Kari McIntosh has always loved design. With a smile, she explains, “My elementary school papers consistently cited ‘architect’ as my aspirational career choice – as early as 3rd grade!” Her creative upbringing — her father is a civil engineer and her mother is an antiques dealer — likely had something to do with it, though not right away. After college, she spent many years climbing the corporate ladder. Soon, Kari realized she had a creative side she just couldn’t quiet. “With a need to feel prepared, I enrolled in the UC Berkeley Extension program while I was working full time in Investment Banking. I completed the certificate program and internships with two hospitality design firms before starting my own business in 2008.”

Her experience — and passion — is what continues to make her Bay Area firm one of the area’s most sought-after. Case in point: a young couple had purchased a beautiful home in Russian Hill in preparation for their first child. They were mid-renovation and had hopes to furnish the place themselves, but realized it was a far bigger task than they’d anticipated. They called in Kari to design a fresh and soothing space that would highlight the building’s 100 year old architecture yet still feel modern.

The space needed all new lighting, furniture, and soft goods, and had an intense 2 month timeline. Kari got right to work. “This was life in the fast lane,” she laughs, recalling their first meeting. “The color palette and paint throughout the home was established at that moment and I strived to source most of the furnishing from retail options that were in stock and ‘quick ship’. I added some custom and show-stopper pieces that had a greater lead-time to ensure a unique point of view for the home, but most of the pieces were retail.”

In the images below, Kari takes us on a tour, sharing insight to the design process and showing off her favorite pieces along the way. Start the slideshow for a closer look!