The Villas at Baker Park is the highly anticipated
gated community at the corner of 40th Street and
Osborn. Located on the site of the former Baker
Nursery, it’s smack in the middle of the Arcadia
Light neighborhood, where new restaurants and
developments have transformed the once sleepy scene
into the hottest zip code in the Valley.
Empire Construction, Walt Danley Development
Services team worked with Est Est Inc to design
the interiors of 3 model homes, and the results are
stunning. We sat down with the designer, Nora Johnson
to ask about interior design in general and to get a
sense for what she was thinking on the Baker Park
So, Nora, when did you know that you wanted to
do this? How did you get into the business?
I think I always knew this was in me. As a little girl I
was always tearing up my room and rearranging the
house. I had strong opinions, and I just knew how I
wanted things to look. After design school I went to
work for a designer and tried to absorb everything
I could about the business from her. Just like any
business, there are ups and downs, but in the end I just
love what I’m doing.
Is there a common process that you go through
with new clients? How do you uncover your client’s
style and design to their tastes?
If the home is already built, we have a foundation in
the architecture and style already, so that’s a good place
By Gary Edlund
Photos by Michael Duerinckx
to start. We might ask them what drew them to the
house in the first place. Ask how they want to use the
spaces. Then we’ll ask them to send images of things
that they like, things from magazines and Pinterest.
And it’s weird, sometimes what people say they want
and what they send over is different, and so we need
to clarify that. Some clients just don’t have that
vocabulary, so we need to dig further to make sure that
they get what they’re looking for. Websites like Houzz.
com and Pinterest are great vehicles for exchanging
ideas with clients.
What are some advantages to working with an
It really depends on the project. Sometimes people
are downsizing now that the kids are grown. It’s not
easy scaling back after spending a lifetime curating a
collection of things. Getting an outside opinion on
what you have that fits into the new design and what to
pitch can be helpful.
In another case we might be designing from scratch.
Working with a designer can help prevent common
mistakes. You might find an article of art or decoration
that you like, but that is hard to work into an overall
design. If you’re trying to achieve a certain look,
most people benefit from guidance. There are basic
principles of scale, proportion, repetition…a designer
can help you find pieces that work together as a whole,
and might save you from buying things that don’t fit.
Sometimes we start working with clients before they buy a
house at all. We help them envision how they’re going to
use the space. They might fall in love with a house, but