Between reading interior design magazines and scrolling through Houzz, everyone’s an amateur home decorator these days. But most of us still lack the vision (or courage) to make the bold design decisions that help a room truly pop—say, pairing a hot pink rug with chartreuse curtains, as Studio 7 Creative founder Kate Bendewald did in this Berkeley home’s living room.

“I think Pinterest and HGTV-type shows give people the courage to do some things themselves, but maybe they lack the confidence to build a full package,” Bendewald says. That’s why, three years ago, she launched an e-design service called HappyBox: to bridge the gap between her full-service interior design clients and those people with the DIY spirit and, sometimes, smaller budgets.

The HappyBox process (room designs start at $800) kicks off with an interview and video tour of the space; clients handle measurements and photos. Bendewald emails over a mood board to establish the vibe. From there, the designer takes things tactile: Her signature HappyBox arrives with the guidance a client needs to make over her space, within the established budget.

“I tell them not to bust into it the minute they get home,” Bendewald says. “Put the kids to bed, pour a glass of wine, and make it an experience.” Inside, clients will find a floor plan and a style guide, which has photos of the recommended furnishings and accessories, including homeowners’ existing pieces; fabric and wallpaper swatches; prices and purchasing info; and a design narrative explaining Bendewald’s decisions. She even incorporates small projects—such as printing and framing family photos—to empower and involve her clients (who also get three months of email support as they put their rooms together). “Historically, interior design has been very exclusive,” Bendewald says. “I am hoping to change that.”

—Designer and HappyBox founder Kate Bendewald


Looking to take your decorating savvy to the next level? Through her brand-new website, My Interior Designer Friend, Bendewald offers e-courses and a private, membership-based Facebook group where you can pick
the brains of other design enthusiasts.

—Photography by Emily Minton Redfield