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Seeking Serenity at the Crossroads of Crazy

Gussying up a drab bachelor pad on a rowdy stretch of Market Street.



Photographer Helena Price filled her gallery wall with photos from friends. “I hate looking at my own work,” she says. “It’s like having a bust or a big portrait of yourself hanging above your bed."

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The deer was shot by a relative of Price’s in North Carolina. The painting is by local artist Elle Luna, a friend.

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In the living room, the leather butterfly chair is from the Citizenry, and the rug is from Dot & Bo. The white shelving unit was custom.

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Los Angeles–based director Jimmy Marble shot the photo above the bed. “Those faceless blond girls felt very Norwegian to me,” Price says. “People ask all the time if they’re members of my family.”

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Price’s designer, Savannah Roberts, used vertical storage and high shelving units to make the 850-square foot apartment seem spacious.

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The custom light in the kitchen is by artist and builder Jay Nelson; a similar version hangs in Outer Sunset restaurant Outerlands.

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After years ricocheting between rentals in California and New York, photographer Helena Price settled down at what she calls “the craziest intersection in San Francisco”: Powell and Market.

“It’s a hub of tourists, street performers, Jesus screamers, parades, protests, and crazies,” she says. Still, it has its perks. “I can stomp around my apartment and no one cares,” she adds. The chaos beyond her front door was well compensated by the space inside, a rented Craigslist one-bedroom with 13-foot ceilings and a giant, arched window overlooking Market Street.

The decor, on the other hand, left something to be desired. “When I moved in, it was an oatmeal cavern: oatmeal walls, oatmeal carpet,” says Price. A mutual friend introduced her to Savannah Roberts of Homepolish—a startup that offers interior design services by the hour—who drew up plans to outfit Price’s near-empty abode. “I was such a nomad before moving here that everything I owned fit into two suitcases,” Price says. “The challenge was to bring sentiment into a brand-new space.” She wanted the decor to represent her oddball roots: southern, Norwegian, and Californian. “I’m half North Carolinian— my redneck heritage—and half Scandinavian,” she says. “And now I’ve lived in California for six years.”

Those elements blended in unexpected ways. The Scandinavian influence is clear in the minimalist wood and leather, as well as the monochromatic black, white, and gray palette. California is represented by desert accents—cacti and succulents from Flora Grubb—and custom work by local friends like builder Jay Nelson and painter Elle Luna. And Price’s southern ties are apparent in the living room’s taxidermy, shot and stuffed by her family in North Carolina.

Though the apartment is just 850 square feet, a mix of low-slung and high-backed furniture creates the impression of volume. “It actually feels bigger now that it’s furnished,” she says. The couch sleeps two people, and the dining room table seats eight, a particular point of pride. “I’ve never had an apartment that feels like home before,” says Price. “Now I finally get to throw dinner parties—from my little roost above Forever 21.”


Originally published in the July issue of San Francisco

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