Emily and Meeko’s Sunny First Apartment

published Mar 4, 2010
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Name: Emily Baker & Meeko Mendez
Location: North Beach, San Francisco
Size: 850 square feet
Years lived in: almost 1 year

Emily and Meeko, just married last October, moved into their first apartment together in North Beach about a year ago. As exciting as that was, combining lives, stuff and styles into a small apartment proved to be challenging as both were moving from much larger spaces they shared with roommates. Emily and Meeko also both work from home so the space had to not only reflect their combined likes, but also be functional and organized.

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(Image credit: Jess Watson)

Granted, there are no complaints since their North Beach apartment, walking distance from Washington Square, is a real charmer. The bright white walls, period details and abundance of light are the perfect backdrop for Emily’s favorite color — yellow. Still, Emily’s style tends toward the more feminine vintage-y side while Meeko prefers stark modernism. They’ve managed to create a space that feels entirely like their home and will continue to evolve with them.

Still, Emily was able to have free reign over her workspace. When she’s not working at her day job, she runs Frenchie & Flea, a one-stop resource for creative paper goods, photo styling and special events design, and its companion etsy shop. She desperately needed a work space that was inspiring and organized and she created just that. Her storage area uses white shelving and boxes so that her inspiration board can shine through.

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AT Survey:

Inspiration: I read a lot of blogs and constantly find inspiration for our home on them. I have collected inspiring images over the years and love finding creative ways to style our apartment. I have been known to reorganize and re-style wherever I’ve lived OFTEN…I get antsy and definitely don’t think your home should be stagnant. I love to change things around, move pictures from wall to wall, re-organize my book shelves, and…well…I’m obsessed with decorative pillows. I am pretty sure that’s the one thing Meeko hates most about my home-style. When I first moved in, there were decorative pillows overflowing the sofas, chairs, and bed. I guess you can say I’ve learned how to edit and scale back from him.

Favorite Element: I LOVE our kitchen. It’s my favorite place to be and we love to cook dinner together in there. My FAVORITE wedding gift was my yellow KitchenAid mixer, and it is a focal point in our space. Yellow, white and grey are my favorite colors, and luckily, our kitchen was an amazing bright white palette to build on. We get a ton of light from the huge windows in our kitchen, and its just the most inviting room in our house (in my opinion).

Biggest Challenge: Nesting as newlyweds can be tough. Downsizing from bigger places with roommates, to a super small space is hard enough, and the fact that we’re both bringing different styles, habits, and likes/dislikes to the table makes finding a cohesive “look” a process. I love color and pattern, vintage finds, and am definitely on the more feminine side in terms of design aesthetic, and Meeko is a lover of all things modern, simple, clean and stark. If he had is way, we would live in a glass box with 2 pieces of furniture. It took us an entire year to really define our style as a couple, as well as find functional ways to cohabitate in a tiny apartment with zero storage.

What Friends Say: Our friends seem to love our place. Although its not the best layout for entertaining or hosting dinner parties, we do have a lot of guests come to stay with us. Our location is prime…in the heart of North Beach with a view of Washington Square Park…you can’t beat it. We love having a place where people enjoy visiting!

Biggest Embarrassment: Until recently, it was the kitchen nook. That space served as our storage area, junk catchall, recycling and donation collection center, AND my craft area. It was BAD, especially because it was open to the kitchen and everyone could see it. We finally motivated to overhaul the nook and make it a functional and organized work/craft area for me that doubles as the eat in nook it’s supposed to be.

Proudest DIY: Probably my craft area overhaul. I needed a workspace for Frenchie & Flea that was functional, inspiring and organized. With small space and no storage, I had to find shelving that doubled as a work table, storage solutions that were pleasing to the eye (since this IS our kitchen, after all), and I wanted everything to reflect my style and brand. All of the storage boxes are from The Container Store and the shelf is from IKEA. The vintage card table and folding chairs (from Alameda Antiques & Collectibles) easily folds up if I need extra work space, but also serves as my sewing table and our dining table. It was all done for under $350.

Biggest Indulgence: We haven’t really indulged in anything crazy expensive, but I guess our couch and chair are the biggest purchase we’ve made. They were from Macy’s and we bought them during the semi-annual furniture sale. It was difficult to find a sofa that would fit in such a small living space…but we managed and we love the modern-retro style of the couches. Plus, they have enough space underneath them for extra storage! BONUS!

Best advice: Living in a small space requires a lot of organization. It took me a really long time to realize that the time and effort I put into keeping our home organized would help to create an environment that was efficient, highly functional and relaxing. You have to get creative with your furniture and storage solutions, and also buy pieces that are proportional in scale to the size of your home. Our living room would look stuffed and crowded if we had an over-sized sofa and a giant coffee table, and our bathroom, well its miniature, so organizing all of my products and tools was essential in that space as well. On another note, merging styles and tastes as newlyweds can be a struggle but it can also be really fun. We had 2 huge yard sales and donated a ton of stuff when we moved in together to create new space to fill as a couple. Furniture we both didn’t love, we sold on Craigslist and saved the money to put towards a new piece of furniture we would pick out together. It’s all about compromise…I know Meeko hates florals, so I used a shower curtain that was more graphic than girly, and replaced my Anthropologie bedding with more neutral and modern prints and colors from West Elm. It’s been a work in progress, but we’re finally at a point where our apartment reflects both of us and is a place we love to spend time in.

Dream source: West Elm, Anthropologie and flea markets are my favorite sources for furniture and decor. I also love buying art and prints on Etsy. Supporting emerging or undiscovered artists is important to me, as a designer, and it’s generally affordable. Someday I hope we can purchase some fantastic original artwork, but until then, I love all of our art prints we’ve collected from places like Renegade Craft Fair and Etsy!

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Bedroom: Bedding – West Elm; Painting – my sister, Annie Baker; Pillow – Anthropologie; Mirror – Vintage; Jewelry Stand – Urban Outfitters; Trays – Thrift Store; Wooden Boxes – Vintage French Bread Boxes; Door Knob Hanger – from the actual Hotel Baker in St. Charles, Illinois.

Hallway: Photography – Ellie Grover & Cameron Ingalls; “I Have Always Known it Was You” Print – Seattle Show Posters; Calavera Gocco Prints – Mis Nopales Art; Hand Painted Mirror – Repurposed Thrift Store made by a friend.

Bathroom: Shower Curtain – Dwell Studio for Target; Metal “M” – Anthropologie.

Living Room: Chair – Flea Market; Floral Pillow – Anthropologie; Suitcase – Thrift Store; Couches – Macy’s; San Francisco Love Gocco Print – Art Shark Design; Vintage Post Cards & Reproduction Greeting Cards; Vintage Medicine Bottles – Flea Markets.

Kitchen: Spice Jars – Anthropologie; “Drink Wine” Print – Nicodemus Green; Cardboard Taxidermy – Cardboard Safari; Scenic Route 49 Print – Green Nest; Vintage Card Table from London – Flea Market; Candlesticks – Repurposed Thrift Store made by a friend; Apology Cards – Paper Source.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

(Thanks, Emily and Meeko!)

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