How Interior Design Firm Taylor Yang Transformed a Vanilla Home in Tiburon, California

When architect and interior design firm Taylor Yang signed on to re-imagine a five-bedroom home in Tiburon, California, the existing interiors were what they called “vanilla.” In other words, they were the perfect starting point for the designers to create a transformation. Their work touched virtually every interior surface of the “coastal fresh” contemporary home, which is clad in shingle and clapboard on the outside.

While the windows and doors remained, they made architectural interventions, such as exposing the ceiling beams and opening up a tight corner between the living room and study to create space for an open bar. (Hetherington Building was their contractor for these and other elements.) They also updated the furnishings, window treatments, fabric finishes, wallpaper, lighting, and audio/video systems.

“Almost everything in the house is completely customized for the clients and their home,” Taylor notes. That includes a bespoke headboard in the primary bedroom by Taylor Yang upholstered in Sandra Jordan alpaca fabric. Says Yang: “It was important that the house flow room to room, stylistically.”

Q&A with the Designers

How would you describe your design aesthetic?

Karin Taylor: The design aesthetic of Taylor Yang is enduring and layered. We design a lot using perspective sketches so our clients can instantly and easily feel what the space will look like.

Helen Yang Fung: Our clients added a level of exuberance in their preference for color and lively patterns. We all had a lot of fun selecting the textiles and finishes, but always maintained a direction of enduring quality and aesthetics.

How does the space represent their personality versus yours?

Yang: It would be difficult to separate our clients’ personality and our professional direction.

Taylor: It’s always paramount that we understand our clients’ aesthetics and motivations. That way, we’re able to create a home that is truly unique to them, of the highest quality and design integrity for the budget.

How did you come up with the rooms’ design schemes?

Yang: Our process is iterative, and we like to build pieces upon each other, so to speak. A big consideration is the natural light and how each space will be used throughout the day. This house was flooded with sunshine, so we were able to incorporate some richer aubergine and deep teal tones.

Taylor: Incorporating a lot of natural materials from the beginning was important to our clients.

What were your clients’ absolute must-haves?

Taylor: Our clients didn’t want to compromise on quality and endurance of style, which worked perfectly for us.

Did you encounter any hiccups or surprises during the renovation?

Yang: The clients had wanted to keep the existing wood floors, but when the refinisher studied the project it turned out the floor was too thin in some areas to refinish. So we took out the existing floors and leveled the sub-floors.

Taylor: The clients were happy for an excuse to get new hardwood floors!

How did you make pre-existing pieces feel fresh and work with the new design direction?

Taylor: The clients allowed us to elevate the level of design and quality of pieces they had already surrounded themselves with. Every piece was carefully selected to reflect who they are as a couple, with an eye toward having heirloom pieces, rather than just fashionable reflections of trends.

Yang: A few of their existing pieces that they thought might end up in the final design eventually didn’t make the cut, in their eyes as they happily realized the transformation that was taking place under our vision.

Talk about the styling of each room.

Yang: We felt that using the exact same materials in each space wouldn’t reflect the clients’ more eclectic design tendencies. For instance, the primary bedroom is a serene compilation of painted woodwork and casework, drapery, and carpeting that can be experienced as tone on tone. While this contrasts with the deep-blue-stained woodwork of the office and the upholstered ceiling in a block print on the opposite side of the wing, it all ties together.

Tour the entire residence below.

Living Room

Bench: Barbara Barry, covered in sheepskin. Swivel chair: Patricia Urqueola. Kagan chair: upholstered in Edelman leather.

Dining Room

Chairs: Kimberley Denman. Dining table and sofa: Joseph Jeup. Pendants: Hector Finch.

Primary Bedroom

“The main bedroom is a serene compilation of painted woodwork and casework, drapery, and carpeting that can be experienced as tone on tone,” Yang says. “While this contrasts with the deep-blue-stained woodwork of the office and the upholstered ceiling in a block print on the opposite side of the wing, it all ties together.”

before shots

Taylor Yang

Sitting Room


Here, the owners wanted the option of turning it room into a guest bedroom in the future, “so we left the credenza between the bookshelves, made it removable, and designed discreet pullout shelves to act as nightstands if that transformation ever took place,” Taylor reveals.

Powder Room

The powder room sink touts a carved limestone block over a custom stained wood pedestal.


For this space, the designers used bleached and toned white oak “to provide the perfect backdrop to layer colors and textures of the furniture rugs and textiles,” Taylor says.

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