Bill's Story-Filled San Francisco Apartment

Bill's Story-Filled San Francisco Apartment

Bethany Nauert
Mar 27, 2012

Name: Bill Birmingham
Location: Inner Sunset — San Francisco, California
Size: 625 square feet
Years lived in: 6 years — rented

Bill lives in a modest sized one bedroom apartment in the Inner Sunset district of San Francisco. Minutes from the park and downtown, he is able to enjoy the gifts of the city which surround his neighborhood. With Bill's collection of vintage furniture, vinyl, and accessories his home is cozy and full of personal stories.

Bill explains that he keeps things in his home uncluttered and minimal, but that the things he owns all have sentimental value and a story attached to them. "A lot of what I have in my home come with a personal story. My home isn't necessarily decorated with objects purchased just because they have a look I'm going for. Some are tokens brought back from travels. Some are family memorabilia. And all is an extension of me. ith that I can't really place one thing's significance over the others."

Like many city dwellers, Bill was faced with the challenge of making good use of his space. Also he wanted to keep it friendly and ready for any visitors and entertaining. "I want my home to be personal and welcoming. I feel that your home is yet another vehicle of bringing people into you. Your home should be a reflection of who you are or strive to be. I would hope that when people come into my home they find it a place they would like to spend time in and explore." It's always interesting to see how people integrate the city they live in into their home. Bill's approach is humble and unconcerned with following any sort of design trend.

Thanks to Jennifer Santillana for introducing me to Bill!

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Retro, Minimal, Working-class.

Inspiration: Growing up around sail boats, in San Pedro Ca, I've come to appreciate having the minimum of necessities while being prepared for all potential events. Having that clean teak look associated with boats is probably what pulled me towards the Danish Modern theme. Also, I love the strength and openness of the architecture and design that was associated with the feudal era of Japan, at least what I've gleaned from watching Akira Kurosawa movies.

Favorite Element: Wood. The thing that sold me on this apartment originally was that it had wood floors. That's always a good base to work from (pun intended).

Biggest Challenge: Keeping "stuff "to a minimum. I remember reading 'Guns Germs and Steel' and the aborigine asked the author, 'why do you white people carry so much stuff?' I've spent quite a bit of time traveling internationally and working seasonally for the Forest Service and the Park Service, so I know how to get by with just a backpack. I like my inscapes to be like my native landscapes, open savannas. That way predators are less able to pounce ;)

What Friends Say: My guy friends are usually, "Du-oode!? Where do you keep the booze?" Whereas my woman friends are, "gee I always pictured you living in a man-cave".

Biggest Embarrassment: I don't cook enough. I've got some kick-ass cast iron skillets and access to wonderful California organic produce and meats. But after the morning coffee and cereal I'm out and about looking for my next super burrito.

Proudest DIY: currently my bicycle. A bicycle is a pretty important element of living in San Francisco. Done correctly, you can effortlessly scale the hills, out race public transportation and conveniently park at your destination. Plus, bicycling make the carnitas and beer consumption a bit more guilt free.

Biggest Indulgence: Vinyl records. I've been collecting since high school. Though I do continually try to 'cull the herd' to stay in line with my minimalist pursuit.

Best Advice: Unless you're buying a computer/smart phone, TV, or a bed; go vintage. I find the craftsmanship is superior to today's goods. And this philosophy keeps in-line with the 'Reduce, Reuse, Recycle' practice that we should all be following.

Resources of Note:

    • Probably my biggest inspiration/stylist for the furniture in my living room is my friend 'Slim'. Her website Slim Avocado. • The artist that did the painting above the stereo is my high school friend Aaron White. • my other high school friend who did the stencil art work Craig Ibara. But he has his hands in some other 'media pots' as well; he writes a magazine and runs a record label.

Thanks, Bill!

Images: Bethany Nauert

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