sneak peek: zoe johns & max catalano


Zoe Johns and Max Catalano live in San Francisco’s Mission District. A former textiles buyer, Zoe now works for a large retailer doing merchandising for their catalog, and in her free time she helps friends and family with their homes and collects vintage items that she sells on Etsy. The couple lives in a new construction building, which is their sanctuary from the excitement of the city. And despite a love of modern architecture, Zoe is still a bit of an old-fashioned girl, drawing inspiration from family treasures and items she and Max have collected over the years. But for every old “traditional” item, she tries to bring in something modern, humorous and unexpected. Thanks so much, Zoe, and thanks to Liz Daly for the fabulous photos, and to Kate for the tip! — Anne

Image above: This is our study. When we moved in, this was supposed to be the master bedroom, which came as a big white room. I wanted to create a dark and very cozy place to watch movies and for M to play music. I put a huge bookcase on one wall and a built-in desk and then painted the whole thing a really dark blue. It’s the room everyone ends up in when we have a party and where you will find Agnes, our eight-year-old Westie. The pillows are Jonathan Adler (I have a weakness for all things JA), and the cricket table we found at an antique store in Petaluma.

Image above: This is our powder room. I couldn’t land on a paint color I liked, so I ended up going with chalkboard paint with 10% white added. Over the years we have collected lots of art, and this was the perfect place to put it ALL up. The whole room is filled, and it’s very entertaining. The pigeons are my own work.

Image above: We love fizzy water . . . I’m not the sentimental type :)

More of Zoe and Max’s SF home after the jump . . .

Image above: This is our little bar area off the living room. We bought this console to store my vintage glassware collection and M’s mom’s wedding china, which she recently handed over to us (lucky us!). The large photograph was taken by our friend Debra Bloomfield. The fern is Max’s baby that he has had for 10 years.

Image above: This is our sitting room. The whole space is very modern, so I’ve added lots of soft textured and comfortable furniture to make you want to stay awhile. The sheepskins come from a weaver in Vermont (these sheep all died of old age), and Agnes loves to sit on them. The lamp and console are antiques found at flea markets, and the side table is from One Kings Lane.

Image above: The bookcase in the study. The small painting on the bottom left of my
dad and I was part of the Paul Ferney commission project. The throw was from a trip to Peru.

Image above: Our dining area is tight but perfect for small dinners. When we have larger parties, we move the table to the living room. It has four leaves and can seat up to 16.

Image above: This is my little desk in the bedroom that works double duty as a workspace and makeup table. The desk was my mother’s; she gave it to me when we moved in. I have so many memories of her getting ready here when I was a child. The lady on the horse print is by Iris Schwarz.

Image above: I bought this typewriter on my last trip to Austin right before we were married and ended up using it for all my thank you cards. I leave it with paper ready to go and always find hysterical notes written after parties at our house. The painting of the lady was made by my mother-in-law, who is an amazing artist. The Staffordshire dog is part of a collection I’ve had since I was young.

Image above: When I started our bedroom, my inspiration was a cloud (I know it sounds silly). I wanted a quiet, bright, and comfortable place just for us, and it is my favorite place in the house. I always stick with all-white bedding and recently added the kantha, which was a gift from a friend from a recent trip to Turkey. The lamp is from WS home, and I made the headboard myself — I love to sew and do home projects.

Image above: I absolutely love how modern our kitchen is. I’m not sure why, but it’s the easiest kitchen to clean I’ve ever had. The kitchen island is on wheels and moves around when we entertain. I love tabletop items and try to bring back one thing from each of my travels. The collection is eclectic, but it’s all pretty and sits nicely together.

Image above: The fridge started with just a few pictures, and I just can’t stop adding. I try to keep printing pictures as much as I can so they aren’t trapped on my phone or computer. Lots of wonderful memories that I’m reminded of every day.

Image above: We have a tiny balcony off our study that looks out to our building courtyard and has a view of the beautiful brick building across the way. It’s always sunny here in the morning.

  1. dave says:

    i wish to the heavens that these images would give a better view of the space, rather than these little vinette detail shots! oh well.

  2. Lisa says:

    I was so inspired by the color in the study that I went for it in our powder room. Not only do we love it, but I get so many compliments on it. Thank you for the inspiration!

  3. Amy Azzarito says:

    Richelle –
    Have you checked West Elm? They have some white Euro shams. xoAmy

  4. Message for Zoe,
    I have no other way to contact you – but looking at this site I recognise the black and white picture of Brigitte and Peter on your bookcase – so I know it is you. I was searching for her new contact details and your name cropped up – we last saw each other when you were tiny and I came to stay at the house near Canaan — your father was my great friend, in London, but I went to work in Hong Kong when they left for New York and we hardly saw each other afterwards. i would love to be in touch with her again.

  5. Message for Zoe –
    I recognise the photo of Peter and Brigitte on your bookcase, but we havent seen each other since 1979 soon after you were born, when i came to stay with you at Canaan. Peter and I were great friends and I bandaged up his shoulder the evening before his first date with your mother, we were on a ski trip together when they met…. i would like to get back in touch with Brigitte

  6. Abbee says:

    OH MY GOD, I LOVE THIS BLOG. I’m looking for ideas to redecorate my mom’s house, & yay!

  7. Rory O'Mara says:

    Where is that wood counter stool from?

  8. Kat says:

    Pigeons for sale? I’ve pinned them and keep coming back to them over and over. I may do something similar myself but thought I’d ask first.

  9. Melissa says:

    Where did u get your kitchen backsplash? It is absolutely beautiful

  10. Jana Marie says:

    Hi there,

    I am having a crazy hard time finding a console/buffet/credenza like the one above… the white with wood doors, mid-century looking that they used for their bar area. Can I ask where they got this? We have our home on a homes tour Dec 1 and we are remodeling and renovation the whole home.. lots of work to do-yikes… so I dont have time to “treasure hunt” and find unique pieces. Any help you to direct me to a buffet storage like that for our dining room would be superbly amazing!! Thank so much

    1. Tilly says:

      Hi, Where is the credenza/buffet from?

  11. Adeniz says:


    I was hoping you could let me know where the credenza is from? The one that has your barware.



  12. Tracy says:

    Are the pigeon prints in the powder room for sale? They’re fantastic and would be perfect additions for out bathroom! Great blog!


Design*Sponge reserves the right to restrict comments that do not contribute constructively to the conversation at hand, contain profanity, personal attacks, hate speech or seek to promote a personal or unrelated business. Our goal is to create a safe space where everyone (commenters, subjects of posts and moderators) feels comfortable to speak. Please treat others the way you would like to be treated and be willing to take responsibility for the impact your words may have on others. Disagreement, differences of opinion and heated discussion are welcome, but comments that do not seek to have a mature and constructive dialogue will not be published. We moderate all comments with great care and do not delete any lightly. Please note that our team (writers, moderators and guests) deserve the same right to speak and respond as you do, and your comments may be responded to or disagreed with. These guidelines help us maintain a safe space and work toward our goal of connecting with and learning from each other.