After nearly 10 years of blogging, one of the biggest challenges is coming up with ideas! It can start to feel like you’ve talked about everything there is to talk about. And you keep seeing the same images on Pinterest. And everyone has already written everything there is to say about the Pantone Color of the Year. What’s left?!
When creative roadblocks strike, I like head out – as far away from the depths of the internet as I can get. One of my favorite places to go for new ideas are the streets of San Francisco. Sure, I could run to the new MOMA, head to the design district or wander past the architectural wonders of Pacific Heights, but there are in fact, hidden pockets of inspiration everywhere you look. You just have to be able to find them. So I thought I’d take you along on one my inspiration hunts – and have a little fun while out and about.
San Francisco is full of inspiration; colors, textures, art, architecture. But when you’re stuck behind the wheel of your car, it can be hard to keep your eyes open for hidden gems.
It was while wandering around the Mission that I spied this pretty little corner. The sherbet hues and that rich luscious greenery caught my eye and got my brain whirring with fresh color palette ideas. It also inspired me to get up close and personal with plants – that I can’t explain quite as easily. But I digress.
Then there’s Balmy Alley – one you’re almost certain to miss unless you have the luxury of keeping an eye out. The block long alley is the best place to see the most concentrated collection of murals in San Francisco. Each building along this carless gem is filled with community art. The murals began in the mid-80’s. Some murals offer political messages, some depict moments in history, others are just simple bursts of beauty. But a stroll down this tiny street reminds you to search for the unexpected and appreciate self-expression. The alley reminded me to look at things from new perspectives. Simply examining a problem from an unexpected angle can reveal solutions you’ve never considered.
A new favorite inspiration destination is the Minnesota Street Project. Recently opened in San Francisco’s historic Dogpatch district, Minnesota Street Project offers affordable and economically sustainable spaces for art galleries, artists and related nonprofits. But you don’t even have to step foot into one of the spaces’s 10 galleries (which are open to the public and totally free) to be inspired. 1275 Minnesota Street features a massive open plan atrium that includes exposed steel beams, polished concrete floors and oak bleacher seating. And crazy good light. Did I mention that? I love simply taking a stroll through the vast open space. It’s like the opposite of Balmy Alley. Devoid of color. Minimal, striped down to the essentials. A visit often reminds me to not over complicate things.
A day spent soaking up fresh inspiration requires sufficient caffeination. It’s helpful that my favorite little coffee shop offers design inspiration unto itself. Tucked a short jaunt away from Minnesota Street Project, in an even lesser-known part of San Francisco sits The Den. The corner cafe is in fact attached to famed San Francisco bakery Craftsmen & Wolves’ commercial baking space. But I love that CAW has chosen to make its tiniest space into a precious jewel. Artist (and friend!) Heather Day took her art large scale with a stunning mural that stretches from wall to wall and up onto the ceiling. It’s the perfect place to grab a jolt of inspiration, a damn fine cappuccino and a Rebel Within (if you don’t what that is, you need to find out immediately).
When I spend an afternoon away from my computer and out in the city, the limited world view served up on places like Pinterest and Instagram become the furthest things from my mind. Instead, I find myself clearer headed, more energized and excited to sit back down to my keyboard, determined to share something new with you.
I’m curious, what do you like to do to break out of a rut?
For more of my favorite finds in San Francisco, CLICK HERE
original photography for apartment 34 by ashley batz