All Images: Margaret Austin Photography
Designed by Sara and Rich Combs of The Joshua Tree House, San Francisco's The Assembly gives its members a place to both create and play, alongside some pretty incredible design inspiration. Originally a church, the Combs worked to enhance the character of the building while making it function as a modern-day clubhouse. From the tiled entryway to custom wood work, the Combs designed a space teeming with thoughtful details. Read on to see more and if you're loving Sara and Rich's style as much as we do, check out their Story.
Can you tell me a bit about The Assembly? How did you get involved?
The Assembly grew out of the founders (Molly Goodson and Carnet Williams’) desire for a space to build community in San Francisco, and the idea that movement and creativity are closely intertwined. The Assembly is a membership based space to create, sweat, and play that offers various fitness classes, workshops, and cozy corners to work or simply hang out in.
Both Rich and I used to work at POPSUGAR, where we worked with Molly. We’d previously done work for Molly & Carnet throughout the evolution of their business, so of course when they reached out for us to design this space we immediately said yes.
You two worked together to design The Joshua Tree House (along with other spaces on your property) had either of you ever designed a commercial space before? How was it different than working on a residential project?
This was our first commercial project, and the scale of the space itself was one of the main differences from designing residential spaces. In order to mentally break the 7,000 sq ft space down into manageable pieces, we imagined it broken up into basic everyday functions: a space to eat, to create, to read a book, or to exercise. Suddenly, the space made so much more sense and felt more approachable, like a shared giant dream home.
Below is The Assembly's kitchen:
We also had to consider the various restrictions with working on a commercial space. For example, the floor tile for the entryway needed to have a friction of .6 or greater when wet, so we were able to work with Fireclay to add an abrasive finish to the tiles to keep the space both beautiful and safe for members.
A dreamy entryway lined with Paseo floor tile transports members of wellness studio The Assembly to an om-filled space. (Please note: if you're working on a commercial project with a floor, we can add an abrasive finish, contact us for more info!
Was the project a remodel or renovation? What did you change about the space? What were the goals?
The space had already previously been renovated by the landlord, and was in really great shape when we began our design work. Our goal was to enhance the character of the original church from the early 1900’s while keeping its new function as a clubhouse in mind. We were grateful to work with such wonderful bones, but the challenge was mostly in defining space in this incredibly open building. In the main club room upstairs, we made it a focus to make the massive room feel both comfortable and cozy. We added a raised platform for the dining area, a divider wall and custom bookshelf made by Katie Gong at the back of the room, and built out a kombucha and tea bar made by Fire on the Mesa and Aleksandra Zee.
A Mini Star and Cross backsplash welcomes members of The Assembly seeking extra refreshment:
What look or aesthetic were you going for?
We always look to the surrounding environment for design cues to blur indoor and outdoor space. In this case that meant bringing in a warm and sunny energy — much like the neighborhood of the Mission itself — one that honored the age and original story of the church. We brought in a lot of vintage items to get a worn in feel, and replaced lighting fixtures, and outlet covers with ones that would have been more appropriate to the building’s time period. The upstairs window panes were replaced from a blue tie dye fiberglass to varying colors of stained glass, another feature the church would have originally had. It was really incredible to see the space light up again once the windows were replaced!
Below is the bar area:
In terms of tile, what was your inspiration for the entryway?
We worked with branding designer Chase McBride to create a color palette for the Assembly that was representative of California Mission style with terra cottas, and aged brass, as well as cooler colors from the succulents and bay of San Francisco. For the entryway tile, we chose Feldspar and Sunflower as a warm hug as you enter the space for the first time. The Sunflower color reminded us both of the aged brass used throughout the space, as well as the warm light flowing in through the amber glass panels we put in upstairs.
TIle Shown: Sunflower
Tile Shown: Feldspar
What made you choose the Paseo shape?
The Paseo tile is a beautiful shape, both classic and clean. We didn’t want the shape to feel overly modern in this historical building, but loved its simplicity and subtle curves.
Now, onto the kitchen + bar, what sort of look were you going for there?
Truly, we wanted to create a California dream kitchen. Even before the kitchen was remodeled, inevitably that’s where everyone would congregate. It was important to us to fill this space with natural materials so that it would age well with use.
Tile Shown: Mini Star and Cross in Tusk
What made you choose the Mini Star and Cross in Tusk?
We initially fell in love with these tiles while designing our kitchen at home, and since the goal was for the Assembly to feel like home it only felt appropriate.
You used our tile in your home as well, any tips on working with handmade tile that you've learned along the way?
We love working with handmade tile, it adds so much character! When installing, it seems to work great to have the grout lines slightly wider to accommodate any tile variations.
Lastly, any other shapes/colors/sizes you're hoping to use in future projects?
We have dreams of turning our patio outside of our personal home into an outdoor moroccan living room. For that, we’ve been eyeing the brick in a herringbone pattern. We’d love to use a color that’s warm and light (to save our feet from the summer heat). We really love Persimmon!
Inspired by this space? Order color samples online now. Need some help? Simply call, chat or fill out our Design Assistance Form and one of our talented Design Consultants will get back to you shortly. Working on a commercial project? Contact us here.