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In 2012, Noa Santos created Homepolish to shake up interior design. Santos aimed to invigorate the industry—once seen as an unapproachable market—with a sense of ease, personalization, and trust. Bridging the gap on both sides to ensure that the connection is a perfect match, Homepolish is a two-sided interior design firm that handles business for both clients and “pros”—professionals like designers, contractors, and architects. With over 10,000 designed spaces and 500 designers across the nation, the brand also assigns a dedicated Customer Success manager to ensure quality results, ensuring a “Happiness Guarantee.”
Surrounded by glass walls and tall plants at the Homepolish headquarters, Whitewall sat down with Santos to talk about interior design and fads, and which ones he’s excited to see come and go.
WHITEWALL: Why did you start Homepolish? What was the idea behind it?
NOA SANTOS: When I first started Homepolish, the idea was that there is such a wealth of design talents available that really have no other choice but to either go into a firm, where you’re executing someone else’s vision with no ownership to that work after you leave, or start your own company. You are someone that is creatively trained and then suddenly you are forced into the role of being a business operator. So not only are you not trained in those skills, but do you even want to do those things?
On one side, there was this wealth of emerging talent, and on the other side there were people who if you asked question, “When you get home after work, are you excited by what you see?” most would say no. That is crazy. There was this disconnect for me, so that’s why we started Homepolish.
WW: So, what is a good piece or room to start with?
NS: They both stem from the same question I always ask: “How do you want to live in the space?” Then, “What is most important to me?” If you’re someone who loves to watch movies, then I’d say think about that second bedroom as a guest bedroom as a movie room. And if I could put a guest in it, there’d be a pull-out sofa (which would be the difference instead of having a guest bed). That question would then tell you that you should start on the TV room, and then the first piece that you’d think about would be the sofa. You could approach it in a functional direction, or alternatively, you could approach it by what you love most about a space or an item.
We’ve had clients where they’re obsessed with their art collection, and that was an amazing place to start. What do you love about it? What can we stylistically obtain from that and bring into your home? Having those anchor points—and a passionate response about something, whether form or function—is really important. It drives decisions, and it’s nice to have constraints.
WW: Tell us a bit about home trends. Do the presence or lack of trends affect your demand?
NS: Individual style trends don’t affect the demand, but what is a really good trend that we’re seeing that affects the demand is people feeling empowered to craft spaces that they love. People are now feeling empowered with how much information about the home space is out there.
The very large trend across the board is that people are interested in their homes—if for no other reason than that people are now able to see into your home. I think it’s great, because with taking pride in your home, just like your wardrobe, it elicits this social aspect where it’s almost as common to be invited to someone’s home for a cocktail as it is to be invited to a bar, which I love and love doing myself. If you invite me over to your home for a cocktail, I learn so much more about you just by what’s in the space.
WW: What is a must-have piece for a home?
NS: Thoughtful lighting. And that’s different for different spaces. With most spaces, what it means is dimmers. They’re so easy to put in and they’re so inexpensive. Philips also launched their “Hue” collection, where you can dim it and change colors, and control from your phone. Lighting, even though it’s a must-have, is simultaneously and ironically one of the hardest things to do. Few people have learned about it. When you walk into a space, good lighting is something you don’t notice right away. Because you need to take your apartment from day to night, and the lighting should be completely different, you can hack it. There should be depth to a space. You never want equal lighting.
WW: You recently got married to your husband, Ross, in Hawaii at Haiku Mill. Tell us a bit about the design elements that made your day special.
NS: Green was it. The venue, the plants, the decor, the guests, even our own suits were all chosen to highlight what was the obvious color choice. We chose gold tones and warm whites because they receded nicely into the background and allowed the flowers and foliage to shine. Chandeliers were a must because we wanted the entire space washed in a soft glow that changed as the spaces were taken from cocktail hour to ceremony to dinner, and as the guests explored all corners of the mill. When you have a venue as rich in history and as old as Haiku Mill, it takes on a life of its own and, honestly, made our job that much easier.