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 (https://www.usetrove.com) 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.
Back in 2012 Christa submitted this entry for our Design Crew series. She was wondering what to do with her Honduras mahogany kitchen cabinets that were in rough shape. We were excited to hear from her the other day that she did a mini renovation of her kitchen and send along some before and after photos. It isn’t a dramatic transformation but I am glad because her cabinets are gorgeous and I think they’re beautiful left natural. Here is what Christa had to say about her new kitchen: I have made peace with all the wood in this house and decided to keep and refinish the original wood cabinets. They are a bit beat up but I like the patina and they’re solid wood and plywood, built to last. I decided that combining the old cabinets with some lux new appliances would balance out to something original and beautiful. I wanted the kitchen to feel fresh and bright but also timeless and appropriate to the house. I added 3 feet (a little less than a meter) of base cabinets matched to the existing ones (it was a rolling cart in the old kitchen). This gave me a lot more counter space along with shelves on the end for dog bowls and for small appliances so the countertops could stay clear. I took down an upper cabinet and built open shelves instead. I added a Heath tile backsplash, had the fridge integrated, and added a pull out pantry.
(that’s her pooch Agnes)
(that backsplash is soooooo fantastic)
Christa’s white countertops look fantastic! Looking for some new kitchen countertops for your renovation? Try Caesarstone quartz – tons of colours to choose from, incredibly durable, never need sealing and scratch + stain+ heat resistant.
A dear reader of ours named Erin was talked into setting up a real estate staging and styling business in Perth, Western Australia after nailing it on a couple of homes she staged for friends and neighbours of friends. This townhouse in West Perth is one of them – and it’s already under offer (if not sold by now).
There are more than enough 1 bed new to newish apartments in this suburb and surrounding suburbs where the balcony’s overlook each other plus there are 50 to 150 of them in each block. This one’s saving grace is it’s in a group of 8 that allows pets unlike the apartments. Pets are like plants in my eyes. They make a house a home. Ideally I would have loved to wack art on the walls but as the whole place was freshly painted inside and out the owner wanted to leave the walls clear so the new owners can hammer away til their hearts content. I also would have loved to put another rug or two in but I need more rugs like a hole in the head as with the owner. I am though still trying to source a well priced rug to possibly put underneath the wee dining table. we did this using mine and the owners furniture with all linen, cushions, vases, plants, basically every accessory you can see coming from me. I did get the owner to spring for the rug in the upstairs sitting area which we sourced from gumtree which is similar to craigslist as she was happy to keep this after the sale. The owner wasn’t keen on hiring furniture and admittedly I would rather purchase second hand to keep costs down and sell furniture on after the sale to save costs for the owner. Plus she had a few sofas and coffee tables in her main residence, borrowed a spare bed from her mum and luckily owned the eames and expedit. I’m a big believer, in beg, borrow and steal, purchase what you need and store anything downright ugly and not suited to the target buyer. But will hire furniture if need be.
You may remember the Brooklyn loft of Mara and David that I shared almost 2 years ago. Well, Mara and David have since changed careers (from photo agent and still-life photographer to creative director of CVintage shopping event and sommelier), lifestyles, and moved to a new city. Now located in Charleston, South Carolina, they have completed renovations on their new home and sent along some photos. This house has such beautiful architectural details and they have done such a great job decorating their new digs (with most of the same furniture just reupholstered). Thanks for giving us a peek Mara and David!
(tasting table by Landrum Tables)
(reclaimed wood shelves by Brooks Custom Woodworks)
Got a problem? Need some help? Just standing there shaking your head? Don’t know what to do? You’re not alone. Send us a link to photos of your design quandary and let the Desire to Inspire design crew help you…. that’s you lot… the readers! Hop to it. I know you have just the right solution. Today’s design dilemma comes from Paula.
Desperately seeking kim & jo’s interior ideas for a super/super long (24 feet long) by a super narrow (6 feet wide) living/dining/kitchen empty blank space that all connected open. I mean, I haven’t any clue how to explain this cold empty apartment and I am lost without a clue where to begin. Paula is looking to create a warm, calm, inviting home with the rather awkward space she has to work with as seen below.
I would like to share my thoughts and I hope many of you will too! First though – why oh why do people think dividing up a floor in an open concept space like this with 2 different materials is a good idea?! This space would be easier to work with and flow better if all the floor was hardwood. Paula I don’t know if you own or rent but either way, if you can swing getting that doing-nothing-for-the-space tile pulled up and replaced with the same hardwood that would be an awesome start. So I would basically pick a lovely calm, neutral colour and slap that all over all the walls. I usually say grey but you can really go with anything you like. Then pick 1 or 2 accent colours. I would then delineate your dining and living room zones using area rugs (neutral with a bit of your accent colour). I would get a round dining table and some not too weighty chairs like Eames or Philippe Starck’s Victoria Ghost chairs. I would try and find a very slim loveseat/sofa just under 6′ long and cram it in that nook under the 2 windows along the back wall. Or check if Ikea or small-space furniture companies makes a sectional that isn’t too bulky that might fit with the lounge part along the back wall. Then you can have a couple of occasional chairs in the more open area facing the loveseat with maybe a tiny table between them and they won’t be so crammed in. I would mount the TV on the wall behind that door in the photo above so it’s out of the way. That’s it – just keep a flow of colours throughout the entire space and keep every piece of furniture light, airy and ideally armless because I guarantee you’ll bring home furniture and wonder why it looked like a good size in the store but so big in your space.