The life-chang­ing magic of clut­ter­ing up

When your day job is cu­rat­ing the most cov­etable buys on ebay, your home is hardly go­ing to be an ex­er­cise in min­i­mal­ism… By Becky Sun­shine. Pho­to­graphs by Car­los Chavar­ria

The Daily Telegraph - Telegraph Magazine - - Contents -

the eclec­tic home of a Cal­i­for­nian col­lec­tor

‘A lot of peo­ple want their homes to be a quiet place where they go to re­lax and not be over­whelmed by things. But I’m the op­po­site,’ says Bradford Shell­ham­mer as we walk around his vi­brant San fran­cisco home. ‘I’m un­easy if I’m some­where pris­tine or too min­i­mal­ist. I need tex­tures, lay­ers and lots of colour.’

this much is clear. ev­ery­where you look, bold colours and pat­terns have been clashed with happy aban­don: over­lap­ping graphic rugs and brightly up­hol­stered vin­tage so­fas are thrown to­gether with de­sign clas­sics, such as Verner pan­ton heart chairs, a Ge­orge Nel­son for Her­man Miller din­ing ta­ble and an eero Saari­nen cof­fee ta­ble.

th­ese live in sur­pris­ingly joy­ful har­mony with con­tem­po­rary works in­clud­ing a Karim Rashid sofa and plas­tic hang­ing Algue screen by Bour- oul­lec Brothers for Vi­tra, which di­vides the kitchen and din­ing ar­eas.

‘It’s prob­a­bly border­line tacky,’ says Shell­ham­mer who cites Andy Warhol, Cyn­dil au per and the odd ball film char­ac­ter pee-wee Her­man as cre­ative in­flu­ences. ‘put them all in a blender with the tin Man from The Wizard of

Oz and the Joker from Bat­man and what you’d come out with is my style.’

this star­tling aes­thetic has caught the at­ten­tion of high-pro­file fans, and last year bagged Shell­ham­mer the job of head of cu­ra­tion at ebay – with the en­vi­able task of choosing items on the site he liked and mak­ing them read­ily avail­able to users–ne­ces­si­tat­ing a move to the West Coast.

‘I lived in San fran­cisco for five years in my 20s, so I know the city,’ he says. ‘I grew up in Bal­ti­more, fin­ished

‘I’m un­easy if I’m some­where pris­tine. I need tex­tures, lay­ers, lots of colour’

my first de­gree, lived in New York and just needed to ex­pe­ri­ence Cal­i­for­nia. It’ s a spe­cial place with an ex­cit­ing en­ergy, al­though hugely ex­pen­sive now be­cause of the tech com­mu­nity.’

Shell­ham­mer has per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence of the boom and bust of the dot­com world. He is best known for co­found­ing, a dis­count site for hip home war es, which grew rapidly be­fore im­plod­ing( it was val­ued at al­most $1 bil­lion in 2013 but re­port­edly sold for just $7 mil­lion in cash and $8 mil­lion in stock two years later ). Shell­ham­mer went onto launch an­other shop­ping site,, in early 2015, but de­cided to sell it and joined ebay in Fe­bru­ary last year.

He now di­vides his time be­tween an apart­ment in Man­hat­tan, which he shares with his hus­band Ge­org i Bali­nov, an in­vest­ment banker, and this for­mer garage in the Soma (South of

Mar­ket) district of San Fran­cisco. Shell­ham­mer was im­me­di­ately smit­ten by its in­dus­trial ar­chi­tec­tural de­tails. His proper ty-hunt­ing check­list in­cluded plenty of wall space to house his 100piece art col­lec­tion, so the 16ft-high walls were per­fect.

‘ We had a house in upst ate New York wit halo to fart and fur­ni­ture, but de­cided to sell it as we were rarely there,’ he ex­plains. ‘I hate to leave my things in stor­age when they can be on dis­play, so this place was the ideal back­drop. It was ex­actly what I was look­ing for: raw and quirky. Ge orgi thought I was crazy, but I think it’s per­fect.’

The build­ing dates back to the late 1930s and was used by Gen­eral Mo­tors to house ex­hi­bi­tion props for a num­ber of years. In the late 1980s, it was di­vided into three res­i­den­tial du­plex es, each around 1,500sq ft.

Visi­tors en­ter from street level into the garage, which houses a foot­ball ta­ble, then head up into the un­ex­pect­edly sunny main apart­ment. The open­plan kitchen-din­ing area leads into

‘This place was ex­actly what I was look­ing for: raw and quirky’

the liv­ing room, which is over­looked by a mez­za­nine study and TV room. Up a few more steps is the bath­room and a com­pact, cosy bed­room in the eaves.

Shell­ham­mer has also dis­played his nu­mer­ous col­lec­tions: two glass cab­i­nets in the bed­room are stuffed with thou­sands of toys, a mix­ture of child­hood play things, gifts and travel me­men­tos. In the bath­room, a squadron of model aero­planes (one from each air­line he and Bali­nov have t rav­elled with) have been mounted on the wall.

‘Ev­ery day I have a dif­fer­ent thing that I love the most,’ he says. ‘But af­ter some big ups and downs in t he past four years, I’ve re­alised what’s im­por­tant and I don’t have an un­healthy at­tach­ment to any of it.’

Which is pre­cisely why Shell­ham­mer is sell­ing much of the con­tents of his West Coast home on ebay ahead of a more per­ma­nent move to New York to take on a new role at the site. He quips: ‘The t rou­ble is, I keep see­ing more things that I like. It’s an oc­cu­pa­tional haz­ard.’

Right Even func­tional spa­ces such as the bath­room and kitchen have been used as an op­por­tu­nity to play and dis­play. The model aero­planes are one of many col­lec­tions that ap­pear through­out the apart­ment

Right Shell­ham­mer in the Warho­lian mez­za­nine TV room. Below The bed­room. ‘I love how raw and in­dus­trial it is, with ex­posed beams and rub­ber floors.’

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