Moving West, With Analogies

Bernal Heights, the "Rachel Comey" of neighborhoods.

Bernal Heights, the “Rachel Comey” of neighborhoods.

As Jslow moves west to Los Angeles, I am looking to also move west – to the western “suburbs” of San Francisco.

I’ve lived in my current Nob Hill flat for sixteen years, and after getting a $20,000 estimate to re-carpet the stairs, hallway and living room in a magnificent Missoni floral pattern, I realized how ridiculous it was to try to make something beautiful out of something that just no longer fit.

This flat, my home, was something off “the sale rack” before real estate went crazy during the first dot-com bubble. It was a steal, just too good to pass up, and my ex-husband and I needed a place to live after getting owner-evicted from our Telegraph Hill apartment.

This home has allowed me to weather depression, divorce, a down economy that downsized-me to a home office, and a blown appendix. It has also welcomed the love of my life and two beautiful sets of shelter cats. But it also houses ghosts from parts of my past I’d rather forget, and fails to deflect the drunken shrieks of the twenty-somethings that have taken root on the hill. It’s time to go.

As we explore neighborhoods and homes, analogies to fashion spring to mind. I guess it’s apparent that my life feels far from fashion these days (see recent baseball analogy post here.)

Elsie Street, Bernal Heights, San Francisco.

Elsie Street, Bernal Heights, San Francisco.

Each neighborhood is like a different fashion brand, with it’s own feel, image, price-tag, following. Cow Hollow is Tory Burch, Pacific Heights, Prada. Once you love a brand or neighborhood, you tend to love most of their pieces or homes. But sometimes you can fall in love with a piece, or home, from a brand or neighborhood you may not love — at least not yet.

With this in mind, I ride a hot, crowded 49 bus past the Civic Center, along the edge of the Tenderloin, through the Mission and out to Bernal Heights to see a small victorian. Bernal Heights is sort of the Rachel Comey of neighborhoods: cute, sturdy, indie, cool.  A neighborhood, and brand, I want to like but have never felt quite comfortable in. But I’m trying to keep an open mind and decide to “try it on” and see how I feel.

So as I try on Bernal Heights, here is some prime Rachel Comey real estate that just may suit me. It just goes to show that you never know. Which is really the beauty of the hunt.

Rachel Comey blankstareblinkRachel Comey outfit: 1: Punched leather tote, available at 2: Sunglasses. 3: Tallow Jacket. 4: Punched hole leather shoes. 5: Altoy Skirt. 6: Harp top. All available at LaGarconne here.

12 Responses


    I too used to live downtown, in the ‘Tender Nob’, and was finally tired of the drunken shrieks of Academy Art students. I also have moved to ‘Maternal Hill’, I mean, ‘Bernal Hill’ and we really like it here. It’s not as overly crowded and actually has a neighborhood vibe to it. Plus, we’ll be neighbors! Bernal Hill park is also really great to walk around for exercise and dog admiring. You’re also close to the Mish, which has great restaurants. Welcome to the ‘hood, if you decide to take the leap. I also like Rachel Comey, which makes sense.


    I can’t imagine you leaving your amazing flat, but this is a great an exciting change. (I’m especially excited to see what amazing decor you will choose, no matter where you are!)

    Fashion/brand analogies, I can definitely relate to doing the same thing. Identity and style are curious things with an interlocked relationship, no matter what we are referring to.

    Missing you all and sending love!

    PS The polka dot oxfords – it’s like you read my mind!

  3. Paula

    Thanks Jen! It always makes me feel better to see the “flat” through the eyes of others. I guess it’s like outfits — things we may be sick of our done with, yet others love. The “girls” are going to miss it a ton, will be fascinating to see how they adapt to a new place. Yes, aren’t those Rachel Comey flats adorable? Very you. Can’t wait to see you later this month. Hope you are having a great time with the parents. xoxo

    Monique Verrier

    We over here in Bernalwood would love to have you. We have a hill of our very own, with views for miles. Come join us! And checkout our neighborhood website:

    1. Paula

      Just checked it out, what a great blog. How long have you lived there? Only issue is public transit….takes forever to get out there. I really want to continue to live a car-less life. But also love it for that… it’s isolation from everything. Such a special hood. xoxo

        1. Paula

          For me it’s mainly a transit issue as I don’t have a car and am completely reliant on public transit and foot. Also depends where on the hill the house sits. It’s also gotten very expensive, even more so lately. Some fantastic places have come on the market, all selling immediately over asking. Have you lived there long?


            OMG!!!! Come over & play with meeeee!!!! The BART on 24th is so easy to get to as is the J Church & the bus is, well, easy & always interesting. I pretty much only drive to the surf! What I wouldn’t do to have you in Bernalwood!!! *runsarounddoinghappydance* xoxx a mo 🙂

          2. Paula

            Sandy Cheeks!!! I’ve been thinking of you during this house hunt, and when I’m in Bernal always hope for an Anne sighting! Thanks for the tips. xoxo

  5. Pingback : If Bernal Heights Was a Women’s Fashion Brand, Would It Look Like This? | Bernalwood

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