Tara & Jeff's Mission Railroad Flat

House Call

Name: Tara & Jeff
Location: Mission District — San Francisco, California

Our neighborhood has no shortage of well-thought-out dwelling styles, from the heartily vintage to the most modern yuppie. Still, we've never a spot quite like our place, which I think hovers decidedly somewhere in between. I've been here for nearly two years, and my husband Jeff will come up on eight years in June. After a series of roommates before my time necessitated more of a piecemeal shared space instead of a home, I'm really excited about where we've taken our nest ever since.

We live in a rented railroad flat, the bottom dwelling in a two-unit, converted 1870s Victorian home. Despite some modern additions (our bedroom and bathroom were add-ons), details like a transom window, kitchen greenhouse nook, cove ceilings, French doors, and beautiful moulding make me incredibly happy to call it home.

With that, though, comes some challenges, practical and aesthetic. The unit doesn't get much direct sunlight. Combined with a lot of older wood and fairly humid environs, and you have two tenants who make it their domestic obsession to avoid mold, which was a problem a few years ago. There also isn't much storage space, meaning we took to practical and colorful bins, wine racks, and Bordeaux boxes (used at our wedding) that double as decor. What counter space? We nixed the microwave (gaining drying-rack space) and opted instead to heat things with our gas stove. Three of the major rooms are constantly visible from each other depending on where you stand, so visual cohesion was important, on top of those practical concerns.

As far as our style goes, a friend said four words come to mind when she comes into our place: travel, wine, art, and books. We have two bookshelves, with additional stacks (about food and wine) in the kitchen or on the wine rack, respectively. We love traveling and have items from all over the world on shelves and on top of furniture. We love art, and every piece on the walls has a story behind it.

Though I worried this decorating method would result in a non-cohesive aesthetic, it seems to work with our artwork, personal details, and simple furniture.

We've got some standard items; a large sectional couch in everyone's preferred tan microfiber. A Cost Plus murphy bed and a black, wooden Craigslist coffee table (in our no-TV "quiet room") to accompany the craft box and all the books. A 42" flat screen lives in the "loud room," just as it does for everyone else.

But, we did not want people to walk in to our home and identify the names of everything, from the tables to the glasses, because it was in the Crate & Barrel catalog or everyone else's house. So we try to mix the generic with the funky: geometric area rugs, burgundy ostrich feathers in a vase (also from our wedding), plants aplenty, framed prints, fresh flowers, branches for texture, and coffee table books. Jeff hates (hates!) overhead lighting, so several lamps provide a much warmer glow around the unit.

Thanks Tara & Jeff!

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