Celebrate The Holidays 2020 Style.

The holidays are nearly upon us. As we pull old decorations from storage, it’s a good time to
explore the latest trends to create your perfect space.

Here are 3 creative ideas that make this holiday unlike any before!

Tweak Your Christmas Colors – We all know red and green as the colors of the season. This
year explore the whole palette available to you. Silver, aqua and white are hot this season and
always a sharp and sophisticated element to transition into New Years Eve. Introduce chocolate
into your holiday décor – not only does it add warmth and modernism to the room, it brings that
organic feeling inside. Keep to tones that suggest a culinary experience, like latte, cocoa or
cinnamon. Use ornaments with stripes, polka dots or abstract designs.

I’ll have a blue Christmas

Twist Your Tree – We all like to unwrap the ornaments and discovering the one that has been in
the family for generations, brought home from vacation or made in grade school. This year, do
something completely unexpected. Decorate your tree in only one color or just with pink lights.
I’ve seen trees hung upside down, ones covered in high heels or with dog toys. Metallics are a
huge trend this season. Revive that pink aluminum tree from the 60’s or consider purchasing a
live tree in a pot and plant it after the holidays. It’s renewable and enjoyable year around.

Loving that pink tree!

Party The 2020 Way – The key word this year Is innovation. Mix things up and keep the energy
high. Throw a virtual party with friends and family. Have the “guests” dress in black tie or as
their favorite holiday character. Have them show their wackiest ornament and have a prize for
the most outlandish. If you are isolating due to Covid restrictions, don’t let that stop the fun. Mix
and match your dishes and glasses or add tropical prints to the holiday décor. Place palm fronds in a vase with pinecones and ban poinsettias from the place (they are so traditional!!)

Now, more than ever we need a little Christmas spirit. Find yours, spread the joy and ring in
2021 with your own style.

Goodbye 2020 – Hello 2021!

As we all look forward to 2021, I want  to share a few of my favorite design elements and inspirations.  Enjoy!

Favorite individual piece –The 54” Braziliance Commode is a two drawer cabinet designed by Dorothy Draper, one of the most iconic interior designers of the 20th century. Originally created in 1939 for the Quitandinha Resort in Sao Paulo,Brazil, the styling captures the South American craze that swept the USA in the 30’s and 40’s. With classic oversized acanthus leaves, carved serpentine moldings and a shell carving in the center, it exudes class and sophistication. Approximately $7000 through your design professional.

Favorite color – No doubt about it, there is nothing that can beat basic black. This one color goes with every design style and brings out the best in any fabric or finish. Use it in high gloss for the dining room with a funky crystal chandelier, in a soft gray tinted black for that sexy, sophisticated bedroom or an upholstered slick mid-century chair in plush black velvet. This is the hottest in color for an all around perfect accent in your home.

The Modern Black Room

Favorite new look – Although the avocado green appliances of my childhood still haunt me to this day, I’m crazy about the new color options being shown on washers and dryers. Bright reds, navy blues and soft grays allow us to bring the utilitarian laundry room into the new century. Just like flat screens have taken the television out of armories and cabinets and put them on display, now you can be proud to show even this room to your friends and not have to hide it behind bi-fold doors. Now when friends tour your home, you won’t have to stand in front of the door and say “oh that’s just the laundry room”.

 Favorite comeback look – Michael Taylor single handedly turned the design community on its ear in the late 1970’s and 80’s with his organic, beachy southern California  look.Michael died of AIDS in 1987 but his signature style is back with a bang, starting with his famous basketball shaped sofa pillows. No other style from that era is more au courant than the Taylor aesthetic: interiors of textural fabrics, sexy curves and casual comfort. Other designers, such as Donghia that were big in the late 70’s and 80’s are also experiencing a resurgence of interest.

A Vintage Michael Taylor Design Circa 1975

Favorite place for inspiration –PARIS! What more can you say? Not only does the city of lights spark romance, it’s also the catalyst for design inspiration. The history, the architecture, the furniture shops and the famous flea markets all add up to the best place in the world to feel creative. Only the French can make design look so effortless. Whether you purchase a trinket or bring home a container of French antiques, anyone can feel special with a bit of Paris in their homes. There are numerous, beautiful coffee table books on French style. Check them out.

Embrace the things that are your personal favorites. Make your home fun, the place you love to come home to and most of all your inspiratio. Take the time to explore and learn the new concepts, ideas and trends. You’ll be glad you did.

Art + Design – The Beginning

From the very beginning, before we began to put thought into our living spaces, we had art. Early humans drew on cave walls the story of their lives. At that time, we were probably still sleeping on the ground and eating hunched over a fire. 

Early Cave Art

Art and the human reaction to it is at the core of who we are and has always helped us to express ourselves and possibly leave a part of ourselves for others to enjoy and contemplate. Early on and in every culture on Earth – it has been our fascination and love of art that has told our story and allowed us to express our creativity.

I think the “art” of design came much later and from a much different place. Man needed a place to eat, a place to sit, a place to sleep. As we moved from caves to shelter of our own making, the need arose to express oneself, and family and community grew. Along with outside elements like weather conditions, mobility of a nomadic life and increased learning and mixing of different races of people, our homes became an extension of who we were, a way of showing others what was ours and what was important to us.

As culture developed, art and design interlocked fingers. Innovation of materials grew and changed what we could do. Maybe an early bed was straw on the ground, then straw sewn into a bag for easy moving about. Hand tools led to creating household objects and weaving fabrics, which in turn became interior design.

Modern Wall Art

Modern man is still ruled by the instinct to be creative, expressive and the need to adorn their spaces, to enjoy art and feel comfortable in their environment.

Personal expression in art and our environment is essential. We still feel the same way about art as the first cave artist did and we now connect that to having a comfortable home.  Art and design live not only side by side but connected as one.

Follow our new site @designplusartca on Instagram or at http://www.designplusart.com

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 stevenedwardwallace@gmail.com

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!