How to Design an Award Winning Show House – Stacey Lapuk, ASID


Interior Designer Spotlight with Stacey Lapuk, ASID

Owner of Owner of Indigo Interiors, Inc. and Stacey Lapuk Interiors, Novato, California

Stacey Lapuk is an internationally recognized, award-winning boutique interior designer with clients in San Francisco, Marin, Napa and Sonoma counties who give her a five star rating with comments such as “Stacey has an uncanny intuitive ability to zone in on the client’s personality…after one consultation…something I never encountered before—I have worked with designers for over 30 years!” An ASID national award winner, Stacey has been featured in numerous design books and HGTV shows such as Interiors By Design and Curb Appeal and was named one of 10 Designers to Watch by Design Times Magazine. 

Join me as Stacey Lapuk shares how a designer rug inspired her show house room, what it takes to connect a room with the views outdoors, the benefits of Biophilic design, designing for divorced men, and much more…

Why Did You Start Your Show House Room with a Designer Rug?

“I was actually designing a room for a client, but as her house was still under construction and the furniture already completed, I was able to make use of her pieces rather than having them sit in storage. The client was thrilled that I was going to use everything in a show house. I tend to design rooms around rugs and fine artwork, and I fell in love with the Asmara Summer rug. Thankfully, my client did, too.”




“I picked up the floral design of the rug in the ceiling border and I used elements of the design hand-painted on the front of the cabinet. The sheer drapery hanging over the windows was also informed by the rug. We cut little leaves and petals out of the silk, and pasted them to the sheer, creating a waterfall effect. I was presented with a national ASID Home Book Design Excellence Award for the room. During this time we also started her collection of Pierre-Joseph Redouté botanical paintings. They work beautifully with this rug.”




Have You Enjoyed Participating in Show Houses?

“That’s what’s so much fun about showcase houses, you can really push your creativity. This room was like being inside a candle. In addition to winning the national ASID Home Book Design Excellence Award, this room was also showcased on the flyleaf of the book Decorator Show Houses: Tour 250 Designer Rooms by Tina Skinner, Melissa Cardona, and Nancy Ottino.”




“This is a great example of what makes a well-designed room work. There’s a clear repetitive element—the grooves. There are grooves in the night table, lamp, bolsters on the bed, the candle sticks, the taborets flanking the ottoman, and more. This creates a cohesiveness, which in turn makes the room feel good. I also used Fortuny fabric on the bed spread which is an amazing, hand-blocked fabric with metallic inks. We took the pattern of the fabric and painted it on the green panels installed at the far end of the room, keeping the wall from visually falling away. We did the same thing with the shape in the middle of the ceiling. I installed fireplace screen metal material over the windows as sheer drapery. It was a joy to create this space.”




How Did You Become an Interior Designer?

“I’ve always been involved in art. When I was little, the question around our house wasn’t ‘where did you buy it’, rather it was ‘who made it’. My dad was a structural engineer. He also built furniture, electronics, even our house. My mom made everything. She loved crafts, making clothes along with all sorts of projects around the house. I ended up getting a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Connecticut. After graduating I moved out to San Francisco and went back to school at UC Berkeley in their interior design and architecture program. So I’m a little different in that I have more of a fine arts education than most other designers. For me, art school was much more intense than interior design school. For example, an entire semester of color in design school would have taken up two weeks in art school. My first job was in advertising, which proved to be not at all interesting to me. I began taking on clients on the side, and as I got busier, I decided that interior design was my calling, and happily left advertising behind. Though I didn’t know anything about running  a business at the time, I figured it out the best I could. Working on showcase houses led to being published, a contributor to a number of television shows on HGTV among other awards and recognitions, all leading to more clients.”



What’s Unique About Doing Interior Design in San Francisco?

“Back East, the home is about being warm and nurturing, perhaps with complex window treatments to keep out the cold. Though there is certainly modern design there, there is also more of a history, and knowledge of antiques and European design. Out here, we are much more influenced by the Orient. It’s all about removing the delineation between the indoors and the outdoors. Views are what sells properties, and there is a lot of outdoor living.”

How Do You Remove the Delineation Between the Indoors and Outdoors?

“One way is to carry the colors you’re using inside, to the outside. You could install a green sofa that would draw your eye to the grass lawn. If you have shrubs or flowering plants you can mimic their colors and shapes inside. You can do similar flooring. There is a fairly new outdoor tile that looks just like wood—it’s gorgeous. There are many ways to make the connection seem visually seamless. Using your doors and windows to frame the outside environment, increases it’s importance to the interior design.”




What Do You Mean by Barefoot Elegance?

“Something that is really beautiful and sophisticated, but easy. Authentic and empowering. A room that has depth to it. It’s not a room where everything has the same look, like a safe catalog store.  Having depth in a design allows you to discover the layers of the space, holds your interest and feels comfortable. Barefoot Elegance is a beautifully designed home on a beach, which you can dress up for a formal party.”

What’s Your Favorite Style of Interior Design?

“That’s one of the reasons I love my work. I can work with all styles, and even create new ones. Each project has to be livable and it has to reflect the client. It has to reflect parts of the client that they didn’t even know existed. I have the ability to sense what would best suit a client. There’s a great deal of trust involved, as many times the client may not know what is perfect for them until they see it completed. I recently designed an oversized rug for a wonderful client and it was hand-loomed in Tibet. There were three colors in wool and one color in silk. We ordered a strike-off to be sure the colors and design were absolutely perfect. I explained to the client that by making the rug so large, it would encompass all areas of the room making the room actually feel larger, and more cohesive. The design would mimic the shape of the hills in the view. Though she wasn’t absolutely clear about how the rug would look and feel when done, upon installation it felt like home to them. The rug feels elegant and beautiful; the room flows to the outside hills and the energy, the shapes, colors and textures coexist as a whole environment. If a home feels great and functions properly, it’s a success.”




Some of Your Clients Request Biophilic Design—What is Biophilic Design?

It’s creating the energies of the natural outside environment, inside. Biophilic design strives to fulfill our innate desire to connect with nature and natural systems in the built environment, including our home. We as designers, have a new framework with which to design, one that is based on research that identifies specific design patterns that have measurable, positive impacts on multiple facets of our lives. Done correctly, Biophilic design is inspirational, restorative, healthy and so much more. It nurtures a love of place.



How Do Your Clients Choose an Interior Designer?

Most of my clients come through referrals. I love doing show houses, and they’re a wonderful way to showcase work, but I’ve never been able to track specifically how they may have directed client to me. As well, they’re incredibly time-consuming and expensive. Being a professional American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) member has brought me referrals. Many of my clients appreciate my 30 years of experience, and therefore the ability to offer a fixed fee wherever possible. Knowing the cost, rather than a clock-watching hourly rate, along with discounts on custom furnishing purchases, is very attractive to many people. Most important is meeting one another to see if the chemistry is right; that the proper type of relationship can be formed easily. One where communication and understanding are comfortable and clear. Not everyone is the right client for me, just as I may not be the right designer for everyone.

Are You Targeting a New Group of Clients?

“I have wonderful clients right now. They tend to be couples, or couples with children. Most of them are buying their second, “forever” home. They know the feeling they’re after and trust I will create for them the result they want, even if they’re not quite sure themselves, what that will look like. In addition, I’ve found that a certain group of clients have become one of my favorites—singles, especially single men, including those recently divorced. They’re very busy, and are used to someone else taking care of their home’s design. They don’t have the time or knowledge, they don’t want to waste money, and they don’t want to end up with an embarrassment. Many feel as if the floor was dropped out from under them. They need a place to live and know it needs to be a bit more than a leather sofa and a big-screen TV to make their guests, and new girlfriends, feel comfortable. I’m able to simply get-it-done for them. They can walk into their new home and feel they now have an anchor that reflects them personally, and from where they can move comfortably, into this new phase of their lives.”




Is the Interior Design Industry Changing?

“Oh yes. The industry, especially in San Francisco, was hit quite hard. So many show rooms, including those that have been around thirty-plus years are gone. Technology companies are moving into the Design Center’s neighborhood and buildings. It’s taking a lot of effort to maintain the integrity, and communicate the importance, of the art of design in our communities when landlords are seeing more profit leasing to these tech companies, thereby pushing out our design showrooms. I also see many younger clients requesting modern design from their young designers. This seems to be interpreted into very simple and cold design; a home lacking depth, soul and individual personality. Many spaces look the same, as if pulled from a catalog. I sat on the advisory board for one of the design schools in the Bay Area, and it was interesting how many on the board wanted to implement more computer skills, while others, including myself, saw more value in teaching art—color, composition and drawing in particular. It’s still very possible to design a contemporary, clean-lined space that has depth, and personality. It simply takes a bit more thought, education and care.”


For more on Stacey Lapuk visit:



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *