Name:David Skelley owner classic modern furniture store (Boomerang for modern) and Kurt Stell, artist
Location: “Little Italy” San Diego, CA
Size: 1,400 sq. ft.
Years lived in: 10, own
When David and Kurt first sent us photos of their San Diego home, we were in awe. Yes, they have access to the best of vintage mid-century modern furniture (David owns Boomerang for Modern); but they've made their home more than just a showroom of iconic pieces: It's so comfortable, inviting, and warm. In David's own words: "After 10 years here, I got to say it works wonderfully as we can’t think of another place we’d rather live."
David and Kurt's home has its own back story: San Diego architect Jonathan Segal purchased the property in 1999 when it had a derelict house in the middle of the plot. After subdividing the the parcel of land into three (one for his family and two smaller ones), Segal designed and built each of the three house, spacing them six feet apart to ensure a degree of privacy. And after the project was completed, this San Diego neighborhood blossomed into a popular arts and food district--a far cry from its previously sketchy reputation.
My/Our Style: Definitely Classic Modern, but we love to mix in primitives like African or Native American--something with strong graphic qualities. Modern design sometimes gets a bad rap such as being “too cold.” We like to warm the environment up with woods, interesting textured fabrics and plants, as well as lots of personally chosen items. We love the modern classics and have some great examples. Our house is small and FULL of stuff but their careful arrangement keeps an uncluttered look by balancing vignettes and collections with negative spaces.
Inspiration: The Case Study House program of the '50s and '60s as well as our backgrounds in fine arts.
Favorite Element: It’s a toss-up between the stone wall on the second floor which always gets huge attention because it’s so unexpected in a place like ours; and the floor to ceiling windows which expand our tiny house beyond its walls. For a city house, they both make the home even more unique.
Biggest Challenge: Going from horizontal to vertical living. We moved from an expansive, huge one- floor loft with 50 ft long walls to a small vertical building with three interior floors and a fourth floor roof garden.
What Friends Say: Everyone loves it! Really, for a small place, it’s a great party house as people can use every floor. The architect often calls me to show the house to architecture students from all over the world. Even the traditionalists like it: It enlightens their views of modernist living and blows away their misconceptions because it’s so livable.
Biggest Embarrassment: That would be the entry vestibule which is between the first and second floors--it's awkward and tiny. When you greet guests, there is no room to hug or take off coats until a proper floor is reached. It's a byproduct of that kind of space-saving architecture and just a tiny consolation.
Proudest DIY: Installing the car lift in the garage. It doubled our parking. The ceilings are all 10 ft, including the garage, so two small cars can fit if they are stacked. The top one is a classic and mainly used for special events since it’s a bit of a dance to get it down.
Biggest Indulgence: Most of the materials are modest and low cost, but the pricey Arne Jacobsen faucets and hardware made in Denmark elevate the look.
Best Advice: In a small space, EVERYTHING matters. Choose carefully and edit anything you don’t love or need. Negative space is important: The eye needs rest as well as things of interest to look at. Make and keep your home beautiful. Not just for when you have guests…for you! It’s all about quality of life. Enjoy your home every day.
Dream Source: The authentic period homes I get invited into for my business. Many are important modernist designs with their original furnishings intact. It’s a time-warp treat to see, and to visit with their original owners is very special.
Appliances: Amana from Aztec Appliance, S.D.
Hardware: Kroin from International Bath and Tile, S.D.
Furniture: Shameless self promotion…Boomerang for modern, S.D.
Accessories: Boomerang for modern, S.D.
Lighting: Boomerang for modern, S.D.
Rugs and Carpets: Sid’s Carpet Barn, National City
Tiles and Stone: Eldorado Stone from RCP, S.D.
Window Treatments: Smith and Noble online
Beds: Boomerang for modern, S.D.
Artwork: Period local artists and current art by A.K. Stell
Paint: Frazee Paint, S.D.
Flooring: Sid’s Carpet Barn, National City
(Thanks, David and Kurt!)