ISSUE 70  |  Renovation and Reclamation

High Style with Less: Living a Stone’s Throw from the Shop

May 01, 2013 11:30 AM

BY Sarah Lonsdale

Susan Kim, owner of San Francisco-based Workshop (which Julie and I have been frequenting forever), has a great eye both for clothing and design. She sells well-made, thoughtfully selected clothing and goods intended to last forever. Her approach to clothing is not too different from her approach to interior design.

Susan lives comfortably (and impressively) with her not-quite-yet-teen son in a 660-square-foot Victorian cottage. As she says, “I don’t need a lot of furniture and I’m not a big bathroom or bedroom person. Some people think the kitchen is the center of the house, but for me, the dining room table sets the tone. It’s where family and friends get together.”  To that end, her living area is anchored by a large dining table that seats up to 10 (when she needs more room, she can open the door and spill out onto her courtyard garden). 

Photography by Mimi Giboin for Remodelista.

Above: Susan’s small galley kitchen houses all the essentials, including a collection of pottery and tableware. She’s wearing one of her own cardigan designs that she knitted herself.

Above: Susan recovered the 1952 Florence Knoll sofa, picked up in a local vintage store, with fabric by Alexander Girard. Around the table is a mix of chairs including a Bertoia and a few Eames.

Above: A 1952 George Nelson cupboard holds Susan’s son’s lunch box essentials. “I don’t believe in buying new furniture,” she says. “There are many well-designed and very loved pieces of furniture that are still floating around out there.”

Above: A Mexican bag atop a grass Guatemalan stool that doubles as a side table.

Above: Storage drawers and units designed by LA architect Lindon Schultz house bedding, clothing, books, photo albums, and CDs.

Above: Embroidered Dosa poufs, made by Susan’s sister, designer Christina Kim (unfortunately, the poufs are hard to come by–there’s a waiting list).

Above: Another of the George Nelson pieces that doubles as a pantry and is used for cutlery, napkins, and Susan’s son’s candy drawer.

Above: Susan at her dining table. She credits her grandmother (who raised her and her sisters in Korea) for instilling in her a sense of aesthetics. “She never pointed out that this was a nice way of doing things, it’s just what she did,” Susan says.

Above: The small courtyard with lilac bushes in front of Susan’s house.

Check out more creativity from the Kim family; Dosa 818 in Los Angeles.