My Interior Design Journey: Living Design Laboratories

Diane Burcz headshotBefore I began practicing interior design, I had another career (in addition to being a wife and mother). After I earned my MBA at Carnegie Mellon where I met my husband, Doug, I worked for NCR in HR and Corporate Benefit Planning.

Why interior design? My family and I have moved a lot and I’ve had the opportunity – born of necessity – to use my own homes as living design laboratories. Whether a temporary apartment or a home, I understand about customizing spaces to fit the aesthetic and needs of my family. I’ve been able to use my own homes – whether a 1970s home in Boulder, a 1920s Prairie Style home in Berkeley, or a 1940s mid-century modern home in Newton – as design laboratories that help me relate to my clients. They are like puzzles to solve – whether big or small. Of course, when we moved, I was always on the look-out for fixer-uppers – the reason for the temporary apartments!

The goal for my own home – as well as for my clients’ homes – is to make them warm, livable, and calm. My Berkeley home was on a Green Building Tour for Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. The kindest thing someone said to me as she was standing in our 1920s renovated home was that she felt so calm in my house. Aww! My husband, Doug, and I won the “People’s Choice Award” for the county so I hope other tour-goers felt the same way when in our home.

Our Berkeley Home AKA Living Design Lab

collage images Berkeley CA award-winning house

Our Berkeley house had main living spaces on the second floor and we eventually completed renovations to the second floor, including a family room that opened to the yard; a guest room and a full bath. Demo was completed and new heated, poured concrete floors were installed during the initial renovation. The mud room near the entrance to the garage and the laundry were also completed during phase I. The banquette seat in the kitchen was made using the doors that were removed during initial demo.

The existing small breakfast room between kitchen and main bedroom became the main bathroom. The bench seat used salvaged wood from the the demo’d spaces elsewhere in the house. The table top was a salvaged table that Doug and I bought for our first home. The base was damaged during our move from PA to CA so I ordered the base from – as I recall – a restaurant supplier in SF.

The wall sconces in the Berkeley collage were used for our home renovation in Lansdale, PA. My husband, Doug, insisted we move them to the next home – probably because he thought they were so expensive. We had 5 and they made appearances in Boulder, CO; Berkeley, CA; and finally Newton, MA.

Boston and the BAC

We moved to Boston for Doug’s career, but it gave me a chance to delve deeper into my transition to becoming a professional interior designer. I began taking courses in Interior Architecture & Design at the University of California in Berkeley. I then earned a certificate in Kitchen & Bath Design from the Boston Architectural College.

For those of you unfamiliar with my portfolio, I’ve been fortunate to work on projects in Boston, surrounding suburbs, and Cape Cod. I think it’s important to take inspiration from the setting of the home – city, suburban or the Cape – and to have respect for the architectural style of the home. I embrace elements like wood and concrete, fabrics like linen and wool, and appreciate the craftsmanship of artisans. One of my favorite design periods is mid-century and I have carved out somewhat of a practice niche for myself with mid-century modern homes and the furnishings of that period.

Diane Burcz Interior Design Restored Midcentury Modern

Coming soon – the next couple of chapters in my living design lab projects: an update on an antique home in Provincetown and our new home in Jamaica Plain.

When I’m not at a client’s project or in front of my computer drawing plans and elevations, I’m usually in my kitchen baking – in the interest of testing appliances and kitchen design ideas, of course! And to create delicious-looking-and-tasting treats.

Thank you for reading!


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