How this creative couple makes life beautiful in San Francisco

How this creative couple makes life beautiful in San Francisco

Photos by Jay Adams

Working artists are feeling edged out of the San Francisco Bay Area more than ever, with rents and home prices historically high.

Luckily, imagination is a creative’s strong suit, and Clara Baldwin and Jay Adams have put theirs to work in decorating a gorgeously-appointed space in the city’s Sunset District. Their busy lives of graduate school, plus full- and part-time gigs can be chaotic. But their one-bedroom, 720-square-foot apartment is a sun-filled haven where they can escape from it all in peace.

“We are both homebodies so the feel of our apartment is important to us,” Clara said. “We want our little place to always bring us joy and comfort. The apartment is a reflection of who we are.”

Last year, the couple added an additional task to their already-full plates when they got engaged (in Paris, swoon). So in between Clara’s Rhythm and Motion dance instruction (which I very highly recommend checking out) and going to school full time to become a speech therapist, plus Jay’s photography gigs in addition to his own full time job, the couple is scoping out venues, caterers, dresses and all the rest. Raise your hand if you’re tired just thinking about it. All the more reason their home is about relaxation first and foremost.

Clara has longstanding strong opinions about interior design, partially handed down from her mother Lison Vierra. Vierra co-owns the hair salon Vierra and Friends (which somehow is booked fully always but has no website) in Cole Valley where she changes up the 50s- and 60s-inspired decor seasonally—Clara says Christmas is a must-see.

So it’s no surprise that as a teenager, her own bedroom was decorated in rotating themes. She recalls a “70s cocaine palace style,” which meant white fur throws, a bright white chaise lounge, and spray painting all of her mirrors gold. That look was eventually replaced by a 60s/70s lodge style, featuring copious vintage antlers, old hunting and forest images, and the taxidermy you’ll find in the photo below (his name is Zsa Zsa Gabor). The American flag also comes from that room. “We are a melting pot here,” Clara said.

Read on to learn more about how this beautiful, artistic couple makes the absolute most of their small slice of S.F. heaven.

Where do you guys live and how did you end up in that spot?
“We live in SF’s Sunset district. We ended up here by getting very lucky on Craigslist after looking for a place to move in together for three months. Our apartment happens to be in the neighborhood Clara grew up in, so we feel extra lucky.”

What are some of your favorite pieces of furniture and/or accessories?
“Our 1960’s orange lockers. They have shelves built in so we store a great deal of our stuff in them, and we never have to stare at an ugly storage piece. We also love our neon Love ‘n Stuff sign, it has become our tagline and a centerpiece in the apartment.”

What are your favorite features of the apartment?
“We have two walls with sun facing windows and it is divine! The square footage is minimal but the space is laid out fantastically; we never feel cramped. The building is older which lends itself to our aesthetic, our things fit right in!”

What are the biggest challenges?
“We can’t have dogs (boohoooo). Other than that, the biggest challenge is not being able to get larger pieces of furniture through our doorway because of the angle of entry. We’ve had to get pretty creative with what we bring in and how we lay out smaller pieces of furniture in the space.”

Are your interior aesthetics similar, or did you have to make some compromises?
“Our aesthetics are strangely similar—something we did not even know when we decided to look for a place. I (Clara) remember going to Alameda flea to pick out furniture when we first moved in, and praying that Jay liked the same things I did. We saw these perfect gold 70’s velvet chairs and much to my surprise Jay was in love as much as I was! Even though it’s just furniture, it was one of those magical moments when I realized we were very meant to be.”  

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