Interiors

A Light and Lively San Francisco Haunt

by Annie Werbler

For as long as floral designer Colina Terui can remember, she has loved interior design. Case in point β€”Β 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. β€”Annie

Photography by Colina Terui

A Light and Lively San Francisco Haunt, on Design*Sponge
1/23
In the living room of Colina Terui and Justin Ono's South San Francisco apartment, an Etsy triangle mirror made of reclaimed wood hangs above a mantel decorated with natural plants and rocks. The original antique sconces are fitted with Edison bulbs to cast a hazy evening glow on the vintage wooden side table that belonged to Justin's grandmother in Japan.
A Light and Lively San Francisco Haunt, on Design*Sponge
2/23
The living room's windows bring in lots of bright sunlight. An old chandelier came with the house, so while it's not what the couple would have chosen, they appreciate its character and history.
A Light and Lively San Francisco Haunt, on Design*Sponge
3/23
A little art deco table fits records and player perfectly. The camp stool was a recent flea market find.
A Light and Lively San Francisco Haunt, on Design*Sponge
4/23
Colina and Justin have been collecting these rocks and minerals from flea markets lately for the color and texture they add to the mantel.
A Light and Lively San Francisco Haunt, on Design*Sponge
5/23
Stacks of favorite magazines are scattered around the house. A Caroline Z Hurley throw blanket adds color to the neutral Overstock sofa.
A Light and Lively San Francisco Haunt, on Design*Sponge
6/23
Worth the trip, this Craigslist chair was an hour's drive away. Colina had been searching for it for some time.
A Light and Lively San Francisco Haunt, on Design*Sponge
7/23
This healthy plant has grown since landing in its spot this past year, and Justin gets annoyed when it blocks his view of the TV! The handmade marble poster by Palanquin was found at the Renegade Craft Fair.
A Light and Lively San Francisco Haunt, on Design*Sponge
8/23
The thrifted, retro floral dining chairs found at a thrift store weren't priced, so Colina was able to pick them up for $5 apiece! A simple IKEA table lets bolder patterns do the talking.
A Light and Lively San Francisco Haunt, on Design*Sponge
9/23
Before moving in, Colina kept dreaming of how she would decorate this hutch. Because she and Justin are still on the hunt for the perfect bar cart, it's now acting as their bar.
A Light and Lively San Francisco Haunt, on Design*Sponge
10/23
An Urban Outfitters rug anchors the dining table, which is used for work as well as meals.
A Light and Lively San Francisco Haunt, on Design*Sponge
11/23
Colina found the six-foot-tall macrame plant hanger at a flea market for a $35, and it's her favorite thing in the room.
A Light and Lively San Francisco Haunt, on Design*Sponge
12/23
Colina Terui and Justin Ono catch up in their dining room.
A Light and Lively San Francisco Haunt, on Design*Sponge
13/23
In the small kitchen, decorative objects and plants add a homey vibe.
A Light and Lively San Francisco Haunt, on Design*Sponge
14/23
On days off together, Colina brews a pot of pour-over coffee while Justin makes the eggs. A cactus dish cloth by Amelie Mancini and Anthroplogie marble-handled cheese board adorn the workspace.
A Light and Lively San Francisco Haunt, on Design*Sponge
15/23
Colina and Justin keep their rental kitchen simple and functional.
A Light and Lively San Francisco Haunt, on Design*Sponge
16/23
The bedroom only contains things that are pretty and/or useful. It has one small closet that the couple use for storage, so they built these pipe racks to hold Colina's clothes. "I'm an out-of-sight, out-of-mind kind of person, so it works for me to see what I have," she says.
A Light and Lively San Francisco Haunt, on Design*Sponge
17/23
The neutral and minimal bedroom features a photograph by Debbie Carlos. Wood and plant textures prevent the space from seeming sparse.
A Light and Lively San Francisco Haunt, on Design*Sponge
18/23
Justin's dresser was thrifted, and while it's kind of beat-up, it suits his more rustic collections. The grouping of vintage trophies and a photo of his dad in high school are proudly displayed.
A Light and Lively San Francisco Haunt, on Design*Sponge
19/23
Friends bought the mid-century armoire from an estate sale on a whim, but didn't have the space for it. They gifted it to the pair upon moving in, and it has become Colina's favorite piece of furniture.
A Light and Lively San Francisco Haunt, on Design*Sponge
20/23
The bathroom is kept simple so it feels light and uncluttered. The shower curtain and bathmat are both by Nate Berkus for Target.
A Light and Lively San Francisco Haunt, on Design*Sponge
21/23
"There's not a room too small for me to find a place for a plant!" Colina jokes. She ordered this hanging planter on Etsy from Bean & Bailey Ceramics.
A Light and Lively San Francisco Haunt, on Design*Sponge
22/23
"What we love most about our home is the old wood floor and all of the life it has seen." - Colina Terui and Justin Ono
A Light and Lively San Francisco Haunt, on Design*Sponge
23/23
An atypical layout for this one-bedroom South San Francisco apartment that was once part of a larger home.

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Comments

  • Lovely, bright home. I really like the rock collection, the hutch in the dining room, the triangle mirror and of course, the plant collection.

  • These guys did a great job of keeping a small space looking open, tidy and beautiful. I’d love to see more small apartment design ideas, since I’ll probably be living in them for many years.

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