A Neat and Tidy Home by The Bay

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Overlooking a communal garden in San Francisco, minimalists Cary and Cam Fortin’s two-bedroom home is an exercise in restraint. The two have done such a fantastic job putting it together, you would never know that they are living with only 35 pieces of clothing each and with just the basics. By employing decluttering methods she uses with her clients at New Minimalism, Cary has been able to train herself to live with less while still maintaining a truly personal and layered abode. “I believe that the relationship we have with our space is a powerful one, and I wanted this space to add to our lives and encourage us to be our most inspired and adventurous selves,” Cary says.

The airiness, bedroom balcony and french doors immediately drew the couple to the apartment while on the hunt for a new home in the Bay Area. Originally, the two had a vast array of disparate furniture that didn’t exactly serve to showcase the merging of their two styles. Through decluttering, however, they were able to toss a third of their shared possessions and start building this home together. Fast forward five years, and the 1920s-era spot truly captures Cam and Cary’s original vision of a space that is restful, serene and creative. “In the past, I’ve hesitated to invest in a rental, but each time we have, it’s been incredible,” Cary says. “Had I known five years ago we’d still be here, I would have done everything right away.”

Far too often the expectations for what is considered “minimalism” are set at an unattainable degree. That’s why I find Cary and Cam’s home so refreshing. It ushers in a new way of perceiving the movement by showing what a contemporary and lively family deems “the essentials.” It also doesn’t hurt when that family has impeccable taste, like these two. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Ryan Devisser

  1. Sara says:

    This is a beautiful apartment, and surely special to the people who live there.

    Lately on DS we’re seeing the same fiddle leaf figs or large philodendrons, flea market/native-inspired textiles, succulents, white-washing, and mid-century furniture in almost every apartment tour.

    I look to this site for ahead-of-its-time inspiration, so I’d really love to see some apartments with elements that are more singular and looking to the future of design.

    1. Grace Bonney says:

      Hi Sara

      Individual home owners here are usually real people, not “ahead of their time” design professionals. We’re doing a lot of trend coverage at ICFF this week so hopefully that can satisfy that need, but we try not to expect real people to build homes based around staying ahead of trends or styles, but instead to reflect real people with real budgets. We try to (and do) include homes that look different from each other, but it’s nearly impossible to escape the zeitgeist happening right now that includes a renewed love of textiles and certain plants. As for fleamarket-inspiration, that’s a must here. Our audience has been very vocal about wanting to see real attainable homes (built on a budget) since day one, so focusing on spaces that utilize DIY and flea market finds will always be a big part of the aesthetic here.

      Grace

      1. Sara says:

        I appreciate the response, and that makes sense. I mean, who am I kidding, this could be my apartment! …though a different type of fig (jk), much smaller and in Harlem…

        I probably feel the urge to make the comment because this apt is similar to what I have at home. You have so much access and clout with what you’ve built on this site. So, if you were already thinking about actively looking for homes with a different aesthetic, I think your readers would be into it.

        1. Grace Bonney says:

          Sara

          I’ve spoken about this a bunch on the site and in comments lately but yes, we’re doing a deep deep dive for more diverse homes right now. Not just in style but in terms of owners, with a different range of ages, backgrounds and living styles.

          Grace

          1. Sara says:

            Ah. I don’t comment on any sites, really, so next time I’ll dive into some comments on other posts before I prompt any rehashing of old dialogues.

  2. Andi says:

    So beautiful!

  3. Helene says:

    It’s great to see minimalism that is still warm and inviting. A lot of time, minimalism is synonymous with stark.

  4. Marcie Telander says:

    Wholesome, sane and inviting–this is a perfect way to focus on your relationship rather than an endlessly demanding home! Thanks so much for featuring this sweet space.

  5. Marianne says:

    Sara has a good point. The interiors on this site are starting to look very much the same. I too come here hoping for something new and inspirational from “real people” on “real budgets”.

    1. Grace Bonney says:

      Marianne

      Sara actually mentioned aspects of the home tours that are about real people with real budgets. It’s important to remember that “real people” aren’t people who make sure their homes are different from other people’s. They’re not people who make sure every room is cutting edge. Real people are influenced by the same trends we all are so there will always be similarities.

      In the last few weeks we’ve run these homes below, which all feel very different to me. I think it’s easy to look at some current trends and claim that “they all feel the same” but there are actually lots of diverse homes shown here.

      http://www.designsponge.com/2015/04/a-cool-calm-and-coastal-historic-home.html

      http://www.designsponge.com/2015/05/on-cranberry-street-a-one-bedroom-apartment-for-a-foodie-and-her-bunny.html

      http://www.designsponge.com/2015/05/a-venice-family-brings-adventure-home.html

      http://www.designsponge.com/2015/05/uncovering-character-in-dublin-ireland.html

      http://www.designsponge.com/2015/05/a-lovely-and-intentional-los-angeles-loft.html

      http://www.designsponge.com/2015/04/a-timber-pole-home-among-the-eucalyptus-trees-for-a-young-growing-family.html

      We hear and consider all of these complaints or requests and we have, at all times, hundreds of home tours in the works. We are working hard to make sure we mix in different homes, personalities and styles.

      Grace

  6. Eileen says:

    Lovely airy space…sucks about the mosquitos!
    If you can get at your neighbor’s standing water, you could toss in a “mosquito dunk” (Made with Bt-israelensis (Bt-i), a highly specific biological pesticide…. Will NOT harm people, pets, wildlife or fish.) I use them in my bird bath in summer.

  7. Clemens says:

    This Interior Design is so great! Love this art of living.
    Best wishes,
    clemfashion.de

  8. Emmy says:

    This is such a beautiful home. Love how they made lemonade out of lemons with the canopy hanging to prevent bugs. Looks very pretty!

  9. Bee says:

    I don’t understand this statement: “I currently have a capsule closet with 35 items – including jackets and shoes – that I rotate each season.”

    Please explain this system.

    1. Grace Bonney says:

      Bee

      I’m pretty sure they mean they have a small closet with a limited range of items that get rotated out, so as to have less clutter.

      Grace

      1. Chelsea says:

        They might be talking about a new trend in the lifestyle and fashion blogs about capsule or trunk wardrobes where you select a set number of basic items which get delivered to you and you can select 4 capsules – one for each season. I’m still trying to understand it better but here is a post that might help: http://m.huffpost.com/us/news/capsule-wardrobe/

        1. Kyle says:

          Hello to all! Yes, capsule wardrobes are a hot topic. We have described the New Minimalism version of a capsule wardrobe here: http://www.newminimalism.com/blog/capsule-wardrobe-start

  10. Too bad about the mosquitoes, but the net sure does make a beautiful canopy!

  11. Heather P. says:

    As someone who recently got rid of, like, 75% of her stuff for a cross-country move, it’s great to see how other people live with less stuff! I find it freeing not to have so much stuff to organize, clean, or just SEE in my home. :-)

  12. Kate says:

    I’d love to know the paint color in the study! It’s exactly what I’ve been looking for. This home is gorgeous, and that minimalist closet is a dream.

    1. Kyle says:

      Hi Kate, The paint color is “Refined Green” (DEA181) by Dunn Edwards ;)

  13. The best is the light in the entire house !!!
    I love the relaxed way they have achieved using 50s furniture and white colors.

  14. Raj says:

    Just loved the triptych very much. Its just beautiful..

  15. Kelsey says:

    I would be soo curious to learn more about Cary and Cam’s wardrobes- what exactly comprises them, what they switch out season to season- etc. I have a micro wardrobe myself, and I think a lot of us are going that route- after seeing this beautiful home I’m just totally intrigued to see what beautiful and simple clothes are in that closet!

    1. Kyle says:

      Hi Kelsey! Kyle, Cary’s biz partner here. We’ve documented the latest Capsule Wardrobe Challenge on this blog post: http://www.newminimalism.com/blog/winter-capsule-reveal Being in California, the seasonal switch-outs are not quite as dramatic, but it still happens :)

  16. Annie says:

    Beautiful!

    Also, I second the request for the paint color in the study — please!!

    Thanks for the tour!

    1. Kyle says:

      Hi Annie, the paint color is Dunne Edwards, “Refined Green” (DEA181)

  17. Sarah says:

    I love this apartment. I’ve been in the Bay Area for 10 years as a renter and understand the tension of do I make it my own or do I stick to doing minimal upgrades. If you look at each room, you can see how well edited it is and with very little investment for finishes: a new coat of paint and framed pictures. They also have alot of pieces with dual functions: a shelf that can be used as an upright desk.
    I think it can be overwhelming for people to look at the house and think as a whole its way too much work. However, if you really take apart each room it is definitely budget friendly. Please note, they do not have a TV and a flat screen in itself is close to $2000-3000. Paint, frames (even from IKEA), nails and some art work will not put you back that much. Yes, you may need to dig a little more or hunt online or thrift but it is doable.
    I’m a little sensitive since I think that this home is within arms reach for most of us. Just sit back, breathe and really think about how you can simplify your life.

  18. Anna says:

    I LOVE photo 7 of the standing desk and plant divider. I’d say that’s new – haven’t seen anything like that before. Though I’d pull up a slim bar stool to sit at, this use of space is great.

  19. Connie says:

    The minimalism is inspiring! This space makes me excited and have confidence to declutter my house. Thank you!

  20. Chelsea says:

    This is just such a warm and inviting space. It looks well lived in and enjoyed- the very best kind of home!

  21. Christine says:

    The house is super! lost of light and the decoration is very humble with taste! Big windows and lots of space….Love it!

  22. Meg says:

    I was just thinking about how I could incorporate a standing desk into my own home. I love the idea of using a shelf!

  23. Rod and Annette says:

    Its a beautiful apartment.
    Rod and Annette, Santa Rosa

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