Katie's Inside and Outside Mission Loft

Katie's Inside and Outside Mission Loft

Rebecca Orlov
Mar 9, 2010

Name: Katie Farrell
Location: San Francisco, CA
Size: 500 square feet
Years lived in: 7 months

Today's house tour features one of our favorite signature California styles - outdoor living. Katie's studio loft, tucked deep off an alley in the folds of San Francisco's urban fabric, features a lovely garden that provides the small apartment more living space and outdoor comfort. Making do with already there bright orange walls and makeshift built-ins that do the trick, Katie enjoys her loft space (less a few bumps on the head from standing up), its city location and outdoor exposure.

AT Survey:

My style: Contemporary classic meets hidden jungle.

Inspiration: Tokyo, Hong Kong, London, New York, San Francisco.

Favorite Element: I love its unassuming alley, the shelving on the stairs that a previous tenet installed, the garden, of course. I especially love the belladonna, when they are in bloom the whole apartment smells incredible.

Biggest Challenge: The walls were painted orange when I moved in. Not my favorite color, but I've tried to embrace it. There is also no overhead lighting in my apartment so sometimes it feels like a lighting store. And the dangerously low ceilings in the lofted space - watch your head!

What Friends Say: "I can't believe this is back here!" and "I love the garden."

Biggest Embarrassment: Severe lack of cell phone service combined with a near inaudible doorbell! During parties this is a socially dangerous combination.

Proudest DIY: It's far from original, but using doors as an outdoor table has worked quite well – especially since they can easily be reconfigured for different dinner parties: a intimate dinner of four or up to fourteen. My very crafty landlord hand-tiled the bathroom and the kitchen to gorgeous effect - I'm proud for her!

Biggest Indulgence: Too many Apple products.

Best advice: I grew up moving frequently and each time we moved, I watched my mother pack and unpack our entire home. She magically would make it feel as if we had lived in our new apartment/house for years. I would come home from a disorienting day at my new school and feel at home immediately. Remember the scene in Snow White where the ferries waved their wands and conduct the dishes, furniture, and cake into perfect harmony? I believed she had these powers, and I still think she still does. As familiar objects were recovered from their cardboard hibernation across seas we would get to imagine our new lives. Without fail, it was always the pictures and artwork that was uncovered last. There was always a Saturday about three months in where my parents would test their marriage and take on the challenge of hanging pictures. It wasn't magic, it was hard work: my father on the ladder usually holding something heavy and my mother directing him, "a little to the left, no a little to the right, up a little?". No matter how soon we may move next, they always went through this painstaking dance. As I continue to travel and move as an adult I've been a little reluctant to settle in anywhere – but taking my mother's advice, and the deadline for Apartment Therapy, "It's okay to hang pictures," translation: it's okay to stay awhile. There is a fine balance to moving—embracing a city's newness with every bit of curiosity you can muster and making friends like you will stay forever.

Dream source: eBay with an unlimited budget!



  • The Touch (21st and Valencia) – great for slightly battered, but well designed pieces
  • Therapy ( 17th and Valencia) – great for copies of well designed pieces
  • CB2
  • Ikea
  • Urban Ore
  • Craigslist


  • Noguchi
  • Ikea


  • Dave McKenzie
  • John Powers
  • Mary Temple
  • Corey McCorkle
  • Amy Granat and Matt Keegan
  • Paul Henry Ramirez
  • candyass escalator repair company
  • Elyse Mallouk


  • Kapabashi, Tokyo

(Thanks, Katie!)

Images: Katie Farrell

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