In this Interview I speak with interior designer and decorator Danette Lawrence. They discuss various topics including Danette’s background in design, her favorite artists and designers, current interior design trends, and how she approaches projects with clients. Danette emphasizes the importance of collaboration with clients and tailoring designs to their specific needs and preferences. She also mentions some local stores and websites where people can find inspiration and purchase furniture and design elements. Danette concludes by encouraging listeners to keep an open mind and explore different design possibilities for their homes.
Hello, and welcome to episode number 22 of the Beta Bay Podcast. I’m your host, Seb Fry, and for this episode I have special guest, Danette Lawrence. Danette is an interior designer and decorator. She’s been doing this kind of work for well over 20 years now. She’s got a really great sense of design and aesthetic and a style and a taste that I really admire, and she has a lot of information to share with us about what’s going on and the latest interior design trends. She has a very unique perspective, and I think you’re really going to enjoy listening to what Danette has to say. So without further ado, sit down, relax, and listen to my interview with Danette Lawrence. Okay. Today on the podcast we have Danette Lawrence. Danette, how are you doing?
I’m doing great, sev. Thanks for having me.
Right on. Right on. So Danette, I’d like to start off these things by asking my guests to tell me a little story. Do you have a little story you can share with us?
It’s funny, there’s a whole bunch of stories, of course, but I don’t consider myself a storyteller, but I will let you in on that little secret story that I play over in my mind when I go see my dad and my stepmother in the foothills of the Sierras. They live in the country. They’re wonderful people. They’re both retired. My stepmother is a horse woman, and my father is a retired fireman. And like I said, they live in the country. And when I go there, being a designer, it’s really funny because, and I don’t do this in most people’s houses, but I do it in my family’s houses and clients of course. But when I go there, I secretly have this fantasy that I’m going to send them on a trip and I’m going to paint and redo their house while they’re away because it’s pretty interesting.
The bathroom, the little half bath when you come in from the utility room where the washer and dryer is, it just hasn’t been touched. And the kitchen is really nice. It’s open and bright and spacious and wonderful place for gathering, but it just needs a little faceless, and the living room is beige, so they have some really nice things, but the way that they’re sprinkled around or displayed is it’s just, it doesn’t have a lot of life and excitement in it. So that’s my story for you for the moment, is I have this idea that I want to send them on a trip and push the envelope and just redecorate and do some redos in their house while they’re away, just enough to get ’em outside of their comfort zone and enough to make them go, oh, this is fabulous. Why didn’t I think of this?
Well, hey, I have a great idea. How about you send me on a trip and then you come to my house and redecorate it? If you want to do that, we can do that.
Exactly. Hawaii would be good. And Mexico, I mean even San Diego would be fine.
Right on. So you’re an interior designer, is that right?
That’s true, yes.
Right on. And so where’d you grow up? Where are you from?
I’m from the area. I grew up in the mountain view area, and then we moved up to the Santa Cruz mountains, and I lived in Boulder Creek in the sixth grade. I’ve also lived in Southern California, but that was in my twenties, and that’s where I first started doing placement. I like to call it placement, and it’s about, I think design a lot of times too is about the art of placement. So that’s where I was doing set dressing.
Right, right. So where’d you end up going to school? I mean, you said how old were you when you moved to Boulder Creek or where’d you end up doing the school? Is it Mountain View mostly or?
Well, my really formative years from sixth grade on, were in the Santa Cruz area, so this is kind of my home base. I love it here. And I don’t have an A S I D degree. I’m not formally taught, although I’m constantly learning about design and interiors and that. I think it’s one of the great things about life as we get to continue learning as we grow older. But I actually have a business degree and that has helped. Although the business side of it’s just not as much fun, of course, as the placement side of it and helping people rework their interiors.
What’s an A S I D? What is that?
American Society of Interior Designers.
Okay. All right.
So there’s several different, go ahead.
They have a degree program at accredited universities or is their own thing?
Well, it’s their own thing, but there are different degree programs online that you can go through. I mean, now that we have the internet, you can do online courses. And actually that’s something that I have considered because the side of it where the three D modeling part of that, I have a guy that I work with who will do that kind of stuff. If people want to knock out walls or expand or do additions, there’s some incredible and relatively easy programs that you can use. But also the online courses and stuff teach some of that stuff. So it’s something that I don’t have in my toolbox at the moment. I said, I have a guy who does that, but it’s something that I’m considering. It would be wonderful to have that piece also fleshed out.
Right, right. Cool. So what was the inspiration for getting into interior design work? How did that happen for you?
Well, I have done all kinds of, one of my passions is streamlining, and I don’t know if you and I, in our business dealings have talked that much about it, but as Americans, we’re so blessed to be in a culture of acquisitions. So it’s easy to get possessions. We have the money to do it, we have the means to do it. We have everything we could possibly want. We can get most things shipped directly to our doors these days. So I’ve done a lot of helping people to clear their environments. And one of my personal philosophies about that is it’s really hard to have good design when the environment is completely cluttered, whether that’s your office or your home or a workspace, even an artist’s studio. And I know that artists generally do work with a certain amount of chaos. So I’ve done that kind of thing.
As I said, I did set dressing for some time, and this was when my son was young and I was living in Southern California, working in Chatsworth where there’s a lot of small studios where you work there and then you’d go out into the field and you’re on location. One of the fun things about that for me was I really learned about placement and the art of improvisation, because you can be out on location and maybe you have the right tools, but something breaks and you still got to get those curtains hung, or you still have to make sure that the door is going to swing open properly when the person walks through it and different things of that nature. So learning how to improvise and think on my feet has always been, I think it’s a pretty good skill that I have. So I’ve done that kind of stuff.
I also have done the visual merchandise manager for a luxury goods company, and during that time, I was a buyer and I was also hosting locally our first Fridays in the downtown area. And working with different artists who were painters or sculptors or jewelry artists or glass artists or ceramicists or textile artists. And working with them, they would bring their collections in and I would work with them and curate those items and display them. So it was really wonderful to be able to look at a lot of different types of art media and help them to show it in the best light. Because one of the things about that for Open Studios artists also is that first they want to do their craft, and second, it would be nice if they made some money. And other people love their craft as well.
I’ve worked with Open Studios artists, helping them get their studios ready for the October walkthroughs and things of that nature. And the interior piece just is a natural fit. I think I as a kid, would always set up households. I remember even doing it in kindergarten, that was my favorite place to be, other than on the playground, is we had a little area where we would set up our store or we would set up a little living room area and things of that nature. And then as an adult, I have a tendency to move the furniture around for two reasons. One, it’s a great shift in perspective if you want to shake things up, if you want to invite something new into your life, move all the furniture, clean all the baseboards, get all the cal webs down, get rid of a few items, maybe bring in one or two focal pieces, and that whole perspective, it will shift. I just love the idea of that is being able to really move things around. There’s so much life is exciting, and there’s so much movement in life. I’ve always kind of done those things. So doing interiors, I love to help people bring a vision or an idea or a concept to life.
So you said that you were down in LA working on TV shows and stuff like that. Are there any TV shows that we might be familiar with that you helped dress the steps for?
Probably not. The one that I worked on the longest was called Dark Justice.
Yes. It was a superior court judge. So he was a judge by day, vigilante by night. Nice. He had a motorcycle team that we had a lot of fun working on that show. Now, I did work, I had a couple of friends that were electricians, so one of my friends took me on a Guns N Roses video shoot, and we were at this big wave making pool mechanical Wavemaker. I don’t remember the exact location of that one. And it was probably a song that is a popular song because Guns N Roses is a pretty popular rock and roll band, but I don’t remember the exact parts of that. But I remember pulling on these long lines of cable and the Wave pool going and it being late at night, and there’d be music and lights, and so that was pretty fun. That was actually really a good time. And I enjoyed The Dark Justice too, used to drive the Big five Ton truck, big cab overhead, and go to these different prop houses and pick up props and different things for dressing sets on location and at the studio.
Wow, that’s pretty cool. So was it a big, I mean, this is one in the early nineties. I see that Dark Justice was
So was there a lot of crazy Hollywood stuff going on? I mean, were there a lot of fabulous parties with celebrities and
There was some of that stuff. I mean, we always would do wrap parties. So when you finish a season, you have a big wrap party. We would have, Jessica Redgrave was a guest on our show one time. She was probably the most famous guest that I admired and had. Who was that on the show? Who was that? Jessica Redgrave.
Jessica Redgrave. Oh, really? Wow.
Yes. And then we also had Eric Estrada come and be on our show one time.
Did you meet him?
I did. He was hitting on me. Oh,
Which was very strange was
You were pretty young then, right? You must
Been like a little baby.
I was just a baby then. Yeah,
Right. So you rebuffed him. You were like, no, Estrada, that’s inappropriate.
Yeah, absolutely. It’s like, I’m just here to work. You should be doing your job too. You have wine, you need to learn or
Something. Aren’t you a grandfather? You have a grand baby you can take care of, right?
Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Right on. Well, that’s pretty cool. So how long were you in LA for? Were you there just like a couple of years, or were you there like 10
Years? I was there for about five years.
Five years in la. I was
There for about, go ahead.
What brought you back? Why did you leave LA and come back to the Promised Land over here?
Well, my son was really young, and the interesting thing about Los Angeles is, well, it’s happening all over the world, of course, is that it’s very fast-paced and it’s very difficult to create deep friendships there. And all of my family is here, and my son’s grandparents were here. I wanted him to grow up in a place that we could settle down into a neighborhood and he could go to the same school year over year, and the pace would be relatively slow. And the hours working on television shows too with a young child, those two things don’t jive very well. You need a lot of support and there’s sacrifices that have to be made. So I ended up getting out of the movie business to come back here and raise my son.
Right, right. Well, that’s a good reason.
Yeah, it’s the best reason,
Right? That’s the best reason. Hey, speaking of tv, you know that guy Jeff Lewis on Bravo has that show flipping out. Have you ever seen that?
Yes, I have.
So what do you think about Jeff Lewis and all those other kind H T T V home design shows are think they’re any good? Are they totally fake or what’s your take on all that stuff?
Well, it’s interesting because it’s really wonderful entertainment, and I think we’re definitely, we’re beguiled by live television or seemingly the drama of real life. And certainly design does have drama in it because it’s a lot of moving parts, it’s a lot of components, it’s a lot of things to keep track of. Inevitably things go wrong, things aren’t delivered on time and things of that nature. I’m not super fond of his show necessarily. I think he’s brilliant. I think most designers, some of my top favorites, they just do things in a way that there’s a certain magic, they bring a certain extra. Something I really love, the one I watched most recently that I kind of binge washed actually was on Netflix. It’s called The Great Design Challenge. And it’s a bunch of regular people. They have other types of careers. A lot of them are creative, so they’re doing art or they’re writing books, or they’re building furniture or things of that nature. And they are pitted against each other to take these incredibly low budgets and these incredibly tight timeframes. And they take the brief from the client, the client tells them what they want and they have to execute on that. And it’s just interesting to watch people put their own spin on things. And some of them just, they don’t listen to the client. And it’s really strange because really isn’t that what this is about is to serve the client right
On H C T V. I do like Fixer Upper with Chip and Joanna Gaines, although, I mean, I think I like the story of it, the family and the kids and the farm, and they came from just being unknown people to having this incredible industry. I think one of the things that I’ve noticed about her designs is that it’s a lot the same stuff. It’s very beautiful, but it’s a lot the same kind of thing. And I think that part of the design and the design challenge and being a good designer is really being able to be agile around what people like, whether that’s very traditional, whether it’s modern, traditional, whether it’s very eclectic, things of that nature.
Right, right. Yeah, that’s a good point. That’s a good point. So I’ve actually heard of that great interior design challenge. That’s a British show, is that right?
It is, yeah. It’s British.
Other styles pretty similar to what’s going on here, or is it totally Euro flavor?
Well, interestingly, there’s some really brilliant stuff that comes out of that as far as the design and the designers and the innovation and the ability to execute is tremendous because as I was saying, they’re giving something like a thousand pounds and they’re working on maybe just one room, but they’ve got two days or three days to execute that. And it’s really difficult because you go from concept to finished product in two days. It’s amazing. Really? Wow. They have a small team, but still to pull that off is you don’t sleep, you’re working around the clock.
One of the things I noticed about the style component, and maybe it is just an English versus American thing, is there’s a way to put a rug in a room. And the rules are, and the rules that I try and follow as much as possible are if you have a sitting room and you have a rug in the center of the sitting room, the front legs of all of the furniture, furniture, excuse me, should be on that rug. So the rug needs to be big enough for the room. And in this particular British series, all of the rugs that were placed, it was the one thing that I noticed repeatedly were these very small rugs in the center between all of the furniture. So I thought that was really peculiar, and I don’t know if that’s a particular rule that they utilized or it was just an afterthought. I’m very curious about that piece of it.
Maybe they ran out of money. They only had a thousand pounds. That was the biggest rug they could afford.
Yes. And something’s got to give.
Right. So what would you say in a case like that, you’re like, I can’t afford a big enough rug. Would you just say no rug at all then? Or would you say, go ahead and use a rug that’s too small for the room?
Well, that’s an interesting piece. A client that I worked with in the fall last year had me come in, he bought this big beautiful house up in the mountains, and his business is in Alaska, so he’s living here half the time, living here in the winter, of course. And we were looking at rugs for the great room, and the first, I bought him a rug for his bedroom and he loved it. It’s that rolled up for a while, but he loved it when we enrolled it, but he wanted to get a rug in the great room for a pretty low price. I had gone to the design center. He said, I want traditional hand nodded and had enough money to buy a really nice rug. And this particular client, I had asked repeatedly, well, what’s my budget? The budget is such an important jumping off point.
The budget will inform everything, but he wouldn’t give me a budget. So I thought, well, I’m going to be at the design center. I’ll go and look in this fabulous rug warehouse with these gorgeous handmade rugs, $14,000 for a rug. And I came back, I brought some pictures back. He saw them and I told him the price. And he was like, what? So he wanted to get a really inexpensive rug. He wanted to spend $800 on a rug. And what I said to him was, it’s so important that we get you a really nice rug because one of the things about a rug and area rug is it’s going to show where, right, if you entertain a lot or if you have pets or children, and it’s underfoot, even if you take your shoes off that thing, if it’s not a quality component, it’s going to show where. So you’re better off putting a little extra money into the rug, I think. And also the piece about that is that that is the anchoring point for that room. So it makes sense to invest in something that’s good quality. And I would say depending upon my client’s needs, I would probably, depending, like I said, I would probably put a good amount of money into the rug itself if they wanted a rug that or I would leave the rug out.
I answer the question?
Yes, you did, basically, which is depending, every case is unique, obviously, but don’t skimp on the rug if you can’t get a good rug. And well, look, I like to say a poor man can’t afford cheap stuff. I mean, just better get the right stuff the first time and not have to be replacing it and upgrading it and fiddling with it down the road. That’s what I say. Anyway, that’s my feeling.
I think it’s really important too, and I think that that is another component of just the design aspect is you want to get the best stuff you can afford. And if that means getting fewer components, like getting your anchor pieces to start and then working on getting the accessories
You go, it makes more sense to do that. Good point. I think because you want to have a sofa that you love and that’s going to serve you well and going to stand up to your entertaining needs or the needs of your family because things are pricey and we have so many choices, so better to just invest in something that’s quality from the get go.
Right, right. Yeah. Less is more for sure.
More, especially if you have less.
Is definitely more. Hey, so do you have any visual artists that you really think are cool? And by visual artists, I mean painters or I don’t know, sculptors or anybody or interior designers that really you look to for inspiration?
I do actually. I just saw, well, I saw it twice at the Santa Cruz, excuse me, the San Jose Museum of Art. They had this Lian painter, Raymond RINs, and his work was really incredible. He actually lives in San Francisco. The wife is a scientist. He’s in his nineties and he’s still painting. But this show that was at the San Jose Museum, one of the things that I loved about it is that when I first walked in, I definitely saw a similarity to Richard Diebenkorn’s work and also who’s a very well-known barrier artist from the fifties and sixties and seventies. And then also, I think his name is William Tebow, who does this amazing stuff almost with rainbow colors. And let’s see how I can explain that is his use of color is fascinating because he will layer these colors right next to each other in succession and create shadows and highlights and variations on that.
So I just love this Raymond Staffords because he was a new artist I had not even heard of. I went with a friend and we decided, let’s go back again. It was so brilliant. But he does abstract, but there’s also realism paired in there and just beautiful things like there was a painting of a chair when you really started looking at the chair. It wasn’t even an actual chair. Structurally, there was a leg missing in the back, and the way he had painted it was just extraordinary. It had movement and it had a life of its own. It was just brilliant. I love Frank Stella, and one of the things I love about Frank Stella is his geometries and his use of color, again, is just subtle and amazing. He tones down colors, so he might use some saturated colors, but he’ll add a lot of white in there.
So they’re kind of soft, and they’re almost pastelly. And I’m not a huge fan of pastel, I think used in the right application. It can be really beautiful and brilliant, but I love his ability to create these beautiful geometric paintings. And then also he does these huge sculptures. I saw him at the, I think it was at the De Young, no, it might have been at the MoMA San Francisco MoMA. I can’t remember at the moment. But his work is just beautiful and amazing. And then an older artist, a historical artist is J m W Turner, and he is a painter who captures light in one of the most amazing ways I’ve ever seen. He does a lot of landscape, a lot of ocean scapes. He would paint ships and the long view of these amazing countrysides and the way that he could make light from through clouds or hit the ocean, hit the water, is just extraordinary.
And one of the other things that I just loved about his work is that he used octagonal frames, or he would use, I believe he even used round, but he didn’t use just square frames, which I thought was really brilliant for that time period. I think he’s 18th century, early 19th century artist. Then as far as, let’s see, interior designers, Kelly Weschler, who is an LA artist, she’s got a huge industry of her own home goods and design company. She is really interesting. She’s very punchy and quirky and does these very animated grooms with, there’s a lot of life in them, and they definitely push the envelope. So I love her stuff. She has grown into kind of a giant, locally in the California industry and beyond. And also someone who’s more classic design is, she does this amazing kind of traditional, very, how would I think about it?
I think it’s, it’s got kind of an americana feel. It’s got a freshness. She captures light in every room and then uses, but sleeves a lot of color. So she can do very bold and inspiring things, or she can do it very toned down and traditional, but she puts a twist on everything that she does. She’s an Italian who is based Chicago or was based in Chicago, and then finally there’s Francis Sultana, this gentleman who does this. It’s so lush. It’s kind of a baroque and modern together, which is, it’s a feat to pull off something like that. I think that his work is, there’s a richness to it, and I love the idea of having our homes inspire us and make us feel like we are the king or queen of our own castle. And his interiors really, they take that kind of old world style and blend it with functionality and modernity, and it just is so beautiful. He just says beautiful, beautiful stuff.
Yeah, I’m looking at his website right now, Francis soltana.com, and yeah, I really love it. That’s really great stuff. Yeah, it’s really
Super. Yeah, it’s neat, isn’t it?
Yeah, it sure is. It’s really great stuff. So what do you think are some of the hottest trends in home design today? What’s really setting the design, the home design world on fire?
Well, it’s so funny. Wallpaper, wallpaper is making it comeback in a huge way. I heard that huge way. It is. And the wonderful thing about wallpaper is that my generation, your generation, our generation, we kind of think of wallpaper as being very traditional. And it’s like that thing that you think, oh my God, if you ever have to take it off the wall, you’ll just want to pull your hair out. But I actually did. I talked to one of my clients into doing a focal wall in his master suite in wallpaper, and he is a very manly man. He is recently divorced. He’s divorced in the last few years, has this beautiful master suite that he’s always wanted to redesign, and this wallpaper was gorgeous, and I found three different samples for him. I talked him into it, but I kept kind of pushing for it because I knew that it was just going to be a wonderful way to enter into this beautiful room that he had.
And he and I actually hung that wallpaper. We hung, what, 12 foot? He has 12 foot ceilings in there. So that focal wall was four feet wide, 12 feet tall with, let’s see, there’s four feet on the bottom that was stone up the side of the wall that couldn’t do anything about that. But anyway, we hung that wallpaper in two long strips. So those strips were eight feet long, two feet wide. He and I hung that in an hour, just over an hour. And the thing about that is wallpaper now comes, you can get it in vinyl with an adhesive backing, and it’s a dream. It’s literally a dream to put up. I mean, if you’re a d I Y person, which of course I am one of those people, I love the challenge of making it happen, and it went up like a dream, and it’s beautiful, and he just has spanked me ever since.
So wallpaper is one of those. I think that another thing that’s really going to be hot, and I’ve been looking at it online and I’ve seen it in, I think it was the Crate and Barrel magazine I was looking in the other day, is there’s a lot more curves in home design. There’s curved furniture, there’s actually semi around sectional pieces. There’s a lot of arc lamps and lighting that is softer. It’s not straight up and down. Rugs come in curbs now. There’s everything from bar carts to softer shapes and furniture, lots of relaxed lines. And I really like that because I think that we are so plainer. I mean, look at your rooms. They’re all square, so it makes sense to shake it up and add some softness in there. We’ve got poofs that are really hot, the trend of the big round, using that as an ottoman or additional seating.
So that’s a great trend that’s happening. Also, something that I thought was interesting is there’s this idea of transient design where consumers are buying better stuff, as we talked about before, that have great design that fit more of a period in their life instead of buying things that are more heirloom. So a lot of the younger people are not as interested in things like antiques necessarily. They might put some of that in their homes, but they’re not decorating all that the entire home with those types of things. And you can really do some beautiful stuff with some cleaner lines, more modern pieces that are sitting next to things that might be an heirloom. Maybe you have your grandma’s sideboard that you’re using in your dining room, but you have a much more refined and modern dining table and things of that nature. So it’s something called transient design, which I just love that idea and really buying quality things in that regard.
Also, something that I’m so happy about because I think that it’s such an important easy design concept, is botanicals. Plants are making the comeback. There’s a lot more of, there’s prints on upholstery. We’ve got lots of palms, lots of green and white and all of those vibrant growing colors. Even florals are making a comeback. They’re wallpaper. You can find ’em in pillows. And I saw this amazing lamp paint lamp on that design challenge show that was, I don’t know what we call it in America, but they call it a cheese plant. And the Bris call it a cheese plant. And it was made of these, I think it was brass leaves that hung down like a chandelier. It was stunning. So we want to bring the outside in. We’re also busy. It’s like being able to find that time outside with our kids or go for bike rides or sit out on the patio and look at the trees and things like that. Well, that’s one way that we can really enhance our homes is by live plants or by prints. And let’s see, one other thing that is changing is browns are making it come back.
We’re moving away from grays and blues, which will always browns and earth zones. Earth tones,
Creams, terracottas, things of that nature. So maybe not so much for the paint colors, but the way that we bring in the woods and the natural elements cushions and textural pieces like that. So browns are actually the earth toes are making a comeback too. Well, that’s
Pretty interesting because when I stage a house or get ready to sell a house, I’m always focusing on how to make it brighter inside. Wouldn’t the use of brown tones inside defeat that objective, or is there a way you can do it and have it look bright inside while still using those tones?
Well, I think that there’s a way to do it, have it look bright inside while using those tones. And one of the things to do in that regard is to consider the, I always consider the home when I’m working, either doing design or staging, and I just unstaged the house yesterday that the realtor had had the floors refinished. He tore the carpet up, thank goodness. And what was underneath were these beautiful. I think they were, say they were redwoods, maybe not. But he had them stain dark and they were gorgeous. And so I used to contrast with that really dark wood on the floor. I used light wood for the copy table and the sofa, I didn’t light, but what I did to bring in from life was I used a beautiful teal color. I used some teal accents. It carried that through the rest of the house. So some people love kind of that soft, very monochromatic or neutral interior scape, but you can really punch it up in easy way if that is your basic palette. Right.
So you can have it sort of a contrast with other contrasts, with other elements that are brighter.
Absolutely. Yeah, definitely. You could bring in any number, pick your favorite color, and you can add it. If you have neutrals, you can pick your favorite color and add that in doses. And the other great thing about having a more neutral palette on the interior in your sofa, some of your furnitures or things of that nature, is that it’s easy to switch it out and change things up as far as centralizing with some of the soft goods. Right,
Right. So you mentioned wallpaper earlier, and I can’t help but wonder, is this one of those things that we’re going to look back on in 10 or 15 years and say like, Hey, what were they thinking? Are there other things that you think are happening today that people are going to look back and in 10 or 15 years from now and going, geez, that was maybe not such a great idea?
Well, I think one of the things about that is it’s really fun to change our environments. I actually, from the less is more standpoint, I think everybody should have to consider moving every 10 or 15 years because it really makes you take stock of what you’ve got, what you’ve acquired and what’s important to you. But from the other perspective, as far as the wallpaper thing, I don’t know that I’m an advocate for putting
Floral wallpaper on every room of your bedroom wall. I would not agree with that. But something like a powder room, a guest powder room downstairs, or putting it in an entry where you have a wall that needs a little happy place. Maybe you have a console in there where it catches the keys in the mail and you put your things, your bags down as you come into the house. I love the idea of doing it as a focal point. And I think that it’s a design element, and just like everything design changes as far as what’s on trend, what’s not trending, I have a tendency to really feel like people should decorate in a way that makes them happy. This is about you and your lifestyle and what you’re really into. So if you love that graphic wallpaper, let’s go for it. I mean, I’m on board to do that. If you love a hot pink sofa and you’re going to be happy with that, well then you should have that because it’s not the end of the world if in five years you decide, you know what, I want a different sofa. Good point. That’s an important component. I think one of the things that’s really funny, I was thinking about this and thinking about trends that been so hot and so happening, and I would say that the one thing that I think people might regret, and this is just my perspective, is that the Edison bulbs, if you have a lot of those in your house, you might regret that
Edison bulbs, is that what you said?
Yeah, it kind the bare bulb, and it’s the very,
Oh, right. Those pendant lights that you see all over the place now.
Yeah, pendant lights, they do little wall sconces. You can get ’em in standing lamps. I mean, a little bit is okay, but too much. It’s too much. I love the idea of that being, it’s very trendy as far as if you go to restaurants or if you go to different locations to have food or have drinks and stuff. And I think it works, but it’s also because it’s been on trend for what, six, seven years now. I personally, I’m ready to move on to something else. You’re
Over it. I’m, it’s definitely that particular look kind of confines a design, and I am an advocate of much more eclectic because our lives are eclectic, they’re complicated, and I don’t think that people have to be pigeonholed into one style. It doesn’t have to be craftsman style. It could be eclectic, some craft with the main components being craftsmen.
Yeah. I love your point about how maybe we shouldn’t be designing for a look to last 20 years or more, right? I mean, you change, tastes change, absolutely. Your needs will change, your lifestyle will change. Why not change your environment along with that? Otherwise you get sort of just trapped or stuck. You don’t progress mean well. I’m a realtor. I go into houses all the time where literally nothing has changed in 40 years. And that’s kind of sad really, because I think it means that the people’s lives haven’t really changed that much in 40 years, and it’s like varieties a spice of life. I want to add a little bit more to your environment and stimulate yourself
Without a doubt. And I think it’s that thing of the perspective, change the environment, you get a different perspective. And I think that that is a part of life too, is just our perspectives change. The way that we work out changes the way that our families grow up and people move in and out of our lives. There’s all of that perspective shift happening all the time. So design can be the same way,
Right? Hey, so how do you decide what projects are a good fit for you? I mean, do people call you over and you just say like, nah, or what kind of stuff do you really like to work on the most?
Well, there’s definitely some times where I will say na, and I’m curious by nature, and I love the challenge of bringing the vision to life. The things that I most are working with clients who have an idea of what they’re wanting, but they’re not really sure how to execute it isn’t that why you call a designer? It’s like, I love this color, I have this fabulous sofa, but I’m stuck. And so I do love working with people in that regard. I also love coming through and just doing the consultation. The things that you and I have been doing most recently is also just a wonderful and fun, interesting thing to do because I think one of the things about me is that I love a changing environment, and that’s partly why I’m in this type of work because it’s always different. And then you’re dealing with people and their personalities and their lives and their needs and their wants and their dreams and their personal ideas about things.
But there’s a lot of people out there that they have a really great design sense, but they just need an extra push. Or there’s a lot of people out there also who have no idea how to bring it all together and they have good pieces, but they just don’t have ’em placed properly or they just don’t really have the right wall color, or they just need to really think outside of the box. And so that’s one of the things that I love to bring is just all of my ideas and the people that I meet with, that’s what they pay me for is my ideas and the ability to execute the vision that they have. I think one of the things is too, that it’s fun for people to say, okay, I trust you. Just do it. And that doesn’t happen a super, super lot.
That’s one of the things is being a designer is not being in a design show. Being a designer is about going and talking to the client and really taking what they want in making that happen. What I want doesn’t matter what I want. If I’m trying to get you to want what I want, there could be trouble. Now I am going to give you lots of suggestions. I’m going to give you lots of ideas, but ultimately my client is going to have the final stay on that. It’s your money, it’s your budget, it’s your timeframe. So I love the collaborative piece. I’ve also worked with people where it’s just the man I was telling you that I got him to get, we put the wallpaper up on his focal wall and his master suite. He basically said, here’s my budget. Just do it. And I would just say, this is what I’m thinking. This is what I’m doing. I’ve got these things ordered. This is what’s coming. Let’s get the electrician there. And he came out really happy about that.
Right. Well, it’s kind of a risk though. I mean, if it is not a collaborative process and they just say, you know what? Just go to town. I’m going to be out of town for a month. When I come back, I want my house done. It’s kind of a risk, right? Because
It’s absolutely a risk. Yeah, it’s a risk. The thing about that though is if I’m listening and paying attention to you, my client, I’m going to know how far I can push. I’m going to know what my budget is. I’m going to know a lot. I’m not going to know everything. But that’s one of the things that, for me personally, I guess, well, maybe, I guess I’m a bit of a risk taker because I’m willing to stand behind that decision. If we’re talking tens of thousands of dollars, you’re going to get my phone call, you’re going to get pictures, we’re going to collaborate on that stuff. If it’s a few thousand dollars and you’re telling me I want this rug, I want these colors, or This is what the room should look like and feel like, you will let me know. You will inform me about how far I can go with these decisions.
So you kind of prefer, it sounds like, it sounds you prefer to have a collaborative process versus just like you tell me in broad outlines what you want and then I’ll deliver something for you and you’ll be happy with it.
Well, yes, that’s the thing. I think one of the things about that is that’s where the brief comes in. The client says, this is what I want. This is how much money I can spend. And then I go and I create something, I bring it back and I say, this is what I’m seeing. I’ve got a color palette for you. I’ve got some finishes. I’ve got a reconstruction of the interior, so that maybe need it set up in a different way. Maybe you need a bigger space. So how do we do that with what you have? You need to take a wall out, things of that nature. So yeah, I don’t just go totally crazy and just go off the deep end on that stuff because I want the client to be happy because it’s the client’s money that’s being spent.
Right. Hey, so speaking of money, how do you get paid? Because on Jeff Lewis design, I know he takes the client down to the furniture store and he gets like 10% of everything they buy, and I assume it’s similar for when he hires a contractor or whatever, he just gets a commission on top of the cost of the job. Is that how you guys get paid generally speaking, or is it a flat fee or how does all that work?
Well, I haven’t had a tendency to not get paid by what my are buying. I have a tendency to talk with the client about what the job is going to consist of. I’ll bid it. We come to some agreement about that. And then of course, while working on budget, I’m looking for the most cost effective ways to execute that for my client. I’m not getting paid by the amount of furniture that the client is buying. Occasionally on some of, if I order stuff online, there are a couple online services that I use where it’s like, oh, you have spent this much money. You get a 2% discount on something. So the discount is small, but I usually pass it on to my clients because I want my clients to be happy and they’re paying me. So yeah, they pay me by the job. That’s how that works.
So it is not by the hour, it’s just by the job. You just say, Hey, my services will be five grand or whatever for this job kind of thing.
Is that standard in the industry or is it more like the Jeff Lewis thing where people get paid based on the amount of stuff that you buy?
Yeah, that is an industry standard, is to get paid on who’s buying what. I don’t know that. I find that to be the most effective way to do it because I want my clients to save and to be happy. Also,
Of the things that I do do that I’m happy and proud of in my own way is that I donate a percentage of all the fees that I make to some local charities.
Oh, that’s great.
Yeah, I just feel like that’s an important thing for me. So it also helps what charities you
Support, what charities do you support?
Well, locally I have Mari Plus’s Art, which is for afterschool kids and kids that don’t have access to art. And I think that every child, every person needs an outlet for their creativity because all people are creative, whether that’s they write books or they write code or they like to paint or So Ameri Plus’s art. I also love Habitat for Humanity. That’s a bigger charity of course, but the other one is Second Harvest Food Bank. I’m an advocate for the American Red Cross. I mean, there’s so many. So just ongoing, donate some. I think the one this month will be me Plus’s Art. I’ve got some, I was just tallying up yesterday, what I have to pay to me plus’s art, and I think I’m just going to do it on a rotation basis. So maybe for three months I do poses art, and then the next one will be Second Harvest is always wonderful around the holidays, but that’s not the only time that they need money.
Right, right. Okay. Well that’s really cool. I didn’t realize that. That’s awesome.
So speaking of buying stuff for your clients, which I think is really great that you don’t charge a commission because I think then subconsciously a lot of people would be steering their clients to more expensive stuff. I’m really glad to hear that you are very conscious of your client’s budget. But speaking of furniture and stuff like that, where’s a good place around here to go and buy cool furniture or awesome flooring or just are there studios where people can go to get inspired about what to put in their houses? What do you like to go locally for that kind of stuff?
Well, super locally here in Santa Cruz. Excuse me. I love Modern Life. On 41st Avenue, they’ve got a pretty interesting and eclectic bunch of furnishings. They’ve got some great rug choices, squares that you can look at, take with you and that are good quality. So there’s that. I think that Santa Cruz Kitchen and Bath does a pretty good job here in our little town. And then Carpet one is a good one for flooring and carpet. They have some, we got a smoking deal for one of my clients at the end of the year last year. They have this new nanotechnology on carpet where it’s stain proof. You can spill water or wine or you can have pets and literally you can wipe it up. It repels steam
Really. I can pour out a bottle of red wine on my carpet and I’ll just wipe it right off. Does it feel soft and nice like regular carpet, or does it feel like you’re
Walking off plastic? It does. It does. And it’s a very high quality carpet as well. So they’re really helpful there. They show up when they say they will, they measure, they give you an estimate. You want to make sure. We were getting carpet put in around the holidays last year. So there’s a lead time, of course, but there’s always a lead time on the good stuff and the stuff that you want. You just have to plan for that kind of stuff. So there’s also, in San Jose, there’s a Scandinavian design outlet. I love those clean lines. I love that kind of light fresh feeling for interiors because again, if you collect sculpture, you want to have those pieces, your sculpture or your art, or even if you’re doing antique furnishings or things of that nature, you want to have those pieces be able to shine.
So by using some lighter or less heavy or more subtle interior furnishings, you can really showcase your great stuff, your great design. And then of course, I love going to the San Francisco Design Center. You want to get inspired, go to the design center. They have a lot of stuff that, I mean, they do very trend oriented stuff, but you can go and look at rugs, you can look at furniture, you can look at fixtures for your bathroom, your kitchen. They have very interesting things, and they’re forward too. The designs are progressive and interesting, and it’s just a wonderful way to spend the day. Now you’ll get full just by going there. You’ll get inspired. You’ll get inspired or overwhelmed,
Right, or overwhelmed. That looks like a place I actually go. I mean, that seems like a fun place to go and do like a Facebook Live as you walk through there. I’m on their website right now, and it does look super cool. Hey, and speaking of websites, are there any websites that you, I mean like hows is one? I mean, are there any websites you go to where you find a lot of cool design elements to incorporate or,
Well, I love to pop into H G T V. They’ve got easy ways for consumers to do upgrades and add interesting flourishes. I mean, that’s just a real straightforward, fun one. Architectural Digest is beautiful. I love Architectural Digest because it’s basically, it’s design form, right? I mean, you can just see all these gorgeous colors and textures and interiors and designers and art and the high end stuff that most Americans don’t use or afford, but you can model after those kinds of things.
Okay, right on. Alright, well we’ve got to wrap things up here. How can people get ahold of you if they want to talk to you or consult with you or whatever?
Well, I have a website and it’s www.eyeidesignhouse.com. My email is I [email protected] and my phone number is (831) 419-4900.
Right on. Very good. Alright, well, before I wrap things up, is there anything that you want to let people know about? Do you have any special information you want to share? I don’t know. Any kind of cool events that people might want to go check out or anything interesting you want to pass on before we call it a day here?
Well, I would say that if you are really interested in doing some redesign in your interior and you want to take a fabulous field trip, go to the design center in San Francisco. It’s free to go in, I think it’s four or five floors. The last time I was there, they were, the whole fourth floor was closed. They were doing redesign of the design center. But you can get ideas and inspiration and you can Google just about any other thing that you’re interested in in that regard. And you just keep your eyes open, look around your work or home environment with fresh eyes and see where you can do some fun and easy upgrades or just start fresh and get a fresh perspective.
Right on. Okay. Very cool. Well, thank you so much. I really appreciate you spending the time with us today, Danette.
Thanks, Seth. Thanks for having me. Talk soon.
All right. Very good. All right. We’ll catch on the flip side. That wraps up episode number 22 of the Be to Bay Podcast. I hope you enjoyed listening to my conversation with Danette. And if you did enjoy the conversation and you have an iPhone and you use the Apple Podcast app, which I know a lot of you do, would you do me a huge favor and go and leave the Bay to Bay Podcast, a five star review through the podcast app on iTunes that would really help spread the word about the podcast, and I would be deeply in your debt, and I want to remind you of one thing that, as always, the Bay to Bay Podcast is sponsored by the sold book.com. That’s right. Go to the sold book.com to order a free copy of my book, get It Sold. It’s all about how to sell your home quickly, easily for the highest price possible, and have a fun time doing it.
This book does sell for 13 bucks on amazon.com. And believe it or not, people actually do buy it there. But why? When you can get it for free just by going to the sold book.com to order it there and check it out. If you use the coupon code free ship at checkout, I’ll even ship it to you for free with no shipping charges either. So don’t delay. Go to the sold book.com and order your free copy of my book today. Hey, thanks again so much for listening to my podcast. I really appreciate that you have been listening and stay tuned. I’ll have an episode up for you again soon. Thanks so much. Until next time.