At Home: Todd Lappin and Nicole Avril

For Todd Lappin, editor of the new travel magazine Everywhere, and his wife Nicole Avril, a director at UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design and a trustee at the Headlands Center for the Arts, the inspiration for the Bernal Heights home they spent two years renovating didn’t come from the latest decorator showcase.

Instead, the city of San Francisco provided ideas for the unique design elements peppered throughout the three-story house they share with their 11-month-old daughter, Miel.

When they purchased the house in 2003, the couple kept just three of the original exterior walls and a piece of molding before building a 500-square-foot addition. The addition opens up the living room into an airy kitchen and dining area, part of a blueprint designed by local architect Christi Azevedo.

“I’m a history nerd by nature,” Lappin says of the home’s uniquely San Francisco feel. “The City was just a really big inspiration for us, even some of the ruins.”

Take the kitchen ceiling, for instance: It’s painted a very similar color as the Golden Gate Bridge. Lappin, a natural reporter, actually called the bridge’s purchasing manager to seek out the color (for the record, it’s a Sherwin-Williams hue sold to consumers as Fireweed). Lappin and Avril liked the color so much that they later painted the exterior of the house in Fireweed.

Lappin scoured the Hunters Point Shipyard, the Alemany and Alameda flea markets, and various online sources, such as eBay, to score the vintage pieces peppered through their home, such as a bulletin board from the shipyard and an old Muni destination sign from the 1950s.

Even the galley kitchen was inspired by Hunters Point, and designed as a modern interpretation of a naval shipyard kitchen. Fireslate countertops hark to old laboratory tables, and data plates on the appliances were salvaged from the shipyard. Printing (“Lavatory” and “Autopsy,” for instance) on the doors in the kitchen and throughout the house use the same font as the doors at Hunters Point, as well.

Although a few more renovations are planned, the couple seems satisfied with their modern-industrial masterpiece.

“We just really wanted a home that works with the way we live, and we got it,” Avril says.

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