Interiorssneak peeks

A Time Traveling Vintage Inspired San Francisco Home

by anne

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.

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  • I’m familiar with the neighborhood and very excited to see inside one of these spectacular homes! Nicely done!

  • Awesome. I love the mid-century homes in Diamond Heights – and this one is perfection. I really love all of the art made from travel finds. Good eye!

  • One of my favorite sneak peeks of all…thoroughly enjoyed the vintage tableaux with all their contrasting textures and colors. Bravo!

  • How does this tour not conclude with a grainy photo of the owner in plaid bell bottoms, a too-small t-shirt and long sideburns? Do not tell me that he has a nice haircut, facial stubble, and dresses in black.

  • The inner courtyard adjoining the master bedroom is wonderful. I also especially like how it looks at night, with lights burning inside. This home has such an intense feel that it’s difficult to describe it properly. I can only say, good job!

  • Snaps! In the six years I have been following d*s, this home tour might be my favorite. Excellent design, gorgeous colors, and a healthy touch of eccentricity. Just weird enough to be interesting. And I so admire the dedication it must take to curate a home like this. Well done!

  • All the worst of my childhood home and that period of design…and no irony apparent or new spin put on the old stuff ! Usually I find something to appreciate in homes featured in Sneak Peeks; but here, it is only the garden that is attractive.

  • Woah! We can easily think that the photos are straight from the 60s. Great job at maintaining the house as it is. It is like a museum; every room and piece are so consistent with one another that it looks unreal.

  • I like how the collections really change the impact of the individual objects i.e. 1 macrame owl= ho hum, but a wall full of macrame owls is s statement, or 1 crocheted afghan vs a stack or afghans. And the light inside is so so nice.

  • I rarely comment on here, but I’ve been following for ages. This was an incredible tour!! Mid-century isn’t my taste, but this was so well done and consistent — yet surprising and interesting. Love it!!

  • I love this tour! I admit I have grey paint on one or two walls in my home, so I’m no stranger to “modern”, but this colorful vintage home is done so tastefully! Just enough kitsch and a whole lotta style! Well done.

  • I love homes with personality! It can be tricky to showcase this many different collections and period furniture without creating a museum like atmosphere, but this looks so comfortable and welcoming. Love the artwork too.

  • Love that collection of ties, such a great idea! And yes, the house is almost startling in how closely it hews to the time period. The wall full of macrame owls is amazing.

  • “Inspired” is an understatement. This is a straight up caricature. The wood panelling, the cabinet and door wood, the vanity and kitchen counter tops… I honestly feel like I’ve stepped into a time capsule of the bad design era. The furniture and some of the decorative elements I REALLY like, but everything at once is completely overwhelming.

  • Beautiful!! Such a warm, inviting, creative, and inspiring space! And I love that the look is honest and intentional, not a stark DWR showroom of midcentury design. You can really tell the care and time that went into making everything look just right. Nice work Troy! Cheers!

  • Might not be my cup of tea, but finally a place that is completely different and doesn’t look like the dozens of other homes featured. Very refreshing and inspiring – thanks for sharing!

  • Great travel collages! I never know how to display all my precious airline ticket stubs and various little scraps of paper from international travel. I can’t bring myself to throw them out. A framed collage is a great way to preserve that type of collection and it looks great in your home. Bravo!

  • Woah! Love your sense of humor, your photographs, your collections! Thanks to both of you, Troy and Anne, for that refreshing sneak peek! Wish you a lot of happy travels for 2014…

  • Stunning. It’s so nice to see some color and texture in a “design-y” house. I’m over the white on white look that’s being featured everywhere. I love Troy’s Wanderlust postcard series and his house fits perfectly with them!

  • Some elements here are fantastic, the living room / fireplace for one are stunning, and I adore the garden. But.. the macrame owls, and the orange shag carpet. Woah. I guess I need a bit more of a blend of modern and vintage. Fun tour though and I’m sure a great pad to entertain and hang out in. Thanks for something very unique.

  • This house tour is like time travelling…although I wouldn’t choose this kind of decor I have to admit tha it is very charming to the eye.
    Also it kind of reminds a Lana Del Ray video clip set!

  • So, what is the method he’s using to display ties? I know someone who might need to use a similar method for his collection!!

  • Nothing better than a single story home with an abundance of light! Thank you for inviting us into your beautiful, creative, and comfortable home.

  • You’ve done a great job preserving the mid-century aesthetic. Most Eichler homes are modernized–wood paneling painted white, kitchen demolished and replaced with white cabinets. Love the authenticity, uniqueness and playfulness of your design.

  • Troy, you **almost** make me proud to be a child of the 70s. ;) Honestly, not sure many people could make me lust after a pile of thrift store afghans. This Sneak Peek is such a perfect look inside your home and your wonderful creative mind. Thanks for sharing!

  • and what I love about your house is just about everything!! Some specifics tho..I love the patterns, I love the browns! I love all of the 70s stuff!
    thanks for sharing!!!

  • Troy – This is stunning. There doesn’t appear to be a single aspect that isn’t personal to you. I’m not sure where these ‘thrift stores’ you speak of are but I wish I had access to them! Also, I wish my Granny had left me some Horse Head pillows. Thanks for sharing, I love it all.

  • By the way, I love the prints on Troy’s Etsy shop. One question for Troy–would you consider making one of your fantastic ‘collection’ posters using some of those amazing ties you have hanging on your wall?

  • I don’t like to much wood, and I don’t like too much brown, and I’m not a fan of seventies decoration in general… but I LOVE this! It looks so authentic and lived in and loved, you have totally won me over. Another commentator said it looks like a museum and I do think that’s a trap a lot of MCM collectors can fall into, but this house just looks like a trip back in time to a real house, not museum-like at all. Oh and love your art too!

  • All you need is Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney coming through the door. The greatest decade of all! Thanks for the tour; great fun, sense of humour and eye. Unlike the reader above I love your macrame owls; what a throwback seen through new eyes. As much as I hated shag way back then you managed to make it fresh. And I love that orange plastic light in the bathroom. Wow! Orange was THE colour then.

  • as others have said, midcentury isn’t my thing… BUT, OH, you did a superb job of making an eichler look like a comfy place to come home to. my dad and stepmother had an eichler in palo alto — it was too stark, maybe just the simplicity of it all just wasn’t for me. CONGRATS! another thing, after having grown up in the bay area, i had no idea there were eichlers in san francisco. next trip, i’m searching them out! BRAVO to you for helping me appreciate a style i don’t consider my own.

  • Best house ever featured here, bravo. Its so unique and I guess You……..love everything.
    Honest , fun , warm , cozy , interesting I go could go on and on.
    Thanks for letting us peek into your home, you obviously love it a lot.

  • Awesome! It seems like it’s been a long while since Design Sponge featured a mod home like this. Thanks!

  • Here’s the story: I stumbled across Troy’s Wanderlust series for the second time (the first time was a few years ago, in brief passing) while living in Cairo last year. I loved it. Obviously, we share the same last name (with the same spelling! I have met Littons and Lyttons but never a LITTEN) but I am such a travel fiend that I could not help but love the works of Troy. I had mentioned how I like the work to my mother while I was in Cairo, and when I came back to the US months later, the Wanderlust book was sitting on my desk.

    And now, scrolling through my feed today, D*S has featured Troy’s home. And it is as fun as I’d imagine him to be. I love it. Vintage, kitsch, and a bit ridiculous – so much I want to copy and take inspiration from!

    I have no idea if Troy and I are related by blood. But we definitely share a love for the world, whether through travel or in our homes.

    Love it.

  • Have to admit…… My only thoughts were – boy bet the smell in this house with all that old stuff must be bad!

  • This sneak peek is a real lesson in how to decorate with collections–LOTS of collections- without feeling cluttered or atticlike at all. Nice!

  • 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!

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

  • 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!

  • 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!!! :)

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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!

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

  • 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.

  • 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!!!