With a background in social work and the role of being a mom, Marin Wilson of Marin Design Co. has the intrinsic traits of being a powerful communicator and incredible listener. These qualities carried over to her passion for design and desire to start her own firm—giving her the ability to interact with clients and create dream spaces for them. Today, we’re touring one of the homes she’s put her touch on and sitting down with the designer for a glimmer into her world. Nicole Dianne takes us through the story with images of a modern California ranch home that exemplifies how a neutral palette can pave the way for so much charm.
Take us back to the beginning—how did you transition into the world of design?
Before becoming a full-time designer, I spent the last few years as a stay-at-home mom. A job that I loved and cherished, but as my children started to get older I felt compelled to turn my passion for design into a career. I have a Master’s Degree in Social Work, so I was hesitant as to whether I would be able to launch a successful Interior Design business. However, I have found that my degree has given me a unique perspective when it comes to working with clients. I really enjoy the relationships I cultivate through the design process. People let you into their lives and homes and allow you to help guide their vision and bring it to life. It is an intimate process that I feel extreme gratitude for, in that, I have the opportunity to create a home design that brings such joy and happiness to my clients.
Your unique combination of experiences makes you a fantastic communicator and listener. How do you begin the process of guiding clients to their ideal style?
When guiding a client to their ideal style, I have found that it is important to ask open ended questions with listening being of utmost importance. Asking open ended questions, allows my clients to guide the conversation and describe their ideal style without knowing it. I’ve found that asking someone what their style is point blank can back them into the proverbial design-style corner, so by fostering natural conversation, it removes the pressure and allows organic idea sharing of favored styles to come out. Additionally, small details, like learning where people enjoy to travel can tell you a lot about their style. By incorporating inspiration from their favorite travel destinations it provides a nostalgia and lasting memory that they can continue to cherish.
Do you remember an early memory from your first home? How does that evocation shape the way you design now?
As a child, we moved a lot, and I loved that no matter where we went our walls were covered in familiar artwork—it made every new house a home. It definitely has shaped my style as well as my design process. I love working with art when designing a home, making a piece be the focal point of a room, and have the design complement and create a cohesive look. When working with a client to curate art, I want to know what speaks to them—what styles they like, what they envision in their own homes, and what artwork stands out in their memory. It makes a home feel that much more personal and their guests will see and feel that too when they enter.
Light, airy, textural, and layered is your vibe.
Talk to us about how you achieved that in the Modern Ranch Home we’re featuring today?
After designing three homes for our growing family, I learned that I love the feel of a bright and airy space, but I also want that space to feel comfortable and cozy. After lots of trial and error (with paint, dark cabinets, bulky and dark furniture, etc.), I learned bright/airy and cozy/comfortable can be achieved with the finishing touches—pillows, throws, baskets, paintings, interesting objects. By keeping the overall design neutral, I can layer in these additional textures for a comfortable and inviting space.
With that said, I have a lot of clients reaching out and requesting the classic
all-white kitchen and white walls (which is what I showcase in my portfolio, so it makes complete sense), but I am itching for a challenge. I am ready to try a dark and moody space that still has my signature airy feel.
A neutral canvas is key to achieving that sought after glow in a home. Do you have a few go-to white/neutral paint colors you’d mind sharing?
The short answer: yes! Long answer: I almost always choose paint colors during the final stages of a project. Every house and room gets different sun exposure which drastically affects the hue of your walls. I find it important for the walls to be up and by leaving it as the final step, you are able to sample your paints and then watch how the sun affects them throughout the day. The Modern Ranch Home is West-facing, so after many samples, we fell in love with Sherwin-Williams Revere Pewter at 25% strength.
My list of favorite neutrals
- Benjamin Moore Swiss Coffee (a classic!)
- Benjamin Moore White Dove
- Revere Pewter
Marin Design Co. is all about building upon a neutral base and these colors provide just that!
Three essentials for bringing interest to a neutral kitchen, go!
If you know me, this will not come as a shock: greenery, leaning artwork, and my favorite, something that sparks joy when you see it. Whether that be your grandmother’s handwritten recipes or an item you collected while traveling, I love to give my clients the small task of finding something that has meaning to them and then showcasing it in the final design.
What are a few things you do to set the tone before a new day begins at Marin Design Co.?
Mornings are always a little hectic in my family, so once my boys are off to school, I like to take a little time to myself to enjoy my coffee and prepare for the day. I try to stay off my phone and social media for the first hour after I wake up because I know how attached to technology I have to be during the day. When I am stressed at home or with work I like to have the mindset of “I get to” and not “I have to”. It allows me to reframe my perspective and remind me of how grateful I am for my job and family.
Design content is all around us—how do you encourage your design process to veer from replication to inspiration?
A majority of my design inspiration I find through my clients. Every client is unique and their needs and vision will be different from one another. My design process is to first meet my clients and really get to know them so I can understand their vibe and lifestyle. This allows me to discover small, but significant details. It is my belief that design is in the details and that is exactly what I focus on. I love blending different styles that my clients have inspired, incorporating old and new pieces. Doing so creates timeless designs that will inspire for years to come.
What does a well-lived home mean to you?
A well-lived home to me is perfect imperfection. It can be messy at times, with play-doh stuck on the hardwood and a trail of toy race cars in the hallway. These day-to-day scenes tell a story of love and the people who live inside of it. I try to create that feeling when designing homes, finding people’s stories and expressing it through design.
When looking through a five-year lens, where do you see Marin Design Co. heading? What goals do you have for your business and brand?
It’s crazy to think about five years down the road when Marin Design Co. is still a newer company! I have been incredibly fortunate to have gained so much support and clientele that I have been really focusing on the present. Five years from now, I would love to begin flipping houses in addition to maintaining client-based projects. I would love to see where my creativity will grow, and I am always eager to take on new risks and challenges.