17 Bizarre SF Apartment Quirks Only a San Franciscan Could Love

Fact: the thing that differentiates most San Francisco apartments from apartments in the rest of the United States is that we pay nine gazillion dollars a month to live in ours. But it's not just the astronomical prices that set our homes apart from everyone else's. No, it's the weird paint colors, original crown molding, and these 17 other quirks that make our apartments distinctly SF.

Flickr/Chris Kilkes

Fireplaces that don't work

Since basically every day in SF is a "Spare the Air" day, you can't burn wood anyway. You can, however, try to burn your apartment down by filling your sealed-off fireplace with lots and lots of candles.

Courtesy of G. Porter

Old-school ice boxes

If it's still intact, then the door will be insulated with a tube running down the back so melted water can drain into the sink.
Courtesy of G. Porter
If it isn't still intact, it'll be filled with your Scotch.
Flickr/Vinnie Lauria

Door levers in the wall

These magical levers open the front door from the top of the stairs, and if you live in a place with one of these and it still works, you're stoked. There's nothing worse than walking down a steep flight of stairs just to let your booty call in.

Flickr/Carlos Y.

Bay windows

Turns out they're called "bay" windows because they create a bay in the room. A bay that literally fits not one single piece of your furniture. Fun times.

Courtesy of Hyon S Chu

Intercoms from the 1920s

That still work and are, actually, the only way to know who's downstairs.
Daisy Barringer/Thrillist

Communal cubbies

It's just like kindergarten, only now you're a grownup and you don't get to take mid-day naps. Still: any storage is good storage.
Daisy Barringer/Thrillist

Mini doors on front doors

It's like being the gate keeper of your very own castle!
Daisy Barringer/Thrillist
Gratuitous puppy pic.
Daisy Barringer/Thrillist

Murder-y back staircases

We don't really want to think about if these were for the "help" or just an alternate route in case of fire. Probably because we know the answer.

Courtesy of Todd Barringer

The ironing board that lives in the wall

From a time when, apparently, people ironed.
Courtesy of Todd Barringer
What? When's the last time you ironed your hoodie? Exactly.
Flickr/Wayan Vota

Toilets with attached sinks

You flush and, IMMEDIATELY after you do, water comes out of the faucet to fill up the tank, and that's the water with which you wash your hands. Because, San Francisco.

Daisy Barringer/Thrillist

Curved doorways

Oh, did you think your apartment was going to come with doors you could actually shut? THINK AGAIN. Still, they're charming, or something?

Grant Marek/Thrillist

Picture rails

Hahahaha you thought you'd be able to put a nail in that plaster wall? Hahahahahahahaha.

Courtesy of Jacky Hayward

The built-in can opener and bottle opener

While most cans don't need openers anymore...
Courtesy of Jacky Hayward
... there's absolutely nothing wrong with knowing where you can find a bottle opener at all times.

French doors with windows

That don't lead to a garden, but rather to another room. Inside. Which begs the question: why have doors at all? Oh, right. Because the only way anyone can afford to live in SF is if there's someone sleeping in every single room. And at least those doors will muffle the "snoring" a little bit?

Courtesy of Audrey Butkus

Open-air cooler

It's basically a pantry unit with screen-covered vents that lead to the exterior of the house to let in cool, outside air -- perfect for preventing your cheese from sweating and stinking up your regular cabinets in the pre-refrigerator era, and for storing random DVDs/St. Patrick's Day party supplies during the post-refrigerator era.

Flickr/Sam Breach

Clanking radiators

Will your radiator hiss and moan and clank at all hours of the night? Absolutely. Will you complain? No. Because steam heat is FREE.


Sinks in closets

Care to wager on how many times that thing has been peed in?

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Daisy Barringer is the SF Editor for Thrillist and one time a boy peed in her closet even though there was no sink in there. Follow her on Twitter @daisy for more stories like that.