When it comes to making over a space, it’s important for interior designers to find the perfect balance between what the homeowner wants and the designer suggests. In this case, interior designer Jacqueline Palmer of A Design Lifestyle knew just what her client was looking for and delivered an epic home makeover — one both she and her client love. When given a 1,200-square-foot industrial loft in Oakland, CA to design, Palmer set to work, achieving an intricate finished makeover that is both classic and modern. Read on to find out how she transformed her client’s loft by incorporating his personal collection of vintage memorabilia with contemporary staples.
What is your design approach? Are you into pre-planning a space or are you more of a “go with the flow” type of designer?
There is a lot of planning that goes into my design process — and it is just that: a work in progress. I like to start with a few furniture layout options for the client and a detailed line-items budget to get the logistics out of the way. The next step is typically a shopping day with the client so I can get a better understanding of how our tastes align. From there I source every item, from the sofa to the light bulbs, and then after a few rounds of review and revisions, we start the order and expediting process. With turn-key design, every moving part is related to another, so planning is an imperative part of the design process. I am very much a “planner” in many aspects of my life, and I think my clients appreciate my organization skills and attention to detail.
Tell us a bit about this project. What were your wins? Any setbacks?
Just a few minutes from the Bay Bridge, this loft is three levels and adorned with corrugated metal, polished concrete floors, high ceilings, exposed reclaimed wood beams, sunbathing skylights and edgy steel staircases. The space is both nuanced and sophisticated, for a refreshing take on the modern lofts popping up in the East Bay. The client wanted to create a design that was cool, collected and comfortable — a place to call home after a long day of work or a week of travel, but also a fun place to entertain friends for the big game or an intimate cocktail party. The client is a big fan of local sports and classic jazz so we went for a split complementary palette of blue, green and red, characteristic colors in both industries. The design features tactile and smooth textures that complement each other, like soft black leather against a wool jute rug. Each room is completed with art and accessories from the client’s personal collection of memorabilia, like vintage baseball stadium seats and a collection of pipes. With just three months to complete the project, we opted for retail brands with in-stock items and short lead times, like Anthropologie, West Elm, CB2, France + Son and Wayfair. We started the project in November and we had the home completed just in time for the Super Bowl. I really enjoyed working on this project. Not only was the client a breeze and super fun to work with, but I had a blast with the unique design and fast-paced process. Although the timeline was quicker than my past projects, we were able to work together to complete the project from consultation to photo shoot in just three months.
What was your secret to making this industrial loft more warm and inviting?
The materials of the interior architecture are flat and rough: polished concrete, smooth painted sheetrock, cold steel, exposed reclaimed beams, etc. I brought in a combination of warm colors like red and orange, and soft textures like linens and leathers to balance the shell that we were unable to manipulate. To marry the contrasting elements we brought in a bright blue throughout, for a cool color with classic roots and a timeless touch.
In what ways did you let the client’s personality shine through?
The client acquired the blank canvas space with just a few boxes of his belongings — a fresh start! I fell in love with his collection of vintage baseball memorabilia, classic jazz fine art and obscure statement pieces like a painting of R2D2 and collection of pipes and whiskey. I pulled the color palette and textures from these pieces, and through that his personality was able to shine through. I have a knack for understanding my client’s style and aesthetic, and I was thrilled when his review of my work noted that I was able to make his house feel like a home he had lived in for years.
What advice would you give to someone looking to combine modern style and vintage pieces?
It’s all about balancing out the vintage and new pieces and using them sparingly as statements rather than the focal points. When they are used minimally as a bold, unexpected element, the contrast comes through and the space feels more eclectic than old-fashioned.
What were some of your favorite pieces from this project?
One of my favorite pieces is the coffee table I found while working on another project in New York City. I love the juxtaposition of the geometric glass and metal against the soft organic floral rug. I also love the structured wood and leather chairs. The design is impactful, but they are super lightweight so they can be moved around the house as needed.
What was your inspiration for this space?
The client’s personal collectibles and the location, Oakland, inspired my design for the space. He has a love for vintage baseball memorabilia and classic jazz, two very exciting industries that have made their mark in the design and creative industry. I was inspired by the color palettes and graphic elements found in these sectors. Located deep in the heart of Oakland, I wanted the space to feel genuine, collected and anything but design pretentious. Not to mention his sweet collection of vintage pipes and whiskey inspired me to create this sultry, relaxed space.
What advice do you have for someone looking to redecorate their home on a budget?
Invest in the larger pieces like your sofa, rugs, coffee table and lighting, and then shop at lower-priced retailers for side tables, pillows, wall decor, art and accessories. This way, your budget is balanced and you can easily break up the design into phases to accommodate your budget. Also, I love shopping at alternate sources like Etsy, eBay, Craigslist and local fairs and flea markets. You never know what treasures and deals you might find, and it’s a sure-fire way to have a few one-of-a-kind pieces in your home.
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(Photos via Julia Sperling)