House Tour: Mary and Hans' Calming Quarters

House Tour: Mary and Hans' Calming Quarters

Lily Gahagan
Aug 19, 2008


Name: Mary and Hans
Location: San Francisco
Size: 1200 sq. ft.
Years lived in: 8 months

Finding a balance between simplicity and comfort in home decor can be a struggle - too simple and it can feel stark, too comfortable and it can be treacly. We have to applaud AT reader Mary for walking that fine line between the two styles and coming up a winner. And more impressive yet, the couple have maintained a calm, serene vibe throughout the home while welcoming a new baby in process. Well done.


We really like this place because it seems to possess so many of the characteristics lauded around here - it's warm and inviting, clean and uncluttered... simple without masking the owner's personal style and needs. There's a great mix of Craigslist finds and homemade pieces alongside store bought items, but by being choosy about what comes into their home, the overall impression feels anything but overwhelming.

AT Survey:
Our style: We lean mid century although we're open to just about anything. We try to be selective about what comes into the apartment. Occasionally, I'll have a moment of weakness and become convinced that we need a giant, white fainting chair (seller's description, not mine) for our very small bedroom. This is when the gatekeeper, otherwise known as my husband, steps in and speaks in slow, sense-making sentences.

The inspiration for our home: Simple, calm, and comfy.

Favorite element: I'm a big fan of the credenza in the dining room. It's the first piece of furniture I bought on eBay and I couldn't be happier with it. My second favorite piece is another eBay purchase – the mid century rocker in our baby's room. There was a bit more drama involved with shipping, fabric hunting and the world's strangest upholsterer (is that a word?) but, in the end, it was all worth it. I hope to pass it down to our daughter one day.

I also have a special place in my heart for the throw pillows. With the exception of the two in our bedroom and the orange radial pillow, I made them all. Without a sewing machine, I might add. Sewing machines scare and confuse me.

Biggest challenge in designing our home: It's really hard for me to be done with the apartment, to relax and let it be what it has become. Apartment Therapy is no help in this department. It inspires me daily and our apartment just isn't big enough for daily inspiration. You have to stop!

What friends say about our home: Our friends always have nice things to say about our place. That's why they're our friends.

Biggest embarrassment in our home: The teal carpet in the hallway. It's a rental. What can you do?

Proudest DIY: The dining room table. I found it on craigslist and my husband, Hans, transformed it into the table you see here. It was no easy task. The woman who sold it to us had kept it in her garage and had been using it as a gardening table. The top was totally stripped of the original stain and had several large, circular water stains from the plant pots. We paid $40 and I was actually worried that we paid too much. Now it stands as a testament to second chances, good old-fashioned hard work and the awesomeness that is Hans.

Biggest indulgence with respect to our home: The mid century rocker. Like I said before, it was a rocky (hehe) and expensive ride, from start to finish.

Best advice given or received: I don't remember where I heard this or if it just popped into my head one day but "Be a lion" is a mantra my husband and I try to live by. It's something we say almost daily, whether we're discussing career goals or what to eat for dinner. Not sure how that translates into our décor, but I like to think it's in there somewhere.

Dream source for stuff: I would love to buy from 1stdibs. But then, I think we'd have to move to a much fancier apartment. Probably somewhere in France.


• TV Samsung 40"
• Bose Soundock

Living Room:
• Sofa, chair and ottoman – Craigslist
• Coffee table – IMG Home
• Heywood Wakefield side tables – Craigslist
• Blue console table – Craigslist

Dining Room:
• Credenza – eBay
• Table – Craigslist, refinished by the glorious and talented Hans
• Paul McCobb chairs – Craigslist, have yet to be refinished by the glorious and talented Hans
• Desk – Pier 1

• Headboard – Restoration Hardware Warehouse Sale
• Dressers – Craigslist

Baby's Room:
• Headboard and bed – Craigslist (originally Pottery Barn)
• Crib – Sorelle's Lana Crib
• Bookshelf and footstool – Stumasa
• Rocker – eBay

Living Room:
• Mirror – Z Gallerie
• Tree stump container – Stumasa
• Radial pillow – Hybrid-Home
• Other pillows – handmade by me

• Floral throw pillows – Pottery Barn
• Bedding – PB Teen

Baby's Room:
• Storage baskets – Container Store
• Crib skirt and throw pillow – made from Anthropologie tablecloth
• Pink blanket and bed skirt– Company Store
• Tree wall decals – Modern Nursery

Living Room:
• Yellow Boka lamps – Crate and Barrel

Dining Room:
• Hanging lamp – eBay

• Bedside lamps – Pier 1

Baby's Room:
• Lamp on the dresser and floor lamp by the bookshelf – IKEA

Living Room:
• Oatmeal Rug – EQ3

Baby's Room:
• Leopard Rug – West Elm

• Painting above the fireplace is by Ross Sheehan
• Drawing of man's face was done by me and is a copy of a drawing shown in an instructional manual published in 1935 – "The Human Figure: Life Drawing for Artists"
• Paintings in the dining room above credenza are by Jonah Burlingame
• Window photograph was taken by Tom Way
• "Keep Calm" poster was purchased from Victoria
• Flock Silkscreen Print – Good Shape Design

Thanks, Mary and Hans!

Photos by Mary

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