The Art of Planning by Design

We are heading into the last quarter of the year, which typically quiets down, in my work life, but this year feels different. Instead of waning, things seem to be picking up. Part of my curating life outside of my design business is representing my late father’s estate of art. This week was marked by a visit from the Winfield Gallery in Carmel. My father was an artist and painted religiously from the 1950’s to early 2000. He created a collection of more than 500 paintings and drawings using acrylic on canvas and paper. The gallery is interested in carrying his work and wanted to choose a selection of pieces to bring down to the gallery.


It is always exciting to see someone else just as excited and impressed with my father’s work as I am. It is infinitely interesting to see what pieces speak to others, as I have spent so much time with all his work, and I can hardly wait to see how they look in his gallery space. It also makes for a good excuse to take a trip or two, or three, down to Carmel.

Chris Winfield will start showing the work, talking to clients, and colleagues and put together a show at the Winfield Gallery towards the end of 2015. It will be fun to see where this goes. Above are some of the pieces that will be heading down to his gallery on Dolores between Ocean and 7th.


On the create front, my Alexander Valley project has been approved for design specs, but the actual renovation won’t start until after the first of the year. All the fabric has arrived en masse for custom shower curtains, cushions, pillows and bedding. The seamstress will start on that piece, while we continue to look for art and make decisions on custom mirror frames.

Fabric Samples

A wonderful local framing resource is Hammerfriar Gallery in downtown Healdsburg. Jill Plamann, the owner, carries a gorgeous selection of frames for art or to be used to create custom mirrors. Perfect for updating and elevating a bathroom renovation. I am recommending the large Larson, Mantilla 3½ inch frame over the upstairs bathroom vanity and the Fotio, decorative painted frame 3¾ inch frame for above the master vanity. These two options including frame, mirror and labor are in the $700 to $800 price range. Which for the quality, and size (50 x 45 and 34 x 40), is truly an exceptional price point for beautiful mirrors, and ones that you will not see in your neighbor’s home… Frame selection can alter this range considerably, so having an idea of budget prior to shopping is a must.


The other pressing piece in my design life is the Farmhouse project, which is in the end stages of space planning. This project has really made me think about how very important it is to address “big picture” design planning. I think this is a piece that many of us neglect or overlook in the day to day of what we want and need to get done with our design and renovation plans.

It is vital to the end result to plan out the site such as entrance, building location and orientation, landscaping, and aesthetic, both inside and out. It is a series of layers that should be considered and accounted for prior to a renovation or construction. The pieces then can be prioritized, budgeted for and then implemented for a truly spectacular outcome.

For the "Farmhouse" project, we started by talking about the look of the entry gate. We walked up the driveway to the existing house to see what made the most sense for the entry and front of the main house. We talked about where to place barns/outbuildings and discussed general landscaping. Having this “big picture” context helps you make the right decisions, at each design marker, to create your desired aesthetic. The exterior space planning is as important as the interior design.

Then we narrowed our focus to creating floor plan options. How would we re-work the existing structure and where would we add on to the square footage? We began with a meeting and a conversation of how the clients currently use the space, what works, what doesn't, and what elements are important to the overall design plus addressing any potential building permit limitations.

From there, a beginning concept floor plan was created. After another design meeting I created four different floor plan variations from which a final selection was made. The plan will now go to permit set drawings with the architect and then on to the County for permit approval.


This process of fine-tuning a floor plan consisting of time, conversation and collaboration truly produces quality space planning and design. This is the basic foundation of design. Space planning is the soul of the home; it sets the tone for the whole feel of the house. It is vital to great design.

Okay, time to step off my soap box...