Many of you may know Crystal Palecek as the co-founder and Editor in Chief of Rue. She created this very online magazine as a way to bring inspiring spaces and design tips to a digital audience, launching our premiere magazine issue in 2010 to 10 million page views and growing the company to a team of 8 with a loyal social media community of over 1 million followers. Today, Crystal’s involvement with Rue is high level, and she has shifted her professional focus to interior design, creating dream homes for a roster of California clients. Today, Crystal reveals her latest project, and it’s one that’s more personal than the rest: her Marin County interior design studio! The neutral space features everything an office should have — great storage solutions from California Closets, a cozy space to sit in the form of an Interior Define sofa, and an art collection that sparks joy and inspiration. We’re chatting with Crystal to learn more and snagging all her product sources down below:
First, we’re dying to know a bit about your house since your design studio is a part of it. How did you find it and how did you know it was the one?
Finding our house was truly serendipitous and this space was such a bonus! After over a year of searching without any luck (we must have seen over 80 houses!) my husband, Andrew mentioned to a colleague what we were looking for in a home. His colleague told him about a friend who was putting their house on the market and that it sounded like it checked all the boxes. So, we swiftly arranged a time to see it. We both knew instantly that it was the one from the moment we stepped foot inside. We put an offer on the house that week and bought it before it even went on the market. We were captivated by the neighborhood, the large rooms, the entertaining-friendly floor plan, and the magical backyard with pool. We spend so much time entertaining outside now.
Was an office space an important factor in determining the right home for you, or was it a happy accident?
I knew I wanted to create a design studio for my interior design business in our new home but didn’t have a fixed notions on what that would look like. It was more about finding a family-friendly home in the right neighborhood – I was confident that I could get creative with an office space no matter the house, which is exactly what I did.
Where is this office space located in your home?
In our backyard by the pool there’s a cabana, which I converted into my design studio and could not be happier with the result. I love that I have a creative space to work in that feels worlds away from home when I’m in there, but that I’m still so close to my young children throughout the day. It’s also a bonus to have a view of the pool and rush bushes right outside my window.
What was it like before you began to design it?
The space was used as a spare bedroom by the previous owner. The walls were baby blue and the peeked ceiling was raw wood. A fresh coat of white paint that covered the walls and ceiling made the space feel more expansive and cohesive. I wanted to feel enveloped in visual clarity – the perfect backdrop for creating design schemes for my clients. I used Farrow & Ball’s Wevet, which is a delicate white color with a hint of grey that is so beautiful in person.
Was there a choice you were debating to make that would have made the design of the space go in a different direction?
For design work, I always prefer a white, clean space from which my creative ideas and inspiration can spring from. So, I always knew I wanted my design studio to be white with neutrals as not to create visual distraction from the homes I design for my clients. There is intentionally a lack of color in here for that very reason. To create the inviting feeling, I paid close attention to bringing in lots of warmth through texture – woven sconces, a wool rug, linen roman shades from Loom Decor, and so on. It feels like a clean, organized, serene retreat every time I’m in there – exactly the type of environment I need to do my best work.
Where did you start? Was there a piece that you had your eye on for a while?
A custom built-in by California Closets for my desk area and storage was in my design plan from day one and was definitely a jumping off point. Since the footprint of the space is limited, I knew this would be an efficient use of space, provide the storage I needed, and be a great opportunity to elevate the feel of the room with customization. I balanced out the visual weight of the built-in with a seating area on the opposite wall to ground the other side of the room. In my opinion no room is complete without window treatments so that was also an important upgrade to the space. I turned to Loom Decor for the roman shades because I loved how easy they make it to select and order custom window treatments. They also walk you through the measurement process with their measurement guide and are a great resource for anyone looking to elevate their windows. I selected Loom’s Flat Roman Shade in “Heather Dove” classic linen fabric and they are just the finishing touch the space needed.
California Closets designed your desk and storage system. What guidelines did you give them and what was the result?
Working with California Closets to create the built-in was a seamless experience. First, I met with one of their designers, Caren Antone, to take measurements and talk about my design vision and storage needs. Soon after Caren presented 3D design renderings to me – I loved the options. From there we continued to revise the design until it was exactly what I wanted. Simultaneously, I headed to my local showroom to select the finishes for the system. I chose ‘Linen’ from the Tesoro Collection for the beautiful but subtle texture it adds to the fronts of the system and Classic White for the top of the desk. I selected oil-rubbed bronze hardware from Schaub, one of the hardware lines they carry and adore the substantial feel against the subtle Linen finish. I also love that the built-in conceals things like my printer, fabric and material swatches, and files to keep the space feeling organized and clean. Of course, the addition of a few open shelves for styling was a must and I couldn’t be happier with how everything turned out.
How have you made your office a place of inspiration and comfort?
It’s important to me that each piece I bring into my home, which in this case also happens to be my office, can stand on it’s own and is something I know I will love for years to come. Our spaces have far too much of an impact on our daily happiness to live with anything that doesn’t spark joy. The way I’ve made this a place of inspiration is to fill it with pieces I love, like art from Skye Schuchman (his Dots & Lines painting is the anchor piece from which I built the art gallery around), Mckenzie Dove, Justyn Chapman, Nicole Cohen, and Anna Ullman. I also adore the texture rich hanging sconces paired with the sleek steel framed mirror, the eye-catching desk chair and beautiful vase on the coffee table. My design studio is filled with so many little treasures that make me happy, keeping my inspiration flowing.
The sofa from Interior Define looks so sleek and cozy. What fabric and style did you choose?
Every office space needs a sitting area to lounge on when you need a break from your desk. I was thrilled to find Interior Define when shopping for a sofa for their great designs, affordable price point, and customization options. The first thing I did was select the style I wanted – I chose the Sloan Custom Sleeper Sofa – then request fabric swatches. Ultimately, I chose “Ivory” with walnut legs in keeping with my neutral color scheme in the design studio. It arrived via white glove delivery and was more beautiful and comfortable in person than I had imagined.
What sort of projects are you currently working on in this office space?
I have projects in both San Francisco and Marin County right now and feel incredibly privileged to work with amazing clients who trust my team and me with their homes. One of our larger projects at the moment is a renovation of a Victorian home in Noe Valley for a sweet family. We are approaching our installation day and I cannot wait to see all the furniture and accessories placed and all the details come together. For me, nothing is better than seeing your vision come to life and having a hand in creating a space for people to love and live well in.
Shop the story. 1. Custom Built-in // 2. Roman Shades // 3. Desk Chair // 4. Large Desk Vase // 5. Coffee Table // 6. Coffee Table Vase // 7. Sofa // 8. Mirror // 9. Hanging Sconces // 10. Solid Pillows // 11. Wool Rug // 12. Marble Side Tables