Location: The Mission — San Francisco, California
Size: 650 square feet
Years lived in: 3 years, renting
The first thing you notice when you open the door to Holly's apartment in San Francisco's popular Mission neighborhood is the light in the hallway that runs two-thirds of the length of the space. Windows all along the right side — some stained glass — make it feel very airy and ethereal. And the style with which she chooses to adorn the walls — delicate, simple, and thoughtful — spills into the whole apartment. Overall, her place gives off a bit of a Parisian vibe, which is ironic, since when I mentioned my impression, Holly said she's never actually been to Paris. Though as a Content Manager at Airbnb, she's likely seen a lot of the style that goes into Parisian homes as she goes about her daily work.
"A lot of it is the building," Holly said to me when I complimented her style. And while yes, the building and apartment really are exactly what you hope to find when you go apartment hunting in San Francisco: bay windows, crown molding, quaint built-ins — the way Holly worked with what already exists is what makes her place so pleasant to spend time in.
From the vintage bookcase and desk to the tent that hangs down from the ceiling over her bed, everything has character and purpose. But a certain amount of restraint was shown when filling the apartment, which allows for a very satisfying amount of breathing room. And even though Holly hasn't mixed her work with her home (she doesn't list her apartment on Airbnb), if she ever did, I'd book it in a second.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: A mix of traditional and contemporary
Inspiration: Anything that is both functional and beautiful
Favorite Element: My great-great grandmother's embroidered apron.
Biggest Challenge: Making a small space feel comfortable and functional, yet beautiful.
Biggest Embarrassment: I once thought it would be a good idea to paint my entire bathroom peach (including the ceiling). The bathroom was small, with no natural light, so the color turned my bathroom into garish, glowing peach-orange box. It was hideous.
Proudest DIY: Refinishing my grandmother's sewing chair.
Biggest Indulgence: Plein air paintings by local artists.
Best Advice: Don't buy reproduction or mass-produced prints. I've spent so much money over the years on prints that I ended up tossing because they didn't outlast the decor trends. Invest in pieces you love from local artists, or get vintage artwork that you'll keep for a while.
Dream Sources: Antique and vintage stores abroad
Framed prints — antique fashion book prints from Godey's Lady's Book and French fashion circulars
Mirror — Vintage, from When Modern Was in Noe Valley
Silver —assorted silverplate and silver pieces from antique stores
Shopping bag — Airbnb
Loveseat —Pottery Barn Cameron Upholstered Roll Arm Twin Armchair Sleeper in Carbon
Chairs — Restoration Hardware Petite Original Lancaster Upholstered Chairs
Desk — Vintage, from When Modern Was in Noe Valley
Desk chair — Vintage refinished sewing chair (my grandmother's)
Bookshelf — Antique barrister's bookshelf (my grandfather's)
Coffee table — Antique modified with glass top
Trunk — Antique modified with glass top
Round side table — from an antique store in Redwood City
Black side table — restored vintage, from a shop in Seattle
Bar cart — Pottery Barn Tristan Metal Bar Cart, brass finish
Soda bottle — vintage
Pitcher — Crate&Barrel
Decanter and glasses — Waterford Lismore
Grey felt file boxes —Crate&Barrel
Paintings — By Bay Area plein air artist Paul Kratter
French map of Australia — Etsy
Framed quotes — ("When you say edge case, you're really just defining the limits of what you care about" and "Stay humble"): from the analog research lab print shop at Facebook)
Lamps — Restoration Hardware
Crystal desk lamp — Pottery Barn
1928 model E3 speaker — Restoration Hardware
Area rugs — Safavieh Florenteen collection in ivory/grey
Bistro table and chairs — antique, from Craigslist ad
Apron — Great-great grandmother's (mounted and framed by Museum Quality Artwork)
Rolling butcher block — Ikea
Clock — Restoration Hardware
Teapot and glass bottle — vintage
Tea towel — Cost Plus World Market
Utensil holder — Sur la Table
Marble salt holder — Crate & Barrel
Electric tea kettle —Amazon
Olive oil and vinegar bottles — Cost Plus World Market
Succulents — Cost Plus World Market
Picnic basket — vintage
Strawberries painting — by Seattle artist Jeni Nelson
Vintage cake ad/poster — from a reproduction vintage store in Paris (gift)
Bed canopy — Restoration Hardware Baby & Child cotton voile play canopy in grey
Bed linens — Pottery Barn basics