October 11, 2017

For Charles De Lisle, doors are always opening, it seems. Or, put another way—the San Francisco-based designer and craftsman is marvelously adept at opening them.

Born in rural Massachusetts, Charles De Lisle was raised in the shadow of his father’s and grandfather’s factory businesses. He attended school for graphic design, but developed a side passion for ceramics and welding. The welding in turn allowed him to create a lamp—a rather monumental lamp—which was quickly snapped up by chic boutique owners and hoteliers across the U.S., and scored him a job with his first interior design firm, De Lisle, Philpotts & Staub. After leaving the firm in 2011 to form his own (and subsequently hitting the design doldrums), he decamped to Mexico for a few weeks, where he stumbled onto a promising eatery, who was in need of someone to design their new digs. Six months later, the restaurant—Máximo Bistrot—would rise to the top of Mexico City’s fine dining scene, and Charles De Lisle’s door would be the one that everyone was knocking on.


Charles de Lisle San Francisco interior design portrait
Photo by Daniel Dent

Since then, Charles De Lisle’s client list has grown to become one of the most diversified in the business. Real estate moguls, Vanguard Properties, swoon-y boutique owner Rachel Comey, and Michelin-starred San Francisco eatery, State Bird Provisions have all hired him for projects. His aesthetic is organic, but slightly quirky. Artisan-esque, but decidedly polished. His ability to swing to extremes while never abandoning his trademarks elevates him to the top of his craft.

With more doors open than ever before, we were delighted to steal De Lisle away from his current projects for a bit recently and talk his design inspirations, his kitchen nook, and in perhaps in an ode to the project that started it all; his affinity for champagne and tacos.

Charles de Lisle San Francisco interior design formal dining room wallpaper abstract chandelier
Photo by David Duncan Livingston

Favorite item on DECASO right now?
1970’s Table Lamps by Adalberto Dal Lago at Rewire

Favorite thing about designing with vintage or antique pieces?
I love how vintage can alter a familiar room into something that’s a little less understandable. Vintage can be unpredictable and a bit imperfect… We think this is super important in pulling together a great room.

Favorite way to add drama to a room?
Keep it a little bit broken… add something that will sneak up on you once you’ve been sitting in the room for a while.

Charles de Lisle San Francisco interior design sitting room green gold floor lamp
Photo by David Duncan Livingston

Favorite source for design inspiration?
Italian Cinema. Travel. Other people’s houses.

Favorite paint color?
Almost-Black Turquoise

Favorite pattern (and how you love to use it)?
Windowpane Check. I love how a good grid feels on a chair or in a layout. Organic shaped furniture gets even better when wrapped with a man-made pattern.

Charles de Lisle San Francisco interior design living room leather couch orange woven chairs
Photo by Angie Cao

Favorite design rule to break?
My own.

Favorite color combo?
Battleship Grey and Cinnamon

Favorite way to mix high and low?
Champagne & Tacos

Charles de Lisle San Francisco interior design tree wall restaurant art green wood
Photo by Victor Benitez

Favorite vintage pieces to incorporate into a room?
Italian lighting always seems to work.

Favorite furniture Makers?
Ward Bennett, Gae Aulenti, Wharton Esherick

Favorite room in your house?
The Kitchen nook, an early American wood-winged settee, two pine Martino Gamper chairs and an old chipped, vintage Saarinen table… all lit by a Linden chandelier prototype.

Favorite piece of art you own?
Ceramic stand dish by J.B. Blunk

Charles de Lisle San Francisco interior design dining room purple chair wood table woven pendant lights
Photo by David Duncan Livingston


Favorite travel destination?

Favorite hotel to check in to?
Adrère Amellal, Siwa, Egypt.

Favorite way to treat yourself?
Soft serve ice cream

Favorite thank you / hostess gift?
Fresh Hawaiian leis

Charles de Lisle San Francisco interior design eames chair bedroom modern leather wood rug
Photo by Angie Cao

Favorite entertaining essential?

Favorite artist?
Charles Burchfield

Favorite thing to collect?
Ceramics, Chairs, Cars

Charles de Lisle San Francisco interior design rocking chair leather upholstery wood bookshelf library
Photo by Angie Cao


Favorite restaurant?
Zuni still feels like home

Favorite hotel to recommend to visiting friends?
Manka’s up in Inverness

Favorite local flea market/vintage hunting ground?
Antique Malls up on Route 116 in Sonoma

Lead photo by David Duncan Livingston