House Tour: Sam's Carriage House Meets Gypsy Caravan

San Francisco

Name: Samantha Martin-Evans
Location: San Francisco, CA
Size: 950 sq. ft., 2-bedroom Edwardian carriage house
Years lived in: 11, owned

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Photographer Samantha Martin-Evans doesn’t know whether her hundred-year-old Edwardian cottage in Noe Valley was ever actually used as a carriage house, but one thing is for certain: the interior has come a long way from its buttoned-up origins. In the eleven years Samantha has lived there, she has slowly filled the rooms from floor to ceiling with color, texture, and above all, story. The cottage, which she shares with her (almost)-seven-year-old son, Julian, is the kind of home where each and every item seems to have a personality, begging you to ask where it came from and how it ended up here.


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It goes without saying that Samantha’s style can be defined as eclectic. She has an incredible eye for the unexpected: mixing ethnic prints and more traditional florals; creating unusual color combinations; adding modern graphic and typographical touches to update the space.

Most of the furnishings you see are flea market and garage sale finds. A fan of vintage paint-by-numbers, Sam has found a lot of her artwork on ebay and at the Salvation Army… and, of course, in her own home: Julian’s originals are hanging everywhere. We love that he has his own Julian-sized table, complete with cans of pencils and pens, next to the grown-up kitchen table. Clearly this is a home where creativity and imagination are valued above all.

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AT Survey:

My/Our Style: Well, let's see if I can put a name to this particular brand of style insanity. Something like Country Cottage meets Gypsy Caravan. There's a good bit of mid-century and flea market elements thrown in, too. Bazaar Style (after the book) also comes to mind. All those descriptors aside, though, it really is a style that's evolved out of a collection of things and colors that make me happy.

Inspiration: Flea markets. Window displays. Carnivals and circuses. Observing color patterns and combinations everywhere I go, and then trying to bring them into my home.

Favorite Element: The large barn-style front doors and the 20-foot high ceilings (in the main room). Oh, and the wood-paneled walls in the kitchen and on the stairs leading up to the loft.

Biggest Challenge: How best to utilize the loft space. It's a tricky area to hang out in because of the sloped ceilings.

What Friends Say: Wow. Holy sh*t! And then they have to sit down to take it all in.

Biggest Embarrassment: The laminate kitchen counters and the flooring in the bathroom. (Must re-tile!)

Proudest DIY: The chandelier hanging over the kitchen table. The crystal strands were salvaged from chandeliers in an old, abandoned San Francisco bank. I then broke the strands up and wound each individual wire around the cord of a hanging lamp I bought at Home Depot.

Biggest Indulgence: I'd have to say art, although I rarely spend more than $100 on any one piece -- but when your walls are covered, it does add up. Oh, but then there's my Diana Fayt pottery. (A plate that is strategically centered on my plate wall and also a beautiful bowl. Both were gifts from my boyfriend, though, so the indulgence was really his.)

Best Advice: I wouldn't say that I've followed any particular advice when decorating. I suppose my house is a testament to my belief (I read this somewhere years ago) that living without color is like living without joy.

Most Treasured Possession: The brass church "offerings" candlestand. My mom paid $20 for it 35 years ago at a church bazaar. I light all the candles on special occasions, and friends drop coins in the "offerings" slot, then make a wish. (And I get to collect the coins, as I still have the key to the little door.)

Dream Source: ABC Carpet & Home, Anthropologie, Design Within Reach, Tail of the Yak (Berkeley), Moroccan markets.

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Resources:

Furniture:

Craigslist, garage sales, Ikea, side of the road finds

Rugs:

Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters

Lighting:

Ikea, Urban Outfitters, The Pickled Hutch (used to be on Church Street, now moved down to Pacifica), Doe (the mushroom lamp in the kitchen), Global Exchange, flea markets

Mirrors:

The Pickled Hutch, flea markets

Pillows:

Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters, Garnet Hill, handmade by me

Plates:

Diana Fayt, Anthropologie, Doe, flea markets, brought home from travels

Bedding:

Target, Garnet Hill, Ikea, Z Gallerie

Artwork:

Salvation Army (my favorite trio of laminated bird paintings), The Shiny Squirrel, Doe, Etsy, Betsy Walton (she is one of my all-time favorite artists), Abby Powell Thompson, Nikki McClure, ebay (search for vintage paint-by-numbers; and for vintage bird paintings), Ork San Francisco Poster, my own polaroids and enlarged framed photos, Babar posters from The Land of Nod

Accessories:

Doe (wooden bowls, white ceramic branch vases)

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(Thanks, Samantha and Julian!)

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