Alice is on the design and construction team at Common. They take on the construction and interior design of Common homes. She did her bachelor’s in design studies in Adelaide and then her master’s in Architecture in Newcastle.
Before she moved to New York, she was working in Sydney as a set designer on Ridley Scott’s Alien Covenant. As well as playing a part in furniture selection for the homes, she had the opportunity to live in both Common Minna and Common Valencia for a couple of weeks while they were being prepared for opening.
What’s new about San Francisco?
Alice: Common Minna and Common Valencia are Common’s first homes outside of New York. We’re really excited to continue improving housing and bringing community to new neighborhoods. They also both have quite a different layout to our homes in New York.
Common Minna has two identical floors, each with a really large open-plan kitchen living area. What I love here is the way the two floors are very connected to one another. Originally we saw the building as two separate suites, but more and more it feels like one large interconnected suite, especially since members have moved in.
Staying here, it felt really natural to move between floors if, say, the oven was already being used or if somebody was watching tv and you wanted a quiet space to read. I felt very comfortable moving around the entire home in my pajamas.
In Common Valencia, the kitchen and lounge are on separate floors. Both spaces have very different atmospheres about them; the Common Valencia kitchen is very bright, airy and open, while the lounge has a much more of a cozy and relaxed feel about it. I really enjoyed having the option of two spaces to hang out in, depending on my mood or who else was using the space.
How is the design and decor at Common Minna and Common Valencia different? What key furniture items and decisions contributed to the overall look?
Alice: In all of our homes, we have some fundamental values when it comes to choosing furniture; we look for pieces that are high quality, honest materials, and of a timeless aesthetic. We steer clear of trendy pieces and instead opt for generally good design, which never goes out of style.
Common Minna and Common Valencia have very similar palettes to one another. Both have lovely high ceilings, beautiful original floorboards and those gorgeous bay windows on the street front which are such San Francisco icons. They also both have a lot of soft, warm elements in the walls and floors – plenty of wood and warm accent colors on the walls.
Because there was already so much going on in the surfaces of the home in terms of color and texture, the furnishings needed to be primarily simple, clean and understated. A lot less wood than we would normally use – because it was already there! The room and the furniture needed to complement one another rather than compete for attention. The plain white sheets we use look amazing next to the timber walls, and really give the space some breathing room.
The exception to this rule came in the form of two navy blue velvet sofas from Interior Define, which now live at Common Minna. To be honest, I was quite nervous as they arrived, but the cool blue tone adds a really nice relief to the warm hues of the room. I ended up being really delighted with them!
There are also some large antique Persian rugs at Common Minna. Again these break the rules because they are richly textured, but it is a different kind of texture to the suite’s walls. I think they take the edge off of the room.
We chose a lot of darker colored elements, to pick up on the dark gray trim and dark metal handrails throughout the home. These really pop against the rich materials of the home.
Where do these items come from? Big brands, startups, or a combination of both?
For sourcing, we went to fellow startups whom we work with frequently:
In addition, we sourced accent pieces from:
- Industry West,
- Restoration Hardware,
- Blu Dot,
- ABC Carpet & Home,
- and West Elm.
One of my favorite examples of the dark colored elements at Common Minna is a dark gray adaptable sofa lounge from fellow startup Poppin. It can be setup in a few different ways depending on how people feel like hanging out together. It’ll be fun to see what happens there if the members move it about and change it up. When you start looking outside of the box, you end up discovering some fun finds!
How do you decide what to decorate within the home?
Alice: In terms of decorating, we try to supply enough to make a home warm and inviting, while leaving room for members to add their own personalities to a space. We never decorate members’ bedrooms for example – that is their own to customize. Our art was beautifully chosen by Mayday (now Kaplow), whom we have used time and again for their great attention to detail and location specific choices. The pieces were framed by Framebridge, with simple and elegant white frames, to allow the spaces and the artwork to speak for itself.
What was your best local find in San Francisco?
Alice: The San Francisco flower market! One of my absolute favorite days was shopping for the flowers and greenery for Common Valencia’s photoshoot. It is a seriously amazing place, where the colors just go on and on. Any SF locals should absolutely pay it a visit.
I was also shown around Berkley by San Francisco local Bridgette (also from Common). We went hiking up behind the university, where you just get the most incredible view of the entire bay area! It was really easy to get to from Common Valencia via the BART train.
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