Courtney & The Beach House
The saying goes that when door closes, another opens, and when it comes to Courtney Springer's interior design career, that couldn't be more true. Courtney had her heart set on a career in corporate buying, but the recession of 2008 all but crushed that dream. After she decided to attend interior design school instead, her true passion was revealed, and the rest is history. Courtney's biggest lesson she's learned since opening her own design firm? Trust herself and her instincts. After learning more about Courtney and seeing the gorgeous home she designed in the San Francisco Bay area, we can confidently say that we completely trust her and her instincts. Find out more about her and her work below.
First things first. Tell us how you got into the interior design world! What sparked your interest in this creative field?
When I was a kid, my mom was obsessed with decorating magazines and did a lot of DIY projects around our house to follow the trends. She kept every issue of House Beautiful and would flag her favorite articles and looks. At one point, the entire guest bedroom closet was stacked with magazines! She would do projects like wallpapering our family room herself, or we would rearrange accessories together on the weekends, creating different vignettes. Her love of design and decorating was a huge influence on me.
Then I actually was working in retail, doing some buying and merchandising for a boutique, and trying to to get into a larger, corporate buying job when the recession hit in 2008. I was applying for jobs everywhere and it was like some cosmic joke...as soon as I would apply or interview for a job, the company would announce layoffs, consolidations, closures. One day I thought “OK, I’ll apply to schools for interior design while I’m applying for retail jobs, and whichever option comes through first, that is what I’ll do.” I got accepted to school first and that was that.
Sleeper Sofa // Coffee Table // Side Tables // Floor Lamps // Audubon Print // Rug // Chair // Blue Patterned Pillows // Whitewashed Wood Decorative Objects // Santa Cruz Book // Big Sur Book // Diptyque Candle // Brass Candle Plate
You’re based out of San Francisco, but you have clients all over. Where would be your dream city to work in?
I adore the Bay Area, so I feel really lucky that I’m already working in a dream city. Barcelona is one of my favorite cities, so that would definitely be a dream city to work in. Art and architecture is ingrained in the culture there. It’s a city that embraces history and also embraces modernism. I think that dichotomy would make for such an interesting experience working on a design project.
What is your go-to first step in the process of helping and consulting with clients when it comes to their homes? Is it different for you when you're working on a personal project in your own space?
So many clients have Pinterest boards, so I like to look through their boards to get a sense of what they are innately attracted to. I also always start a project with a walk-through and chat with clients. We walk around the house, talk about each room, the problems, the great features, ideas, solutions, colors, textures, layout...everything. If I reference something that the clients aren’t familiar with, I’ll just search for it with my phone on the spot. It’s really informal, which sets the tone for how I like to work. I want clients to feel like they can collaborate in the creation of their home and have fun. Problems come up, projects can be stressful, so I think creating a fun and casual working relationship helps everyone get through those stressful moments.
In my own space, I’m totally different. I don’t do a ton of planning, I kind of just let it evolve. I like to buy things as I see them at flea markets or on Etsy. I also am looking at stuff for clients all the time and I see so much that it’s hard for me to narrow things down in my own apartment. I feel like my apartment is never done!
This house is meant to be a vacation home for three generations of families. How did that motivate your design process?
My clients have adult children, and are grandparents to four little ones, so it was important that this home feel like a place they could all get together for family time. The first problem to solve was where everyone would sleep in a two-bedroom house. We decided to use a pull-out sofa in the loft. We did a fair amount of research on which pull-outs were the most comfortable and my clients went and tested each one we were considering because we knew this would actually get slept on! Other furniture in that space is easy to move—a small coffee table and folding chair tuck away quickly when someone needs to pull out the bed.
Aesthetically, my idea was to create a space that was casual, comfortable and utilized things that would take well to wear and tear. The dining table is a rustic wood that will mask signs of use, the dining bench can seat more small kids than if we had used two additional chairs. My clients also really wanted to adhere to a strict budget so that nothing in the house was too precious. They wanted to feel like they could let their grandkids be kids and not worry about expensive or fragile furnishings.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned since opening your own design business?
I would say the biggest lesson has been to trust myself and my instincts. When you work for a firm, the style and opinion of the principal designer has to be present in all of the decisions you make. Once I was on my own, I had to put that voice out of my head and reconnect with my own voice to cultivate my personal style.
What design trends are you living for right now and which one do you wish would just go away?
I’m still living for white walls, rattan and ethnic prints. I’m also excited to see warmer neutrals coming back in style. One trend I’m done with is barn-style doors. Every time you see a home renovation show on television, they are doing a barn door. I’m ready to see it go away for a while.
If you could collaborate with anyone in the world, who would your dream collab be?
My dream collab would probably be something in the fashion/retail world. There is a lot of progress being made, but inclusive sizing is still such a major issue. Clothing options in larger sizes are just pretty dismal, and are usually cheaply made and overpriced. I love that companies like Good American are starting to come out that just offer the same items across the whole range of sizes. I would love to collaborate with them on a collection of great workwear basics. I know that is what I really struggle to find in the current marketplace, so I’m sure other women are struggling too.
I would say the biggest lesson has been to trust myself and my instincts. When you work for a firm, the style and opinion of the principal designer has to be present in all of the decisions you make. Once I was on my own I had to put that voice out of my head and reconnect with my own voice to cultivate my personal style.
Any secret spots in San Francisco that you love to shop at?
- Stuff—It’s like going to a flea market that is open every day. I love a treasure hunt!
- Discount Fabrics—I found the most gorgeous olive green cotton velvet on my last trip there. I had to buy it even though I didn’t have a project for it. I just couldn’t pass it up for the price.
- Found by Maja—Designer-curated, handmade and one-of-a-kind accessories, and the prices are refreshingly accessible.
What do you always have on your bedside table?
A coaster, a little dish to toss my rings in and my phone charger. I know we aren’t supposed to be looking at phones in bed, but I can’t break the habit!