How to Think Like an Interior Designer

We recently wrapped up projects in Palo Alto, Forest Hill and Pacific Heights. Despite their different styles they all highlight the benefits of using a thoughtful, cohesive, and organized approach to design. Read on for insights into our design process and how you can apply the same ideas to your own home.

palo alto interior design

Creating Harmony. Do your research to discover which style elements, colors, and textures you are drawn to. We create customized image books for our clients, but you can also use websites such as Houzz or Pinterest to create your own ideabooks. Write down a design concept and color scheme for your space and select all the rugs, paint colors, and fabrics together to create a cohesive plan. In this Palo Alto bedroom we added interest with a silvery grasscloth and textural fabrics for clients who prefer a muted palette rather than bold colors and patterns.

pacific heights interior design

Scale & Proportion. A floor plan is the foundation for a successful design project. Start with creating the furniture layout, considering traffic flow and conversation areas. In this formal living room in Pacific Heights we placed two armchairs opposite the sofa to create an intimate conversation area within a larger space.

palo alto interior design

Adding function. Often times we will start on a project before our clients live in the space. In this case, it’s important to anticipate their needs and to find ways to add function. We added an entry table to this awkward space at the foot of the staircase to provide a place to toss keys and mail. Bonus: It’s pretty!

Bring on the Color!

Our latest project, a bachelorette pad in One Rincon Hill, inspired us to share our tips for bringing color into your home – from daring, vibrant upholstery to accent pillows and flowers.

modern interior design san francisco

Re-think the painted accent wall.  A grasscloth accent wall is a great way to add both color and texture to your space. In this master bedroom we chose a paprika shade to spice up a mostly neutral room. Try combining various shades of a warm color with a cooler hue across the color wheel from your main color. In this room we opted for orange with aqua accents.

vintage furniture san francisco

Feeling adventurous?  Consider a vibrant fabric for your next armchair! We snatched up these vintage Milo Baughman chairs from a dealer and had them re-upholstered at our local San Francisco workroom. Bonus: The new latex inserts are non-toxic and eco-friendly.

interior decorator san francisco

Commitment issues:  Using bold color in large (and more permanent) ways isn’t for everyone. Starting out with accent pillows and flowers is a safe way to venture into the world of color. We like to stick to one type of flower or one color for unfussy, contemporary arrangements.

2013 Design Highlights

2013 has been an amazing year at Niche Interiors – We had the opportunity to work with wonderful clients and fantastic homes all over the Bay Area! We’re grateful to our loyal clients, hardworking vendors, and for our new office just two blocks from the Design Center.

As we looked back at our projects from this year a few common themes popped up! Read on for a few of our favorite design elements from 2013.


Glass pendants: We can’t get enough! From the entryway to dining rooms and kitchen nooks, glass adds subtle interest and sparkle without screaming for attention.


Geometric runners are an easy way to spice up stairs and long hallways.


Grasscloth wallpaper creates cozy, enveloping bedrooms and is a great way to add interest without using bold patterns.

Happy holidays and cheers to another year of great design!

Family-Friendly Interior Design Tips

Niche Interiors kicked off 2013 by wrapping up two fabulous family-friendly homes in San Francisco and San Anselmo. We welcome the challenge of creating practical, functional AND stylish homes. Start with the basics below and you’ll be well on your way!


Forgiving fabrics! Let’s face it – spills happen. Instead of living in fear of ruining your sofa, select fabrics in darker hues or with subtle variation to camouflage minor stains. We also recommend having your upholstery stain-treated with a non-toxic process after it’s delivered. This prevents stains from seeping into the fabric while avoiding the need for stain-resistant fabrics, which are full of unwanted chemicals.

family friendly dining table

Solid wood dining tables withstand life with kids much better than tables with veneers, which can chip easily. We especially love tables with an inset base rather than legs at each corner. Kids can easily pull up chairs from any angle without banging their knees.

interior design marin

Ottomans are your best friend. Consider opting for an upholstered ottoman rather than a coffee table with sharp edges (and unsightly padded corners).

Mixing it Up: High + Low

Ready to make a few home improvements before the holiday madness begins? The good news: You don’t have to spend a fortune! Read on for our top three tips on how to mix high and low items to achieve a stylish and cohesive look.

A custom curved sofa was the focal point and major splurge in this room.

1. Create a design plan and determine focal points in the room.
Map out the design for your space before deciding what pieces in which to invest. What will be the “wow” factor in your room? Perhaps it’s the chandelier, a large-scale painting, or wallpaper. Leave room in the budget for the highest impact items; they typically end up costing the most.

2. Spend where it counts.
Often times the cost of an item is not proportional to its quality or uniqueness. We advise our clients to splurge on pieces that will last for many years and where a larger investment directly impacts the function and feel of the piece. The top 3 are: Upholstery, window treatments & rugs.

Arteriors Percy Table: $1,512 vs. West Elm Foxed Mirror Table: $199

3. Save on smaller items.
Occasional tables, accessories, and lighting are three areas where you can shave off a significant portion of your budget. There are so many affordable online sources for these finishing touches ~ take advantage!

Stylishly Simple Outdoor Entertaining Tips

It’s beginning to feel a lot like summer — even in San Francisco! But before you break out the grill and invite your ten closest friends, here are some simple and stylish entertaining tips to spruce up any outdoor party.

Invest in a chunky outdoor table like Sundance’s Salt & Vinegar Redwood Table to set the tone for a rustic modern party. Mix in Pottery Barn’s Benchwright Reclaimed Wood Bench and Ballard Designs Café folding chairs for a chic, effortless look.

Dress your table with inexpensive finds from your local hardware store.  Pick up tin canisters of various shapes and sizes to keep drinks on ice or for displaying whimsical floral arrangements.  Layer bold charger plates like this Chevron dreams plate underneath your existing white plates for added personality. Combine textural napkin rings with silk screened napkins for just the right amount of polish.

San Francisco Interior Design Dispatches

San Francisco is staying on top of it’s design game with a number of new and notable shop openings in the past year. Mansour Modern rugs, a manufacturer best known for antique Moroccan rugs, is the newest addition to the San Francisco Design Center Galleria building. Offering a wide selection of fine antique and custom rugs, Mansour is the place to go for luxury carpets.

New to the retail scene is Aldea Home, a larger home furnishing and accessory offshoot of their Aldea Niño kids store on Valencia Street. Stop in to check out the new Dwell Studio furniture line, Jonathan Adler accessories or John Robshaw textiles.

Aldea Home

Another notable newcomer is FLOR – the manufacturer that made carpet tiles cool (and recyclable!)– they open up shop in Union Square this month. For more eco-friendly options head to the Green Depot on Bryant Street for a recently expanded offering of environmental building products, including flooring, countertops, and cabinetry. Happy shopping!

Decorating Trends for 2012

With the New Year approaching, it’s the perfect time to explore the interior design trends for the upcoming year. Cheers to happy & healthy homes in 2012!

interior design trends 2012

GREEN DESIGN. The availability of eco-friendly home products continues to grow, along with interest in creating healthier homes. A few green product highlights: Flooring: Cork is a rapidly renewable and durable flooring option, now available in a wide array of colors! Countertops: Paperstone is made from 100% post-consumer recycled paper. Lighting: LED technology is advancing rapidly – expect to see more fixtures with this energy-saving option.

JEWEL TONES. We are loving this trend of rich jewel tones such as amethyst, sapphire, and citrine that are popping up on the runways and in décor magazines. For the most impact, use variations of one jewel tone in a room, with supporting neutrals such as gray, taupe, or ivory.

MENSWEAR MOTIFS. Houndstooth, pinstripes, and tweed are all finding their way into new fabric lines. Not sure you want to commit to a houndstooth sofa? Consider accent pillows or throws.

GLORIOUS GOLD. For the past few years silver metal finishes such as chrome, nickel, and antique silver, have reigned supreme. It looks like gold tones are coming back around! Designers are mixing metals more than ever, with brass being a favorite. Look for satin or brushed brass fixtures rather than polished brass, which tends to look too shiny and ostentatious.

Ready to tackle the problem areas in your home? We are here to help! Contact us today to start planning your interior design projects for 2012.

Holiday Design Hints

It’s hard to believe that we will soon be seeing Christmas decorations! Now is the time to plan for your year-end family gatherings. While there isn’t time for full-scale remodeling, there are many improvements that can be made to your dining room, living room, and guest quarters before the holidays hit. Read on for 5 tips to make your home shine.

Tip #1. The holidays are often spent around a dining table. Nothing encourages guests to linger more than comfortable chairs. If your wood dining chairs are less than comfy, consider purchasing new upholstered chairs and keeping your existing table. This is a cost-efficient way to make a big impact.

Tip #2. Enhance your views both inside and out with custom-designed window treatments in your dining and living room. The fabric and style options are endless – choose pinch pleat or inverted pleat drapery styles for formal dining rooms and more casual styles such as grommets for informal gathering areas.

Tip #3. Update your powder room with a new mirror, lighting, a new paint color, or wallpaper for an easy makeover. We love Osborne & Little and Cole & Son wallpapers for their wide range of graphic and whimsical prints. Try and Burke dé for wallpaper that is available online.

Tip #4. Be voted the most fabulous host by adding special touches to your guest bedroom and bathroom. Update the bedside lamps with a new style and three-way bulbs (or a dimmer) for reading. Purchase crisp new bed linens and fluffy towels. Provide an ipod docking station, a carafe and glass, and a vase for fresh flowers.

Tip #5. Rearrange your furniture, rugs, and accessories for a quick update and add color with decorative pillows. Niche Interiors can create new furniture layouts to help you determine the best way to utilize your space for entertaining.

Please let us know how we can help you plan for the holidays. Since Fall is our busiest season, don’t wait to schedule a consultation. Contact us today!

Happy 4 Year Anniversary to Us!

June marks Niche Interiors’ 4th year in business – we’ve enjoyed these fun-filled, challenging, and fantastic years! A big thank you to all of our amazing clients and hard working contractors. To celebrate our anniversary, we wanted to share four insider design tips that will save you valuable time and effort.

Niche Interiors' first official project in 2007

1. Know Your Clearances
Placing furniture correctly will help create a functional room with good flow.
• Allow 36” for a major walkway, or 24”-30” for a traffic path between furniture.
• Cocktail tables should be placed 16-18” from your sofa.
• Allow 24”-28” of dining space per guest.

2. Bathroom Remodeling Cheats
• ALWAYS order 15% more tile than your square footage dictates.
• Don’t forget trim pieces! Anytime a material ends you will need a trim piece.

3. Pick Two Paint Colors – Not One
Get rid of the idea that you should pick one paint color for each room. Start with narrowing your options down to 4-5 specific hues, then after taping up paint chips on the wall you should be able to narrow the options down to two. Paint a 1 foot square of each color on multiple walls and make sure to notice the way the color changes throughout the day. After living with the color for a day, you are ready to fully commit!

4. Realistic Timelines
Starting a project with a realistic timeline and budget will prevent stress and disappointment. While budgets vary, there are definite standards when it comes to furniture lead times.

• Upholstered goods typically take 6-8 weeks.
• Custom furniture can take anywhere from 12-16 weeks.
• Factor in additional time for hiccups along the way such as dropped fabrics, backorders, and shipping delays.

*Contact us for more information about our San Francisco interior design services.*