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
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
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
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
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
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
Resources of Note:
- 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.
- 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
- Wood Paneled Space Command TV – Fred’s grandma
- 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
- Wedgewood Stove – came with the house
- Bar – Another piece from China
- Marquee – A movie theater was giving it away.
- Art Deco Bedroom Set – antique store
- Mid Century Dresser – estate sale
Thanks, Sarah and Fred!
(Images: Celeste Sunderland)
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