I grew up in a small rural community in Northern California that didn’t have architects or interior designers. But as a child, I used to draw floorplans and sections in crayon and markers and create whole neighborhoods of imaginary homes. So, I have to believe that design was just a part of me from the beginning. After getting my interior design degree in college, I spent the first part of my career working in commercial design for architecture and interiors firms in San Francisco. My projects included several university libraries, corporate offices and biotech labs. Later in my career, after designing and building my own family’s custom home, I chose to launch my own firm focusing on residential design and I’ve never looked back!
Savoy Classic 2"x8" Ribbed in Ricepaper
My clients, a professional couple, have a beautiful home in the east bay suburbs of San Francisco. They were looking to make some updates, including the primary bathroom, guest bathroom, laundry room and family room. The timing of this project was one of the greater challenges, as construction was done on and off during SIP restrictions during the Covid pandemic. Our resourceful contractor literally cut large holes in the exterior walls to allow work crew to access from the outside instead of going through my client’s space. Many of our project meetings were held outside on the client’s patio.
Arcilla 3"x12" Field in Gris
Context Pillowed Mosaic in Spa
Good design always starts with good communication. I begin every project, no matter the size, with an initial consultation. I get a chance to meet my clients and listen to what’s working or not working in their homes. One of the things I love most about having my own residential design firm is that I get to meet some amazing clients, many of whom become friends. That personal relationship and trust is worth so much as we move through the various phases of design schematics and construction. Based on my background in commercial design, I also really enjoy working on a team approach and having good relationships with project architects, contractors and subcontractors. Those are often the projects with best final results. It’s always about good teamwork – the team you form with your client and the team you work with to get the project built.
Savoy Classic Arrowhead Mosaic in Lantern
The very first tile my client fell in love with was the beautiful Chinois tile by Robert Kuo in the Hua pattern and custom color New Lagoon. We chose to use this organic artistic tile in their new family room fireplace surround.
Chinois by Robert Kuo, MADE by Ann Sacks Hua
"The very first tile my client fell in love with
was the beautiful chinois tile by Robert Kuo"
I think people are surprised when they learn how many tile selections go into the composition of a room’s finish scheme! I work in a couple of different ways depending on the client. Some clients find finish selections overwhelming and prefer me to put together schemes for their review. Others really enjoy the “shopping for it” aspect of the process. With those clients, I often just take them with me to the Ann Sacks showroom at the San Francisco Design Center. I’m able to see what sparks their excitement. When we get a few “wow” reactions then I know we have a basis to work from! That was the case with this particular project, where the client and I visited the showroom and worked up several schemes right there.
Savoy Classic Penny Mosaic in Lantern
When I first met with my clients at their home, I noticed that they had a gorgeous backyard with great lighting. But none of this was filtering into the primary bathroom at all. I knew if I could open up that existing space to bring that in, it would change the feeling of the room completely. I immediately worked with the contractor to verify that we could add a new corner to the house (9 sq ft) and extend the ceiling height. Those changes allowed us space for a freestanding tub, a huge picture window and a wonderful full height accent wall of Ann Sacks Savoy Ribbed tile!
Savoy Classic 2"x8" Ribbed in Ricepaper
I know you think I’m going to tell you paint, but I’m not. Honestly, the best tip I can give is to hire an interior designer for a 1–2-hour consultation (in person or video). Having that trained set of eyes to look at your home and listen to how you use your space can be incredibly helpful! An experienced designer can take that all in and give immediate feedback, share insights and help you create a roadmap to prioritize future projects. It’s one of my favorite ways to work with people. It gives them creative ideas and a little positivity and hope to take on the journey.
August 13, 2021
September 22, 2022
For designer Philip Thomas Vanderford, Studio Thomas James, the third time really was a charm in creating a dream home for his long term clients.
May 20, 2022
April 15, 2022