Blythe's Urban Gypsy Inspired Abode

House Tour

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Name: Blythe Friedmann of Urban Gypsy Design
Location: Mission Dolores, San Francisco, CA
Size: 1,200 square feet
Years lived in: 3 1/2 years

Blythe purchased her 100+ year old apartment a few years ago and has made every effort to make her space her own. As an interior designer, her attention to detail throughout the home is obvious (but unfortunately she's had to keep her hands off of her roommate's space). Her aesthetic is both urban and organic with an appreciation for the modern and the not so modern. Still life vignettes abound and give her home the distinct touch of Blythe in every room.

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Blythe's living room feels warm and cozy, but is a bit dark due to the amount of wood covering the walls. Still, with the fireplace, the vines and that Eames recliner, one can't help but want to remain in this room abundant with textures. Her kitchen and living room are light filled and teaming with windows, both to the outside and to other rooms of the house. This balance between the rooms gives this apartment so much of its character.

Part of Blythe's design advice is "create space out of things you adore." Her home embodies that philosophy as every item seems hand picked with love, from the stones that grace a ledge in her kitchen to her grandmother's mermaid platter that hangs in her bathroom. As important as the items are themselves, it's obvious that great care and consideration have been used to find homes for each piece of ephemera.

Blythe also runs her own company, Urban Gypsy Design. Seeing the home of an interior designer is always interesting in and of itself, but we wanted to also show you two other spaces that Blythe has designed. She teamed up with the owners of a couple of great Mission restaurants, Weird Fish and The Corner, to create two unique spaces. While Weird Fish has an obvious nod to the ocean, The Corner was Blythe's homage to her childhood neighborhood, Prospect Park in Brooklyn (images of each are at the end of the house tour slide show). Blythe was given free reign to decorate each restaurant and designed two spaces full of detail and texture, but with enough restraint to let the food be the star of the show.

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AT Survey:

My style: Urban gypsy (modern bohemian with a bit of grit and city shine) with some wabi-sabi (Japanese for finding beauty in the asymmetry, impermanence and textures of nature).

Inspiration: The natural world (sea, sky, soil), Diego Rivera's painting studio in Mexico City, my grandmother's timeless chic, Mark Rothko, Yves Saint Laurent's Moroccan garden and New York in the summer (the buildings, textures, sounds, and colors are sure to inspire).

Favorite Element: The lovely living room. There is something about the subdued color palette, oiled wood wainscoting, comfy Eames lounge chair, and collection of little treasures that never fails to relax even the weariest of moods. It even has vines growing in through the window from my garden. Very Grey Gardens without the mess.

Weird Fish: The dreamy turquoise walls layered with silvery old bottles, bright red coral, and chocolate brown beams. The Corner: The tree silhouettes on the wallpaper and the worn gold light fixture next to the satiny olive green paint that covers the mezzanine.

Biggest Challenge: Letting go! In my home, I can always be on top of what gets integrated into the design (much to the chagrin of the boys I share my space with...I can be quite opinionated). When working with clients, after the project is completed I need to let go of the evolution of the space. In most cases, clients do really well on their own, but sometimes a misstep can change things in a way that does not serve them well.

What Friends Say: That my spaces feel relaxing and cozy, and that they want to spend hours looking at all the mini still life arrangements. They ask if I could help them re-do their houses, and then they try to steal my cats.

Biggest Embarrassment: The sun room/art studio/kitty paraphernalia catchall space in the back of my house. A girl needs a little mess, but nobody should be able to see it.

Proudest DIY: From The Corner: The chandelier that I created out of reclaimed mercury pendant lights that I then rewired with old Italian cloth cord and hung from an iron base. The iron worker forged it to from my drawings beautifully. From Weird Fish: The custom tables fashioned out of wood, resin, and old ceiling tins.

Biggest Indulgence: The Flocks Pouf in my living room. It is knit out of wool from a single flock of sheep in New Zealand. Gorgeous and fully worth the cost. From The Corner: The counters made out of lovely African Bubinga wood. We were able to get four counters out of one piece.

Best advice: Create your space out of things that you adore. Edit out the rest. Your space should feel like a sanctuary from the rest of the world. This can be achieved on any budget with color, personal ephemera and a bit of elbow grease. And it is all in how the little parts work together. I can drive my clients crazy with my attention to detail, but they always end up telling me that I helped them learn to put care and thoughtfulness into all elements of their home and business.

Dream source: Les Puces in Paris, the Souks of Morocco, Charles and Ray Eames' living room, vintage shops in North Porthland, the Bahamian seashore...

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Resources:
Living room: Flocks Pouf from Design Within Reach; couch from Room and Board; coffee table and armoire from vintage shops in North Portland.

Bedroom: Mirror is from Oaxaca, Mexico (as are most of the vintage keys and milagros scattered around the house); bedding from West Elm.

Artwork: Vintage star in hallway and picture frame in the bathroom from Gypsy Honeymoon (best name of a store ever); screenprint and mixed media painting by Sabrina Ward Harrison; photographs are either my own or from Open Studios in Portland and San Francisco; mixed media tile piece in bathroom is from an old African lady selling her wares on the street in Paris.

Other finds: From the BellJar and The Apartment Vintage Shop in San Francisco and from various garage sales and flea markets throughout the years.

Paint: All paint is from House of Color in the Mission, the best paint shop around. They have tons of samples and a great selection of brands. The paint color in the bathroom and at Weird Fish is Galapagos Green by Martha Stewart (since discontinued).

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(Thanks, Blythe!)

Images: Jessica Watson

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