Christina Higham’s journey may be familiar to many – a winding path that suddenly lead to the realizations of the end destination. She says, “I studied Art History in college and through a series of events ended up in the advertising world. I worked at a startup and with growth came office moves, and as Head of Brand I was charged with spearheading the office design. Being exposed to the office design was the first time in my life I felt that ‘spark’ – that feeling of being in your passion, of being excited to go to work every day. Once I felt the spark there was really no turning back. It was clear I needed to do whatever I could to make interior design my career.”

That mean night classes, designing friends homes for free, a design blog, and plenty of hard work to carve out a full time career in interior design and her own company, Sun Soul Style Interiors. Having established her career, Christina recently completed a very personal project – her own home. Best of all, it’s a rental apartment that Christina decorated largely with pieces from West Elm, World Market, and other readily accessible retailers. Today she shares a look inside with Rue and tells of about her process.

This is your own home, but a rental. How did that affect your design decisions?
When thinking about pieces to invest in we definitely wanted to choose pieces that we could take with us into our next home. All of the larger anchor pieces like our sofa, coffee table, bed, rugs I feel like are really great investment pieces that we will be able to take with us.

Was there a certain concept that was your inspiration for the design?
The inspiration was definitely our neighborhood of the Outer Sunset. The Sunset has a really dreamy yet gritty etherealness to it – there’s the giant sand dunes, majestic Ocean Beach, and the washed out sherbet colored homes that line the Avenues. I definitely think that vibe is present in our little beach house!

In terms of process, when we first moved in we nailed down all the anchor pieces – our sofa, bed, dining table, media console, coffee table and then slowly collected the rest of the space over time. As a designer I’m unfortunately getting sick of pieces all the time – so I’m constantly changing art and accessories!

Nothing is ever complete is it? Did your home present any particular design difficulties?
Storage was definitely a challenge for us. Daniel is an avid surfer with an over-growing surfboard collection, we both snowboard, love to hike and backpack – so needless to say our collection of sporting equipment is quite large. We tried to come up with storage solutions that were both functional and hid our stuff to minimize the feeling of clutter. I designed the plywood storage bench in Daniel’s office (which was inspired by this Pop and Scott sofa that was way out of my price range) and had a custom cushion made with my favorite Rebecca Atwood fabric – it reminds me of the ocean!

What advice do you have for renters who are designing their own homes?
Don’t feel like you need to buy everything all at once! The pressure people put on themselves to fill their spaces right away is real. I highly suggest in finding your anchor pieces first and then accepting that you’re going to slowly find pieces over time that speak to you. Doing things over time also allows you to first of all, see how you use the space, and secondly spend over time as opposed to all at once. There are also tons of free space planning tools out there – like West Elm’s free version of Icovia – that allow you to lay out all of your furniture to scale before purchasing. Another simple trick is to use painters tape to tape out large pieces like rugs and sofas in your space so you can visualize how they will physically feel in your space. There is nothing worse than ordering your dream sofa and it not fitting!

See the rest of Christina’s home in the slideshow!