BTR: Clean Start for a New Chapter

Room:  Living Room

Hours to Complete:  6

Main Objective:  Making space for both partners to be represented in the space, so they are able to honor their past, yet step boldly into their future.

The Details:  Max and Jamie are a gorgeous couple living in San Francisco's Marina District.  Daylighting as a nurse and consultant respectively, Jamie and Max are united in their love of international travel, making and collecting art, and creating a home they feel both relaxed in and inspired by.  

Max has lived in this same space for several years with Jamie moving in to join him after their engagement.  It's a light-filled, hardwood floored, spacious unit -- and on a fun street with rent-control to top it off.  All of these factors made the couple anxious to transform the former bachelor pad into a long-term home that suits them as a couple.

When Max & Jamie approached New Minimalism to redesign the living room of their San Francisco apartment, they were quite nervous about the decluttering process due to the breadth of the unique items in their home.  

With a shared passion for international travel, the couple had acquired a large collection of items in their favorite destinations along the way.  In addition, Max’s mother is an artist and antique collector, many of her created and found items have also made their way into Max + Jamie’s home over the years.

Before: The space feels heavy and dark, cluttered by large furniture and overstuffed shelves.

Both Max + Jamie felt the space was too cluttered and chaotic, but since every item held an emotional memory, they did not know where to begin the downsize process. 

Within the space, we wanted to highlight the natural light from the bay windows, create a space for Max to work during the day and maintain a comfortable place for the couple to relax together in the evenings.  The coffee table is an especially bold and beautiful piece that the couple wanted to focus the space around.

Design Tip:  For those folks lucky enough live in a classic Bay Area Victorian era home, light is both your greatest blessing and most sought after resource.  Since Victorians tend to be long and slender with windows only each narrow end, it's important to maximize and draw attention to natural light wherever it occurs.  Placing a low-profile table and chairs in front of bay windows is a great way of doing both!

Before: The couples favorite architectural element, the lovely bay windows, are block by a large arm chair and an unused desk.

After: The round table draws attention to the bay windows by visually mimicking the curved shape without blocking their precious source of natural light.

We created a music and media nook next to the fireplace to honor the couples' favorite leisure activities.  In general, the room was not large enough to accommodate all the pieces of furniture, so we removed the overstuffed chair and a large trunk by the fireplace.  We relocated the mini bar, which was atop the trunk, to a shelving unit in the kitchen.  

The most decluttering work was done with the items on the couples' large shelving unit.  Together, we worked to curate their travel collection to the items that truly represent their best memories and allow the space for new memories to be formed.

Clearing Tip:  As is true for many travelers, Max + Jamie had dozens of figurines, statues, and pieces of art from around the world.  Our most important work was separating their feelings about the trips they've taken (which they loved) from the objects they purchased (many of which were broken, of poor-quality, or generally not of their taste as a couple).  A great way of remembering these same trips while freeing up the space from chotchkies is to take and save digital photos of the items.  That way you will always have the memory of the trip but can donate the item you no longer love.  

Future Design Recommendations:  Adding two long panel curtains to frame the bay windows, replacing the couch with a longer one that will better balance the size of the coffee table, and acquiring a large butcher block island to replace the lost seating in the kitchen.

As I sit here writing this, I am blown away with my apartment’s transformation. It’s really amazing what a needed purge of clutter and fresh redesign can do for your mood! I’m so much happier hanging out in my home. Thank you, Kyle and Cary!
— Max