Welcome to my interior design studio in Marin County! When we moved into our new home just over a year ago, I knew instantly that I wanted to convert the pool cabana in our backyard into my design studio. Having a home office is such a bonus for me as I enjoy being home during the day with my two young boys (3 years old and 1 year old) but also love having a dedicated, quiet space to dive deep into my work. Today, I’m thrilled to show you the Before & Afters, walk you through the design process, and share all my sources with you.
To give you a sense of where the space was when we purchased the home here’s what it looked like when the previous owners had it. They used the space as an extra bedroom and it looked like this:
The very first thing my eye wanted when entering the space was white walls that spanned from the floor to the pitched ceiling. It’s a small room already and having two separate tones on the walls and ceiling caused a visual divide that made the room feel smaller. Using one color throughout creates a look of expansion and cohesiveness so the eye can move about the space more fluidly. Because I’m most inspired in bright, airy spaces, I chose white, which evokes feelings of endless possibility for me – exactly what I want to feel when kicking off a design project with my clients. After testing several white paint colors, the winner was Farrow & Ball’s Wevet in the Modern Emulsion finish. It’s a delicate white with a hint of grey that creates a beautiful environment – not too yellow or too blue like so many whites can be.
Now that I had a clean, white backdrop to build from, next I took some time to establish my functional needs and design point of view. I knew that to create a space that elevates my work, my design studio needed to have these three things:
- Storage solutions and organization – I thrive on organization and having order around me keeps my mind clear and focused so I can do my best work.
- A seating area to rest on when not at my desk – creating a second zone in my office gives me the flexibility to use the space in different ways.
- Neutral colors – a neutral backdrop eliminates visual distractions as I design and envision my clients’ homes from here.
Taking time to get clear on your design intentions and vision for a room before making any purchases is an important part of creating a successful space. This way, each purchase is building towards the same end result. Sometimes, I know instantly how I want a space to look and can see everything clearly in my mind. Other times, it takes a while for the design to reveal itself to me. Either way, I’ve learned over the years that being patient with this step is so important. One of the most influential pieces of design advice I’ve ever heard was, “Find a point of view and stick to it.” I find myself going back to those words during each design project I work on.
To create the storage and organization I needed, I dreamed up a wall of built-ins and then reached out to California Closets to create it. Because of the small footprint of the room, bespoke storage is a really efficient and beautiful use of space. Wall to wall built-ins also add grandiosity to a room, again something that can make a small space actually feel larger by giving it a sense of presence. My streamlined aesthetic called for lots of closed storage to conceal my fabric and material samples, important files, and even my printer, while a set of open shelves gives me a designated place to display and style decorative objects. Together with my California Closets design consultant, Caren Antone, we worked on the design until it was exactly what I had envisioned. The 3D renderings Caren provided throughout the process were especially helpful in visualizing how it would all come together.
For the fronts of the built-in, I chose Linen from the Tesoro collection for the beautiful, yet subtle texture it adds and Classic White for the top of the desk. For hardware, I selected oil rubbed bronze pulls from Schaub, which is one of the many hardware lines they carry. I loved the more earthy feeling of bronze for this room (as opposed to a shinny metal) and the substantial feel it gave to the otherwise soft color palette of the built-ins
Because wall space is limited, I utilized the outside of one of the shelving units to hang a custom-sized bulletin board from Corkboard.com, using their “White Satin” frame with “Snow” fabric. I love having a place to display textiles I’m currently working with and can see while sitting at my desk. I also think it’s important to have a place to display inspiration – quotes, intentions, goals, etc. – in a creative space to help call forth what you’re currently drawn towards.
My desk chair is the “Emery” arm chair from Palecek, which is one of my favorite pieces in the entire design studio. The rattan construction and detailing add a beautiful layer of texture to the space, creating lots of warmth and visual interest to this area of the room.
Moving towards the other side of the room your eye lands on a gallery wall of art. A good grouping of art is such a powerful way to infuse your personality into a space, address a blank wall that can’t accommodate furniture, and create a statement. For gallery walls, I always like to start with a larger “anchoring” piece, then build out from there. Right now my collection includes pieces from some of my favorite artists and photographers: Justyn Chapman, McKenzie Dove, Emily Johnston, Nicole Cohen, Anna Ullman, and Skye Schuchman. I love that I have space on the wall to add to the gallery as I find new artist to collect from.
Beyond the desk area, the second zone in the space is a seating area, which allows me to use the room in different ways. I always encourage my clients to include a place to lounge in their office if there’s room for it because I find our bodies crave a new experience in the room after sitting at a desk for long periods of times. I often find myself moving to the sofa to work from my phone or just to think when I need a physical and mental break from desk work. For the seating area, I chose Interior Define’s Sloan Sleeper in Ivory. I loved the refined silhouette and all the customization options they offer.
Next, I knew the space called for an oversized mirror above the sofa for several reason: First, placing a mirror opposite a window always helps reflect and bounce light around a room, which is especially helpful in small spaces. Secondly, it provides visual calm next to the activity of the gallery wall. And lastly, the large mirror serves an important role in anchoring that side of the space. Because the built-in wall carries so much visual weight, I needed to match that same level of weight on the opposite wall to create harmony between the two sides of the room.
Though most of my designs tend to include subtle hints of color, I opted for a totally neutral color scheme as a way to minimize visual distraction from the homes I design for my clients from here. When decorating with neutrals it becomes especially important to pay close attention to bringing in warmth through texture as you don’t have color to rely on for this. The rattan and rope hanging wall sconces from Palecek are definitely my favorite texture rich moment in the entire design studio. Their warmth is only heightened by being juxtaposed with the sleek steel mirror they rest next to.
Another favorite piece in the room are the two marble side tables from Palecek, the Vivian and the Veda. The veining brings in a warm hue while the organic shapes of the base and table top add a fun geometric element into the space. Plus, they fit into the tight space like a glove!
Of course, another important way to make a space feel more inviting through texture is with window treatments. I find that people tend to overlook this important part of decorating their homes but it’s actually one of the most important ways to make a room feel finished and refined. Window treatments really help frame out a room by adding a layer of depth to the walls. I chose flat roman shades from Loom Decor in their “Heathered Dove” fabric, which is a beautiful taupe color with gray undertones. If you aren’t familiar with Loom Decor yet, they make custom window treatments you can order online, making them a really convenient and affordable source. The roman shades were the perfect finishing touch to the space!
I hope you enjoyed touring my interior design studio. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below and I will be more than happy to answer them. If you’d like to recreate this look, be sure to grab the sources down below!
Sitting Area: 1. Hanging Pendant | 2. Coffee Table | 3. Color Block Vase | 4. Small Ceramic Dish (Similar) | 5. Woven Wall Sconces | 6. Sofa | 7. Marble Side Table 1 | 8. Marble Side Table 2 | 9. Oversized Round Mirror | 10. Solid Pillows | 11. Patterned Pillows | 12. Rug | 13. Smooth White Round Vase | 14. Dotted White Round Vase
All Palecek product can be ordered directly through me if interested! Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.