Patti Cowger is an interior designer who opened her first design studio in San Francisco in 1989. Back in her hometown of Napa and owner of PLC Interiors, Patti writes Demystifying Design every other Saturday. She invites you to visit her website, plcinteriors.com, call (707) 322-6522, or email plcinteriors@sbcglobal.net.

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I don’t remember where I read it or who said it, but the words made me laugh out loud. They went something like this: “When oh when will this horrid gray trend ever end?” It was the word “horrid” and this person’s utter exhaustion with gray that made me react as I did. According to design in…

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Last month, I added the final touches to a bathroom update. It was in a 1959 San Francisco flat in Cow Hollow where most bathrooms of that era, and in that city, are itty bitty. I was able to open it up a bit by removing the soffit at the top of the shower enclosure and also installing a rem…

I was thinking back to a photoshoot that took place years ago. Photoshoot day is my favorite day of any project. I visualize it from the moment I begin a job. It keeps me on track and motivated. The photos capture all the discussions, planning, drawings, budgeting, shopping and hiccups along…

Last week, I had the pleasure of delivering a house-warming gift to dear clients who had lost their home in the 2017 wildfires. They had made a quick decision to rebuild and took action right away.

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I had a feeling that this year’s San Francisco Decorator Showcase would be spectacular. I had been following its progress on Instagram and had a particular interest in the house. It’s located in Presidio Heights, just around the corner from my old apartment.

I’ll soon be heading to San Francisco to tour its 42nd annual Designer Showcase. This year, it’s being held in a mansion called “Le Petit Trianon” located in the Presidio Heights neighborhood. It’s a national and San Francisco historic landmark built in the image of its namesake at Versaille…

At this time of year, I switch from my winter, morning routine to my spring-summer-fall, morning routine. I get up an hour earlier, fix my warm turmeric drink (recipe to follow), and head to my backyard. I don’t sit and read the paper or catch up on emails like I do in the winter, but turn o…

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Around noon last Monday, I texted my mother, “I’m going to be late.” I had just witnessed the spire of Notre Dame collapse. Did I really see it? I played back the live feed on my television. I then played it back again. Yes, it really happened. I could hardly believe my eyes — eyes that were…

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Who wouldn’t want to hear the words, “Your grandmother would be so proud”? They were said by Napa native, Ernest Rota, to his daughter, Leslie. He was referring to the recent completion of their family home’s renovation. It’s a saltbox style home located on a picturesque street in one of Nap…

When Lewis Carroll wrote “Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There” in 1871, I wonder if he knew that mirrors had such an intriguing history. He probably did. He had the kind of mind that was curious and could think abstractly.

Question: I have a rug under my dining table and am looking for another for my family room. These rooms are actually one big room. I know the rugs should not match, but what do I look for so that the two coordinate? Also, are draperies out of fashion?

Thirty years ago, I was a computer programmer in San Francisco’s Financial District. I had been one for eight years and a math teacher the previous four. You could say that my careers had left me in desperate need of a creative hobby.

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As the saying goes, “What have you done for me lately?” If you’re asking your kitchen faucet, the response would be lengthy. Faucets wash hands and dishes, fruits and vegetables, and refresh your pets’ water bowls. They fill big pots for boiling pasta, little pots for brewing tea, pitchers f…

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Ask Napa resident Holly Quate what her favorite design style is and she’ll answer, “Art Deco or Mid-century Modern or maybe Craftsman.” Ask what style she had planned for her home’s addition and remodel, and she’ll answer the same. How did she eventually choose? It was a process.

Last week, I began to list 12 design tips, one for every month of 2018. I’ve given you six and now owe you six more. The first two tips are about grout. Although not the most exciting of topics, a multi-dollar project can be ruined by making the wrong grout choice.

It’s the end of the year and time for reflection. I’ve been thinking about the topics I’ve covered in this column. There’s been a wide range on art, design and architecture. Some have been practical and straight-forward about form and function. Some have been how-to and how-not-to tutorials.…

Whether you’re building new, remodeling, or just in need of a new light bulb, you’ve no doubt come across the term “LED”. If you’re like most people, you once knew that it stood for “light-emitting diode” but then quickly forgot. You only remember that it has something to do with energy efficiency.

Over the years, I’ve written on a wide range of art, design and architectural topics. Some have been practical and straight-forward about form and function. Some have been how-to and how-not-to tutorials. Others, like my 13-part series on the history of architecture, have been educational. I…

As I drove to a friend’s house last week, I noticed that her neighbor had a yellow-painted front door. I then drove to my mother’s house and passed by another house with a yellow door. Later, that same day, I visited clients and guess what I saw on their block? Another yellow door? No, I saw…

We have many natural pairings in our kitchen — wine and cheese, chips and dip, peanut butter and jelly to name a few. We also have a few inedible pairings like faucets and sinks. Since their invention, and until the past few decades, they’ve been purely functional tools. But, over time, thei…

I’ve been writing about tile lately. I’ve mostly been describing the different types of materials it’s typically made of, the pros and cons of each, and where best to apply. I’ve also been encouraging those in the midst of a tile project to take risks. Stylish and classic risks. Ones that ca…

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One of the most consequential decisions homeowners make during the construction of their homes is choosing their tile. It can define, support, or sabotage an entire design concept. Opting for something low-keyed is just as statement-making as something wild with pattern or bold with color.

Many years ago, I read an interesting piece of advice. I don’t remember the magazine or the circumstances but it suggested that one will always look put together and stylish with a high-end haircut and high-end shoes. With that, it didn’t matter if the clothes worn in between came from Saks …

Last week, I wrote about a few ideas I’ve been incorporating into my design projects. They included popular metal finishes, patterned tiles, and both coffee and martini bars. Today, I’d like to share a few more ideas, starting with window hardware.

When it comes to choosing fabrics for a home, especially in warmer climate zones, my first thought is linen. Because it comes in different weights and weaves, it can be used in a variety of applications from upholstery and slipcovers to bedding, pillows, and draperies. But what is it, exactly?

More than four years ago, I wrote a column, “The Wallpaper Revival.” Back then, I was on the wallpaper bandwagon and excited to use the most recent generation of prints, patterns and textures. I did use them, but cautiously. I was concerned that the latest and greatest would be a fleeting fa…

The moment I saw my client’s house for the first time, I knew she had placed a lot of thought in each decision she had made. Her walls were graced with carefully chosen art. She had collected a variety of media including a few three-dimensional pieces. There was a modern consistency to her c…

I’ve developed a new routine lately. I’ve been writing my weekly column in my head, while driving in my car. I have a lot on my plate these days and sitting in Napa’s ever-growing traffic causes me anxiety. I wasn’t blessed with the patience gene, and all I can think about is getting to my d…

Dear readers. This column is just for you. Every other week, I’ll answer one of your interior design questions. Just send me an email with your question and I’ll reply right here. This week’s question:We’re going to be painting our master bedroom and getting new bedding. We have a few acryli…

A personal note before continuing with today’s topic. I’ve just discovered that emails sent by readers through my website have been lost in cyberspace for months. After inviting you to sign up for my newsletter or send a question to be answered in a future column, I then appear to have ignor…

Our house has three bathrooms. The master has a tub. The other two do not. We’re planning to remodel the master this year and can’t decide whether to keep the tub. Would it be a mistake to remove it and not have one in the house at all?

Whenever clients ask me what my favorite style is, I can’t really answer – for two reasons. One is that I like many styles and the other is that my favorite style should not influence what I create for clients. My role is to deliver their favorite, not mine.

What could I possibly mean by “genealogy meets home décor”? One of my reasons for writing this week’s column is to offer an idea for wall art. Another is to advocate Ancestry.com’s DNA test. The third reason is to tell you a wonderful story.

I always feel invigorated when helping clients with their remodeling or new-build projects. And, when it comes to helping those who lost their homes in the October wildfires, I feel an added layer of emotion, especially if I was part of the pre-fire team.

Dear Readers, this column is just for you. Every other week I’ll answer one of your interior design questions. Just send me an email with your question and I’ll reply right here. This week’s question:What is the difference between wood, engineered, and laminated floors?

It’s not often that couples tell me, “We have the same taste, the same ideas, and the same goals.” So, a few years ago, I created an exercise that helps resolve conflicts before they arise and before choices, assumptions, purchases, and mistakes are ever made. I ask couples to do this exerci…

I’m seeing a lot of plaids lately. From winter flannel shirts to cookie box wrapping paper. This strong pattern gave me the idea to write about patterns, in general, today. How does one mix them in home décor without making a space look too busy or conflicted? Do all patterns suit all design…

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