Sansome Project Sketches …Storage Solutions

I recently signed a new client who lives in a great building in downtown San Francisco’s Financial  District.  He is currently a single guy playing bachelor who secretly would like nothing more than be settled down.  However, his current condo doesn’t necessarily scream “family man” – mater of fact, the place is just screaming…..for help.  While the building has great bones, many of the design shortcuts that the building took to come to market (i.e. ceramic tile kitchen countertops, carpet on the floor, no overhead lighting) have left something to be desired.  But enough through it all, the one thing that the client’s space lacks is storage.  Seriously, the poor man has a coat closet and a half of a bedroom closet since a large vent runs through the middle of it.

So one of the big things on my list aside from furnishing is to see how much usual space can be carved out of a 650 sq foot one-bedroom. In a case like this where space is an issue, I always look up to see how much vertical space we can borrow and there is a lot, starting with adding in a second box over the existing kitchen cabinets.  In his bedroom, he has a blank wall that is begging for  a set of built-ins …

In my ideal world, we will be able to take the PAX system from Ikea, use the closet system to gain storage and retrofit in a small area for an office.  Since the system won’t fit exactly, I am asking the contractor to add in open shelving for books and whatnot.  Above are two quick sketches I did to think through the design.  I am still not 100% on it but  I am close.

In his living room/kitchen/dining (aka the not so great room) the client has requested space for his bike.  Yes, he is an avid biker and wants to be sure his bike is safe ….

So the thinking here is to notch out the drywall to give me an extra 3-5″ of space which will allow the bike to be flush and not have the handle bars stick out into the hallway.  I am thinking about lining the niche with extra flooring to give it some design consistency but also to protect the walls.  I toyed with the idea of building a pony wall and inserting shallow shelving, plexi with botanical or doing a hemp rope screen to shield the view.  However, I am now thinking, add a spot light and just like the bike be a testament to urban living.

Again, trying to borrow space that isn’t being utilized, I am proposing ditching the  breakfast bar.  The client doesn’t use it and it eats valuable floor space….

I think that area could become a great seating area or nook complete with bar storage by building two boxes to support the overhang and installing adjustable glass shelves .  The overhang is plenty deep for the typical bottle of booze and should he give up his drinking ways, the shelves can easily accommodate books or decorative elements.

The one final thing that needs to  happen in the “great room” is adding in a window bench for the dining area.  It adds storage and more seating than any chair can provide.  I still need to sketch out this idea because there are some elements I think I want to tweak to make it less ho-hum.

So we met with the contractor yesterday to walk through the site and get his feedback.  Overall, it went well but my gut tells me that we may need to scale back on some items to hit budget.  Personally, I would scale back on the decor and stick with the remodel because a good remodel is always a better return on investment than a fantastic sofa.

But in the defense of sofas…….

Okay, I need to get into gear!  Today I have a play date with three adorable kids   and their awesome Mom.  But before I head out, I am curious, if you could have one piece of storage added to your home, what would it be?

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99 Problems & Shelving IS One of Them……

I recently started a new project for a great couple in the Castro area of San Francisco.  They live in a converted Victorian row house, occupying the top floor. They hired me to work on their entry, foyer and living space which I am excited to tackle.  However, being that they are a young couple who just purchased the home, design funds are limited to say the least.  As with many new homeowners, they have a big want list which I am slowly weeding down based on the budget.

When I took on this project, the first thing I asked them was if this was their “forever home,” starter home or an investment property because it changes how I will allocate the budget.   Based on their response, I thought it best to invest the largest portion of the budget to address some structural changes to the space including the demo of an odd pony wall, addition of a window seat and built-in shelving in the living room.

Opting to spend a chunk of my budget on these items are two-fold: (1) these changes, while not only beautiful will add resale value and (2) since space is tight, I need to use every nook and cranny to maximum utility.  At the moment, I am fixated on figuring out the layout of the shelving trying to take into consideration the couple’s “large” flat screen TV (I think the technical term is “freaking huge”), the request not to change the existing fireplace or mantel and their mandate for sleek and comfortable with a European feel.  So here are some options I have come up with so far…..

Traditional with a combination of open and closed storage.  Since solid wood isn’t  an option, we would do it in a medium tone veneer.

A tad more rustic, this option uses reclaimed wood (a splurge) but the tension between the Victorian elements of the house and the aged nature of the wood could be fantastic……or really really bad.

This is our least expensive option, which uses Ikea floating shelves in a high white lacquer.  Paint the back walls a dramatic color and with the right accessories, it could be quite dramatic and dynamic……

The last option would what I am calling “encased” because  we would build an open case to hold the shelves but the back would remain open.  I love the “x” design at the base that can hold wood for the fireplace or books.  It’s a nice bit of geometric interest in a pretty straight-forward built-in.  I want to do a grey wash to the shelving which I think would give the built-ins more interest.

I have a few more ideas percolating but they all are dependent on pricing of materials.  I am meeting with the contractor today to discuss options and get his take since in the end, I can create it but his team needs to do the hard part and build it!

Okay, I am off to meetings and to handle a family emergency that has cropped up.  Hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable weekend!  Remember, life is too short not to live it up……

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With A Laser Focus…..

Inspiration usually strikes when you least expect it.  As I mentioned yesterday, I am in the process of switching out my closet to Fall/Winter and am reacquainting myself with all the wardrobe pieces.  One piece that I ran across was a laser cut leather wrist cuff I have not worn since my “club days” of my early 20s.  Who knows why I continue to hold on to it, but it did get my mental wheels spinning on all the great home furnishings and designs that are on the market that are using laser cutting techniques.

I love this textile….

Imagine using it as drapery in a bedroom.  It would be a dynamic window covering creating  texture when drawn back or fantastic shadows if the curtains were closed. 

How about using laser cut fabric or paper as a wall treatment in lieu of traditional wall coverings? 

If that is too much for your taste, why not using a laser cut screen or panel as a room partition…..

I would modify this idea and use a laser cut panel as a headboard for a bed. 

Play with the lighting and you could create a dramatic backdrop of your bedroom for not much more than an upholstered headboard.

Speaking of lighting, why not try a laser cut fixture in your home…..

Laser cutting allows for customized intricate designs not otherwise doable with other manufacturing techniques.  It also allows you to play with unique materials ranging from metal to balsa wood.

Speaking of intricate designs, these tables are the epitome of what the technology can do…..

While I love all of these pieces, I think I may introduce laser cut furnishings into my home via the tabletop rather than the table itself.  I am thinking a piece of laser cut leather would make a fantastic table-cloth and provide pizzaz to any tablescape…..

Who knew that cleaning my closet would lead to such a wealth of inspiration?  It almost makes me want to tackle the garage to see what hidden gems I can find to get my creative juices flowing.  Well almost……

So tell me are laser cut furnishings too modern for your taste or would you incorporate some of these pieces into your home?

ps: Happy Birthday Mom!!  Love you.

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Gardening Question: What Did I Do Wrong?

So y’all know I have a criminal past right? I am not proud to say, but I have committed murder….well of plants. I have been known to kill plants on a regular basis. I go through plants like Madonna goes through young Latin boyfriends, which means by the truckload! In particular, every plant I bring into my master bedroom dies a slow and painful death. Case in point:

See the frond to the right. Deader than a door nail. Deader than Charlie Sheen’s acting career. Dead. So my question is…do you think that my lamp may have killed that frond? Or has my black thumb struck again? Second, do you all have any suggestions for large plants that may tolerate my abuse? I have tried various fig trees, ficus, orchids and ferns — all of which bit the dust. I even “killed” a fake tree — long story but it involves trying to string lights, fire hazard and almost burning down the house. In hindsight, I think the last was a mercy killing since I am not fond of faux greenery.

In any case, any and all tips and feedback is appreciated!

Note: Don’t forget to enter the April Give Away for your chance to win my Easter tablescape!

Weekend DIY: Wall Mirrors Galore…

I got a two-fer for you this weekend all about mirrors.  Being a vain person, I enjoy walking by mirrors and seeing my reflection.  Wait a second, I just caught my reflection in my TV screen……..

Okay, I’m back now.  Mirrors are coming in a variety of shapes but none as hot as the sunburst/starburst.  The classy lass, AprilDense over at Unique Illusions has a cute tutorial on a starburst mirror she made for her Mother as a Christmas present……

Stop by her blog and see how she transformed this Ikea mirror into the perfect holiday present for the design conscious Mom:

For those of you who are savvy at counting, you are probably thinking to yourself….”He said two-fer and I am only seeing a one-fer.”  Well congrats on being able to count and creating a whole new word never seen before (i.e. one-fer).  Because you are so attentive, I will post the other awesome mirror project that AprilDenise did.  She created another gift-worthy mirror but using mosaics….

The tutorial is QUICK and SIMPLE – if I can contemplate this, then you can too!

Now go forth and build my fellow bloggers!  I will be right behind you…there is this really hot guy staring at me.  I need to find out more about him….OH WAIT, it’s me in the mirror.  Okay, never mind……

Do you want your project profiled in Weekend DIY?  Shoot me a link to your project at  Just remember that your project should only take a weekend (or less) to start and complete for less than $100.

More X-Bench Goodness…..

Shannon Berrey of Shannon Berrey Designs sent me a quick note detailing how she used the same x-benches from Sears that I recently recovered for my bedroom.  However, Shannon took her redesign of the x-benches into a completely different direction by painting the base and sewing slip covers.  The benches were part of a showcase room she did and all I can say is WOW!

Shannon Berrey's Cashiers' Showcase Room

I love the green color Shannon chose for the base of the benches along with the fun striped fabric of the slip covers.  The benches really anchor what is a fun, contemporary and simply awesome little girl/tween’s room.   The room has it all from pattern, texture to personalization!  If I had a daughter, this would be close to the room I would want to give her.

But what I love more is that this simple bench from Sears/Kmart has been re-interpreted by myself and three other bloggers/designers in very different ways.  It just emphasizes that investing in a piece of furniture with good lines can be the basis for various design jumping points.  If you have used this x-bench in your home decorating projects, please send me a pic!  I would love to see how we all are using it in our own unique and fun ways!

One of My Favorite Things….

….that we have in the house is a gift from my dear friend Ron K.  About four years ago, we were talking through Limn in downtown San Francisco shopping …well he was shopping while I was drooling over high-end furniture.  You see Ron  is a design lover.  He loves sleek lines, beautiful craftmanship and typically will spend the big bucks to get those things.  His home sits in the hills above Glen Park and is a testament to modern design and furnishing.  He is currently redesigning his living room and outdoor areas, which were great to begin with, but will be beautiful and awe inducing shortly.

But I digress…..we were in Limn walking around and I spotted a rather large and shiny object on a shelf. It looked like  life-like replica of a pig.  Instantly I was drawn to it for obvious reasons (1) it was silver (2) it was shiny (3) it was a shiny silver pig.  After talking with the sales person on duty, I was informed that the piece that I had fallen in love with was by Harry Allen, an award-winning interior and industrial designer.  The sales person went into the usual song and dance about the piece and the designer that when loosely translated sounded like this…. “tweet…beep….click click…pig….silver…buy me.”  And how could I deny such a cute face….


I turned to Ron K. with pleading eyes and jokingly said “You can always buy me that for my birthday” which was still several months away.  He did one better and bought me the statue on the spot for an early Christmas present.  Wow.  Clearly the milk of generosity and the 5 mimosas from brunch were flowing through his veins.  In any case, I was ecstatic to receive Piggy and take him home.

Getting home I did some more research on Piggy and his designer.  Piggy is part of the ‘reality’ series Harry Allen had recently released.  The series consists of objects whose forms are ‘sampled’ from existing sources. Allen, whose work is part of the permanent collection of the museum of modern art in new york, has long believed that original form should no longer be the driving force in design. His process emphasizes the inherent beauty of things – beauty from concept, beauty from materials, beauty from structure. Bank in the form of a pig is the ‘reality’ take on the classic piggy bank. It is produced by casting polyester resins in highly detailed silicone molds from a real pig. The pig, supposedly, lost its life from natural causes (so dont send PETA after me) and Allen donates $10 from each sale to the Humane Society to prevent cruelty to animals.


So to cut a long story short, I have a silver cast of a dead pig in my house and I love it.  It is one of my favorite things and has a place of prominence in my house sitting on the top of shelf in my kitchen, cause where else would you place a silver pig?


Thanks Ron K.  I am forever in your debt for giving me Piggy.    He will be one of the things that follows me to culinary school, cause I believe it’s totally appropriate for a young chef to have a silver pig in his dorm room.