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?
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.