While some children make believe to be a nurse or an actor, as a child Kendall Wilkinson pretended to order Brunschwig & Fils fabrics for her imaginary clients.
For the daughter of a well-known interior designer, the handwriting seemed to be on the wall. However, it wasn’t until after she went to work in the film industry that Kendall had an epiphany. Prompted by studies abroad in Paris, she realized that perhaps she needed to change course and pursue her passion for interior design.
It was during her time in Paris that she became enamored with French architecture and antiques, and began traveling extensively, importing select pieces to the US. Upon returning home she enrolled at San Francisco's Academy of Art University and began honing her skills and style.
Kendall’s true expertise lies in her ability to artfully mix traditional and modernity. I love that while Kendall’s work tends to be tailored and crisp, she is not afraid to use bold color. Likewise, she is classic in her overall approach, but never stuffy! “Antiques will always be one of my truest loves, so you’d be hard pressed to see a project that didn’t feature my vintage treasures among newer ones,” she proudly proclaims. The wonderful juxtaposition of a slick Lucite piece paired with a French antique is what gives her rooms character.
The San Francisco native is a regular participant in the prestigious San Francisco Decorator Showcase, and, in 2007, was awarded California Home + Design's Award for Showcase House Design. Her work has been featured in Town & Country, Traditional Home, and InStyle, as well as numerous other magazines, local publications, and various shows on Home & Garden Television.
How would you describe your personal style?
I would say that my personal style, like my design aesthetic, is a balance between classic and fresh. For example, I love French fashion, with ruffled hemlines high collars, but try to pair them with fun textures like leather or modern sleek shoes. Fashion, like design, is about layering and pairing things that are unexpected.
What is your most prized possession?
Without hesitation, my two children.
What inspires your creativity and designs?
Often referred to as a devoted Francophile, my adoration for all things French is no secret. I attribute my travels in Paris and Provence as being the launching points for my career- as I am continually inspired by the architecture, culture, art and fashion. But closer to home, I’d say that the beauty of the Bay Area landscape always inspires a new color combination, or design concept.
What is the one thing in life you cannot live without?
Because my business is so paramount in my life, I would say that my professional team is something I could not live without right now. They support me, inspire me and help to keep the business fresh and creative. We also make each other laugh- a lot.
Who are your style icons?
Albert Hadley and Sister Parish have left an indelible mark as inspirations in designs. Andree Putman is also a huge icon- I appreciate how she found strength and beauty in what was sometimes difficult and dark.
Who would you most like to collaborate with on a project?
Rather than approach this question as who I would like to work with, I’d rather think about who I’d like to work for. Tom Ford has an amazing eye for resurrecting midcentury style and design in a very authentic, sophisticated way. Recently inspired by his film “A Single Man”, I would love him to hire me as designer set or an interior that totally channels the stylistic glamour and repression of the era. It’s a beautiful balance.
What books are currently on your bedside table?
Lift by Kelly Corrigan and On Meditation are my grown up reads, and I keep Raising Happiness for my little ones.
What is your idea of earthly happiness?
I think earthly happiness comes from finding an environment in which you truly feel in your element, physically and mentally. For me, that would be in a French Chateau with my little boys, watching the landscape outside, laughing and just enjoying the precious time we have together.
Who has most influenced your direction in life?
My mother, Alice Wiley, was and is, not only an inspirational designer, but also an inspiring figure as a woman. She cultivated a career for herself during a time when women were not widely recognized as being able to have independent professions. Her classical taste details definitely rubbed off on me as well, although I try to infuse my own modern twists. I had the fortune of an influential mother and mentor all in one.
Profile by Ronda Carman