Designer Crush: Amanda Teal


Not all roads lead to design. For Bay Area designer Amanda Teal it was her previous role as a professional equestrian that turned her passion for design into a forever career. Encouraged by fellow equestrian and established designer Rebecca Bradley—who gave Teal her start—she eventually began her own firm which now works graciously across the Bay Area curating classic interiors with beautiful depth. Here, she shares with us more about her approach to each project and how she manages everyday life as a business leader and mother of two.

-How did you get your start in design?  My path to design was a bit non-linear. Like so many designers, as a child I would dream up floor plans and rearrange the furniture in my home. But I came to my design career through my passion for horses. In my early 20s I moved from L.A. to Northern California to ride professionally for a show barn in Portola Valley where I eventually met Rebecca Bradley, a fellow equestrian and interior designer. I shared with her my love for all things design related, and she encouraged me to pursue it as a career. After taking the required design courses, I started as an intern at her SF firm and worked my way up, eventually going out on my own.

In an Orinda project, a sofa and pair of chairs by Harbinger face a custom fireplace by Amanda Teal Design, finished in Portola Paints. Photos by John Merkl.
Teal designed a custom banquette in Orinda. Photos by John Merkl.

-How do you describe your style and what makes it unique?  My firm is known for creating interiors that strike the perfect balance of livability and sophistication. I’m a classicist at heart, and as such, my work focuses on clean lines, balanced proportions and a mindful use of tone and texture. Our interiors have a barefooted elegance that are quintessentially California.

Our approach is personal and collaborative. We develop close relationships with our clients and believe success in the design process is the result of ongoing collaboration with the build team, craftsman and artisans, and finding inspiration in the smallest details.  My mission has always been to create beauty. I believe that one’s environment has a profound impact on all aspects of well-being. Design is transformational. It should change the way you feel- for the better. I work to uncover what that means for each of my client’s and aim to deliver that experience.

A terracotta tile by Tabarka Studio dances up the kitchen backsplash in the Orinda project.
Photos by John Merkl.

-Who are some of the artisans and furnishing brands you love to work with and why?  I’m drawn to hand made pieces, antiques and most things that use old world techniques in a fresh way. I feel deeply connected to things that have roots in the past and that tell a story. 

Urban Electric is a personal favorite. Their lighting is innovative and the craftsmanship is second to none. Selecting lighting for a project is one of my favorite parts of the design process, and Urban Electric is often featured in my work. Lighting is the jewelry of the home. It can make or break the outfit.

I’ve had a love affair with Frances Palmer Pottery for many years. Her hand thrown ceramics are functional art pieces. Each is unique and so special. I covet everything she makes. 

Photos by John Merkl.
A dark plum paint by Pratt & Lambert Confidential makes a splash in the Orinda wine cellar lounge. Photos by John Merkl.

-Who are your biggest professional role models and why? There are so many. In business, I look to strong female leaders and founders. Women who have carved their own path and done things their way.  

Holly Hunt is one of my biggest professional role models. She is an arbiter of good taste and she’s built a design empire of timeless, exquisite furnishings. I’ve heard her speak many times and she comes across as a shrewd businesswoman, but also a wickedly funny, grounded person. All qualities I value tremendously.

In one of the last scenes in the September Issue—after Anna Wintour pitched the issue to Mr. Newhouse and it was approved—she rode down in the elevator and looked at her team and simply said, “onto the next.” It stuck with me. It reminds me to always look forward.

Photos by John Merkl.
Photos by John Merkl.

-Describe one particularly memorable project and what made it so special. Our modern revival project in Orinda was a special one. The clients were thoughtful, collaborative and knew what they wanted their house to feel like. They trusted us to interpret that feeling into a physical environment, and we developed a great level of mutual trust throughout the process. They have a great love of the outdoors and entertaining, so it was paramount that their home delivered on both fronts. With a central courtyard lined with wall to wall glass doors, and sweeping views of the surrounding hills, there’s a strong connection to nature from every room. They hosted a party after they moved in for about 100 people, and I was able to experience the home and property as a guest. It was a special experience walking into the house at dusk and seeing so many people enjoying the home we helped create. That’s always the goal. 

Photos by John Merkl.

-What’s your dream vacation destination and itinerary?    I love to travel, so that’s a tough one! Last Thanksgiving my family and I stayed at Hotel Esencia near Tulum, Mexico. It’s pure magic. White washed buildings flanked by the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean on one side and lush jungle on the other. We spent our days swimming, paddle boarding, taking walks on the beach and enjoying drinks by the pool. The epitome of laid back luxury. We can’t wait to go back!

In this Noe Valley home, Teal installed a navy wallcovering by Phillip Jeffries.
Photos by John Merkl.
Stone tile from Da Vinci Marble dances up the walls in the Noe Valley master bathroom.
Photos by John Merkl.

-What’s your ideal Saturday from a.m. to p.m.?  I’m an early riser, so I typically get up and make myself a latte and sit in the peace and quiet for a little bit. It’s really the only time I get to myself, so I really enjoy it. Not long after that my boys and hubby wake up. I have one waffle lover and one pancake lover, so I usually make both. After that we might go for a hike, do some swimming, or just get outside in some way. My boys are very active so we’re usually going full out until dinner. My husband cooks on the weekends, and we’ve been taking advantage of the beautiful California weather and making pizza outside on the grill. Then it’s one more swim for my boys before I get them showered and in bed. We typically stay up and catch up on whatever series we’re into. I can’t stop watching Million Dollar Listing L.A. & NYC right now. The people on that show crack me up! Then it’s lights out by 10:00pm. 

Pendants from Hector Finch sheds light on the classic Noe Valley kitchen.
Photos by John Merkl.


-Favorite cocktail? This changes by the season, but right now I’m a margarita girl. 

-Most quotable movie or TV show? Grease. I watched it so many times as a kid that I can recite it from beginning to end. Songs included. ☺

-First concert? U2 Joshua Tree

-Current celebrity crush? Jason Statham

-Favorite book? I’m always on the move, so it’s podcasts for me. Right now I’m binge listening In The Dark.

A sconce from Apparatus sits atop a wallcovering by Schumacher.
Photos by John Merkl.

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