Ann Lowengart’s path to interior design was more than a little irregular. After graduating from UC Berkeley, the Bay Area–based talent went to work for product manufacturer Procter & Gamble. “I was selling toothpaste and toilet paper to their West Coast clients,” she says of the less-than-glamorous role. Nonetheless, over five years she worked her way up the corporate ladder and, in 1999, bought a three-unit apartment building in San Francisco’s upscale Lake Street district, with the intention to remodel and sell it. She enjoyed the process so thoroughly, and got such an enthusiastic response, that she left the toiletry trade behind to start her eponymous design firm.
In 2014, nearly 16 years into her practice, she received a unique request from a client with a new home in the Marin County town of Tiburon and a very tricky timeline. A couple and their three children needed to be in their new house by the first week of January, just five short weeks later. Lowengart and the homeowners cut a deal: “If I could get the house move-in ready in that time period,” she says, “then I could have the job of decorating the entire property.” Needless to say, she made the deadline, providing concierge-like service and outfitting the home with every essential, right down to towels and toothpaste.
Over the next nine months, Lowengart stocked the new construction overlooking the bay with a sophisticated mix of furnishings that combined the wife’s taste for glamour with the husband’s request for an organic, modern feel. “We wanted a place that would be comfortable for our family but also had a bit of elegance,” the wife says. The home’s inarguable pièce de résistance, a driftwood chandelier bedecked in Swarovski crystals, which hangs in the living room, marries these styles rather literally. The husband spotted a similar piece in the Sacramento airport, an original work by Donald Lipski with a decidedly unattainable price tag. Lowengart recalls, “He said that if I could get that fixture for him, I would be his hero. His exact words were, ‘This is the only thing I want.’” The designer pulled it off, surprising herself and her client when she found a similar unsold commission by Portland artist Jonquil LeMaster. When she called to share the good news with the homeowners, she says, “[He] was yelling, ‘Annie, you’re awesome!’ He texted me throughout the day thanking me. They were dream clients.” Call it fate, or perhaps, a wish upon a chandelier.
This article originally appeared in Architectural Digest in June 2016. Click here to view the original feature.