Determined to save costs and stick with a short timeline of three weeks, Michelle decided to keep the built-ins that were previously used as game room storage. By placing her writing desk in front of the wall, she can look out into the backyard while working. "I didn't want to sit at my desk all day and stare at the wall. It was important to be able to look outside from my chair," the designer explains. "Floating the desk in front of the storage wall was the perfect solution."
A fan of clean, graphic patterns, Michelle fell in love with a wool and sisal blend carpet with herringbone detail. In order to install the new carpet, the existing wall-to-wall cut pile and its padding first had to be torn out. "Something to consider when putting in wall-to-wall carpet: Before falling in love with a particular style, know what the total will come to, including padding," the designer advises. "Keep in mind that, in addition to the carpet and installation costs, padding runs about $2.50 per square foot."
Although Michelle is a fan of using bold color, she opted for a muted palette in her studio, a place meant for concentration and serenity. The graphic wallpaper in the design studio packs graphic punch, yet is in a subdued color palette of white and gold.
Much of Michelle's interiors are made up of vintage pieces she picked up at boutiques and flea markets. When hunting for finds at her go-to sources for clients, she came across a brass 1960s chandelier. The lighting fixture is in the glamorous style she's known for, which also coordinated perfectly with the gold pattern of the wallpaper.
To take full advantage of an 8-foot wall to the left of her design studio's entrance, Michelle designed a custom banquette where she can read design books. In keeping with her signature glamorous style, she chose a glossy, glazed linen for the upholstery with super shiny chrome nail head detail.
When putting together the design of her Lafayette, Calif., design studio, Michelle turned to her business's branding colors for inspiration." The white and gold backdrop was ideal for showcasing the same apple green color used in my branding," says Michelle. "It's not matchy-matchy something I wanted avoid. Instead it coordinates wonderfully; in fact, it looks kind of effortless."
Much of Michelle's work is inspired by textiles. To keep her large supply of fabric samples within arm's reach, she has them organized in clear drawers placed above the built-in wall of storage. Each freestanding drawer is organized by color. Michelle notes: "It didn't make sense to keep my swatches hidden behind doors, which I'd have to rummage through to find things by color. This system is perfect; all I have to do is glance over and all the colors are right there in clear view."
While the built-in cabinetry is designated for storing Michelle's swatches and samples, she relies on the writing desk's drawers for more personal, everyday things such as keys, change purses, pens and pencils.
Michelle gave a corner of her design studio a defined purpose as an area for sourcing ideas and fabrics. She had custom folding screens made by a local upholster using plywood, white cotton and apple green satin ribbon. When she comes across something inspiring in a magazine, she simply tears a page out, then tacks it up on the screen behind her.
Since Michelle saved a great deal of money by keeping the space's existing built-ins, then painting them white, she planned to splurge on new hardware. Luckily, she came across chunky square chrome pulls from IKEA at about one-third the price of similar styles available through designer showrooms.
Art is a major element in the design of each of Michelle's interiors. To ensure that her favorite pieces remain in view from the writing desk just above the banquette, she hung a trio of pieces created by her sister, Sophie, an abstract artist.
Since replacing the windows of the design studio was not within Michelle's budget, she decided to take the focus off of them by having custom white silk window coverings made. By installing the shades for the window on the built-in storage wall all the way up flush with the ceiling, the dated casings are kept hidden and the window appears to be even higher than it actually is.
The California light that streams in from Michelle's backyard can be blinding. To help control it, she installed white silk draperies along the sliding-glass doors that, when closed, help diffuse the light and cast a gorgeous glow on the room.