Sarah & Fred's Leafy Art-House

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Name: Sarah Schmitz and Fred Gray
Location: Berkeley, California
Size: 1,200 square feet
Years lived in: 2 years; Owned

Plants make a house feel fresh. Just take a look at Sarah and Fred's leafy Berkeley abode. The beautiful one-bedroom house came with the Christmasy poinsettia out front, but the rows of potted succulents and happy houseplants are the result of Sarah's own green thumb.

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 In her free time, the project manager in an architecture firm practices horticulture, a skill she learned during a college job at a San Francisco plant shop. Now she runs a side business propagating native California greenery like aeonium and echeveria rosettes, which she sells in her Etsy shop Sargeant Sailor alongside prints of Fred's fantastical artwork.

I discovered Sarah through her other Etsy shop Cashew Pickle. The online boutique is full of wonderful vintage finds, like a travel roulette set and bakelite knives. I had a hunch her curatorial style would carry over to her home décor. And I was right. The couple's cool collection of artwork, mid-century furniture, and quirky naturalist artifacts makes for a home full of conversation pieces.  

There's a pheasant perched atop a small organ in the game room, a sign from an old movie theater in the kitchen, and a chest from Sarah's mother's native China in the sunroom. And take a look at all the creative places Sarah found for her leafy friends — atop the refrigerator, on the back of the toilet, and inside an old water dispenser on the back porch. Let's take a cue from Sarah and add some new plants to our homes this spring.

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Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Plantasmic. 

Inspiration: I recently purchased a blanket to cover our white couch and protect it from the animal hair that I am constantly fighting and being defeated by. When searching for the right cover, I realized that it had to match a pattern that is in the painting above it. In this instance, the ensemble may assault your eyes, but it makes me feel that this area is finally complete now that the couch blends with the painting. I guess the artwork is an inspiration for how we decorate our space.  

Favorite Element: The bright light and tall windows.

Biggest Challenge: Limiting the number of plants inside the house.

What Friends Say: Your dog is big.

Biggest Embarrassment: Our house is embarrassed of its leaky faucet in the bathroom and its silly occupants who won't call a plumber.

Proudest DIY: Ripping out the lawn in the front yard and replacing it with a garden.

Biggest Indulgence: Our couch was probably the most expensive purchase. Little did I know that animals with black hair and couches with white upholstery are incompatible.

Best Advice:  I try to evenly distribute the colors, decorations, and furniture throughout the rooms for a balanced look.

Dream Sources: Annie's Annuals, Design Within Reach

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Resources of Note:

SUN ROOM

  • Wicker Couch and Chair – From mom's house
  • Antique Chest – One of the few pieces of furniture my mom brought back from her native Hong Kong.
  • Wall Vases – CB2

GAME ROOM

  • Game Table – my aunt
  • Mid Century Sideboard/ Record Player – street find
  • Table top Record Player – Craigslist
  • Magnus Chord Organ – thrift store
  • Art Work – by me, Fred, and our friend Therese Agnew

LIVING ROOM

  • Couch – Macy's
  • Sideboard – Ikea
  • Mr. Chair – Lot 49 in Oakland
  • Rug – FLOR
  • Wood Paneled Space Command TV – Fred’s grandma

FRED'S STUDIO

  • Drafting Chair – a construction firm was getting rid of them
  • Paper Storage Cabinet – estate sale
  • Drafting Table – Fred’s mom from when she was in architecture school
  • Picture Rail – Ikea

KITCHEN

  • Wedgewood Stove – came with the house
  • Table – Thanks mom!
  • Chairs - Ikea
  • Bar – Another piece from China
  • Marquee – A movie theater was giving it away.

BEDROOM

  • Art Deco Bedroom Set – antique store
  • Mid Century Dresser – estate sale
  • Rug – My trip to Jordan

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Thanks, Sarah and Fred!

(Images: Celeste Sunderland)

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