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Woman Behind the Site: Sfgirlbybay’s Victoria Smith

Get up close and personal with the Bay Area blogger

Creating a successful site starts with a great idea. Add a strong sense of intuition and a wild imagination, and things start to get interesting. Such is the story of Victoria Smith, lifestyle guru behind cult-followed blog Sfgirlbybay. The former freelance art buyer’s creative content (inspired collages, secondhand shopping know-how) catapulted her into the limelight as a design expert, attracting the attention of some very influential insiders (hey, Martha).

We caught up with the design junkie to talk vision boards, flea market tips, and the book she can’t stop talking about.

Name: Victoria Smith
Neighborhood: Noe Valley
Occupation: Publisher/creative director sfgirlbybay.com

If you were in a band, what would you call it? How would you describe the sound? What would be your role?
Oh, man, I’m so not musically inclined, I’m a much more visual person, but I love music. We made up a faux band on Twitter one night though, and it was called Dude Squirrel. I played the bass guitar. I think we should sound a bit like Elvis Costello meets Blur.

How does fiction play a role in your everyday reality?
I think I have a pretty vivid imagination, so I am constantly making up stories in my head about the people I see on the street and what their story might be (how they might live, what their homes might look like inside). I also think I imagine myself much taller and thinner and way more fabulously stylish. That’s a good bit of fiction for sure.

Congratulations. You’ve just won a summer vacation back in time. Where are you going, and who are you bringing?
Oh, we’re definitely going to Paris in the 1920s and hanging out at cafes and literary parties with all the expats like Ernest Hemingway, F.Scott Fitzgerald, and Gertrude Stein. I just really want to be a fly on the wall and listen in. I’m sure we’ll all head to the French Riviera for some sort of illicit and adventurous antics as well.

You have $100 to make a major impact on the room of your choice. Tell us your game plan.
I’m most likely going to hit the flea market and look for original artwork. You can find amazing vintage photographs discarded from old family albums. It’s kind of sad, but I like thinking of giving them new life. In this case, I think I’ll buy a ton of small black-and-white vintage photos all themed around family vacations and create a wall collage of them. Everyone will be wearing vintage bathing suits and standing in or near some kind of body of water. Can you tell I’ve been dreaming of this idea for my bathroom for a while now?

If you could have a Freaky Friday moment with any person living, dead, or fictional, who would it be and why?
I think I’d like to swap lives with Diane Keaton. She’s one of my personal heroes and has great style and taste. And she seems like she’s lived a pretty diverse life and dated some pretty swell guys — everyone from Woody Allen to Warren Beatty to Al Pacino. I think she has a really good time in life.

victoria smith!

What’s your best advice for shopping a flea market?
I used to think you didn’t need to get there early, but since the Alameda Flea Market has become so popular, I think it’s worth it to get there at the crack of dawn. Otherwise, go quite late — after noon, and before the vendors begin to pack up. They don’t want to pack everything they’ve brought, so you can very often get a good bargain. Don’t be afraid to ask if they’ll take less, but be fair (they work hard!). And wear layers (you never know what the weather will be) and comfy shoes! You don’t want to sacrifice a killer find because you’re uncomfortable.

What is your favorite SF: a) sound b) taste c) touch?
a) Fog horns b) Zuni Chicken and a vodka martini c) The sand at Fort Funston on my feet.

What was the last book that really blew your mind?
I really loved Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walters. It takes place in the 1960s near Cinque Terre, Italy, one of my favorite places on Earth, and bizarrely includes “real” characters Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in small but important roles. Sounds a bit cheesy, but it’s anything but. It’s a beautifully descriptive novel.

What’s a website you visit regularly that might surprise people?
I’m not sure if it’s all that surprising, but I’m kind of addicted to Jerry Seinfeld’s new site/videos Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. It’s hilarious.

Do you have a signature scent?
Trish McEvoy’s Gardenia Musk. It’s the only scent I ever wear, if anything.

You’ve been blogging since 2006. What’s been your favorite experience?

That’s quite hard to say. The blogging community is so generous and so much fun. I think maybe my first visit to the Altitude Design Summit in Salt Lake City was pretty great, because I finally got to meet all my online friends in person. It didn’t disappoint.

Pretend you’re creating a virtual vision board for your future. Share five images/words that would appear.
A cottage by the ocean; a very fit and stylish woman in simple jeans and a T-shirt (but great shoes); beautiful food and wine; people laughing out loud, clearly content and happy; and my dog, Lucy.

Photos: Courtesy of Sfgirlbybay; Getty Images