Jan 18, 2024

A Couple’s Old Furniture Collection Got a Cool Spin in Their New San Francisco Home

By Vaishnavi Nayel Talawadekar

Photography by Lauren Edith Andersen / S.E.N Creative

Styled by Jen Mac Beth

Even before they’d signed the deed or put down a deposit, Caitlin O’Neill and Sean Weinstock knew who they’d bring in for the interior design of their new home in San Francisco's Glen Park neighborhood: Christina Higham of Sun Soul Style Interiors. It didn't matter that Christina was based in Kauai, or that they’d just finished renovating their previous home. By two years into their marriage, they knew they needed a bigger place. And as for Christina taking the lead from 2,500 miles away, the couple wasn't ruffled. The three had a comfortable working relationship: Caitlin and Christina were former colleagues, and Sean—a real estate agent—had worked closely with the designer on several client remodels. "Christina had helped design our previous home in 2020 and we got her to come see our new one before we even bought it," says Caitlin, a public policy strategist.

In the living room, Christina oriented the Radley sectional toward the picture windows to afford those seated an expansive view of the city. A checked Moroccan rug underpins the setting, while Hotel Magique artworks enliven the wall. The coffee table is an Urban Outfitters find. The floor lamp is from Rejuvenation.

"I find that a lot of potential homeowners often have a hard time seeing past things that can be easily changed, like dated finishes or poor paint choices," reflects Christina. But Caitlin and Sean were willing to let her make big changes and for good reason. When they purchased the house, it had very ’70s vibes—wood everywhere, bright orange bathrooms, chaotic color. "We loved that, but it was a lot. We wanted color and texture in a way that felt interesting and cool, comfortable and chill," shares Caitlin. Christina's job was to modernize things in a way that felt fresh, but preserve and highlight some of the home's original hallmarks.

The kitchen is where Sean and Caitlin spend most of their time. The beautiful black-and-white marble backsplash and counters are the focal point of the area.

Luckily (or unluckily) for Caitlin and Sean, there was a fair amount of furniture from their previous residence that needed rehoming. "Most pieces were new, bought during their previous home remodel in 2020. I was keen to reimagine them in this setting, to make them feel as if they were curated specifically for this new space," says Christina. The couple wasn't so sure. "I was having a hard time envisioning how they’d work in this home," admits Caitlin. For her and Sean, the vibrant colors of their previous pad felt a little too heavy for their current sensibilities. "Both our personal aesthetics had matured a bit, and we wanted this home to be a reflection of that evolution," suggests Sean.

The dining room seats four to six people and offers sweeping views of San Francisco. The vintage car prints above the bar cabinet were sourced from Stuff and are by an unknown artist. The blue lamp is from HKliving, while the dining table is a Rove Concepts design. The chairs are from Lekker Home. The chandelier and flush mount lights are from Etsy and Cedar & Moss respectively.

Fortunately, Christina had a few tricks up her sleeve. "I knew the first order of business was to get rid of the stainless steel in the kitchen. It felt heavy and dated and was the first thing you saw when you walked into the home," she recounts. Some Pinterest searches with the keyword "Italian design" brought her the inspiration she needed: marble—and lots of it. And while real marble (as opposed to quartz) was an investment, she and the couple recognized that there was truly nothing else like it for the backsplash and counters. "Each slab is totally unique and you can't get that with man-made materials. Given that we weren't replacing the cabinetry, we all felt like it would be a worthwhile investment."

The nook under the stairs serves as a second office space for Sean. "The upper cabinets were originally painted yellow, but we decided to tie in the cobalt here, painting them a bold Klein Blue," shares Christina.

By Hannah Starauschek

By Erika Owen

By Eva Morell

The downstairs office will likely be a nursery in the future, so Christina tried to make the space functional while also keeping it flexible. She purchased the floor Lamp from CB2 and the vintage rug via Revival. The dresser and desk are from West Elm, as is the metal flushmount. A tiled side table from Etsy serves as a whimsical complement to the orange velvet chair from Anthropologie. A chrome desk lamp from Target and variously sourced vintage art give the room a quirky spin.

Speaking of not replacing things, several other features were retained. Christina decided to keep the checkered tile in the bathroom, while modernizing the elements around it. And though she didn't overhaul the kitchen cabinetry, she did refresh the uppers with a coat of daisy white paint. She also painted the cabinets in Sean's under-stairs office a dazzling Klein Blue. "We had some cobalt art and decor pieces from their previous home," she notes. "We couldn't stop marveling at how well they went with this home's original wood finishes. The combination reminded me of European design, specifically Italian modernism and its use of bright color. It became the point of departure for the [entire] design scheme," she explains.

The primary bedroom, located downstairs, is a mellow oasis with light tones and pared-back furnishings. A custom rug from Beni Souk adds a pop of pattern, serving as a counterpoint to the simple platform bed by Lulu and Georgia. The nightstands are from Urban Outfitters. The table lamps are CB2 designs. The art and decor are vintage.

By Hannah Starauschek

By Erika Owen

By Eva Morell

The primary bathroom includes two sinks, twin mirrors, and a bathtub for lazy Sunday soaks. Christina sourced the sconces from CB2 and the vanity from IKEA.

"We were all excited to be keeping the original tile in the bathroom… Then, the contractors pulled up the old vanity and we found that the tile did not extend underneath. I thought, How are we ever going to find this tile? I had no idea when it was made or where it was from. I reckoned we’d take a chance and bring a sample to Fireclay Tile in San Francisco. The design gods must have been watching over us because they had almost the exact same color and the exact same size. The variation in color was so small that you really don't notice," chuckles Christina. The runner is from Block Shop.

Handling the project remotely was no easy feat, so Christina teamed up with stylist Jen Mac Beth of California Casa to help with decor. "I sent Jen photos of the home and she shipped up a crate of amazing vintage accessories: art, books, glassware. We also did some vintage sourcing trips throughout San Francisco," recalls Christina, who also scavenged vintage novelties from local stores. Besides one in-person site visit with Caitlin and Sean, she did most other meetings via FaceTime. "It just goes to show that the best things can be manifested from anywhere," she says with a laugh.

The guest room, situated upstairs, is connected to the dining room by way of bifold doors. "This is one of my favorite rooms in the home. I love that it has its own little balcony. The windows make it feel like you’re sleeping amid the trees," says Christina. The black-and-white checkered artwork was a last-minute find. "The bedroom has big, beautiful windows and not a lot of space for art, but I love that when their guests wake up, this is the first thing they will see." All the vintage decor was sourced from Stuff. West Elm and Target were the stores of choice for the nightstands and table lamps respectively. The bed is from Urban Outfitters.

The guest bathroom features tangerine tones, holding a mirror to the home's original orange color palette. The art print is by Hype Sheriff, while the side table is a West Elm design.

The sconce and vanity were purchased from Etsy and IKEA respectively.