Interiorssneak peeks

Touches of Color Help this San Francisco Home Sing

by Garrett Fleming

Lately I’ve been digging spaces decorated with hues that aren’t in-your-face, but aren’t totally passive either. Go all-in on white, and your home can feel stark and lifeless. Bring in too much color, and your abode can start to feel campy and cramped. It’s a finicky balance to achieve, but Leslie Santarina and her husband Kris have clearly found it. Their San Francisco, CA apartment’s subtle shifts from grey, to white, to brown and green all make for a colorful — yet calming — home.

These color choices weren’t an accident. The 500-square-foot space is on the smaller side, so Leslie, the Founder of Spotted SF, knew incorporating bold and brazen tones would only make the home feel cluttered and even smaller than it is. You’ll notice the living area feels open and airy, thanks to another less-is-more touch. She’s kept the windows free from curtains, making her quaint home feel larger. While light is in excess throughout the Victorian apartment, storage isn’t all that plentiful. Have no fear, Kris is here! Working as an IT Manager has given him an extensive knowledge of all things digital. His ability to streamline routers and cords and keep unsightly necessities hidden away in the home’s cabinetry has done wonders for keeping the tiny home organized.

Not all of Leslie and Kris’ belongings can be stored away, though, nor would they want them to be. Displaying the many vases and vessels they’ve collected on worldly travels is the couple’s way of adding their personal touch to the apartment. In order to decorate, but not overwhelm the space, the pair only sets out collectibles that are in similar color families. The result is an easy-on-the-eyes and layered look they love.

With all of life’s must-haves cleanly displayed or out of sight, the family has been able to focus on the fun part of their home: entertaining! The apartment’s smaller size and open floor plan actually makes it perfect for hosting dinner parties and get-togethers. The kitchen’s adjacency to the living room keeps everyone in one spot, conversing without interruption. Plus, serving food and drinks is easy when it’s a mere five steps from the sofa to the countertop. I’d happily pop over for a dinner party in this pretty space. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Leslie Santarina

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According to the owners of Leslie and Kris' rental, a former mayor of San Francisco used to live in the house before it was converted into apartments. The couple's unit used to be the home's living and dining room.
A Little Color Helps this Little San Francisco Home Sing, Design*Sponge
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By day, Leslie is an Events and Project Manager for a financial institution, but by night she's the editor and photographer behind Spotted SF. The blog focuses on architectural and design gems she's stumbled upon while exploring the city. Her desk's vases are by Melanie Abrantes and Sarah Kersten.
A Little Color Helps this Little San Francisco Home Sing, Design*Sponge
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Leslie has amassed an impressive and eye-catching collection of ceramics from all over the world. Keep a lookout when taking today's tour, as she's placed the pretty pieces here and there throughout the home.
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Leslie and Kris use this console from Anthropologie to hide cables, wires, routers and all sorts of unsightly tech gadgets. The rug is from West Elm, and the stool is from San Francisco shop MudPie.
A Little Color Helps this Little Home in San Francisco Sing, Design*Sponge
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Across from the TV console are these beautiful, wrap-around windows. "It was love at first sight when I saw them," Leslie gushes.
A Little Color Helps this Little San Francisco Home Sing, Design*Sponge
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"So much light comes [into the living area], plants thrive in here," Leslie tells us. She uses the Pottery Barn sectional and World Market desk to strategically create two separate spaces out of one. The coffee table also serves as the family's dining table. Once her blog took off, Leslie needed a dedicated work zone, so she got rid of her formal dining area and replaced it with this home office space.
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Most of Leslie's nights are spent right here in front of her computer, editing photos for her blog. "I love to review and edit photos when I get home. It's how I relax," she says. "I heard plants bring more oxygen and energy into the home, [hence] why I brought a bit of the outdoors in." The triangular shelf is by Hippie House & Co., the white pendant lamp is from Room & Board, and her plants and planters were picked up at Flora Grubb Gardens.
A Little Color Helps this Little Home in San Francisco Sing, Design*Sponge
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The living room and kitchen are one and the same, thanks to the home's open floor plan. Leslie says this style of design is ideal for entertaining as it keeps parties centralized. That way, guests always feel like they're part of the action, whether they're grabbing a drink or lounging on the sofa. Leslie doesn't have much time to cook, so the tiny kitchen doesn't bother her in the slightest. "When I do [cook] it still works!" she says. "There are plenty of cabinets to store everything. [I] just need a ladder to get up there." The wooden triangle by artist Aleksandra Zee ties in so nicely with the tones of the apartment's gorgeous, hardwood floors.
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"My entryway contains a revolving collection of works by local photographers and artists I admire, including a resin-and-wood collage from recently departed Rex Ray. He was a vibrant artist, and this is one of three pieces I own [of his]," Leslie explains. The photography featured here is a mixture of work by Erin Kunkel and Chris Honeysett.
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"I've traveled so much, [but] there are a million reasons why my heart is always left in San Francisco. Surrounding [the handwritten note] are snapshots I took of some favorite places in the city." -- Leslie Santarina
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Leslie and Kris' bedroom is a tight squeeze. Unfortunately, the quaint size meant the pair had to cover up their bedroom's fireplace to make way for a bed. When it came down to it, this wall was the only one large enough to accommodate it.
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The covered-up fireplace's mantel, however, is a perfect spot for displaying the collection of copper pots Leslie bought on a trip to Istanbul. Not only are they easy on the eyes and tell a story, but their understated colors allow them to decorate without detracting from the mantel's beautiful design.
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The bedroom's textured wallpaper was left behind by the previous renters. Rarely do back-to-back renters have similar tastes, but in this case Leslie got lucky. The dresser is from Restoration Hardware, and the bedside lamp is from West Elm.
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Leslie often rotates the ceramics that accompany this sketch she bought at a Frida Kahlo museum in Mexico.
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Leslie sketched an overhead view of the 500-square-foot apartment for us. The Victorian home was built in 1892 and features three rooms and a private deck overlooking San Francisco's Pacific Heights neighborhood.

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