Designer Crush: Paulina Oldenbrook


1. You’ve been working in the industry for over 20 years — how did you get your start and what inspired you to get into design?

I wasn’t formally trained, but I had a passion for beauty, symmetry and architectural detailing from a very young age. In my 20s, I pursued work at a design firm in Southern California. When they said they had no open positions, I asked if I could just “hang out” and observe. After three months, I was designing projects and doing enough work that they had to start paying me! Within a year and a half I was project managing multiple projects and designing several others.

2. Details are an important part of your style — what are some examples of special details that you feel really personalize a space and tie the aesthetic together?

Precise finish transitions combined with the creation of captivating site lines and a “hardworking” space plan are critical to the foundation of my designs.

3. What’s your method for really getting to know a client?

I ask a ton of questions about, both, their Monday through Friday day to day as well as their weekend life. I want to know about their family, what sports their kids (or grandkids play), where they work, travel, cook, play. My highest priority is to transform a client’s environment into a home that’s not only beautiful, but also serves their lifestyle at a highly elevated level.

4. If you could design the set for any movie or play, which would you choose and why?

That’s easy! I would choose a romantic comedy in a gorgeous, shingled house on an East Coast beach or an elegant modern farmhouse on a Napa Valley vineyard.

5. Which musical album or artist has inspired you most and why?

I love anything Diana Krall does — she’s classic and modern, all at the same time.

6. What’s been your most memorable professional experience?

When my very dear friends trusted me enough to bring me into their project at the ground level. The purchase of their home was contingent on me confirming I could transform it into something they would love. Once the property was selected, they trusted my instincts on where to take the project and the results were very gratifying.

7. Describe your ideal vacation.

I equally love exploring Europe and a lazy beach vacation. Wherever it is, great food and wine are always a priority.

Lightning Round!

8. Stripes or polka dots?


9. Coffee or tea?

Definitely coffee!

10. Heels or flats?

It’s the eternal battle right?? Both – I think I can have it all!

11. Early bird or night owl?

Early bird. I have two young kids!

12. Beach or mountains?

I love both, equally.

More news: