Name: Rhiannon Smith & Victor Obeck
Location: Hayes Valley, San Francisco
Size: 501 square feet
Years lived in: Almost 2 years, rented
Rhiannon and Victor's apartment is not what you might expect the home of a couple of college students to look like. But the two of them, who are both transferring into San Francisco State in the fall, decided when they moved into their Hayes Valley Edwardian walk-up that they were going to make it special. The efficiency in LA where they lived together before was apparently so small that they didn't even consider it a "real" apartment. So they've treated this one as their first, furnishing it with style and love, and maintaining it beautifully even while holding down jobs and going to school...
Rhiannon and Victor's place is a perfect example of how with a little imagination, it's possible to triumph over the challenges of being a renter in a small space. Their apartment's got some good "bones"—on the third floor of an Edwardian, its huge windows bring in lovely light—but an eighties-era renovation left them with a lackluster kitchen and drab wall-to-wall carpet. Amazingly, though, one hardly notices these things, because the improvements Rhiannon and Victor have made are so vibrant and well-conceived.
The layout of their main room is such that it feels like a few rooms in one, with charming nooks for reading or kicking back with a guitar. Throughout the apartment, well-curated art conveys a strong sense of the couple's slightly dark, but also whimsical, aesthetic. A stern-faced papier-mache polar bear gazes down from above the door. A collection of artful robots parades down a shelf. A vase in the shape of George Washington's head sprouts wildflowers. It's obvious that this home has been filled with objects of love, including of course the couple's adorable pooch, Mayo, who claims its sunny corners as her own.
Our style: Boho with a morbid curiosity.
Inspiration: The Haunted Mansion at Disney World is the first place I (Rhiannon) can remember saying, "I want to live here!" Growing up in a rustic farmhouse also shaped my aesthetic early on. Today we're both inspired by San Francisco Victorian architecture, imagination, things of the past and the future.
Favorite Element: Being on the third floor. Having lived on the first floor of an apartment building, I can't stress how important it is to be a few stories up. Even the cutest apartment can be a nightmare if you don't get a lot of light, are scared to leave your windows open and don't have a view.
Biggest Challenge: Having to work around things like carpet, linoleum, and an unattractive kitchen.
What Friends Say: "It's so clean!" "It's so grown up!" "That's cool." Basically our friends are impressed that we put time and effort into our surroundings.
Biggest Embarrassment: The kitchen—since we are renters, there just isn't a whole lot we can do with it.
Proudest DIY: A tie between the papier-mache polar bear bust and hard-wiring our own lights!
Biggest Indulgence: Our art collection.
Best advice: Be patient and hold out for things you really love.
Inspiration: The Ace Hotel and Wes Anderson movie sets.
Shelves and baskets - Target
Dressers, milk crate, and stool - Dumpster finds
Cabinet - Urban Ore
Shoe mold, medicine bottles, George Washington, and school chair - Thrifted
Eames chair and pouf - Ebay
Chair with cushions - DWR
Curtains, lights, bamboo, bed and some baskets and boxes - Ikea
Russian nesting dolls, clock, jewelry boxes, rug, some pillows and bedding - Urban Outfitters
Robot collection - Friends
Pegasus art - Skullphone
Turkey claw - Paxton Gate
Ghost antlers - Erich Ginder
Polar bear bust - Made by us
Mirror - Bed, Bath and Beyond
San Francisco poster - Ork
Wardrobe and white boxes - Ikea
Wooden crate and seahorse - Thrifted
Art above doorway - Various Etsy artists, us, and the large photo is Victor's great-grandfather in the movie "The Great Train Robbery"
Ice skate - Urban Ore
Wooden box, globe, Russian nesting dolls, cast-iron piggy bank, Joan of Arc snow globe - All thrifted
Skeleton - Vacation to Tijuana
Skeleton diorama - Wacko/La Luz de Jesus gallery
Woman with blue eyeshadow art - Old Chola
Apron - Urban Outfitters
Trash can, watering can, light, rails and magnetic knife rack - Ikea
Cafe curtains - Bed, Bath and Beyond
Swan planter, fan, and clay owl - Ebay
Charcoal drawing - Us
Dining set - Gift
Shelves, boxes, plant, lamp, file cabinet, and wooden boxes - Ikea
Desk - CB2
Chair - Gift
Headphones - Ebay
Cabinet - Target
Shower curtains - Bed, Bath and Beyond
Towels - Ikea
Art - Made by us
(Thanks, Rhiannon and Victor!)
Images: Susie Nadler and Victor Obeck