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Spotlight on Studio Trovato

On a recent sunny day in San Francisco, we headed down to visit interior designer duo Studio Trovato for a peek inside their studio and their newly formed practice. Helmed by Jeanne Chan and Erin Hiemstra, Studio Trovato works on residential and commercial projects to add those harmonious layers that give a space a sense of soul.

Read on for the full tour and to get their indispensable interior tips.

Tell us a little bit about yourself, where you grew up, your background, etc.

Erin: I grew up in the Seattle area but came to Santa Barbara for college and then went back east for graduate school. I’ve always said visiting and then living in Washington DC is what gave me my love of historic architecture and living abroad is what influenced my love of old world style.

Jeanne: I was born in Hong Kong and my family always lived in compact spaces. Even when we moved to the U.S., we lived in small apartments where I’ve always shared a bedroom with my siblings. It wasn’t until I was 16 that I got my own room and I remember how excited I was to decorate my own space.  I really enjoyed creating an environment for myself and my love for interior design grew even stronger in adulthood. I would find myself collecting international interior magazines and design books, and observing design inspirations through travels, hotels, restaurants, retail shops and museums.

How did you start your business?

Erin: While I’ve always been an aesthete, it was buying my first place and starting to design it that
really kick started my passion. After design blogging for nearly 15 years and doing renovations
for myself I wanted to take my passion and accumulated knowledge and help elevate the
homes of others.

Jeanne: After my own renovation and taking on a few small interior projects on the side, I wanted to
take a leap of faith and transition myself into doing something interiors-related as I feel that
this area comes naturally to me. Coincidentally, it must be good timing and fate that Erin and I were on the same wavelength. We’ve been friends for over a decade and have always admired each other’s taste and sensibility. We met up for sushi one night and chatted over our dreams and goals and and the next thing you know, Studio Trovato was born.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Erin: If you’re not a little afraid, you’re not growing.

Jeanne: A good friend once told me “it’s not about where you live, it’s about how you live.”

Which element of interior styling would you say is non-negotiable?

Erin: Adding personal touches – be it pieces from an art collection, family heirlooms or treasures
picked up on travels. Your home should reflect your personal story.

First step to sourcing a specific piece?

Erin: I’ve spent years amassing a wealth of resources – occupational hazard of a blogger – that offers
a treasure trove of places to start. The goal is always to find something artisanal, unique and
even one or a kind if possible.

Jeanne: Determine the functionality and why you need it and know what kind of feeling or mood
you want to create in the space.

Shop our cashmere here. 

How does the city of San Francisco inform your design aesthetic?

Jeanne: I think SF is a very laid back city which doesn’t scream for attention.  Because of this, I love understated luxury and paying attention to finer details and quality. However, there’s another side of me which
loves the bold and unexpected. I think that comes from the influence of
being in Hong Kong where design is more colorful and experiential.

Shop our Ansel Vase here.

What technique do you use when trying to find the right layout of a space?

Erin: It’s both an intuitive and iterative process that is informed by very practical considerations – how
will the room be used, what are the needs of everyone in the household, are there any technical
considerations. And then you keep trying until everything just clicks into place.

Fail-safe color pairings?

Erin: Layering neutrals creates depth and texture without being in your face. I’m loving adding subtle
color, dusty sage green, earthy browns and slate grays to that mix.

Do you have any tips on keeping the decor cohesive?

Erin: Cohesion can be a bit of a misnomer. Some of the most eclectic spaces can feel the most
inviting and authentic. If you stay true to bringing what you love, a space will feel cohesive. It’s when people fill their homes with placeholders, ubiquitous big box store items or impulse
purchases that a home can feel a little flat.

Jeanne: If you’re having trouble mixing styles, I think sticking to a color palette or a same color
family will help bring that cohesiveness to a space.

Jeanne: “The best way to create a beautiful home environment is to invest in your everyday home essentials. Pieces such as a cashmere throw, handcrafted wooden vase and even soft cotton tea towels will elevate and add a luxurious touch to your home.” Shop our home collection here. 

How do you prepare for a new project you’re taking on?

Erin: The biggest part of our process is getting to know our clients. We want to unearth their passions
and preferences in order to ensure their house really reflects their story.

Shop our glassware here 

How would you describe your design style?

Jeanne: I think at the core I am a minimalist and lean towards contemporary design. I love clean
lines, soft curves and refined texture. But I also have a deep appreciation for vintage and
period designs and just about anything that shows great craftsmanship.

How do you decide which projects are a good fit for you and your business?

Erin: Our process embraces slow design – the belief that spaces offer richer experiences via dynamic
maturation over time. We help you evolve your interiors in tandem with the ebb and flow of daily life
with the goal of turning a home into a sanctuary that is truly unique and deeply personal.