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Making ‘Home’ in a New City


Gary felt stuck, like he hadn’t started his new life. His job, which brought him to San Francisco, was everything he’d hoped. But he was so work-focused that after two months he was still sleeping on a mattress on the floor, with nowhere to sit or eat. It wasn’t just that he was busy, it was that he didn’t know how he wanted his home to look. Plus, living in the country’s most expensive city meant he had no idea where to shop that would fit both his taste and his budget.

Creating a Vision

I started by asking questions: “What do you want to do when you come home? Who would you like to have here on weekends? What makes you feel at home?” As we talked, looked at pictures, and imagined, a vision for what Gary wanted in a home started taking shape. Some of it was about how he could entertain: Space for wine and cheese socials! A cozy spot for intimate conversations!  Some of it was purely practical: with zero closet space, Gary was hanging clothes off his loft stair. Open shelves in the entry hall were a chaotic catchall for everything from kitchen items to linens, tools, and gym shoes. It wasn’t a welcoming sight.


Once the vision was clear, selecting furniture, colors, and accessories was fast. I designed a custom closet and supervised installation 2 weeks later. Beautiful wooden boxes in the entry add to its aesthetic appeal while neatly hiding dozens of items out of sight. I designed a furniture plan that created an intimate conversation area with soft pillows and a color palette of warm browns, burnt oranges, and blue accents. To be efficient with Gary’s time, I guided him through selecting all the furniture in one afternoon. Then, I was on hand for deliveries and setup. When Gary got home from work after a long day, everything was in its place, ready for him to enjoy.


Gary’s response was terrific. He walked in the door and said, “This is ME!  This is my house!”

After moving to San Francisco, I was too busy in my new job to buy furniture. Gwen filled a great need: a professional and knowledgeable designer to help plan my new home. I am very happy with the results and recommend her highly. — Gary

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