What do you do when you have only a very small amount of room, but you need to make that space really work for you? Call Kimball Starr Interior Design!
In this small Pacific Heights dining room, you can see that it looked a bit like an afterthought, tacked onto another bigger space. The wall color was fighting with the floor color, and it didn’t seem like a place you’d want to entertain. We saw the potential in this room and made a few adjustments that make all the difference.
BEFORE: Pacific Heights Dining Room
Changing the walls to a warmer color, using dark contrasting wood furniture and a bright, fun rug bring this small space together. The decorative wall art is reflective, helping to bounce light around the room and make it feel bigger. The bench conserves space and makes it easier to move through the area, while the red chairs match the rug for an additional pop of color.
Also, the clever dining table rotates 90 degrees, and the ends flip out to provide additional seating for 2 more guests.
AFTER: Kimball Starr Interior Design / Photo by Eric Rorer
Even smaller is this tiny closet in a tight bedroom in the same home. They needed the storage but it just didn’t look attractive.
BEFORE: Pacific Heights Closet
We stepped in and designed a more accessible closet by removing the bi-fold doors and replaced them with a sensuous fabric that conceals the contents and makes it easier to move past in close quarters. Now it’s a lovely addition to the room and is both pretty and more functional.
Repeating the color scheme and reflective quality in the accent pillows on the bed creates a nice rhythm. The closet had been dark and difficult to find anything inside without any internal lighting. Kimball resolved this by running a set of lights from a nearby electrical outlet. Now they can both access their storage and see what’s inside!
AFTER: Closet by Kimball Starr Interior Design / Photo by Eric Rorer
If you want to take your home from sad to fab, call Kimball Starr for guidance. You’ll be glad you did!
Kimball Starr Interior Design is an award-winning San Francisco interior design firm providing home design throughout the SF Bay Area.
artwork courtesy Blisstree.com
Continuing our series inspired by our love of Mad Men, interior decor and cocktails, we are pairing design and drinks! This post, a manly room needs a manly drink, and with the upcoming holidays we decide on a classic cocktail for this classic contemporary interior.
Living room for a single San Francisco gentleman by Kimball Starr Interior Design / photo by Eric Rorer
As you can see in this San Francisco apartment, strong rich colors complement warm wood and tactile textiles to celebrate a living room designed especially for a man’s taste.
Inspired by the gorgeous coloring of the wood paneling and the overstuffed leather club chairs, a whiskey-inspired drink leads us to create the perfect bourbon Manhattan cocktail.
Left: Perfect Manhattan courtesy fourrosesbourbon.com / Right: Virgin Manhattan courtesy drinksmixer.com
To enjoy this living room fully, we recommend a Perfect Manhattan!
- 1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth
- 1/2 oz Dry Vermouth
- 2 1/2 oz Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon
- Enough ice cubes to fill a shaker 3/4 full
- 1 twist of lemon peel
Combine the vermouth, whiskey, and ice in a mixing glass. Stir gently, don’t bruise the spirits and cloud the drink. Strain the whiskey mixture into a chilled Martini glass. Rub the cut edge of the lemon peel over the rim of the glass and twist it over the drink to release the oils, then don’t drop it in. Enjoy.
Get other pairing ideas by visiting our Pinterest Drinks & Décor Pairings! For a non-alcoholic version, we adore a Virgin Manhattan! Mix 4 types of juice with orange bitters and garnish with a maraschino cherry – view the full recipe via our Pinterest.
If you need help designing a space just for you, we at Kimball Starr Interior Design are residential design experts! We can help you create the room of your dreams!
Kimball Starr Interior Design is an award-winning San Francisco interior design firm specializing in comfortable and approachable interiors for the San Francisco, Peninsula, Marin, and San Jose areas. Kimball Starr “changes lives one room at a time” by creating interiors tailored specially for you.
For those who live in California, you probably know that we are currently in the grips of the worst drought in recent history. The graphic below shows how much water major California cities are currently using.
So what can we do to help reduce water usage? In a series of blogs focusing on how interior design can contribute to conserve water, we’ll give you some great tips and introduce you to products that will make conserving water simple and beautiful. Today’s edition: Low-flow fixtures!
graphic courtesy MotherJones.com
One of the simplest retrofits you can perform yourself is to add an aerator to your sink faucets in the kitchen and bathroom. Aerators cost little and can be found at your local hardware store. “They’re rated for different flows, and a flow rate of 0.5 to 1 gallons per minute should be sufficient for a bathroom sink,” says Chrissy Trask, author of It’s Easy Being Green: A Handbook for Earth-Friendly Living.
You could also install a shut-off button or pull-chain on your current showerhead, making it simple to temporarily stop the water flow while shampooing, without losing water temperature.
Left: Faucet aerator graphic courtesy greenandsave.com / Right: Shower water stop graphic courtesy ec.gc.ca
If you haven’t yet installed a low-flow shower head because you remember the barely-dripping showers from the 1990s, there are now beautiful options with powerful water pressure! When it comes to showerheads, it pays to be picky. “Don’t just shop around for the cheapest model you can find,” Trask warns. “You want a showerhead that provides enough pressure to rinse the shampoo out of your hair, and that means spending a little more for the aerated type.”
Left: American Standard FloWise Transitional 3-function water-saving shower head / Right: Yakult Rain Showerhead
The American Standard FlowWise 3-function showerhead features exclusive turbine technology that delivers an invigorating shower using 20% or 40% less water, which can save a family up to 8,000 gallons of water a year. Choose from a turbine, full or combination spray. Matches contemporary, transitional or modern bathroom designs.
The Yakult Rain Handheld Showerhead comes in a 100% brass or chrome finish with a 5-year warranty – the same quality used in hotels. The 8-inch model features a 2.0 gallon-per-minute flow rate, saving 20% water usage compared to a standard model, plus the handheld option is perfect for bathing children and washing pets with ease while blending with modern bathroom designs.
In our next drought blog, we’ll be sharing innovative toilet and sink combination fixtures. Meanwhile, if you’re ready to remodel that kitchen or bath, contact us to redesign your space with beauty and eco-conscious fixtures. We make water conservation beautiful!
Kimball Starr Interior Design is a San Francisco design firm that offers interior remodels and decorating services for homes throughout the SF Bay Area. Our designs are focused on creating modern and eco-conscious interiors for relaxed California living.
The bathroom is one of the most-used rooms in the home, so it can really be a pain-point if the design isn’t correct. Luckily there are ways to renovate a bathroom to bring it up to a more usable standard. For example, take this San Francisco bathroom remodel in St. Francis Woods by Kimball Starr – it started out as 2 separate rooms, one with just a water closet and another room with the sink, tub and shower stall. This isn’t a space efficient layout where space is limited and no sink in the same room as the toilet is also not ideal.
BEFORE on left and AFTER on right / Floor plans by Kimball Starr
Enter Kimball Starr, who saw potential for reworking this less than optimal floor plan. In order to maximize the available space and create a layout that flows better in the bathroom, if you’ll pardon the pun, we removed the separating wall along with the tub, and closed off one of the doorways.
BEFORE: water closet and bathroom / Photos by Kimball Starr
AFTER: Custom-designed bath cabinetry and San Francisco bathroom design by Kimball Starr Interior Design / Photos by Eric Rorer
By removing the separating wall and closing off the second doorway, the spaces were finally unified. A custom-made cabinetry piece was created as a visual block in front of the toilet as you enter the bathroom, so it’s not the first thing you see, and provides abundant storage for towels, cleaning supplies, and toiletries. The flooring is porcelain tiles made to look like stone, with excellent durability, and laid at a 45 degree angle to visually elongate the space.
BEFORE: bathroom tub and shower / Photos by Kimball Starr
AFTER: San Francisco bathroom design by Kimball Starr Interior Design / Photos by Eric Rorer
A custom-designed mahogany vanity was sized to utilize every inch of space in the area where the tub existed, increasing functionality and storage, and providing a serene place to beautify and clean hands and face.
Beautiful handmade elongated geometric ceramic tiles by Pratt & Larson cover the upper part of the shower in varying shades of cream, bone and ivory, combined with simple classic subway tiles on the lower shower walls. To finish off the shower, the flooring is the same as the bathroom but cut into small squares to prevent a slippery floor. The curbless shower entry gives a seamless look, and coupled with the grab bar provides appropriate design elements for aging in place.
Now this bathroom is a beautiful, tranquil space that echoes the rest of the home! If you have a challenging bathroom space that needs to be reconfigured, and you don’t know how to approach the work, call in the San Francisco bathroom design expert, Kimball Starr Interior Design!
Kimball Starr Interior Design is a professional bathroom design firm for all shapes and sizes of baths. The award-winning San Francisco interior design firm provides full bath design from concept to completion including finish & fixture selections, construction documents, and contractor recommendations.
by Guest Blogger, Jennifer Davidson, Allied ASID, LEED AP
You should know about “green design” – the idea that we can design and build in a way that is more in tune with nature; healthier, and more sustainable. While it still is not possible to completely avoid industrially-produced products that are made with chemicals, it is possible to make smarter choices, both as a designer and as a consumer. Here’s how to source a healthier, greener couch or sofa for your home or office.
First, if you haven’t read my earlier post about healthy interiors, you should. It will help you make more informed decisions on a multitude of factors. Once you’re ready to think about healthier furniture, let’s begin with some history.
Graphic courtesy “New York Times”
The state of the industry
A 1975 California standard led to the use of harmful and potentially harmful flame retardant chemicals in furniture and baby products across North America. Greensciencepolicy.org tested the foam of 101 American couches bought between 1984-2010 and found that 85% of the couches contained toxic or inadequately tested flame retardant chemicals in the foam. These chemicals are linked to numerous health and environmental problems.
Graphic courtesy EPA & Tribune Reporting
Flame retardants found in couches
- TDCPP (chlorinated Tris), listed as a carcinogen by California in 2011
- PentaBDE, (pentabrominated diphenyl ether) globally banned due to toxicity and environmental persistence
- Firemaster 550, associated with obesity and anxiety in one animal study
Photo courtesy 2k3db at scientificamerican.com
Furniture manufacturers are making the switch to foam without flame retardants
In 2013 and 2014 the furniture industry reacted to the Prop. 65 listing of TDCPP and California’s revision of flammability standard TB 117. The industry began removing the chemical from furniture products.
A few of the bigger stores started phasing in healthier foam last July. Look for the “TB117-2013″ tag and confirm with a sales representative that the foam doesn’t contain flame retardants, which are not banned from furniture yet, but no longer required.
graphic courtesy greensciencepolicy.org
Soy-based vs. polyester foam
In an upholstered piece of furniture, the cushions need a filler of some kind. Before plastics, our grandparents and their parents used horsehair, feathers, wool or cotton batting, but with the rise of plastics, everything changed. Polyurethane foam was introduced as a cushion component in furniture in 1957 and quickly replaced other products because it was very inexpensive. Polyfoam cushions cost $2 vs. natural latex at $7 or $8.
Polyurethane foam is a by-product of the same process used to make petroleum from crude oil. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers polyurethane foam fabrication facilities potential major sources of hazardous air pollutants including methylene chloride, toluene diisocyanate (TDI), and hydrogen cyanide.
O Ecotextiles tells us that an average queen-sized polyurethane foam mattress covered in polyester fabric loses HALF its weight over ten years of use. Where does the weight go? Polyurethane oxidizes, and it creates “fluff” (dust) which is released into the air and eventually settles in and around your home, and you breathe it in. Some of the chemicals include formaldehyde, styrene, toluene di-isocyanate (TDI), and antimony. Polyfoam breaks down rapidly, resulting in lumpy cushions, and has poor porosity, which traps moisture and results in mold, plus it is extremely flammable. Therefore flame-retardant chemicals are added to its production when used in mattresses and upholstered furniture.
Compare this with a bio-based foam made from soybeans. Companies claim that using soy in polyurethane foam production results in fewer greenhouse gas emissions, requires less energy, and could significantly reduce reliance on petroleum, but it actually contains very little soy. It’s more accurate to call it “polyurethane-based foam with a touch of soy”. Soy foam is not biodegradable either. What’s a consumer to do?
Photo courtesy churchillandsmith.com
There is a viable (and yes, more expensive product choice): Natural latex (rubber). The word “latex” can be confusing for consumers, because it has been used to describe both natural and synthetic products. This product can be 100% natural (natural latex) or 100% man-made (derived from petrochemicals) – or it can be a combination of the two. Keep in mind that rubber and latex are the same thing.
Natural latex is breathable, biodegradeable, sustainably harvested, healthier, meaning totally nontoxic, mold/mildew proof, and it lasts longer than polyfoam – some reports say up to 20 times longer. I bet you know which one you should buy, based on this information.
Graphic courtesy Royal Winter Fair Wool
Other healthier construction choices
Now that we’ve considered the foam itself in detail, let’s also briefly examine some elements of a couch and determine which will be the better choices to look for when selecting a “green” sofa.
Foam wrap – look for organic wool batting whenever possible. Wool is a breathable fiber that regulates itself to individual body temperature and really is warm in winter, cool in summer. It is naturally water-resistant, repelling moisture vapor through its fibers and making it resistant to rot, mold and mildew. It is also a rapidly-renewable material that takes little resources to produce.
Frame construction – Choose FSC-certified wood frames and water-based finishes. Avoid nails, choose screws instead for a stronger, more durable hold. If the manufacturer employs corner blocking with glue, ensure that it is water-based glue.
Fabrics – Many manufacturers such as Kravet and Pollack feature green fabric lines that meet strict performance standards, use recycled or sustainable fibers, and have been processed in facilities where wastewater is properly treated. You can also look for Cradle-to-Cradle certified products under Materials for Designers/Textiles to find 10 companies that manufacture textiles which meet C2C Certified standards, and can help you gain LEED points, if you are focused on Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design.
Photo courtesy GreenSciencePolicy.org
Return your old foam & keep your sofa – but healthier
The Green Science Policy Institute offers a program called the Safer Sofa Foam Exchange. Take your existing foam inserts which contain flame retardants purchased between 1978-2013 and exchange them for new, healthier foam for about $50 per cushion. The Green Science Policy Institute will use your old foam for testing and research to determine the safest way to dispose of these chemicals, many of which have long half-lives, remaining in the environment for many years. Participating locations include Foam Order in San Francisco, Kay Chesterfield Company in Oakland, The Foam Store of Marin (reach them through the Foam Order site), and Foam and Cushion in Concord. This way you can keep the same sofa that you’ve loved for years, but make sure you’re healthy to keep using it for years longer.
So now that you are armed with an understanding of what your options are, how to make the best choices for you, and how to find healthier furniture choices, I hope you will consider making your next purchase a more sustainable one.
JENNIFER DAVIDSON is a LEED Accredited Professional and holds an M.F.A. in Interior Architecture and Design from the Academy of Art University. She is the Social Media Chair for ASID California North Chapter and consults with interior design professionals on their small business needs. Contact her via makesocialmediaeasy.squarespace.com
No, we’re not trying to make space by shouting fire – we’re announcing the theme of our craft-item-inspired room vignette at the American Craft Council show in San Francisco July 31st to August 2nd!
With more than 230 of the top contemporary jewelry, clothing, furniture and home décor artists from across the country, ACC is the largest juried craft show west of the Rockies. For the past few years, ACC has featured a series of interior design vignettes called Make Room: Modern Design Meets Craft, created around and inspired by a craft item. This year’s theme is the 4 elements of Water, Air, Earth and Fire – Kimball’s theme!
Here’s a sneak peak at Kimball’s process:
Designer: Kimball Starr, Allied ASID
Design firm: Kimball Starr Interior Design
Inspirations: Victor DiNovi, Mark L. Hendrickson, and Clark Renfort
Design style: I draw inspiration from colors, textures, and forms found in nature, as well as from gritty urban landscapes. I combine these elements to create exciting urban spaces while maintaining a touchstone to nature, for custom-crafted interiors that fit each homeowner’s lifestyle and sensibility.
Vision: From the destruction that fire wreaks comes renewal and rebirth in nature. This room is a conceptual design of an outdoor “room” in a lava field that illustrates how that transformation can bring forth beauty. I chose these organically shaped pieces so they appear as if they’ve grown up out of the lava bed, like beacons of beauty that rise up after fire.
Come see Kimball’s designs for yourself – along with the 3 other designer vignettes and thousands of hand-crafted pieces, all under one roof!
San Francisco American Craft Council Show
Festival Pavilion, Fort Mason Center
July 31 – August 2, 2015
Click here for tickets, show info, and artist listings.
Kimball Starr Interior Design is an award-winning San Francisco interior design firm providing home decorating services. Always inspired, Kimball is constantly expressing her elemental drive to design. Put that drive to work for you by contacting Kimball for a consultation today!