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In San Francisco, First-Time Homebuyers Revel in the Design Process

by Garrett Fleming

Two Pastors Prove How Much Thrifted Pieces can Shine, Design*Sponge

The prospect of owning a home isn’t necessarily a part of my generation’s American dream anymore. Paying off our student loans, traveling the world and crafting our own version of a 9 to 5 have gotten top billing instead. Those lucky enough to be in a position to afford home ownership, however, get an exciting opportunity: to say goodbye to pesky landlords and craft a nest that’s unapologetically decorated in their own style. First-time homebuyers Katie Gavigan and her husband Tim are a fabulous example of this. They gave themselves such a chance when they invested in a property in San Francisco, CA.

It took the couple several years to find this option, so when it came time to fill it up they cozied in before jumping to any design conclusions. What’s resulted from this steadier approach to decorating is a home that reflects Tim and Katie’s life with pinpoint accuracy. The work they’ve done as missionaries is captured through the living room’s oversized portraits, pieces picked up from trips to Africa, Cairo and Thailand are slipped in here and there, and thrifty scores embody their shared desire to design on a dime. They don’t take their space for granted either, especially since they live in one of America’s most expensive cities. “We really do consider it a miracle and have to pinch ourselves most days with the reality that we get to call it our own – this little piece of property in this beautiful city. We’re the grateful recipients of this great gift!” the couple tells us. Click through so see how they’ve taken nearly 900 square feet in the Bay area and turned it into a place they cherish. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Katie Gavigan

In San Fran, First-Time Home Buyers Revel in the Design Process, Design*Sponge

Image above: The bedroom doesn’t get much light, so Katie had to get creative when decorating it. Luckily, the room totally lit up the second she painted the headboard Benjamin Moore “Lily Lavender.” Tim’s great uncle picked up the trio of paintings above it while on duty in the Korean War, and they’re accompanied by a portrait of Katie and her sister.

In San Fran, First-Time Home Buyers Revel in the Design Process, Design*Sponge

Image above: Over 15 years ago, Katie and Tim moved to San Francisco, CA from Michigan to be pastors for a local church. For a while they rented before dipping their toes into what has become one of America’s most competitive real estate markets. This nearly 900-square-foot home was a welcome breath of fresh air after years of trying to nail down a well-maintained, bright and affordable home in the Bay area.

In San Fran, First-Time Home Buyers Revel in the Design Process, Design*Sponge

Image above: Over the years, these statement chairs from Craigslist have been recovered to fit whatever look Katie’s going for at the time. The secondhand banquette they’re paired with allows for fabulous flexibility when entertaining.

In San Fran, First-Time Home Buyers Revel in the Design Process, Design*Sponge

Image above: Katie employs a wall of artwork she’s collected while traveling to balance out the banquette’s heaviness. The room’s overhead lighting is made from scraps of copper. She commissioned it from a local artist.

In San Fran, First-Time Home Buyers Revel in the Design Process, Design*Sponge

Image above: Katie doused the kitchen in Benjamin Moore “Stratford Blue” and Valspar “Blue Coal” on a whim last fall and never looked back. She’s since used blue as a neutral, slotting in cool accents throughout her and Tim’s San Francisco home.

In San Fran, First-Time Home Buyers Revel in the Design Process, Design*Sponge

Image above: The Gavigans love homes that have “collected” moments like this one here on their kitchen’s open shelving. They didn’t abide by any rules when decking this one out in curated finds, following their gut as opposed to what matched and seemed to be “right.”

In San Fran, First-Time Home Buyers Revel in the Design Process, Design*Sponge

Image above: While she admits it’s not the most practical use of space, Katie can’t find herself able to get rid of the living room’s pink daybed. “There’s just nothing more lovely than an afternoon nap in the warm sun!” she says.

In San Fran, First-Time Home Buyers Revel in the Design Process, Design*Sponge

Image above: These large photos were snapped on one of the many mission trips pastors Katie and Tim have taken over the years.

In San Fran, First-Time Home Buyers Revel in the Design Process, Design*Sponge

Image above: Don’t be fooled by the secondhand sofa’s streamlined appearance. It seats many and has been fabulous for both entertaining and relaxing. Nearly all of this room’s accents were thrifted.

In San Fran, First-Time Home Buyers Revel in the Design Process, Design*Sponge

Image above: “What we love most about our home is that it’s ours! Our bright and sunny oasis in the middle of the city… a reflection of our life, travel, (and) experiences… and a design lab where I can experiment. (It’s always changing!)” — Katie Gavigan

In San Fran, First-Time Home Buyers Revel in the Design Process, Design*Sponge

Image above: Katie and Tim’s apartment was built in 1896 which means it survived the San Francisco earthquake of 1906.

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