Have you ever spent a weekend in the Bay Area or perhaps in Sonoma, and came away wishing you could bring the brilliant mix of clean lines and rustic beauty home with you? Then you could very well have spent your weekend lounging in a home designed by Inspired Spaces Design’s Natasha Stocker. True to the needs of a Northern Cali dwelling, Natasha specializes in eco-friendly designs and gracefully applies a holistic sensibility to extend interior design out to a home’s sun-soaked outdoor spaces. Natasha tells us about just such a whole-house remodel: her latest project, in fact, which included a gourmet outdoor kitchen design and glass fire pit. Read on!
GN: First of all, where does your sense of style derive from?
Natasha: Style is one of those things that develops organically. Just like how you dress, you wear what makes you happy or inspired and your taste is ever-evolving. My personal design style tends to be classified as Rustic-Contemporary. I like the juxtaposition of clean lines paired with rough, organic elements. Like a modern chair paired with a tree stump side table. It makes the space feel like it came together naturally and over time. When I need a side table or accessory, I never limit myself to one style or era. Sometimes a mid-century brass coffee table is a perfect fit for a modern house. To me, that collected, interesting vibe signifies “Home.”
GN: Tell us about your last project.
Natasha: The last project I worked on was not only a whole-house remodel, but a backyard redo as well. The most exciting part of the job was really diving into my client's taste and being able to give her exactly what she wanted—even though she might not have been able to articulate what that was. I tell my clients, "It's your job to show me pictures of things you love and talk about the places you admire, and it's my job to take in all that information, sort through it to find the commonalities and paint the final picture." The biggest challenge on this project, like most projects, is helping the client to focus in on what's important. To continuously remind the client of what she truly wants, and what will work both aesthetically and functionally—for example, "Perhaps we don't need four major focal points in your powder room."
My latest remodel project included designing a backyard that would flow effortlessly into the vibe of the house to maximize indoor-outdoor living space [see before and after, below]. The challenge here was that we lost half of the backyard space to the new addition of a large great room. So we needed to pay close attention to our space planning, scale and layout to make the new yard beautiful and fully functional. The new space includes a gourmet outdoor kitchen, pool and glass fire pit.
[Photos: Natasha Stocker]
Below is a before-and-after of a kitchen remodel for this same house. My client's new kitchen is five times the size of her old space. Notice that the homeowner has clean and sleek taste but loves color. We chose to light the zebra wood cabinetry to give it that extra punch of drama.
[Photos: Natasha Stocker]
GN: What advice would you have for homeowners in hiring and managing contractors, whether it be for paint, flooring, handymen or big remodels like custom-made closets?
Natasha: Unfortunately, there are contractor horror stories around every corner for a reason, so get a recommendation from a friend or neighbor if you can. Ask for their contractor's license number and see if there are any complaints against them. There are incredible craftsmen out there; the key is to start researching early, be patient, ask around and find the right person with whom you communicate easily. Start doing your research well before you’re dying to get your project started. That way, you won’t get sucked into any “if-you-sign-today-I’ll-give-you-a-deal” shenanigans. Of course, a referral is best, but another great place to find a designer is through professional organizations like the American Society of Interior Designers (asid.org) and the National Kitchen and Bath Organization (nkba.org).
Many of these associations pre-screen to make certain their members have a design degree from an accredited university and are professionals at the top of their field. Many designers can orchestrate smaller projects for you, from repainting to new flooring to custom closet cabinetry. It’s a secure feeling for homeowners to know they have a seasoned expert who’s got their back.
GN: What elements account for a comfortable home?
Natasha: One that makes you feel both inspired and hugged. When you walk into your house, the feeling you get should encompass the coziness of your favorite sweatshirt and the divine inspiration of your favorite painting. Bottom line: If your house isn't functional, beautiful and makes you feel loved, it's time to make a change.
GN: What's your philosophy on creating meaning in the home? This could pertain to design and/or overall beautiful living.
Natasha: I love a house that feels like it evolved organically over time (no matchy-matchy bedroom sets in my portfolio!). One of my recent clients said, “I love how you put that rock on top of that stool... It looks like it just crawled right up there!” Let the pieces speak to you, and a creative and natural design concept will take shape. Creating meaning is bringing great art or treasures back from a vacation, or even from a day at the beach. My son and I love to look through our rock collection and try to remember what we were doing when we found each little stone. The rocks live in a huge, carved wooden bowl in our living room. So it’s not only joy and memories, but a great, one-of-a-kind accessory, too!
Natasha Stocker is owner and chief designer at Inspired Spaces Design, a full-service interior and landscape design firm in Windsor, Calif. She has been been receiving great accolades throughout Sonoma County and the San Francisco Bay Area for her attention to detail and incredible ability to draw out each client’s personal style. Her firm specializes in kitchen, bath and whole-house remodels with a focus on eco-friendly building and finishes. For more information on Inspired Spaces Design, please visit inspiredspacesdesign.com.