Alex’s Unique, Antique San Francisco Apartment

updated Dec 19, 2019
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
House tour cover

Can't-Miss House Tours Straight to Your Inbox

Keep up with our latest house tours each weekday with our House Tour of the Day newsletter

Post Image

Name: Alex Treister
Location: Mission Dolores, San Francisco, California
Size: 1210 square feet
Years lived in: 1; owned

Walking through Alex’s apartment is like taking a trip around the world. Her home is a gallery of pieces she’s collected over the years, including Native American artwork from Ashland, a poster from a bathroom in Tokyo, a harp from Peru, a statue from Bali, artwork from Prague and much more. On each of her worldwide adventures Alex returns with a physical reminder of her trip, usually accompanied by an awesome story on how she acquired the item.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

In designing her home Alex’s goal wasn’t to achieve a particular look, but rather to create a space filled with positive visual cues, things that remind her of the people and places she loves. Alex finds beauty in quirky details and focuses on the story over the trend. Her location in Mission Dolores, just across the street from the park and in close proximity to countless little stores and restaurants, is a great source of inspiration. All of the culture and one-of-a-kind shops in this neighborhood provide so much opportunity in the realm of design and beyond.

Although she works by day in the Silicon Valley tech industry, Alex has a serious passion for design. Her personal aesthetic has been influenced by her travels, with a nod to her family history. The Eames Rocker in her bedroom, for example, was passed down from her grandmother and is the same chair her mother used to rock her to sleep as a baby. In mixing heirlooms and unique artifacts with a few staples, Alex has created a truly unique space with a real global vibe.

For more from Alex, visit her website designtrov.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Bold, unique, and antique .

Inspiration: Travel, trash and treasures.

Biggest Challenge: The layout downstairs makes it very difficult to set up a cozy living space. We had to move the L-shaped couch away from the corner, creating a “faux-foyer”, because the couch constricted the front entrance. The shelving in the middle of the room is great for displaying small items, but makes for a horrible floor plan.

What Friends Say: “You carried that home from where?!” I love to buy things for my home when I’m traveling. I’m constantly figuring out ways to get artwork and large objects back to the US. On a few occasions I’ve had to negotiate over-sized luggage fees with the airlines.

A few of my friends suggested that I write a blog. I put together a site and have been testing the waters in the world of blogging. Check it out here!

Biggest Embarrassment: The harp. It’s all for show. I have no idea how to play a harp and didn’t realize it was out of tune. On my last day in Cuzco, Peru a local restaurant owner took me on a mission to find this harp, pretending it was for him so I wouldn’t get the tourist price. I scrambled to get it wrapped up at the airport and transport it home but missed my connecting flight trying to get it through customs.

Proudest DIY: The old TV. I found it on the street in New York ‘s West Village outside my favorite wine bar (Aria on Perry and Greenwich). The biggest accomplishment was convincing a taxi driver to transport it home and even help me carry it up the stairs, a true New York moment. I gutted it with a hammer and painted it, but I still haven’t decided what I want to put behind the glass — any suggestions?

Biggest Indulgence: My bed.

Best Advice: You can pull anything off — just try it.

(Image credit: Lindsay Tella)

Resources of Note:


    • The stager choose the colors when they put my condo on the market – I can’t take credit and don’t know the colors.


    • Arch Lamp: There’s an excellent furniture store in Union Square (Manhattan) that has great deals on furniture, lighting and rugs.
    • Persian rug passed down from my grandmother
    • Crates: handmade and left over from the window displays at Aldea in SF
    • Gaurda Statue: Bali
    • Black and white striped dress form: Home goods, San Carlos


    • Robert Mapplethorpe 2004 exhibit poster: Berlin Guggenheim
    • Andy Warhol 2010 exhibit poster: San Francisco De Young
    • Coffee table: custom woodworker who shares space with Fine Arts Optical on Valencia in the Mission, SF
    • Bowling pin: Off the Wall, Antique store in Austin


    • Chairs: Anthropologie
    • Animal heads, recycled cement bags, vintage book paper: Anthropologie
    • Bamboo book holders: Prize, Ashland OR
    • Test tubes: garage sale
    • Glass bulbs with feathers: Serendipity in San Francisco
    • Native American plate: Catbird in Brooklyn, NY


    • Bicycle wine rack: Home goods
    • Glass bulbs: CB2
    • Chandelier: eBay


    • Edgewise Arts (framer) in the Misison – beautiful frames (modern and antique)
    • Dressers: Craigslist, Behr colors with Anthropologie knobs
    • Chandelier: Prairie Boutique in San Carlos
    • Lanterns: Heritage, Ashland
    • Alpaca fur pillow and blanket: Peru
    • Sheets: Anthropologie


(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Thanks, Alex!

(Images: Lindsay Tella)

• HOUSE TOUR ARCHIVE Check out past house tours here
• Interested in sharing your home with Apartment Therapy? Contact the editors through our House Tour Submission Form.
• Are you a designer/architect/decorator interested in sharing a residential project with Apartment Therapy readers? Contact the editors through our Professional Submission Form.

Re-edited from a tour originally published January 2013 — AB