This Bay Area Designer Has Mastered California Décor
When it comes to the subtle art of creating perfectly styled, expertly curated spaces that still feel lived-in and welcoming, Bay Area designer Katie Martinez holds the keys. With her signature balance of color, texture, and scale, and the combined eclectic/traditional/modern farmhouse style that’s so quintessentially her own, she creates the homes of our dreams over and over again. We took a tour of her San Francisco space and got the scoop on when to save and when to splurge and how to know when a project is really finished (hint: it might never be).
- Rip & Tan: Describe your path to where you are today. How did you decide to pursue interior design?
- Katie Martinez: I’ve known that I wanted to be an interior designer since I was a little girl and I was lucky enough to have wonderful early mentors and very supportive parents. After studying art in college, I attended Parsons School of Design. I worked at design firms in New York and San Francisco until going out on my own in 2013.
- Rip & Tan: How would you describe your design and personal aesthetic?
- Katie Martinez: Natural, relaxed, classic.
- Rip & Tan: What does “California design” mean to you? How do you incorporate those principles in projects outside the state?
- Katie Martinez: To me, California design is all about casual, indoor-outdoor living–creating outdoor spaces that are an extension of the interior ones, using natural, unfussy materials and color palettes, getting rid of formal furniture arrangements and unused rooms.
- Rip & Tan: What’s one thing that shouldn’t be skimped on when designing a home, and where can one get away with less expensive options?
- Katie Martinez: Don’t skimp on plumbing fixtures and hardware and save some money on tile.
- Rip & Tan: How do you decide if it’s a fit with a potential client? How should clients go about finding the right interior designer for them?
- Katie Martinez: There is usually a very obvious personal connection right away. If it feels natural, that’s usually a great sign. Being aligned with budget expectations is also super important.
- Rip & Tan: Your designs have a beautiful mix of traditional, modern, rustic, and eclectic elements. How do you balance your keen eye and vision with a client’s taste and preferences?
- Katie Martinez: I work hard to collaborate and create spaces that reflect my client’s personalities rather than my own. I channel my different design inclinations to fit my client’s needs, and I really love being able to work on very different types of projects. That said I think there is an eclectic, unique quality to all my projects that attract my clients in the first place.
"I think spaces should change and evolve with time. It’s nice to leave some room for that in my clients' homes."
- Rip & Tan: Describe your dream project.
- Katie Martinez: A small hotel, in a special building in west Marin or Sonoma county.
- Rip & Tan: How do you know when a project is finished?
- Katie Martinez: A project is never really finished! I could tweak the accessories forever. I also think spaces should change and evolve with time. It’s nice to leave some room for that in my clients’ homes.
- Rip & Tan: What does living well mean to you?
- Katie Martinez: Having time to spend with my family and friends, being outside in nature, fulfilling work with talented and gracious people.
- Rip & Tan: What’s next for you?
- Katie Martinez: We’ve just moved into a new studio space that I’m super excited about. We also have a number of really exciting projects in the works that I can’t wait to share. I just want to keep doing what I’m doing.
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Photos by Emily Scott