Rachael Mann, 26, a member of the international design team at San Francisco architecture firm HDR, has not one but two possibly infamous pieces in her two-bedroom North Beach apartment.
“I was watching ‘Scarface’ with my mom a few weeks ago, and all of a sudden, I was like, ‘I have those chairs!’” Mann says of the two ornate armchairs — with roaring lions for the armpieces — that flank her living room. “Al Pacino’s character had them. My coffee table was once the author Dean Koontz’s, because he left a bunch of furniture when my mom moved into his place in
Celebrity references aside, Mann’s two-bedroom flat, a fixer-upper she moved into in October and has since renovated heavily, has a decidedly organic sense of style, with found objects, natural elements and soothing tones of black, cream and gray all playing into her overall aesthetic. Mann oversaw every detail of the renovation, from sourcing materials to scouring local flea markets, antique stores and more for the pieces that now decorate the space.
“I love my animals, both alive and dead,” jokes Mann, who lives with her 11-year-old dog Ruby and kitten Mucho. “I’m really inspired by anything found in nature.”
A sense of old-meets-new is at play in every room: An antler chandelier hangs in the living room, while the bedding in her light-filled bedroom is printed with vintage-looking sketches of birds, trees and deer. There’s even a mounted goat head — and a human skeleton — in the entryway.
That’s not to say her look is the least bit crunchy. A plush sofa she designed herself demonstrates the clean, modern lines that dominate Mann’s home. In the sleek kitchen, Mann’s father, John, built and installed all of the cabinets, and she custom-ordered muted black granite for the countertops.
All told, Mann’s apartment is a little sanctuary that, save for its views of Coit Tower, feels like it’s miles away from the North Beach bustle.
“I probably spend most of my time curled up in bed with Ruby and Macho,” she says, and smiles.
Design feel: Modern organic
Notable design elements: Gray, black and cream tones with pops of color, ornate antique pieces and found objects, muted finishes and natural elements
Favorite room: The kitchen. “My father created the cabinetry. We probably did the most work on this room.”
Design inspiration: “My mother. She always kept our home beautiful on a small budget, and I really got my love of flea markets and scavenging for older pieces from her.”
Prized possession: The real human skeleton that hangs in her front entryway, who she’s affectionately named Desiree. “I got her at the Alameda flea market; the vendor initially wasn’t going to sell her to me.”
Favorite local home stores: The Alameda flea market (“I go every month”), Past Perfect, Paxton Gate, Swallowtail and Urban Ore in Berkeley (“I love digging through the stuff there.”)
Favorite design books/magazines: “I get inspiration from coffee table books on boutique hotels and small spaces, and I read Wallpaper.”