One Woman’s Timeless “Dream Home” in San Francisco

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Living Room: 35+-year-old family heirloom bamboo table; original wood floors restored; artwork from European travels. (Image credit: Submitted by Katie )

Name: Katie
Location: San Francisco, California
The basics: 4 months, rented — 1,100 square feet

Katie managed to find her dream apartment in the notoriously competitive San Francisco rental market. With plenty of space, light and a killer neighborhood, all her apartment was missing was her personal touch. Mixing heirlooms with souvenirs, old favorites with new pieces, she crafted a space that feels classic and welcoming.

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: After more than five years in a lovely Pacific Heights unit, I was ready for a change of scenery, as well as a more spacious apartment that I could consider my “dream” home. What I envisioned was a space that was more open, better suited for entertaining friends and family, and located within walking distance of a lively neighborhood with easy access to different amenities. With such specific criteria, however, my search for a new apartment became somewhat of a challenge. But the beauty of San Francisco is that there are wonderfully diverse and vibrant neighborhoods discoverable across the entire city. After spending time exploring, I knew I wanted my next stop to be in the historic Alamo Square Park district — it’s lively, convenient for my commute to work, and the neighborhood boasts an incredible amount of charm with many restaurants, unique lifestyle stores, coffee shops, and workout studios. And voila! After some persistence and patience, the Fulton Street apartment popped up for rent a few weeks later.

The minute I stepped through the doorway, I knew this was meant to be my new home. The one-bedroom, 1,100 square foot apartment had everything I was looking for. Plus, recent renovations gave it a modern feel with new light fixtures and marble countertops, while maintaining an incredible amount of character I feel is very specific to San Francisco. The building was built in 1927, and the apartment still reflects some of its original features, including hardwood floors, antique paned glass doors leading to the bedroom and to the living room, black and white tiled floors in the kitchen and bathroom, and a colorful mural of two peacocks over the recessed bathtub. The apartment perfectly embodies my personal style (which has certainly evolved many times over the years): modern with timeless accents that draw on an elegant and artistic pastimes.

What is your favorite room and why? My favorite room to decorate was the bedroom. I wanted the room to be reminiscent of bedroom in an Italian farmhouse that was bright and serene at the same time. I decided on all-white decor for the bed, dresser, and for the 10-foot-wide window, which is flanked by pure-white linen curtains to add a certain lightness to the room. And, of course, I had to add a few pops of color! I chose rich-purple accent pillows and cream-colored (faux-fur!) blankets to give the large space a cozier feel.

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? My most recent purchases were the iron and wood Marais chairs in the kitchen from Houzz, the marble-top accent tables in the living room, featuring a gold birdcage base from Pier 1 Imports, and the wide, cream-colored sofa from Crate & Barrel. All of these items are prominent or statement pieces, yet very functional in my home.

Katie’s words of wisdom: Don’t worry about what’s trendy at the moment. Decorate your home to your personal taste and as you might want to see it – and still love it – five years later. I already owned most of the furniture and decor in my home today, but certain pieces have been repositioned in different places throughout the apartment, creating a newness to the space while keeping decorating costs low. Also, remember to draw on your surroundings (in my case, historic San Francisco) and travel experiences, whether you’ve been to your favorite place abroad, or not (you can always find some great travel inspiration on websites like Pinterest). For example, I love to buy inexpensive posters from street fairs or sidewalk vendors when I’m in Europe or South America, and put them in frames from Restoration Hardware or Pottery Barn to make them look like an expensive art purchase!

Thanks, Katie!

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