modern cottage.
by victoria comment


so, we’re all finally back from holiday (i know — i took my time getting back to work, but i’ve missed you!) and i thought i’d share a look at my wee modern cottage. you’ve seen the bedroom and the bath, and now i’m sharing the ‘grand room’ — that’s what you call a combo-living-kitchen area these days, right? i’d hardly call it grand because it’s probably only about 300 square feet max, but it is the main living area.

this is definitely a work in progress, and i’m still wrestling with having pared down and attempting be more minimalist. it’s not easy for me! i can’t decide if i need a grouping of art on the wall, or if i just stick to this one large photograph. also, debating about adding more color in the way of accessories, but here you have it for the moment.

some pieces are brand new, but many i’ve just repurposed from my last apartment. i’ve provided resources for my collections below (a lot are vintage from flea markets & craigslist) but if i’ve missed something, please feel free to ask. and, i’d love to hear your ideas — so bring ’em on. a look at the dining room coming up soon!

sources: the print is a photo enlargement done at san francisco’s blow up lab from a small 4×4 vintage print i found at the flea market and framed (is this somebody’s aunt & her cat? it could be!); and i’ve finally found my elusive dream sofa — the beautiful ink black chester tufted sofa from dwellstudio.

sources: ink black chester tufted sofa from dwellstudio; west elm souk rug; vintage coffee table from ethanollie; pillows: lisa stickely london, west elm dip-dyed and h.d.buttercrup in bed’s ikat print; sheep skin from black sheep white light; vintage saarinan tulip end table via eBay; and white pouf from fab. matching dog, lucy, not included.

sources: black leather eames-like lounge chair, three-legged stool and long, low bench all from mid century modern finds; ’36’ painting by lisa congdon; vintage paint by numbers via hazel & gerties.

note: mini blinds are going!! bleeck. i’m awaiting a simple white roman shade to arrive. and, i’m having a custom-built wall shelving unit made by michael woo who built everything at makeshift society. it will be built around window with shelving and storage — more on that coming soon.

sources: santa barbara print by liz kubal from 20×200; oh darling print from fifi duvie; downie brothers circus print (my family’s circus) photographed by walker evans and ordered from the library of congress; vintage homecrest outdoor metal chairs (that swivel!) from the alameda flea market; swiss cross pillow from enhabiten; white expedit shelving from ikea; schoolhouse electric factory no. 5 pendant lamp.

sources: ikea grundtal wall shelf & pot rack; schoolhouse electric factory no. 5 pendant lamp; clock via crate & barrel outlet.

sources: designer ariele alasko’s cheese board from brooklyn to west; vintage mid-century modern sugar bowl from stuff; vintage lab bottles for spices from am radio; anthropologie’s horned bottle opener; log salt & peppers from the curiosity shoppe; ‘salt’ cellar from rae dunn ceramics; large wood & white ceramic salt cellar from pot + pantry.

• all photos © victoria smith, sfgirlbybay.

134 responses to “modern cottage.”

  1. Love it! You have done a great job….It is homey and eclectic , bright and modern. I love all the windows and light coming in , what a great space. Oh and Lucy soo blends in to your rug, had to look twice:)
    Looking forward to more. Thanks for the great reveal!

  2. Victoria,
    Beautiful mix of Modern and Vintage.I loved snooping at the kitchen gadgets and goodies. Your place has a fresh feel, I like that Lucy matches the color palette.
    Happy New Year, Happy new place !!!

  3. Love, love, love, love, LOVE! Once you’re done there come up and help me with my place! Such style you’ve got! I know, stating the obvious, I suppose, but still. xx UB

  4. Dang. Everything about it is fantastic. Can you spell. J-E-L-O-U-S! (did I spell it right!). I need to know- does your place just have all this beautiful natural light or do you light it professionally as a photographer or both?

  5. The place looks amazing Victoria! You can fly across the States and come help me anytime. ;)
    Love it all. The sofa is beautiful. Have my eye on that now. Beautiful accessories throughout. Especially Lucy.

  6. hmmmm, something does not feel quite right to me Victoria. It doesn’t sing to me like your past places have. Perhaps too much industrial metal and whatnot. But I am a comfort slob who is perpetually chilly. I think you need some orange or red pops to make it feel warmer.

    • O.k. I’m with Mims, It’s really nice but it doesn’t seem quite right and I am very partial to pops of red or orange as they bring a relaxed put your feet on the table feel to a room not to mention the glow of morning and afternoon sunlight. But I must confess that I have so wanted to go minalmist (in a maximalist way) and love the look in the magazines and have not had the courage to try. Every time I clear out the room (so to speak) I bring it all back , cuz as us quebecers say je n’était pas bien, something just wasn’t right. You are very very brave to let yourself be so vulnerable, thx you for letting us inside your nest, it is ALWAYS a pleasure to read your thoughts

  7. Victoria, your place looks amazing! It’s so light and airy, yet full of wonderful treasures. One question: do you have a favorite source for your artwork frames?


  8. Looks great! Your kitchen is a vast improvemevt over past challenges – I will never get that brown tiled one out of my head. This is really well done!
    Does the jack-knife have any significance or just a beautiful object? I find myself drawn to them for some reason.

    • thanks so much! no, i just liked the little pocket knife and picked it up at a yard sale recently. seems like all good scouts should have a pocket knife. :)

  9. Hi Victoria, I’ve read your blog for a long time and it’s lovely to see how your style changes and evolves while maintaning a through line. I have a quick question. Do you have a source for the curtain rod that the white grommet top curtains are hanging from. I have the same exact curtains and am looking for a rod. Thanks!

  10. Looks like a wonderful place full of sunny natural light. It feels perfect for alone time and entertaining. I might agree with the earlier comment about the black and white palette seeming a tad chilly. That being said it is the perfect stage for pops of color as you see fit. Feeling hot pink, new pillows! Feeling apple green, new pillows! Feeling bright blues or sunny yellows…yep new pillows! Congratulations on a job well done. Cheers!

  11. LOVE your space and the framed photograph you have over your sofa – it is too small for that space on its own. Perhaps it could be central between two other elements – doesn’t have to be art – could be an oval mirror and a square canvas covered in detailed, vintage fabric. Or a collection of framed antique postcards on one side and a set of three flying birds on the other. Or random cigar tins nailed to the wall on either side. Do you have any photographs of yourself as a child? Other relatives? Anyway, just ramblings – do what the space suggests that is meaningful to you and would make you smile when you look at it.

  12. beautiful as always, and i love the pared down look. i am especially crushing over all the warm wood in the kitchen…i love all the vintage accessories there. nice work lady!

  13. It’s so beautiful! I just want to flip through books on that carpet in a patch of sun all day.

    How is the quality on the blow up art print? I have so many teeny tiny family photos I would love to have bigger.

  14. I absolutely love what you’ve done! My only suggestion for tweaking would be some more color in the form of artwork above the couch. Other than that, I would gladly move in in a heartbeat ;)

  15. I am loving your new place. Looks clean and inviting. I like the color palette very much. Green from plants and color from seasonal fruit is all you need! By the way , how do you care for you fig leaf? I’ m killing mine softly, one leaf at a time ;(

  16. Such a gorgeous space, I’m looking through it in awe & showing my mom EVERYTHING. Love the white walls & wooden floor & all the lovely accents.
    Also, I spy ChangesOneBowie! [Happy Birthday Bowie!!]

  17. It’s GORGEOUS! Your sunny dining room table looks like such a great place to hang out and chat, or spread a bunch of magazine clippings on. I hope you’re enjoying it! xoxo

  18. dear circus girl.
    i love it. when did you find the downie family circus print? it’s glorious underneath the adventurer’s print. next time the chickens and i are up, we’ll come by and see it in person.

    • i’m so glad you got the connection of the two pieces. ;) i found that at the library of congress because walker evans shot it! cool, huh? the chickens will like it here. xo

  19. eeeeeee! i’m giddy over this sneak peek. i am applauding your restraint with color. it’s a truly beautiful space, particularly because you’ve allowed the natural element of light to take center stage here… well, i suppose the light is sharing the stage a little with that swanky dream-nugget of a sofa. you truly cannot go wrong with the staple pieces that you have carefully selected, i.e. the boss sofa, the swivel chairs, that dreamy W/E rug, and the warm coffee table from Kim’s shop. i am digging your record player on that table too. and i simply cannot GET OVER how amazing that photograph turned out! i am headed to the Blow Up Lab stat!! i’m totally impressed with what they’ve done with such a small photo. if it were me, i would just allow the wall to evolve naturally as you find art or trinkets to hang arond the photograph. you could even paint the wall a dark/dramatic color at some point if you wanted to go for a change, even though it’s a small space. for now, the blown up photograph lends a lovely & feminine balance to the coolness of the sofa. Ps. your kitchen accessories are fantastical too! loving it all. oxo

  20. Awe it’s beautiful and simple and minimalist in all the right places!! The art and the plants and the dark furniture all fit together in a very pleasing and relaxing way. One question though, does your family really have a circus?!

  21. I truly love the new space. You did a great job of paring down your treasures. The space is clean modern with the black and white but love the warm (danish) wood tones throughout. If you are considering adding color (which I love it how it is now) I would just consider using plants for a touch of softness and green.

    Very inspiring…I keep going back to the images all day….when I get home I am tossing things in the outbox to donate or sell! Thanks for sharing your lovely home

  22. I love what you’ve done! I also love the black, white & neutral and I think just 1 item in a pink that will go with the roses in your photo would make it perfect. BTW, the photo is wonderful! I would leave it as the only art on that wall.

  23. Coming along beautifully- it’s a process , have fun! that eames style chair has been on my mind all day! I love your style !

  24. this looks fab! well done you for stripping back so much… i’m envious! that blown-up photo makes my cheeks ache from smiling!

  25. Oh God, please let me live there. You, lady, know how to put a house together. I personally would add a few deep coral accents in the living room to pick up the colours in the art, but I do get a bit of a twitch if things aren’t matchy-matchy, so don’t listen to me. Bravo!

  26. like the black leather and the mid century mix, lots of nice things, feels a bit too contrived. doesn’t feel “lived in” maybe it’s just the photos….

  27. I love your place. The lighting is perfect. The placement and styling is stunning, breathtaking. I follow you on instragram and after seeing that rug in many of your pictures, I bought my own when it went on sale. I love it…looks great in pictures, really pops! You inspire me keep on inspiring!

  28. really gorgeous job you did there… and this house seems to be “lived in” for long… it lives itself… I love little details you pu everywhere and especially close to the windows… and your kitchen shows a great potential too… do you have a garden there?
    I’m sure you’ll have a great time here, and not so far from adventurer”s one!
    Have a nive Tuesday dear Victoria
    L A U

  29. Heavens above, I am in love! With a cottage! What a dream home you’ve created Victoria! I love everything – the b/w colour scheme paired with the warm wooden touches – right up my taste alley, and what I have in mind (sort of) for my home in Barcelona… which unfortunately doesn’t get as much light as your lovely cottage does. Well done!

  30. I absolutely love your place. Unless some of the other commenters, I love how you kept things a bit more white and simple. And I love, love, love the personal touch it already has! The circus picture is perfect.

  31. The place is looking great. Love all the kitchen photos…it’s very warm. You asked about the wall over the sofa. I know you are trying to be more minimalist, but I think it needs a little something more. I’m sure you will figure it out. Overall, really nice.

  32. gorgeous, gorgeous treasured & much loved things arranged beautifully & the light looks absolutely stunning – small is indeed the new big, less – the new more – it’s true xos

  33. I love this home! I love the sheep skin and pot rack the most, I wish I could find somewhere in my kitchen to put that pot rack. I’m pinning all of this for inspiration for when we move.

  34. i love color but find your black/white and warm-wood palette very soothing and sophisticated – especially considering you’ve amassed so many incredible danish pieces. if you decide to add more color maybe do it seasonally with pillows/throws/flowers/accessories that are easily moved in and out. i could stare at your vignettes/groupings all day – what an incredible eye you have! thanks for inspiring us to collect and concentrate on meaningful pieces.

  35. Hi Victoria – Love what you’ve done to your place! It looks fabulous. Well done, you! Happy new year!

  36. Happy New Year Victoria! Your place is looking fabulous. I do understand paring down and wanting to live more minimally. It’s always a balance when you love beautiful objects as I do! The restraint required is not as easy as it looks! Simplicity is not always easy. One suggestion I would make is that there is too much going on on your kitchen counters (although all the objects are beautiful). Maybe go vertical, with an industrial looking shelf and place all your beautiful things there so your counters are clean?

    Oops – I guess I have another suggestion. For a clean look, I prefer one large piece of art rather than a grouping. I also think you need a hot pink pillow. Oops! I guess that’s three suggestions. Anyway, you really can’t go wrong, you have a beautiful place and you have great taste. Thanks for sharing your new home! I’m enjoying watching it evolve. xo

  37. You have beautiful taste; a sure eye and a wonderful sense of placement. You also take marvelous photographs! My only reservation is that your lovely rooms look slightly predictable…there are all the requisite pieces/accents that constitute good/popular design and it is all very au courant. I sort of miss the more “bohemian” you that was just a little less predictable. That being said your home is exceptional.

    • i know what you mean – and i’m missing that too. working on finding some signature piece, or some interesting decor idea to change things up a bit. thank you!

  38. Victoria you are amazing!! your home is beautiful, love all the details, and I know that little by little you are going to include some unique pieces that you love, but now look fantastic.

    I wish you an amazing new year!!!


  39. Love your new sunny space and the pared down effect of just moving into it – I don’t think anyone could go wrong with that fabulous tufted sofa or black & white color scheme with modern wood tones as a starting point. I love the open concept living space and have no doubt that you’ll continue to curate as you fall in love with flea market finds and add artwork – in no time at all you’ll be needing to move/switch it up again!

  40. Fabulous. I love the black and white scheme and the contrast of the use of natural wood in the kitchen. Love the chemex! Also, the bright green of the plants stands out side much more with that color scheme. Love it.

  41. wow, you took the time to answer us victoria. That is so classy and just plain nice. But we already knew that about you! Hope you find that (orange) signature piece you have been looking for.

  42. “Ch-ch-ch-changes! Time may change me, but I can’t trace time.”
    Your changes are mah-velous, my dear. I keep coming back, again and again (despite my New Year’s resolution to spend less time at my computer), and as with a great illustration, I find something new upon each closer inspection. Thank you for the game of I SPY. Where did you get and what is the size of the pillow on the metal swivel chair that backs up to the kitchen/white ikea book shelf (which I note: you cleverly turned on its side. About to do that with the same ikea towering inferno in my son’s room. All credit goes to you.)

    p.s. bowie is coming out with his first album in 10 years this March! I saw him in concert 23+ years ago when he was in the bay area (oakland, maybe?) and he was amaaazing. Changes was my favorite album. Suffragette City!! “Ohhh wham bam thank you maam!” Haha. Thanks for the flashback memories…

  43. P.S. To be sure, the oblong blue & white stripe pillow… not the all white squarish one. although he’s cute in his own right too.

  44. I love it. It’s clean and fresh. You have a knack for mixing in found objects and bought pieces. While I understand the comments about color, there is something about the SF weather that makes a monochrome space work. It creates warmth to me.

  45. It’s lovely! So glad you and Miss Lucy are happily and stylishly settled in your new pad! I like it very much. I think the single picture looks great on the wall. I thought perhaps it was a relative – I guess in a way it is, a fellow animal lover.

    Looking forward to the next part of the tour. Any chance of a tag for the posts on the places you’ve lived in, eg. “my place”?

    Warm wishes from Australia

  46. Love it Victoria! :) Top 3 for me: THAT print of the vintage photograph, black Eames chair (j’adore) and the ‘Oh Darling Let’s Be Adventurous’ print. Every time I see that ‘Oh Darling’ one, it just makes me feel like jumping up, shaking my hair in the wind and skipping off on a little journey or play date – imagine that would be the perfect motivation for those Sunday in the City pieces, me thinks. Stay awesome x

  47. hi! first time reader for me and i love your blog. call me a purist but i love the white, white, white. and speaking of white, i was wondering if you had any recommendations for white paint as i’m looking to paint my bedroom and living rooms walls and moldings white. i have no idea if i should be using a matte or pearl finish for the walls. nor do i know what to use for the moldings in terms of color and finish. i live in a beach bungalow in santa monica, ca. our house is tiny, tiny, 850 square feet tiny, so hoping the white will open it up. any advice from you would be greatly appreciated and thank you!!

  48. Victoria – You are incredibly clever and resourceful. You have inspired me over this last year to find the gems in my home, move them around and find where they work best. I too must work on a budget, and YOU have helped me to see that it is not only fun, but way BETTER too! Your cottage home is perfect and I wouldn’t add another image over the black chester sofa — it pops out in its lone simplicity and I love that it’s a tad off center. Your place truly looks like it came off the pages of LONNY magazine. Last, but certainly not least, you are so sharing with all your resources and ideas. You have good kharma. Thank you, thank you — you deserve to come back in your next life as the Downie circus tent embracing all the beauty and love under your skirts. Happy New Year! Yvonne :)

  49. Stunning, OMG the crisp white, modern but with vintage elements, wood, plants, different textures and with minimal leanings. Its all that I want in a room! Inspired!

  50. Modern Cottage it is m’lady, and it is to adore. Love the natural light and fresh feel – oh and that black chair you found at the flea with oh happy day…yeah, that one is just perfect! Your place came together quite nicely – thanks for sharing Victoria!

  51. Hi!! This is so beautiful – I’m extremely inspired! Quick question – what size is your “Oh Darling” print? I love it!!! Thank you!

  52. I just “discovered” your blog and love it! Love your new place and the palette is gorgeous! Moved away from SF five years ago and now live in sunny FL so seeing your BoMo apartment makes me nostalgic but happy!

  53. The hardwood floors in these rooms are stunning! I love the way the medium toned wood gives warmth to the black and white furniture. As far as photos go, the delicate colors in the frame/flowers really add in some nice soft touches, and I think more light additions like that could soften the rooms and make them a touch homier. That being said, the kitchen is incredible and likely perfect as-is ;-)

  54. Hi again,

    May I ask what color white you chose? I am repainting my kitchen which gets a bit of sunlight like your seems to and I really like the crisp white you have on your walls.

    • it does shed a bit (but so does Lucy in the same color so sometimes i can’t tell which is which!). i think that’s supposed to fade after time, until then i just use my dust buster to grab the dust bunnies. :)

  55. all of it!!!!! magical!!!!!!!!!!!!!! love it!!!!
    kitchen, i could die, yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    congratulations on your new, BEAUTIFUL home…

  56. Beautiful home! Just wondering how you feel about the Souk rug from West Elm? I just returned a 9×12 Jute Boucle’ rug from West Elm and was issued a credit and keep on going back to look at the Souk. Just not sure if its the smartest idea with a 2 year old and a 14 year old dog.

  57. how do you not live here permanently? your modern cottage is absolutely beautiful and i totally understand why it took you a long time to get back into the swing of things.
    ah, the dream sofa – you picked a stunning one!


  58. Hi Victoria,
    Was hoping you could tell me the source for the white dining room chairs you have. Love them and have been looking for something like them. P.S. you place looks great!
    Thanks (:

  59. I know how difficult it is to find something this charming in SF, you scored a beauty and of course adding your signature style makes it sublime. It’s just wonderful! Just like you!

  60. Hi there,

    LOVE your blog! I bought that same rug about a year ago and love it, however, do you have any tips about cleaning it? Thank you

  61. I’m a bit late to the party, but must tell you how impressed I am with your space. I especially like the use of wood accessories in the kitchen. This is beautifully, beautifully done work. If you aren’t doing design work professionally, you certainly could be.

  62. Oh my gosh yes to all of this!!! I’ve been trying to design our 1 bedroom LA apartment living room, and have never liked black couches (even though there’s black throughout our room), but since I can’t seem to find any mid-century modern couches that aren’t black without breaking the bank, I figured I’d see if I can find any black couch inspiration. And I stumbled upon this!! Such a modern, inviting, cool vibe. And I glimpsed at one of the comments and saw that there’s a “Lucy that blends into the couch” so I had to go look. We have a Lucy too – she’s a blue heeler. Anyway, thanks for the inspiration.

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