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Photo: J. Hettinger Interiors (2016)

You are the customer. If your goal is to choose an interior designer that will deliver high customer satisfaction and quality, you’ll feel confident in choosing a Diamond Certified interior designer. Each has been rated Highest in Quality in the most accurate ratings process anywhere. And you’re always backed by the Diamond Certified Performance Guarantee. Here’s why the Diamond Certified ratings and certification process will help you find a top-rated interior designer and is unparalleled in its accuracy, rigor and usefulness:

1) Accuracy: All research is performed by live telephone interviews that verify only real customers are surveyed, so you’ll never be fooled by fake reviews.

2) Statistical Reliability: A large random sample of past customers is surveyed on an ongoing basis so the research results you see truly reflect a Diamond Certified company’s top-rated status.

3) Full Disclosure: By clicking the name of a company above you’ll see the exact rating results in charts and read verbatim survey responses as well as researched articles on each qualified company.

4) Guaranteed: Your purchase is backed up with mediation and the Diamond Certified Performance Guarantee, so you can choose with confidence.

Click on the name of a Diamond Certified company above to read ratings results, researched articles and verbatim customer survey responses to help you make an informed decision.

More than 200,000 customers of local companies have been interviewed in live telephone calls, and only companies that score Highest in Quality in customer satisfaction–a 90+ on a 100 scale–as well as pass all of the credential-based ratings earn Diamond Certified. By requiring such a high score to qualify, the Diamond Certified program eliminates mediocre and poorly performing companies. Read detailed information about the ratings and certification process.

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Ron Smith is a veteran of the interior design industry and owner of J. Hettinger Interiors, a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (925) 350-6448 or by email.

Ron Smith

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Ron Smith: Interior Ambition

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

ALAMO — When asked what initially drew him to the interior design field, rather than reference a specific event, Ron Smith attributes it to a simple knowledge. “There was no particular reason—I’ve just always known it was what I wanted to do,” he says. “Even when I was young, for whatever reason, interior design was the only thing that interested me, and it’s the same today.”

Originally from the East Coast, Ron received his formal industry training in New York before starting his career in Massachusetts. Later, he migrated west to California, where he met a man named Jerry Hettinger who shared his passion for interior design. Soon after, J. Hettinger Interiors was born. For the next 20 years, Ron worked tirelessly in the business until he finally decided to take a break. After doing some extensive travelling, he relocated to Connecticut, where he planned to remain semi-retired.

However, if Ron thought his design days were behind him, he hadn’t counted on the existential dilemma this would create. “As I contemplated what I was going to do with the rest of my life, I realized I didn’t really have any interests other than my career. There was simply nothing else I wanted to do.” Following this realization, Ron returned to the industry with a renewed enthusiasm and founded a design firm in Connecticut. Later, after receiving word that his former business partner had become ill, he returned to the Bay Area to help out at J. Hettinger Interiors, eventually resuming ownership of the company he’d co-founded nearly three decades prior.

Today, Ron says his favorite part of his job is the sense of fulfillment it gives him. “I like the satisfaction of completing something creative. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a large project or a small one—there’s a gratification you get from pleasing the client and knowing you did the best job you possibly could.”

A resident of Pleasanton (where he lives with his wife, Bonnie), Ron expresses his appreciation for life and work in the Bay Area. “I don’t like extreme climates, so coming from the East Coast, the Bay Area is wonderful,” he says. “Also, when it comes to design, people back east tend to be pretty conservative compared to people on the West Coast, so I enjoy doing design work for clients who are up for something unique.”

Outside of work, Ron extends his professional passion to his personal life. “I love to shop for artwork, antiques, home furnishings…just anything involved with interior design.” Ron also enjoys visiting with family. “My son, Joshua, is a full-time artist living in Southern California and has three children, so Bonnie and I go down there pretty often to see them.”

In regard to his professional career, Ron espouses the importance of honesty. “In every situation, my goal is to do what’s best for the customer, which means being honest and straightforward with them,” he explains. “If I think the direction they want to go is a bad idea, I’m very honest in telling them that. At the same time, I respect that it’s their project and money. At the end of the day, I want to give them what they want, but I also make sure to provide my professional guidance, whether or not they choose to accept it.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: Do you collect anything?
A: I collect artwork, including several of my son’s pieces.

Q: What’s your favorite snack?
A: I love chocolate.

Q: Are you an early bird or a night owl?
A: An early bird. I’m up at 5am every day and tend to be in bed by 8:30pm.

Q: What’s your favorite season?
A: Spring.

Q: If you could talk to anyone living or dead, who would it be?
A: Probably Rembrandt. I don’t know what I’d say to him, though. I’d be more interested in what he had to say.

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Quality Perception in Interior Design


ALAMO — When planning to redesign a room in your home, one of the first things you’ll need to do is determine your budget. Unfortunately, this is anything but cut-and-dried, as a design budget can vary significantly depending on a number… Read more

Expert Video Tip

Video: Gauging the Cost of an Interior Redesign

Complete Video Transcription:

ALAMO — Host, Sarah Rutan: When planning to redesign your home’s interior, it’s important to get an accurate idea of the costs involved. Today we’re in Alamo… Read more




INDUSTRY INFORMATION - Contra Costa County – Interior Designer
  • Hunter Douglas Window Fashions

  • Hunter Douglas

  • Bernhardt

  • Century Furniture

  • Chaddock

  • Henredon

  • Maitland-Smith

  • Marge Carson

  • Sherrill Furniture

International Interior Design Association (IIDA) (www.iida.org)
American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) (https://www.asid.org)
Interior Design Society (IDS) (www.interiordesignsociety.org)
Interior Design Educators Council, Inc. (IDEC) (www.idec.org)
International Furnishings and Design Association (IFDA) (www.ifda.com)
Association of Interior Design Professionals (AIDP) (www.aidponline.com)
Certified Interior Decorators (CID) (www.cidinternational.org)
International Federation of Interior Designers (IFI) (www.ifiworld.org)
National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) (www.ncidq.org)
Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA) (www.accredit-id.org)
Contractors State License Board (CSLB) (http://www.cslb.ca.gov/)
California Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) (www.dca.ca.gov)

Know What You Want
Consider Your Interior Design Needs Before Calling Contra Costa County Firms

Knowing what you want, or at least having an idea of your goals, before interviewing local Contra Costa County interior designers can help you make better decisions and end up with a better final product.

Start a file or notebook with samples, photos of rooms or accessories you like, and other examples that can help the interior designers you interview better understand your likes, goals and ideal space.

Here are some questions you should ask yourself before you start looking for the Contra Costa County interior designer in Pleasant Hill, Martinez, Concord, Richmond, Brentwood, Danville, Antioch, Walnut Creek, Pittsburg and San Ramon or your area that can best fit your needs.

  1. Do I want a Diamond Certified interior design firm that is rated best in quality and backed by the Diamond Certified Performance Guarantee?
  2. Where do I need interior design services? (This may include your home, office, commercial building, restaurant, bedroom, bathroom, living room, guest room, whole home or other location.)
  3. What problem do I want solved by new interior design? (Make rooms larger, maximize livable space, improve comfort, increase function, merge different rooms’ style to make the home seem cohesive, etc.)
  4. Are there any requirements I have for this project?
  5. What is my budget? (It may be smart to include a goal number and an absolute top amount you can afford to spend.)
  6. Do I have a specific time frame in which I need these designs completed?
  7. Is my interior design part of a home remodel, room addition, rebuild, new home construction or other larger project?
  8. If so, do I already have contractors and architects selected with whom I will expect my interior designer to collaborate and cooperate?
  9. Is there anything else my interior design company candidates should know about me, my family, my home or business, or my goals?
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What To Ask In Person
Invite the Best Interior Designers to See Your Home or Business

Your phone interviews should have helped you narrow your list to the best interior designers in Contra Costa County for your needs. Now is the time to invite the top three to five to see your job, offer ideas and bid on it.

This will allow you the opportunity to make sure you like and get along with the interior designers, and that the work you have in mind meets their expectations and abilities.

Again, you’ll want to have a list of questions you can ask. This will keep you on track and ensure that you get the answers you need. It can be easy to get distracted when discussing the project with professional interior designers, so having a list can keep you grounded.

Sample questions you may want to ask include these:

  1. On first glance, what do you recommend for my space?
  2. Can you help me achieve my main goals for this space and my new interior design?
  3. How long does a job of this size typically take from bidding, planning, design, ordering materials and final implementation?
  4. If I’m working with architects and builders as part of a larger project, do you want to meet them before you bid on the job?
  5. Do you have a list of customer references who had similar work done as that I’m planning?
  6. How will I handle future service issues?
  7. Will you be the designer that works on my job, or will you pass my job off onto assistants?
  8. Is there anything I can do to simplify this process?
  9. What do you need from me to complete an estimate for services?
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  • What To Ask References
    Learn More About the Interior Designers You're Considering By Calling Past Clients

    It’s best to choose among Diamond Certified interior designers because all certified companies have passed an in-depth ratings process that most other companies can’t pass.

    If you want quality from interior designers in Contra Costa County and the greater Bay Area, you can have confidence choosing a Diamond Certified company. Diamond Certified reports are available online for all certified companies. And you’ll never be fooled by fake reviews because all research is performed in live telephone interviews of actual customers.

    If you can’t find Diamond Certified interior design firms within reach, you’ll have to do some research on your own.

    Start by calling some references. Keep in mind, though, that references provided to you by interior designers are not equal in value to the large random sample of customers surveyed during the Diamond Certified ratings process.

    That’s because references given to customers from companies are cherry-picked instead of randomly selected from all their customers. So the contractors will likely give you a few customers to call that they know are satisfied.

    If you do call references on your own, specifically ask for a list of the 10 most recent customers of interior designers in Concord, Richmond, Antioch, Walnut Creek and Pittsburg and your area. This will help avoid them giving you the names of only customers they know were satisfied.

    1. Were you satisfied with the interior design services and the customer service you received from this Contra Costa County interior design company?
    2. Was the interior designer you worked with able to suggest the best structural changes, accessories, furniture and décor for your needs?
    3. What was the type and scope of job they did for you? (This may include a full remodel, home expansion, kitchen design ideas, bathroom design ideas, whole home interior design services, commercial interior design services, small home design solutions, bedroom interior designs, etc.)
    4. Did this Contra Costa County interior designer help you choose furniture, appliances and accessories to bring your space to life?
    5. Did the designer keep you up-to-date on the status of the work and items you’d ordered?
    6. If you hired the Contra Costa County interior designers along with architects or builders, were they able to cooperate to provide a seamless project?
    7. Were there unexpected costs? If so, what were they for and were they avoidable?
    8. If you live in a rural area or smaller town such as Clayton, Byron, Los Medanos, San Pablo, Rodeo, Martinez, Crockett, Discovery Bay or others, did the interior designer charge extra to travel to your home?
    9. Was this Contra Costa County interior design company responsive to your needs and respectful of your budget?
    10. What was the best part about working with this Contra Costa County interior design company?
    11. Was there anything that concerned you or that went wrong?
    12. If you need future interior design services, would you hire this company again?
    13. Would you recommend this interior design company to friends or family? 
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  • Review Your Options
    Final Questions Before Hiring Good Interior Designers in Contra Costa County and Beyond

    The Diamond Certified symbol has been awarded to companies that scored Highest in Quality in an accurate ratings process.

    Now that you’ve done some research and interviews, you’re almost ready to hire a good local interior design firm.

    Take a few minutes to review your notes and consider the following questions before making your final decision on the Contra Costa County interior designer in San Ramon, Danville, Brentwood, Martinez and Pleasant Hill and your area.

    1. Can one of the Contra Costa County interior designers near you meet your needs in terms of design style, personal attention, budget, value, timeline and design skills?
    2. Are the local interior designers knowledgeable about the style you want, the accessories and furniture you prefer, the color palate you like, making the most of your space, and the needs of your home or business?
    3. Can they explain why they’ve recommended specific colors, structural changes, brands, furniture, styles, patterns, window dressings, and other features?
    4. Are the interior designers you’ve spoken with sensitive to your time lines and budget? Can they recommend various solutions to fit your time needs and resources?
    5. If you’re also working with an architect and builder, will the Contra Costa County interior designers you’re considering collaborate with them to create the home of your dreams?
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  • How To Work With
    Find an Interior Designer Whose Designs and Capabilities Match Your Preferences

    Just like homeowners and business owners have a style or styles they prefer, local interior designers all have design preferences and styles that are more comfortable for them.

    While most can help out clients regardless of their desired style or design preferences, it is smart to find an interior designer who has experience and skill designing in the style you prefer. For example, homeowners who want a mid-century modern look should find an interior designer who has proven experience in that style, rather than pursuing a designer who is known singularly for Victorian or coastal designs.

    The best way to ascertain your interior designers’ abilities is to ask each of them if they specialize in one particular style. Then, ask to see a portfolio of previous projects. You will likely see a common thread running through many of the designs. If it looks nothing like your dreams, it may be wise to keep looking.

    The best Contra Costa County interior designers in Concord, Richmond, Antioch, Walnut Creek and Pittsburg and beyond will be honest with you about their abilities and preferences. Good interior designers are artists who take great pains to translate their clients’ wishes into reality. And many have a wide range of design skills that take them from minimalist homes to shabby chic designs, modern business lobbies to Asian-inspired designs.

    Since an interior designer is someone you should feel comfortable with and be able to work with easily, it can be smart to hire a local interior designer for a small project before you contract with them for a large or very expensive upgrade to your home or business. You may want to hire the local designer to help you choose furnishings, a color palate, or even to give you some suggestions before you boo them for a full-home remodel or project that involves changing the structure of your home.

    This will give you a chance to work with them and make sure your design ideals mesh before you enter into a long-term contract.

    Attract the Best Contra Costa County Interior Design Companies to Your Job
    Good interior designers are often in demand, which means they often can be choosy about the clients they accept. This allows them to spend their time on the jobs that most interest them and clients that they feel they’ll work best with.

    Just like you’ll be choosy about the designers whom you’ll hire, Contra Costa County interior designers in Pleasant Hill, Martinez, Concord, Richmond, Brentwood, Danville, Antioch, Walnut Creek, Pittsburg and San Ramon and beyond also have a right and prerogative to be selective about the clients they accept.

    Most interior design companies have a limit on the number of clients with whom they can work at any given time. So they’ll want to focus on those clients who are honest, fair, responsive and good communicators.

    Here are a few simple steps you can take to encourage Contra Costa County interior designers to bid for your job and take good care of you as a client:

    • Put quality and value over price. Of course you need to stick to your budget, but no good interior designer wants a client who doesn’t value the expertise and skill they bring to the job. Don’t haggle over the designer’s rates or fees. If they offer great design at a fair price, they will probably be worth much more than cheap interior designers who cater to a low-price clientele.
    • Be honest if you’re interviewing other interior designers and accepting multiple bids. However, make it clear to the Contra Costa County interior design services you contact that you are looking for the best local interior designer for your job, and that you’re only entertaining three to five bids, not dozens. No good designer will want to compete on cost with a dozen other companies, and that’s the quickest way to lose the interest of good interior designers.
    • Be clear, up-front and honest about your needs and expectations. Have examples or samples you can show the designers, and verbalize your ideas. Know your budget, and be direct about your expectations. This will allow local interior designers to accurately ascertain if they can offer what you need, and it will allow them to give you more complete bids.
    • Be respectful and kind. Interior designers are professionals who deserve to be treated with respect. Value their time and input as you expect them to value yours. Return calls, provide the information they need to make good decisions, and be honest with your opinions and assessments of their suggestions. This will go a long way in forming and maintaining a good working relationship.

    Move Forward Toward Better Interior Design
    Once you’ve performed interviews of interior design firms in Pleasant Hill, Concord, Martinez, Richmond and Brentwood and your area, it’s time to choose the one that best fits your needs, vision and goals.

    Ask for a contract that spells out the details of the job and outlines your expectations and those of your interior designer. Read through the entire contract before signing it, as it is a legal document that is binding. While many contracts are boilerplate, all should include details specific to your job, including verbal agreements you’ve made with the interior design company, expected start and end dates, project terms, payment and reimbursement information, clauses and stipulations and other details that will protect you and the company you’re hiring.

    Never sign a blank, incomplete, confusing or wrongly-worded contract.

    Make the Interior Design Services Go More Smoothly
    Professional interior designers should have all the tools and experience they need to make the job run smoothly. However, there are a few things you can do to improve your chances of getting the home or business of your dreams.

    • Be specific about your goals and expectations. Directly and fairly confront any problems or concerns before they become major issues.
    • Provide the materials, samples and information your interior designer requests.
    • Be available to go shopping or approve items your Contra Costa County interior designer provides or suggests.
    • Make sure your interior design company has a key, passcode and access to your home or business in order to plan and complete the designs.
    • Answer calls and emails from your interior designer.
    • Ask them if there’s anything you can do to simplify the process.
    • Keep family members, pets, children, employees and customers out of the space while work is in progress.
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  • Be a Good Customer
    Get Better Interior Design Services By Being A Good Client

    Getting the interior design services you need and want will be easier when you follow the advice above.

    It can go even more smoothly when you take the following easy measures to be a good customer when hiring Contra Costa County interior design companies in Danville, Antioch, San Ramon, Walnut Creek and Pittsburg and other areas.

    • Be clear and upfront with the interior designers. Let them know what you want and expect, the long-term outcome you’re hoping for, and specific ways they can satisfy your expectations.
    • Before you hire good interior designers in Contra Costa County, restate your expectations and goals, and reiterate your understanding of the agreement. Make sure the contract you sign reflects your needs and specific requirements. Most problems with local interior designers occur because of a breakdown in communication. By being clear about your expectations and theirs, you can avoid most conflicts.
    • Ask your interior designers if you should call to check on the progress or if they will call you with updates.
    • Be sure your Contra Costa County interior design firm representative has a phone number where they can reach you at all times while they’re working in your home or business. The work will move along more smoothly if your interior designer can reach you for any necessary updates, questions or work authorizations.
    • When your designer contacts you, return calls promptly to keep the interior design services on schedule.
    • Pay for the interior design work promptly.

    How do you benefit from being a good customer?

    Interior designers in Contra Costa County, including those in Concord, Richmond, Antioch, Walnut Creek and Pittsburg, Orinda, Knightsen, Alamo, Diablo, North Richmond, Walnut Heights, Hercules, El Sobrante and beyond, appreciate customers who are straightforward, honest and easy to work with. Your good customer behavior sets the tone from your end and creates an environment conducive to a good relationship. Things may very well go smoother and any problems with your interior designer may be more easily resolved.

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Check The Work
Perform a Final Walk Through with Your Contra Costa County Interior Designer

Once the interior design services are complete, you’ll want to schedule a final walk through with your designer. This will give you a chance to review the work, ask any questions, and make sure that everything meets your expectations and the promises made by your interior designer at the outset.

Bring along your original estimate or contract and the invoice for services rendered. Compare what you see in front of you to the promises on paper. Now is the time to ask any questions you might have about choices they’ve made, materials or accessories, furniture, discrepancies, care of items, and more.

You’ll also want to make sure you have a physical invoice that includes the following:

  • The interior designer’s name and physical business.
  • A complete list of all work performed.
  • An itemized list of all materials used, including itemized prices if they weren’t already provided to you.
  • The total cost for the interior design services, including the itemized amount charged for labor (if separate).
  • A written explanation of any warranties or guarantees provided by the product manufacturers and the Contra Costa County interior design firm.
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Written Warranties
Get Proof of Warranties and Guarantees

Depending on the work, products and the interior design service you hired, you may be eligible for warranties or guarantees. These may cover the products, materials, furniture, appliances, décor, construction and more.

If your Contra Costa County interior designer offers warranties or guarantees on their work or purchases materials that are guaranteed, they should be willing to offer you proof of these promises in writing.

The following items should be included in any written guarantee document from interior designers in San Ramon, Danville, Brentwood, Martinez and Pleasant Hill and beyond:

  • The Contra Costa County interior designer’s name and physical business address.
  • A description of what exactly the warranty covers. This should include whether the interior designer or providing company will repair or replace faulty materials or workmanship.
  • Any exclusions to the warranties or guarantees must be explicitly stated.
  • Your responsibility in the case of a problem and what you need to do in order to redeem the warranty.
  • How long the warranty is valid, and whether it expires on a specific day or is prorated.
  • If the warranty coverage is transferable to the new owner if you sell the home or building in which the interior design work was done.
  • Any actions on your part that may invalidate the warranty or guarantee on products or design features.
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Top 10 Requests
Popular Types of Interior Design Services in Contra Costa County and Beyond

Local interior designers in Contra Costa County and throughout the Greater Bay Area offer a wide variety of services and specialties to meet almost any client’s needs.

Some types of design are more common than others. So for your convenience, we’ve listed some of the most frequently sought-after interior design services. Whether you want these or other services, it’s smart to talk with interior designers in Pleasant Hill, Concord, Martinez, Richmond and Brentwood or your area about their qualifications and specialties to find the one that can best offer what you need.

Interior Design Ideas
Local interior designers in Contra Costa County can often provide interior design ideas for just about any building, room, and special request. These may include common ideas such as bedroom design ideas, bathroom design ideas, living room design ideas, commercial building interior design, restaurant interior design and more. It may also include specialty requests such as maximizing space in small homes, making homes more efficient, and upgrading the look of entire homes and businesses.

Bedroom Ideas / Bedroom Design
Bedrooms are sanctuaries, and Contra Costa County interior designers in Pleasant Hill, Martinez, Concord, Richmond, Brentwood, Danville, Antioch, Walnut Creek, Pittsburg and San Ramon and beyond can often come up with décor and design ideas that make any space more peaceful, invigorating, restful, calming, functional and beautiful. This can include small bedroom designs, master bedroom designs, kids’ bedroom ideas, large bedroom interior design and more.

Bathroom Designs in Contra Costa County
Spa-like bathroom designs, small bathroom designs and remodeled bathroom designs are only some of the bathroom interior design services that local interior designers throughout Contra Costa County offer. These may fit a specific theme, such as coastal bathroom design or modern bathrooms, or they may fit the color scheme and feel of attached master bedrooms or the rest of the home. Many interior designers can redesign spaces to make bathrooms feel larger or to better utilize space for more functionality and storage.

Home Interior Design / Residential Interior Design
Residential interior design is design that focuses on homes and other residential buildings. This often includes entryways, bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens and living rooms. Good interior designers take into account every member of the household and how families use their space to maximize storage and other space in the home.

Living Room Design Ideas
Whether your living room is small and too crowded or so large it feels impersonal, chances are good that the best Contra Costa County interior designers can provide living room design ideas to make your space more comfortable, accessible and functional. They can also provide décor and structural advice to make your dream living room come to life.

Office Interior Design in Contra Costa County
Businesses and offices can benefit from professional interior design services. These may include structural changes, advice for the implementation of work stations and offices, professional waiting rooms and common areas, more effective storage space, ergonomic advice for comfort and safety of employees, and decoration and color scheme choices to bring a professional and polished feel to your office or business. Even offices in Moraga, Lafayette, Briones, Canyon,  Rheem Valley, Pinole, Vine Hill, Maltby, Blackhawk, Clyde, Tara Hills and small towns can often find good interior designers to make their businesses compete design-wise with those in larger cities.

Kitchen Interior Design
Moving walls, installing more effective appliances and hardware, and designing a kitchen around the way the cooks and diners use the space can fundamentally change a kitchen and how it’s used. Kitchen interior design takes into account structural, decorative and useful elements to make a kitchen that’s equally beautiful, functional and comfortable.

Modern Interior Design
Modern designs are very popular. Most feature simple, clean lines with minimal clutter. Crisp colors and utilitarian pieces are also popular.

Scandinavian Interior Design
Minimalist and clean, Scandinavian interior designs often include gentle, slightly rounded lines and warm colors. These rooms are never cluttered and often use a variety of materials including wood, plastics, glass and fabrics to create a very livable and approachable space.

Small House Interior Design in Contra Costa County
Not all homes in the Bay Area are spacious. Luckily, good Contra Costa County interior designers can help make small houses feel larger and more comfortable for residents by using their expertise in space, lines, storage, structural changes, color and accessories.

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Glossary Of Terms
Glossary of Terms About Interior Design and Interior Design Styles

accent colors
Contrasting colors used alongside the main colors (such as wall color, flooring, etc.) to enhance room color schemes. Accent colors may be found in decorative pillows, window treatments, draperies, accent furniture such as statement chairs, rugs, art and other accessories.

Also known as: accents, feature items, accent accessories, pop of color

accessible design
Interior designs and exterior features that make homes and buildings accessible for people with disabilities. Accessible design guidelines and laws include modifications to standard dimensions for door widths,  sink height, wheelchair mobility, countertop height, bathroom fixture heights, walk-in and sitting bathtubs, light switch and outlet height, and more.

Also known as: wheelchair accessible home design, accessible home design, accessibility features

Accessories are decorative and functional objects including rugs, books, plants, vases, lamps, candles, and other decorative pieces that add visual interest and mulch-dimensional interest to rooms.

Also known as: décor, decorations, visual interest pieces

art deco
Art deco is a streamlined, geometric style of buildings, home furnishings and architectural pieces that were first popular in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Characteristics of art deco style include rounded fronts, wood furniture with chrome hardware and glass tops. Gold features and inlays, chandeliers, and other rich-looking features are also popular.

Also known as: 1920s style, geometric décor

art nouveau
Art nouveau style first became popular in 1880 and lasted until about 1910. Art nouveau was the first 20th century modern design style. It incorporates nature and the natural world as inspiration.

Also known as: art nouveau style

arts & crafts
Arts and crafts was a popular design style from the late 180’s through the 1920s. The arts and crafts movement included simple design and was a reaction against mass-produced, ornate Victorian furniture that had been popular around that time.

Also known as: mission style

Asian-inspired design
Asian interior design styles use colors, styles, lines, materials and finishes popular in and derived from countries of the East.

Also known as: Japanese style, Asian style, Chinese style, zen style, Indonesian design

The arrangement of objects around a center feature, or arranging furniture and other objects in the room to create a balanced, even feeling in the room or home.

Also known as: balanced design

Bohemian design captures a carefree and experimental feeling. It features vibrant colors, especially red and purple tones. It also is common to have layers, interesting materials, a variety of textures and an unkempt, messy, comfortable feeling.

Also known as: boho, bohemian style, free style, layered style, hippie design

customer’s own material
Customers who want to provide their own furniture, decorations and material may ask that a designer use existing material or allow the client to provide certain items used in a design. Interior designers often designate this as “customer’s own material” or “COM” on the estimate for service and in line item areas to indicate that the customers will provide the items. This may lower the cost of designs, especially if furniture or large items are already in the home, but it may make the designer’s job harder if they need to use existing materials rather than choose new items that exactly match their vision and the design they’ve created.

Also known as: COM, customer’s own materials, client’s own materials, client provided materials

contemporary style
Design style featuring simple lines, curves and geometric patterns. Contemporary designs became popular in the 1950s and early 1960s. The style now reflects contemporary design, but still includes clean lines, gentle curves and a fresh feel.

Also known as: contemporary designs, contemporary design, mid-century contemporary

cost plus percentage mark-up
Cost plus percentage mark-up is a way to charge design fees that enable an interior design firm to add set percentage to the cost of the merchandise purchases.

Also known as: cost plus markup, total plus mark up percentage

cottage style
A style of design that is warm, relaxing, and coastal in nature. Cottage style us a nautical look that reflects a New England beach-side cottage lifestyle. White, blue, and sand colors are usually used. Seashells, clear jars, unfinished wood, jute and rope are traditional decorative accents.

Also known as: coastal, nautical decor

descriptive specification
Describes in detail all materials, workmanship, manufacturing methods, and method of installation of all goods and items in a new interior design.

Also known as: installation description, line-item specifications, job specs

Feng Shui
Feng Shui literally translates to “wind and water,” and reflects the Chinese system of balancing energy patterns of the physical environment. In modern design, Feng Shui includes specific placement of furniture and large pieces to create a flow through the room.

Also known as:

French designs
French interior design is a classical style. It can be sophisticated, elegant, opulent, or dramatic. It often includes shades of white and cream, lavender, comfortable seating, and large furniture pieces.

Also known as: French interiors, modern French interior design, classical French design

Furnishings is a term for all items in a room, including accessories, cabinets, furniture, window treatments, lighting, upholstery, etc.

Also known as: furniture, accessories, room furnishings

furniture layout
The positioning and arrangement of furniture and large accessories are included in the furniture layout of a room.

Also known as: furniture placement, room layout

industrial modern
Industrial modern rooms have a turn-of-the-century industrial era look. The style frequently features raw steel, exposed brick, rustic wood, unfinished wood and stone, copper and other rough-hewn metal and other industrial elements.

Also known as: industrial design, industrial interior designs

interior design
Interior design is the creation or recreation of design inside a home, business, office or other building or facility that takes into account the needs of residents and technical solutions to create a functional, attractive space.

Also known as: design, home design, kitchen designs, bedroom interior design, living room interior design,

Scandinavian interior design
Scandinavian design is a populist, minimalist look that stemmed from mid-century modern. It features furniture and accessories with gentle contours, soft lines and warm colors.

Also known as: Scandinavian design, IKEA design, Nordic design

schematic design phase
This phase of design involves preliminary designs that set the course for all future plans and specifications that guide the whole job.

Also known as:

shabby chic design
Shabby chic interior design looks like a cross between bohemian and rustic French country. It employs wooden furniture, often with some paint or color peeled off or missing to expose underlying wood. Accents are light colored, eclectic and comfortable.

Also known as: vintage, shabby interior design, French country design

A final inspection of a completed job to ensure that everything ordered is present, all work has been done to the client’s wishes, and to address any omissions or problems. A walk-through is normally done with the client and the interior designer, and may include a review of the original checklist of items to be done and the final invoice.

Also known as: final walk-through, job walk-through, room walk through

weight-bearing wall
A weight-bearing wall is one that cannot be removed or moved without sacrificing the structural integrity of the home or building. A weight-bearing wall is one that the joists or roof rest upon.

Also known as: load-bearing wall

Zen interior design
An offshoot of Asian interior design, Zen designs are therapeutic and refreshing. They use natural elements such as wood and stone, feature low or ground-level furnishings, and ample open space.

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Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions for Interior Designers and About Interior Design Services

Q: Why choose Diamond Certified interior designers?
A: Diamond Certified helps you choose interior designers with confidence by offering a list of top-rated local companies who have passed the country’s most in-depth rating process. Only interior designers rated Highest in Quality earn the prestigious Diamond Certified award. Most companies can’t pass the ratings. American Ratings Corporation also monitors every Diamond Certified company with ongoing research and ratings. And your purchase is backed by the Diamond Certified Performance Guarantee. So you’ll feel confident choosing a Diamond Certified interior designers.

Q: What size jobs to interior designers accept?
A: Most professional interior designers accept jobs of any size and scope. Some can be hired by the hour to provide advice on furnishings, draperies, color palates and more. Others will take on small jobs, such as single-room design. These may turn into multi-room or full-home design jobs, or they may remain one-room contracts. Other designers specialize in rebuilds, remodels, new buildings, commercial interior design, design for hospitals, hotels, and more. These can be major jobs or small tasks depending on what the clients need.

Q: How do interior designers charge for their services?
A: Local interior designers usually offer competitive design fees for their services. Most bill for their services based on fixed fees and hourly estimates, and some combine the two types of invoicing to give their customers the most value and flexibility. Interior designers who charge by the hour keep track of the time spent and bill accordingly. Those that charge a flat fee or fixed fee usually give the client that fee amount before the work begins. Additionally, many interior designers have deals with companies from which they purchase items, and many pass along these savings to clients who buy products and furnishings through their design firms.

Q: What is green design and why should I consider it?
A: Green design takes into account the structure, décor, materials used, and even the airflow and heating and cooling of a particular space. Interior designers that specialize in or incorporate into their work green design principles may use earth-friendly fabric, furniture, lighting, paint, décor and other features to help client homes and offices adhere to eco-friendly principles and maintain a smaller footprint.

Q: When should we involve an interior designer in our remodel, rebuild or new home?
A: Most interior design firms appreciate being part of the process from the start, and that may well get you a more seamless design and better value. Good interior designers are usually willing to work with your architect, builder and contractor to help make smart decisions about plumbing, electrical, wall placement, window height, special built-in features, and more. They can also help avoid unnecessary costs and expenses by getting you the things you need and advising against features and items you don’t. Interior designers can also help choose appliances, fixtures, furniture, fabrics and other details that will pull your home together, and this can help avoid unnecessary purchases or mistakes in purchasing.

Q: What does the process of working with an interior designer look like?
A: That depends on the process used by the interior designers you hire. However, most begin with a phone call or other contact that helps the client and designer learn more about each other and the job in question. Then, if that goes well, most want to meet with the client at their home or business to discuss the details of the job. This gives both parties another chance to see if they feel they can work well together. This in-person meeting may also include an estimate and consultation so that the client can see what the expected costs and job may look like. Once the designer creates a proposal for the work, the client can agree and sign it. The project then moves forward with designs, design approval, and finally the beginning of the work, which usually includes purchasing materials and items and installation.

Q: Can my interior designer buy items for me, or will we need to purchase materials and furnishings?
A: Most interior designers buy the materials, furnishings, accent items and more that they install in client homes. Some will allow you to provide your own items, however. Additionally, many have deals with local companies and national dealers. This may enable them to have access to unique items not available in stores and better pricing than independent clients. Many designers will pass these savings along to clients who have their designers purchase items or who purchase decor and furniture through their design firms.

Q: What’s the difference between interior designers and interior decorators?
A: Laypeople may use the terms interchangeably, but interior designers and interior decorators are very different professionals. Interior decorators are usually known for simply providing decorative elements inside homes. These may include furniture, décor items, paint colors, color schemes, window treatments and draperies, bedding, accent items, flooring and other replaceable items. On the other hand, interior designers have the education, training and experience to tailor structures and their appearance and function to client needs. This may include coordinating with architects and builders to represent clients needs during building and remodeling. Interior designers must be familiar with local codes and regulations. While they often finish off spaces by integrating color, fabrics, furniture and more to provide a completed home or office, they provide much more thorough services than typical interior designers, because they take into account client behavior and principles of good design to completely renovate spaces.

Q: Can my interior designer work in my style, or will I be stuck with a home that looks like their signature style?
A: Every designer has a signature style, but good designers will be able to separate their preferences and those of their clients. Many designers are known for certain types of design (modern, classical, craft, Victorian, zen, Tuscan, Moroccan, French country, art deco, art nouveau, industrial, rustic, shabby chic, shaker, southwestern, minimalist, etc.), but the best can accommodate clients who want a variety of designs. Talk with the local interior designers you are considering hiring and ask them about the style you’re most interested in and whether they can help you. They should be willing and able to bring out your personality and unique tastes regardless of the overall style. If you want a very specialized style, you may want to consider interior design firms that have experience and a degree of comfort with that particular decorating style.

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