Name: Phillip Maisel
Location: Lower Haight, San Francisco
Size/Type: 5 bedroom, 2 bath
Years lived in: Rented for 2.5 years
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Phillip moved to San Francisco from Chicago 2 1/2 years ago. His living situation is a typical San Francisco arrangement: multiple roommates sharing a house who've learned to compromise and co-exist with each other's differing styles and decor. Luckily, the apartment hasn't suffered from too many competing tastes. While it helps that the house itself has interesting and charming built-in elements, its fun vintage flare is what has definitely won us over.
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Many of Phillip's vintage finds and family treasures play a large part in the house decor. Recently, his good friend Rob moved into the apartment, bringing even more thrift store and garage sale finds, along with his DIY style sense, with him. While a shared housing situation will usually never be ideal, in terms of home decor, we think Phillip's apartment is a good example of how you can still have a sense of yourself in your home while living with roommates.
My Style: I like old things. I’ve always lived in old houses. I like the wear on the hardwood floors, I like seeing the layers of paint at the chipped edges of window frames. I love the architectural flourishes you get with older homes. I’m not actually sure I could ever live in a brand new place, something without some sort of history to it. Nostalgia seems to play a large part in my style as well. It’s a nostalgia for both a personal and a collective past. For example, I have the assembly instructions for my childhood bunk bed up on my wall, but also most of my furniture is from a time period that I only know through movies and old magazines.
Inspiration: Visible history, mechanical things, modern-day anachronisms
Favorite Element: My vintage Formica table and matching chairs. It has really taken a journey to get here. My dad thinks it’s from around 1948 to 1953. Originally, my dad got it from Broadway Antiques in Chicago. I borrowed it from him when I lived in Chicago, but when I moved out to San Francisco, I dropped the table off with my sister and her boyfriend in Kansas. After they broke up, it sat at my sister’s ex-boyfriend’s house for months, and I was desperate to get the table back. Luckily, when my current roommate Rob moved to San Francisco from Chicago, he picked it up in Kansas and brought it out here. I am very grateful to have it around again.
Biggest Challenge: Cooperating and compromising with four roommates. We have overlapping styles and there are always competing ideas about what to do with certain rooms or pieces of furniture. I’ve never had an apartment all to myself, so I’ve learned how to work with roommates on aesthetics. I pick my battles. Also, there’s a lot of communication.
What Friends Say: I was told by a friend recently that I have the cutest boy room she had ever seen. I doubt it’s true, but it’s a nice thing to hear. People are generally impressed with the high ceilings and how big our place feels. There are five of us, but it never feels cramped.
Biggest Embarrassment: The clutter that is created with five individuals living together. For a while, we had a velvet Elvis painting which reigned over the middle room. I was glad to see it go.
Proudest DIY: My suitcase light clock I got at the DIY Trunk Show in Chicago a few years back. People always ask me if I made it, and as much as I’d like to say yes, it was made by nice bike messenger named Jeff. He only had one at the time and I’m glad I snagged it when I did. But in terms of my own DIY stuff, I’ve always liked my wall-mounted electronic goods packaging collage. I always get mixed reviews about it, but I don’t care. I like it. There so much inherent design that goes into constructing those things.
Biggest Indulgence: I try not to indulge too much. I do go into Mickey’s Monkey a bit too often, since it is literally around the corner from my house. I’ve bought a lot of things there for really reasonable prices.
Best Advice: Sit up straight!
Dream Source: Because of limited space, I try to not to dream too much about things, but I like Design Within Reach and looking through Dwell is always inspiring. When I buy a home, I want to use Heath Ceramics to line my bathroom and kitchen. I am amazed by, and dream of one day owning, an Arts & Crafts home. If I did, I would get Bradbury & Bradbury out of Benicia to do the wallpaper.
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Dining Room: The blue couch in the dining room was given to me my good friend Ragnar, who bought it from Community Thrift on Valencia St. in San Francisco. The painting of the house above it is an original by my ex-girlfriend’s father, Robert Tomlin. The white coffee table with the plant on it used to be a full sized table that Rob found at garage sale in Dekalb, Illinois. He then painted it white and pink and sawed off the legs and added wheels. The bird painting above the coffee table is an original by the talented Lisa Congdon. The high table in the dining room with the two chairs by the owls is from Crate and Barrel. The owls were given to Rob by a friend, Brandon who told him they will bring Rob good fortune.
Phil's room: The desk and Marushka prints were from garage sales in the suburbs of Chicago. The shelving unit is from Mickey’s Monkey. I found my dresser off the street by my dad’s house in Chicago. The lamp on my dresser is from an old vintage clothing store on Mont-Royal Avenue in Montreal. The blue typewriter is on an indefinite loan from my friend Suzanne in Chicago. She got it at this amazing place called the Dig N Save in Madison. The white typewriter actually types in cursive. I got it at a cute tiny vintage store called Smut in SE Portland. The black suitcase I inherited from grandfather. The other suitcase is from an amazing second-hand store in Montreal called Eva B.’s on St. Laurent. The map waste basket is from my great-grandfather’s company, Weibro. A lot of my art work comes from friends as birthday cards, or gifts, or trades done at zine fairs, etc. I also make my own collages from various outdated sources and put those up as a reminder that I can make things sometime too.
Kitchen: The red high chair/step stool is almost exactly like one my family had when I was a child. I found it at Mickey’s Monkey. The vintage cookware in the kitchen is my roommate Suzanne's from Cookin’ on Divisadero Street.
Rob's room: Rob made the record shelf in his room. His atomic lamp used to be a chandelier that he salvaged. He flipped it and put a base on it. The pink floral tissue paper in Rob’s bedroom window is from Xapno’s on Haight Street. Almost all of Rob's toys have been given to him. Rob says, “People that mean a lot to me give me presents. Or maybe I mean a lot to them.”
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Photos by Phillip Maisel