Urban Dwell

R Street apartment has all the amenities and more

By Cathryn Rakich
November 2020

The Carlaw, one of the newest additions to Sacramento’s vibrant R Street Corridor, is a 26-unit building with apartments above and offices and retail below. The complex is across from Fox & Goose Public House and Arthouse Gallery & Studios, and walking distance from Warehouse Artist Lofts and Ice Blocks, both with abundant shopping, dining and entertainment.

“I pretty much have been a part of this community for a long time,” says David Saalsaa, who moved into a studio apartment at The Carlaw this past August. “I have always been impressed with how they developed the R Street corridor.”

Born and raised in Sacramento, Saalsaa managed University Art on J Street for more than 22 years, stepping away in January to start his own business as an independent contractor specializing in art installation. “I love the artist community,” he says. “My giveback has been to promote local artists through the storefront gallery at University Art. I’ve installed well over 250 shows over the years. Artists of all walks of life—both established and emerging.”

Moving from a 3,000-square-foot home off Garden Highway, where he and his ex-wife raised three children, to a 575-square-foot apartment has many upsides. “I was desiring to live in The Grid in a newer dwell that would have all the amenities,” including designated parking and an in-unit laundry space, he says.

Saalsaa calls the move “serendipitous.” He was living in West Sacramento—and ready to find a new abode—before moving to The Carlaw. “I happened to be installing artwork in the lobby and I met Nancy Cordano” (James J. Cordano Co. is The Carlaw’s developer). “I was inquiring about how things were going here. She said, ‘Would you like to see a couple units?’

“The one-bedroom was more appealing because of the size.” But Saalsaa decided to commit to the smaller studio. “It just really appealed to me. And now that I’ve been here, I am perfectly content.”

Situated on the top floor of the three-story building, Saalsaa’s studio apartment is bright, contemporary and spacious, with 10-foot ceilings and ample natural light. A large dual-paned window with a glass door leads to a private balcony enhanced with a variety of potted plants. The floors are “luxury vinyl” in a wood-plank pattern.

The galley kitchen features white quartz countertops and matching backsplash in a natural stone pattern. The sleek cabinets—pale grey below and white above—are soft-closing with brushed-nickel hardware. A full-size oven/range, microwave and refrigerator make the kitchen “very functional,” Saalsaa notes.

A “laundry closet” houses a stacking washer and dryer. The HVAC unit, installed in the ceiling and operated via remote control, has oscillating louvers. “It’s so efficient,” Saalsaa says.

Saalsaa’s love of art extends to his own living space, which is enhanced by an impressive collection of work by local artists, including Jaya King, Vinay Sharma, Gale Hart and Sue Torngren. A handblown glass sphere—a prototype from the Brian Valenzuela sculpture suspended in the lobby of Golden 1 Center—has a prominent place in the living room.

Saalsaa purposely kept the apartment’s artwork to a minimum. “I wanted to keep it simple,” he says. “I didn’t want it to get too cluttered.” Recessed ceiling lights are adjustable so they can be directed toward the art. “At nighttime, it’s really beautiful.”
The building’s common areas are also enhanced with local artwork, such as a giant round metal dish by Sacramento artist Marc Foster, hanging just inside the entrance.

Access to the building is app-based with an entry keypad at the entrance. Via the keypad “you dial in. That rings to my phone. I see you and let you in,” Saalsaa says. Interior bike storage on the ground floor is hidden behind a decorative barn door.

The Carlaw’s red brick façade was retained as a tribute to John and Andrew Carlaw, brothers specializing in masonry who arrived in Sacramento from Scotland in the 1880s and were responsible for many of the area’s historic structures.

For Saalsaa, the building’s location could not be better, with personal favorites like Shake Shack, Beast & Bounty, Philz Coffee and Market 5-One-5, his neighborhood go-to grocery store, all within walking distance.

Does he miss a yard? “Yes and no. That was that chapter. In the future, I will likely have a yard again. But right now, I’m just liking the urban dwell.”


During these days of sheltering at home, Inside Sacramento is looking for creative home art studios and offices to feature in upcoming editions of Open House. Send recommendations to Cathryn Rakich at crakich@surewest.net. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @insidesacramento.

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