Interiorssneak peeks

sneak peek: zoe johns & max catalano

by anne

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.

Suggested For You


  • So much to love here! Do you know the name of that tall plant in the corner of the sitting room? My house is desperate for some green. Thanks!

  • I think the typewriter with paper at the ready for parties is a brilliant idea. Why not leave out a pair of knitting needles with a swatch started next time? People get goofy when they’ve had a drink or two …and they’re more willing to try something they haven’t done before….like knitting. Heck, even a crochet hook and some yarn would work. Might create some new knitters. You could even type on the typewriter, “Check out the knitting needles. K2, P1 for a free martini in the kitchen.”

  • Thanks again everyone!
    – The bedroom color is BM whispering spring.
    – The study color is a 50/50 Gentleman’s Gray/Twilight both BM.
    – Im not sure who made the cabinets.
    – The tall plant in the corner is a Fiddlers Fig.
    – The dining table is an antique with no maker on it .

  • A total dream! You have great style. A perfect combination of formal and funky. I love every single detail, down to the gorgeous pup. You are so lucky to be surrounded by such beauty every day! xo.

  • One of my favorite Sneak Peeks in a long time. Love your style. Wish it was my home!

    Where did you get the Pigeons?

  • I’d love to learn more about the pigeons…you say they are your work. Are they paintings? Do you sell them anywhere? Or have a gallery? They are so interesting and appealing…I have a pigeon-loving friend who would LOVE one… Forget her–I’D love one!

  • I love your beautiful home. I still remember all the beautiful linens that you cherished in a bag in back of your VW station wagon. It’s been a while.
    Hope to see you and Max in person soon.

    Love and Kisses, Paula

  • Dear Zoe and Max,

    Love everything!!!! Looks like a beautiful apartment in Paris!!!!!!
    Can’t wait to see it someday in person!!!!

    love, Paula

  • Such an impeccable aesthetic. Every room is perfection. I remember fondly our typewitten thank you note – so sweet, so heartfelt. These rooms say so much about you both. Just beautiful!

  • how refreshing to see a lovely, put-together, totally styled home! no antlers, no mishmashed decorating styles put together in the name of home decorating. kudos! you’re in my favorite city! just looking out the window at the brick building made me homesick!!

  • What an amazing home. Strikes that note between soothing, sophisticated and fun. Well done. Where is the couch from?

  • Lovely Home! Congrats!!! Can you let me in on where you purchased the console table where you keep the china?

  • Gorgeous home Zoe & well deserving of the feature! Your sensibility comes through in every photo and you are a joy to work with ;) Well done!

  • I love everything….your taste and style is impeccable….and your anticdote and comments show how much thought and feeling you have put into every detail of your beautiful home.

  • Your home is beautiful! Love Agnes the dog. Would like to know the sofa she is sitting on.
    Love the gray flannel.

  • Hi, I love your bar area sideboard and would love it if you can please tell me the manufacturer! I have been looking for something like this for a while now! Thank you in advance!

  • love it all. the teal bookcase put me over the top. Must have that console/buffet. Freaking out.

  • One of my favorite Sneak Peek’s ever. ZOE, hope I’m not too late to ask a couple questions. Do you mind sharing where you got the rug in the first pic? And the material on your headboard? I am going to try to make one myself, too.

  • By far one of my most favorite favorite sneak peaks! It is the perfect balance of whimsy, elegance, comfort and style. C’est superbe!

  • Beautiful!! Love every room! I love that her bedroom was inspired by a cloud–I’ve definitely wanted that sort of thing for a bedroom before! Lots of down comforters…

    Also, the art in the bathroom gives it so much more character! May have to do that!

  • Small world indeed. I believe I may have worked with your Mother, Brigitte in real estate in SF when you were just a little teenager. I remember your black & white polka dot prom dress…which she borrowed. You have the ecclectic taste of Brigitte. She always encouraged me to push the envelope of fashion and lift my head high. So lovely to see you all grown up.

  • I love your bar console. Could you possibly tell me where you bought it from? I would greatly appreciate it, I have been looking for a piece like this for a while now and haven’t seen anything. Thank you for your time.

    Kasey Blake

  • Since I was a child, my favorite houses have always been those with books. Book everywhere. In built-in bookshelves. In battered bookcases. Even stacked on the stairs. No matter how they’re arranged, books add warmth and humanity to a house. They say, “a reader lives here.” And he pisses in the toilet.

  • Hi! Love this post! I am avidly searching for a new paint color for our bedroom, and I fell in love with the color in yours. Could you possibly provide paint info? I would be so grateful!! Thanks!!

  • I love your house so much I keep coming back for another look! What kind of paint did you use on the kitchen cabinets?

  • Hi Zoe,
    I adore your home. Any chance you could share the material on your headboard? Does it have piping on it as well? (hard to see in the photo) You did a beautiful job with it! I’m going to make an attempt at it :)

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