Urban Dwellers “Creating” Space

Do San Francisco abodes ever have enough space? Indeed the answer is no, but San Franciscans are a creative bunch and have responded to space limitations with innovation. Here are the three best storage and space solutions that I have come across at open houses and brokers tours recently in Duboce Triangle, Noe Valley, and Cole Valley.

#1: Maximizing Garage Space — Look up

When looking at garages most home buyers and home owners are first and foremost focused on whether the car can fit through the door. After that, evaluating the storage capacity tends to revolve around available floor space and figuring out where storage shelves can be installed. But many overlook all the unused air space above the car. Creative home owners turn that air space into storage space.

One easy upgrade is to install some pulleys and string/wire to the roof and suspend a storage pod of the type that attach to a car roof rack. That’s what got me looking up, but what really inspired me was the more impressive garage loft like the one I saw at 73 Henry street in Duboce Triangle. A garage loft can literally turn a one car garage into a hundred square feet or more of storage space. Even if the loft is only 3 or 4 feet high, you’ve got plenty of room to stack boxes, stash unused furniture and de-clutter the house even if you’re part pack rat like me.

#2: Wall Beds

Perhaps the most timeless example of city dwellers maximizing space is the wall bed. For most people the term conjures up the image of a Murphy Bed that folds out of an over-sized closet. Most common in turn of the century buildings, the practical characteristics are undeniable but unfortunately many fold out beds are neither aesthetically pleasing nor are they conducive to a good nights sleep.


Recently however, I have come across some great wall beds that combine modern design with luxurious sleeping. If they are done right, wall beds really provide a practical way to create a multi-use room. I’ve seen some excellent wall beds that allow a room to work as both a bedroom/guestroom and a beautiful living and work space.

Perhaps the best example is the space designed by architect Barbara Shands for a basement suite in Noe Valley. Small on square footage, this room really works because of a wall bed solution that is striking for its simplicity, design sense and functionality.

For more information on this particular example feel free to contact Barbara directly at bshands@shandsstudio.com.

#3 Built-in Shelving

There are so many great built-in shelving units in San Francisco houses that it’s easy to almost overlook them. The simple built-ins that grace the two sides of a living room fireplace and travel from floor to 10 foot + ceiling can hold a lot of books and knick-knacks.

But it was the transformation of entry stairs into an ascending library that really caught my attention in Cole Valley. Instead of wasted space these built-ins turned an arduous climb to a top floor condo at into a trip through the stacks; an insight into the owners’ interests and literary world-view, and a reminder of all those good books I have been meaning to get to.

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