city apartment

builder: sterling design

photography: john merkl

gary hutton’s apartment is a story of perfect moments that express the creativity, innovation and problem solving expertise for which he is known. more, it is a collection of obsessions and favorite things that co-create a certain kind of luxury as unique as the person who lives there.

the two-bedroom aerie where hutton has lived for 16 years is located in a signature mid-century high-rise with a beautiful view of san francisco’s gray and gilt beaux-arts city hall. hutton calls it a “vertical respite from city life” even though the vertiginous heights are better described as “bracing”. recently, he refreshed the apartment with new paint, floors and finishes that deliver on his desire to “live large on a small scale.”

the floor is a starry, black commercial composite tile strewn with reflective mica. hutton installed the sparkly floor aligned on the apartment’s axis, which combines with angled walls to create a super-dynamic energy and a loungey nighttime vibe.

hutton is an accomplished cook who needed better equipment, so he changed the kitchen just enough to upgrade the fridge, stove and dishwasher. efficiency improvements are outshined by a specimen marble slab with the mesmerizing look of a large-scale geode. hutton continues a lush, 70’s vibe in the mirrored master bedroom capturing stolen views of pleached trees and city landmarks, which magnify the apartment's geolocation.

a friend who has known hutton for over 30 years and six residences claims that hutton’s homes are always fundamentally the same. even with differing locations and resources, the same soul is recognizable from place to place. there is the underlying organizational quality and moody, neutral envelope punctuated by glowing, shapely wooden furniture and a few case pieces of his own device. there is usually upholstery from his furniture collection covered in something that sheens light. color comes in small doses or a controlled face punch. he leavens this foundation with a high-low mix of art and objects from bold-face-names, crafty neighbors, travel finds and tat shops. objects come and go with the seasons to apparate again in a tailored edit whenever hutton summons them. there is always something of the moment, too: fresh flowers, the latest music and ephemera from current projects or other cultural obsessions. lucky guests are met with a perfect bite and expertly made stiff drink.

there is always an underpinning of international style, the austerity of which counterpoints emotional collections and quirky souvenirs. in 1978 hutton bought a set of mies’s bruno chairs in polished stainless bar stock, the only set of dining chairs he has ever used. the table is set with wedgewood drab ware that he bought new, now of an age to describe as vintage. there is always good silver of new or traditional design. and sparkle. lots of sparkle.

living in a world that is the personal expression of one’s own art and life is the worthwhile fantasy that drives clients to hire interior designers. hutton’s passions and point-of-view create an ideal world of his own making in 900 square feet set high over san francisco.