In his San Francisco loft, Dan Rolleri kept his perfume collection hidden away in a back room where the bottles filled two metal cabinets and overflowed onto a nearby desk.
When guests visited, Rolleri says, “I didn’t want to scare them or get involved in a conversation that somehow reveals me to be an obsessive perfume collector.” Today, the bottles (and the secret) are out, residing beautifully on floating walnut shelves in a former bedroom of the 1950’s home he bought in East Bay.
Rolleri has collected perfumes for the past 15 years and writes about the connection between scents, anxiety, and evolutionary instincts. When he purchased the 3,000-square-foot ranch home in the San Francisco suburbs in 2016, he suddenly had more space than ever — and no excuse to keep his collection out of sight.
“At some point I might die, and it’s going to be a real shock to everyone,” he jokes. “It’s going to be really creepy to find 500 bottles of perfume stacked everywhere.”
The big reveal has become the room where all of his visitors want to spend their time (even though he also has a beautiful library and a Slim Aarons-style pool).
But to get to that point, the original home required a lot of work.
A previous owner who — believe it or not — worked as an interior designer thought it was a divine idea to add doric columns to the living room, string up brass pendant lamps, and do a stout, stumpy fireplace in black marble. The home’s pergo floors were also buckling, and we won’t begin to talk about the blue-blue-blue kitchen.
For the renovation, Rolleri wanted a designer that wouldn’t pile up some throw pillows and call it a look. He had bookmarked Jennifer Jones’ page at two years prior to buying the house, and tapped her to design a mid-century modern home that evoked Mad Men "without looking like a TV set.”
Of the same mind, Jones left the past in the past — “I don’t want mid-century in a time capsule” — and modernized the aesthetic with saturated colors and new pieces in traditional mid-century shapes, such as a pair of swivel chairs by Kimberly Denman. The walls are painted ‘White Dove’ by Benjamin Moore, and the dark, graphic rugs by Stark add contrast that Jones says won’t ever feel dated.
Built-ins that framed the window in the library were also ripped out in favor of less-busy bookshelves along the wall and a black trim for “a dose of drama.” In the bedroom, a custom wall-mounted bed adds architectural interest and texture while keeping a low profile in a plain, box-y room.
Jones’ team re-did the entire home from backsplash to baseboard, but it was the aforementioned perfume room that presented the biggest design challenge. It became a question both of “how can we make this perfume room not feel feminine,” Jones says, and how could they store 400-500 perfumes without it feeling cluttered?
They landed on a room with no rugs, curtains, or ornate features — just a simple black pendant light. Jones repeated the floating shelves from the living room and devised a space she likened to a wine-tasting room. “The disciplines are sort of similar,” Rolleri said.
Guests can come sit at the table by Room & Board and sample the scents as they would a fine vintage. They’re more likely to remember the night in the morning, too — not that this is a home anyone could easily forget.