For as long as floral designer Colina Terui can remember, she has loved interior design. Case in point — instead of toys for her 10th birthday, she requested new bedding and a lamp! This lifelong passion later inspired her to take up sewing as a hobby, and she now crafts her own draperies and throw pillows. Her other love, Justin Ono, an arborist, shares an ardent appreciation for flea markets and thrift stores. For Colina and Justin, hunting for secondhand pieces is a practical and fun way to find unique items in the costly Bay Area.
Three years ago, when Colina first entered this 758-square-foot, one-bedroom apartment in South San Francisco, she saw the worn hardwood floors and rooms brimming with natural light, and immediately knew it would become home. The 1901 building was originally a single-family mansion, later converted into smaller units in the 1960s. This pad, encompassing the house’s main living room, is the only one with a fireplace. A detailed brickwork mantel provides beautiful period detail, but it also makes the space tricky to arrange. In an environment that’s a reflection of its residents, the decor is always changing. This sofa is the third they’ve had in three years after some misguided Craigslist purchases. Colina and Justin try to be considerate about the things they bring into their relatively small flat. They do, however, love to collect, so curating and editing is key to keeping the clutter in check. Colina tends to prefer neutrals for bigger items and scatters vibrant, decorative objects about for more color.
Another unique feature, albeit an unexpected one, comes in the form of otherworldly guests. When Colina and Justin first moved in, neighbors suggested that their new home was haunted. A door in the bathroom hallway leads to an old, unused servant’s stairwell, and everyone except the current tenants claims to have seen ghosts there! Undeterred in a place designed for peace and comfort, Colina’s top priority is creating a space that feels light, airy, a little rustic, a little modern-bohemian, but overall relaxed and thoughtful. The former residents must approve. —Annie
Photography by Colina Terui