For Caitlin and Sean, a young San Francisco couple, their first home purchase together was a bit overwhelming. “They definitely knew going into it that this home would require some work,” designer Christina Higham of Sun Soul Style laughs. “The couple wanted a home that they could both relax in and entertain in (this was pre-COVID world!), and that reflected their own vibrant personal style.” Their fixer upper needed a clear design plan, and by someone who respected the neighborhood’s history. Higham was on the job. She tells us more:

Where is this home located? How did the neighborhood affect your design?
This home is located in the Mission District of San Francisco. The Mission is a colorful, diverse and vibrant neighborhood with a rich history – it’s actually San Francisco’s oldest neighborhood. However, like much of San Francisco, it’s been impacted by gentrification in recent years. I find it sad when I see beautiful old homes torn down, only to be replaced by a generic, modern box that doesn’t speak to the neighborhood and its roots. I really liked the idea of keeping some of the original details intact – such as the original wood floors and moldings –  while giving the home new life by incorporating vibrant colors reminiscent of the neighborhood’s many street murals and art.

What condition was the property in at the start of the project?
To be honest, the condition of the property was not great – I doubt any updates had been done since at least the 70s! When Caitlin first walked me through the property she was definitely nervous – like “what have we done?!”  But I think my excitement quelled some of those fears – while a lot of it needed some updates – I thought the bones of the place were absolutely gorgeous – the old wood floors, the high ceilings and original moldings. I immediately envisioned it all with a fresh coat of white paint and knew it could be killer! 

Aesthetically, what was your jumping off point?
Caitlin has killer personal style and sent me some very clear inspiration imagery as a jumping off point – lots of clean, modern spaces with bold pops of color. We kept coming back to the Hotel Magique print that we ultimately placed in the dining room – and that piece ended up being the jumping off point for the overall palette and vibe throughout the home.  

How long did the project take, and what did the client say when they saw the finished space?
From initial site walkthrough to completion this project took about 3 months (not including the custom sofa which ended up being massively delayed due to Covid). Caitlin and Sean were actually on site for a large majority of the site visits so they were really able to see the transformation as it happened. After the project was complete and we shot it, Caitlin shared with me that she couldn’t believe how accurately I was able to translate what was in her head into reality – and I’d say that is one of the best compliments you can receive as a designer! 

Learn more about the design in the slideshow.