Interiorssneak peeks

A San Francisco home that knows how to celebrate color

by Amy Azzarito

One of the bright spots at the Stationery Show, each May, is the Yellow Owl Workshop booth. No matter what the rest of the show is like there is always something new and fun in the booth (like their party kits last year or their recipes cards the year before that or their stamp sets the year before that). So we ask Yellow Owl Workshop founder Christine Schmidt (check out our Biz Ladies profile of her right here)for a little peek into the Noe Valley home she shares with husband Evan Gross (who has an equally awesome job as deputy City Attorney for the city of San Francisco, specializing in affordable housing development), daughter Emmy and their two lovely pups Calvin and Clementine. This is the couple’s seventh home in their twelve years together. They’ve been in this space for three years. After so many years of moving, they don’t worry about creating a decorating theme or colorscape because as Christine said, “As renters, you never know if your next home will have, say, pink tile, like we have now.” Instead, they just make a point of collecting (or making things) that have some significance for them. And although, Christine has a studio space for Yellow Owl Workshop, she often designs at home. As a result, the house is a bit like a diary of her changing interests and obsessions. So, for example, the nautical flag in the living room was an Ebay score during the time she was working on her nautical flag greeting cards. Her current favorite piece is the s the graphite drawing in her bedroom from a needlework pattern-inspired series by Robert Otto Epstein. Thank you, Christine, Evan & Emmy! And thank you to Aubri Pick for the fantastic photos! –Amy

Image above: A modular mid-century shelving unit I scored on Craigslist, which houses all of Evan’s records and most of our books. The California Pennant pillow and Trophy lamp are from my collaboration with Schoolhouse Electric of Portland (which is sold out so no longer on their website, but it was on Design*Sponge here.) Handsome gent on the couch is a great acquisition from a rescue dog shelter in DC, Calvin S. Bones.

Image above: This is my home base for both work and life and it is never ever this clean. Here, my rubber stamped designs co-mingle with toys and stale cheerios, and I just wouldn’t have it any other way. Wood periodic table chart from Craigslist, which once hung in Redwood City High School. Danish table from a thrift store in town (can’t remember which one), chairs are one of my many prized scores from eBay, and a William Carlos Williams poem with too few letters. Yes, people, that is some southern exposure.


See more photos this San Francisco home after the jump!

Image above: When we first got married, we decided that we would try to buy at least one piece of art every year that we could enjoy together. Running a business is expensive and, five years in, this is our first piece- a painting by Paul Wackers.  I have been friends with Paul since we met the first day of art school at the Corcoran and Evan surprised me with this and I totally cried. Orchid: already dead at press time. I bought this antique nautical signal flag as, ummm, “research.” Couldn’t find its meaning so I get to lie about its symbolism when people ask me.

Image above: Evan bought a giant TV and I thought the only way to deal was to give it competition.

Image above: A tomb rubbing, an unkillable rubber plant and bench from my friend Sara’s old house on Capp Street.

Image above: Graphite drawing from Robert Otto Epstein, Hand-printed pillows and duvet I made with custom rubber stamps I made using my Carve-a stamp kit.

Image above: Our bedroom was bland and square and too tall. I painted this washy faux paneling to give it dimension. I painted the ceiling and very top of the wall with a gray to bring down the height of the ceiling a bit. Cactus print from my friends at Banquet Workshop who make the most awesome stuff. Wall anchored by a mantle from Craigslist and Ikea mirror tiles.

Image above: Thrifted chair, letterman patch pillow I designed for Schoolhouse Electric. I was drawing a lot of knots and made this
Josephine knot with giant piping from the fabric store.

Image above: I love reading cookbooks. Messy stacks of them above all my cabinets. Cast terra cotta cameras I made a few years ago when I thought I might branch out into ceramics, and then I saw the bill. Red shelf from when you could still get cool stuff at Community Thrift on Valencia.

Image above: Organizational decoupage toy chests I made for my new book “Yellow Owl’s Little Prints.”

Image above: Jenny Lind Crib from Amazon, woodland mobile from “Yellow Owl Little Prints” and remnant of a Singapore flag in an embroidery hoop that I scored at a thrift store.

Image above: Cut-out banner from “Yellow Owl Little Prints.” Mask from ebay ( a previous obsession) I want this room to grow with Emmy, so I tried to steer clear of purely “baby” stuff and made her things that will have significance and staying-power.

Image above: Lamp from my new book, map from These Are Things favorite books by my friend Lorena Siminovich of Petite Collage.

Image above: Not sure if I would have chosen this blush pink paint for the WC but now I love it. Japanese woodblock prints on washi paper above.


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  • I’m dying to find one of those little felt message boards. Where can I find one??

    Hey All,
    Thanks for checking out my house! I will be checking in to see if anybody has specific questions. I love these Sneak Peeks especially when the homeowners answer questions so I am here for ya!
    Hilary: Same tomb rubbing? I love it. Do they know more about it? I got mine on ebay and it is graphite or charcoal on linen.
    Laura: The word message board is actually plastic. I bought it on ebay searching “letter message board” but was mad to later realize I had overpaid because these are for sale in so many places.

  • LOVE this home and it’s dwellers! So creative and fun. I am a huge fan of the faux paneling Chris did in the bedroom – looks so beautiful.

  • May I ask what paint color you have in the nursery? I am looking for a very similar one for my baby boy.

  • Christine, Your home is beautiful! So bright and happy. I love your bedroom— how did you use stamps to make your pillows and duvet/comforter? Glad you are doing so well!

  • Hi, love your home.
    Your brass rubbing is of John Leventhorp from Westminster abbey, you can google and see who likely took the rubbing, it’s no longer allowed.

  • What a beautiful treasure-filled home you have! Similar to Dina (above), I’m curious if the arrows that you used on the napkins are also from a carve-a-stamp kit, and what ink you use to make them machine-washable?

  • Seriously! Tell us about the rugs! The one in the living room and the one in the nursery! Gorgeous. Thanks!

  • what a gorgeous home! i love the idea of decorating the
    nursery with items the child can grow up with! where is your arrow
    table cloth from? thanks for sharing :)

  • Very loving and warm inviting home. My blueberries and coffee co-mingle with my designs as well! Love that you are not afraid of color, especially the yummy blue on the wall. That’s my favorite thing…everything else just adds a tasty frosting to it.

  • Viva la waffles! In our nest we enjoy sweetening up the batter with carrots, apples, blueberries or squash. We just added a touch for ginger for an even healthier zing! Happy Nesting.

  • Could you share where you got the side table near the bed.. Looking for something similar for our place. And your house looks lovely! Thanks!

  • Oh Gosh! This is too much! I’m so crazy inspired right now! Thank you, Christine! I love everything you do, your stamps, your books, all of your projects, so so inspiring. Now I have to find a wall to paint Naples Blue and I’m going to stamp my own pillows. No more searching for cool pillows at a reasonable price (not possible!!). Thank you so much for this post! Super fun!

  • You are just what this old house needed. Electric fireplace indeed! Love love love it.

  • This is probably my favourite house on design sponge ever!
    It looks and feels like a (much cooler, more considered) version of our house in Sydney, Aus.. down to the rescue black and white handsome mongrel. Even the nursery resembles our baby son Inigo’s room!
    What a joy.
    What is the beautiful deep teal paint colour? Thanks.

  • In the image of your cookbooks there are two wooden carvings of vintage cameras. I love them! Can you tell us who designed them?!

  • Stephanie Brown: (My lovely landlady that owns this house!) Everyday we are grateful that you let us live here in this house and garden! Can never thank you enough!

    Ruth Little: Oh man!! You are correct! Thank you! I was just there last year and I decided not to tour it because it was so packed. Interesting that is not allowed any longer. Thank you so much!

    Kinnic Eagen: Paint color in baby’s room is Benjamin Williams Acadia Green. Ceilings are really high so we painted only the top half of the wall to bring down the height a bit.

    Kate: The faux paneling in the bedroom took a while. The wall was a cream so first I used a sponge and wide and wet brushed to give it a washy base coat with some of the cream still peaking through. Then I made a sketch of the room and what was in it. I made large panels over the mantle and bed and everything just flowed from there. I would need more room to explain. But I then just measured it out in light pencil and went over lines with brush. I wanted the brush strokes to vary so I didn’t use tape. Maybe I should write up a proper DIY about this. ..

    Emily and Alison: I made that stamped arrow cloth with our Yellow Owl Workshop Carve-A-Stamp kit, all-purpose stamp ink and an ikea tea towel. Our stamp ink is permanent after heat setting with iron or in hot dryer. The template for this design is in my new book “Yellow Owl’s Little Prints.”

    Dina Kopperman Rabin: Wait are you Dina from Pembroke Hill? Hi Dina- hope you are well! I made duvet with my Carve-a-stamp kit and a duvet from Ikea!

    James: Thanks James! I only looked at the alphabet and I love all of these number designs!

    Everybody that wants to know about the rugs and Bebo: I got a lot of questions about these so I will post them individually on instagram and give details. I am @yellowowlworkshop

  • Hi Christine – I’m so curious, what’s your connection with Singapore? It was a nice surprise (as a Singaporean) to see a glimpse of our flag, from a thrift shop no less!

  • Great home! Love that blue wall color. The rubbing was most likely sold through the Cathedral shop. When in England in 2005 I quickly did a rubbing of Jane Austen’s brass tomb on the floor of Winchester Cathedral. It’s framed now and one of my most prized possessions even though I found out later its against the rules.

  • Christine – sounds like the wall treatment in the bedroom is just as complex as I thought! If you do a write up, please link to it! Thanks!

  • hi! I love your house :-) can I ask what breed of dog your black and white is? My family and I adopted a dog in November and they look identical. We have been trying to figure it out! Thx!

  • I would love to know where the rug came from. It seems no one knows and it isn`t on her instagram. To bad.