House Tour: Heather's Hip Hideaway

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Name: Heather
Location: Mission Dolores, San Francisco
Size: 850 sq. ft.

Heather had specific things that she was looking for in a home: Two bedrooms, natural light, a cross-breeze, a window in the bathroom, a gas range, washer/dryer, parking. She didn't prioritize; all of these things were non-negotiable.

What she found was an 850-square foot, two-story condo built in the 1980s. She looked beyond the pastel paint colors, gray ceilings, "slippery" gray polyester carpeting, fussy blinds, and artificial plants, and saw the place where she wanted to live. Heather's new neighbors were surprised that she renovated right after the seller had done his own renovations. Her friends were not.

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A year and a half later, Heather's condo is a sunny, quiet oasis in the middle of busy Mission Dolores. There are warm hardwood floors. The ceilings are creamy white. Dated, rounded skylights have been replaced with contemporary ones, and light streams through them and the sliding glass doors that look out onto a garden space and deck, and beyond, a grassy common area for all 10 units.

Heather moved to what she describes as an edgy, culturally mixed neighborhood because she liked its location and its ambience. Her neighbors are stay-at-home writers and artists. It's a short walk to BART or Muni, or to Hayes Valley, the Mission, the Castro, or Market. She also likes that her house is located in what many consider the gourmet center of the City. Oh, and of course, she is in the Sunbelt. Other SF residents covet her lack of fog.

One thing the previous owner did do right was replace the existing kitchen with IKEA cabinetry and stainless steel appliances. He also removed the ladder leading up to a loft space, currently used for storage, and installed a stairway. While her neighbors use their lofts as offices, Heather turned one of the bedrooms into an office so she can look outside while she works. Future projects include making the loft into a guest room.

Heather lives somewhat minimally, yet comfortably. She says that she doesn't have a lot of stuff because she has moved so many times. There is original art hanging on the walls, a few plants, some books, but the lack of clutter is refreshing. The living room, with its neutral walls, bamboo blinds, and funky fireplace, is a comfortable place to relax.

Downstairs, the bedroom and office are clutter-free. The walls are painted a calm sage, the drapes made from fabric found at the Design Center. Coir carpeting, surprisingly soft, covers the floors. Closets were built out in both rooms, elfa shelving was installed, and a stacked washer/dryer is hidden behind the white doors.

Guests who visit Heather remark on the comfortable, soothing feel of her home. They frequently tell her they want to move in and stay a while. She knows how lucky she is to have found the perfect place to retreat at the end of the day.

- leslie

(Edited from a 02/06 AT: NY post)

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