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(Noe) Valley Girl

Victoria Smith, the discerningly quirky shelter blogger behind SFGirlbyBay, unveils her new digs.

The piece de resistance in the living room is a vintage snapshot Smith bought for $7 at the Alemany Flea and had enlarged. "The room was looking too library-like," she says. "I decided I needed something weird." The sofa is from DwellStudio, and the coffee table is from online vintage seller Ethanollie

Smith reclines in the leather lounger she calls her "praying mantis chair."

Smith found this portrait (which she dubbed "Rico Suave") at a flea market 15 years ago. The dress form showcases her favorite accessories.

Joyce Lee's chromogenic print The Novel (beholder-art.com) is flanked by vintage sconces ($15 for the pair) in the bedroom. "It's part of my Valley of the Dolls theme," Smith says. "A golden girl surrounded by poufy, fluffy things." Sheepskin throws throughout the cottage are reminiscent of Smith's shaggy dog, Lucy.

Smith's terrier mutt, Lucy, sports shag camo. Lounger from Mid-Century Modern Finds; Forever 36 art by Lisa Congdon.

An Eames rocking chair and color-sorted bookshelf in the bedroom.

The Knoll Tulip chairs surrounding Smith's inherited French farm table are cushioned with vintage drapery fabric. Her rotating art collection mixes childhood photos, art prints from sites like 20x200 and Minted, and flea market finds. The cabinet was purchased at a yard sale for $5 and refinished.  

A dining room vignette. The decor here is less overtly feminine than in Smith's pink-tinged former bungalow. "I guess I'm trying to be more grown-up," she says.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like the stylist who slings a Chanel bag over a thrifted Buffalo Exchange dress or the foodie who chases his lobster with a swig of Schlitz, SFGirlbyBay shelter blogger Victoria Smith is a master of the high-low mashup. Her aesthetic is one part Alemany Flea, one part Eames: fluff and quirk layered upon sleekly classic bones. She treats her walls not unlike a Pinterest board (where she has half a million followers): Photos, paintings, and prints are propped and stacked at floor level, ready to be swapped in when the mood strikes. Late last year, when Smith was forced to relocate from her rented Noe Valley two-bedroom into a fixer-upper guest cottage half its size (her former landlady sold the building for $950,000 cash), she welcomed the unexpected change. "I like any kind of design challenge," she says.

Smith converted the cavelike original space--dark wood cabinetry, rows of mini-blinds, a hulking Home Depot ceiling fan hovering overhead--into an airy wood-on-white abode in just under a month, hosting two garage sales in the process.

She scavenges vintage furniture and objets d'art less with an artist's sense of thriftiness--there are plenty of investment pieces here--than with an affinity for the rare and weird. A black-and-white photo depicts her great-grandparents' 1930s traveling animal circus. The dining table opposite is a French farm relic bequeathed by her mother, its long drawers intended to stow baguettes. The chipped painting in the bedroom of a man she calls "Rico Suave"--another flea market find--has traveled with Smith for 15 years. ("you Sentimental idiot!" chides a Rikkianne Van Kirk art print.) Somehow, the collective quirk works. In fact, it's all weirdly covetable.

 

Originally published in the February 2013 issue of San Francisco.

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