House Tour: Paul's Eclectic and Elegant Home

San Francisco

Name: Paul Ybarbo
Location: The Clay-Jones, Nob Hill
Size: 1250 sq. ft.
Years lived in: Bought in November, 2007

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The first thing we noticed (besides everything...) when we walked into Paul Ybarbo's apartment was the amazing architectural details. His home has some of the most intricate and beautiful moulding we've seen in awhile. Match that with Paul's eclectic, tasteful and opulent furniture and art choices and you've got one of the most beautiful apartments in all of San Francisco. Oh, and did we mention he has a grand piano? In an apartment?! Love, we love...

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The woman who had previously occupied Paul's space had not done any updating in 40 years, and Paul appreciated that. He's chosen to restore what can be restored and keep what can be kept. He also has a great eye for various types of art (paintings, masks, sculpture) that we'd normally be too shy to mix together. From the crucifix collection to the striped wall, this apartment has style (understatement).

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AT Survey:

My style: International Eclectic

Inspiration: Europe and South/Latin Americas

Favorite Element: The original condition of the space waiting to be rejuvinated. It’s a very New York-style building, boutique, doorman, and the swanky LeClub downstairs…what’s not to like?

Biggest Challenge: How to deal with narrow hallways. My art hanger decided to hang art on one wall. The opposite walls were painted with glossy & matte “stripes” in the same color. It’s a fun element that catches the light in an interesting way.

What Friends Say: That I have too many chochkes.

Biggest Embarrassment: Seeing my birthday cake in a lump on the floor, with remnants oozing down the wall. Thanks for the surprise, Michele. Luckily it cleaned up nicely -- thumbs up to Benjamin-Moore paints.

Biggest Indulgence: My 1915 Mason & Hamlin grand piano. It provides a great escape from the wacky world of real estate, besides my mountain bike.

Best advice: Buy what you love and the best quality that you can afford (within reason). You may have it a long time. Go green and buy antiques!

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Resources: The full gamut, from garage sales to thrift shops to antique stores to Gump’s.

Furniture: A mixture of antique (19th century wing chairs, Duncan Phyfe dining table/chairs), to modern Z Gallery sofa, Target desk, office chair from the street – you never know where you’ll find something! I still have a black “pleather” chair that I bought at IKEA right out of college – it will end up being my version of the chair that Frasier’s father had on the TV show.

Lighting: I changed all the lighting in the unit, trying to stay true to the era, circa 1929….school house lights for the kitchen, a more dramatic chandelier-style for the dining room, antique chandeliers for the entry & bedroom, a re-purposed beaded chandelier for the bathroom. There is no recessed lighting in the ceilings; I have a pair of living room lamps from Gump’s and the bedroom pair are from Plantation in Hayes Valley.

Rugs and Carpets: Antique zebra skin, cow hide, white tail deer hides, and sisal rugs.

Paint: All Benjamin-Moore, including my bathroom and kitchen floors, which appear to be the original linoleum. We used deck paint for a temporary fix which has evolved into longer term than anticipated. It has a certain patina that, I think, contrasts nicely with the formality of the space.

Artwork: Newest acquisitions are from my nieces and nephews (ages 3-6). I’ve been collecting for years, my first a Charles Arnoldi at age 22. My oddest piece is my fish tank from a gallery in Manhattan. Most of my art isn’t expensive, but brings a smile and memory thinking of the country where I was or the artist. I have a collection of masks and crucifixes from all over.

(Thanks, Paul!)

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Photos by Sally Kuchar

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