We’ve seen our fair share of small spaces and with each, we discover an array of clever storage solutions and style-focused hacks geared towards making the most of limited square footage. That said, we still find ourselves in a constant state of awe—particularly when it comes to the near-ingenious lengths said small-space dwellers go to in efforts to maximize the square footage they’re working with. Decorative details such as color and pattern (and everything else in between) can go a long way in a tiny environment, and pone small-space design element we’re always keen on seeing is a daring use of color, especially when it comes in an unexpected form.
Enter this 900-square-foot Victorian home, with its ultra-inspired exterior in a shade of sweet blush pink. Situated in San Francisco, the charming home is chock full of color and personality, thanks to lawyer-turned-designer Clara Jung, Principal of Banner Day.
When it came to the design of the home, Jung took a rather “rebellious” approach, as she puts it. Striking a delicate balance between modern and whimsy, the goal of the project was to preserve the colorful and exuberant personality of the family all the while working within the constraints of a small space.
When you step inside, you’re greeted with a burst of color courtesy of the array of original artwork decking the walls and the unapologetic splash of pattern found by way of the intricate wallpapers, which make a statement in their own right. The decorative aesthetic of the home is one that blissfully blurs the line between modern and traditional—the two grounded by the fresh and playful use of color throughout.
The clients, who had moved into the home from a mere block away, were faced with a layout that vastly differed from their original space. While in terms of size it was not necessarily a downsize the distinct format of the home, which was comprised of the main house and smaller guest cottage, presented a fresh perspective when it came to the redesign.
As Jung had previously worked with the client in their preceding space, the established relationship made for a more seamless transition with the present project. A handful of the existing furniture was moved into the new home, along with the client’s affinity for color and pattern. The bright yellow sofa, which doubles as the undeniable focal point of the living room was one specific example of such, which made the process of settling on a decorative scheme all the more easier for the two.
“The palette was already predetermined and we had to work in new furniture, artwork, and decor to make sure the new items complemented the existing furniture,” recalls Jung on the process of having to curate the scheme of the new home.
As most small-space dwellers may tend to shy away from integrating an abundant use of color in similarly tight quarters, Jung was all for embracing her client’s fondness for it. While toning it down was not necessarily a preferred course of action, the duo did want to provide moments of respite with a contrasting detail of a more modest presentation.
“Continuity is harder to achieve when you’re working with a bigger palette,” notes Jung of the challenges in integrating such a vibrant use of color within a small space, adding that “It was also important to establish cohesiveness throughout the home.” And she did just that, successfully marrying the diverse range of colors, all the while establishing a continuous flow throughout.
In the dining room, an ode to the Bay Area presents itself in the form of an extremely-detailed wallpaper. “I originally suggested this wallpaper to her because it had an amusing take on traditional toile,” notes Jung. “If you look carefully, the pattern incorporates important Bay Area landmarks and people. You can see icons such as Alice Waters and Joe Montana as well as the Golden Gate Bridge, Victorians that pepper the SF cityscape.”
The dining room furniture, which was another element brought from the client’s previous home, was crafted by local maker Dave Ball of Jacob May Designs.The blue-and-white wallpaper, made for the ideal backdrop, allowing the stunning finish of the wooden table to really shine.
The perennial question of figuring out viable storage solutions undoubtedly loomed overhead, although it’s not say that this just provided the team with the opportunity to think even more creatively when figuring out a style-focused solution.
“With limited square footage, I am a firm believer in that you need an ample amount of closed storage,” says Jung. “Sure, there are ways to curate and make your dishware, ceramics, books look pretty, but what about all the other life necessities such as wires, plugs, tools, etc?”
The kitchen buffet is a prime example of how Jung chose to integrate closed storage within the small space—one that would provide a clever disguise for items the client might now want front and center. “[She] can store whatever she needs close at hand in this buffet and the top can be also used as a landing space for additional plates and dishes when she’s hosting a dinner party.”
When it came to designing the bathroom, Jung was working with a firm deadline. Due to the time crunch, the two had to forgo the tiles they had originally sourced for the space—due to the longer lead time in attaining them—in favor of alternatives that were readily available.
After all was said and done, the finished product was one that managed to satisfy both parties. “I love that the shower surround tiles are simple but have different finishes to catch your eye,” says Jung. “And the statement-making cement tile floors bring in a strong voice in the room. You wouldn’t think that these two different types of tiles would necessarily play together, but looking at it as a cohesive whole it works.”
In the end, the decorative aspects of the home came to embody a delicate balance between the old and then new—the stunning stained glass windows paired with the mid-century modern credenza being one fine example—all the while maintaining the colorfully-charged aesthetic that gives the space its unique character and feel.