Design details in newly constructed Oakland home

Posted by Lauran

We recently staged a newly built home in Oakland’s NOBE neighborhood (where North Oakland, Berkeley and Emeryville intersect) that features some stand-out design details. Take a look and get some ideas for your own home.
pink door

First off—the curb appeal. Check out the great mid-century modern door painted a bright pink, the nice chunky house numbers, and the lovely landscaping—all of these scream “welcome, we’re glad you stopped by!”



original artwork by Harry Gruenert (left) and Mark Petersen (large blue painting)


The main living space features gleaming concrete floors and a comfortable open floor plan. We used navy and yellow-green accents against neutral modern furniture to make the most of the space.


We love the wood ceiling that runs throughout the kitchen and dining rooms. The mix of white upper cabinets and lower wood cabinets is also on-trend.


original artwork by amiguel


original artwork Mark Petersen 



original artwork by amiguel

A bedroom on the main floor is staged as a home office. Note the wood trim around the windows that was left unpainted—a nice modern touch.


original artwork by Mark Petersen

We love the clean, bright stairwell, featuring modern railing, a skylight and window, and a cool light fixture.


original artwork by Harry Gruenert


original artwork by Kristen Jensen (left) and amiguel (center)

The large master suite includes a seating area, a private balcony, and a master bath. The natural fir trim around the doors and windows adds modern warmth to the room.



The guest room and kid’s room were left all-white, making the colorful accents pop and the natural light bounce around the walls.




The backyard is perfect for family living and entertaining. It’s got everything you could want—a grass playground for kids, two seating areas, built-in planters, and . . .



. . . a separate workshed/office/art studio!

The design choices made in this home—such as wood trim, paint colors, light fixtures, skylights, colorful artwork—set it apart from other homes on the market. These are all details that you can incorporate into your own place, even if it’s 50 years old vs. brand new.

Sweet remodeled bungalow

This week we staged a charming remodeled Oakland bungalow filled with sweet details such as interior french doors and a unique kitchen floor. Realtor Ron Kriss and his team did an amazing job re-imagining what was just a one-bedroom and turning it into a two-bedroom—with a bonus detached office.

Vicente LR

Vicente LR 3

Vicente entry

We tried something a little different with this house—painting the inside as well as the outside of the front door. I just love this bright-yet-sophisticated blue (BM Jamestown Blue).

Vicente into kitchen

I also am a big fan of the floor treatment in the kitchen and dining area. The team finished the pine subfloor, then painted large black squares in a checkerboard pattern. It’s quaint, yet modern.

Vicente DR

Behind the open door into the hallway (pictured above), there is a hidden chalkboard wall that we had some fun with.


We chose a fresh cantaloupe color for the accent wall in the kid’s room (BM Golden Archway).

Vicente kids

The master bedroom is small yet peaceful, especially with Palladian Blue on the accent wall.

Vicente master

This home has an important bonus room—a converted garage that is fully wired to be an awesome art studio, playroom or office.

Vicente office

A simple paint job in white, gray and chalkboard paint makes the space light and bright.

This home will be open this weekend! If you live in the East Bay, come check it out!

Photography courtesy of Jennifer Rosen.

A tranquil palette sets the tone for this Berkeley home

Posted by Lauran

This week we staged a beautiful four-bedroom house in Berkeley where the blue, green and gray color palette is really the star of the show.

The minute you walk into the entryway, you feel yourself relax as the cool blue surrounds you.


From the entry you enter the living room, where we chose a soft gray as a backdrop for modern furnishings and bright colored accessories.



Original artwork by Harry Gruenert


The dining room walls feature the same color, and we carried the blue tones through the pillows on the built-in bench and artwork.



Original artwork by Amiguel

As you move into the kitchen, a slightly different soft blue works well with the white cabinets and marble countertops.


There are two bonus spaces at the back of the house—a sunroom, which we staged as a family room, and a detached office. The photo below shows you how these buildings were added to the original home.

Ward back

Here’s how the sunroom/family room looks inside . . .

Ward FR

. . . note that here the grass and sky added all the green and blue we needed!

The detached office features a green accent wall.


Back inside the house, when you go upstairs you are greeted with four bedrooms. First, a sweet little room that we thought made a perfect nursery, with mint green walls . . .

Ward baby

Next, a soothing guest room featuring a soft blue accent wall and a vintage teak bed . . .

Ward guest

The third room is the kid’s room—with playful hits of green, yellow and orange!

Ward kids

And finally, the master bedroom with its dusky blue walls invites relaxation.

Ward master

Original artwork by Amiguel

The next time you’re choosing paint colors, remember to consider the flow of your entire home. While it can be fun to vary colors and tones from room to room, a more strategic color plan creates an overall cohesive feeling—as you can see from this home.

Note: This Berkeley home will be open this Sunday, July 12! Go check it out!

Photography courtesy of Toursler.

Re-creating a cool Oakland loft

Posted by Lauran

“When Carol and Andre first contacted us, they had just purchased a loft in Jack London Square,” says Visual Jill Designer Lauren. “It was difficult for them to envision how this one large space could be broken up into functional areas they needed, while also being stylish and inviting.”  They also inherited worn carpet on the floors and multiple paint colors on the walls, making the space feel cluttered and confused.

Flash forward a few months . . . after a bit of design magic, Carol and Andre now have this beautiful space!

2nd loft LR into DR lo res

2nd st. loft LR lo res

Lauren and Jill began the project by defining what their clients needed within the large open space: They wanted a designated area for their guests to sleep, an office for Carol, a TV room, dining room, and master bedroom.

Question: How do you create “guest quarters” without any walls?  Lauren’s answer was to place this CB2 Flex Frost Sleeper Sofa in the entryway! It’s extra seating on most days, but easily converts into a bed when guests arrive. We love the texture added by the branch “wall partitions” from Furniture Envy.

2nd futon lo res

The master bedroom is divided from the main space with curtains hung from a ceiling track. It’s a sanctuary for relaxation, with a custom upholstered headboard from AlexAlinDesign on etsy, nightstands and lamps from West Elm, and rug from CB2. The carefully chosen textures are a great contrast to the rough loft ceilings.

2nd loft Bdrm lo res

Lauren and Jill also helped their clients choose new hardwood flooring and paint colors to brighten up and modernize the space.  They chose White Dove for the majority of the walls and Kiwi for the pop of color in the living room and kitchen (both Benjamin Moore).

2nd loft lounge lo res

2nd loft lo-res

Lighting was also an issue, since the cement ceiling made adding recessed lights impossible.  “We added unique fixtures to designate the dining room, master bedroom, and living room,” explains Lauren. “We also added floor lamps to fill the 14′ height of the loft.”

2nd loft LR 2 lo res

The raw wood coffee table from HD Buttercup brings extra warmth to the living room, which also features a custom sectional from EQ3 and Celeste Swivel chairs from Room & Board.

Lauren and Jill loved this project, both because of the space and the clients! “Carol and Andre  had a clear idea of what they needed and trusted us as designers to find the items they loved and make sure they would be functional for their lifestyle”, says Lauren.  “They were very involved from the get-go with a positive attitude and ready to make an amazing change to their space.”

Photography by Peter Lyons

Need for speed: decorating an entire house in 8 weeks

Posted by Lauran

Decorating projects often extend over a period of time. People make decisions gradually, changing their minds along the way, trying out new ideas before acting on them. But when clients don’t have the luxury of time, it’s all about clear planning, clever sourcing, and quick decision-making. Such was the case with a recent project. Our clients, a family of four, had purchased a new home and needed it completely furnished from scratch—quickly. We met them in early December, and they moved in last week (the first week of February).

Oh, and did I mention that all the layouts and sourcing happened over the holidays? It required a true team effort from all of us at Visual Jill, along with our clients, to make it happen.

Here’s what the living room looked like when we first saw it. Not horrible, but not exciting either.

LR before

We put together a space layout, then selected the best furniture for the room, budget and timeline.


LivingroomLayoutAnd this is how the room came together (styling was not complete at this point, hence the empty shelves).



The Dining Room presented us with a blank slate, as well.

DR before




The teenage daughter told us she loved lavender, so we took her room from this:

daughters room before

To this . . .

Mindy's Bedroom Design Proposal_Dimensions

Mindy's Bedroom Design Proposal2



Here’s the “before” for the master bedroom . . .

master before

And our recommendations . . .

Master Bedroom Design Proposal2

And the results . .



Luckily this family was up for some color. We had some fun in their family room/gameroom, as you can see here.

Family Room Design Proposal_Dimensions

Family Room Design Proposal2


The clients wanted us to incorporate the sofa and coffee table they already had. Obviously a few pieces are missing (the game table), but it’s pretty close to done.

The lesson here: there are three “must-do’s” for furnishing and decorating a whole house in less than two months:

1. Careful planning. More than ever, we had to measure well, and carefully determine the best size for rugs and furniture. We experimented with different layouts to land on the best set-up for the space. While these are important steps for any decorating project, it is even more critical to be accurate when you don’t have a lot of time for revisions and re-thinking.

2. Clever sourcing. Our goal was to find items that were in stock and affordable. We didn’t have the luxury of falling in love with a piece and waiting 6-8 weeks for it to arrive. It was especially challenging to find artwork that enhanced the space without spending a fortune. We made great use of, minted, West Elm, and Society 6 for accessible artwork that looks and feels custom.

3. Quick decision-making. As usual, we created Pinterest boards for each room. Our clients were great about posting their comments right away, so we knew which items to move forward with quickly.

Decorating trends for 2015

Posted by Lauran

First off, let me say I hate the word “trend”, because no one wants to think of themselves as “trendy” or unoriginal, right? But in decor, as in fashion, food, and almost everything, there are certain styles or items that become popular and widespread. You can call them “fads” or “all the rage” or “the latest thing”, but after reading enough blogs and magazines and Pinterest posts you’re bound to see what they are.

So we’ve collected some trends that represent what’s popular for 2015. And fear not, you can confidently use these trends in your home and still be true to your own authenticity. As an example, some of the photos below show how Jill has incorporated them in her own home.

Ceramics. Organic, hand thrown and unusual ceramic pieces are everywhere.

justina blakeney ceramics

Above are a few great examples pulled together by my new favorite blogger, Justina Blakeney, on her blog The Jungalow.

ceramic focus

Jill chose a hand crafted ceramic vase found at the Alameda Flea Market for the center of her dining room table.

Nature-inspired. Plants, shells, wood sculptures . . . anything you find outside is having a big decor moment inside too.

wood boards

This tableau from Covet Garden Magazine, via SFGirlbyBay, showcases this trend beautifully—the well-used wood bread boards, the straw basket, and of course the vegetables.

bathroom shelf

Here’s Jill’s own tribute to nature, styled on the shelf in her master bathroom.

Soft colors. We’re seeing softer colors, even pastels, being used in sophisticated ways.

pink wall

This pink is a soothing backdrop for a gallery wall. From Danielle de Lange via Flickr.

computer wall

This feature wall in Jill’s house used to be a bright green, but she recently repainted it a soft blue. The sculpture is made by local artist Stevens Strauss.

Texture. This is more of a continuing trend. We’re still seeing faux furs, chunky knits, baskets, and jute; what’s new is that rattan and wicker are back!


Check out these rattan chairs in Portrait Haarlem , via Petite Passport. (Notice the texture everywhere, as well!)

LR chair

Jill recently added this round woven chair to her living room (found at The Gardener in Berkeley). The little blue pillow was made by Jill’s mother-in-law, Joan Parsons.

Mixing patterns. Once popular only with boho decorators, more and more people are trying different patterns all over their house—on rugs, pillows and walls.


A great place to find pattern is a fun Oakland store called Neighbor, which offers eclectic textiles, furniture and accessories crafted from all over the world.

bedroom lo

In Jill’s bedroom, she combines exotic patterned Balinese art with a more traditional plaid on her bed (and don’t overlook the lumbar pillow made from a Pareo!).

texture, baskets

And no one mixes pattern better than Justina Blakeney, who shared photos of her colorful office on her blog. In fact, she’s showing several of the trends here!

The last trend we’re seeing, which is directly related to mixing patterns, is the use of cement or encaustic tile, which is handcrafted in a multi-step process.

tile 1

Just feast your eyes on this beautiful bathroom tile, via lilreddotfolks.

pophamdesign copy

Popham Designs makes some of the most beautiful cement tiles out there.

Are there any words that incapsulate all these trends? Maybe organic . . . imperfect . . . nature-inspired . . . craftmanship . . . unpolished. What do you think?

All photos of Jill’s house by Peter Lyons



Blues, grays and . . . orange!

We recently staged a lovely renovated home that reminds us of a Scandinavian farmhouse. From the all-white/cream exterior, to the barn wood porch, to the soft colors used inside, it feels like it could be located on a rural farm in Sweden—instead of on an urban street in Oakland!



46 DR

The walls in the living room and dining room are painted a soft gray called Moonshine (I love that name!). We stuck to blues, whites and grays in our decor for these rooms. The master bedroom, office and guest rooms also feature light blues, from aqua to more of a periwinkle blue.

46 master

46 office

46 guest

But when we moved into the family room, we had a little fun by adding something unexpected—orange!

46 FR

We carried the orange accent color into the stairway and the finished attic, which we dubbed “the playroom.”


46 attic

It’s always a good idea to inject one bold color into your home’s palette. Orange is the perfect complement to blue (they are opposites on the color wheel), and is especially relevant during autumn months. What’s your favorite bold accent color? Let us know in the comments below.

All photography courtesy of John Hayes

Lighten up! (Your home, that is)

We recently worked with a couple who were putting their house on the market. Following advice from their wise real estate agent and their own good design instincts, they made several key changes that transformed the house from “dark 1960s”  to “bright mid-century”.

Eastwood LR2

Eastwood LR1

Hard to believe this light and bright living room once looked like this:

LR before

The key differences here?

1. Covering the outdated flagstone fireplace and hearth with plaster and concrete.

2. Lots of white paint.

3. Replacing wall-to-wall carpets with gleaming light hardwood floors.

These investments in the home completely altered this room. The owners also painted the ceiling beams white, calling attention to the beautiful pitched roofline.

Eastwood LR to DR

The Dining Room also benefitted from a fresh coat of pale gray paint and the same hardwood floors — plus a new classic Nelson bubble pendant!

Eastwood DR

The house already had a gourmet kitchen, but a few touches (refinishing the floor and the butcher block counters) made a big difference.

Eastwood kitchen

Light and bright paint colors freshened up the bedrooms too. We chose Breath of Fresh Air (Benjamin Moore’s 2014 color of the year) for the kid’s room . . .

Eastwood kids

… and Pale Sea Mist for the office.

Eastwood office

In the master bedroom, the couple had struggled to find the right paint color, as evidenced by the paint patches in this “before” photo.

master before

We chose Van Alen Green for the accent wall, White Dove for the other walls, and removed the heavy window coverings to shed more light into this spacious room.

Eastwood master1 Eastwood master2

The homeowners had recently landscaped the multi-tiered backyard to create different zones for dining, play and relaxing. A good power wash, new plants and mulch, and bright pillows were the finishing touches it needed to really shine.

Eastwood backyard

Needless to say, this house (which is now on the market) has received a ton of interest and the owners are expecting multiple offers.

Love how this house looks? You don’t have to wait until selling to lighten up your space! The changes the owners made—painting walls in white and other light colors, adding/refinishing wood floors in a lighter finish—have lasting value. Why not enjoy them while you live in your home?

Photography by Peter Lyons

Interested in this home? Contact Deidre Joyner.

Super-cool modern house

We are in love with a brand new house we staged last week. Located in the hip NOBE area of Oakland, this beautiful blue modern masterpiece has a great floor plan and a covetable roof deck.

41st exterior

41st LR alt

DR to LR

DR to kitchen




The house features two great areas to relax outdoors . . . a backyard complete with folding glass doors from the living space . . .

back yard

And a roof deck perfect for sipping a cocktail and watching the sunset!

roof deck

Photography by Mitchell Webb

Developed by BloomHomes

Contact Robin Donovan from Marvin Gardens for more information! 


Urban farmhouse charm

All photography courtesy of John Hayes

When you think of Oakland real estate, you might conjure up a loft on the water or a cute little bungalow. You probably don’t immediately think “farmhouse”, right? Well, this week we had the opportunity to stage a farmhouse in Oakland with tons of charm — enough to rival any you could find in the countryside.

It was fun for us to bring our modern style to a more traditional home. Here’s a look at what makes this home so special–and so fun to decorate!

Vaulted ceilings with rustic wood beams across the entire living space, punctuated with skylights for loads of light. And yes, that’s a tree acting as a post to the right of the desk!

Farmhouse LR1

Farmhouse LR2

Farmhouse beams

Farmhouse kitch/DR

Log cabin room: This quirky room features knotty pine walls and a green linoleum floor

Farmhouse cabin room1

Farmhouse cabin room2

Colorful country kitchen: The cabinets feature wainscoted panels painted a happy green.

Farmhouse kitchen1

Farmhouse kitch/FR

Beautiful outdoor space: Room for several sitting areas, a built-in bench and fire pit, and land for goats and chickens!

Farmhouse outdoor1

Farmhouse front deck

Farmhouse fire pit

Detached cottage: This little gem includes its own tiny kitchen, closet and bathroom! If you look just behind the fire pit in the photo above you can see it. Here’s what the inside looks like:

Farmhouse cottage1

Farmhouse cottage2

Back in the main house, there are two bedrooms besides the “log cabin room” that also feature old-fashioned details such as built-in desks.

Farmhouse guest room

Farmhouse master

This is a place even a city girl could feel at home in, full of light, color and soothing wood tones. We love it, and predict that it will sell quickly when it goes on the market next week! Interested? Contact Jennifer Graham.