top of page

Transforming Your Home Using Context

Authenticity is a cornerstone of Robin Heard Design. We think this is evident in our great client relationships, our clear and efficient design processes, and even in our finished work. When it comes to creating spaces that feel authentic (as opposed to seeming forced, jarring, and/or impersonal), we think context is key.

By understanding and respecting the context of the surrounding environment, the spaces’ history, and who the client is, we ground the design with meaningful roots. This gives us the freedom to transform each space to its highest potential through unexpected design choices with nothing seeming confusing, random, or out of place. Everything just makes sense.


We think that a home can only truly feel like a home when it feels connected to the surrounding landscape. Whether it’s nestled within Napa’s rolling hills, overlooking the splendor of the Pacific coast, or standing in San Francisco’s downtown cityscape, there is a direct relationship between the views we take in each day and the way we live within our spaces. That’s why, before any materials or fabrics are presented to our clients, and before even a hint of a proposed design is created, we look first to the surrounding views for inspiration.

When designing for one client in Sausalito, for example, we were intentional about drawing connections to the home’s locale on the water. The inherent movement of waves and breezes were part and parcel of how we executed our design. At the same time, we steered well clear of any kitsch or outright “nautical” themes, with subtlety, sophistication, and good taste always at the forefront.

First, we mirrored the ever-shifting appearance of the water lapping just outside the master bedroom’s window by covering the fireplace with wavy-textured stone tiles. Also, by replacing the front and back decks’ uncomfortable teak furnishings with hanging chairs and adding new thick, cozy cushions to the teak chairs on the back deck, we enhanced the home’s charm and functionality. The new look also serves to soften the transition between the interior and exterior, forging a connection that feels natural, integrated, and completely authentic.

To achieve authentic transformation in a space, it takes more than just bringing in new fixtures, finishes, and furnishings. It requires a process that prioritizes looking both inside and outside a space’s walls in order to find its truth, then pull it forward in the design.


Whether a home has been around for a decade or for a century, we believe the renovation design has to honor the original era, style, and usage. To do otherwise would mean renouncing what could be truly magical, transformative results.

Our Urban Condo project, located in the historic Francesca building in bustling downtown San Francisco, is a perfect example of what respecting a space’s history can do. Our clients wanted a fresh, elegantly modern design. While that seems completely counter to what we would need to do in order to honor the building’s rich history, we knew that by giving the right nod to the past in our design would open up endless possibilities for creating an overall modern style.

As luck would have it, while remodeling the apartment, we unearthed the most incredible old architectural elements hidden beneath layers from past renovations. The original plaster fireplace facade, in particular, was painstakingly uncovered and refurbished to its original beauty as a centerpiece of the space. Allowing a historical element such prominence in the design allowed us to create the modern look our clients craved without the feeling that the space is in full denial of the building’s age.

Balancing the buzzing, modern view of the city outside with a few stately, sophisticated details of the interior, we blurred the lines between past and present.

Even better, we created an environment that’s a beautiful reflection of our clients’ style and personalities. When done right, this approach makes the design feel as natural to the space as can be.


No matter the location or age, ensuring a home resonates with our clients is critical. Getting to know them and understanding their preferences, their personalities, and their lifestyles allows us to get creative while still providing something that feels personal to them. How they move through their home on a daily basis, what colors and patterns make them light up, what styles resonate with them most. It all matters to us when designing for our clients.

At the same time, we believe it’s also our job to show them possibilities they never could have imagined on their own. This combination of gently nudging them beyond their comfort zone while designing within the context of who they are enables us to provide both beauty and authenticity, transforming their spaces beyond their wildest dreams. By considering these contexts, we create homes that enhance their surroundings rather than compete with them, that look timeless no matter their style, and that our clients feel personally connected to on a deeper level.

In our book, that makes context a truly beautiful thing!


bottom of page