Elle Decor Features Our ‘Mad Men’ Orinda Ranch!

We are thrilled to share Elle Decor’s House Tour of one of our recent projects – a mid-century ranch remodel in the East Bay! Niche Interiors was tasked with reviving a classic 1950’s ranch home which fell victim to poor remodeling choices, including Doric columns in the living room (gasp)! Our goal was to create a modern take on a California ranch, infused with our client’s swanky ‘Mad Men’ aesthetic.

Since we all love the satisfaction in seeing major transformations we wanted to share the ‘Before’ photos of this special project! Looking at these photos we can almost forget the months of planning and construction details, or the hundreds of decisions made to get to the ‘After’.

The living room was in dire need of help – dated wall paneling, decorative columns, and a gaudy fireplace clashed with the clean-lined 1950’s architecture. We added custom walnut built-ins to flank the dramatic new slate fireplace.

The library received a dose of drama with black trim and crisp white paint. We removed the existing built-in bookcases which crowded the window and made the room feel smaller, instead opting for contemporary custom built-ins along the left wall. A pair of mustard velvet armchairs are grounded by a round navy rug.

Want to see more?? Check out the House Tour on Elle Decor or view more photos on our Projects Page!


Our Top 5 Go-To Paint Colors

Selecting paint colors for your home is a tricky endeavor – you may see a shade you love online but realize it looks far different in your own space. We’ve tried hundreds of hues in our projects and can wholeheartedly recommend these five fabulous neutrals!


Moody Gray //  Benjamin Moore Storm AF-700
Ready for some contrast? A moody gray is a great way to create drama in dining rooms and living rooms, especially paired with crisp white trim.


Warm White  //  Benjamin Moore White Dove OC-17 
Searching for a white that isn’t too stark or yellow? You found it! This soft white is perfect for open concept spaces and modern homes where you want the architecture or art to take center stage.

Classic Navy  //  Farrow & Ball Hague Blue
A deep, intense blue that’s perfect for media rooms and offices or as an accent on front doors or used on cabinetry in bathrooms or kitchens.

interior design firm bay area

Neutral Taupe  //  Benjamin Moore Cumulus Cloud 1550
The warm, earthy tones in Cumulus Cloud make it a good choice for cozy and enveloping spaces.

Wispy Gray  //  Benjamin Moore Moonshine OC-56
Finding the perfect dove gray is no easy feat! Moonshine is a true silvery gray that doesn’t skew blue. We love it in almost any room, but it’s especially calming in bedrooms.





























How to Hire an Interior Designer

Thinking of hiring an interior designer but not sure where to start? You are not alone. Many of our Bay Area clients have never worked with an interior designer before and wonder what to expect. Read on for tips on streamlining your search for the right designer.


Scope of work? Start by mapping out the work you want done in your home. Which rooms do you want to tackle? What types of services are you are interested in: Space planning, remodeling, furniture selection and purchasing? Determine a rough budget and timeline for your project. Many design firms schedule projects months in advance, so it’s best to start looking before you actually want to start work. Once you have a clear grasp of the scope of your project, start searching for a design firm whose strengths and services are a good match.

Start with style. There are many differences between design firms, ranging from the design process, billing structure, and philosophy. The easiest way to narrow in on your top contenders is to look at a variety of designers projects and see which portfolio speaks to you.


Key Questions. Most designers will start with an initial phone call or in-home consultation before starting a project. The following are a few key questions to ask during this initial meeting:

1. Is the firm full-service or do they work as consultants? Full-service firms manage a project from start to finish, while consultants work on a smaller scale and will provide quick advice or guidance as needed. Be sure to ask whether they have a minimum project size or budget that they typically work with.

2. Who will you be working with? How many employees does the firm have  — Will you be working solely with the principal designer or with other designers in the firm? If the firm is larger, find out if you will have one designer as a main point of contact.

3. What are the billing practices? Most designers bill by the hour, with varying rates for each designer based on level of experience. Inquire about hourly rates and if an estimate will be provided based on past projects. It’s best for everyone to be on the same page before starting work.

Last but certainly not least – Pay close attention to the rapport you have with the designer. It’s important to make sure the designer “gets you” and that you can relate to them both professionally and personally. The design process should be rewarding and fun!

Niche Interiors is a full-service San Francisco interior design firm, specializing in contemporary, eco-friendly interiors. Contact us to find out if our services are the right fit for your project!

The Reclaimed Wood Process: Giving Old Wood New Life

We are excited to share a guest post from Viridian Reclaimed Wood – a reclaimed wood flooring, paneling and furniture salvaging company based and operated in Portland, Oregon.

Reclaimed wood is hot in the green building industry and more people are using it in their homes and offices. You can use reclaimed wood for upgrades, remodels and new building projects.

reclaimed wood

What is Reclaimed Wood? Simply put, reclaimed wood is lumber that’s given a new life. Think of it as salvaged or recycled wood. The amazing thing about reclaimed wood is that it’s generally harder and more durable than virgin wood from newly cut trees. By choosing this material, you can help divert perfectly usable material from the nation’s landfills. Plus, making an item from salvaged lumber, like reclaimed wood flooring, uses less energy than making the same item out of virgin wood.

The Top Sources of Reclaimed Wood

Deconstructed buildings. Remember that old barn overgrown with foliage you saw during a drive through the country? It has the potential to become reclaimed wood along with other buildings that are no longer used, like old houses, warehouses and even water tanks.

Discarded shipping and crating material. It’s common for shipping companies to discard crating and shipping materials made from beautiful European and Asian hardwood species that are ultra-durable. By choosing to use salvaged lumber, you can have exotic wood in your home or office without the eco-guilt.

reclaimed shipping palettes

Old-growth stumps. Modern manufacturers have figured out how to remove large, pioneer-era stumps (often referred to as buckskins) to turn them into beautiful reclaimed wood flooring.

Wine casks. When vintners no longer need their redwood wine casks, the life of the lumber doesn’t have to end. Instead, incorporate the rosy-toned timber into your project.

School gyms. Schools often use hardwoods like glulam and Douglas fir for their floors and bleachers. When the gym gets a facelift, the possibilities for the hundreds of feet of salvaged wood are endless.

Reclaimed Wood’s Lifecycle. Typically, after a company sources high-quality timber that’s no longer needed, it salvages the wood and separates it into different piles: high-grade, mid-grade and low-grade lumber. The low-grade lumber becomes firewood or bio-fuel, while the mid-grade wood is made into utility-grade products, like shipping pallets. During the sorting process, workers take the time to make sure that everything that’s recyclable—metal, plastic and nylon—ends up in the recycling bin and not the dumpster.

The high-grade salvaged wood gets dried in a kiln, which stabilizes the lumber and also assures there are not bugs or fungi. After the drying process, the wood is milled to reveal its inner beauty and original characteristics. The milled lumber then gets packaged and shipped to home and business owners who seek a green solution to their décor needs.

reclaimed wood table

How to Incorporate Reclaimed Wood into Your Home or Office. For the most part, if you can make something with virgin wood, you can also build it with reclaimed wood. Here are some ideas about how to incorporate salvaged lumber in your home: Reclaimed wood flooring, veneer paneling on walls, desks or cabinets, decking, tabletops, countertops, shelves, casework, doors.

Using reclaimed wood is a unique and creative way to bring beauty and function into your home or office. Talk to a remodeler or reclaimed lumber retailer to learn more about its benefits and uses.

In Progress: Burlingame Home

We are happily working on a number of exciting projects at the moment! Furnishing an entire home in Pacific Heights, remodeling a master bathroom in Forest Hill, and finishing a kitchen makeover in Hillsborough. Our latest project designing a large family home in Burlingame is starting to take shape, and we couldn’t wait to share the progress!


The formal living room is a large blank slate (with dated fixtures).

First up: Staining the floors a darker, richer tone and painting the walls a warm gray.

stain samples peninsula interior designer

It took 14 samples to find the perfect tone.

Next up: Selecting a floor plan. We presented two floor plan options to our clients for each room. They decided to go with the below option for the formal living room, which has a fabulous treetop view.

The final floor plan maximizes the view and provides plenty of seating.

The final floor plan maximizes the view and provides plenty of seating.

Stay tuned for more developments! Furniture, rugs, fabrics, and window treatments are just around the corner.

Sustainable Countertops

Selecting a kitchen countertop material can be a daunting task – even for professionals! Check out three of our favorite sustainable and durable options that are sure to give your kitchen a fresh, updated look.

Caeserstone Quartz1

Quartz Countertops
Quartz is a common waste product of mining industries – companies like Caesarstone have turned it into a premium, sustainable product. Adhesives used in Caesarstone Quartz contain polyester and acrylic epoxies that have either low or no VOC emissions.  Naturally nonporous, it prevents the growth of surface molds without being treated with harmful chemicals.

Stainless Steel
Often used in commercial kitchens, stainless steel is making it’s way into more and more homes.  Stainless steel contains at least 60 percent recycled content and is 100 percent recyclable. It creates a sleek contemporary look and it’s resistance to rust and heat make it a low maintenance option.  Stainless steel is non-porous therefore will not harbor germs; it requires non-toxic, mild soap for clean up.


Recycled Composite Paper
Paper composite countertops are made from recycled post-consumer paper waste, bamboo fibers and salvaged wood fibers/cellulose compressed with petroleum-free resins. Although prone to mild scuffing and scratches, it is heat resistant and easy to maintain.  Similar to natural wood, paper composite countertops will naturally patina over time intensifying in depth and color. PaperStone is FSC-certified and comes in a variety of colors.


Small Bathroom Remodeling Tips

Tiny bathrooms are one of the most common design constraints in San Francisco. I guess the Victorians didn’t require luxurious master suites! Even if your square footage is less than ample there are still many ways to maximize what you’ve got. Read on for our top three tips.

small bathroom remodeling san francisco

1. Make a big statement. Use a patterned wallpaper to add impact to a dull powder room, or create a tile accent wall to bring the eye upwards, imparting the illusion of space.

bathroom remodeling design bay area

2. Maximize your space with an efficient floor plan. Every inch counts in a tiny bathroom, so evaluate if your existing layout works for you. Do you bang your knee on your toilet every time you open the door? Chances are you need a change. In the bathroom above we moved the toilet from in front of the door to the back wall and added a wall-mounted sink in place of a vanity. Just remember to check your clearances with California building codes, especially if you plan to move the toilet.

small bathroom remodeling design san francisco

3. Wall-mounted sinks and recessed niches are your best friends.  To avoid an overstuffed bathroom consider using a wall-mounted sink in the place of a traditional vanity. Utilize every inch of storage by carving out niches in your shower wall and installing recessed medicine cabinets for additional storage.

*Need professional help? Contact us about our San Francisco bathroom remodeling services.

Time to Remodel Your Bathroom?

Have you had it with your outdated bathroom? Consider remodeling using the following vignettes as inspiration! Each design features Heath Ceramics tiles, crafted locally out of Sausalito, California since 1948.

Sunny and simple shapes bring Heath’s Dimensional Diamond pattern to life. You’ll want to get up in the morning for this.

heath ceramics tile design san francisco

Above: Copacabana A Wall Light, Jonathan Adler Brasilia Mirror and Kohler Reve Pedestal

Classic shapes like Heath’s Half Hex Stacked in Shade and Shade Light are crisp and clean with a soothing palette.

bathroom remodeling design san francisco

Above: Kohler Revival Pedestal, Show Elisse Wall Light and Horchow “Glamour” Round Mirror.

Add some pattern and movement to your bathroom with Heath’s Dimensional Triangle tiles.

bathroom remodeling design bay area

Above: Barbara Barry Realized Grand Starlight Mirror, Sonneman Verso Wall Sconce and Kohler Tresham Pedestal.

Visit Heath Ceramics Factory and Showroom to experience this amazing local tradition. Contact us for more information about our San Francisco bathroom remodeling services.

Behind the Scenes: The Interior Design Process Revealed

We are often asked about how the design process works, from “Should I pick a rug or a paint color first?” to “How do you figure out if everything will look right together?” What a great excuse to provide a peek into Niche Interiors’ design process — from the first client meeting to the completion of a project. Read on to see our approach illustrated with one of our favorite projects in Pacific Heights – a small space that’s big on style.

Step 1. Interview and Discovery Phase. The first thing we need to know is who you are, how you live, and what you really desire for your living space. Our client survey form narrows in on these questions. A customized image book is compiled using photos of a various interiors. The client’s comments help us visually understand what they are drawn to.

Pacific Heights Survey Answers: Our client, Ms. D, wrote that she wanted a “glamorous” space that “felt like her”. She referenced the Hollywood Regency style and her love of red, black, white, and pink. Ms. D wanted a more functional space that “utilized the space efficiently”.

Step 2. Measuring & Taking Photos. We measure the space and take photos of each room. The architectural details are taken into consideration when creating the new design.

Living Room at the start of the project

Step 3. Floor Plans. The foundation for a good design is an efficient furniture plan with appropriately scaled furniture. Multiple floor plan options are provided to the client.

Final floor plan selected by Ms. D

Step 4. Creation of Design Concept. Let the fun begin! The color scheme and overall design concept is created.

Pacific Heights Design Statement: A glamorous and sophisticated space is created with feminine, curved furniture, a mix of geometric patterns, and a generous dose of metallics. A gray, black and white color scheme is accented with punches of fuchsia and apple green.

Step 5. Paint, Furniture & Fabric Selection. With a clear design concept we start selecting options to present to the client.


Step 6. Ordering and Installation. Niche Interiors places orders and coordinates any contract work that needs to be done before the furniture is delivered. Walls are painted, light fixtures are installed, and drapes are hung. The project is completed and finishing touches are added such as accessories and personal items.

The finished product!

Click here to see more photos of the Pacific Heights apartment.  Contact us today about your next project — we look forward to helping create your dream home.


San Francisco Bathroom Remodeling Guide

Our recently completed project in Sea Cliff was perfectly timed for this month’s newsletter. This beautiful home included a number of bathrooms that were in need of minor to major work. I am a believer in trying to salvage what you can from the existing fixtures and cabinets. It’s not only a green practice, but it also saves clients money. Sometimes all it takes is a little paint and some new hardware to turn the cabinets from an eyesore into a focal point.

The layout of the girls’ bath remained intact. Generous molding, black paint and new hardware went a long way.

There are many things to consider when deciding how to tackle a bathroom remodel. What don’t you like about the space? Make a list of complaints and attributes to help figure out your priorities.

WORK WITH IT: COSMETIC CHANGES. Cosmetic remodeling is certainly a more cost-effective and less intrusive option for most projects. If you think your bathroom functions well for your needs, but you just don’t like the finishes, this could be the solution for you. Your daily life will be disrupted with minor rather than major inconveniences, and the project won’t be held up by the need to obtain permits.

Painting the walls, cabinets or wood floors are great low-cost moves. Replacing light fixtures, medicine cabinets and hardware are other small changes that will bring big impact.

Oversized Carrara marble tile sets a luxurious tone in the master bath.

WHEN TO RENOVATE. Sometimes it is best to start from scratch. If you answer yes to any of the questions below, then it may be time to start looking for a good contractor (and a good interior designer!).

Is the layout in your bathroom awkward?

Do you often bump into things and find it hard to go about your routine?

Is the lighting poor – do you have a dark shower enclosure?

Be sure to confirm that your contractor is licensed. Obtain a written estimate and contract, including a project time line. Hiring an interior designer will help ensure that your bathroom design comes together with ease. From the design concept to selecting materials and providing working drawings – a professional will help the process go smoothly and make sure no detail is overlooked.

* Need professional help? San Francisco bathroom remodeling – Niche Interiors *