Designer Crush: Joy Street Design


Since launching in 2011, Joy Street Design has built a dedicated following of busy professionals in need of thoughtful home design to reflect of their personal style. At the helm of the company is Kelly Finley, a Stanford Law graduate with a business degree from Emory and eye for detail. in addition to working with families around the Bay Area and around the country, Finley launched the Joy Street Initiative to provide interior design services to transform office and living environments for Bay Area nonprofits and organizations. Learn more in our Q+A below.

How did you get your start in design?

I was working as a litigation attorney at a large law firm in San Francisco and needed a creative outlet to balance the crazy workload. I began by taking one evening class in drafting and fell in love with subject. For the next 2 years, I worked during the day and took classes in the evening oftentimes pulling all-nighters to get a homework assignment done after writing legal briefs. I started doing projects on the side and when a move to Los Angeles required me to look for another job, I decided to go out on my own and try interior design as a career. My first clients were my attorney colleagues and friends who believed in my abilities to do anything with a certain level of professionalism and grit. I’m forever thankful for their support as I honed my new craft. 

You’re an expert in “creating new spaces from oddly configured rooms” — how did you find a knack for this and what do you find rewarding about it?

With a background in math and computer science in college, I truly enjoyed the drafting and space planning classes while in school. As my skills developed further with computer aided drawing, so did my confidence and ability to play with the way things are laid out in any kind of space. Also, living in the Bay Area, there are so many opportunities for me to work on this craft with odd-sized rooms. When I walk into any space, I see how it should be laid out almost instinctively – it’s the best part of the job for me.

Describe one of your most memorable projects.

I love clients that have a point of view but also open to the ideas of the expert they’ve hired. My most memorable project is one where we were able to focus on making small modifications to the floorplan – removing a corner of a wall in the kitchen – that completely changed the way the family used the space. It was such a small change but everything else for the project flowed from that decision. We were then able to incorporate the client’s love of tile and wallpaper by incorporating those throughout the house in a cohesive way to create a great space for the entire family. 

How do you define “California style”?

I think of California style as ever evolving depending on where you live in this large state. For me, it is reflected in colorful, relaxed, and natural materials. We get so many months of sunshine that everyone loves the indoor/outdoor lifestyle. The sunshine makes all the natural colors so vivid that I also want those reflected in the interiors I design as well. 

What are some current design trends you’re loving?

These aren’t necessarily trends because they can be timeless, but I’m loving the use of matte black fixtures and the return to wood kitchen cabinets. While color is definitely not a trend, I love that we are seeing it more widely embraced and a reduction in the number of all-white kitchens and houses. 

Describe your dream vacation.

My dream vacation consists of me doing the three things I love the most – eating great food, drinking great wine, and exploring a city like a local. I recently went to Paris and Bordeaux with a friend and this was very close to perfection. 

Lightning round!

First concert?

Kris Kross in elementary school. Don’t judge…they were EVERYTHING to a 3rd grader.

Favorite book?

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Go-to dinner recipe?

Carnitas or anything that can be put into a tortilla with avocado. 

Professional role model?

I’m mildly obsessed with Michelle Obama. Having grown up in the same neighborhood and also following a similar legal path to escape, I’m just impressed with her intelligence, grace, and killer style. 

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