Natural Beauty: Mid-Century Makeover with April Gargiulo
“There is a Plato quote that always sticks with me when it comes to design,” April Garguilo muses as she glides around her sun-filled San Francisco kitchen, putting away the bounty of local produce she picked up for her family at the market this morning. “‘Beauty of style and harmony and grace and good rhythm depend on simplicity.’” For April, the founder of celebrity-favorite skin serum Vintner’s Daughter, living this simplicity-in-style mantra seems to come naturally. It was with this philosophy in mind that we worked with April to revitalize a set of classic Knoll dining chairs and a beautiful mid-century settee to achieve just the right balance of simplicity, elegance and practicality. Read on to learn more about April’s design philosophy, why she loves vintage, and how these pieces fit into the overall aesthetic of her beautiful home.
What is the backstory of these pieces? Where did you find the settee and the dining chairs?
I had been looking for dining chairs for my home when I saw the set of Knoll chairs at the San Francisco Decorator Showcase that Revitaliste had redone in a bright blue fabric. I loved the simple, classic shape, so I looked for a set for my own home. The settee I found when browsing Chairish. I had only ever seen the chair version of this design. The settee was one of those pieces I instantly knew was special, and that I needed to find a space for it to work in my home.
What has been your approach to design for both your home and these pieces?
For me, it’s always a balance between aesthetics and practicality: I weigh them both equally. With both the dining chairs and the settee, I felt the shapes of the pieces were already really special, and I wanted to highlight that. I have two young children and so keeping them in mind when determining how a space and furniture will actually be used is very important.
When we moved into the home, I felt a certain responsibility to honor the design. Our house was built in 1939 by the architect William Wurster, and we haven’t changed anything about the original design except for the kitchen. In a way, we feel like stewards of the home, and I’ve made very considered decisions when finding the right pieces. I don’t work with a designer in part because I really love looking for pieces myself - there’s something about the thrill of the hunt with vintage. When I found the chairs and settee I knew they needed to be revitalized properly, and when I found Revitaliste and began the design guidance process, it was immediately apparent that they’d be well taken care of.
How did you end up choosing the fabric for these projects?
I worked with Revitaliste to find the perfect fabrics for both the set of dining chairs and the settee. I always like a more neutral palette in my home, so texture plays a big role in adding interest to those colors. For both the chairs and the settee, we looked for white fabrics that had a unique and textural look and feel without overwhelming the beautiful lines of the pieces. For the dining chairs, we used an indoor/outdoor white fabric - ‘Blanca’ from the Perennials Wild & Wooly collection - which is practical but still feels chic. For the settee, we ended up choosing an 100% natural fiber material in a beautiful cream color from Rodgers & Goffigon (‘Cambon’ in Bunny colorway). I wanted to keep both projects simple and elegant, and Revitaliste achieved just that with the fabric choices.
Why did you choose to buy vintage and revitalize these pieces, instead of buying new?
Making a conscious effort to buy vintage and be good to the earth has always been important to me. I try to buy vintage clothing and furniture when I can, and I drive a used car. I also find that vintage furniture most often has a better build than new, which was definitely the case for both of these projects. The materials used, the way pieces are put together - it’s clear with a lot of vintage pieces that they were built with care.
Is the provenance of a piece of furniture an important factor for you when looking for a piece
Yes - when it comes to quality, knowing the background of a piece is definitely important. I also just love things that have a story. I like to know the designer, where a piece came from and where it ended up, how it was used and who it was used by. Knowing the story behind a piece makes it all the more special to me.
What was it like working with Revitaliste?
It was amazing to work with Revitaliste - they honestly made my dreams come true for these projects! I knew right away based on the questions they asked about what I’d envisioned for the piece and how it would be used that I’d made the right decision. I love that Revitaliste not only makes the opaque world of furniture revitalization transparent, but they also made it a really fun and easy process for me. There’s no middleman, communication is so easy, and the pieces turned out better than I even imagined.
Photos by Poppy Lynch