5 Design Tips from Our Home on the Bay Project

Our design team’s tips from our latest project

1/11 ● Studio McGee
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No. 1: Balance out light and bright elements with bold moments

In the initial stage of working on this project, we learned that while our clients loved a clean and minimal look and palette, they were also open to a few bold surprises. You don’t have to choose between light and bright and dark and moody; in fact, a dimensional design often involves leaning into both.

Throughout this home, we took opportunities to find moments where we could add depth — From the black fireplace in the great room, to the dark navy-blue check in the dining nook, to the black countertops in the white kitchen, to the burgundy office nook.

he moody elements we incorporated throughout this home help ground the space and add warmth to contrast the muted palette."
KELSIE LINDLEY, SENIOR DESIGNER

No. 2: Prioritize cohesion in your key materials

Although it sounds obvious, a well-designed space is about finding cohesion as much as it is in mixing and contrasting. Wood is often one of the first materials we choose in the design process, and this project was no exception.

Though the stain of the wood may change from darker to lighter, and the cuts of the wood range from a Rift, Plaine, and Quarter Sawn, having a base of the same White Oak species keeps a consistent feel throughout the home.

No. 3: Mixing silhouette lines helps add visual interest

Mixing silhouettes and shapes is always important for adding interest to a space, and something we wanted to emphasize in this home. From the contrast of the chair shapes in the dining area to the round mirror in the entryway, each element balances the other to add dimension.

Adding shapely dimension isn’t just about mixing and matching your furniture pieces. Where you can, find opportunities to accentuate or contrast the architecture and build of your home with pieces that bring in a new layer.

No. 4: Creating character is about making the most of every corner

We made the most of every corner in this home with a few adjustments to maximize its function — from the indented shelf moment above the range for holding cooking essentials to the towel rail on the sink to the built-in office nook in the kitchen.

This little workstation nook in the kitchen adds just the right amount of charm to this space and is the perfect place for our client's young kids to do homework."

No. 5: Introducing “old” elements brings a thoughtful touch to new build

This home was a completely custom new build from the ground up, and we got to start from scratch to bring our client’s dreams to fruition with the help of the amazing teams at Sausalito Construction and Holscher Architecture.

When designing new builds, the challenge is often to add enough character, so it doesn’t fall flat.


In this design, we added a few “old” elements to ground the feeling of the home.

The stained wood ceilings went a long way in adding warmth and dimension to this home, and the limestone tile on the floor of the primary bathroom, one of our favorite details, brought some age and sophistication to the light and open design.

The Guide to Outdoor Materials

A breakdown of the best materials for our outdoor space