Chances are if you know April Gargiulo it’s as the holistic guru behind Vintner’s Daughter, the lightning-in-a-bottle facial serum that has been hailed by just about every skin expert and celebrity we can think of (her newly launched second product is already sold out). But as a recent visit to April’s San Francisco home showed us, her passions aren’t limited to just skincare; the mom of two also has serious design chops. Like the minimalist black bottle that houses her signature serum, April’s Pac Heights home is elegantly pared-down, largely neutral in palette, and wickedly chic. It’s also chock full of vintage, a love sowed by April’s low-key Napa upbringing and deepened while creating Vintner’s Daughter. “I like the idea of vintage from an environmental stand point,” she says, “Not putting new things out into the world and instead reusing things.” Go inside April’s earthy-modernist pad and see how she mastered the art of creating a Zen-like escape in the middle of the bustling city. And don’t miss her exclusive collection of Chairish picks.
A Mid-Century Marvel
When you consider April’s deep rooted respect for vintage, it’s no surprise that she and husband Mitch opted for a vintage home. One built in 1938, to be exact. Designed by the 20th Century architect William Wurster (also known as the godfather of the California ranch), the house spans three floors, and features a pocket-style garden off the living room designed by renowned Mid-Century landscapist Tommy Church. “It was a very kind of quiet home,” April says of her first impression of the house. “It wasn’t a showy home, but the construction was really superb; incredible. I think as modern as this house looks today, it must have looked like a spaceship back in 1938.”
As taken as she was with the property, April wasn’t inclined to change much after moving in. She worked with a local architect to strip down the doors and floors to their original finishes, but the only walls she removed were in what’s now the main living area downstairs. “When that space was first built it was a warren of smaller rooms,” April explains. “So there was a kitchen. There were two staff rooms. And there was a dining room that was kind of cut off.” The only downside of fewer walls? The lack of partitions keeps a cap on late-night entertaining. “We have two little kids and bedtimes and an open floor plan doesn’t really bode well for that,” she admits. “But we aspire to it!”
Honor What You Love
An avid Chairish shopper since virtually day one, April’s knowledge of vintage is vast. When asked about her favorite vintage makers, she says, “I like the organic, more grounded side of modern, but I have a soft spot for more exuberant Italian designers like Ettore Sottsass and Gio Ponti.” For April, it’s about respecting the craft and the people behind it, whether that be a furniture maker or a grower who provides one of the numerous whole plants that go into a bottle of Vintner’s Daughter. “It’s all about honoring where things come from,” she says. “At Vintner’s Daughter, we really honor the growers and the producers, and that’s certainly a part of what I like about vintage—that honoring of the craftsman and the artist.”
It’s All In The Family
In addition to all things Vintner’s Daughter, April is also a mom to two girls under the age of seven. As you might expect given the care April seems to put into everything, fostering quality family time at home is of the utmost importance to her. The dining table serves as the family’s ground zero, providing a place for them to recharge. “We have our dinner there every night,” says April. “We talk about our day and do this thing we call ‘Rose and Thorn’ where everyone around the table says what their rose of the day was and their thorn of the day was. The rose is what you’re grateful for and the thorn is what you can learn from.” Afterwards, the family often breaks for games in the adjoining den, or should San Francisco fog permit, they push open the living room doors and head outside.
Going For Zen
As much as April’s house seems like an extension of herself, the color palette is a noticeable exception. “I like to come into a room that’s cool and quiet and restful and peaceful,” she says. “A riot of color is not my thing. Which is interesting because with my clothes, it is like that. I love brightly colored clothes.” One place the restrained palette is really on display is the kitchen. Kitchen cabinets a shade lighter than the floor make the space feel more like a Japanese tea house than a kitchen. The pantry, encased by sliding glass doors that mimic rice paper screens, only heighten the effect. The unique design was born out of a desire to create “a beautiful space that was still easy to use,” according to April. “But,” as she notes, “we didn’t want to cut off the light. So it had to be this kind of light box.” The result is ethereal while still scoring and ten-out-of-ten on the functional scale.
Step inside April’s pantry and you’ll find that it’s stocked to the brim with a battalion of wine glasses—she is a vintner after all—alongside teetering stacks of pottery and serveware. “I’m always looking,” April says when asked about her impressive dishware collection. “It’s just in the family. My mom is a collector; my grandmother was an incredible collector.” Since buying just to buy isn’t April’s thing, she’s always mindful when considering a new collection. “We use everything,” she says. “All of the collections I have we use, so nothing’s really for show.”
The Business of Home
With the recent release of Vintner’s Daughter Active Treatment Essence, the long-awaited follow up to the original smash serum, it’s fair to say that April’s on-the-go more than ever lately. To make it all more manageable, she transformed one of her upstairs rooms into an office space, perfect for conducting on-the-fly business meetings or catching a phone call. “I wanted it to be a place where you could really go to focus and concentrate,” April says, noting that the wood-clad walls and floors (all original, but recently spruced) make the room feel perfectly meditative. “They’re just the most beautiful color,” she says of the walls. “I don’t even know how to describe it. It’s almost like a sandalwood or a leather-ish color.”
Like every other room in the house, the office is also a hot bed of vintage. Among the room’s keystone pieces is a Guillerme et Chambon settee. April found it on Chairish a few years ago and it still ranks as one of her all-time favorite scores. A Brutalist coffee table and Danish Modern chairs round out the vintage treasures. When asked for her tips buying vintage (because, yes, we knew you’d want them after seeing her home), April’s advice is sage: “Give it a day or two,” she says. “Gut-check it with your friend with the best design sensibility. If you can’t get it out of your mind, buy it. If it just doesn’t work for some reason, you can always sell it through Chairish again.”
All photos by Brad Knipstein