Reader’s home – Xing’s living big in a small space

Posted on Mon, 20 Jun 2016 by KiM

Xing wrote to us the other day wanting to share his apartment with our readers. I am happily obliging because he has a great philosophy on decorating, I love that his apartment is simple (I wish I could be more minimalist) and he adores plants as much as I do. Here is a bit of background from Xing:
When I moved to San Francisco, I was more interested in modern homes versus older homes that would potentially need updating, as my work in video games was keeping me really busy. What really drew me to this place – despite the fact that the kitchen and bath could use a modern update – were the lovely views of San Francisco (I can see the Mission, SOMA, and the downtown skyline) and windows in every room (including the closet). The price difference between this and another modern option that I liked would give me enough budget to remodel it, and the modern place didn’t have a view… That was enough to help me make my decision, and how I ended up here. 
I had planned to live in my apartment for a bit to see how best to remodel it. Then, work and life got in the way, and I never started my remodel project. Thankfully, the vintage look grow on me! In terms of my approach for decorating this place, there have always been three principals that I’ve followed:
Rule #1, buy second hand whenever possible. I love second hand furniture; it has so much more character than new furniture. I’ve bought several things on Craigslist (e.g., the Pollock chair, rug, replica Bertoia chair). From my experiences of digging through all the junk on Craigslist, I even decided to start a mobile app called Trove Market ( to help people buy and sell second hand furniture locally using their smart phones.  
Rule #2, keep it simple and stick to the essentials. After years of moving (before San Francisco I lived in Boston, New York, Seattle, Shanghai and Beijing), I collected quite a bit of nice antiques and furniture from flea markets and Craigslist all over! Moving to San Francisco, my company offered me a stipend to cover moving cost instead of arranging a moving company, which was hard, because I had to get rid of a lot of stuff or pay a hefty sum to move it. It was then that I decided to really reconsider how I was living, and decided to prioritize essentials that I use often: a king size bed, a 60” TV (video games!), and a big leather sofa, and eliminate things that I don’t use often: dining table, side tables, etc. This way, I can still live big in a small space!
Rule #3, put at least one plant in every room. They can really transform a space. The giant plant on top of the fridge makes the fridge feel like more like a giant plant stand in the kitchen, and creates a nice green canopy for my nook desk (which turns into a dining table for 2 in a pinch).
The place is constantly evolving, as I change things out and bring other things in (deliberately, of course). I think what I enjoy most about my place is that I can sit in my bed at night, read a book, and glance up at the beautiful view. 

Ruth says:

Thank you Xing and Kim! Looks like you share one extravagance in clutter: books!

axie says:

Moyra: "Starting today I am inspired to remove furniture, and buy another plant!!"
Haven't added any new plants to my jungle, but I had to report that I was so inspired that I have already called Habitat for Humanity to haul away a love seat and chair! And I'm sure there will be more. My nest has been empty for several years, now out's time to clean it out 🙂

And thanks Kim for keeping DTI civil.

Peggy says:

Such a gorgeous space! Perfectly curated. Those windows are so gorgeous, not much else is needed. It must be winderful during a rain shower. Honestly, I don't understand how people with gorgeous plants do it! I can't bear to have house plants because I kill everything!

Anna L says:

I love the yellow in the kitchen. It works and feels so sunny and cheerful. The horse puppet caught my eye, then the sign with the tractor and then the pass through window in the back door. I love the character of features like that. When I lived in California in a tiny apartment, it had a little door from outside to the kitchen for the milk bottle delivery, and the front door had a speakeasy. When I finally bought my own house I had a speakeasy put in the front door. Not just nostalgia but has proved itself useful.

Suzanne Melton says:

Because I'd commented before the person who published the rudest non-political rant I've ever read, I was notified via email of a follow-up comment and the comment was included in the notification.

As I read, I kept thinking what the heck is his/her motivation? To make us think he or she has more "taste" when it comes to decorating?

I consider all of the homes and offices posted on Desire to Inspire Kim and Jo's 'personal" friends. And you don't go to Kim or Jo's home and insult their other guests.

Moyra says:

Axis, no plant yet, but I filled a large box of items for my local Hospice shop. A console table and side table have moved to an outhouse for donation to young friends. Xing! I salute you!

Silje says:

Wonderful! I LOVE IT!

Astrid says:

Hi Kim and Jo,
don't comment very often, but it's time I did ! Just wanted to thank you both for your lovely site and all your dedication over the years, I don't know how you do it…it is such a huge commitment of time and energy, and you both have jobs and households and partners to care for! I was moved to write after I saw that you'd removed an offensive comment ( which I didn't see), but want to say "good on ya, girls" !! Also, Xing's apartment is utterly and totally gorgeous!!!!

KiM says:

Thank you Astrid 🙂

ombia says:

I love those windows! AQnd the described vuew. Would love to see it by night!
What I don't understand is having couple of desks? One is maybe a dining table solution, but the another one?
I love your interior rules.
This photo looks so inviting and decluttered.

I would like to know what is speakeasy? I googled a picture but nothing came out.

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