advice: “Go with what you know…” Trust your eye and your instincts. Go with your feelings. If it’s attractive to you, it’ll be attractive to someone else. Try not to follow trends.
Dream source: Shopping all over Italy: flea markets, showrooms, dusty basements and attics.
(Note: Since most of Sam’s furnishings and objects have been collected over time at flea markets, estate sales, and antique shows, there’s only a sampling of objects listed here. But it’s a good sampling!)
Dining table and chairs – Paul Frankl, from Monument.
Vintage wingback chair – Thrift shop; Robert Abby fabric.
Lamps on credenza – A good friend sold them to me. Barovier: yummy.
Credenza – Baker, 1950’s.
Floor lamp – Arteluce Triennale lamp.
Nesting tables – Italian, 1960’s.
Wall sculpture – From an antique mall, gold-leaf, Italian, 1950’s.
Headboard – From an antique show; I had it lacquered.
Mirrors – Wall mirror is 1960’s Spanish, with a silver leaf; tabletop mirror is Danish, the best ever.
Curtains – A friend made them.
Images: Antoinette Celes