Interiorssneak peeks

A Bay Area Rental Becomes The Perfect Family Home

by Maxwell Tielman

The 1,200-square-foot bungalow that Sarah Coombs and Andy Pratt call home might seem tiny (especially with their two children), but compared to the New York City apartment that the couple formerly inhabited, it’s downright palatial. Like many New Yorkers faced with growing families and shrinking square footage, Sarah and Andy followed the siren call of cheaper, more spacious living out west—to this charming 1916 Craftsman in Alameda. An interior designer by day, Sarah has used the family’s new home as a laboratory of sorts—a space to test out new looks and family-friendly ideas. Overall, Sarah’s goals were to create a colorful, budget-friendly space that could stand up to the wear and tear that accompanies children and pets. A tall order indeed, but one that Sarah has been able to pull off with aplomb, sourcing furnishings from the Bay Area’s famous flea markets and employing sturdy, durable materials like indoor/outdoor fabrics, perfect for standing the test of time. The result is an eclectic yet cohesive space, one that is able to evolve alongside an ever-changing family. —Max

Image above: The living room. “That painting above the mantle is the result of a collaboration between my son and me,” Sarah says. “I painted the background, and he drew an epic robot battle on top.”



Image above: An alcove off of the dining room leads to a utility closet. Rather than let this odd space go unused, Sarah converted it into a comfy nook for her children. “It’s decorated with a lot of my son’s artwork, plus family photos and a postcard or two,” Sarah says.  “It’s a favorite spot for the kids and cats alike.”


Image above: A portion of the home’s entryway. “I love having a real entryway in the house,” Sarah says. “The console provides great storage, and gives us a place to toss our phones and keys when we come in.” Kilim rug found on eBay, vintage console from a local consignment shop. Photograph by the couple’s friend, Jon Siegel.


Image above: “We found our couch on Craigslist,” Sarah notes. “It had been in the seller’s home forever—decades, maybe—and he sold it without knowing how to get it out of his narrow San Francisco apartment. Andy had to use the only tool at hand (a Maglite, of all things) to loosen the couch legs, so he could remove them and negotiate the huge, heavy sofa down a maze of stairways. It was such an ordeal, I think Andy loves the couch even more because it was so difficult to get! It came with a skirt, but I took it off to reveal those cute wooden legs.”


Image: A snippet of the living room’s bookshelves. A miniature Pantone chair, perfect for kids, sits in front of the mantel.


Image above: Because of the living room’s small size, Sarah opted to incorporate the television into a gallery wall, rather than hide it away in a cabinet. Artwork includes photographs by Rachel Hulin (a friend of the couple’s), a print by Chris Ware, and self-portrait silhouettes that Sarah and Andy made shortly after they were married.


Image above: When Sarah and Andy moved from New York to the west coast, the dining room chairs were among the few items that they took with them. “The dining room is pleasingly spacious, but offered a bit of a decorating conundrum,” Sarah says. “It cried out for a big gesture, like wallpaper or a large scale piece of art. But it’s a rental, after all, and we didn’t want to go too crazy. So I decided to make wallpaper out of decals from Blik. I used these ones styled after the 80s video game Asteroids. It was a solution that pleased the whole family.”


Image above: The master bedroom. “The most serene spot in the house,” Sarah says, “and the most restrained in terms of palette.” Kevin Russ photographs hang above the headboard, a nod towards the couple’s newly adopted western home. The bed and headboard were made and upholstered by the couple. The side table is a simple IKEA hack—a table topped with a wooden cutting board.


Image above: Thrift store finds and a drawing from Sarah’s college friend Allison Hawkins line the master bedroom’s dresser.


Image above: The children’s room. “I wanted the kids’ room to feel especially bright and fun, while keeping within the design language of the rest of the house,” Sarah says. Rex Ray decals from Blik. A William Eggleston print from the Tate Modern hangs on the wall.


Image above: A simple IKEA dresser was customized using tapered, Mid-Century-style legs.


Image above: Sarah’s office is tucked away in a small room that overlooks the home’s garden. Squares of cork were used to create a large-scale inspiration board.


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