A Time Traveling Vintage Inspired San Francisco Home


I’ve been a huge fan of Troy Litten ever since discovering his Wanderlust series published by Chronicle Books back in 2002 that capture the visual culture of travel and mundane experiences around the world so I am extra excited to share this sneak peek today. Troy was born and raised in Ohio and had stints in London, Hong Kong, and New York before settling in San Francisco in 1995. He moved into this house in the Diamond Heights neighborhood of San Francisco in 2009. The area was originally developed in the early 1960s featuring about 100 Joseph Eichler built homes of varying designs. Troy’s is one of the single-story constructions on a flat lot on the top of the hill, and not much has changed since it was built in 1962. Troy never really considered how to “decorate” the house, instead surrounding himself with the things he loves and crafty throwbacks to his childhood. A collector at heart, Troy will admit at times he’s a borderline hoarder, but even the simple act of collecting travel ephemera has become his signature style. Troy is currently working on a series of travel-themed prints, posters, exhibitions, and publishing opportunities, but for now don’t miss his new Etsy shop. Many thanks to Troy for opening – and photographing – his home for us! –Anne

Image above: The furniture and artwork in the dining room have been collected over the years at flea markets, thrift stores, antique stores, eBay, and Craigslist. I made the side table with a set of vintage hairpin legs. The two Mao statues traveled home with me from a trip to China. In the entrance way hang two 1972 Vignelli New York City subway maps.

Image above: I’ve been collecting old ties at thrift stores for years and recently devised a way to display them on the wall of my master bedroom above some vintage furniture and a rug scored on eBay. The pillows are cowhide printed with exotic animal print patterns. Walls are painted Benjamin Moore Shale.



Click for more inside Troy’s incredible home after the jump!

Image above: The living room artwork and furniture are also vintage finds with the exception of the new Nelson Cigar Lamp. I traded one of my photo prints for a friend’s 70’s lounge chair – it needed a good home!

Image above: My living room sofa and end tables were rescued from my parent’s basement and the vintage starburst clock above the fireplace was a housewarming gift.

Image above: Colorful afghans atop a Bertoia ottoman by the fireplace for those chilly San Francisco evenings, all scored at thrift stores.

Image above: More vintage 70s thrift store artwork and hairpin plant stands in the living room.

Image above: The kitchen was remodeled in 1966 with mahogany cabinetry and a pass-through from the dining room. My collection of black metal state map trays create a backsplash behind the kitchen counters.

Image above: A collection of vintage art and a pair of porcelain glove molds in the dining room. 

Image above: Hidden within the cabinetry in the dining room is a floor-to-ceiling liquor cabinet. It was the 60s, after all, and I expect the previous owners threw a good party. The cabinet now mostly holds my collection of vintage glassware and barware.

Image above: My U-shaped kitchen, compact but very functional. The 1966 Thermador double ovens still work. The bargello wall hangings are my creation.

Image above: The sliding shoji-style closet doors throughout the house, as here at the entrance to the guest bedroom, are original to the 1962 construction.

Image above: Guests sleep beneath the watchful eyes of my collection of macrame owls. Walls are painted Benjamin Moore Shale, a very light neutral gray that shifts color depending on the light.

Image above: I created the artwork in the guest bedroom from my collection of photos of travel graphics and signage and collected ephemera such as tickets and currency.

Image above: The guest bathroom is original to the house and features a collage print of tickets I’ve collected throughout my travels.

Image above: Morning light in the master bedroom from the master bath. Bamboo plant stand and embroideries are vintage finds.

Image above: The headboard in the master bedroom is a folding screen found at an antiques mall and the side tables, lamps, and rug are all eBay purchases. The bedspread is from Urban Outfitters’ Alexander Girard Collection and the horse head pillows were made by my grandmother. Walls are painted Benjamin Moore Shale.


Image above: The master bathroom was reconfigured in the mid 60s to accommodate the previous owner’s wheelchair. I replaced the medicine cabinet and light over the sink with a mid-century mirror, the yellow acrylic swag lamp is an eBay find, and the shower curtain is from Urban Outfitters’ Alexander Girard Collection. Walls are painted Benjamin Moore Ashley Gray.

Image above: One of my photography collages, “64 Window Seats,” and a thrift store abstract painting behind a table I constructed with a set of vintage hairpin legs and some floor tiles. The 8 porcelain glove molds wave to another set, and to the Mao statues, across the dining room. Walls are painted Benjamin Moore Ivory White.

Image above: My “Transit Graphics” print and a warning road sign from the local salvage yard just inside the dining room from the door to the front courtyard.

Image above: Old wooden flat files from the Union Pacific Railroad office, a postcard rack rescued from a going-out-of-business shop in Soho NYC, a lamp bequeathed by a neighbor, and a vintage rug and curtains in my studio.


Image above: Evening light in the living room from the interior courtyard. Chair with orange cushion is a flea market find. I removed the original floor tiles, damaged beyond repair in many places, exposing the concrete slab foundation which was then sanded and sealed to create a continuous floor surface throughout the house.

Image above: View of the interior courtyard, with vintage butterfly chairs, between the living room and master bedroom.

Image above: My back yard garden featuring a wide assortment of succulents which thrive in the San Francisco hilltop climate. 

Image above: Center courtyard and master bedroom at night.



P.S. Use the code  DESIGNSPONGE2013 in Troy’s Etsy shop for 25% off. Offer expires Sunday December 15th.

  1. madlyn easley says:

    love it!Love it! love it!
    And as to JLAMBERT,how impossibly rude! And ignorant! Guess you wouldn’t want to spend much time in Europe.All those old castles,and all those old antiques,and all those old tapestries.Bet they smell really bad!

  2. Melinda says:

    This is my most pinned tour yet and I love that it’s in the City. :) thanks for sharing. Troy is an amazing artist.

  3. Sos says:

    Love it. Can i have it?

  4. Ellen J says:

    Wow – this house reminds me so much of my in-laws’ 60s era house in the El Cerrito hills! Maybe their house is faux Eichler. And the colorful shag rugs made me see my mom’s guestroom rug in a new light. I guess one person’s vintage is another person’s history. Thanks for sharing!

  5. WOW what a unique and just plain cool place!

  6. jackpot says:

    Like, Wow!
    SO MANY great ideas on how to display both vintage & travel ephemera collections…

    Thanks for sharing Troy!
    I love that you have such a great sense of style and flair for putting all these elements together;
    the ties, the owls, the horse head cushions, tickets from your travels, new school urban outfitters items coordinated with vintage finds on ebay…

    It’s all deceptively simple but it must have taken ages to put it all together…

    While it might not be to everyone’s taste to live like this everyday, I think a place like this would make an excellent hotel for nostalgic getaways!!! :)

  7. Isabelle says:

    What is not to love in this house. I could move in and easily not feel the need to move a thing. I really liked the owls hanging over the bed in the guest room and the ticket collage in the bath. So much here.

  8. Christine says:

    Don’t want to live in it – but love it!

  9. I love how authentic looking this home is! It feels like you’ve walked back in time. I feel like you can do vintage look really well or really horribly and this is clearly an example of it done well!

  10. Amy says:

    This home is gorgeous and playful and unlike anything I’ve seen. Amazing design. Thank you for sharing. I’m going to pull out my collection of colorful afghans now and see if I can find the right spot for them. Thanks for the inspiration.

  11. Mena says:

    What a playful and warm space! The macramé owls put a smile on my face, and the backyard is divine.

  12. Mishel says:

    I really kind of hate you. This home is perfect. Give it to me.

  13. Rachael says:

    I am so impressed with the ideas of how to display the things you collect from travel – I love love love the artwork of travel signs and documents. We have so many photos traken of hilarious signs seen while travelling (one of my favs “beware of invisible cows”) but have never thought of a way to display these. And the collages of ticket subs! and of window seats! I think this home emphasises the power of collections, one ticket stub, a pieve of rubbish, one hundred is a work of art AND a story.

  14. Jennifer says:

    More is more! You are the perfect occupant of this beautiful 60’s home–it makes me happy that so much of the stuff I see moored at thrift stores has found its proper place. Love that stack of afghans.

  15. I am madly in love with this.
    The tie accent!! There are no words awesome enough.

  16. Mallory says:

    This is amazing. I am totally in love.

  17. Michelle says:

    Jaw droppingly amazing. I love everything about this place, it’s so exciting to see a kitchen, bathroom and other built in features that have survived demolition. Also love Grans horse heads and your amazing artwork. Thank-you for sharing

  18. Cassie says:

    Absolutely love it! Had to get a better look on the computer instead of iphone as soon as I started looking through this tour! Didn’t want to miss a single detail. I have to say I’m a sucker for 70’s style even though it’s not quite “the thing”. I’ll take macrame, bargello, and funky shag carpet over any other decor “era”! Great job! Thank you so much for sharing!

  19. lydia says:

    i love this so so much. great job troy!

  20. Dave clark says:

    I have just no words to explain how beautiful your decorations are. I am just amazed after watching it. I am love in it.

  21. Elisa says:

    Wow, perfect!!! I’m so bored with everyone’s stark-white, Danish Modern scheme. This is clean, comfy, unique, fun and with terrific vibes!

  22. Liza Jane says:

    Love very much!

  23. Beatrice says:

    Vintage inspired? Pure vintage all over! And very interesting!

  24. Jeffs Shed says:

    Really love the ties on the wall and the postcard rack taken from a souvenir shop in Soho. This home is designed with such a unique and personal touch that you almost feel like you are seeing the designer when seeing the house. The whole thing is heartwarming. Well done.

  25. Rita Marie says:

    I might just implement that tie idea! My husband’s ties are so lovely that I think having them out somewhere would be a great idea!!!

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