Quirky, Bright & Patterned Style in San Francisco

updated Jun 7, 2019
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(Image credit: Lindsay Tella)

Name: Alexis Tompkins and Ian Mesey
Location: Inner Richmond, San Francisco, California
Size: 850 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year; Rented

As a designer, Alexis views her home as a platform for experimentation. It’s also an opportunity for her and Ian to let their inner funkiness shine. They are art collectors and creative spirits, and have embraced the idea of accumulating meaningful decor that they love to shape their home. We first saw their apartment in 2012’s Small Cool contest, and now we’re back for more!

(Image credit: Lindsay Tella)
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Alexis and her business partner CJ own Chroma Design Collective, a design company which offers art consultation, interior design and furniture/product design services. With a day job designing residential interiors and an education in art history, Alexis eats, sleeps and breathes design. While her works takes on many different forms, her home is a bit more kooky than most of her professional work. Ian’s day job in the tech industry is balanced with a creative side as well. He performs in the pop-punk band Giggle Party, which is not your average band. It’s a musical celebration that goes by the mantra ‘Have fun. Live Hard. Dance. Repeat.’ Did I mention they are the cutest, most fun and hilarious couple?

Together, Alexis and Ian have transformed their rental into a fabulous and inspiring home. Moving into a 1907 building was not all rainbows and butterflies, but they embraced the challenge. From re-wiring old fixtures to bold moves in the paint department, their effort has paid off tremendously!

Alexis and Ian are proof that good design doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Mixing the old with the new and avoiding trends they don’t already stand behind is their philosophy. Flea market finds and hand-me-downs are some of the treasures that tell their story. The amazing natural light and historic detailing of their apartment, paired with a rich color pallette, add an element of luxury. Add one-of-a-kind pieces and a wide range of art, and you have a space that will pique your interest at every turn.

(Image credit: Lindsay Tella)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Inherited and collected, fun, eclectic, quirky, bright, patterned, and comfortable.

Inspiration: Art and fashion.

Favorite Element: The great light, the architectural detailing on the windows in the front room, and the windows in the bedroom overlooking the backyard. The proximity to Golden Gate Park (one block away!) is a convenient treat.

Biggest Challenge: In general, making a rental nice on a budget is a challenge. The kitchen and bathroom were in a sad state when we moved in. There were many deep cleanings before the paint went on the walls and the art went up.

What Friends Say: Friends say there is a lot to look at and take in. They like that we have filled our apartment with objects either made or given to us by the people we know and love.

Biggest Embarrassment: The kitchen was an especially scary space when we moved in: cigarette burned linoleum floor, bad IKEA cabinets, two different bad counter top materials. We have tried to conceal this, but it still needs a lot of work.

Proudest DIY: Ian got the sofa in by sawing off the legs and then reattaching them once in the space. He rewired the sconces in the bedroom, and we painted the apartment ourselves, and upholstered the headboard.

Biggest Indulgence: Artwork, rugs and Ian’s bike.

Best Advice: 1. Start the decorating process with family members or friends that are getting rid of things. You never know what you might find for free from people who want to help you start your home. This way the items already have a personal history upon arrival in your home. They have a story that you can develop, and build upon.

2. Collect over time and learn to let go. Let your style evolve so your home can continue to reflect your personal style. Edit. Believe it or not this is editing for us. We used to hold on to everything, and when we moved to San Francisco from Texas we had to get rid of a lot of our prized possessions. It felt so good to start over and let go.

3. Try to avoid following trends, especially when it comes to expensive items such as furniture and rugs. We recently sold a lot of our trendy decorative accessories. Eventually we saw the items we wanted to be personal to us out and about in many stores and magazines, and this made them feel less special. Hunt for unique items, especially mementos of places you have been or experiences you have had, to serve as reminders of those good times in your home.

4. Change the layout and art placement often to give the space a fresh perspective. We do this quite often. It helps us to continue to appreciate the different things that our home can be, and keeps us from growing tired of the space.

5. Start decorating by collecting art. Then slowly acquire items that complement the art in your home. Get to know the artists you collect from, reach out and contact them. This adds a depth to your home and a personal element that few decorative items can lend to a space. By purchasing emerging art, you can support creative professionals in their struggle to express themselves. This adds a supportive, communal element to your home.

Dream Sources: Reupholstering the furniture at Hildebrand in San Francisco.

Art furniture galleries like Sebastian + Barquet, Friedman Benda, 21st Twenty First Gallery, and R 20th Century Design.

Also custom designing rugs and textiles…(hopefully someday)


(Image credit: Lindsay Tella)


  • Benjamin Moore: Slate Teal in eggshell finish
  • Benjamin Moore: Santorini Blue in eggshell finish
  • Benjamin Moore: Hawthorne Yellow in eggshell finish
  • Benjamin Moore: Baby Seal Black in eggshell finish
(Image credit: Lindsay Tella)


  • (3)etchings: By Spencer Tompkins
  • Macarena screenprint: By San and Escif at Upper Playground
  • Bench photograph: Jerrell Jones
  • Plexiglass sculpture: Cast off material from a chair design
  • Ceramic head sculpture: Ian Mesey, Alexis Tompkins, & Spencer Tompkins (made in school)
  • Console table: Canton Texas Flea Market
  • Mirror: Rose Bowl Flea Market
  • Wood carving: Canton Texas Flea Market
  • Globe pendant light: Lula B’s Dallas Texas
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)


  • Sofa: Lula B’s Dallas Texas
  • Side table: Wine crate from Alameda Flea Market
  • Lucite block with screws inside: Rose Bowl Flea Market
  • (2) lounge chairs: Given by friends
  • Coffee table: Rose Bowl Flea Market
  • Antique bookshelf: Belonged to Alexis’ great grandmother, given by mother
  • Antique marble top console: Belonged to Alexis’ great grandmother, given by mother
  • Sisal rug: West Elm
  • Antique rug: Belonged to Alexis’ great grandmother, given by mother
  • Mid century Italian chandelier: White Elephant Antiques, Dallas Texas
  • Mid century table lamp: North Dallas Antique Mall
  • Peter Max needlepoint: Online auction site
  • Landscape paintings (some watercolor, some oil): By C. C. Hodges, Alexis’ great great grandfather, given by mother
  • Porcelain Dutch woman over fireplace: Belonged to Alexis’ great grandmother, given by mother
  • Blue man watercolor painting on fireplace: Bought on the streets of San Francisco by Ian
  • Ceramic sculptures on fireplace: By Spencer Tompkins
  • Found object cowboy tonka toy in bell jar: By Erick Maybury
  • Abstract oil painting: By Spencer Tompkins
  • Parking lot photograph: By Jerrell Jones
  • Cork dancing man: By Ian Mesey
  • Mid century brass starburst: Lula B’s Dallas Texas
  • Teal mid century glass vessels: North Dallas Antique Mall, Lost Antiques Dallas TX, Lula B’s Dallas Texas
(Image credit: Lindsay Tella)


  • Dining table & 4 chairs: Lula B’s Dallas Texas
  • Mid century glass candle holder: Nancy Boy San Francisco
  • Brutalist pendant light: Lost Antiques Dallas Texas
  • Striped rug: fab.com
  • Dad wearing monkey mask oil painting: By Kathryn Young
  • Cowboy painting “Sudden Gentleman”: By Erick Maybury (made cover of issue 90 of New American Paintings)
  • Architectural photograph: By Jerrell Jones
  • “Blag Teef”: By Bret Slater
(Image credit: Lindsay Tella)


  • Rug: fab.com
  • Abstract oil painting: By Lesley Walker
  • Large antler: Found Antiques Dallas Texas.
  • Large mid century teak utensils: Uncommon Objects Austin Texas.
  • Ceramics: Nancy Boy San Francisco and Gravel and Gold San Francisco.
  • Brass elephant: Rose Bowl Flea Market.
  • Mid century glass vessel: Stuff San Francisco
  • Lucite cowboy hat planter: Uncommon Objects Austin Texas.
(Image credit: Lindsay Tella)

(We are not sure the purpose this room once served, so we have given it a variety of names. We use it for dinner parties to serve drinks and set up food.)

  • Antique pendant light: Montgomery Street Antique Mall Fort Worth Texas.
  • “And Still We Gather With Infinite Momentum 1” photograph: By Justin James King
  • “Jet Blast” photograph: By Thomas Prior
  • Black and white photograph: By Jerrell Jones
  • Mid century lounge chair: Pasadena Antique Mall
  • Teal rug on chair: Krimsa San Francisco
  • Bar cart: Given by Alexis’ parents
  • Silver and glass serving ware and stem ware on bar cart: Given by Alexis’ parents and collected from antique malls and flea markets
  • Rice bucket: Pasadena Antique Mall
  • Watercolor landscape paintings: BY C.C. Hodges, Alexis’ great great grandfather, given by mother
  • Side chair: Pasadena Antique Mall
(Image credit: Lindsay Tella)


  • Dresser: Alameda Flea Market
  • Mid century mirror: White Elephant Antiques Dallas Texas
  • Antique mirror flat on dresser: Belonged to Alexis’ great grandmother, given by mother
  • Jewelry dish: Aldea Home
  • Ceramic jar: Mike’s Monkey San Francisco
  • Antique lamp: Rose Bowl Flea Market
  • Antique trunk: Belonged to Alexis’ great grandmother, given by mother
  • Ink figure paintings: By Spencer Tompkins
  • Abstract mixed media: By Spencer Tompkins
  • Black and white photographs: By Jerrell Jones
  • Antique armchair: Belonged to Alexis’ great grandmother, given by mother
  • Bed: West Elm
  • Headboard: Upholstered By Alexis and Ian
  • Side tables: Past Perfect San Francisco
  • Antique coverlet: Belonged to Alexis’ great grandmother, given by mother
  • Oil landscape paintings: By C.C. Hodges, Alexis’ great great grandfather, given by mother
  • Throw blankets: Gumps San Francisco
  • Rug: Krimsa San Francisco
  • Sconces: Mike’s Monkey San Francisco
  • Senegal baskets: Lotus Bleu
  • Pillows: Lotus Blue and In Bed San Francisco
  • Curtains: Anthropologie
(Image credit: Lindsay Tella)


  • Carved wood wall ornaments (dragon, hand, bull head): Various flea markets
  • Grass print: By Ryan Amarit
  • “Bangkok” girl and dog print: By Ryan Amarit
  • Unicorn, Hedgehog, and Big Foot prints: By Damien Weighill
  • Bitten cherry oil painting: By Kumi Shimizu
  • (2) side chairs: Alameda Flea Market
  • Antique trunk: Belonged to Alexis’ great grandmother, given by mother
  • Coverlet: John Robshaw
  • Decorative pillows: Aldea Home
  • Side table: Cattle Barn Flea Market in Fort Worth Texas
(Image credit: Lindsay Tella)


  • Senegal basket: Nest San Francisco.
  • Art and decorative objects: Found at variety of Texas antique malls and vintage stores.

Thanks, Alexis & Ian!

(Images: Lindsay Tella)

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Re-edited from a post originally published 4.3.2013 – AB