Interiorssneak peeks

A Spanish-Style Home in San Francisco That Balances Function and Beauty

by Sabrina Smelko

Right on the border of the Presidio and Marina in San Francisco live UI designers Sara (who also runs the blog Design Comb) and Rich Combs, and their two cats, Link and Elle. Together, from their 1926 Spanish-style apartment, they run the design studio Hexagon, so having a space that fosters their creative spirit and pays homage to the home’s Spanish influence was important to the couple. But, as with any rental space, their opportunity to customize and renovate was slim to none. They’ve had to practice patience and improvisation to create a functional, beautiful space: Instead of  tearing down walls and pulling out the power tools, they’ve utilized intelligent design, decor and cans of paint. But the age (and limitations) of their apartment doesn’t bring all bad. Both Sara and Rich are smitten with the charm and character of the building — from the beautiful, Spanish tile-studded entryway to the hand painted ceilings — and they have a view of the Golden Gate bridge, which can’t be beat!

Other than drawing inspiration from the building’s history, Sara and Rich’s love of travel and culture influences their home style: the walls are filled with artwork, surfaces are covered in plants, and their shelves brim with books. “It makes it fun to come home,” says Sara. And while their space is anything but calculated, they only had one design rule when it came to buying furniture (one I think we should all follow): they had to be obsessed with a piece in order to bring it home. So it’s safe to say that their goal of creating a space “that felt like us” was definitely achieved. –Sabrina

"We haven't yet been to Morocco," says Sara, "but we did order the Moroccan wedding blanket on our bed straight from an online Moroccan shop!"
A picture hanger by Yield Design Co hangs above their bed, which showcases some of their favorite travel photos.
The floating vintage side tables were purchases from one of the couple's travels to NYC.
Plants line the windows in Sara and Rich's bedroom.
Their dresser was designed by Paul McCobb and remains one of Sara's favorite pieces to this day.
The jewelry boxes are from Sara's grandmother, and the gorgeous horse paintings were done by Rich. The lamp is by SchoolHouse Electric.
Some of Sara's prized jewelry pieces.
In their otherwise neutral bedroom, Sara and Rich's rug brings warmth and color.
The floor plan of their apartment.
This is the view of the dining room from the hallway.
A painting of a bullfighter Sara and Rich bought in Barcelona. I can't imagine a better piece for above a bar!
The vintage chair was found at the Alameda Flea market, where they found many of their furniture pieces.
A collection of artwork plucked from flea markets and handed down from Rich's grandmother make up their dining room gallery wall.
Looking into the kitchen from the dining room.
This little nook used to be for a telephone and is now used to hold spare change in a gold can.
The view of the living room from the hallway.
This sunny corner in their living room is filled with mostly flea market finds.
Plants have found their way into every corner of Sara and Rich's home (which is the way it should be!).
Whoa! Their cacti is something to be proud of.
The white framed artwork was bought in Amsterdam.
"We couldn't help ourselves," says Sara "we organized our books by color."
Another fantastic flea market find.
A Buddha sculpture they bought in Laos from their recent trip to Southeast Asia.
Their orange Room & Board coach looking oh-so comfortable with pillows from eBay.
The exterior of their building is one of the (many) things that sold Rich and Sara on the home.

Suggested For You


  • Loved the apt. itself and all the interesting things (and plants) in it. Beautifully put together and just enough. And, have to say, loved the photo of the sleeping tortie! Judy

  • This is one of my favorite homes you’ve ever featured! I love how the house is interesting and cozy without being over styled. I would love to come home to this house.

  • AH! Another winner in my book. Love all the neutrals mixed with pops of colors. Can’t forget the plants!! Well done Sara and Rich!

  • What a beautiful space to live and thrive. This article touches on so many obstacles that many people living in apartments face; mainly the limited amount of opportunity to optimize and change. Thanks for sharing this beautiful home and design inspiration! -Courtney

  • Love that burnt orange sofa. (Or whatever colour it is – it reads as burnt orange on my screen).

  • The polaroids over the bed really make their bedroom somehow – so simple, and yet just adds this beautiful home-y touch to the whole space. Absolutely lovely space here!

  • Being a design professional I love that people have I clused a floor plan of the project they are posting. It gives a better perspective the the home and how everything works together. I

  • I’m always impressed by what people can do with rentals. I myself have the “well it’s not mine and I don’t know how long I’ll be here so why bother” attitude which is silly because even if you’re in a place for 6 months, you want it to feel like home. PS — indoor cacti are a good idea always.

  • Hello! I know this is article is a few months old but I am dying to find out if you can provide any information on the lamps displayed in the living room of this home?

  • @jaclyn – The lamps are vintage. We found them at Past Perfect in San Francisco. I sadly don’t have much more information than that on them though!

  • Sara,

    What a gorgeous home! I’m in love with the wall color in your living room- what shade is it?

  • What online shop did you find the moroccan wedding blanket on? I have an inexpensive “inspired by” one on my bed, but I’d love to upgrade to an authentic one. Also, what size are your sheepskin rugs beside the bed? I also have a bright runner at the foot of the bed, but I’ve never thought of adding the extra on the sides. Now that I’ve seen it in your bedroom, though, I can’t seem to get the idea out of my head. Love your space!