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Photos by Patricia Chang
You could say that Kim Bachmann's San Francisco home mirrors the clothes she creates. The fashion designer behind Kim and Proper is known for dresses that are, in her words, equal parts "tradition, modern, practical, and glamour." She's designed her home to reflect the same easy and elegant style. "The dresses are meant to be thrown on with confidence and then forgotten while one lives their life," she says. "My house is the same way. I love the way it looks, but I don't want to feel like it's a stage set or something too precious."
Bachmann and her family (a husband and three boys ranging from ages 22 to 12) moved to San Francisco after living in London for seven years. Her connection with her home, a classic Beaux-Arts manse that stands near one of Pacific Heights' most distinguished intersections, was immediate. "I remember driving by our house and falling in love before I ever stepped foot in it," she says. "I love the Beaux Arts decorative style and the nice open proportions."
↑ Bachmann has decorated the house herself, and says the bright colors reference her native state. "I'm from Florida, and I think I occasionally have these bouts of bright color mania," she says.
Case in point: The classic living room is enlivened by a citrus yellow. Bachmann says the color is made up of "layers and layers of different shades of yellow and browns, otherwise it would have been too harsh." She finished it off with a shiny lacquered ceiling.
↑ Bachmann says the artwork over the fireplace by local photographer Sadie Barnette is an example of how she assembled the home. "I just keep throwing pieces I love in, and I hope they end up working well together. I have a very decorative and livable aesthetic—definitely not an edited, clean look," she says.
↑ The pieces in her home range from nice antiques she collected in Europe to vintage pieces she discovered in San Francisco (like the huge black obelisk she stumbled across and had mounted on a custom base).
↑ Another vintage find is the mirrored desk that anchors her pink office. You couldn't put an exact name to this hue, as Bachmann mixed it herself over time, as she did in the living room. "Colors this loud need to be layered," she says. She considers the there-but-not-there desk to be the perfect foil for the rosy color.
↑ Her favorite room in the house is the kitchen/sitting area that looks out over an avocado tree and Sutro Tower. "We have all of our family dinners in this room and most of our dinner parties," she says. "I love squeezing everyone in and having loud, unruly conversation. It's definitely our most lived-in room."
↑ And, despite the graceful rooms, "lived-in" is also how Bachmann describes the rest of her home. "The boys are fairly good about being respectful although there's always a nick (or 10) on the walls or a broken chair from accidentally being hit by a lacrosse stick," she says. "At the end of the day I don't get worked up about it. It's a lived-in house."
Bachmann loves her neighborhood and says it was the inspiration for her blog, Thank you for Asking. In it, she presented a tongue-in-check look at SF's high society. How much of it was satire is unclear, but it presented a hilarious take on her life, which she describes as "a woman starring in her own movie that nobody is watching." She's no longer writing it, instead focusing on a fashion-centric blog on her website.
Bachmann describes her block as neighborly and representative of some the ways SF has changed. "When we first moved here (about 19 years ago) there were no children and we were by the far the youngest people. Now it's full of children and young couples," she says.
One of her fond memories is of a late neighbor. "There was an old lady who lived in the big house in front of ours who was famous for giving out huge stuffed animals at Halloween, the police would have to be called out to control traffic," she says. "She was a fount of information, but most of it is too racy for me to pass on." And, despite being an octogenarian, their neighbor had an amazing social life as well as a salty tongue. "She had parties every night. My husband and I would lay in bed hearing her saying her goodbyes to her guests, and feel like such losers that this 80-year-old woman was having so much more fun than we were," Bachmann says.
↑ After nearly 20 years in the neighborhood, Bachmann still feels at home in her Pacific Heights house. It fits her like a well-cut dress.