Did You Forget We Bought a House?

Don’t worry – I almost did too! But after months {and months!} we finally have enough progress to offer you an update! You saw the original state of the house here. But if you need a little refresher – this sums up what we got ourselves into.

Gorgeous on the outside…

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Super scary on the inside! To remind, the house is a 140 year old historic San Francisco Italianate that was updated by the previous owner circa 1970…and left that way since! But the bones – oh the bones. They’re what got us. WIth four bedrooms, a classic dining room, 14-foot ceilings and crown molding for days, we immediately saw the potential! But man oh man has it taken sweet time for the potential to be realized. Remember I told you about the house in SEPTEMBER! But I’m pleased to report that things are finally underway. I can start to see my dream slowly, slowly peeking through. It looks a little like this:


But we still have a looooooong way to go before we’re there of course. For now, walls are open, framing has gone up, there’s new wiring and plumbing everywhere and things a generally a big ole mess, but I can see our vision starting to take shape. It’s a pretty incredible feeling. Here’s a little sneak peek!

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Those redwood beams are 140 years old! So crazy.

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Now you can see all the way from the back of the house, straight through to the front window!

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There were fascinating color decisions throughout the house, yet I’m still a little sad to see the raspberry red textured velvet wallpaper go!

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Of course – a TON of work went into getting us to this point. Our best decision on the project thus far? Hiring an exceptional design-build architect. While we thought we had brilliant ideas on how to make the most of our new space, Seth Brookshire brought us a design I’m 100% confident we never would have thought on our own. It maximizes the space perfectly, gives us all the modern amenenities we were hoping for and is just generally gorgeous. We’re definitely doing a bit more than repainting. Here’s what we’re tackling in a nutshell:

> Opening walls between the kitchen and living area to modernize the space
> Adding a pantry and a laundry room
> Adding bathrooms (three in total) – the house originally only had one
> Creating a true master suite

And that’s just the sexy stuff. Then there’s much less glamorous details like electrical, plumbing, fixing the roof and the like. But as we’ve moved through the project to-date I’ve been taking notes on things I’ve learned, what I wish I’d known and what I’d highly recommend keeping in mind so that I could pass them along to you. Here’s what I’ve got so far: my Top Five Virtues of Renovation.

1. Expertise. Get a dream team together and get them fast. Having a very experienced architect on our project has provided more benefits than I could have imagined. Not only are we overjoyed with the creative design, but we also reaped the benefits of understanding the systems we have to deal with. Regulations, city and county rules – everything from how to handle documents to how to properly mark a energy efficient light fixture on our plans. We could have waited as long as six months or more to get construction permits on our project, but with our architect’s experience and know-how it only took six weeks {the only thing that was actually fast!}. There are so many elements that go into a large scale project and too often you don’t know what you don’t know. It’s a great feeling to be good hands.

2. Patience. Pretty much everything takes twice as long as you expect it to. Sometimes three or four times as long. Just go with the flow or your nerves will be shot in the first month. If something does go quickly do a little happy dance!

3. Detail-Obsession. There are SO many details to keep track of, use all the tools availalble to you to stay organized. Google Docs have become my best friend. Create spreadsheets to track all of your design decisions. Scan all your documents so you have electronic copies you can access anywhere. Use Pinterest like a boss. Anything you can do to help yourself stay ahead of the game – do it!

4. Curiosity. Unless you’re on your 10th renovation project, there is SO much to learn about design, construction and the building process. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Your team may think you’re a pest – but this is your project – you should know any little detail you want! I’ve had a ball asking what seem like the stupidest questions on the planet.

5. Patience. Wait, did I already list patience? Well double up – you’re going to need way more than you ever could imagine.

If you keep these virtues in mind, you can keep yourself sane throughout a very daunting process. Well, at least I hope you can – we’ve only just begun! I’m planning monthly updates for you from here on out so I’ll let you know if this all still holds true next month.

By the way, I started a Tumblr – This Old Victorian San Francisco – to track both our contstruction progress and our design inspiration! I’ll likely be posting pictures there more frequently than here so be sure to follow along. I also have a Pinterset Board where I’m constantly banking design, decor and general renovation inspiration. You can check that out here!

But if there are certain things you’d like to know more about; our design process, inspirations, resources, please ask!

Prepping for Bebe Update: Nursery Inspiration

So, I’m not quite sure how this all happened, but in approximately eight {short!} weeks, there’s going to be a very small human in the loft! And I’m kinda freaking out about it. After soaking up every one of the 72 glorious babymoon hours over the weekend, reality is now crashing down around me. It’s officially time to turn our attention to the to-do list. Diapers, bottles, something for the little thing to wear, maybe something for it to sleep in…yeah, I’ve really gotta get on all that.

But of course, rather than concern myself with practical issues like what a breast pump actually does, I’d rather focus on the aesthetics of it all! On the tippy top of my list is figuring out how to incorporate a baby into our physical space. There’s certainly no room for a nursery where all baby-related items can live behind a closed door. It’ll be a good long while before our new house will be done and I can have a space like this:


For the time being, I’m going to have to make due with everything being out in the open. And while I really don’t want all things infant to invade our space, I also don’t want to completely ignore the fact there will be a wee-one in our presence. So I’ve started hunting for subtle ways to incorporate baby-related decor. My starting place is this cool alphabet poster we happened to pick up a few years back {originally intended as a baby present for someone else – whoops!}.


It already fits into our very neutral color scheme perfectly and feels like something I won’t get sick of looking at! Thankfully, the new online framing company Framebridge was able to help me design a custom frame for it. I simply sent them the print in the mail and their framing experts emailed me back mock-ups of mat and frame suggestions. I just selected the final style and the print showed back up on my doorstep – ready for its spot on the wall! Can you guess which framing option I picked…

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I decided to go with the classic modern style of the Marin frame with the white mat to really make the lighter tones in the poster pop. While I haven’t quite figured out where we’ll be hanging this lovely guy just yet, the print is currently the anchor piece for my baby-decor moodboard!

Think yummy warm browns from light natural wood to camel and touches of black with a minimalist undertone. I’m also really loving the anchor motif and mixing in a touch of metallic. I’m open to a few sweet accessories like that crazy adorable stuffed bunny hanging around too! Even I’m a sucker for something that cute and cuddly.


I’m not sure where or how I’ll incorporate these little baby-themed moments into the loft yet. Maybe I’ll create a little gallery wall around the bassinet. Or perhaps we’ll carve out a little play corner that can have our baby-themed art and some fun accessories. Or maybe I’ll just scatter a few aesthetically pleasing kid-friendly things here and there. Plans are now starting to form, so I’ll be able to share what we finally decide with you soon!

Even gathering just these few small inspiration items does get me excited to incorporate le bebe into our world! I’m thinking some instagram mini-frames will definitely be in my near future!

Right now Framebridge is also offering you a great opportunity to get your frame on. Simply enter the code APARTMENT34 at check out and enjoy 20% off 2 or more items!


nursery image via live loud girl // photography for apartment 34 by bianca sotelo

This post is in partnership with Framebridge. All thoughts, opinions and styling are 100% our own. Thanks for supporting collaborations we’re excited about and that help keep Apartment 34’s doors open! 



Loft Life Refresh for 2015

After being settled in our loft for nearly two and half years now, it’s easy to feel like there isn’t really much more for me to do design-wise. Given the small space, we’re pretty set with what we’ve got. But as I finally finished getting all the holiday razzle dazzle put away, I was really getting the itch to make the space feel new again…without making any major changes. With the new house renovations about to get going {finally!!}, I’m looking to tread design water for a while. And that’s a tough pill for a constant rearranger like me to swallow! I’m quite confident many of you can relate.

To scratch my decorating itch I surveyed our main living space looking for one little change that would have a big impact – and I think found it! By making a simple switch up, our living room suddenly feels brand spanking new. Can you spot what’s different? {You can check out before shots here!}.


I swapped our living room rug! Tucking my lovely shag Moroccan into storage for safe keeping, I wanted to bring in something with a bit more pop and this bold graphic option from Loloi Rug’s Alder Collection was just perfect! Loloi Rugs is a bit of a hidden gem since they’re a wholesaler, so be sure to ask your favorite design store or online retailer to add them to their rug line! Laid down right on top of our existing sisal, there was no need for a rug pad – the sisal adds the cushion needed to buffer the rug’s flat weave. I love that the new rug is nice and neutral, yet the geometric print adds life to the room without being overpowering. Coincidentally, it also played right into my current obsession with camel + black decor.


After that, all I needed to do was remerchandise some of my existing accessories! After having all the holiday crap accoutrements around, I’m in a very minimalist mood. Instead of adding things, for this update I focused on taking things away. I swapped pillows from the office for a new look on our window seat, switched around some hides {decorating secret weapons!} and rotated in my favorite snake plant, a couple design books and only a choice selection of knick knacks. If I wasn’t loving looking at it right now, it was out {lucky for Goodwill!}.


My proudest little DIY moment? Reurposing some empty frames for a fresh focal point over our fireplace! I’m hesitant to invest in any new art until I’ve finalized the design direction for the house, so this is the perfect placeholder. A few strips of 3M stickies and voila – a little abstract gallery wall should get me through the next few months quite nicely.

I don’t know about you, but I’m rather pleased with how this mini-makeover came together – and in a single afternoon mind you! {thank you football playoffs!}. The room feels clean, open, refreshed and revitalized and so do I!

Up next – making room for le bebe! Details on that to come soon since we’ve only got a couple months to go. How the heck did that happen??

More ways to update your space for 2015 HERE

A rug related DIY HERE

photography for apartment 34 by Bianca Sotelo // photobombs by Chloe & Bailey 

***This post is in partnership with Loloi Rugs. Thoughts, opinions and design 100% our own. Thanks for supporting posts that keep Apartment 34’s doors open.***