Get To Know Your Space

As we navigate sheltering in place, it’s a great time to embrace your space and environment. Our home is very much front and center in our lives right now – we are in it 24/7. For many of us, this is something new. With work, social life and family events, we aren’t often home this much or this long at one time. Taking the time to slow down and look around your home is the new normal and it can make you and your house better for it! How can we keep ourselves sane and use this time constructively to love our space?

Here are 5 ideas that can make staying at home more fun and more productive!

Create a new space for yourself. A dining room can become an art studio, the guest room (who has guests now?) can be your personal yoga studio. It just takes a bit of imagination and ingenuity. We all have rooms and areas that don’t get much use. For example, in my house, the formal dining room mostly collects dust. I found the light streaming in the window in the mornings to be very inviting so it’s now a new home office.

Reassess your art. For many of us, we frame a favorite piece of art or family photo, hang it on the wall and there it sits for 20 years – fading, sad and forgotten. Art framers are opening up a whole new concept these days. Send them a picture of your art, they send back options for matting and framing. They pick the piece up and in a couple weeks it’s delivered back to your doorstep. Pay online and voila! You’ve freshened the wall and still social distanced!

Channel your inner bartender. Instead of sticking to the same old drink recipes, challenge yourself with some trickier (and more exciting) cocktail recipes. Learn about wines – for those of us who don’t know anything beyond Merlot and Chardonnay there is so much out there to discover. Everyone will thank you— then pull out the good wine glasses and appetizers and share a virtual wine tasting with your friends.

Rediscover your environment. We live our lives so fast and so hectic, we hardly ever slow down to look at our home. Now is the time to really see it. Work with what you have – move accessories around, rearrange the furniture, pull down those dusty old drapes. Now is a great time to make that list of what you would love to refresh and when this is over, call your designer and say “I’m ready to make a change”!

Make it green. This is the perfect time to give your neglected plants some love. Re-pot those root bound ones. Start an herb garden in the kitchen window. Spring is here and flowers are in bloom – try your hand at flower arranging or learn online how to plant a succulent garden.

This is your opportunity to not only find new love and appreciation for your home but to see potential changes and be creative. Your home will thank you for it and soon you can look back and feel the great energy that comes from being proactive!

Our Design Story

Steven Edward Wallace Design of the Diablo Design Group has been creating beautiful and livable interiors for over 25 years. His portfolio includes restoration projects in the Hancock Park area of Los Angeles, 1930’s Art Deco residences in the Hollywood Hills and Mid-Century Modern desert living homes in Palm Springs. Eight years ago he moved from southern California to Danville and has completed major projects for a number of Chevron Executives, families in and around Danville and a landmark building condo in the Marina District of San Francisco. Steve effortlessly demonstrates his design talents taking clients from conception to completion, as their liaison with workmen and contractors, minimizing stress and giving them a home they love and love to show off!

“The best design is the one that flaunts the rules. We cannot be afraid of making a mistake or feel we have to follow conventional wisdom. Every room has its own personality and is as different as the person who lives there. Those who color outside the lines show the most imagination and creativity. Those who walk the straight and narrow leave nothing behind to be remembered.”

Do you need ideas on where to start? Here are just a few kinds of projects we can create for you:

Art Selection, Bathroom Design, Bedroom Design, Closet Design, Color Consulting, Custom Blinds & Shades, Custom Cabinets, Custom Entertainment Centers, Custom Fireplace Mantels, Custom Furniture, Custom Home Bars, Custom Kitchen Cabinets, Custom Rugs, Custom Storage, Custom Walk-in Closets, Decluttering, Dining Room Design, Downsizing, Drafting, Energy-Efficient Homes, Feng Shui Design, Floor Plans, Furniture Selection, Guesthouse Design & Construction, Handicap-Accessible Design, Historic Building Conservation, Home Office Design, House Plans, Interior Design, Kids Bedroom Design, Kitchen Design, Laundry Room Design, Lighting Design, Living Room Design, Mudroom Design, Nursery Design, Outdoor Kitchen Design, Playroom Design, Project Management, Space Planning, Sunroom Design & Construction, Sustainable Design, Wine Cellar Design, Kitchen Remodeling.

Steven Edward Wallace

Get Ready, Spring Is On It’s Way!

Although for many on the East Coast and the Midwest, spring seems a long way off, here in California we are already experiencing warmer days, more sunshine and “spring fever”. I know I’m ready to pull up the blinds and open the windows and let the light and fresh air in.

Your home may also feel that it’s tired of winter and wants to breath. Now is the time to look at ways to add freshness and vigor to your rooms and embrace the change of seasons.

Here are 5 great ideas that will chase away winter and get your home ready for spring:

Put away that old heavy comforter and invest in a brightly colored throw or coverlet for the bed. This season I’m seeing a whole new approach to prints and patterns. Stripes are always easy to mix and match with solid sheets and fun flower patterns reminiscent of the 1970’s are crazy fun and will add a smile to your face.

Pull out glass containers, vases and bowls. Here again, color is what’s happening. Don’t be afraid to experiment. In a garden window mix canary yellow, apple green and melon orange glass objects in different sizes. Don’t worry yet about adding flowers or fruit to the bowls and vases, let their color and shape alone be the interest factor.


Get Passionate for picture frames. So many of us put a photo from a holiday or vacation in a frame and there it sits, growing stale, for years and years. Take a good look at your frames, whether they are on a shelf or the piano. Discard dark colors and heavy woods and replace them with shell borders, glass on glass and brightly hued plastics. Not only will you see those photos in a new light, but the patterns and colors will brighten up the whole room.

Invest one new furniture piece.  We can’t always afford to throw everything out and start new, but often just one fresh item can change the whole room. This season wicker is making a big comeback – a colorful rocker or an ottoman/pouf in a colorful pattern is a quick inexpensive way to make a tired room look refreshed and brighter.  Small “drink tables” are always easy to find in so many styles, from metallics to stone top to wood and fit just about anywhere.


Open the windows. Heavy drapes collect dust and drag down the whole room visually. Now that we are seeing more sun, change them out for woven shades, billowy linen panels or just take them down and enjoy the view! Here color and pattern work wonders, allowing the sunlight to shine in, enhancing a basic window – taking if from drab to fab.

It’s already February! If you close your eyes, you can feel the change in the air.  Spring is right around the corner. Are you ready?

The Design Trends We Will See In 2019.

Our friends at InteriorsOnline have come up with their prediction of the 5 big trends you’ll see in 2019.  What do you think, did they nail it or do you have other ideas that will have a  huge influence on our style and design in the new year?
This metallic finish has had a revamp and it is predicted that it is going to come at us in a major way in 2019. With finishes covering gold patinas, black gold and bright golds being paired with raw natural finishes and high-end appliances, gold has never looked so good!
Nothing creates a sense of drama better than black. Expect to see bold, high-contrast designs all over your Instagram feeds in 2019, as matt black moves from fashion and beauty into housewares and interiors. Lighting, seating, home decor objects and chairs are all key pieces you can introduce to reference the trend. This one is likely to be with us for a long time, as well as a good time.
black deco room
In one form or another. Reflecting the need for a calm, cozy retreat and an overall focus on well being led to Hygge being a major trend over the past few years. And although there have been predictions for the emergence of new trends based on ideas around moderation, wellness and coziness, such as Cosagach (Scotland) and Lagom (Sweden), nothing has been able to halt the gentle onward march on Hygge. At this stage, it looks here to stay, in one for or another in 2019.
With Mid Century Modern well and truly entrenched in our interiors loving hearts, the hunt is on for the next big thing. Increasingly, people who know about these things think Art Deco has spent enough time waiting in the wings and will step out to take center stage in 2019. As one of the most inspiring, opulent and glamorous periods in design history, hints of Art Deco are popping up in detailing on tables, chairs and lighting. The mixed metal trend also gives a nod to the style. And lets face it, we all love a touch of glamour, don’t we?
Across homes, sustainable and natural fabrics are going to be a key trend that will hit the mainstream in 2019. Look for it in upholstered furniture, throws, cushions and tapestries, which are are also getting some attention as a potential micro-trend to keep an eye on. The movement towards natural fabrics speaks to the broader conversations across design right now that is all about embracing a peaceful retreat from crazy, modern life. The good news is the embrace of natural textiles will work across so many styles and looks, from Boho, to Modern to Rustic and just about every other style in between.
natural fabrics
The new year should usher in many exciting new ideas and influences to our homes and interior design! So, whether you want to follow trends or go rogue – have fun, be creative and forward thinking.

How Interior Designers Work Hand In Hand With Realtors

Interior Designers can be a very helpful partner for real estate professionals. Whether working in Los Angeles, Orange County,  Palm Springs or the San Francisco Bay Area, my connection with agents and brokers not only opens doors to me for new clients, but helps them in making quick sales, in such ways as preparing a sellers home for showings and advising potential buyers on renovations costs.


Here is how it works:

– Offering consultation to your seller on how to utilize existing furnishings for their home to feature its best assets. Guiding them on minimizing clutter, rearrangement of furnishings, accessories and artwork and minor “facelifts” for a quick offer and sale.

– Meeting with you and your buyer at a property to give realistic ideas on cost of potential renovations and upgrades. Visualization of how their furnishings may work in this home and help to understand the price of a new bathroom or kitchen are considerations that lead to making an offer

– Work with your client at closing to help make their new house a home. At the start, a new purchase may look daunting. Interior design services provide ideas on renovations, space planning and arranging existing pieces in the new home as well as creating the perfect new interior.

– Advising clients considering a scale down. Recently there is a trend to downsizing, especially by baby boomers. There are currently thousands of new homes and condo units being built at this time. A professional designer gives excellent advice on how to scale down from a larger home yet keep cherished items.

So whether you are a seller, a buyer or just someone who needs help with interior design, ask your realtor if an interior designer consultation might be what you need.

Contact me at

Break The Rules!

The old adage “rules are meant to be broken” is truest when it comes to interior design. The best design is the one that flaunts the rules. We cannot be afraid of making a mistake or feel we have to follow conventional wisdom. Every room has its own personality and is as different as the person who lives there. Those who color outside the lines show the most imagination and creativity. Those who walk the straight and narrow leave nothing behind to be remembered.

Here are 5 rules you’ve probably been told that you need to forget:

1. Don’t mix and match patterns. – It’s easy to live with solids or throw in a stripe or a floral, but you need to go further. If you feel uneasy with mixing more – then stick to a palette like just white and black or go to the opposite sides of the spectrum, like orange stripes with purple plaids. Mixing patterns adds visual interest and texture to a space. So go on and put that plaid with the leopard print. Cover dining room chairs in mismatched fabrics. Pile on contrasting sofa pillows for that lived in, at the beach kind of look.

mixed patterns

2. Bedrooms are bedrooms, kitchens are kitchens. – In today’s world we live in every room, we eat in front of the TV, we use our devices in bed. So who says a room has to fit a mold? If you want to put a love seat in the breakfast area, do it! If you want to make your formal dining room the living room, go for it. This is especially true in an urban lifestyle. Space may be at a premium – use it wisely, give up on believing in labels. I have a client who has her piano in the entry. Why? Because she likes the light there and it makes her happy. You gotta go with that.

3. Use light colors in a small room. – Wrong! Small rooms demand impact and to hold their own with their larger siblings. A powder room in chocolate brown or high gloss pink says “look at me” and draws you in. Bold color statements give an identity and give the space that wow factor your home needs. Same with small rooms and furniture. Place one big chair and a table – keeping it simple but larger than life. Far better than too many small pieces, just a few actually enlarges the visual.

4. Stick to one style or period. – Well, yeah, if you want to be boring and have your room look like you bought it right off the showroom floor! Mid Century Modern and antiques look great together. Contemporary art with your Grandmothers Chippendale will give your room that one of a kind, unique look that tells the world you know what you are doing! Give your rooms character and have fun with it. Infuse your home with multiple styles and if you are hesitant, start small – a bookcase of old and new books with old family photos and a contemporary accessory gets you going!

assymetrical bedroom

5, Keep your rooms symmetrical. – One sofa, two matching chairs and a coffee table. That’s pretty much what we are taught. I’m a pretty OCD person myself, but asymmetry can free your soul. Hang art work to one side of the sofa, instead of right in the middle. Move your bed off-center to accommodate different size night tables, even different eras (See Rule 4). I love large windows with drapes swooped to one side, a la Lauren Bacall, leaving the other side open for the woodwork to show.

If you love it, bring it home. Have fun – be creative – go ahead, break some rules. And then make your own!

Are You Living in a Real Haunted House?

This post first appeared in 2014 – but every year people ask me for it again. So, another encore – HAPPY HALLOWEEN! 

Many of us live in a haunted house and don’t even realize it.  I don’t mean haunted in the traditional sense; like the kind you go to on Halloween or an abandoned mansion you may see in the movies.  But, our homes can be and often are haunted by the ghosts of our own furnishings.  We tend to keep possessions and stuff we don’t really need anymore.  Look around you…  do you still need to display that trinket you bought on your vacation in 1985?  How about the framed wall hanging that says “Have A Nice Day” your Aunt Ruth gave you for a housewarming gift when you moved in 20 years ago?  It’s time to go through and refresh your accessories.  Edit out what’s old and just a dust collector.  Arrange like things that are precious to you in a collection, not spread over every surface.


Another way you may be living in the past is your upholstery.  When was the last time you had those chairs recovered?  Maybe it’s time to stop living with what you liked when you first moved in and just haven’t really looked at in many years.  Over time, upholstery fades and discolors.  Wear and tear from a busy family really can take its toll on furniture.  Paint colors will change over time and can look dreary and drab.  Try freshening up those rooms with a modern color or new wallpaper.

Pictures and artwork can also really make your home feel dated and old.  Your tastes have probably changed, you might like abstracts now but just can’t part with the landscape you bought at a garage sale a few years back. Maybe there is art you’ve had since college, and it has memories.  But those memories might be holding you back, keeping you in the past.. when you should be looking to the future.

It’s easy to go day-to-day thinking that next year you’ll buy a new sofa, or paint the den or have that painting reframed.  But days turn into months and months into years, and before you know it.. you are living in a home from yesteryear.. Yes, a haunted house!  Haunted by old, used and sad furnishings and colors.  Make a change before those ghosts decide to just take over.

So, this year, go visit a real haunted house, don’t live in one!

Find Your Design Inspiration!

It’s easy to say that inspiration is all around us, and of course it is. But often we may find it hard to translate that into our living environment. We look at our home and don’t know where to start. It’s important to find that something special that speaks to us and our vision and complete the interior we desire.

Everything in your home can be a source of inspiration. The idea for a room often begins with a single object: a family heirloom, a framed photo, a piece of fabric, that Merlot in your glass. Start from that single element that you love and watch the space take shape.

Even beyond that, inspiration can often be more obvious than you realize. That vacation you took last year to the beach or a visit to your local museum. The color of the sky or the leaves on a tree. Smell and sound can bring an idea to your mind. Music can inspire you visually. A song can bring the power to energize your space or be soothing and peaceful, and your home will reflect this.

I have helped clients create children’s rooms inspired by fairy tales or sports teams. We have painted stars and moons on ceilings of nurseries. A master suite enveloped in fabric can be a Moroccan fantasy and a South Seas paradise can be achieved by finding that right shade of blue you saw in Tahiti.  Anything is possible and the possibilities are endless.


Once you have landed on your inspiration, don’t feel pressured to move quickly. Let a room take shape naturally. It may take time for the elements to fuse together. Don’t be disillusioned or frustrated just because you have the perfect blue pillow but aren’t finding the sofa fabric to go with it. Keep an open mind, let the inspiration flow and allow the space to speak to you.

Finally, don’t be afraid to do the unexpected. It’s OK to take risks. Keep an open mind about your room and what it may be saying to you. Discover the hidden texture or spot of brilliance in your personal inspiration. Don’t be boxed in my convention!

I always try to help clients move just a bit further from their comfort zone. A home should be a personal statement.  Your finished space, if you let it, will spring from your inspiration and may just be the impetus for someone else’s imagination.

Man Up To Interior Design

For most men, looking at or even thinking about home furnishings ranks somewhere between a visit to the dentist and getting a letter from the IRS. We’d rather do anything else but be dragged to a furniture store and asked such questions as “What do you think of this one, honey?” As a designer working with couples, I have seen that deer in the headlights look on men’s faces too many times.

Guys may think they don’t know much about interior design and wouldn’t know their settee from their settle, but we sell ourselves short. With just a few simple lessons, any man can become not only good but downright talented when it comes to decorating.

Surprised young man, against grey

Men have a real knack for space and proportion and understand spatial relations and how balance makes for a good room layout. Many of the great architects down the centuries have been men. Men excel at cooking and at designing automobiles. How is designing your living room any differentLesson One – Color is not out to get you. Believe it or not, there is something beyond Navajo white and blue. While your wife may bring home swatches of pinks and lavenders, you can one up her big time by impressing her with your knowledge of such manly colors as Sedona Rock or Wilderness Cabin. I’ve found most men are open to color more so than their mates. In the animal kingdom, males flash bright colors and strut their stuff to get attention. Somehow, human males have become drab and this just goes against nature. Whenever I show clients color options, it’s always the man who goes for the saturated reds and greens. But then he somehow retreats to his comfort zone and ends up with beige.  Don’t be afraid to take the plunge. You can do it.Lesson Two – Get out of that Dad Chair. Face it, our fathers and probably their fathers had the one chair in the house that was just theirs. Usually a recliner or at least something in brown leather, it became a man’s one and only refuge in a room he probably had no input in designing. Men aren’t like dogs who need just a bed and a bone to be happy. We need to escape the Dad Chair and join the rest of the family. Leather is great; it’s comfortable and forms to your body like an old pair of jeans. But look at lighter colors, neutral and vanilla shades that are more modern, hipper and look like part of the room plan, not an afterthought. Next time you are in a furniture store, tell your wife you want to look at tufted chairs and textural fabrics. By the time she comes to, you’ll be far away from the recliner section.

Lesson Three – It’s not like matching your shoes to your belt. Don’t let our good looks fool you, we have an imagination. If you can figure out how to sneak in that weekend in Vegas, you can select furniture without breaking into a sweat. One thing that really makes me crazy is when people say they want a bedroom “set”. We are not in the days of Ozzie and Harriet anymore. You don’t need to match the bed with the night stands and the dresser. Open up your parameters and see that mix and match makes a room more user friendly and not so staid. Recently I told a young father to go home and throw around words like “coordinate” and “complimentary” in describing his vision of the bedroom. I think I may have personally saved their marriage!

Puzzled Man 2

Lesson Four –  Up your game. I don’t know what it is about men holding on to everything.  Don’t let your house become full of unnecessary items. We all like our “stuff”, but there is a limit. Go back to the basics. Keep accessories to a minimum. The idea of the man cave probably started when someone’s girlfriend got sick and tired of looking at the trophies, framed team jerseys and collection of beer glasses that were filling up her dream house. The poor guy was banished to the den, the basement or even worse, a corner of the garage. Keep the peace in your home and be a part of the family room by learning that you can live with a lot less than you think. Not to say that your needs should be disregarded. But that poster of the cat clinging to the branch that says “Hang in there, Baby’ was probably better left at your college dorm room. You’re a grown man now. The time has come for adult art. Finally, think about how easy it will be to straighten up when you want to make a good impression on that first date.

 Lesson Five – Sofa and the Single Man. We need to stand proud and shout “I’m not going to take it any longer”. Men have needs, too, and one of these is comfort. Work with your designer to find sofas and chairs that fit you. Today one size does not fit all. You can buy furniture that’s scaled to your frame. Sofas come in different depths. Cushions can be anything from pure down to solid core foam. We don’t have to sit on tiny dining room chairs and feel that we are attending a tea party. It’s up to you, gentleman, to make your voice heard. The biggest lesson you need to learn here is not to be a passive participant in your own home and its design. Have a say in what’s comfortable for you. Sit in many options; don’t be talked into something just because it’s pretty or on sale. In this business, you get what you pay for and it’s not the time to be frugal. A recent study showed that men spend more time using their home furnishings than women do. Flex your designer muscle. Your house can look good and be a restful respite from the world.

I’ll keep this short, as most of us suffer from ADHD and have the attention span of a tsetse fly. If you think you have successfully completed this course, then it’s time to consider Interior Design for Men Graduate School. Classes start soon. If decorating your home still scares you, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Hire an interior designer to lead you in the right direction. It’s bad enough someone has to pick out your clothes. Don’t let your wife or mother make the decisions you will have to live with for years.

Now, let’s talk the biggest screen TV we can find….

Loving a Mid Century Home

Californians have accepted and grown to love the single level ranch style. In fact, we are embracing this more than ever as Mid Century Modern continues its resurgence. What was once considered a an ugly house is now seen for the great design and lifestyle it provides. Yet, there are ways to make your rancher special. First of all, be realistic. Your home is never going to be an Italian villa or an English Tudor. You have to be true to the bones and architectural style that makes it what it is. But don’t fall into the cliché and follow the pack. Mid Century Modern homes embraced many eras and decades. You can mix the comforts and trends of today with the cool factor of the ’50s and ’60s without losing character. When you think of the history of your home, remember that in the days before “house flipping” was a thing, families lived in these houses for 20 or 30 years. The space evolved and contained the furnishings and accessories of a lifetime, not just a decade frozen in time.


Classic MCM home featuring walls of glass and beams  and furnishings.

Use colors and tones that evoke a rich and warm palette with accents of colors like lime green, orange and pink. Give the rooms an identity by texturing the walls with striated patterns or glazing. Replace carpet with hardwood, rough stone or large porcelain tile, even breaking up the standard living/dining room area with a curved hard surface walkway.

When it comes to furnishings, use a few large pieces that make the rooms look bigger and more important. Off white sofas with industrial chic is a hip look right now. Throw in an antique chair covered in rich velvet and you’ll end up with a room that looks sophisticated, modern and very architectural. Discard heavy draperies for roller shades and wood blinds.

Keep kitchens and bathrooms minimal and functional. Less is really more when renovating your classic MCM house. It’s all about the materials – think glass tiles and slick, low counters. Polished surfaces shine and reflect light.

Embrace the mid-century aura of your home and be proud of what it represents – a time and place that can never be replaced but can be your take on a classic architectural residence.


Awesome original 1961 home. Notice how the floor becomes the focal point.

To learn more check out the vast inventory of homes in Palm Springs, Los Angeles and Beverly Hills …  houses built between 1945 and 1975. There are still some great bargains out there and even a few untouched by time, time capsules that you can learn so much from!