We love Boss Lady, Vanessa Bergmark, Owner/CEO of Red Oak Realty, and the feeling is mutual. Our long term relationship started first with a design refresh of the Red Oak space in Montclair, which led to re-doing Red Oak offices on Solano, and most recently, giving her this oh-so-hip, modern, and inspiring home office transformation.
As a successful businesswoman with a family, Vanessa wanted a base of operations in her Oakland Hills Tudor home that would help her create more work-life balance.
We took a drab, dark, library/office/junk room and made it bright, modern, and welcoming. We also struck a balance between feminine and masculine, personal and powerful, with clean lines and a light-neutral palette, punctuated by beloved personal items and gold accents, to welcome the boss lady—her husband when he wants to work in the space—and her clients.
Boss Lady Home Office AFTER:
Boss Lady Home Office BEFORE:
Yes, we removed and replaced a lot of the original dark wood details, keeping just the right amount to emphasize the grandeur and anchor the space to the original architecture.
One design question I get asked more frequently than any other is “Should we replace or paint-out our wood?”
My answer is always, “If it makes you feel heavy then — Hell yes! Paint it out.”
People do get attached to original wood in older homes, Tudors, Craftsmans, Ranch-style homes, et.al. And I understand. Because the original wood has history, soul; there’s story in the wood, feelings, and memories. If it is quality wood and you want to restore it, then by all means, go for it. And then balance it with materials and finishes that will bring lightness, if that is what you are needing to energize you, especially in a workspace.
In this situation, I was greatly relieved that Vanessa was desiring the light.
This room is also reflective of the trust that is required for a harmonious designer-client relationship, and how important it is to stay the course until the end.
For example, when wallpaper first went in, Vanessa had doubts. It looked different than she had expected.
I told her, “If you don’t love it, we won’t make you keep it. But, wait until you see it in context. Let us get the rest of the room installed.”
I like to call this moment The Pause. The stage in the design where it is starting to come together, but it is not complete.
Vanessa agreed to proceed with our vision, and now, she will tell you, the wallpaper is one of her favorite elements of the room.
And if she hadn’t loved it, she’s known us long enough to know that we would have done whatever we needed to do to make it right.
In Vanessa’s own words:
We almost all have a “Go-To” person in some aspect of our life. Laura Martin Bovard has become mine. From the first project we worked on together, I was hooked.
She just got me.
She infused my corporate office in Oakland with warmth and authenticity, making it a place I looked forward to stepping into each day — and one that was photographed almost daily those first few months! She worked her magic all over again for me on our office location in Berkeley, transforming a worn-out interior, reinvigorating the daily experience of working there.
Then she turned to my home office, creating a space that has transformed work-life balance for me, bringing a renewed energy to my days. I’m blessed to say she’s once again back at it on our vacation home in Napa Valley, breathing to life a modern country farmhouse, that doesn’t exist—yet…
To have Laura at my side, crafting, beautifying, and weaving her magic is truly inspirational in both my business and personal spaces. She’s a creative genius—charming, honest, and truly inspiring. Her energy stays with her spaces long after she has left the room.
Every time we take on a client, we are hoping that we are creating a long-term joy-filled partnership—that how we work together on the first project will be so mutually satisfying that we will work together again on future projects: another room, your guest cottage, your second home, vacation home, offices, etc. (And we are grateful to report that, like with Vanessa, this is often the case for us.)
In addition to a spark of excitement and a sense of personal and aesthetic compatibility, this is one of the things we think about when we are interviewing a client for a project. We hope that you will, once you develop a relationship with your designer, trust us. As you see how we show up for you, as we deliver on time, as we are accurate and clear about budgets, as we get your aesthetic, as we have fun together and revel in the beauty that results, these experiences form a foundation for a long-term committed relationship to grow.
And at LMBI, we are all about joyful, energy-rich, committed, mutual growth.
After photos by Mo Saito
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