KIMBALL STARR INTERIOR DESIGN RECEIVES “BEST OF HOUZZ” FOR CUSTOMER SATISFACTION – 3 YEARS RUNNING!
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The Best Of Houzz Award is given in two categories: Client Satisfaction and Design. Client Satisfaction honors are determined by the number and quality of client reviews a professional received in 2014. Design award winners’ work was the most popular among 16 million monthly Houzz users.
TOP: Tiny House Flexible Use Dining Space. CENTER: Vintage Bungalow featuring Adrian Pearsall Rocker. BOTTOM: St. Francis Bathroom Remodel / All designs by Kimball Starr Interior Design / All photos by Eric Rorer except CENTER by Marija Vidal
The top photo shown here of flexible use dining space in a tiny San Francisco apartment was saved to over 3,500 ideabooks! There are 135 photos uploaded, which have been added to a total of 57,498 ideabooks worldwide. That’s a lot of homeowners looking for new ideas!
From Ghirardelli Square to the Palace of Fine Arts, architecture and design are very prominent in the City by the Bay. It is literally impossible to walk around in this city and not find stunning examples of these things. There are many prominent and talented interior designers all over the Bay Area as well, and we wanted to highlight 15 of the best.
We’ve been nominated as one of the best interior designers in San Francisco along with some other great talent by the design savvy team at Build Direct. Can you help us out by casting your vote?
Offering everything from space planning to full-scale design, Starr employs an inventive and sensitive use of materials, believing that comfort holds the key to successful design. Her firm work with clients to create successful interiors tailored to client needs in both residences and commercial spaces. She has been featured on television and published in a couple hardcover books, such as Country-Style Residences and Zen Residences. Kimball Starr is a top contemporary interior designer in the San Francisco Bay Area, providing creative interiors for both homes and commercial spaces.
Welcome back to the 2nd part of Kimball Starr televised on the PBS TV series “Creative Living” with Sheryl Borden. Kimball Starr is the featured San Francisco interior design expert teaching how to visually reshape a room’s proportions. She wraps up this second segment with how to make a small bathroom look more spacious, along with integrating color and reflective surfaces to visually maximize a small home.
– [Kimball] [The first example is] …In a very small bathroom, which is a very common problem in any urban area.
– [Sheryl] Yeah, very small usually.
– It’s very small. This is, shower… there’s no tub. There wasn’t room for a tub. But on the flooring, if you use large format tiles and you angle them, it will actually make the space seem bigger. So if you run planks front-to-back, it’s going to make your room seem longer.
– If you run them side-to-side, it’s going to make it seem wider.
– And then if you run it on the diagonal, it widens AND lengthens the room.
– I’ve seen places where they were at a diagonal, but it was usually a large entry or something. I wouldn’t have thought about using a big design in a bathroom.
– And that is a misnomer where people think, “Oh, it’s a small bathroom. I have to use small tiles.”
– But it’s a thing with all those grout lines, every time you see a grout line, that’s your eye saying ‘stop, stop, stop, stop’. And if you just see much bigger tiles and maybe there’s only six or eight of them, your eye just flows across the floor.
– Flows. I guess so.
– It seems more spacious. And same thing with the glass shower, instead of having a corner shower jutting out, you chop it so it’s angled and that helps keep the flow open as well. And for little small dining areas, you can use cabinetry floor-to-ceiling, and that’s going to increase your ceiling height. And the thing about this is, it’s all monochromatic using the dark colors of the cabinetry and using the dark island. All the color just flows and the floors are dark. So actually, this is something a lot of people don’t know is dark floors actually recede. So your floors will actually feel more spacious if you do a dark color because the floor is dropping away.
– And I would’ve thought maybe using the black or a dark grey, or whatever, would make it seem so much smaller.
– Yeah. Well, you know, it’s also because we have wonderful glass windows that lets in the light.
– I mean if you have …
– That probably counters it, doesn’t it?
– You do need to take into consideration what else is going on. If you don’t have any windows in the room and you did everything black …
– It would be a tomb.
– That probably wouldn’t be advisable.
– Yeah. I see. Okay. Yeah, I can see that.
– And then this last…
– Oh, I love this.
– Oh, thank you!
– I love these colors.
– And then this last example, it’s a very contemporary space. There’s no molding or trim. It’s very straightforward. So it’s very architectural and there’s very sharp lines. So by doing this built-in banquette, instead of doing a right…
– Oh, it softens it, doesn’t it? That’s why I like that.
– You’re hired!
– I’m hired? Good!
– That’s right. So instead of having a sharp right angle, by creating this curve, it just softens the flow.
– It does.
– And then the other trick is, if you notice, outside the window there’s always greenery.
– If you bring in a color from outside that’s visible from your room and use it as a major color as here, so we have all the greenery and I use…
– So it just extends the room indoors, outdoors.
– That’s right because…
– That’s a great idea.
– Because it feels like the patio is really part of your living space.
– Now, one other question, what about lighting? Is it true that if it’s a smaller space, you need more lighting or what’s the secret there?
– That’s a great question. So when I said the cabinetry, if you go all the way up to the ceiling it makes it seem taller…
– If you drop the cabinetry from going all the way to the top, it will make your ceiling seem shorter. But, if you put recessed lighting on top and light up the ceiling, that lifts up the ceiling.
– I can see how it would do that.
– So up-lighting is really important if you want to increase the height of your ceiling.
– And that seems like more and more of the newer houses that I’ve been in have that … is it called cove lighting or something?
– And it does.
– It just looks like it goes on forever.
– Yes. Exactly.
– And some of the rooms aren’t all that big.
– Cove up-lighting is an excellent way to increase the space in your room.
– Well, these are great examples. I can see how people would want to apply these if they had a small space, especially, and make it seem larger. Thank you very much, Kimball.
– Thank you so much, Sheryl. It was great to be here!
Does your room feel too small, too large, or just not bright enough? Kimball Starr was featured on this televised series of “Creative Living” with Sheryl Borden. In this first video segment of 2, Kimball teaches and shows examples of how to trick the eye into making your interior spaces within your home look bigger, lighter, and better without having to remodel.
Check back tomorrow for Part 2!
Below is a transcript of the video:
– [Announcer] With your host Sheryl Borden.
– [Sheryl] Kimball, it’s so nice to have you here. I’m gonna pick your brain on everything I’ve always wanted to know working with an interior designer and do people come to you with unusual requests like “I have a small room but could you make it look twice as big?”
– [Kimball] Sometimes they do. I mean, I can do some miracles but I’m not a miracle worker!
– I see, so you have to work with what people have.
– That’s right.
– Okay, you have some examples that you’re going to show and if you’ll point out things that maybe would help us to reshape a room or how to live with what we have but maybe make it look better.
– Absolutely. So, when you want to reshape a room size, this is not doing major construction but design tricks to make it look like it’s a little bigger than it is. So we have three categories, we want to talk about color, which you can use to change a room size. Warm colors will come closer to you and cool colors will move away. And then patterns, which you can use in your flooring or walls, and then also reflective the surfaces. Reflective surfaces…
– Oh, like mirrors?
– Yes absolutely. Reflective surfaces, –things like glossy finishes — reflect light and make the space feel bigger.
– Oh okay, that’s good tips, good tricks, okay.
– Yes, so these are some examples illustrating that. Here I’ve used the dark blue color in this bay window to push the bay window out. It was a very narrow bay window so I wanted to make it feel deeper and then also if you notice, the planks are running crosswise, so that helps widen the room.
– Uh huh, I can see how that would do that.
– Yeah, so that’s a good example of the power of paint and pattern. And then here we have another bay window in a bedroom and the bay window you notice we have two colors. We have the dark chocolate and the butter scotch and the dark chocolate frames the bay window and then I actually did the bay window in butter scotch because the wall continues into the bay window and makes it feel like one big continuous space.
– Oh, instead of big chop, stop and start.
– Exactly. If I had done the bay window and that whole sitting area in the dark chocolate, it would’ve felt like an add-on to the room and it would not feel nearly as big as it as it does here.
– Oh, okay.
– And then another trick is, if you notice there’s the picture rail, this molding, the white line, so really it’s a way to guide your eye where it should be looking and that elongates the room. And so, a trick you can do to make your ceiling seem taller or lower is I put this molding here because I felt that the ceilings were a little too high for the room in proportion to how wide it was.
– Oh, too high, uh huh.
– So by bringing the molding down, it drops the ceiling height.
– Your eye comes down.
– Absolutely. And another trick is, if you want your ceiling to also feel lower, you could take the ceiling color and paint here so you actually create a band.
– Oh, bring the ceiling down, it would look like it was down lower.
– That’s right.
– Oh that’s a great idea!
– And you can do the opposite, where you could actually take the wall color and bring it up into the ceiling about 12 inches so you create a border around the ceiling and that will actually make your walls seem much higher. So lots of little fun tricks to do.
– Really and that’s just with paint?
– And that’s just with paint.
– I mean, how easy could that be, if you know what you’re doing.
– Well you know what, I would say paint’s the easiest way to make a change and it’s the simplest and the least expensive.
– Least expensive, right.
– So definitely experiment.
– Here’s an example of using a reflective surface. By using the mirror, it helps double your space, wherever the mirror covers it doubles that area and also by the long rectangular shape of the mirror it helps widen the dining the room because it was…
– Instead of it being turned vertical.
– Right. I mean, I could’ve done it vertical but that would’ve made it feel higher.
– Higher, uh huh.
– But it’s a lowered ceiling where it’s only a little area that the dining table could fit under, so I wanted to make it feel like it was a little bigger and more gracious.
– And I think we’ve all known about restaurants, we walk into a room and it just seems so huge but it’s really one walls of all mirrors.
– Yes, that’s right.
– So you realize how that can make that seem twice as big…
– Or dance studios or yoga studios.
– Yes, uh huh.
– It feels like this huge spacious room and it’s… you know, maybe…
– It’s really tiny.
– That’s right.
– That’s a good idea though.
– So you can definitely use that, you know.
– Reflective surfaces.
– Right, but don’t go crazy. Don’t do your whole house with mirrors.
– Right. [both laughing]
– So here is an example of a hallway where the base board trim has been painted the same color as the wall. So… instead of…
– Oh I see, I didn’t realize that was the base board. Now I can see that.
– Yeah, so there’s a good six-inch base right there. So the hallway is very short and narrow and by using the same color all the way up, it unifies the wall.
– Because you will have a brown or white or something along there and that would be… that would chop that up.
– That’s right, it’s very contrasty. It’s the same technique I like to say with fashion. So if you wear all black you’re gonna look really thin and it’s all the same color. If you wear purple pants, an orange top, a green hat — besides questioning my fashion sense — it also chops you up.
– I see, ideas.
– So it’s the same idea.
– Good point.
– And then there’s also doors in this hallway that I’ve also painted all the same color. So they’re all…
– Uh huh, so it’s monochromatic.
– The trim is blue, the doors are blue and then it just blends away.
– Uh huh, and the white thin [line] is sort of showcase as an accent.
By now you’ve heard about the “green design” movement – the idea that interior designers and architects 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 work with your designer to achieve a healthier, greener interior for your home or office.
First, if you haven’t read my earlier post about working with a designer, you should. It will help you make an informed decision for what will be a long and involved relationship. When you are seeking a sustainable designer, in addition to all those things that I already covered, you also want to inquire about your potential designer’s credentials and education in green design.
Ask these questions: Where did he or she study? Is their degree from an accredited program or school? When did they pass the exam or graduate? How many projects have they worked on? Did their projects achieve a certified status? Can they provide references?
Once you are satisfied with your designer’s qualifications, you can begin to explore the specifics of green design for your project with them. Keep these things in mind:
Sustainable design is not a pass/fail result; rather, there are a range of choices from ‘less bad’ to ‘extremely beneficial’. It’s important to make the choices that feel authentic for you, and meet your criteria based on a personal value scale.
Cost is one factor that will affect your choices. While there are many more green choices in the marketplace now than ever before, it is still true that you will have to pay more for more sustainable options. Your designer can evaluate how to present these options to you when you tell them what your price range is.
Graphic courtesy GreenSavingsCo.com
Light green versus dark green is another consideration: Some materials and products will be better than others, even within the sustainable product marketplace. Some will be manufactured using a more sustainable process, perhaps mitigating the fact that it is man-made instead of a natural product. A great place to find out information on green design products is the Cradle-to-Cradle Certified Products Registry. This site evaluates not only building and construction products and furniture, but also home cleaning and care products, so you can maintain your healthy interiors throughout their lifecycle.
Another important factor to consider when designing is location. Because of the amount of resources required to move something from one place to another, the closer that material or product is to your project site, the more sustainable that choice is. So if you can choose something made at a local factory or by a local craftsperson, instead of having it shipped from another country or even another state, you’re already making a more sustainable choice, as well as supporting your local economy!
Of course, you should choose natural products whenever possible, they provide great benefits. For example, a wool rug is naturally fire-retardant, which means you can avoid using chemicals to meet fire code standards. Wool is also anti-bacterial, helping to ward off infections. It’s produced in a low-impact method, by shearing a living animal and then spinning it into strands instead of using chemicals in a plant or killing an animal to take its hide. Wool is soft and warm to the touch, creating a sensual environment that’s enjoyable. And it’s hard-wearing and easy to maintain without additional chemicals.
If you can’t use a natural product, re-use something that already exists. Buy moulding taken from a home that was torn down; find kitchen cabinets that someone else has removed; score a metal railing from a scrapyard. If you can’t re-use something directly, then choose an item that is repurposed. Wood from a former barn used as flooring; a door turned into a table; create a seat from an old wine barrel – let your creativity loose and it can be really fun! And if you can’t re-use or repurpose, then choose products that are made from recycled materials. This contributes to a more sustainable environment overall as well as a healthier indoor environment.
Graphic courtesy CreativeOverflow.net
What are some other sustainable design factors that contribute to healthy interior environments? I’m glad you asked!
One of the most important factors in a healthy interior is air quality. To create or maintain healthy indoor air quality, your designer should include plenty of fresh air by providing working windows that can be opened and closed at the comfort of residents, or they can ensure that your heating and cooling system includes regular ventilation with fresh air. A closed system that recirculates interior air without allowing fresh air in and used air out will quickly become unhealthy and leads to problems such as sick building syndrome.
The biggest factor besides ventilation that affects air quality, and is the main reason you need ventilation in the first place, is off-gassing. Off-gassing is the release of gasses from inside a material that were trapped when frozen or absorbed into the material. This happens to both man-made and organic materials, and off-gassing is constantly occurring. You may have noticed that if you place an item into a box or closed container, when you open it later, you detect a distinctive smell. That smell is off-gassing. It’s the reason for new-car smell, the reason that furniture smells when it’s new, and all other materials including flooring, wallpaper, paint, fabrics and textiles, wood, everything around you is constantly off-gassing, though the rate slows as the item ages, and materials such as stone have a much slower rate to begin with. For this reason, you may wish to choose antiques or pre-owned furniture or materials, to reduce the effects of off-gassing. If you do choose newly-manufactured items, you can mitigate the off-gassing by regularly flushing the interior air for a period of days to weeks after your materials and furniture is installed. Your sustainable designer will be able to give you advice on how to achieve this.
Going back to the idea of dark green versus light green, here’s how that value range might present itself, and how you might make choices using your new-found knowledge of sustainable design. If you really want the look of Goncalo Alves wood, also known as Tigerwood or South American Zebrawood, harvested from the jungles of Brazil, and desire to use more sustainable design practices, you may want to use an engineered wood instead. This will involve a series of additional choices that are more or less green. While engineered wood does use a combination of glues and high pressure to create layers, you can seek out a company that uses low-VOC (volotile organic compound) glues to mitigate the off-gassing. Even better if that company is locally-based. Better still if they use greywater in their factory processes instead of potable drinking water.
Graphic courtesy Entrpurdue.com
Another factor that contributes to a healthy interior environment is controllable lighting. The ability to turn lighting off and on for specific tasks, and to provide a basic standard of lighting that is not wasteful of electricity, is very important in interior design. Each state has specific minimum standards that your designer must achieve in order to meet code, but I suggest that they should do more than just the minimum. They should strive to maximize the benefits while minimizing the energy usage in all instances, which means throughout the home or office, not just in the kitchen or bathroom. This is where you will want to work closely with your designer, helping them understand what your needs and desires are, and how you will use the spaces. Energy use reduction is one of the biggest contributors in more sustainable design.
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 work with a sustainable designer, I hope you will consider making your next renovation or home improvement project a sustainable one. We spend 90% or more of our time indoors, so the indoor environment needs to be valued equally as the outdoors. Your health is just too precious to ignore!
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 viamakesocialmediaeasy.squarespace.com
Kimball Starr Interior Design is featured in this week’s Houzz Tour! The feature spotlights our Tiny House project that maximizes every square inch in a diminutive contemporary San Francisco townhouse.
How about an adjustable height table for the dining area, which then lowers to cocktail table height when entertaining? Or an AV media center and work desk placed in a previously unused wall niche that are concealed and revealed by sliding shoji doors?
Do you have a tiny house? No worries, we’ve got you covered with clever custom small space solutions!
Kimball Starr Interior Design is a San Francisco award winning design firm that provides contemporary interior design for residential and commercial interiors throughout the SF Bay Area and California.