Fairy doors of San Francisco


Every night, I move one of our gnomes from its home on a bookcase, hiding it somewhere around the house.

Behind my favorite chair.

Under the record player.

On the stairs.

Emmeline wakes up now and dashes into the living room, inspecting a vacant place in the bookcase.

“Well look at that,” she whispers, wide-eyed and hands on her hips, “It’s wandered off again!”

I try not to laugh too loudly, while she searches from room to room like some innocent sprite from a French movie, calling, “Blue Gnome? Blue Gnome? It’s time to go back to your home now!”

I sit there watching her, thinking: She has to know, right? She can’t believe this thing just simply wanders away. I faked the last year of believing in Santa partly because I was afraid of receiving less bounty and partly so as not to let my parents down. I was the last child. They were so into it. It would have been cruel, I reasoned, to let them down.

And yet, you just can’t fake that look on her face. This sense of wonder. It’s amazing. Everything is alive. Everything is painted in make-believe and fantasy, this miracle, storybook world of toddlerhood.

She asks for stories all the time now, and when I’m not telling her about the mice that live in the ceiling lamps and only come out at night, I’m telling her about a rare breed of Irish fairies that conjure the fog or remove their own heads, for fun.

So it was a special treat to wander through Noe Valley’s main corridor, 24th Street, and find, hiding behind newspaper racks and wedged into cracks, these little doors that appeared to be built especially for small people — really, really small people.

“Oh look!” Emme said, her eyes wide again and searching, “Fairy doors!

We’ve found three so far and have a feeling we’ll be hunting for many more soon.







  1. this is so sweet

  2. Johanna says:

    So excited that A2’s Fairy Doors have made their way to San Francisco!

  3. Fascinating! I’m a SF transplant from A2, so these fairy doors make me especially happy. (By the way, I’ve been a lurker here for a while, and I love reading your blog.)

  4. I had to delurk and tell you what a wonderful father you are! And what a wonderful childhood you are giving your daughter. :)

  5. Love it! Now I need to start making doors…or get some gnomes, either way.

  6. I love the whole fantasy of fairy doors – I discovered a bunch of wonderful ones on Etsy. If I owned my own place I would definitely have a couple.

    Take a look –


  7. Oh my god, I so have to get O there. She is SO into fairies right now.

  8. irjessica says:

    Adorable. I’m bringing my three year old daughter to SF this fall. Keep posting. I’d love to know what places you guys love the most. We are definitely going to have to look for fairy doors!

  9. why is it that i grew up in SF and never, ever knew about these fairy doors? i feel cheated.

  10. I wish I could find Fairy Doors – and I’m almost 31!

  11. Your child is a genius. I wonder if she is playing along to humor you knowing full well that you moved the gnome. LOL Emme’s dress is beautiful by the way. Did you or Dana make it?

  12. We had the Elf on a Shelf at Christmas and a Leprechaun came to visit for St. Paddy’s day. It’s been fun, but now Little is scared to go in any rooms by herself because of it. She likes the idea of them, but doesn’t want to be alone w/either of them. Perhaps someone told her about Chucky?

  13. I’d love to hear some of your stories ~ especially about the Irish fairies! Please!

  14. What a wonderful post! It sounds like you and Emme have the greatest time together. And I must start the fairy door trend in my home city. Little boys like them too, right?

  15. oh, that first picture is beautiful!

  16. Barb, the stories are just bizarre, made up yarns vaguely modeled on what I can remember about Irish folk tales. I get about half of it right and the rest just winds up at excuses to tickle the jesus out of her.

    PA, I’m assuming boys love them, too. There is a great “hunt” quality in finding them and everyone eats that up.

    I’m pretty sure I saw one in Pacific Heights the other day. I plan on inspecting more closely soon.

  17. I never knew anything about fairy doors… how fantastic

  18. I love the fairy doors! I had never seen these before. I wonder if there are any near us…

  19. Please excuse my Canadian-ness. A2?

  20. Ann Arbor.

  21. Wait, we have Fairy Doors in SF?!?!?! I had no idea! I saw a blog about it on Sweet Juniper and was so jealous. This is so great. I don’t know if this would be more fun as a drunken hen night or if I should bring my kid. Quandary.

  22. You. Are. Awesome.

    I don’t have children yet,but when I do I am SO stealing your moving gnome idea!

  23. oh my god. love it. I’m so dragging my kid out to go find us some fairy doors! Thanks for the tip!

  24. I used to have a gnome. He lived under the bridge and threatened to eat you…wait. No, that was my troll. My gnome I got after the lawn jockey incident. Like I told the police I thought sure that little black dude was sneaking around my house when I shot at it. But now I have a gnome. He doesn’t wander around. He shakes his fist and shouts random obscenities at people driving by. Something might be wrong with him, though. He drinks beer all day and sometimes, late in the afternoon, he’ll be talking like normal and he’ll stop in mid-sentence and look away and there will be this awkward silence for a minute or so and then he’ll pick right up where he left off. Once I saw that he’s trying not to throw up when this happens. I think he throws up in his own mouth a little and then has to swallow it. That’s pretty fucked up right there.

  25. regulardoor says:

    Most of the doors in SF are fairy doors.
    Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  26. Abby Sciuto says:

    Wow! I’m sure your little girl is fascinated by the gnomes, stories, and the faerie doors! There is nothing of such beauty as the look of true fascination on a child’s face as it is shown something wonderful and unbelievable in the still-forming child’s brain…
    Next time I go to SF or Ann Arbor, I’ll have to look for these! Meanwhile in Illinois, I’ll have to start putting up some little doors on the walls of Main Street!
    Postus Scritti~
    You should get your little girl a pair of faerie wings for when she goes out on faerie door hunting trips. It’ll make her feel one with the faeries and very excited! Also, you could try taking her on faerie hunts- going out in a meadow where you’ve placed small faerie statues, and help her look for them.

  27. Can’t say how much I love this post, both for the missing blue gnome and the little faerie doors. I now want to take my daughters to Noe Valley to search for little doors. Wow do I miss San Francisco.

  28. I’ve heard of fairy doors before. I think that’s adorable.

    How wonderful of you to tell your daughter stories. Childhood is full of adventure and novelty and imagination. It’s nothing to be wasted or disregarded.

    She will grow up and look back and think “what a great dad I have.”

  29. Can you give a hint on where to find one? Didn’t really get to look thoroughly b/c I had to get my in-laws to the airport, but my daughter was sad we didn’t find any :(

  30. How cute is that. My husband does something similar .. he moves one of our daughters toys and tells her that it found a new home. They love that game! SO SO sweet..something that only daughters and daddies can do.

    Antique Jewelry


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