The Grahn-Hosey Family Living Small

Bedrooms: 1
Property: Rental
Square Feet: 700 approx.
Adults: 2
Children: 1

What do you get when a Swedish designer-turned-caterer has a baby with a Bay Area fabricator-slash-woodworker? Custom built shelves, one-of-a kind mobiles, and a cut-to-size diaper station. All put together with a Scandinavian eye and a Californian sensibility.

Emmet and Dylan have created a home for their family in a one bedroom apartment in the Precita Park neighborhood of San Francisco. Dylan is the founder of Skiff, a fabrication and design company, while Emmet is the proud owner of Mumsa, a fully organic and vegetarian program for preschool students.

When their daughter Alma arrived circa six months ago, they made a few changes, but weren’t concerned about a potential lack of space, “If anything it was more of a discussion on how to be able to raise a child in San Francisco” says Dylan. Having Alma sleep in their room rather than a separate nursery came naturally. Especially for Emmet who grew up in Sweden where apartment living is the norm.

In general the couple’s philosophy when transforming their space for Alma was to go easy on the specialized baby goods. They aim to create a harmonious space, “living in a space that creates obstacles, even if they are very small, will inevitably bring you stress. Being a new parent, having less unnecessary stress is essential. So if you’re tripping on a cord every day, it probably doesn’t serve you to keep it there.” says Emmet.

Alma plays in the clouds thanks to her handmade baby gym.

Alma plays in the clouds thanks to her handmade baby gym.

The couple are fortunate with this apartment in that there is a ‘front room’. Commonly annexed as a second bedroom in this kind of rental market - theirs hasn’t met such a fate yet. Instead it acts as office and living room, while offering the flexibility to transform into Alma’s room as she grows into toddlerhood.

Respective talents are well utilized in this room where the family spend most of their time. Along one wall is a custom made two person office desk. On the floor, a delightful wooden cloud play gym handmade by Emmet and Dylan in the final few days as they awaited Alma’s arrival. While across the room, what once was a disused doorway now features a custom built shelving unit. The pair have created space by building their storage into the room, and where possible, customizing to their needs as both small business owners and parents. Take the armchair that the couple converted into a rocker - it fits with their style and with a quick ‘hack’ to add the rocker feet, is an economical alternative to the rockers that currently dominate the nursery market.

Leaving the front room, we pass through an extension of the living room space (playing host to more seating and a gorgeous credenza), on the way to the bedroom, kitchen, bathroom and out to the back garden.

In the bedroom, Alma sleeps in an IKEA Singlar crib joined to Dylan and Emmet’s bed. Part makeshift co-sleeper, part full-size crib, it allows for everyone to sleep close and for easy feeding during the night. “It feels like we are sleeping on one giant bed as a family,” says Dylan. The colorful geometric mobile that hangs above was designed and made by Emmet. While a bookcase leaning against the wall is one of Dylan’s builds.

Through into the kitchen, the apartment opens up to light bright space thanks to large windows that lead out to the back garden. The kitchen table, handmade by the couple, beautifully extends from the wall. While the familiar Stokke chair was salvaged from the street and given a lick of paint. Now it’s good as almost new and perfect for little Alma to begin her journey into the world of solids. 

Details dotted around the kitchen hark to another home far away: A bright felt artwork made by Emmet’s mom, a Swedish flag on the windowsill, a traditional calendar hanging in the hall. Though from two different parts of the globe, Emmet and Dylan particularly like their place in the world right now. Being so close to the Mission and all of their usual haunts, “we love our location, we’ve both been in the Mission for the past six years and many of our favourite spots are in and around here, so we walk a lot,” says Emmet.

A typical Swedish calendar is a daily reminder of Emmet's roots.

A typical Swedish calendar is a daily reminder of Emmet's roots.

Alma needs a new diaper, so we head into the bathroom. Her changing station lives here, handily cut down to just the right size and installed by the couple. “We’re super happy with how it turned out, having an easy to use convenient changing table is a must”, notes Emmet. Further customization is abound. To modernize dated fittings, the couple removed and replaced all of the doors on the bathroom cabinets with custom made white washed pine panels. They also made two shelving boxes for the wall and a shelving fixture next to the sink. 

The family’s living space doesn’t stop here. They are lucky enough to also have a peep of the outdoors, a sweet patio spot on their back stairs and a small shared garden. Not to mention the very fabulous perk of the occasional use of an in-law unit. Thanks to a very gracious landlord, Emmet and Dylan can use this when family visits, such as Emmet’s mother from Sweden.

Emmet, Dylan and Alma’s Precita Park home is a rare treat in this city. A one bedroom apartment with the kind of generous flexibility that should see them grow into the space, before they outgrow it.

Words: Rachel Jamieson
Pictures: Rachel Jamieson