Darren & Preston’s Castro Home With a View

updated Feb 20, 2019
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(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

Name: Darren Elms and Preston Ames
Location: Castro; San Francisco, CA
Size: 700 square feet
Years lived in: 1.5 years; Rented

Los Angeles natives Darren and Preston consider themselves fortunate to have found a beautiful apartment with breathtaking views in the Bay Area’s competitive rental market. Located at the top of a hill in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood, the apartment allows them to enjoy amazing views of the city from their patio, and on a clear day, views of the Bay Bridge and the East Bay.

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(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

Their self-defined “California Eclectic” style is revealed throughout their 700 square foot apartment: mid-century style furniture, vintage Hollywood film posters, and art and objects that remind them of their old and new homes. Photographs of friends and pieces of art they love hang above their living room sofa in a gallery wall. Darren’s love for Heath Ceramics allows him to scatter bud vases from his collection throughout their apartment, adding more color to the already vibrant space.

“We really dig California-made or inspired items and try to purchase from local artisans whenever we can,” they said. “The monkey wood coffee table was handmade by a photographer friend in Manhattan Beach who does woodworking as a hobby. It’s one of our favorite pieces.”

(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: California Eclectic

Inspiration: A blend of our Los Angeles roots and our new life in San Francisco.

Favorite Element: The views! Especially from the living room and patio. We can see all the way from Sutro Tower to the Bay Bridge and Oakland. The handmade coffee table is pretty awesome too.

Biggest Challenge: The captain’s bed. It’s awfully cute, but not super easy to make and one person is stuck against the wall all night. But, it can be cozy.

What Friends Say: Our visitors really appreciate the location and amazing city views. They like how we’ve personalized our place so it feels unique to us, yet also has a colorful, warm vibe of its own.

Biggest Embarrassment: Our trial and error with plants. Neither of us have fine-tuned green thumbs, so it’s been a challenge to find the right plants for the right light and location. After knocking off a few unlucky contenders, I discovered the durability and versatility of succulents. They’re thriving! And, surprisingly, the fiddle leaf fig really likes its spot in the bay window. So there’s hope for us.

Proudest DIY: Probably our gallery wall. It took a while to perfect, but we really enjoy the combination of personal photos, objects and art.

Biggest Indulgence: Our collection of Heath dinnerware and vases…a classic California ceramics company based in Sausalito. Darren’s obsession with their bud vases alone could put us in the poorhouse. I think we’re at 20 and still growing.

Best Advice: Don’t be afraid to mix and match different styles. If they work together, they work, and the combo often makes a room less static. And try to personalize your space. It’s nice to come home to a place that reflects both you and your chosen location.

Dream Sources: Etsy is pretty much queen for us, but if we were going to splurge, we’d swoop up some more Jonathan Adler pieces and seek out original art we love. Darren’s the design fan and follows Emily Henderson, Design Sponge, and of course, Apartment Therapy.

(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

Resources of Note:


  • Apartment came with the neutral light beige color and all those lovely restored antique fixtures


  • Sofa: HD Buttercup
  • Blue chair, ottoman and gold pillow: West Elm
  • Rug and Cable Car art: Overstock.com
  • Coffee Table: Custom by Jeff Berting
  • Bud vases: Heath Ceramics
  • Brass Figures, male portrait, teal pillows and camping stool: etsy.com
  • Sun lamp, tray, round pillow, monogramed pillows and menagerie: Jonathan Adler
  • Honeycomb lamp: Target
  • Striped cuckoo clock: SF Museum of Modern Art
  • Dog plate: The Gold Bug, Pasadena
  • Acrobat painting: Vintage store in LA
  • Parrot drawing: Pombo Art
  • Pink elephant lithograph: Shag
  • California bear print: 3 Fish Studio
  • German Seven Year Itch film poster: vintage online
  • Czech Purple Noon poster: Chisholm Larsson, NY
  • Orange chairs: yard sale and painted
  • Bookshelf: vintage lined with Paper Source single sheet paper


  • Table: Craigslist
  • Chairs: Overstock.com
  • Loveseat: found on 19th
  • Plates/mugs: Heath Ceramics
  • Street in SF
  • Napkins: Target
  • Olivewood flatware: Sur La Table
  • Golden Gate Park posters: from old calendar and framed
  • Rug: Ikea
  • Playing card prints: Jaqk Cellars
  • Turquoise pot: Home Depot
  • Wall planter: Woolly Pocket
  • Bar cart and bridge pillow: gift!


  • Mirror: Estate sale
  • LA by Night lithograph: Shag
  • Rug: Target
  • Quilt: Barbara Barry
  • Teal blanket: The Company Store
  • Shams: Target
  • Hive pillow: Home Goods
  • Moon drawing: Custom from Dean Heezen


  • Desk top: Ikea
  • Hairpin legs: esty.com
  • Table lamp and red star lamp: Ikea
  • Red desk: vintage
  • Drafting chair: Overstock.com
  • Rug: Ikea
  • Wood laptop cover: etsy.com
  • Terrarium: Oddyssea in Half Moon Bay
  • Red frame: Jonathan Adler
  • Don Quixote and apple: Lladro gift
  • Radio: ModelOne
  • Horse sculpture: Z Gallerie
  • Linen box: Target
  • Throw blanket: Isaac Mizrahi
  • Lipstick print: vintage by René Gruau
  • Bridge wall sculpture: Treasure Island Flea Market


  • Adirondack chairs: gift
  • Table: Target
  • Benches: Ikea
  • Turquoise pot: handmade by Chris Burgoyne
  • Bullet planter: Hip Haven
  • Rug: Small garden store in Sharon Springs, NY
  • Lantern: Cliff’s Variety Store, SF
(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

Thanks, Darren and Preston!

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