Spring 2014 Report: Color, Shine, Texture

Blog, Furniture design, Trendson March 4th, 2014No Comments

Sabrina Alfin Interiors, Inc. is always on the lookout for new goodies to incorporate into our clients’ homes and we’re a little bowled over by how much great stuff is out there, both direct to the consumer and to the trade.  The watchwords for this season?  Color, shine, and texture. So I thought I’d share some recent finds that are new this Spring.  Best of all?  Most are pretty darn affordable.  Let’s get to it! (Click on the photos to see them larger.)

Made Goods.  Clockwise from left:  Gerald bookcase, Doreen side table, Clive coffee table, Angela stool.

Made Goods. Clockwise from left: Gerald bookcase, Doreen side table, Clive coffee table, Angela stool.

I am completely in love with Made Goods’s new Gerald bookcase, in all of its sculptural brass & glass glory.  Love the way the shelves seem to float on the structure!  Similarly, their new Clive coffee table reminds me of a topiary that’s been trained to hold a glass top.  And for side tables, I love the playful Ikat fabric-wrapped Doreern parsons table and the Angela macrame stool, both in a deep Indigo blue to add some great pattern and texture to a space.

2014 HollyHunt

Big Jars, from Holly Hunt.

The colorful simplicity of these Big Jars (yes, that’s really what they’re called) from Holly Hunt are great for multiple grouping and would be beautiful accent pieces to any room.  Would love to see these on underlit glass shelves to make them glow.

2014 Wisteria

Wisteria: clockwise from left: Campbell’s stool, Red Chinese Coffee Table, Laurel Leaf mirror.

Wisteria probably owes Andy Warhol an inpirational nod with their new Campbell’s stool, this time without the label!  A great accent piece that brings some metallic wow to a room.  And I love this Chinese Red coffee table, which is both classic and modern simultaneously.  It’s not fussy, either, so it could work just as easily in a casual family room or a more formal living room.  Need an elegant but understated mirror?  How about the new Laurel Leaf?  Could see this in an entry way, or in a powder room.


Serena & Lily. Clockwise from top left: Devon coffee table, Tucker chair, Nantucket bins, Dip Dyed stools, Cooper leather stool

Leave it to Serena & Lily to bring us more preppy charm with a hint of the British colonies. The chunkiness of the Devon coffee table is great for a rustic family room, and those Tucker windsor chairs are a fun update to a classic design.  In seven different paint colors, it would be fun to mix up a set to put around a white farmhouse table, don’t you agree?  The Dip Dyed stools come in both chair height and counter height in white (shown), yellow, and blue. They’d look great in a rustic modern or industrial kitchen for contrast, or use the smaller ones as plant stands on a covered patio.  The Nantucket baskets are so practical for home office or kids’ room storage, and that Cooper leather stool could be used as an ottoman or end-of-the-bed bench in a guest room with two twin beds.

So much to discover, so little time!  What’s your favorite find from this bunch?  Or have you found something else fabulous you’d like to share?  Post a link in the comments!


FOG Design + Art Show, Ft. Mason

Art, Blog, Furniture design, Lighting designon January 19th, 2014No Comments

If you love design, fine art, and the decorative arts, you might think about changing your plans today to catch the final day of this show at Ft. Mason.  Filled with mid-20th century statement pieces and new objects influenced by that era, this show is as much an education as it is pure eye candy.  And because it’s San Francisco, modern Asian aesthetics abound to beautiful effect.


FOG Design + Art program with all galleries showing listed inside.

Here are some of my favorite pieces from the show, with appropriate gallery attribution:

Gallery Seomi


Artist Bae Se Hwa’s unbelievably stunning use of bent walnut, makes this sculptural chair simultaneously curvy, organic, and linear at once. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this in the MOMA Architecture and Design permanent collection in the future.


Soft, knitted sculpture adorns the wall. Fun! Can’t find the artist attribution; sorry!

The Future Perfect


Coining a new design term: industrial organic. Seems to fit these amazing blown glass pendants fused with C-clamps and a hand crafted chain. So unique and eye-catching. By NYC artist Lindsey Adelman.

Edward Cella Art + Architecture


Love this grouping of ceramic plates by artist Brad Miller. The glazes and texture are subtle and tactile.

Blum & Poe


A riot of color and texture in this abstract expressionist work by Chinese artist Zhu Jinshi. Layers and layers of oil paint cover the canvas to gorgeous effect.


Nihlist anime meets ’60s Flower Power? Morbidly fascinated by this one.

The show is open today from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.  But if you can’t get to the exhibit, you can see the work at the galleries represented on Artsy.



SAI’s Year in Review: 2013

Blog, Green design, Kitchen design, Materials, Press, Recent Work, Residential interior designon December 23rd, 2013No Comments

My head is spinning with the thought this year is ending in a week’s time! Goodness, it went shockingly fast, but perhaps that’s because it was so chock full of great projects, new clients, and some pretty darn good press.  And, given that this was only SAI’s 2nd full year of being in business, I’m proud of the fact that we’re in the black and growing.

I think it always helps to stop and take stock, so here’s a quick recap of all SAI accomplished in this calendar year:

1. Successful completion of the Peninsula Volunteers’ Decorator Show House, Woodside, CA.  May 2013


It really was an honor to have shown my work alongside a very talented field of Bay Area designers, some of whom have been in business for decades.  The sustainable sun room I showcased got some tremendously positive feedback and was instrumental in landing me a new client! Featured in Gentry Home (pg.64), The Wall Street Journal, and several notable design blogs, this was a wonderful experience.  And kudos must also be given to all of my design partners who so graciously donated pieces or greatly reduced the price of their goods and services in exchange for promotional consideration.

2.  Completion of a major kitchen remodel, San Carlos, CA


The design phase of this project began in late 2012 in order to explore multiple layout options to get just the right configuration.  Once the final floor plan and look and feel was agreed to, the work went very fast:  13 weeks from demolition to completion, including the fabrication and installation of custom cabinetry.  The results are beautiful, clients are very pleased, and the feedback has been wonderful.

3. Lots of proposals, two new clients

As someone who ran new business pitches in my former life as an ad exec, I’ve learned that not every pitch can be a winner.  So you have to do lots of them to raise your win percentage.  Pleased that two new clients have come into the fold this year for projects in progress:  one is in Foster City for a remodeled guest bath and updated living room furnishings/layouts, and another in San Carlos for building materials and finishes specification on new construction.

4. Press

In addition to the Show House press mentioned above, here’s some other notable mentions:

House of Turquoise


rough luxe





5. Giving back to the design community

I’m a big believer in helping the next generation of designers and so I gave a presentation on starting one’s own design business for the students at Canada College (where I graduated from the program in 2011) back in January.  The feedback was so positive, I gave a reprise presentation to the Intro to Interior Design class just a few weeks ago, and also gave it to the interior design students at West Valley College.  One of my former instructors (and collaborators!) has already asked me to present some tips/tricks on the marketing aspect of design for one of his classes next semester, which I am thrilled to do.

In addition, I served on the Professional Development Committee of the CA Peninsula Chapter of ASID, chairing the Design Awards Gala event in June.

So, all in all, a busy year!  Planning to enter my work into upcoming design competitions and will keep you all posted on the outcome.  My very best wishes to everyone for a happy and successful 2014!

Kitchen Remodel Chronicles: The Finished Project

Construction, Kitchen design, Recent Work, Residential interior designon November 27th, 2013No Comments

Thirteen weeks after the start of demolition, the project is done!  And just in the nick of time for Thanksgiving.  Clients are happy, the design objectives were met, and the place looks pretty darn great, if I do say so.  ;-)

Shout outs to my collaborators:  Mark Hersh, General Contractor.  Noe Erazo of High Quality Custom Cabinetry.  Artistic Tile & Stone.  DaVinci Marble.  Roberto Barahona Co.  Atherton Appliance.  Hubbardton Forge.  Denny Holland Studio for the cool collages in the display cabinets.  And Dean J. Birinyi Photography for the brilliant images, below. And of course, to my awesome San Carlos clients for making all of this possible.  They know who they are!


Full kitchen view.


Storage wall with LED-lit display cabinets, including an appliance garage. Work island with gas cooktop, downdraft vent, and counter stools.


Built-in buffet with LED-lit glass cabinets, wine fridge.


Breakfast area with built-in, upholstered banquette.


Mom’s office nook.

Kitchen Remodel Chronicles: Almost Done!

Blog, Construction, Kitchen design, Materials, Residential interior designon October 25th, 2013No Comments

Hardwood floors have been installed and the granite/tile are going in today.  Final painting, floor finishing, and lighting/appliance installation are next.  This is the last Kitchen Remodel Chronicles post I’ll do before the final professional photos are available.  Kitchen will be finished in two weeks and the final photos available just before Thanksgiving.  Yay!

Here’s where we are as of today:


Typhoon Bordeaux granite is just stunning against the creamy cabinets. Love the veiny, colorful patterns!


Bergen Kitchen_granite

Table top for the kitchen banquette sitting on the contractors truck awaiting installation. Island countertop sits behind.


Can’t wait to see the tile backsplash on the back wall!

Kitchen Remodel Chronicles: Cabinets and Templating

Blog, Construction, Kitchen design, Materials, Recent Work, Residential interior designon October 15th, 2013No Comments


Storage wall: pantry, appliance garage, and LED-lit glass panel top cabinets.

Starting to look like a real kitchen, isn’t it?  :-)  Custom cabinet maker and his crew are doing a great job with the installation and should be done with the full cabinet install by tomorrow.  We’re now at the stage in which the stone fabricator takes templates of the cabinetry to make sure the soon-to-be installed granite countertops fit just so.  The stone fabricator also happens to be the tile installer, which makes it easy for the finishes to fit together seamlessly.  Photos below show more views of the cabinet installation, in progress.


Island with built-in, beadboard paneled bookshelves for cookbooks and display.


Matt, the tile and stone sub-contractor, is creating the templates for the countertops.


Buffet with glass-paneled, LED lit wall cabinets and glass shelving to hold glassware. Wine fridge space next to base cabinet.


Office nook for Mom. Family hub for scheduling, bill paying, etc.


Cooktop side of the island with storage drawers and cabinets. Overhang for counter stools.

Next up:  flooring, appliance installation, plumbing installation, and banquette upholstery.  Assuming all goes according to plan, we should be done early November!

Kitchen Remodel Chronicles: Sheetrock, Finishes, and Materials

Blogon September 25th, 2013No Comments

The kitchen project is coming along very nicely!  With the sheetrock up and windows in, it’s starting to look like a real room again. Here are a couple of photos of the space in its current state:


Rough window install; skim coat and trim next!


Eventually, these two walls will house the appliances and storage cabinets.

And here are some of the finish details you’ll see in the completed space:


Glazed cabinet door finish (though not style–we’re using Shaker), granite, iridescent glass liner, and porcelain mosaic backsplash tile.


Clockwise from top left: dark caramel brown fabric for bench seats, cabinet pull, drawer knob, island pendant (3), and breakfast area pendant. The lighting will be in a bronze finish similar to the hardware.

 The rest of the colors/fixtures/finishes I’ll leave out for now.  Have to have some surprises for the big reveal now don’t I?

Kitchen Remodel Chronicles: Framing & Electrical

Blogon September 5th, 2013No Comments

Now we’re into the guts of the project:  framing out the walls and windows, as well as putting all the appropriate wiring behind the walls and ceiling for the appliances and for the lighting/switching.  Recessed can lights and decorative pendant light housing is carefully measured and placed according to the mechanical/electrical drawings, making sure they are aligned with kitchen features like the island.

Open walls at this stage mean that any last minute changes to the electrical or framing the client might want should happen now.  While it’s not ideal to make changes at this point, it gets a lot more expensive to do so after the sheet rock goes up.  But even at the framing stage, changes do have a domino effect on other design elements.  In this job, for example, I spec’d a 10′ bay window over the kitchen sink.  When it was framed out, the client decided to go with an 8′ one instead, thinking the scale of the original was a bit too large.  No problem, except it did incur additional costs for the backsplash tile since there was now 2 additional linear feet of space on the wall to cover.  The original tile order had already come in, so another order has to be placed.  Thankfully, we’re still early enough in the job that it won’t cause construction delays, but it could have been a different story if the tile had a longer lead time for delivery.

Here’s where we are:


Nook for desk area.


At the top of the frame, you can see the housing for the recessed and pendant lights.


Framed opening for the sliding glass door out to the backyard.


Currently boarded up, this is the view of the bay window location from the outside.


And this is the spectacular view from the kitchen. You can see why we’re putting in a wall of windows!

Next installment of the kitchen remodel chronicles:  materials.  Stay tuned!


Kitchen Remodel Chronicles: Demolition

Blog, Construction, Kitchen design, Residential interior designon August 19th, 2013No Comments

Ooooooh.  Demolition.  Sounds dramatic, doesn’t it? Today the construction process begins in earnest.  And as the old saying goes, you can’t make an omelet unless you crack a few eggs.  Or in this case, tear down a few walls.  ;-)

Mark Hersh of MAH Construction and his crew are taking out the old to make way for the new.  I might add that they look like they are having some fun tearing things apart!


One of the few times in life you can allow your kids to write on the wall!


Let the dismantling begin!


Removal of old built-in AV armoire to make way for a desk and buffet.

I know I said last time we’d talk materials and finishes this time, but holding off until a couple of final specs are approved.  Stay tuned!

Kitchen Remodel Chronicles: The Befores

Blogon August 12th, 2013No Comments

Wow.  The work is about to begin!

After many months of honing the space plan, the custom cabinetry drawings, and the materials and color selections, my San Carlos clients’ general contractor is going to start demolition of the current kitchen in a week’s time to make way for the new design SAI has developed.  For those of you who are curious about the construction process, I thought I’d publish a chronicle of the remodel from the “befores” all the way through the finished project.

But first, let’s talk a bit about the requirements of this particular design.  As you’ll see in the photos below, the current kitchen is mostly functional but could use some tweaks in terms of making the “work triangle” a bit more user-friendly.  I saw the current wall oven/microwave and refrigerator placement as a potential safety hazard as the doors open out right into the walking path that leads to the formal dining room.  One of the main objectives, then, was to get all the appliances off that wall and put elsewhere.  The second major objective was to meet the client’s goal of putting in a work island while still keeping traffic flow in the kitchen manageable when large gatherings occurred.  The only way to do that and have the required clearances would be to expand the current footprint of the kitchen into the family room.  (We briefly considered pushing out the back wall into the backyard, but that idea was nixed when we learned the house square footage is already at the city’s lot size maximum.) And lastly, the clients expressed a desire to have built-in banquette seating in the breakfast area.  As for the family room, it will remain largely untouched, with the exception of adding built-in cabinets on either side of the fireplace and adding a new flat screen TV on the wall to make more room.  Additionally, a small desk area will be included for paying bills, managing family schedules, etc.

As for style, we settled on a transitional, updated cottage look that uses clean-lined—but still classic—Shaker cabinet doors, and that focuses on the earth tones the clients favor in the rest of the house.

So, here are the client’s current kitchen/family room photos:


Current breakfast area.


Full view, rear.


Full view, kitchen entry


Armoire to be replaced by buffet and desk area.


View into family room and fireplace.


Kitchen work area view, with errant sock courtesy of the family dog. :-)


Appliances currently in path to dining room.

Here’s the current floor plan for the kitchen/family area:


And here’s the approved plan I designed.  In order to gain counter space and room for the banquette without having to replace the family room windows, the bay window is being eliminated and the wall straightened. To keep the space as light-filled as possible, a bay window is being added over the sink, instead.  This also frees up room for the island while keeping traffic flow open.


Next post:  color and materials selection!