Lanz, Michael and Brent's Evolving History House (Part I)

House Tour

Name: Lanz Brooks with roommates Michael and Brent
Location: Hayes Valley, San Francisco
Size: 4,000 square feet
Years lived in: Lanz for 4½ years (Michael since 1994)

The home of roommates Lanz, Michael and Brent is one of those rare San Francisco apartments that actually predates the earthquake and fire of 1906 that nearly destroyed the entire city. Built in 1888, it has seen multiple iterations as a single family home, a boarding house and a "place for the gentleman caller to conduct their business" (as Michael so delicately puts it). This Hayes Valley two floor apartment is now home to three roommates that look at the space as a continually evolving project. And with that much space, it's obvious that the projects will never end.

(Since this home is so large and full of eye candy, there is another house tour showcasing the second half of the house found at Lanz, Michael and Brent's Evolving History House - Part II.)

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Michael has lived in the two floor apartment for over 15 years and has been able to decrease his roommate count from six to two thanks to rent control. Since the space is so large (4,000 SF!), it has given the roommates the opportunity to play with styles throughout the home. Lanz has taken on the duty as "head stylist" of the common spaces and his influence is clear as themes repeat themselves throughout the home. Lanz is an artist and is currently creating 365 paintings across 365 days. Some of his daily projects have included installations on the walls of the house.

With so much common area, outfitting the space with furniture could have been a real financial challenge. Luckily, the roommates are beyond resourceful. Lanz finds most of the furniture on the street and then refinishes it. And just the day before the shoot, Michael found a cool door to replace the old plywood top for the table in the living room.

Rooms jump style from the ornately decorated parlor to the comfortable living room to the handsome bathroom. With this much space, a cohesive style isn't necessary and the willingness of the roommates to take risks is definitely applauded. Still, every space feels like it belongs in the same house while not feeling like it was outfitted using the same catalog.

Today's tour focuses on the downstairs living spaces and ends just short of the dining room. To see the tour that features the dining room, kitchen and upstairs rooms, visit Lanz, Michael and Brent's Evolving History House - Part II.

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Apartment Therapy Survey:

My/Our style: Key Themes: Earth, Sky, Nature, Light, Serenity, contrast, color

Wherever possible to: Recover, reuse, reduce, recycle. Which definitely dictates my style to a certain degree as I never know exactly what my next find will be. So I find my style has to remain open and flexible.

Inspiration: Salvador Dalí, in his animal dreamscape paintings have inspired my style for certain. I think they masterfully create a real sense of an ethereal place where we can all dream in blissful harmony. The scapes are are eclectic but remain balanced and comfortable. I would like our apartment to have a touch of the surreal that would offer an oasis where mind, body and soul can be at rest.

Favorite Element: My hands down favorite project was the Victorian love seat project. First, it was an item I found discarded on the street in my neighborhood. Other than a little paint and some furniture tacks it used no new materials in it’s journey toward rediscovery. I obtained the fabric covering at a resale shop in the mission that markets awesome vintage draperies by the pound. I love the color and tonal contrast between the baby-blue-silkiness of the fabric against earth-tone metallic I used to paint the ornate frame of this piece. It is just such a unique element in the parlor space I think and the only thing it cost me was the modest amount of time it took me to rework the piece and the tiny bit of insight I needed to see to the rich potential of an otherwise discarded item. It really turned out to be a labor of love for me.

Biggest Challenge: The biggest challenge I find when working through how to best style the apartments’ fabulous spaciousness is to figure out how to get the many varying revived items to relate somehow so the the decisions we make look intentional and relative. I’ll be the first to admit that things can get a bit junky looking when I don’t pay close attention to what I am doing.

What Friends Say: Well, I think our number one comment across the board is actually, ‘I can’t believe how big this place is.’ Especially for a place in San Francisco, where spacial apartments like this are either really expensive and/or are perhaps simply non-existent in a city where space is such a precious commodity.

Biggest Embarrassment: Oh, I’ve had many embarrassing projects to be honest. Trial and error is the key. I have put some pretty awful colors of paint on walls— I try to keep in mind that paint is just paint and it’s pretty easy to change.

Proudest DIY: Well, I think it would be the headboard on my it has a recovered wood frame to which I then surfaced with Italian laminate samples that I had been harboring for several years believing in their potential to be part of something great but not knowing how to effectively objectify their coolness. Once the general idea for the headboard revealed itself to me I let much of the rest up to randomness and chance as I brought the project to where it is today. When I look at it now the diversity in colors, finishes and textures make me feel happy somehow. I can’t imagine there could be anything more appropriate to have framing my sleeping and dreaming space.

Biggest Indulgence: I would say paint has been my largest investment to date. With 99.9% of all surfaces including walls, floors, ceilings, stairs, railing and miles and miles of wooden trim surrounding the place’s astronomical door count of the 4,000 square feet of this apartment’s surface areas currently coated with some form of a paint can I just say ‘lots-o-paint’. I jokingly imagine it would be like living on the Golden Gate Bridge.

Best advice: My best advice I admit is scaled toward my personal mission-in-progress. That is to do everything in my power to reduce the impact that materials specific to our living spaces has on our planet. I think we can by at the very least being open to looking at items we’ve deemed ‘old’ and fated to become landfill and attempt to see how they might have some ‘new’ yet unveiled mysterious and often unique potential for our living spaces, and still fully satisfy our standards for aesthetic functionality. This is my best advice because I bear witness to the reality in that I feel nearly all of my most unique and favored elements in our apartment have found new and fresh expressions of their former glory.

If saving the planet isn’t your cup of tea in the interiors arena then my best advice would simply be have your living space be of comfort to you in whatever form that takes. I don’t like to get too caught up in absolute ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’ rather I try to focus on what can I do with this space that will create a restful and rejuvenating home environment.

Dream source: I have two very local dream sources located in my very own hood, Hayes Valley. One is Propeller. The other is Cisco Home Sustainable Living.

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Resources: Most of my stuff is from discarded items off the street. Most of the art work is mine. There are far to many paints colors to cover. Feel free to leave comments with questions about particular items and Lanz will try to get the necessary info for you.

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(Thanks, Lanz, Michael and Brent!)

Images: Jessica Watson

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