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My House: Visual Strategist Kate Davison’s Chic Bay Area Abode

My House: Visual Strategist Kate Davison’s Chic Bay Area Abode

Cool girl Kate Davison invites us in for a tour of her cozy, stylish home in the Oakland hills.

Roving visual strategist Kate Davison’s 1920s storybook home is full of curated vignettes and clean lines—while offering lots of room to breathe and take it all in.

It was the character of the overall house that she originally gravitated toward when she found the rental on Craigslist two years ago—"quirky in the most wonderful way" with archways, stained glass, and textured plaster walls. Floor-to-ceiling, south-facing windows span both the living and dining rooms. 

 "I like to incorporate pieces that tell a story or have a bit of character," says Kate. "Naturally, those items begin to represent my personal journey: where I come from, the places I have traveled, and even the people that mean the most to me." (Leslie Santarina)

"I like to incorporate pieces that tell a story or have a bit of character," says Kate. "Naturally, those items begin to represent my personal journey: where I come from, the places I have traveled, and even the people that mean the most to me." (Leslie Santarina)

Kate spends half her time in Belgium with her boyfriend, and aspires to host photoshoots and assist as a prop stylist full-time. Until then, she’s cozied up in her charming home. 

"I think we all have our quintessential ‘dream home,’ and as a rental, I have accepted and appreciated my current home for what it is: temporary," says Kate. "I feel honored and incredibly lucky to live in such a beautiful place, even if it’s just for now." 

 Heirloom pieces have been a go-to for Davison—a bit of Georgia to remind her of home, though her look is always evolving. (Leslie Santarina)

Heirloom pieces have been a go-to for Davison—a bit of Georgia to remind her of home, though her look is always evolving. (Leslie Santarina)

What's your favorite nook in the home? 

My back porch is definitely my favorite place to spend time. Whether it’s just a few minutes in the morning while watering my plants, or hours upon end with friends and/or a sunset. The view just never gets old.

What's one detail that made this truly feel like home? 

The way my home smells. It’s a small detail, and one that I don’t think many people would immediately consider, but scent and memory are so closely linked. There is nothing like coming back from a long trip and smelling the familiar scent of "home" right when you open the door. My go-to at the moment is 11 Howard by Oliver Gustav.

 Modern pieces, too, now penetrate the rooms, playing off the curves of the walls and archways. She tries to keep it neutral to complement the existing architecture. (Leslie Santarina)

Modern pieces, too, now penetrate the rooms, playing off the curves of the walls and archways. She tries to keep it neutral to complement the existing architecture. (Leslie Santarina)

What's a trinket or souvenir that has a lot of meaning for you? 

That’s a really tough question, because I have so many. But a repetitive theme throughout my home is my Napoleon Bonaparte collection. It started innocently enough, with a high school crush, but has developed over time into a very different kind of complex. I have Napoleonic themed everything; art, books, busts, drinking glasses, candles, even a musket ball from the Battle of Waterloo. Most have been gifted to me by friends and family over the years, and I will cherish them always. 

 "My new favorite piece—well, pieces really—is my beautiful grid wall in my dining room," says Kate. "I had the pages from a sketchbook I picked up in the dollar bin at an art book sale in San Francisco made into a custom gallery wall using Framebridge." (Leslie Santarina)

"My new favorite piece—well, pieces really—is my beautiful grid wall in my dining room," says Kate. "I had the pages from a sketchbook I picked up in the dollar bin at an art book sale in San Francisco made into a custom gallery wall using Framebridge." (Leslie Santarina)

Tips for a minimalist space? 

There is a difference between collections and clutter, and that difference is adequate storage! I have so many little cabinets and cupboards to stash away my large collection of pottery, dishes, vases, etc. I still believe it’s considered minimalist, even if you still have a lot of things behind closed doors. It’s all in how you display what is visible. 

 The dining table is where Kate starts her day with a cup of tea and her laptop, sorting out her calendar, booking travel, and catching up on emails. Typically, she has music playing to keep her focused while she’s home alone. And, as she’s bouncing around so often, when she’s not unpacking, doing laundry, and repacking for her next trip, she’s planted on her back porch with friends, garlic cheese bread, and a bit of vino. (Leslie Santarina)

The dining table is where Kate starts her day with a cup of tea and her laptop, sorting out her calendar, booking travel, and catching up on emails. Typically, she has music playing to keep her focused while she’s home alone. And, as she’s bouncing around so often, when she’s not unpacking, doing laundry, and repacking for her next trip, she’s planted on her back porch with friends, garlic cheese bread, and a bit of vino. (Leslie Santarina)

What was on your checklist when designing your home? What were your must-haves, in terms of furniture and accessories? 

When I first moved into my home, I felt really challenged to find ways to make the space seem more contemporary while still honoring it’s historic architecture. I replaced many of the original wrought iron light fixtures with sleek new brass ones and used modern, streamlined furnishings and accessories in juxtaposition to the classic storybook/ Spanish colonial revival elements. I love how my modern grey sofa from Article pairs perfectly with the dramatic pitched ceiling in my living room. The two work off of each other so well and create a more open and airy feel in my living room which I just love! 

 Kate's diverse experiences begin with a degree in British history and literature, which translated to her role as a historical archivist. Then, she shifted into the startup world when she moved to San Francisco in 2012. Since then, she’s held various marketing roles and is currently a visual strategist at a tech company, which allows her to travel the world while promoting their brand. (Leslie Santarina)

Kate's diverse experiences begin with a degree in British history and literature, which translated to her role as a historical archivist. Then, she shifted into the startup world when she moved to San Francisco in 2012. Since then, she’s held various marketing roles and is currently a visual strategist at a tech company, which allows her to travel the world while promoting their brand. (Leslie Santarina)

See the story on Dwell.

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