Interior Designers

Parent Q&A

Recommended interior designers Oct 3, 2020 (2 responses below)
Virtual interior design Apr 2, 2020 (1 responses below)
Interior Decorator? Jan 12, 2020 (1 responses below)
interior designer w/experience working in homes with young kids Nov 14, 2019 (2 responses below)
Interior designer recommendation? Jan 5, 2019 (2 responses below)
Any current recommendations on an interior designer? Apr 6, 2017 (5 responses below)
  • Recommended interior designers

    (2 replies)

    Greetings from the East Coast!

    We will be moving to the East Bay in one month! Looking for an interior designer who can help us virtually so some decisions can be made and work and deliveries can be lined up as soon as we take possession of the house. Very exciting but I don’t have any contacts out there. I’d be grateful for any advice and/or recommendations. 

    Congrats on your move! Vaughan Woodson is an incredibly talented interior designer who does both high end and less expensive design depending on what the client is looking for. I have worked with her on a few spaces in my home and I really love that she is able to mix items from all different price points. She has a great eye, beautiful taste and goes out of her way for her clients. A friend used her as well, who has a totally different style than me, so she clearly is able to adapt her stye to the client's. She is located in the East Bay. Definitely reach out to her to see if it is a good fit. 415-596-9663 Feel free to let her know that Amanda Scott recommended you. Good luck with your move.

    I highly recommend Cillesa Ullman. 
    510-390-3176 cell

    cillesa [at]

    I've worked with her on various decorating and remodeling projects in my Oakland home. She has excellent ideas and is easy to work with. She will help you completely reimagine your space!

  • Virtual interior design

    (1 reply)

    My parents are hoping to redesign their living room around a few anchor pieces (family art and a grand piano). I’m looking for a designer who would work with them to design the space according to their specifications (eg price, ease of cleaning furniture since they have very young grandkids). Any suggestions for local people who are affordable and talented at designing attractive spaces that are pleasant to actually live in (not just photograph!)? Any experiences with national services like Modsy?

    RE: Virtual interior design ()

    I highly recommend Dee Cherix at Bleu Leman design. She is very talented, easy to work with, and reasonably priced. Her work has made a huge difference in my house! (making sheltering in place much more pleasant than it would have otherwise been!)

  • Interior Decorator?

    (1 reply)

    We are looking for someone to help us do a cosmetic facelift on the playroom in our house to change it from "kid" to "teen" - mostly just paint and maybe some new furnishings (rug, light fixtures, plus moving existing big furniture around to maximize the space, etc.), nothing structural. We are terrible at knowing what looks good and would like someone with a good, fresh eye for this! Any recommendations for a person who won't break the bank? Thanks!

    RE: Interior Decorator? ()

    We have used Jennifer Galanis and have been very happy with her ideas — and she can find creative ways to do cool things with a smaller budget.

    Her email is jennifergalanis [at] 

  • We've got two kids under 3 y/o and are looking for an interior designer to help us spruce up + maximize use of our space while understanding that it needs to be functional as well as pretty. Most of the recommendations I've seen on here so far link to work that seems meant for photo shoots rather than real homes -- beautiful but probably not for us. Would really appreciate any leads!


    I hired Elisa Lewis about 3 months ago and I couldn’t be happier. I totally recommend you connect with her. I have 3 young children 2 of which stay home with me. Elisa worked on my kitchen and came up with some creative solutions due to my lack of storage space as well as fresh color concepts. My kitchen is now my favorite room in the house and has a great balance between fresh, beautiful and functional. AND She was an absolute delight to work with. You can contact her at 646-789-9507

    I highly recommend Kyoko Yamada Jackson with Yumi Interiors. She has been helping us do exactly what you’re looking for in our house with two kids under 5. We’ve been thrilled with her ideas and her practical yet stylish sensibility. 

  • Interior designer recommendation?

    (2 replies)

    We’re looking for a consult with an interior designer before moving into our Berkeley home in March with our new baby. Any recommendations to get the most out of our new space would be appreciated. Thanks! 

    Julia Goodwin Design is great -

    We have used her for both indoor and outdoor projects - big and small.  She works with clients all over the Bay Area.  

    We've worked with Claudia Juestel at Adeeni Design on two projects and both were very enjoyable collaborations!

  • We'll be moving into a larger space, but bringing a decent amount of furniture with us. Would love a designer who is inclined to work with what we have and then supplement with the right stuff.

    I can recommend Victoria Bochat at Victoria Bochat Interiors.

    Victoria specializes in using pieces you have and supplementing with newly bought items to create a cohesive and wonderful whole. She is a delight to work with--funny, resourceful and with a great eye. She did a really good job with my house.  It was my taste, but brought it to a higher level. 

    Patty Glikberg of Pannagan Designs 415 517-0091 has been great on the 2 or 3 projects we've done. What I love about her is that she works with what you've got and then helps you decide what's worth spending money on vs just getting from Ikea.

    I recommend Rochelle Silberman .  Rochelle remodeled an old 1938 kitchen, laundry room and powder room and also created a new full bathroom.  I hated cooking and spending time in my old kitchen and the powder room entrance was through the kitchen.  My kitchen is a dream to cook in and spend time with friends and family.  My new bathroom is timeless and lovely.  Rochelle had so many practice ideas.  She was able to take several rooms and combine them and then create a layout that is functional and beautiful.  For example, she planed a pull out drawer that holds compost, garbage and recycling at the end of the island. It is across from the stove and sink.  It is a perfect prep location and makes it easy to slide any waste directly into the bins. Rochelle is warm, helpful, and wonderful to work with.  I highly recommend her and plan to use her services again in the future for other projects.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Need Practical Interior Designer for simple kitchen update

Jan 2013

It feels a bit frivolous to even ask this since we are fairly simple and far from wealthy but we need some help as we look to do a very simple kitchen remodel (keep existing cabinets, no major layout changes). The remodel will include opening up a 'pass through' to another room and thus change the configuration of the living/dining/? area of our house.

We need someone to help to figure out the layout (furniture wise) of the 'other room' with a 'you are on the right track (or not)' with the kitchen remodel ideas and help us figure out/pick out some new furniture (specifically a couch and an area rug). This will help us determine where to put in lights in those rooms (since we hope to have an electrician come once- kitchen stuff and other room stuff).

It seems like an interior designer with some kitchen experience is what we are looking for, but our project (and budget) seem very small potatoes to even hire someone as most portfolios I am finding are of immaculate houses with giant rooms and all 'new' stuff. We need to use the majority of what we already have and do not want a color consultation.

We are in Pleasant Hill and would want someone to come over, see our 'style (which is kinda mismatched- Pottery Barn meets vintage meets kitsch) and help us accordingly. Does this person exist? Do you have a recommendation? What is a typical fee for this kind of consultation? Is this something anyone ever 'barters' for? new to this designer thing

We loved Kathleen Divney of 1Columbia design. We did a reface of our 1960's kitchen (painted cabinets, appliances, floor) and its lovely lovely lovely. I never thought I'd like the kitchen without ripping the whole thing out, but Kathleen's suggestions about color, hardware and and lighting absolutly resurrected our kitchen. Tell her Sarah in Montclair sent you! Sarah

I would recommend Alina Druga Interiors. I think Alina will be the perfect answer for your problems. Her fees are very reasonable and she is great working with small budgets. Also if you need any plans done for your kitchen, she can do that as well. Her contact info is Alina Druga, (510) 566-5917, alinadruga [at] I am a general contractor and worked with Alina for many years. M.

Need a great interior designer

Nov 2012

We just moved from a rented bungalow to our own wonderful 4 bedroom home in North Berkeley. We have 2 small children and a cat. We are ready to start furnishing with more 'grown up' furnishings. Practical and beautiful - can they co-exist? We both have consuming jobs and need help with both the creative development and putting-it all- together implementation. We have some ideas about what we like, but need the right local designer to help us organize, beautify and furnish. It needs to be someone with great style, who is resourceful, cost conscious and easy to work with. Can anyone recommend someone you have worked with who you think would be a good match for our needs? Thanks so much!

I highly recommend Helena Tiainen. She is not only a professionally trained interior designer, but also an experienced organizer. On top of that, her fees are very reasonable. Helena helped me organize my home, including choosing new furniture, artwork, and other accessories, picking out wall colors and fabrics, and providing very creative but functional layout suggestions.

Unlike many designers who have preconceived ideas about what they think you need, Helena listens very closely to what *you* want and helps create the type of living space that works for *you*. She is very easy to work with, and is extremely reliable. She provides a free half hour telephone consultation. It's a great opportunity to determine whether you think her skills and approach would work for you. You can email her at HTiainen01 [at] Her website is: Diane

I highly recommend Laura Martin Bovard for interior design. She has a great sense of style and can help you achieve a great look on any budget. Check out her web site and blog to learn more. As a general contractor, I know a lot of interior designers, and Laura is one of the best. laura [at] Michael M.

I recommend Laura Martin Bovard, of Laura Martin Bovard Interiors. I've seen her houses on home tours and have had the pleasure of working on a few of her projects, and she is amazing. Her style is warm, accessible and beautiful. You are just the type of client she enjoys: a family looking for a retreat from their busy lives. Laura is an excellent listener and helps her clients realize their ideas in a cohesive and functional way. You can find her online, at or call her 510-531-8438. Lisette

For a great interior designer, call Rochelle Silberman. She is a trained and skilled Interior designer that loves residential work. Having worked for a design build contractor for years, she understands what things cost, how to create for modern usage with a look that matches the period of your home. Rochelle has great style (her own home in el Cerrito is beautiful, comfortable and hasn't been remodeled). I'm also an interior designer (commercial) and I often call Rochelle in for the final review, she has great style and knowledge of materials. You will enjoy the process with her and have fun creating a great home for your family. Congratulations on your home purchase. rosilber [at] or 415 971-8998. I forgot to say that she is reasonably priced and efficient with her time, so you won't feel like your money is going into fees and not upgrades. Hiring a seasoned professional with great focus and time management is a good choice lauren

Victoria was absolutely picture-perfect to help us furnish & decorate our new home. She was full of inspired and practical recommendations; was flexible, reliable, with a wonderful sense of style. She was able to guide our new home project from our overwhelming 'OMG - what-do-we-do-now?' panic, to careful planning, through successful implementation. We were worried that we might feel intimidated, but were not; she was easy & fun to work with.

She assured us that interior design projects are 'works in progress' - Everyone has different needs and goals and she specializes in making the process personal, enjoyable and affordable (we had a budget!). She listened carefully to both of us (we don't always agree - need I say more?) and was able to create a unique multi-step plan we both loved. We wanted to start with living / family room & dining room. Next, we plan tackle bedrooms and window treatments.

She was right on the mark at rearranging and repurposing some furnishings we already had. She created room-schematics, to scale, to illustrate numerous furniture sizing & placement possibilities. Our family room is a really odd shape but she came up with an ingenious plan. Her creative ideas were plentiful - we never could have thought up any of these concepts!

Victoria proposed a vibrant color palette, coordinating custom fabrics, built-in ideas and organization opportunities like storage for our kid's toys, (which were everywhere)! Under her direction, we had a lovely window seat, with large storage drawers built into a neglected corner. We also had some painting done. She has trusted resources for artisans, carpenters, painters, electricians, etc.

She guided our purchases of beautiful, contemporary, new and vintage furniture including sectional, rugs, coffee table, lighting, dining table & chairs, server and art (we bought these wonderful oversize canvas wraps). We were even able to take advantage of some designer discounts, we appreciated that. She also figured out ways to incorporate the TV without consuming the room.

The project was a complete success - making our family happy & cozy in our newly improved home. It all looks amazing we LOVE being inside & we are truly elated with the way it turned out. We will totally continue to consult her for step 2 and beyond. Super Happy Client

We used Victoria Bochat (Victoria Bochat interiors) for our design project. We had lived in our home for many years when we finally decided to get shed our catch-as-catch-can look and refurnish our home. We were more than ready for a serious update. Victoria took time to determine our aesthetics and priorities, which put me at ease. We were delighted that she was willing to work with some things we had, moving things around and incorporating them into the final design plan. Best of all, Victoria was totally flexible, purchasing some items for us, pointing us in the right direction for us to purchase some things ourselves, and always keeping the big picture in mind. We ended up with just what we were looking for and within our budget. And, we totally enjoyed the process. Victoria took the big mystery out of design and showed us how to create a workable, warm and inviting space. Our only regret is that we didn't hire Victoria about a decade earlier! Check her out: (510) 326 9682 victoriabochatinteriors [at] L

Interior designer or decorator?

Oct 2012

We're working on plans for remodeling our house, and we have an architect that we love. But I'd also like to hire someone just for an hour or two who can look beyond the 'bones' of the house to evaluate our (humble) living space and make recommendations about window sizing and placement, fireplace and bookshelf location, maybe paint colors, and the best layout for our wide-open living/dining room space (e.g., where we should put a sofa, what shape and size, and how we can break up the space better with furniture). Would I be better off with an interior designer or an interior decorator? Will any of them just do a quick consult? I don't need plans or specific furniture recommendations, I just want ideas and input to guide the decisions we make with our architect. Would love a recommendation, particularly for any that are passionate about midcentury houses. design-challenged

I HIGHLY recommend Gretchen Murdock of MODtage Design! She is an excellent and extremely detailed Interior Designer and she has helped us with everything from paint color consultation to a major bathroom renovation. She is a highly-trained architect and she has worked on commercial and residential interior design in the Bay Area for a number of years. Her aesthetic tends more towards the mid-century and clean-lined modern but she has an excellent eye and is great in any environment. She is exceptionally good at space planning, fixture, material/ finish selection and color consultation. All that being said, she is also very warm, kind and approachable and a truly great communicator. 415.216.5183 | murdock.gretchen [at] Amy

We've been working with Harvey Clark Design, and we've been very happy with the thoroughness of his work as well as the contractors he hires. Harvey used to work at a San Francisco firm (Scheiber Design), and we enjoy working with him because he's very flexible to our vision, and he's way more affordable. You can reach Harvey at 510-526-0051 or at harvey (at) Alex H.

Interior Designer - Small Potatoes

June 2012

I'm looking for more recent recommendations for interior designers (the most recent reviews in the archives are 2008). I need to buy a new couch, chair, coffee & end tables, and media stand, and I have challenging space with lots of doors/windows. Plus I have a toddler. I'd like some (small potatoes) help in what furniture would fit best there, and then rounding it out with some pictures and window treatments. If that goes well, I could use similar help in other rooms, but my living room right now is the main issue. It's important that the person values finding deals on materials/furnitures, rather than recommending just buying everything from a high-end store. I'm looking to develop a comfortable, usable, homey space - using some of my existing things - and not something that looks 'designed.' ISO Help for Homey Living Room

I would like to recommend Cecile Lozano to help you decorate your home. She is very talented, listens to what you say, and can help you pull together any room in your home, using old and new pieces. She helped me make my living room liveable! Her rates are very reasonable. She knows how to decorate on a budget. Cecile Lozano Interiors 415-584-8442 Jill

Interior Designer Wanted

Feb 2012

Hello, Our house flooded while we were away for the weekend. It's a nightmare but the good news is that we get to do some remodeling and buy some new furniture. We would like to work with someone to help us design and choose materials for our kitchen and bathroom, choose paint colors and flooring, and buy furniture. We've never worked with anyone like this before and don't know anyone else who has. We're not loaded so we don't want to spend too much money on this. Do any of you have any good recommendations for us? Can you give us any advice on how to find and choose a good person? We want someone who will listen to us and help us design our dream home, not his/her dream home. We have very simple, modern taste and don't like a lot of clutter. Thanks Inexperienced

For lovely, simple and tasteful design, check out Diane Leifer at Bleu Leman Design, 510.910.9969, see her work at She's got the very best taste, is smart, and is a truly lovely person. Good luck! lisa

I have been extremely pleased with Homemade Designs Everything is by phone, email. You do a little survey on line then send off dimensions, email some pictures of the room and she responds quickly. Amanda is very efficient narrowing in on what I like, sending out samples, and not giving me a hard sell. I believe it is a very cost effective way of getting great designer advice and discounts. You can look at the website or Angie's list for reviews. There are often discounts off the $299 price.( I think my first room desgn fee through Angies list was $39 and my second was $99. I'm working on my second room with her now, and so delighted to not be making those costly trips to the design center....sometimes those little ventures are exhausting and they end up costing a great deal as well. dona

I would like to recommend Nicole Benveniste as an interior designer. She has done several of my friends' houses and they all look amazing. She's got a great eye for color and often puts unexpected things together that end up looking fantastic. She loves mid-century, but has worked on luxury hotels as well as traditional homes. Nicole was just on a segment on Eye on the Bay re-doing a living room using only the Alameda Auction and house and antiques fair. She's a really nice person and easy to work with. Good luck! LK

Interior designer/decorator needed

June 2011

I need a recommendation for an interior designer or decorator for our new house in Lamorinda. The posting in the archives are dated, so it would be great to get a new recommendation. In particular, I need advice about window treatments. Lamorinda Mom

We used Claire Campbell of Mint Home Decor: She was very talented and we love the way our house looks. So does everyone who comes through the door. Happy Berkeley Lady

Laura Martin Bovard!! She is a fabulous interior designer. Her spaces are beautiful, warm, inviting, luxe and livable. Truly lovely stuff. And she is an absolute doll to work with. She really listens to what you're saying and what your needs & wants are. Check out her website at for some pics of her work. I can't recommend her highly enough! She's in Oakland/Piedmont but does work all over the Bay Area. 510.531.8438 julie

We used Becky Hatt ( for a recent kitchen/family room remodel. She's very enthusiastic and helped guide our choices while keeping with our taste. She gave me the courage to go a little bolder on some color decisions-- without Becky, our whole project would be beige! aw

I recommend Jennie Gisslow in San Leandro. Technically she is a CKD. She's done many jobs commercial and residental. She asks many questions to find out exactly what you want and is needed. She has had her work published in Sunset Magazine and other publications. She has given me many suggestions on my bathroom remodel. I would say her rate is about in the middle. Her e-mail is jennie [at] Pam

I would like to whole heartedly recommend my designer, fellow mom and friend, Anna Watkins Porter, to the person seeking current recommendations. Anna has helped me with many projects over the years, from home staging to color consultation and, most recently, consulting on window treatments. She is great at working to integrate what you already have or starting from scratch and knows where to find great deals. Anna can be reached at: 415.269.9084 or annawatkinsporter'at'

Decorator for new home

March 2011

We will like recommendations for a decorator who would come to our current house in Berkeley to see what furniture we have and then visit our new home on the peninsula to help us decide what furniture we should move and general ideas about what we need to buy and how to arrange the new spaces. We need to do this on a very tight budget so we want someone who will help us to create the overall design and we will do the shopping. design challenged

Hi I have worked with two very talented designers who have helped me with my spaces, Both are realy great. Elke Savala also an artist, is incredible at making spaces very organized. color wise and has a tasteful European sence of color. She will tell you what she thinks and is very profound. Bethany St,Clair Very comfortable to work with she is who I would call the feel good designer. Best of luck wth your project. Sharyl

I highly recommend Chelsea Sachs of Chelsea Sachs Design. I am a contractor and have recommended her to many of my clients and all who have chosen to work with her are singing her praise. Chelsea has a very unique and tasteful approach and a very pleasant and giving personality which seems to work wonderfully with homeowners. She's able to realize a vision that is based on the homeowners desires with her professional expertise. She's never overbearing and controlling and knows that it is the homeowner who'll be living in the space and therefor it needs to accommodate the homeowner's wants and needs above all. Give Chelsea a call- you won't regret it! Her info: Chelsea Sachs Design | 510.333.5511 | chelsea [at] Good luck with your project, Idan

Try Daniel Sauro at Design made Simple Interiors. He looks at the furniture you already have and makes practical recommendations. Plus, he's a really nice guy! Cassie

I'd suggest Laura Stetson for your design needs. She has an incredible sense for design and re-design, and most importantly, really listens to her clients' needs and style preferences, etc. She has helped me on/off for the last few years, and we feel so much more comfortable in our home as a result. Visitors always comment on how we have things set up, and it's thanks to Laura. you can reach her at ljs [at] Good luck Julie

Call Dianna of Dianna V. Interior Design! She takes the time to listen to your questions and concerns and helps you turn your house into a home. She will introduce you to things you might not have considered before and actually like! Give her a call for more information. 415-312.6080 happy client

Looking for an affordable interior designer

March 2011

We are moving soon and would like help decorating our new place to be more functional and to also reflect our own personal style. We have most of the furniture we need but will likely need to get some new pieces and would also like help configuring furniture, organizing, etc. I looked in the archives and the last recs were from 2008. Also, can anyone provide guidance on what to expect as far as cost? Do designers get paid by the hour typically? We need to make sure we can fit this into our budget. Thanks! starting fresh

I highly recommend Chelsea Sachs of Chelsea Sachs Design. I am a contractor and have recommended her to many of my clients and all who have chosen to work with her are singing her praise. Chelsea has a very unique and tasteful approach and a very pleasant and giving personality which seems to work wonderfully with homeowners. She's able to realize a vision that is based on the homeowners desires with her professional expertise. She's never overbearing and controlling and knows that it is the homeowner who'll be living in the space and therefor it needs to accommodate the homeowner's wants and needs above all. Give Chelsea a call- you won't regret it! Her info: Chelsea Sachs Design | 510.333.5511 | chelsea [at] Good luck with your project, Idan

I know a great designer who took time off as a stay at home mom and is now ready to pick her career up. She's currently looking for projects to build a new portfolio and is offering her services at a lower rate.She is very innovative, dedicated, and talented! Her overall costs are very reasonable and just depends on how much the job entails. Contact: thuy-ngo [at] Janna

Marlene Zullo is gifted and affordable. I don't know her current rates, but I do know that she is v reasonable, especially given her talents. Here is her website -- it shows spaces that she has redesigned. She also does interior designing. Good luck with your new beginning! RL

I would recommend Stuart Gilchrist, an amazingly talented interior designer and good friend who has been designing in the bay area for many years. You may contact him through his website at - daniela

Need interior design/lighting help

March 2011

We are hoping to find someone who can help us with interior lighting, paint colors, and give our home a more pulled- together look. It wouldn't be the worst thing to hire three separate consultants, but if we can find one person to help us, that seems so much easier. We'd like our home to have a clean, contemporary look (and be child- friendly) without being sterile.

I highly recommend our general contractor Tom Wright at . He remodeled our bathroom and he specializes in lighting. He not only came up with a fantastic design for the bathroom, but he also redesigned the lighting in our basement to make it feel much more spacious. Tracy

Need interior decorator/designer

March 2011

I need a designer/decorator - not sure of the terminology - to help redesign our living room. We are happy w/paint color but need to add a few more pieces and reconfigure the room to make it more useable for our needs and I finally realized that I can't figure it out on my own. I love the look of the Scout staging folks but would rather work with someone who is designing for living rather than selling. We are on a limited budget but will pay the right price for the right person. All of the recommendations in the archives are at least three years old. Anyone suggest someone they've worked with? We're open to a newbie if the price is commensurable. design challenged

I highly recommend Melissa Guerrerro, who helped us to pick the wall colors and redecorate our living/dining rooms. She is really easy to work with and is a good listener. We LOVE the result. Could not have done it without her. We will be using her for the next project. Meg

I recommend Robin Preussker and Sissy Latino who run a business called Transformations Homestylists. They come to your house and rearrange your furniture in a way which helps meet your needs better-- they really improved our living environment! They also provide a shopping service if needed, or will just recommend to you if they think you need new pieces. Very reasonably priced also. transformed in Berkeley

Bethany St. Clair Is very nice to work with. bethany [at] feng shui space clearing interior arranging organizing 510.304.4264 Sharyl

I highly recommend Interior Redesigner Helena Tiainen to help you with your living room. She brings her beautiful aesthetic sense and unique talent to make rooms bloom to each household project we tackle. In one part of an afternoon, Helena helped me transform the clunky dining nook into a special playroom, using only what I had in the house to create an inviting and functional space. When my two year old saw the new room he exclaimed, 'Wow!' I love working with Helena. HTiainen01 [at] Kamala

Marlene Zullo is fantastic -- she has a clear eye, is a great communicator, and creates beautiful spaces. You will love working with her. She is also very flexible and able to make spaces fit the people living within them. She is located in Napa, and travels for clients. Here is her website: Rachel

I can recommend my decorator (and good friend) Victoria Bochat. She is a master at using what you have, rearranging it and freshening it with paint, new fabric, pillows, etc. and then supplementing with pieces that bring the whole room together. She's cost-conscious and never pressures. And, she's a delight to work with. Victoria can be reached at victoriabochatinteriors [at] or at 510.326.9682. L

2009 - 2010 Recommendations

Interior Designer Mediator (!) Desperately Needed!

Dec 2010

Y'know that TV show where the designer takes husband and wife with completely opposed tastes and finds solutions they both can live with? Well, I desperately need that person. My male significant other, a strong- minded guy who was a bachelor doing his own interiors for too long, is impossible to talk to about decor. We are moving into a new house (out of his bachelor house) and every time I try to make suggestions he doesn't want to hear them. He also doesn't want a designer but I am going to get one anyway and bring them over. So has anyone worked with a designer that can 'mediate' between two people with very, very different tastes, and who connects well with men who have very definite points of view? I need someone very smart (because my s.o. is whip-smart), and someone who is personable with a great sense of humor (because my s.o. likes to laugh and joke around). Probably need someone who works by the hour because we're looking more for general advice on wall colors, carpets, flooring - not buying expensive furniture on commission. If they can refer us to good companies for different kinds of work that helps also. Thanks! DNDH (Desperately Needing Design Help!)

I recommend Angelisse Karol at She is fabulous with design and color, which you can see by checking out her website. My husband and I used her to help us with selecting colors for painting our house, and I've used her for deciding on colors and decor for my workplace. She works with both people's tastes and gives reasons for her suggestions. I learned a few things about color and design from our consultations. She also sends you 8x8' samples of the color you've agreed on. My husband and I couldn't be happier. Happy Customer

Affordable interior desiger - modern style/look

Nov 2010

Looking for an affordable interior decorator with a modern/contemporary style. Can't spend a lot and looking for someone to partner with about ideas rather than someone who just takes over. Need help with 1-2 rooms as well as other suggestions. msc

For the past few months I've worked with Melissa Winn. She's very responsive - very computer savvy (if you need elevations/sketches) - and very, very efficient. I needed very specific help and paid her by the hour. I will definitely use her again in the future. I started with someone else who was unable to travel to my house and that just did not work out. Annette

Check out Design Made Simple owned by Daniel Sauro. He's great, reasonable, and a real partner in the design process. --sue happily redesigned

Try Laura Stetson for your interior design or re-design project. She is incredibly talented, and really works with your style. we have more of the wood/textiles kind of house and i like it non-fussy and not traditional. Laura helped me re-arrange everything, buy new fabrics for re-upholstery (she's a great shopper!), and hang pics, reframe pics, pick paint colors, etc. There wasn't anything she couldn't do! i've had her back several times to help with the next phase (ie, i did the couches a few years after i painted). Her prices are really reasonable, she's super upbeat and won't make you feel bad about anything in your house or your style, and is really fun to work with. Please give her a call, you won't regret it! Laura Stetson: ljs [at] happily decorating....

I highly recommend Jill McCoy, who really helped me transform my difficult to decorate living room into a great modern-style living space, and also helped me convert an in-law unit into a funky kids 'suite'. Jill can offer you as much or as little support as you want, but she helped me come up with concepts and layouts, pick colors, shop for furniture and finishing touches, and hang pictures. Her rates are very reasonable and she was a pleasure to work with. You can reach her at 415-302-6874. Ronnie

Creative Interior Designer/Decorator in Berkeley

Nov 2010

I'm looking for a creative, elegant interior designer/decorator for a dining room/living room in the Berkeley/Albany area. Does anyone have experience with someone they like? I'm looking for help with some furniture and curtains (don't want to go w/sue's shades, alcatraz shades etc.) Thank you! anon

A great interior designer is Laura Martin Bouvard. I have seen her before and after work and she is marvelous to work with. She will transform your space to a wonderful retreat with class and will meet your budget. She is also a color expert. Her phone number is 510-531-8438. Her email is laura [at] Sharon

Definitely call Jennifer Ward of Flourish Home Services. I am using her to do a re-design of my bedroom, and she is very good - creative and FUN to work with. Jenn's phone is 510.725.7477. You can email her at: solutions [at] - and take a look at her website: David

Interior decorator for home, not a showcase

Oct 2010

I am looking for an interior decorator that can help with our house. I would like someone that can help turn our house into a home not a showplace. We need help with paint colors and furniture placement with our existing furniture although I know we will need a few new pieces. We are also doing all this on a fairly tight budget. We live on the other side of the tunnel so I think it would be more efficient to have someone who is located in the East Bay not SF. Need a home

For interior decorating I highly recommend Laura Martin Bovard. She has a great eye for color, is cost-conscious, and really easy to work with. She understands how to decorate for real life with kids, and i'm thrilled with what she's done for us. Contact info: laura [at] or 510-531-8438. Also Gigi

I've used Maxine Christison and just love how she listens to what I want, not what she thinks would be best. We had her help us with a new office plan and I felt she was so creative and thoughtful, and really understood what we were after. She's in Lafayette, and can be reached at (925) 212-2879, or maxine [at] You'll love how she takes care of you and your home. Julie

I am working with Laura Martin Bovard of LMB Interiors and would highly recommend her expertise to help you with your interior decorating needs. Laura is wonderful with color, fabrics and textures and is amazing with arranging furniture for maximum use and flow through the house. She is skilled at accentuating homes with unique accessories that reflect the owner's personality and can definitely work within your budget. She cares deeply about her clients and will get to know them personally which reflects in the final, beautiful design. Please visit her website at: or you can contact her at 510.531.8438 and laura [at] Rebecca

I would like to recommend a wonderful interior decorator: Cecile Lozano. Cecile helped me transform my living room into a warm, inviting and cozy room that looks terrific. I wanted all new furniture but Cecile can work with pieces you have. She has a wonderful sense of color and style and is so easy to work with. She really knows how to help you figure out what you want and then to make it happen in a timely and cost effective way. I had a tight budget and she absolutely stuck to it. I can't say enough good things about her! She is based in SF but happy to come to the East Bay. I live in Berkeley and I know she has clients in Orinda as well. t: 415-584-8442 c: 415-823-8442 cecilelozanointeriors [at] If you would like more information, please email me. jill

I highly recommend Laura Martin Bovard. She is based in Oakland and is down to earth, realistic and has amazing vision for a space. She completely transformed our dark, outdated master bedroom into a light, calm retreat. Every time I walk in our room it makes me happy. We had a limited budget and Laura was able to make recommendations within our price range and provide ideas for adding on down the road when we had a little more money to put into the room. I can't wait to have her back to work on another room in our house. Amy

I highly recommend Laura Martin Bovard for any decorating projects you may have. I worked with Laura on my oversized, strangely configured Master bedroom and with careful consideration of my budget and ''needs'' she transformed my bedroom into a beautiful ''retreat'' that I never want to leave....She and her staff are professional, timely, dedicated and really have great ''style'' check out her webpage at or call her 531- 8438 Lisa

I can recommend Victoria Bochat to help you decorate your home. I used her several years ago and was very pleased. She utilized my existing furniture as much as possible, suggested moving certain pieces between rooms, and then helped me pick out all the things that I needed to complete each room. All in all, it was a fun and relaxed process, as I never felt pressured, never felt that I was being persuaded to choose things that were outside of my taste zone, and I ended up with rooms that were warm, comfortable, to my taste, and within my budget. I've also known Victoria for years on a personal level and she's a delight. Her email is victoriabochatinteriors [at] Her phone is 510.326.9682. L

I recommend Cass Morris to help you because my home is now comfortable and looks good but not stuffy and I can actually invite anyone over now instead of just the guys to watch football. My ex-wife took all the good furniture and at first I didn't care because the boys are hard on things anyway. But my Mom gave me a gift certificate for a consultation with Cass and I liked her ideas so much I let her take over, plus besides I don't have the time. She picked colors we all liked, watched over the painters, helped Mom pick a couch, and rearranged the furniture. The boys and I went to a print shop she recommended and she hung them up for us. It's amazing the difference and I can't take credit for it but I sure like it all. Cass Morris Color and Design 524-1726 david

Our neighbor's architect uses Cass Morris Color and Design. She says she recommends her to all of her clients because why stress when you can make it easy on yourself by getting help from an expert.

We initially needed a new color scheme for our home after refinishing the floors and she did the entire place in 2 hours. Then she made suggestions we hadn't considered- changing the lighting and rearranging the furniture in a couple of rooms. We did get rid of some of our things and went to the places she told us about to get a few new pieces. She recommended a person to make slipcovers and cushions too. It worked out really well and it was a very good investment. We get lots of compliments on our new home and highly recommend Cass Morris. Her website is Kat

We give Helena Tiainen a glowing recommendation for her ability to transform your quarters into a home-not-a-showplace. In addition to interior decoration, she is an artist AND an organizer, so she brings a lovely bundle of skills to the table. We actually hired her as an organizer, to address our bad habits and extensive and archeologically-layered clutter, exacerbated by having two small kids and full-time jobs.

Her key strengths: 1. Great eye: she is creative and inventive, can see lovely combinations of color, texture and arrangements that click in terms of practical purpose and esthetics. She will look at what you have and help you maximize the effect of existing pieces, and help you envision what might complement them.
2. Great ear: she is a fabulous listener, gets to know your priorities, and helps you establish not just surface order but also living habits and patterns to help you maintain that order. Maybe that's the key to a home-not-a-showplace -- the beauty and calm have to withstand the test of kids whirling through and busy tired people keeping it in place.
3. Flexible, non-judgmental, easy to work with: Having just had a baby, we didn't want to spend an arm and a leg. After a free initial phone consultation Helena suggested options for proceeding in the most optimal and cost-effective ways for us. She never shamed us for being slobs or too busy or etc. so we could instead focus on doing the best we could to get our home in order. We both agree that our time with Helena has been well worth every penny, with immediate returns on sanity and satisfaction. Best of all is the feeling of finally truly enjoying our home.

BONUS: since my husband and I wound up working with Helena in turns, our sessions with her had almost a couples therapy benefit to them! Her non-judgmental style helped us negotiate sticking points (we calmly and steadily dealt with closets of memorabilia and piles of paper that previously felt non-negotiable). Its been a lovely process of bringing harmony to our home. Good luck with your search for an interior decorator - we definitely suggest contacting Helena Tiainen, Interior Redesign and Professional Organizing: HTiainen01(at), 510.684.4917, Linda and Mike

Recommendations for interior designer?

May 2010

We are looking to furnish and decorate our living room. Ideally, we would like someone who works with a mix of modern and traditional styles. We don't have huge budgets so working with someone who can creatively provide inspiration from across a wide range of mid-range (ie. Crate & Barrel, Room & Board, etc.) to lower-range (ie. IKEA,etc.) would be great. Thanks in advance! Anna S

I recommend Nicole Ryan Design Studio. They have a great eye and are extremely passionate about Interior Design. They are easy to work with, and listen to your needs to deliver an end result that you will be pleased with. I am more than pleased with my living and dining room. Check them out and give them a call. I highly recommend them!! Website: Phone: 510.384.5254

Looking for Interior Design Consulting Services

Oct 2009

I am interested in referrals for an interior designer that might be willing and able to provide consulting services without necessarily signing on to do a full set of plans and/or purchase all the furniture and accessories for me. What I have as an idea in my head is someone who will come and look at the spaces I want to work on and discuss concepts, approaches and a look that might fit my own style and the style of the architecture. Are there people who might do this kind of assessment and then either give me a floor plan or ways to approach doing this on my own over time and then might be available to consult periodically or make suggestions as to where I might look for things on my own? My taste runs from modern to earthy natural and I am open to the quirky or unusual - I am not interested in traditional or flounces. Thanks! Needing some design and spatial ideas in Berkeley

I have the PERFECT person for you. Alycia Freeman (415) 726- 0156. Her company is Fix ReDesign, Alycia has a degree in architecture/design, and worked for many years at a big design firm. She is now a mom, who has a part time design business. She is a gem! Was written up in the Wall Street Journal recently (but still, she is super affordable and very efficient). Working with her has completely changed our home. We have worked with her on a number of projects, (1) Choosing color for rooms -- she has an unbelievable sense of color (2) Redesigning rooms with the existing furniture -- she has come in and worked with what we have, helping us to make maximum use of our existing furniture. She's come up with incredible ideas, easy to implement. (3) Room layout/new furniture: Alycia has helped us to find the perfect pieces to complement our existing furniture. She has pointed us to vendors/sources (and we can either choose to buy ourselves, or she will help us purchase). She will find ideas at all sorts of places, from designer furnitures shops to thrift stores. Alycia's sense of style is just fantastic -- but she also really listens, and works to help you express yourself in your home. I could not recommend her more highly. She has done an impeccable job with my husband and I -- very high quality, but also laid back, reasonably priced, efficient, and just so very cool! She'll make you look like you've got it going on!

Liz Koopen is a great interior designer. She works on longer projects or is happy to lend small decorating advice or even bigger remodeling jobs. She can work with you on long term planning or immediate needs, and is very realistic about budget/costs. Impeccable taste and formally trained. Her cell number is 510-816-1346 cw

I've worked on two separate projects with Jacquelyn McCormick (ASID) and have consistently been impressed with her creativity, flexibility, and solid design skills. Selecting and arranging furniture, paint color, window treatments, textiles -- she does it all. As a bonus, collaborating with Jackie on a personal level is a pleasure; she has a great sense of humor and loads of patience. Julie

I recommend Danielle Fox of Danielle Fox Designs. She does hourly consulting and will do a design review for $500 which includes a visit, lots of advice and suggestions and a follow-up report. She will let you do the legwork and just give you feedback on your ideas, or you can pay her to actually find furniture and custom solutions. I like doing my own decorating but I have also found that as a working mother with two young children, our needs keep changing and I don't have the time to adapt the home as fast as I need to.

Over the last several years Danielle has assisted in redesigning my living room, bedroom and kids room. The process has generally been an initial consultaiton in which we discuss what I can't stand about the space, how we use the space, and the feeling I want to create. At that consultaiton she provides ideas for colors and furniture arrangement and how to make a few minor changes to create a new look. I then mull over her ideas, decide which ones I want to pursue, do more research and then consult with her again. In each instance I purchased some items through her (she has an amazing rug vendor and knows a lot about drapes and how to hang them) and some of the items I purchased myself.

She is also a mother herself and understands that a family home needs to comfortable, functional, and durable! She?s super easy to work with ? friendly, prompt, and a good communicator. You can contact her via or call her at 510/325-6659. Busy & stylist

I highly recommend you talk to Benjamin Dhong. He is an interior designer. Last year he came to my office looked at the space and gave recommendations/ideas about the office set up, furniture, decoration, the paint, the blind, etc. He also recommended a couple of places and websites to buy stuff that fits my budget. He is the participant in the 2008 and 2009 San Francisco decorator showcase house. I went to visit the showcase house myself this year. I was very impressed with his work. You can check out his website. His phone# is 415 595-2582. Have fun with your project.. Lan

Interior Designer needed for small Berkeley bungalow

May 2009

Looking for an interior designer experienced in working with small spaces. My Berkeley bungalow is approximately 1300 square feet. Looking for a designer who can maximize space and efficiency, make furniture and other design recommendations, and integrate existing art work and objets into a harmonious living space.

I would like to recommend Nicole Benveniste as a designer/decorator. She can work with you on a full range of projects, if it is picking colors, fabrics or redesign integrating existing furnishings with new ones. She is wonderful to work with and has an excellent eye. I used her to help me select some new light fixtures and window coverings to update my existing space. here is her website- it is under construction but you can get an idea of some of the projects she has done. best of luck anon

Interior designer / decorater needed

April 2009

I am decorating my living room from scratch and need help. I am looking to buy a couch, 2 armchairs, and a rug and am driving myself crazy trying to pick fabric that looks good together. I need someone who will help me pick fabric and give me ideas for window treatments, rug and lighting. I also need help with accessories. I don't have a huge budget and want to do some of the legwork myself. I mainly need help with the fabrics to make sure things will look good together. I like contemporary, comfortable, casual, fun, colorful rooms (not traditional, too modern, or too neutral). Julia

Try Christine Reid at 559-9710. Great taste, easy to work with, reasonably priced. Her website is Alison

I would highly recommend Nicole Benveniste for your interior job. She is very easy to work with and has a great sense of color and style. I had bought a sofa and chairs that I wasn't sure would work with the wall color that I had chosen. She found a great rug, and it all came together. She's very flexible, and can do any style, traditional or modern and anything in between. You can check out her website at or give her a call at 510.526.6704. LK

I would highly recommend Mariko Blakemore. She specializes in furniture and fabric selection and color coordination in her work at a very high end interior design shop in San Francisco. She does side jobs at a reasonable cost. She has given me advice and she's been excellent. She travels regularly to the East Bay. She's very easy to get along with and will listen well to your style, and not impose her own onto you. You can reach her at 415-517-4551. Sue

You need Jean Flynn Interiors. She is absolutely fantastic. Very easy to work with, takes into account what you have and what you want, guides you in shopping, fabric, color choices. Is a great sounding board for your own ideas and then translating it into your space. Unbelievable resources in all things. Does custom window coverings, slipcovers. Lovely person, fun, witty and cool. Her taste is impeccable. She helped us rearrange our furniture in our living room (instant hit), new rug, slipcovers for the sofas, rearrange some of the furniture between other rooms, vision and shop for the dining room as well as our home offices. In addition, gave us advice on paint color and it is sublime and interesting and classic. We had a small room with tons of windows that we weren't utilizing well and she suggested turning it into the kids play room. Our kids go in there everyday now. drawn like a magnet to play and we love huddling in there with them, too. We are truly delighted with her services. Glowing recommendation. Our number 510.735.9220. Jean's number 510.524.2907, office on san pablo next door to Cafe Fanny. Check out her window displays. ad

I recommend Jennifer Mobley and Bill Bloomfield of Mobley Bloomfield Design (415.215.6700) They are colleagues of ours and have worked with us on a number of occasions, producing sophisticated and thoughtful work. Jennifer has a background in textile design and color theory, and Bill is trained as an architect. Texture, mood, and contrast are balanced artfully, and the design process with them is always professional and enjoyable for everyone involved. Kerstin

I know a wonderful woman, Nicole Hanshaw, who works on interior design and decorating. She has a keen aethesic sense, excellent taste, and a true knack for color, material, texture, and layout of home furnishings. What's best is that she listens to what you want out of a room or area and knows how to pull it together using the things you already have...a big plus in my book! She rearranged my livingroom in a way I never imagined to make a few pieces go from unnoticed to remarkable, suggested new paint for some accent walls (my eight year old daughter and I rolled it out), and helped me pick out a fabric color for a splurge on curtains. She quickly reorientated my diningroom furniture and a few mirrors as well so that people now often compliment and comment on the colors and pieces. She is adept in picking out things from catalogues or will shop for you as well. With a warm personality and wonderful visual talent, you can't go wrong. I believe she charges $80 an hour. She came to my house an hour each time and the results are wonderful. You can reach her at (510) 681-6656 or email: NICOLEHANSHAW [at] GMAIL.COM bk

Need Interior Help

Feb 2009

Our home needs a decorating transformation to make it look (and function) better. We are looking for someone affordable who we can hire--hopefully on an hourly basis--to help re-arrange our existing furniture, organize our spaces better, and guide us in purchasing what we need on a budget. Any suggestions? Decorating Challenged

I am happy to recommend Dolors Moner who works with our architect, Kathy Rogers (who is also fantastic) at Sogno Design Group (510-526-2720). We recently completed a major remodel and were struggling to furnish our new space on a limited budget. Dolors came to our home, listened carefully and provided us with great options for placing our existing furniture and gave us some ideas for future changes. I also appreciated her personality--which is pleasant but not overbearing. We're very happy with the results! happy customer

We recently completed a similar project with Victoria Bochat of Victoria Bochat Interiors and I really recommend her. She was wonderful to work with and gave us some great guidance for decorating and reorganizing our living/dining rooms. She seemed to really ''get'' us, our lifestyle (two young kids), our budget and where we needed the most help. My husband and I don't always agree and she helped us find our middle ground quite easily. She was very patient with us and always happy to take a look at ideas we brought to her, too. With her hep we started the transformation of our rooms and are much happier with how they look and are laid out. I know we'll use her as a resource in the future. She also does staging for homes before selling and I think she would be a terrific person to work with for that as well. She is extremely reasonable in price and can work with a budget. Victoria Bochat Interiors styling / design/ color Consultation (510) 326 - 9682 Laura

I can highly recommend Meredith Interiors (meredith english) She has helped us with a house remodel. She has great taste in furniture, colors and anything else. I really liked working with her. meredithenglish [at] tel: 925-381-8760 leslie

Try Carrie Yoshida of Visual Harmony. She has a great eye, and best of all, she works with the furniture you already have. She has a way of re-arranging things to be more pleasing and functional. She uses the principals of feng shui (sp?), not rigidly, but in a way that produces very pleasing results. She can be reached at 510-527-7770. Sue

I highly recommend the interior design services of Sogno Design Group (, 510-526-2720). I have a small living room that I could not manage to make look like a livable space after many hours of trying and getting opinions from friends and family. Dolors of Sogno solved the problem! She came in and took thorough measurements, created 2 different 3D layouts and a complete supply list from local retailers. My budget was low so she found options at IKEA, Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrell, etc. I opted to do the shopping and had her come back to advise on how to decorate the walls and advise on the rug choice I made. The impossible room is now completely warm and welcoming! Dana

I would highly recommend Victoria Bochat for help with interior ''redesign''. We have used her to help us rearrange and use our furniture better as well as find low cost ways to upgrade things if we wanted to. We don't necessarily have top of the line stuff and she doesn't make you feel bad or ''cheap'' like other interior decorators do that we have tried to work with. Her rates are also very reasonable! We have recommended her to several friends who also have loved working with her. Feel free to contact me with specific questions or contact her directly at victoriabochat [at] melissa

2007 - 2008 Recommendations

Looking for Interior Designer

Sept 2008

I'm looking for recommendations for a designer who is willing to do just a few rooms and can work with existing furniture but recommend improvements and other design changes such as paint, drapes, some new furniture, etc. Someone who loves to work with color and combine traditional with comfortable furniture and design would be ideal. looking for designer

We can highly recommend Laura Stetson who helped me redo our house top to bottom. We used mainly stuff we already had, and did a few shopping trips (which was so helpful to go with someone with a good eye!). She helped me pick out paint colors, rehang/redecorate using our existing paintings, photos, etc., and rearrange furniture. She was really good at keeping us in a really low budget, and really got that because we have young kids and pets, we didn't want a fussy house, but just one that looked more pulled together and less haphazard. We had some good stuff, just didn't know how to use it all in an interesting way. I tried a few other interior designers from BPN and was disappointed--they wanted us to take on big projects or get rid of furniture that wasn't really practical at this point (ie, a small table for kids art projects that is right in our dining room, but indispensable for our daily life). One woman kept trying to get me to move our dining room table into the living room. I imagined myself schlepping dinner up and down stairs every night? no way! but i couldn't get her off of that, and she said it was critical to any redesign, so we parted ways. Anyway, Laura is a gem, she is super fun to work with, has a positive attitude, and didn't ever make us feel bad about how junky parts of our house looked! ljs [at], 510-219-9771 Julie

Call Victoria Bochat at Victoria Bochat Interiors for your designing needs. She specializes in working with your existing furniture, but will rearrange rooms, change wall colors, help with window treatments, and add pieces that will complement what you have, creating a very affordable, comfortable, and beautiful space. Her cell is 510/326-9682. happy client

Helena Tiainen (510-848-1525) is a terrific local designer. Check out her website at She's an artist as well as an interior designer making for a wonderful combination. She designed our entire condo about 8 months ago; incorporating pieces we already had. I still marvel at the beauty and livability of our space. She worked with our lifestyle and made terrific aesthetic and practical recommendations. She's was professional, returned calls, punctual and stayed within our budget. She is a delight to work with. Best of luck to you. - Rachael K.

It's my pleasure to recommend Rachelle Goodfriend -- 415.672.3220, Rachelle [at], Rachelle works in partnership with her clients to create the design that they enjoy and can live with comfortably. She's great with colors, incorporates the furnishings you've already got, and you'll end up with a place you can be proud of. merry

April 2008

Looking for a non-shaming, kind, gentle decorator who can go through my house, make suggestions, help me develop a plan I can execute as time/money allow. I've been waiting for it to be de-cluttered (ha! if only it could de-clutter itself!), but we're at a point now where we need new window coverings, paint, etc and can't wait any longer. Not too expensive would also be nice... anon

For a very kind and non-judgemental home decorator, call Sharon Diedrichs at (415) 453-9522 or sharonmacfarland at She's loaded with terrific suggestions to help you decorate. When she came to our house, she was so easy to work with and we were thrilled with the results. Lynch.l

This is to recommend Rachelle Goodfriend, a lovely, thoughtful decorator, who can help you make your house lovely with your own furnishings and decorations, or she can help you choose new options within your budget. Check out Rachelle's website at and give her a call at 415/672-3220 or email info at It's a pleasure to work with Rachelle. merry

April 2008

I need help with redecorating my living room. Does anyone have experience working with Jim Kennedy at High Cotton on Solano Avenue? I would like to work with a Berkeley business. Thanks. anon

I recently completed a kitchen, bathroom, and dining room remodel and had the good fortune to work with Leslie Scott, an interior designer who I highly recommend. Leslie has a great eye for design and function and a great ear for hearing what kind of living space her client wants to create. She is unbelievably quick---can whip out a sketch in minutes that helps you visualize how the space will come together. She helped me sort out everything from colors, to placement of light switches, to deciding when the door should swing in or out. She is artistic, practical, has a great sense of color and a knack for coordinating the look from one room to the next. She was also a great advocate in helping me deal with the architect and contractors. She saved me from some compromises that would have been less workable and less attractive. Remodeling was an expensive process, but Leslie's time was the best value of any of the professionals. You can contact her at leweb at

Feb 2008

I need help with redecorating my living room and dining room. Has anyone worked with ''High Cotton'' on Solano Ave.? I like the idea of working with a local business. Thanks. anon

Hello, I would highly recommend Peter Rudy of Rockridge Designs. He runs his business out of his home, the number is (510)654-7475. He is a great person to work with and has so many ideas! My mom just had her living room done by him and it turned out beautiful. am

Nov 2007

i am looking for an interior designer that can help me with 2 difficult spaces (an open living room/dining room in a 1910 house), child friendly furniture/design, and in the more modern/not ''matchy-matchy'' direction. any suggestions? zoe

For modern furniture, especially with kids in mind, check out They are an online business located right here in Oakland. They have a small shop on Piedmont Avenue. The owners are a creative, very friendly, local family with young kids who design much of what they sell. It is great stuff! Modern Furninture Fan

Hello, I wholeheartedly recommend Fix Redesign -- Alycia Freeman is amazing. She can do anything - transform a room in a day before a holiday party... traditional interior design for a house... staging before a home sale.. color consultation... shopping and more. She's got a great eye, and will listen to what you want and need. Alycia Freeman, 415.726.0156 email: alycia at Deb L., a satisfied client

May 2007

We're moving into a new place and starting from scratch. I'm looking for someone to come in and consult with me about the possibilities for each room. A interior designer who has a good eye for color, room proportion and furniture placement would be great. We're a family and have a casual style but would like a place that looks like adults actually live there. Thanks. Rachael rk

I would highly recommend Helena Tiainen. She brings skills in both interior design and organization, as well as her long background as a visual artist (her eye for color is remarkable). She has really helped us a lot with several rooms in our house (we have two small kids and a VERY casual style-- she was completely willing to work at whatever level I wanted)...What I especially liked was that I could remain as involved as i wanted (or not) and thus learned a lot from her, which hopefully I can put to use in future projects... Also, she is easy to work with, very flexible, and reasonably priced. She can be reached at:
Helena Tiainen Interior Redesign and Professional Organizing HTiainen01 at 510.848.1525
Good luck! pb

May 2007

I'm very pleased to recommend my interior designer Celine Perrin (510-814-8910 or celine at I worked with her over a period of a year on a master bath remodel, which included total changes in walls, windows, and plumbing, including some work in connection with the associated master bedroom. I love the result.

Celine began the process by talking to me about my likes and dislikes, looking through photos and pictures from magazines and walking through all of my property, including the garden. It became clear to Celine that this was an linside outsiden house, and my love of the garden provided a focal point for the design: bring the outside in. Celine did this through the clean design, addition of windows to bring in light, earthtone colors, and choice of materials (stone and unfinished wood). Celine had suggestions and access to materials I was completely unfamiliar with, and found materials and fabricators to custom make several key components (two large Shoji doors made with 3M resin and metal bars that serve as both towel bars and grab bars since I will be aging in this house). I particularly liked Celinems suggestions that made the bath very personal for me: using my motherms brooch as the touchplate on the medicine cabinet, or a lighted wall niche that now displays a personal object.

I was a full partner in all decisions. We had some differences of opinion at times, but were always able to work these out in a positive way that came up with a better result. Celine would provide sketches of both (or more) options, and/or logic on why one was better, but occasionally even agreed my suggestion was better! Feel free to contact me via email llaskowski12 at L. L.

March 2007

I'm looking for an insightful and resourceful interior designer for assistance with our new home in Albany. We'd like a comprehensive approach including new furniture, floor and window coverings as well as remodeling assistance. Thanks. B

This is to recommend a wonderful interior designer, Rachelle Goodfriend, who works to create beautiful environments all over the Bay Area. Rachelle has a great sense of color and beauty. Best of all, she is committed to working closely with her clients to create the environment that works for them. Contact Rachelle at Goodfriend Design Group 415/584-4000 email address is: info at (look for her website in mid-March: ). Merry

This post is in response to previous requests for an interior designer that can work on a budget with existing furniture. I had been looking for someone to help me upgrade from my assortment of mostly hand-me-down furnishings, but to put together my rooms as I would have done them if I had any aesthetic vision or knew where to find the kind of comfortable and casual pieces that I always admire in other people's homes. I found the perfect person to help me with that--Victoria Bochat of Slapdash Interiors in Oakland. She did simple things like changing the configuration of my living room so that it worked much better and was much more inviting. She worked with the furniture that I wanted to keep, but added some great pillows in gorgeous colors and textures to my existing couch to make it absolutely beautiful, helped me pick out a rug (from Expo!) that tied together the room in a way that I would never have imagined, and generally helped me furnish several rooms in my house in exactly my taste and within my budget. She shopped not at the Design Center or other expensive place, but at Pottery Barn, Expo, and other resources like Restoration Hardware. She even found some really adorable and affordable table lamps at TJ Maxx.! She is also a restorer and painter of old furniture and found a 1930's round farm table for one of my rooms that she painted in a rusty red for a shabby chic look. It is one of my favorite things in the room. She's fabulous at supplying accessories and furniture that suits her client's style (vintage or modern) and budget. And, to top it off, she's very funny and fun to be around. She made what I thought would be a difficult and expensive process, and made it fun and thoroughly enjoyable- and with fabulous and very reasonable results. I highly recommend her! Victoria can be reached at (510) 534-1500 (Studio) or (5100 530-9562 (Home Office) or E-Mail at slapdashnewlife at Lori

March 2007

Looking for an interior designer? We have discovered someone terrific. We interviewed three interior designers who all came highly recommended from various sources. Our plan was to just get a few hours of consultation on colors. After talking with each of them we chose Michele Maggiora of Radicchio Sisters Design. Her background as a fine artist made her the best choice. We had worked with a kitchen designer and received an estimate on cabinets from Home Depot, but the first thing Michelle did was to recommend another source that was faster and equal or better quality at a savings of about $6000. She has a great color sense, is fun to work with, very hands-on. She doesnmt make her money off commissions on furniture, etc., but helped us make better use of what we have. Working with her is very exciting. We are thrilled to have found her. You can reach her at (510) 910-3277 or (510) 444-4472. Diane

2005 - 2006 Recommendations

Sept 2006

We would like recommendations for a designer to help design and draft a plan to remodel a grade level basement to a living area with bath and laundry. We would like someone with creative but affordable ideas for creating a multiuse space, and be able to provide plans for use by a contractor (recommendations also welcome). Structural redesign is not required, so we don't expect to need an architect's plans.

I love my interior decorator Jeanette Patterson. She did our entire house. 510-271-0191

Sept 2006

I am looking for someone to design our home office including desks, cabinets and shelving. The office is in what originally was a bedroom so maximizing space given the layout requires some thought. I would like to find someone with both office planning and interior space planning experience. We are not very interested in traditional design. We are open to custom work or not. Especially interested in maximizing the space and using green and/or interesting/unusual materials. tracey

Try Rita Lee, who recently opened up a shop for interior/home design on Piedmont Avenue (Oakland), called ''Make My Day''. It's intended to be a one-stop-shop for people remodeling. She does it all, or pieces of it, whatever you like. It's on Piedmont Ave., toward MacArthur. Rita's a licensed Architect, AIA, with many years experience. I used to work in an office she designed and it was stunning. She's a talented hard worker. If you visit her store, you can get a feel for her design abilities. Knowing her, I would imagine her rate is very reasonable. She's a pleasant person to deal with, too. Her store has been very successful since opening, and I understand she's been busy with design jobs, so it seems a lot of people are discovering she's very good at what you're looking for. When you go to her store, notice the photos in all the frames in the store-----they're a hoot! Anon.

June 2006

This post is in response to previous requests for a interior designer that can work on a budget with existing furniture. I had been looking for someone to help me upgrade from my assortment of mostly hand-me-down furnishings and to put together my rooms as I would have done them if I had any aesthetic vision or knew where to shop. I found the perfect person to help me with that--Victoria Bochat of Slapdash Interiors in Oakland. She did simple things like changing the configuration of my living room so that it was much more inviting. She worked with the furniture that I wanted to keep, but added some great inexpensive touches such as pillows in gorgeous colors and textures. She suggested pieces from upscale--but affordable--sources both locally and on-line. She helped me furnish several rooms in my house in exactly my taste and within my budget. She even found some adorable high quality table lamps at a discount store. She is also a restorer and painter of old furniture! and has a warehouse of unique older pieces to pull from. She painted a vintage round farm table a great shade of rusty red for a sort of shabby chic look that I love. She's fabulous at supplying accessories and furniture that suits her client's style (vintage or modern) and budget. And, to top it off, she's very funny and fun to be around. I highly recommend her! Victoria can be reached at 510.534.1500 or at slapdashnewlife at

Feb 2006

We are so pleased with the work that Francis Combes (510-595-6669) has done for us over the years on two of our homes and on many of our friends' homes. He has an incredible eye, is resourceful, charges reasonable rates, and, most importantly, is truly a pleasure to have in our home. He not only is a skilled interior designer, he is also an excellent lighting consultant.

Before working with Francis, I never considered how important lighting was to a room's appeal and comfort. Francis transformed our indoor/outdoor spaces by reengineering the lighting. He properly illuminated our landscaping and trees to make the outside of our first North Berkeley home go from unremarkable and haphazard to majestic. He then consulted with us on the lighting and interior design in our second Berkeley home. He not only provided us with beautiful furnishings, fixtures and improved lighting placement, he helped us bring our electric bill down more than half by sourcing high-end florescent bulbs that he incorporated into our lighting schemes.

We found his sense of color and composition to be very refined (due to a combination of natural talent and schooling). He knows antiques and helped us figure out which to purchase and which to walk away from fast. We were also impressed by his drafting skills. He artfully translated our ideas into architect quality blueprints to keep us on the same page and keep our project moving forward. Our contractors regularly complemented the quality of his plans. Many of my friends on limited budgets have engaged Francis to redesign various rooms in their homes and businesses (ranging from adding new windows to a living room to redesigning restaurant lighting to turning a underutilized closet into a powder room to kitchen remodels). He has done so much to enhance those spaces without exausting the funds of their owners. I highly recommend Francis Combes. Give him a call and ask him to view his beautiful portfolio. He is located in central Piedmont. Lynn

Jan 2006

Hi, I was interested to know if anyone has a recommendation for an interior designer. I am looking for someone who can help me shop for furniture and choose color. I have a good idea of the style I want, but need help. Thanks. Sherri

I am currently using the most wonderful interior designer, Kim Smart, and HIGHLY recommend her. She works all over the Bay Area and is based in Lafayette. We decided it was time to completely overhaul our home. We needed to buy new furniture, pick out paint colors, rearrange furniture - EVERYTHING. We interviewed several designers who seemed more interested in taking us shopping and marking up the purchases. I was hoping to find someone willing to work within my budget and not suggest throwing everything away. I found the right person with Kim. Kim has helped me define and refine my style. She has also helped me realize what was previously intangible in the final, beautiful outcome of our redone rooms. My living room is now warm, welcoming and elegant but not too stuffy. My once rarely used dining room is now a great playroom for my children. Everyone who walks into to the playroom loves it, especially the green walls (which I NEVER would have done without a strong nudge from Kim!) Kim has also helped me redo my daughters' rooms - creating a pink girly room for my 4 year old and a preteen room for my 12 year old. We are currently working on our master bedroom and Kim is also helping us cosmetically update our bathrooms. I appreciate Kim's sensibility. She is willing to work with pieces we own and she is honest when it is time to upgrade to new pieces. Kim can take you shopping at the Design Center in San Francisco or she can help you find furniture and accessories that are moderately priced. Kim has shown me you can have high style without breaking the bank. She has also helped me stay focused and avoid making costly mistakes. Even my husband agrees she is worth every penny! We love working with Kim Smart. Her website is Call her at 925-957-9907. Sabrina

We used Kathy Farley from Art Decor (510-527-3904). She has helped us with both the interior and exterior paint colors of our house as well as some major furniture purchases. She has a great asthetic and is wonderful to work with. We get tons of compliments on our house. Sara

Nov 2005

I've seen a bunch of posts for interior designers/decorators but am seeking more specific recommendations. I'd appreciate hearing from anyone who can recommend a designer/decorator that has worked on your Berkeley Brown Shingle/craftsman style home. Thanks.

My friend, Jane Powell might be the person to contact. She does not do hands on, but she offers consultations for Arts and Crafts bungalows. Look her up on the web at: Melanie

Oct 2005

Would like recent recommendations for an interior designer in the Berkeley area. Would like someone who has creative ideas about using already existing furnishings, new pieces, antiques, flea-market finds, etc. to help redo a number of rooms for a hip, modern but comfortable home for family with 2 kids. annie

Kim Walsh is a delightful Interior Designer, full of energy and creative ideas. She's recently moved to the Oakland area. Her number is (510) 339-1008, e-mail is kwalsh AT Julie

We have worked very successfully with Alycia Freeman ( She is a trained professional designer and had been working for years doing staging for big commercial and retail spaces. She is a mommy now, so she has opened her own business and is available for home projects (in other words, she is really really high quality for this kind of project). And amazingly, she is affordable!

Alycia will work on redesign with your existing furniture, or will go all the way to helping you create (and purchase) an entire new look. There are so many great things to say about her but probably top four are (1) She has a really exceptional eye for spacial issues: how to arrange furniture, art, linens, etc in the space you have in the very best way. (2) a fantastic sense of color, and texture -- found interesting materials and tones for our space (3) a really good grasp of all the local resources for furniture, art, fabric, etc, if you want to buy some new things (4) and last but not least, she LISTENS to you. She helps you to create what you want, rather than pushing a particular look on you (e.g. you don't need to have a Pottery Barn living room if you don't want one -- :) )

I highly recommend her. Visit her website to see her work!! Vandy

Sept 2005

I'm looking for an interior decorator that is in the Lamorinda area that is reasonably priced. Jessica

Does anyone have a recent experience with an interior designer (especially one willing to work in a house for kids!) in the lamorinda area? Anon.

I would highly recommend Alice Jordan for interior design and re-design. Utilizing what we already had, Alice transformed our home with unique and creative placement of our furnishings, lighting, artwork, and accessories. Our rooms were truly refreshed with a new look of warmth, beauty and comfort - without purchasing anything new and all in one day (actually in a matter of hours!). We recently purchased a vacation rental home and had to furnish it top-to-bottom in just a few months. Alice took charge and developed a theme in consultation with us, did the majority of shopping/browsing, advised us in regards to major purchases and the feel of each room, etc. The result was nothing short of miraculous and on a very low budget! Her rates are quite reasonable. She is very comfortable working in homes with children and has very creative ideas for managing chaos and creating kid-friendly environments that still feel special. She can be reached at 415/609-7725. Good luck! Julie

I'd like to recommend the interior designer who is helping me decorate my home. Her name is Ingrid Ballmann. Ingrid has 10 years of experience in the U.S. and France. She is professional and friendly with a great sense of style. Ingrid listened to my ideas and feelings about my home and then provided design choices and options that enhanced my original ideas. I received just the right amount of advice. All of my designs have to consider an active pre-schooler and a dog and Ingrid has no problem with creating a casual, and stylish, child friendly interior. Feel free to contact me via email. Her contact information: Ingrid Ballman designforspaces AT 510.523.3969

To the person requesting an Interior Designer in the Lamorinda area, I would strongly recommend Laura Kastigar at 925-284-2759. Laura is routinely used by realtors to stage homes for sale. She is efficient, practical, and works with many budgets. In just 2 hours of consultation, she walked through my house observing our style and furnishings, and picked out paint colors that would work in each room of my house. They all complemented each other, and make it look like a well-designed plan instead of three years worth of individual projects. Natalie

I used a great interior decorator- Annette Logan from Recreate Interiors. She re-did an office into a nursery for my baby and it came out so beautiful that they are featuring it in a Sunset book on Nurseries! She tries to use a lot of what you all ready have to minimize the cost. She's really nice, talented and great to work with! I'm using her to recreate my living room now! Her number is 828-4321. Tracey

Excellence By Design is a wonderful design shop. You can see some of their work at Call Phyllis Bleecker at 925-248-0267. She's talented, warm, reassuring and just about the easiest person to work with. She's my mother-in-law but I can't say enough about how great she is. I have recommended her to friends, clients and all have been thrilled. She has also helped us with our house and suggested things that I never would have done but am so happy we did. Give her a call! Juliette

June 2005

We are in the process of adding an addition to our home, and we are looking for recommendations of interior designers who can help us pick out colors, fabrics and fixtures for a family room, bathroom and children's bedroom. Unfortunately, we don't have a huge budget for this project, but certainly have put away some money for decorating. Any recommendations would be greatly apprecaited. Please email me, Dana

Hi There, I recently worked with a local designer, Rachel Ostroy, and had a great experience. I wanted someone to help us create a more polished look in our house (given we also have two small kids) but not spend a lot of money doing it. She went room to room with me, asking good questions that helped us get clear how best to use the spaces. I came away with a prioritized list of very practical suggestions, so when I have time here and there to work on the house, I have a cohesive master plan to follow. This has been extremely helpful and I have been thrilled with the results. I feel like I have always had the kind of house where there are cool things around, but nothing is lpulled togethern. She consulted on our furniture, window coverings, light fixtures, color and placement of art/other decorative pieces. She was able to give me specific resources for finding these things in a range of prices. Now I feel like I am on the road to having a well designed home. I think consulting ! with Rachel on a casual hourly basis is an affordable way to have your space professionally decorated. I think she is willing to also do the full-service decorator thing, too (shopping, etc). Although I didnmt use her for any remodeling, I have seen some of her major remodel projects (new kitchen, bathroom, bedroom additions, landscape, etc.) and thought her design ideas were creative and practical. I will definitely use her services in the future for any remodel or redecorating projects. Her info is: Rachel Ostroy, at 510-367-9406. Lilly

Jan 2005

I have checked the archives, but see no recent postings for what we are looking for: someone who can help us furnish/decorate our small bungalow. We have been living in this house for some time, but not comfortably. We tend to spend most of our time in our tiny kitchen, mostly because the other rooms are not inviting. Given our limited budget, we are hoping to find someone who could help create a vision which we would then execute ourselves. Having checked the sites of some recommended interior decorators, I think we are looking for something else. The sort of elegance and polish I associate with ''decorated'' spaces is not for us. Eclectic, funky, and comfortable is what we aspire to. Recommendations, anyone? Not at home in house

I am responding to an add placed in the last newsletter about the cottage and someone needing ideas to funk it up and make it a comfortable living space. Check out Costanoa Tent Designers Series from Joie De Vivre. We did the 8Letters Vintage Tent. I can also send you pics. I can give great ideas and organize it simply so you can do it yourself if necessary. Your place will be original, comfortable/homey, and vibrant. Melissa

Jan 2005

We are a French/Belgian family who would like to recommend a wonderful interior designer and color consultant, Jennifer Thompson, of J.Thompson Design. We bought a house in the Oakland Hills that was built after the fire; it had interesting architecture, but very unsatisfactory details, and was cold and unimaginative. Jennifer helped us transform it into a colorful, stylish, unique home, which reflects our personalites and gives us a lot of pleasure. We had no idea how to do home renovation in America, and she handled the whole job for us q found the contractor and the artisans who created unique details for us, and oversaw the job, as we were often in Europe. Not only that, her rates are very reasonable, and we enjoyed working with her. Call her at 510 898 1171 or email at jthompsondesign AT Heddy

Jan 2005

Michele Maggiroa (510-444-4472 or 510-260-4857)is a artist/designer/colorist that I used from this newsletter and I wanted to second (or third) the recommendation that she is fantastic. She chose outstanding colors for my interior and helped me buy/place existing furniture and objects in my house that fit in and just look right. She is very comfortable to with and extremely reasonably priced for her services. kim

Jan 2005

If you need a fresh color palette for your home, improved use of space, reorganization, and the help with bringing it all together... I recommend Michele Maggiora of Radicchio Sisters Design. Besides her abilities as an artist/designer, I 'm enjoying this process with her. It's like having a good friend who happens to be a designer with an excellent artist's eye. She is willing to do as much or as little as I need including interior painting, layout, personal shopping...whatever! Michele Maggiora of Radicchio Sisters Design (510) 444-4472 cell (510) 910-3277 Laurie

2003 - 2004 Recommendations

Nov 2004

I need help decorating my living room. I know what I want to do regarding the layout and the general feel of the room, but need help with color selection, fabrics, and purchasing items. The last posting regarding interior design is well over a year old, so I was hoping someone had some fresh references. We are in Walnut Creek and have a limited budget q any help is appreciated! Jenifer

I highly recommend Bob Rodgers in Oakland (654-6150). He's been an interior designer for 30 years and use to own his own furniture store as well. He's especially good with use of space (gave us great recommendations for this large atrium that was just a waste of space), implementation of materials (everything...stone,marble, slate, etc), and color. I liked that he wasn't old fashioned and understood our needs... had met a lot of designers who say they can do what you want, but you end up getting only what they are good at, while I felt that working with Bob you could be eclectic, modern, sophisticated, etc. Goodluck, Sandra

For color consultation, interior design, or re-design using your own stuff, I'd like to recommend Jennifer Thompson, of jthompsondesign at Jennifer moved into my rental house in Berkeley after 10 years in West Marin -- some of you may have visited her store in Inverness Park, called Thompson Design. She has totally transformed my sweet but rather plain little house into a really vibrant, charming space, and is looking for work doing more of the same. Her ideas are imaginative without being over the top, her rates are reasonable, and she's very easy to work with. References and pictures available. Phone 510 898 1171 Janet

June 2004

For the person who is looking for an interior designer, I highly recommend Anne Norton-Dingwall at AND Interior Design Studio in Kensington. She listened to what we wanted, channeled us, and did an amazing job transforming our living and family rooms as well as our bath. She also is a super person. You can view her work online at Or call her at 510.526.4579. Leslie

April 2004

Awhile back, someone asked about help with interior design. I would like to recommend Tre Curran and her partner Tracy. Their name is Interior Transformations info AT 510-527-8384

When I mentioned Interior Transformation, my friends thought it was therapy. Actually, it felt incredibly therapeutic and exciting to get ideas about redesigning the home with what existed. They can also help you purchase new items. Sherry

March 2004

I live in a tiny cottage and need some help figuring out best to maximize the space. Does anyone know of a relatively low-cost interior decorating consultant who, most of all, might be able to suggest places to actually buy the few pieces of furniture I have in mind? I don't necessarily need a design professional, just someone with a good eye who also knows how to shop! (Think English Country or Minimalist styles.)
Many thanks. Dreaming of Expansiveness!

I want to highly recommend the interior decorating consultants that I recently used for a major home renovation. The Radicchio Sisters is a team of two women--Michele Maggiora and Terese Allara--who provide full service interior design, home decoration, and painting. They did fantastic work for me, and it was a pleasure to work with them. Both women are artists and have a wonderful sense of design and color. They quickly ascertained my tastes and provided consistently good advice on decisions large and small. While they were very sensitive to my preferences, they encouraged me to consider options I never would have come to on my own that I ended-up being very happy with. They are very reliable and responsible. They can be reached at: 510-444-4472. Jessica

May 2003

I have looked at the previous recommendations regarding interior designers and DVA which was highly recommended by many is no longer accepting new clients. I have two boys and want to work with someone who is positive about an active, casual family. Thank you. fullhuis

To the person with two boys looking for a designer who is positive about an active, casual family: I highly recommend the energetic, upbeat young woman who recently helped me decorate my house with wonderful interior colors and other ideas. Recently moved from Colorado, she's seeking to build her career here in the Bay Area. She's creative, reliable, meticulous, great fun to work with, and will negotiate her fee! (Also, she's great with kids and has worked as a nanny.) Her name is Natalie Sanfilippo and her cell phone is 415-613-5769. --Sharon

I recently worked with 2 great designers, Tracy Klem and Tre Curran. In fact, they just finished up transforming my living room to a great, comfortable, and yet beautiful home today! And they also set up a fun play room for my 1 year old daughter. They have 4 years old kids themselves, so they know exactly how to make a child friendly home. They are the best I have ever worked with. They also shop around for me on few furnitures and accessories with an incredible prices. They helped me to save money by using existing furnitures and items, and transform them into a haven.The number is 510-620-0814 (Tracy Klem), or check out their web site Feel free to write me if you have any further question. mun33

2002 & Earlier

December 2002

We just bought an old craftsman bungalow in Berkeley. We are redoing all the walls, and plan to make minor structural changes. Later we are going to completely redo the bathroom, kitchen, attic and ground floor (we're lifting), but for now I'm just looking for someone who can advise on minor structural changes (i.e. adding closets, putting in a half bath) and paint color, furniture layout, window treatment etc. Someone who knows a lot about craftsmans would be a plus, but is not absolutely necessary. Romney

We recently bought a house that we would like to slowly change to fit our vision of our home. Nothing major quite yet- Ide like to start with repainting/wallpapering followed by redoing the floors, getting window treatments, the like. I know a good room when I see one, but dont neccessarily know how to get there. I dont think I can afford a designer to do it all for me but Ide like help in figuring out my vision. That way Ill have each room figured out before I implement each piece. This is specially important to me since we will be spacing out the changes over a year or more...(I dont want to do the work piecemeal and find out that the pieces dont gel with each other to form a cohesive big picture that I like...)Do Interior designers offer such a thing? Any idea what it would cost? Any reccomendations? I checked the archives have some reccos that are a couple years old, but nothing recent. Thanks in advance, Vaiju

I'm looking for an interior decorator of sorts to help me furnish a family room and living room for my home after a remodel. I do not want someone who will turn my home into a showcase as I have a 3 1/2 year old and a 6 month old. I have a pretty good idea of what I'm looking for but do not have the time (or the desire) to shop for furniture. I need someone who is willing to suggest furniture which is functional and nice but not necessarily the most expensive. Does anyone know of someone who is either an interior decorator by trade and willing to decorate a family home or someone with a good decorating eye who has done this sort of thing in the past? I have seen previous recommendations on the site but they seem to be outdated and not exactly what I'm needing. Thanks.

To the person looking to furnish a family room, etc, I would highly recommend Leslie C. Bahr. I am an architectural photographer, so know a lot of designers. Leslie is just a great person to work with, has a good eye and has lots of experience with projects small thru large. Her number is 415.664.1678. Joel

Sally Freedman (510) 547-2422 recently did some work for me. I liked her a lot. She is down to earth and did a very good job at listening to what my husband and I wanted. she was also imaginative and worked within our budget. Finally, Sally had a good sense of humor whch was important to me as I found the whole business stressful. Feel free to e-mail me if you want more details. Janet

I can't say enough about Dianna V Interior Design. She will work with you and your ideas. Her office is in SF (415) 701-8893. She lives in the east bay and has a number of clients there. Carole

We used the services of Carolyn Mason when we bought our house. She's an independent contractor, very professional, and really helped us decide what colors worked for us. She can be reached at 415/929-1783. Lydia

For the person looking for an Interior Decorator -- I highly recommend my mom, Sylvia Carter. She is in semi- retirement, but she has an INCREDIBLE eye for buying furniture and she recently did my living room. We also wanted something kid-friendly, low-maintenance, and not from a pricey show room. She did a great job; we love our living room, it is weathering kids and 4 pets well, and we feel like it was a steal. She is also very good at picking paint colors, rugs, hanging pictures, etc. Her style is very pottery barn-esk (which she has been doing since before pottery barn, I just don't know how else to describe it -- casual country or french country or western, rather than someone with a more modern/contemporary edge.) We get loads of compliments. If you'd like me to email you pictures of my living room I'd be happy to. To be honest, I have no idea what the work she's done for other people looks like, but she did have something in a Sunset interior design book years ago. Her phone number is 925-254-1992. Christine

I would like to recommend my sister, Mary Watson for any interior decorating needs. Her number is 925.980.9108. She does everything from faux finishing, color consulations, projecter stenciling, to full room and home make-overs. She works primarily in the East Bay but will travel a little further. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me. Amy

To those looking for an interior designer a couple of newsletters back, I would highly reccommend Laura Eichel, who does exactly those kinds of jobs described, and consults on an hourly basis. She has excellent taste, tons of ideas, and is extremely fun to work with. Contact her at: lceichel AT --Jean

For the two folks looking for an Interior designer, I recommend Tre Curran of Interior Transformations in El Cerrito. She is not only talented, but she is wonderful to work with. She can work with current belongings and make them look fresh and exciting. She also knows where to go to find things, whether it be furniture or home accessories. And she is very reasonable. tracy

Liz Hirsch of CanDo Redo is fantastic and very creative. From working with what you have to a total redo. lizhirsch AT or 415 648 4040 Laura

we used julia perkins for both decorating and home organization and were really pleased -- she went on one shopping trip with me (ikea), purchased things on my behalf on several other trips, gave great advice on practical yet good-looking furniture and window coverings (as well as how to better use the items we already owned), took into account our situation as a family with young children (she has young children herself), and was great to work with -- she does not impose her opinions but gently suggests what she thinks would work well and look good. you can contact her at juliaperk AT Marguerita

I am working with a wonderful interior designer; I recommend her highly. She is helping me with a major kitchen and bath remodel, plus adding hall closets and other storage solutions. Our house is a 1916 craftsman bungalow, and she is trying to work in a consistent style, while being senstive to our (limited) budget! She has brilliant ideas and is a joy to work with. You can reach Annelore Heerdt at 415-381-9111 (she lives in Marin but will travel anywhere).

My mother in law, Phyllis bleecker, is the owner of excellence by design. she has over 15 years experience. she works on all kinds of projects from whole houses, to small spaces, to commercial projects. she is a wonderful person, warm, friendly and competent. you really can't go wrong with her. check out her website at for some examples of work she's done. you can call her at 925-248-0267. juliette

August 2002

I'm looking for a recommendation for an interior designer that specializes in a ''traditional'' design. Anyone? Patty

For the person who was looking for an interior designer. I would like to recommend my interior designer- Her name is Andrea Hawkins of The Hawkins Design Group. She is currently working on my place and I love her work. On her very first to my home, she made recommendations that were exactly what I needed to pull my home together! She asked questions so that she could get to know my style and life style and then suggested furniture and designs that would fit my needs.

What I really like about Andrea is that she will work with your existing furniture/art/special pieces, etc. to complete the look you want to achieve in your home. Or she can start from scratch to give you a complete overhaul. You can check out Andrea's website at: or call her (510) 654-4295. Michelle

I highly recommend Sally Power (841-4414) for any interior design assistance you may need. Sally has a great sense of style and color. She consulted with us on color(s) for about 8 rooms and helped with some window treatment ideas. She is great to work with - reliable, friendly, and professional. Jennifer

March 2002

I would like to find a decorator who would be compatible with my informal taste (kind of zen, ethnic)and limited budget, who would be fun to work with, in helping me turn kids-away-at-college bedrooms into guest room/meditation/massage rooms. I'd like to locate someone who has access to good quality but reasonably priced painters, carpeting, furnishings. Know of anyone? Leah

Call Anne Norton-Dingwall at 510.526.4579 in Kensington. If anyone can help, she can. Great taste, and she just left a large firm to start her own studio. carolt

We had a great decorator who helped us find informal but fun furniture. She found quite a bit of Asian / African type stuff. She was also a very good listener versus some of the others we tried. Her rates were fairly reasonable compared to other decorators as well. She was very creative in finding us a wide range of products. For example, we went to some Asian antique places and had them build some furniture from the older pieces. In one case we took an old antique door and made a nice behind the sofa table. Her name is Jana Anderson at 925-280-6709 or jana at Jamie

Call Anne Norton-Dingwall at 510.526.4579 in Kensington. If anyone can help, she can. Great taste, and she just left a large firm to start her own studio. carolt

Jan 2000

Recently, a list member recommended interior decorator Sally Freedman. Does anyone have additional recommendations for interior designers? I'm looking for someone who is willing to shop both retail and the design centers and who is willing to work with a *family* with functional as well as aesthetic needs, as opposed to people who are trying to create a show house. Thanks so much for your recommendations! Darcy

I would like to recommend DVA Interior Design Group for any who are looking for an interior designer/decorator. The designers at DVA work with you in your budget instead of making you feel like you have no taste. Contact Rhea Butler at (510) 251-9382 or DVARhea AT

I have a great one for you. DVA Interior Design Group. They are wonderful. I believe there are three women in their group and I have worked with two of them, Rhea Butler and Jan Barzottini. Having had no exposure to decorators, I didn't know what to expect but these women are real people (and real parents with small children). They listened to our lifestyle and our wants and needs. They looked at our beloved belongings and took pictures. They even borrowed pillowcases to make sure the shade was just right when they picked out a color. They have tons of experience in the field but they have just formed their group so they are eager to please. Their prices are very reasonable and they go the extra mile to give you more than you asked for. And the difference the right color could make! So I guess I am highly - no very highly - recommending DVA Interior Design Group. Their phone number is (510) 251-9382. Please tell them I recommended you and feel free to call me if you have any questions.

Try Sally Power of Sally Power Interiors, 841-4414 in Berkeley. She will listen to you and is responsive to your needs and desires. She has wonderful ideas and a great sense of color and design. She has helped people with big budgets and big projects, as well as those with more modest means. And she will respect your budget.

Sept. 1999

Can anyone recommend an interior decorator that can do a consultation. I would not mind giving someone a few hundred dollars to spend a few hours in my house and recommend where to put what and what color to paint or kinds/colors of furniture to buy. I know most are expensive and are whole service but I cant afford that but I do want a nice house. I recognize a nicely done job but for the life of me, I cant produce it myself. Any ideas? Maybe students or those that do it on the side as a hobby? My number during the day is 415-744-2076 if anyone wants to pass this one. Thanks much, Nilou

I have worked with an interior designer: Sally Freedman at (510) 547-2422. She works out of her home. I think if you told her your budget and what you are hoping for she'll let you know if she can do it. She's got wonderful taste, very professional, and nice to deal with. Pat

I would like to recommend DVA Interior Design Group. DVA consists of three talented young designers who are just starting to break out on their own. Each currently works for a commercial design firm but they are starting a new group that specializes in both residential and commercial design and space planning. They are easy and fun to work with. Because they are trying to build up their clientele, no job is too small and their rates are very reasonable. You can contact them at (510) 251-9382

What should I expect in a consultation?

Sept 2006

I had a bad experience with a designer. We wanted advice about color (paint), lighting, curtains/shades, and rugs. She talked on and on about her other clients and what worked for them--for 2 hours. After she left I thought ''what did I get out of that 2 hours?--nothing.'' She pointed me to a couple of places to shop, that's what I got. My question is: how should I ''interview'' the designer so that I can actually benefit from my (nearly) $200! I am willing to have a continuing relationship with an effective designer but I really cannot afford to waste my money like I did with this particular designer. Please send any suggestions for directing the meeting, and also recommendations for designers that hear me and will work with me. And not waste time talking about stuff that is *completely* irrelevant! Also, can you let me know their rates? We have a '20s simple 2/1 bungalow. anon

Hello, I am an interior decorator in Montclair, and first of all, I would like to say that I am sorry to hear that you had a dissatisfactory experience with your previous interior decorator/designer. You shouldn't have to control the flow if you have a good decorator/designer, especially if there are defined things you want to accomplish. They should control the flow and make sure that you are getting what you want. They should have asked enough questions in the beginning to make sure that you ARE getting what you needed.

I typically offer a complimentary consultation where we get to know one another, and I use this as an opportunity to listen to what you are looking for, how your spaces are used, who uses them, what do you want your window coverings to accomplish (eg privacy, decoration, sun control, insulation), etc.

After we have discussed what you are looking to accomplish, then we decide if we feel like we can work together--no money has changed hands yet. I think it is important that we both feel like it could be a mutually beneficial relationship before we get too far down the road. If you purchase product from me-- window treatments, area rugs, accessories, furniture--I do not charge an hourly design fee--you get my design services for free. My prices are comparable to Thomasville/Ethan Allen, but I have a much larger selection from over 130 suppliers. If you would like to use me in a more consultative role where there is no product purchase, I do charge an hourly rate that varied depending on the service.

Good luck in your quest!

I think your expectations were not realistic. One person could only give you an overview of 4 different topics in 2 hours. A lighting designer would need 1-2 hours to discuss styles, brands, placement, type of bulbs. A color consultant would need 2 hours to build a palette of colors. A window specialist would take 1-2 hours to show you samples of fabric, styles of shades and curtains. drapery hardware etc. It sounds like you were not focused on any direction to start with. Start by looking online to get some ideas of all the stuff that's out there anon

First of all most designers and consultants have websites where you can read what people have said about them and they'd give you client phone numbers if you asked. Also from the website you can get an idea of their experience and areas of expertise.

Next you should talk to them on the phone before you hire them, asking whatever questions you want about their style, and also letting them know you had a problem in the past, so it doesn't happen again.

Third: if a designer does not seem to be listening to you, perhaps you are not speaking up. Perhaps she was sounding you out on ideas she had used before, but not getting any reaction or response from you. You also could let the designer know if you want to be told exactly what to do, which maybe you do.

Last, you might have expected too much in 2 hours. anon