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Take 30 designers and present them with a $12.5-million, 10,000-square-foot English Tudor in Presidio Heights, and the results are bound to be off the wall. Such was the annual San Francisco Decorator Showcase, where luxe furnishings and quality art were no match for wild wall treatments. Ashley Roi Jenkins cloaked a powder room in chocolate-hued beads that sparkled like rock candy. Steven Miller imaginatively lined nearly every inch of another bathroom in verdant green glass. But the crowd really went gaga over the Venetian plaster trompe l'oeil "bubble bathroom" fashioned by Christel Heinelt and Thad Warren of Lushart. They troweled on four layers of ground marble and lime, then burnished the top coat until it rivaled polished marble. Water-based latex paints in celadon and white simulated suds rising from the floor, as though the room were one big bubble bath. (Showcase closed last week, but photos are at http://www.lushart.com .) The project has brought much attention to Lushart's other projects, including a Victorian in Pacific Heights in which they employed the same Venetian plaster technique — and a sense of whimsy. "It has a sort of Wild West card room theme, with playing cards spiraling around the room," Heinelt says. The turreted ceiling? It's painted to be a roulette wheel.
Bernal comes out of the fog
The humble Bernal Heights neighborhood on San Francisco's south side hasn't been known for modern architecture, but Craig Steely may change that. House B (shown here), one of two projects already built, is a rambling assemblage of clean lines and right angles sheathed in cedar at Franconia Street and Mullen Avenue. A 28-foot-long band of glass wraps two sides of the living room and yields views of Twin Peaks, Coit Tower and the Golden Gate. House X, a third project breaking ground this summer, will have a sod roof and landscaping that flows under — and through — the home. (More pictures at http://www.craigsteely.com .) In a city that cherishes Victorians, Bernal Heights is one of the few spots where Steely can build "un-San Francisco houses" without opposition. "They used to call it Goat Hill, because after the  earthquake, people built shacks here as emergency housing, and goat trails were the streets," Steely says, adding that the winding lanes are dominated today by undistinguished Edwardians and contractor-built boxes. "A lot of history in San Francisco is glorified, but Bernal Heights is so real. There's such a cool vitality to the neighborhood."
Where walls do talk
"Their oeuvre moves identity and environmental design into unprecedented areas, adeptly responding to the cultural and historical contexts," the exhibit catalog states. Oeuvre? Historical contexts? Are we really talking about wallpaper here? We are. Through Nov. 27, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is showcasing the social commentary of graphic design firm 2X4. "We eschew traditional design," says founding partner and creative director Susan Sellers, noting that one design for a Prada store was titled "Vomit" and critiqued the fashion industry. "Our work is often critical or irreverent or messy. We embrace messiness." (415) 357-4000, http://www.sfmoma.org .
MADE IN CALIFORNIA
From cellar to stellar
For vintage style, consider the Wine Barrel Folding Chair, made from recycled white-oak slats and branded with the name of the California winery from which it came. The $125 chair (www.mcleodchair.com) will be among the pieces showcased at the American Craft Council show Aug. 12 to 14 at Fort Mason Center, near Fisherman's Wharf. Barrel-chair designer Whit McLeod, which fashions furniture in the Arts and Crafts style using reclaimed and salvaged wood, will take a seat with about 300 juried artisans — many emerging California talents — at the show. (800) 836-3470, http://www.craftcouncil.org .