sneak peek: paul at branch home

today i’m thrilled to share a sneak peek into the home of paul donald, president and co-founder of branch home. before he was with branch, paul spent 12 years in graphic design and magazine publishing (he worked on some of my favorites like wired and sunset). though he grew up in small-town iowa, paul now lives in san francisco and calls this beautiful apartment home. paul’s descriptions follow below but you can click here for full-size versions of paul’s home shot by photographer rob brodman. there are several photos below the fold so be sure to click “read more” below or click here for the full post.

Living room 1 (first photo at the top): My friend Josh Singer designed and built the wall unit to match the vintage Danish modern dining set and coffee table. The projector (under the clock) is for the monthly documentary film club I host, called Cinéma Vérité.

Bedroom closeup (directly above): The table is vintage, the lamp from Ikea. The artwork to the upper right is by my friend Rodger Stevens, the framed pieces in the center are originals of vintage illustrations from Sunset magazine (where I was the Creative Director before I started Branch). The felt rocks on the table are available at Branch.

Hallway: This chest of drawers is one of my favorite pieces of furniture: it’s from an old hardware store, and its many drawers are perfect for organizing and hiding away all of a home’s little necessities. The numbers are printed on metal, and are from an old gas station.

The artwork above the chest of drawers is by, from left to right, Adam McCauley, Carrie Leeb (sorry that’s so hard to see), and Terry Hoff.

Bedroom: The bed was designed and built by my friend Roy Mars. The rug is made from recycled paper with a rubberized backing. The chair and absurdly large ottoman (which I love) is by Frighetto. The Modular Pillow (on the chair) is by Galya Rosenfeld, and is available at Branch.

The artwork at right is by my friend Michael Bartalos, who also created the artwork for the new greeting card we sell at Branch.

Bathroom detail: These vintage letters are visible from the shower.

Kitchen closeup (fridge): Mini magnets turn my freezer door into an easy-to-change gallery of found ephemera from my vast collection. The glass pieces atop the fridge are by Esque, and are available at Branch.

Living room 2: One thing I used to do in my spare time is design and build lamps. The small one to the left of the black cabinet is one such project; it’s made from an old test-tube stand. I also collect vintage packaging, as seen inside the black cabinet.

The sculpture atop the black cabinet is by my friend Adam McCauley; the painting at right is by Hiroshi Kimura.

Entry hallway, just inside front door: I’ve always been drawn to quirky old found objects, and my home is full of them. The piece at left is part of a discarded sign I picked up off the street in New York when I used to live there. I liked it so well that I brought it along when I moved to San Francisco.

And while you can’t read it from this angle, the old letters on the lower right spell the word “FOCUS”, which serves as a reminder each time I leave my apartment.

The building I live in is a pretty typical San Francisco apartment building. There are lots of old details (fold-down ironing board, a Murphy bed, etc.). I particularly like the old intercom system (on the far wall). It no longer works, but it still looks great.

Kitchen closeup (shelves): The lamp shown is another of my creations; it’s made from an old 35mm slide tray. The test tubes in the rack (on the third shelf) contain soil from each of the five boroughs of New York, which I collected before moving away from the city.

Kitchen: My kitchen has lots of storage, which I love. The traffic arrows at right are a future lamp project.

Kim Wike

I absolutely love the shelving unit in the very first picture.
And all of the vintage items…Mmm…perfect! I hope to have a collection one day.
You’re apartment has so much character but isn’t overwhelming.


Wow, wow! You’re killing me here! You are really coming up with some great sneaks this week. This is such a great home!


That “Sing” sign is so great! I love how it is right above the shower. I am having some serious apartment envy here!


This is so beautiful! So many things to keep the eye busy and entertained yet still very soothing and serene. Thank you for sharing!


Forgive me if this is obvious, but I’m new to the design world: could someone tell me about the wall lamp in the bedroom?

I’m completely in love with your home. I’m coming over. :)


That is the OXO pop-up dish rack. I believe they have discontinued this item.

shelly at k studio

hi paul d.

I liked reading about all of your stuff- perfectly placed.

You and your apartment are both so nice.


Where did the shelving unit and table come from? They’re wonderful.


Awww, thanks everybody for all the nice comments. You’re all invited over for cocktails and Scrabble…


I love the fact that a San Fransicso guy has a Stockholm Old Town subway magnet on his fridge!

heather moore

What a lovely place. I particularly like the fact that so much of your furniture and art is made by friends and by yourself. Thanks for sharing.


Another great sneak peak! I especially like the chest of drawers, with the simple vases with flowers on top of it. Sometimes design and beauty can be so simple!


makes me feel better seeing his place… his eclectic mix of furniture.. my furniture pieces don’t match in style/period/colour… one day…


wow… what a great apartment. i love all the unique, vintage finds. and what a clever idea with the test tubes full of soil from your time in new york – i love that!


Hi nina: to your question, the shelving unit was designed and built by my friend Josh Singer. His concept was to create an easy-to-move piece for urban folks who frequently change addresses. The dining table and chairs I found at a garage sale on the day I signed my lease for the apartment. And the coffee table was an extremely lucky find at a local (now sadly defunct) vintage furniture shop.


SO Inspiring!

I get depressed looking at Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrel catalogs–they’re too perfect and unattainable-looking! My house is a total mish-mash and I’ve been fighting it, but this inspires me to go with it!

jennifer in sf

This is such a great apartment. I really need to make some furniture-building friends!

And when should we come over for the Scrabble?


Hey Paul,
Do you know the designer of your dining chairs. They look a lot like ones I have and they are marked Mogens-Kold, but for the life of me I haven’t been able to figure out who the designer was. You’re the only other person I have ever seen who has them too! Thanks!



I was serious about Scrabble night. I’ll be hosting at 7pm on Sunday, January 10, at my place in SF’s Mission District. If you’d like to attend, send me an email at paul [at], and I’ll provide more information.


paul! your house looks even better in photos. i always admired your neatness of keeping and placing things so immaculately throughout. hope to attend many more CV docu-nights at your beautiful home!


Hi Gene: I’ve checked, and there are no discernable markings on either the dining chairs *or* the table. And since I bought the set at a garage sale (from a guy who himself had found it at a vintage store), no such information came with it.

Sorry to not be more helpful…


Paul! So fun to see your apartment in one of my favorite blogs. It looks fantastic, as always! I’m going to have to spend some time in front of the fridge at the next docuclub night. (I actually do the same thing with my fridge, but your gallery is so much better. ;)

Maggie T.

Where is the lamp from in the bedroom?? I need to know. I love it.

Dennis Anderton

wow the apartment is so…happy. I love the flasks here and there. It would be nice if there would be assortment in colors though. Bright colors..tee hee..just a thought. Love what you’ve done with your abode.


Hi Paul, great place. Where is your couch from? Is it a corduroy fabric?


I love everything about your home. Thank you for sharing!
I cannot reach you via Branch Home. Jacob is difficult to deal with and I would like to speak with you regarding large purchases for a nearby school?Thank you kindly.


I am a huge fan of branch home and visit your website daily. Thank you so much for sharing your home with us, as always your eye for design is inspiring. I hope you and Jacob continue to keep up the great work!


Hi Janet: Thank you for your support of Branch. All of our staff are happy to help you any time over the phone or via info[at] Jacob is an excellent employee and we’re happy to have him on our team. If you have any issues with our customer service, please email me at paul[at] and I’ll be happy to discuss them. We’ve never had any complaints about any of our staff being difficult to deal with.