Justin & Katie's Just Enough Color Jive

Justin & Katie's Just Enough Color Jive

Name: Justin and Katie
Location: Pacific Heights — San Francisco, California
Size: 850 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year — rented

This is Justin and Katie's first place together, and after one year there's just enough color prescribed to keep them feeling healthy with their home décor. If you can't tell by their Adobe Creative Suite throw pillows, Justin and Katie ooze design geekiness, and for good reason.

Justin is a young architecture professional, engaged in Bay Area healthcare design who prefers monochromatic creature comforts. While Katie, an advertising design grad student, finds that a spoonful of color helps the medicine go down just a little bit better. They have introduced color in thoughtful, subtle ways: the faded vermilion red chair, a bold blue graphic "E", a rust orange desk lamp.

To those of us afraid to commit to color, Justin and Katie say we should take our time. Let objects call to us, and resist the urge to fill up our spaces with stuff just because. Enacting this concept, Katie adopted her stray vermilion chair from the roadside after it caught her eye as she was coming home late one night. Though it was missing a caster and had seen better days, Katie didn't care. She carried the red chair several blocks back to the apartment, where it proudly sits making a statement in their office/guest bedroom.

For Justin and Katie, identifying a style is not their decor destination; rather, embracing the spirit within their space and delighting in the design journey matters most.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: We are a year into this apartment; our first place together. Right now we are slowly transitioning out of the college/grad school IKEA items and starting to acquire things that are more unique and durable. Admittedly, I think our style has yet to be defined.

Inspiration: We are inspired by an assortment of items that jump out at us online, at fun shops, or flea markets. We are drawn to quirky anatomy prints, vintage metal illuminated signage and dental light fixtures. My preferred palette tends to consist of shades of grey and white, while Katie's taste has helped bring in some of the necessary color.

Favorite Element: Our guest room which also serves as a shared office. We can spend an entire Saturday contently working away in that space. It has a ton of natural light, relaxing white noise from the distant sounds of traffic passing by, and most importantly, plentiful work surface.

What Friends Say: People always seem to mention the glass coffee table in our living room. It is just a discontinued IKEA table, but I think it draws attention because we have used it to display many of our more colorful things.

Biggest Embarrassment: The kitchen floor for sure. Since we rent, we have accepted that we are unable to change the wall color or fixtures, but the kitchen floor will never grow on us.

Proudest DIY: I am pretty happy with the work desk that I built for the second bedroom. Even though it did not turn out as I originally planned in my head, it was a fun challenge to construct something that large in our small space, and to do it using extremely limited tools and within a very tight time schedule.

Biggest Indulgence: Yet to be determined! We need to find one or two large things for our empty bedroom walls, as well as upgrade the living room sofa. So it will probably be one of those things.

Best Advice: My advice is that people should not feel pressured to buy everything they need all at once. It is okay to collect things very slowly, so that you can be sure your space is filled with objects that you will really enjoy. Also, there is no need to hang objects on the walls as soon as you get them. If you have plaster walls like us, think twice before banging nails into them; instead, let artwork lean against the wall or sit on a surface until you are confident of the best location for it.

Dream Sources: A few months ago we went to a wedding in Missouri, and while there we went to President Truman's historic summer home and the Harry S. Truman Library, which included a replicated White House Oval Office. Everything looked so classic, comfortable and carefully hand-crafted. I was especially struck by this amazing globe, which can be seen in old photographs of Truman with dignitaries. If I could source from anywhere, I would acquire that globe.

Resources of Note:


    • Golden Gate Wall Decal: Picnic SF
    • Metal "E" Sign: Ebay
    • Dentist Office Procedure Floor Lamp: Leftovers SF
    • Window Treatment: homemade, fabric from Mom
    • Coffee Table: discontinued IKEA, purchased from Craigslist
    • White Table: IKEA
    • Bent Plywood Chairs: IKEA
    • Black Lounge Chairs: IKEA
    • SF Poster: Ork Posters
    • Steamer Trunk & Suitcase: inherited from Grandparents
    • Copper Anatomy Framed Art: Arts & Crafts Market at Justin Herman Plaza (across from the Ferry Building)


    • Spice Rack: homemade, test tubes purchased from local garage sale
    • Black Teapot: Target
    • Coffee Maker: Best Buy


    • Bedside Wall Shelves: IKEA
    • Dresser: IKEA
    • Lounge Chair & Ottoman: Vintage Plycraft purchased from Craigslist
    • Prints at Bedside: by Katie
    • Red Metal Bedside Table Lamp: Leftovers SF
    • Bed Linens: IKEA


    • Vintage Printing Press Drawer: Alemany Flea Market
    • Metal Printing Press Letter Blocks: Ebay
    • Wood Desk: homemade, supplies from Brownies Hardware
    • Adobe Creative Suite Throw Pillows: mysuitestuff.com
    • Bookshelf: IKEA
    • Orange Table Lamp: Alemany Flea Market
    • Bed Linens: IKEA
    • Anatomy Print: Paxton Gate
    • Grey Tweed/Metal Chair: Leftovers SF
    • Black Office Chair: Container Store

Thanks, Justin!

Images: Beth Lundell Garver

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