Revisiting Ginger's 'A Little Classic, A Little Quirky' Home

Revisiting Ginger's 'A Little Classic, A Little Quirky' Home

Jess Watson
Jul 22, 2010

Name: Ginger Richardson
Location: Nob Hill, San Francisco
Size: 550 square feet
Years lived in: 2 years

As part of this year's Small Cool contest, we were thrilled to be invited back for a closer look at Ginger's Nob Hill apartment. Her bold use of color along with the amazing details of her space (swoon pocket door!) got everyone's attention. And after meeting Ginger, I can say the space truly reflects the owner...a little quirky, a little girly and incredibly welcoming!

Ginger's apartment had a unique (well, not necessarily to San Francisco) challenge — the rooms were very narrow so conventional furniture wouldn't work. Ginger made the most of it by finding pieces that fit and served a purpose, even if not the intended purpose. She is also a proud proponent of the mantra that "if you don't love it, get rid of it!" Her home is full of pieces she loves and enjoys and it shows.

While her color scheme may have seen its fair share of debate on the site, we give her major kudos for going for it! The colors make the space feel cozy, comforting and not at all dark, considering it receives an amazing amount of light thanks to her bay windows. Oh, and did we forget to mention the view? Stunning! It makes her apartment a true San Francisco gem — unique and bold like Ginger while still highlighting the beauty that is this amazing city!

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My/Our style: Classic but quirky. Always tons of color used in unexpected ways.

Inspiration: My inspiration was the opulent glamour of bygone days, sort of "Old Hollywood", but updated with a funky twist.

Favorite Element: Everyone loves that giant brown sliding pocket door, and I don't disagree. I can keep it closed and have a separate living room and bedroom, which is good for when I have overnight guests or otherwise need some privacy. Or I can leave the pocket door open and have just one giant (relatively speaking) open studio space. I leave it open most of the time so that I can spread out, enjoy the view from the bedroom, and watch the living room TV from the bed.

Biggest Challenge: The biggest challenge for me was definitely the unique narrow footprint of my home, which is characteristic of these classic San Francisco buildings. All of my rooms are only 8 ½ feet wide, which makes it difficult to find the right furniture and arrange everything so you can still walk around! I could not fit a full sofa in the living room without completely blocking the bay windows and cutting the room in half, so I found my vintage settee on eBay that was the perfect size. The best plan for me has been to do things unconventionally, accept the fact that I couldn't fit a full sized dining table or sofa or entertainment center or dresser in my place, and then come up with narrower options that would still fulfill the purpose. I think the result is a little classic, a little quirky, which matches my personality and makes it fun.

What Friends Say: My friends say it's fun, cozy, and very me. Or they ignore my décor completely and just stare out the window at the view. That's the annoying thing about living in this city; no matter how much I put into the decorating, I just can't compete with the beauty of San Francisco out my window.

Biggest Embarrassment: Whenever I work on my place, I blast Michael Buble's "Feelin' Good" at top volume. Something about that song has the right amount of old world sophistication and sassy funk to guide my decorating.

Proudest DIY: The artificial flower arrangements in the living room, which I designed, spray painted, and put together by hand. And just the overall design of the color scheme. The way I express myself is with color, from the clothes I wear to the car I drive (I drive an Orange Mini!) I came up with combining the chartreuse green with the scarlet red based on the fact that I had two mismatched pieces when I moved into the place - my chartreuse futon and my scarlet red shag rug. I wasn't sure if the two could go together (I know it's debatable still!), but I bought a scarlet red pillow, threw it on the chartreuse futon, and it popped! The rest is history. Since red looks so great with black and white, and I already had that gorgeous black and white flooring in the bathroom, I made my bathroom's primary color red, the kitchen got the chartreuse green, the living room is a combination of both with some chocolate brown, and in the bedroom chocolate brown predominates with some scarlet and soft pink accents.

Biggest Indulgence: Striped bar chair I found from an adorable boutique in Russian Hill on Green Street. It had no mate, and I had no need for a lone barstool, but it was gorgeous, the right colors, and I knew I wanted to do a wall in stripes. That whole side of the wall is designed around that chair.

Best advice: No Fear!!!! Don't feel like you have to be like everyone else - just because Ikea put a certain room together, you don't have to go with all of those exact same pieces. I hate the idea of looking cookie cutter, so I think it's important to not be afraid to add a bit of flair. My funky colors and design aren't for everyone, but don't be scared to do something different that you like. Also, I think you shouldn't find everything you want in one store, or decorate a whole house in one weekend, even one that's as small as mine. It looks too boring and homogeneous. So much better to pick up a piece here at your favorite store, stumble on a piece there while you're on travel, pick something out when you're elated and on top of the world, buy something when you're melancholy… your home will be a mixture of all of your different moods and tones. Also, my big rule is, when you buy something, if it doesn't work out, throw it out. I think the biggest mistake people make is putting something in their home that they don't even like, and thinking "oh, well". If you don't like it, no one else will like it - that's what returns and Craigslist are for. I've sold more mistakes and disasters on Craigslist than I care to mention, but the result is that I love every piece that remains in my house.

Dream source: Design Within Reach. Some of those items aren't within my reach or budget! I also love Room and Board. And anything I see in Dwell or Elle Décor.

I used the same paint colors in every room of the apartment. The red is Benjamin Moore "Caliente!" The green is Benjamin Moore "Spring Moss". My go-to chocolate brown is always Pratt & Lambert "Hickory". It is so rich and has just a hint of eggplant. I've had people say they want to eat my brown walls!

The lime green microsuede futon is from Urban Outfitters, I bought it 7 years ago right off the showroom floor downtown. It moves in three different directions, it's awesome. The red settee/loveseat is vintage Ward Bennett, I won it on eBay. My shag rug and vases are from ZGallerie, and my leopard rugs are Ballard Designs. My striped barchair is from Flipp, an adorable little furniture store in San Francisco. That gorgeous mirror on the wall and the nesting tables are from Horchow. I get a lot of basic pieces from CB2 or Ikea, like the TV stand, my wardrobe armoir, the CD/DVD case, and the bar table. The key is to not overdo it and mix these pieces with more opulent items. It's just like clothes: there's nothing wrong with mixing up designer jeans with a Target T-shirt, no one will notice!

(Thanks, Ginger!)

Images: Jessica Watson

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