a year ago rena tom moved herself and her popular store, rare device, to san francisco to team up with artist lisa congdon to open a larger version on the west coast. the store is known for clean white walls and brightly colored goods, but rena looks at her home as a place full of muted colors that make for a relaxing haven in the city. from oakland to new york, back to san franscisco, she and her husband have had a serious exercise in downsizing, as each place is slightly smaller than the last. they now find themselves in a 700 sf 1920s marina-style apartment (note: they’ve only been moved in here for two months!). she acknowledges the excess of doors to be a challenge in room layout, but it’s always fun to see the solutions creative people come up with and how they make the most of the space given. click here for more images of rena’s place, and here to find all of our fantastic sneak peeks. and don’t forget to stop by rare device next time you’re in the bay area. [thanks so much, rena!] -anne
[above: our apartment is the rear unit overlooking the backyard. you can see it when you open the front door. we don't have a terribly wide hallway but we have lined it with cubitec from DWR and it holds a lot of our books (most of our possessions are books).]
we got the norrebo shelving unit from ikea when we were living in brooklyn. it breaks down easily and has held up really well. we use the norrebo drawer units to store phone chargers, dog treats, CDs, journals – all sorts of little clutter around the house.
view from one corner of the living room to the other side where the bed nook is. we should probably install some french doors or hospital track to close off the space, but when it is always on view, it is incentive to keep it tidy. case study day bed from modernica, cell dresser in walnut and bamboo from union studio in berkeley, gallows lamp by bed from zinc details (discontinued), rug from peace industry, modular shelving is go-kart by blu dot (discontinued). the day bed cushions used to be bright red – we are getting used to the grey, and are on the hunt for a throw in persimmon or yellow. any suggestions?
the kitchen is small but pretty efficient. when we moved in, the old wood cabinets were white, the marble countertops are white, and the subway tile backsplash is white. we painted the lower cabinets a warm medium grey (benjamin moore stone) for contrast, and to hide some of the crooked moulding on the doors and drawers. then pendant light and rug are ikea, the plate above the door is by lena corwin.
wall space is rather scarce in our kitchen (we have two giant windows plus two doors and a set of french doors opening onto the space) so the knife rack had to go right above the counter, which turned out to be the perfect place after all.
we got most of our big pieces of art when i worked at patricia sweetow gallery in san francisco. the epoxy stripe drip painting is by markus linnenbrink. it is huge, it basically dictates where we live. if an apartment doesn’t have 6 feet of wall space (harder than you would think in SF, with all the doors and windows and wainscoting) we can’t move in! the black watercolor is by joachim bandau. table is ikea, a hand-me-down from the rare device remodel, chairs are gio ponti ‘superleggera’ for cassina. we put down a flor tile rug. the walls are painted a very dusky purple (benjamin moore vintage charm) that we love. it changes from grey to brown to purple throughout the day.
the sideboard with door off. painting by david huffman, table lamp is glo-ball by jasper morrison. the sideboard is a crate built to ship our art across the country. it was a shame to throw it out, so we installed some ikea billy shelves in it and we put our dishes inside.
everyone loves this painting, so here is a closer look at it. the light-colored pillow cover is by angie lewin for st. jude’s.
we installed an ivy coat rack from rare device inside the front door. it looks good even when there is nothing hanging on it (though that never seems to happen!)
my favorite spot in the apartment. i love curling up in this chair with a book and a mug of tea. the ‘harry’ chair is from b&b italia, the lamp is tolomeo by artemide, the side table is ikea, the modular bookcase is blu dot. the black porcelain wall hanging is by karin eriksson from rare device. and yes, i know the art is not spaced right, i am still in the process of moving it around. . . we’ve never had a sideboard before. it’s nice to have utensils at hand in the dining room. . . this chartreuse heath ceramics vase is the accent color for our kitchen. it looks great with grey and white. we painted the cabinet kick panels and interiors in this color (benjamin moore savannah moss).