We asked Homepolish designer Jill Shadek to tell us how she achieved contemporary, artistic bliss in her stylish San Francisco home.
Photos by Sedona Turbeville.
Homepolish: What was the space like before the redesign?
Jill: Clean, if a little sterile. This building has some interesting architecture, considering that it’s in one of the oldest and most traditional neighborhoods in San Francisco. It has an interesting interpretation of a bay window in the front where the dining table is—it’s simply an acute angle. But I learned to “lean into” the modern vibe of the building, as it is a rare opportunity to design a modern space in that old-school neighborhood.
My goal was to keep the design fresh and unique. A lot of clients are hesitant to take risks, so I wanted to take those risks in my own place and have a bit of fun with it. I didn’t want to use the same trendy rug, mirror, art etc. that every other designer uses. Of course, this means it took forever to design—I lived here for three years before I felt that it was done! And at the end of the day not everything can be super bold and unique. A few items in the room need to be simple to let the others shine.
Homepolish: What are three things you that you absolutely love about the redesign?
Jill: First of all, my sofa! This was the first new piece of furniture I bought for my place. I had a totally clear picture in my mind of what I was looking for! That said, the piece was vintage when I got it, and I wanted it to have a chaise. I took it to a custom shop and they totally nailed it by designing it exactly in the way I had pictured. The only problem I have now is that I’m super protective of it!
Secondly, the layered look of my apartment is something I adore. The most frustrating thing about achieving a layered look is that it truly does takes time—time, patience, and money. With my first apartment out of college, I walked into a West Elm and pointed at the bedroom design featured in the window and took it home with me the same day (eek!). Ten years, six apartments, and four cities later, only one of those pieces remains. It’s been a lot of hunting through vintage shops, looking for new unique vendor sources, editing and re-editing my style, and selling old pieces to make room for the new ones. It’s not always a fun or glamorous process, but the end result is worth it.
The bold art. It was a little scary, and expensive to go there, not to mention logistically difficult to move around the bulky art to get it framed. But it was so worth it—every time I walk in my place I pat myself on the back because I love that dang piece of art so much. I grew up surfing and have always loved surf photography, but I felt like a surf photo wasn’t quite the direction I wanted to go. So this is a photo from my favorite surf photographer, Woody Gooch, who happens to do some interesting experimental photography as well. Framing it was tricky, as it’s so large and that usually costs an arm and a leg. But I found a framer that makes frames for artists out of his garage, and it was pretty affordable.
Homepolish: What was the biggest challenge of this redesign?
Jill: The most challenging part of designing my own place was learning to edit. When it’s my place and my own money, my first inclination is to make sure every piece is super unique and well-thought out. Compound that with the fact that I’m an interior designer and want my own space to be a reflection of my personality and style, I tend to overthink everything and it can be really tough to make decisions. I just had to let that notion go, and accept that not every single piece needs to be super special. For example, I was losing sleep over the nightstands in my bedroom. I finally bit the bullet and purchased these simple, clean Room & Board tables. Are these super unique, vintage finds? No. But do they fit in with the style of my apartment, and let all the other special pieces shine? Absolutely.
Homepolish: Could you tell us about the art in your home?
Jill: I have way too much art! I’m always buying art with absolutely no available wall space in my apartment, which actually works out well because I like to change things up quite often. I rotate out the small art a few times a year, and put it in my storage unit until I start to miss it—then I find a way to work it back into my home and I start all over again. I collected the art in this home over the years, throughout my travels, save for the art above the sofa and the bed. At the last minute, I ordered a photograph from Urban Outfitters for my bedroom! The room felt a little too muted and neutral, which is so popular right now but just isn’t my style, so at the last minute, I ordered this photograph from Urban Outfitters. It gives the room so much personality!
Homepolish: What else can you tell us about the space?
Jill: This was essentially a way for me to squeeze a bunch of fun design concepts into 1,000 square feet. For example, I’ve always wanted to do a dark, moody room, but the north-facing light and the somewhat low ceilings in the living room didn’t lend themselves to painting the whole space dark. Instead I painted the connecting walls a pale, lime green to match the existing kitchen backsplash, and achieved my “dark, moody vision” with an accent wall.
View additional photos and sourcing in the gallery below.