Design Inspiration Home Tours

What This Globally Inspired Apartment Taught Us About Intentional Decorating

Tour designer Dana Haim’s San Francisco home.

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In this image: Dana Haim Pyramid Pillows, $375; Dana Haim Montana Blanket, $95, custom coffee table by Jonathan Anzalone

Moving across the country to a new home completely devoid of any furniture (and with none of your own in tow) sounds like a nightmare to most people. But for Dana Haim, an artist and designer who owns a textile company where everything is handmade-to-order, the clean slate was an opportunity to start fresh as she and her husband moved from New York City to San Francisco.

Despite the challenges—Haim was seven months pregnant with her son during the decorating phase and had only her couch and dining table from her previous home to build off of—she was able to transform the apartment into an intentionally-designed home filled with personal touches.

In this image: Dana Haim Lavanda Napkins, set of 4, $65; Dana Haim Citrico Napkins, set of 4, $65

“Intentionality has been something I’ve been thinking about a lot; warm minimalism with a little bit of Japanese soul,” says Haim of the inspiration behind her new place’s decor. “I went to visit Georgia O’Keefe’s home exactly a year ago today and it was incredible. I had a super visceral reaction to everything I saw there. I loved that everything seemed so simple and intentional and really meant to take advantage of the views and the landscape that was there.”

In this image: custom modular media unit by Jonathan Anzalone

With that in mind, she set out to fill her 2.5 bedroom apartment with meaningful mementos. Luckily, the previous owners had redone the floors throughout the home so the only major renovation necessary was giving the walls a fresh coat of

white paint

“We felt that it was important for the space since there are so many windows and great views,” says Haim. “It just needed to be white.”

Using the neutral color palette as a base, the couple was able to infuse simple pieces with natural components into their space to create a home that’s minimal but still warm and inviting, all while sticking to a budget. Her secret weapon? Artist trading, which Haim says is a great way to decorate on a budget and outfit your home in a unique, personal way.

In this image: Windy Chien Helix Light, $400

“When we were looking to furnish our apartment, I didn’t want it to look rushed. We wanted that deliberate, personal touch, only accumulating things we love,” says Haim. “Trading is a great way to support local artisans and friends’ work while also getting a good deal for something special.”

Of course, an expert eye for design helps when pulling together beautifully-designed rooms. Haim, who studied at RISD before getting her MA in textile design from London’s Central Saint Martins, credits her unique style to her multicultural, creative background; her mother started an artist in Colombia and later worked as an interior designer in Miami, which Haim says influenced her to pursue art and travel from a young age.
“A lot of my textile appreciation came from growing up in an artistic household. Going to Colombia on trips and getting a lot of inspiration every time I went abroad sparked my love of travel, which in and of itself has informed my design a lot,” says Haim. “There’s a lot of inspiration from the places that I travel to; it’s when I feel the most like myself and the most alive as an artist.”
This globally-informed approach to decorating, coupled with Haim’s extensive training in textiles, is best shown in the incredible attention to detail in her new place. From carefully-chosen artwork to the eclectic-yet-complementary mix of textures and prints, every corner of every room in the house was inspired by Haim’s work and experience abroad or created by the craftspeople and artists she met along the way.

In this image: custom Dana Haim rug; custom Jonathan Anzalone mobile 

The nursery was initially one of the bigger challenges. Haim and her husband had to figure out which room to make into a home office and which to turn into their child’s bedroom. The latter being a spot that holds special meaning for Haim. “We didn’t find out the gender of the baby so I just decorated it from a really personal place. Everything in there is significant and is either something I really cherish or something that was given to us. A nostalgic heirloom, something we picked up on our travels—really everything is special,” says Haim.

While Haim is already looking to the future (“my husband and I had a lot of fun working on this place together and we feel like if we bought a home we could experience that on an even bigger level. We definitely envision ourselves on some land surrounded by natural elements,” she says), she’s in no rush to leave her San Francisco apartment.

“The dining room and the living room have the most incredible view: At sunset we get to see the sun setting on the ocean, and between the mountain view and the light it’s truly incredible,” says Haim of her favorite part of the home. “Especially coming from New York, where our last apartment looked at a brick wall, this is a really welcome change for us.”

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Elly Leavitt

Writer and Editor

Elly enjoys covering anything from travel to funky design (tubular furniture, anyone?) to the latest cultural trend. Her dream apartment would exist on the Upper West Side and include a plethora of mismatched antique chairs, ceramic vessels, and floor-to-ceiling bookcases—essential to her goal of becoming a poor man’s Nora Ephron. You can probably find her in line at Trader Joe’s. You will never find her at SoulCycle.