Elinor & Andrew’s Vertical Kind of Blue

Elinor & Andrew’s Vertical Kind of Blue

Name: Elinor, Andrew, Tycho & Berry
Location: Mission Dolores — San Francisco, California
Size: 1800 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year — owned

It's 7AM on a Sunday; the regular house tour blogger shuffles in. There's a crafty gal sitting next to me, with her dog, Berry, kissing my skin. I said, Elinor, can you play me a memory? I'm not really sure how it goes. But it's fresh and it's sweet and I knew it complete when I saw your handcrafted clothes. Well, we're all in the mood for a melody, and any way you play it, Elinor and Andrew are living a new genre of cool in their historic social hall turned modern split-level condo in San Francisco's hip Mission district.

Elinor, co-creator of the new Presidio Heights' clothier Eel & Ermine, and her husband, Andrew, met years ago at a jazz funk show in Denver. Andrew was the piano man in the band, and Elinor was suddenly smitten. After two years of dating long distance, Elinor and Andrew united in San Francisco where they soon fell in love with the artful vibes their neighborhood, the Mission, had to offer. Last year, they purchased this newly renovated condo, which is one of two units in what was originally a community social hall that opened shortly after the 1906 earthquake. Elinor and Andrew immediately were drawn to the condo's history as a communal gathering place, its original hardwood floors, every bedroom having its own bathroom (including their Master which used to be the old bar) and, most importantly, the fact that there was room for Andrew's piano.

With a background in fine arts, particularly New Genres, Elinor has helped create whimsical elegance in their home, which resonates with music listeners, art lovers and those that appreciate comfort sprinkled with a healthy topping of humor. Their orange molded-fiberglass Eames chair sits beside a poster of one of its siblings watching U.S. president Richard Nixon convert a spare in his custom-built White House bowling lane, circa 1970. Greeting you on your way to the master bedroom is an apothecary jar encapsulating a paperback dictionary that has preserved 4 years in water. In Tycho's room, vibrant colored embroidery strings wrapped compulsively around vintage skeleton keys reside next to a sterling silver piggy bank. And innovative, music-inspired art, much of it made by Elinor, abounds throughout: like the framed curtain of unwound cassette tapes in their bedroom, the suspended sheet music display in their guest room, and an original handwritten arrangement from Columbia Records of the Billy Joel song -- you guessed it -- "Piano Man".

Not surprising, Elinor and Andrew have embraced what might be considered by some to be one of the biggest challenges of their space: "vertical living". Their 1800 square foot home is stretched out over 5 varying floor levels, making for a pretty fun (and physical) living experience. Upon entry to their foyer, the master suite is downstairs, at ground level. The rest of the rooms are upstairs, starting with the living/dining/kitchen/laundry areas on the second floor, Tycho's nursery/bathroom on the next, then the guest bedroom/den/bathroom on the uppermost level. Cohesive characteristics like skylights, high ceilings, original stained-glass over doorways and curated blue hues throughout pull the split-level together in a way that focuses far less on verticality as an inconvenience, and much more as a unique asset to be celebrated.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: We want our house to be functional, but more importantly, we hope to create a place where people want to hang out (ourselves included). A place that is interesting.

Inspiration: Each other. We try to anticipate one another's likes and dislikes and then aim, primarily, for what we consider to be a functional middle ground.

Favorite Element: Vertical living. Yes, we have more stairs than a flat; but, we don't have to worry about disturbing downstairs or upstairs neighbors.

Biggest Challenge: Working with what we have. Since becoming homeowners, we have switched to a mode of decorating that is very deliberate and one-thing-at-time. We are working to resist the urge to shop at IKEA, even though I still go there for small items and love walking the showrooms while drinking my $1 soda :). Instead, we are saving up for pieces that have more longevity and character. Because of this, it is common to find a seemingly awkward open space on the wall or floor where we are waiting for the right "find" to complete the composition of the room or wall.

What Friends Say: "Whoa, when did you grow up?" We feel really lucky to have found this spot. It was definitely a "right place, right time" kind of thing.

Biggest Embarrassment: The cushion-less couch. An item so embarrassing we hid it in the garage for the tour.

Proudest DIY: Cheesy answer: Tycho. He's awesome! After that, it will be when I finally finish making window treatments for the main floor.

Biggest Indulgence: Our mattress! Especially since having the baby, it has been worth every penny.

Best Advice: Even if you have your friends doing work for you, don't pay them until the work is done.

Dream Sources: I can't claim to be sophisticated enough that I have dream design sources, but we definitely would not mind having a few pieces from Monument (on Valencia) and some of the other great SF vintage furniture stores.

Resources of Note:


    • Most of our paints are custom Behr colors that we made at Lowes.
    • Dining Room Green - Behr Fioli Yew


    • I wish I knew, but I believe the pressed tin ceiling is original to the building


    • "Do not board elevator" sign - Stanford Hospital
    • Bird Hooks - Anthropologie
    • Stained Glass Window - Original building element


    • Wallpaper - Graham & Brown
    • Bookcases - Designed by us, Built by a friend
    • Glass Insets on Cabinet Doors - Tyson Glass, spray painted with Krylon in Navy Blue
    • Rugs - Home Depot, circa 2005
    • Piano - Yamaha
    • Nesting Tables - Monument (vintage)
    • Ottoman - Monument (vintage)
    • Desk - Maria Yee Inc.
    • Black Chair - Community Thrift


    • Table and Dining Chairs - Z-Barn
    • Liquor Cabinet - Target


    • Appliances - It came with the frame... Bosch
    • Dinnerware - Heath
    • Pot Rack - Ordered from the Interweb at Potracks.com


    • Bed - Sitcom
    • Chair - Community Thrift
    • Dog Bed - Target
    • Jewelry Cabinet/Wall Mirror - Amazon
    • Drapes - Homemade DIY
    • Dresser - Room & Board
    • Rug - Home Depot


    • Crib, Rug, Sheepskins, Bench - IKEA!
    • Flying Squirrel - Currents (on Valencia St.)
    • Dresser - Community Thrift (refinished by my mom)
    • Tiger Shadow Puppets - Brought them back from China
    • Linen Animal Comforter - homemade DIY


    • Sofa Bed - IKEA
    • Chair - Herman Miller
    • Metal Cabinet - Craigslist

Thanks, Elinor, Andrew, Tycho and Berry!

Images: Beth Lundell Garver

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