The celebrated design expert shares how to define and update a space.
For Noa Santos, the process of choosing paint, fabrics and furniture for a room is similar to matchmaking. Each element must contribute to producing a visual and emotional spark.
“A well-designed space can enhance your senses and dramatically improve your well-being,” says Santos, a member of the Delta Design Trust. It’s why his company, Homepolish, helps people make those connections more easily by pairing them with interior design experts and contractors to guide a project “from the first design question to the last accessory.”
Skilled knowledge and collaboration can be essential, but Santos says people should play a central role in the design of their own interiors. After all, what goes into making a space captivating can be deeply personal—and the catalyst may change over time.
“Design means something different to everyone,” Santos says. “What I love about design is not the results of a project but the thinking it inspires.”
As you think about your own home design, consider these insights from Santos.
Noa Santos says, “A well-designed space can enhance your senses and dramatically improve your well-being.” (Design by Jae Joo for Homepolish; photo by Julia Robbs for Homepolish.)
Trust Your Instincts
Magazines and social media can provide great inspiration when scouting for new accents—or planning a full makeover. Still, Santos urges people not to feel confined to trends, especially if a new design direction clashes with their own tastes or the home’s overall architecture. And many of the latest looks are subject to change: The popularity of minimalist décor, he notes, has given way to a “maximalist” style marked by bold prints and rich colors. It’s your space; pick the items and hues you love.
As many design trends come and go, you should base your décor decisions on what feels good to you. (Design by Pippa Lee and Tali Roth for Homepolish; photo by Christian Torres for Homepolish.)
Personal Touches Matter
From a flea market find to a framed vintage poster to a treasured family heirloom, a few artful accessories can cue conversation and provide a distinct sense of place. Santos’ showpiece? “I have an intricately beaded cow, done in a traditional Mexican style, that is absolutely fantastic. It changes with the light, and the more I look at it, the more facets come to life.” Objects that reflect your personality and design aesthetic will have a natural place in your home.
Sustainability Is Always in Style
Elements that are ethically sourced and produced not only look good but also offer a reason to feel good. “Whether it’s finding products made with an eco-focus, investing in higher-quality pieces or embracing natural materials, people are moving to more sustainable design choices,” Santos says. One example of this is H2Okinetic Showers, which give you the feeling of more water without using more water.
High-quality products can be part of sustainable design choices. H2Okinetic Showers, like a Tesla shower head and hand shower, for example, can give the feeling of more water without using more water.
Technology Can Soothe You
Digital tools aren’t just for being more efficient and staying connected. They can enhance your home’s ambience. “It’s nice to be able to incorporate technology to help make our spaces more comfortable,” Santos says. Among his favorites are smart speakers, smart plugs and smart lightbulbs that can be easily controlled to suit your mood. Preset lighting, specifically, is “the least-expensive way to make a huge impact,” Santos says. Soothing accent lighting in the bathroom, like the tranquil illumination of a Delta water-powered LED Pendant Raincan Shower Head, can help create a spa-like atmosphere in your space.
Technology is a thing of beauty: Water-powered LED accent lights create a spa-like atmosphere in the shower, while the fixture serves as a centerpiece of the bath.
Find a Focal Point in Fixtures
Santos, a Hawaii native who grew up near the ocean, believes “good design should just flow.” Replacing faucets and hardware is an easy way to get things going. Personally, Santos prefers a polished nickel finish for traditional spaces and matte black for contemporary ones. Having striking fixtures in the home—like a Pivotal pull-out faucet in the kitchen or a Stryke mid-height faucet in the bath—will definitely attract attention.
With faucet finishes, Noa Santos likes polished nickel (shown on a Pivotal pull-out, left) and matte black (on a Stryke mid-height, right).
Your Look Can Evolve
Large or small, a design project needn’t be permanent. And it’s OK to want to make changes over time. Periodic updates could be as simple as putting up a new coat of paint, adding tactile fabrics or upgrading fixtures. “My home is constantly evolving to reflect my own style, as well as my husband’s style, as we grow together,” Santos says. “I believe a space should feel complete but is never finished.”
Noa Santos says smart lighting, which can be controlled remotely to suit your mood, is an inexpensive way to make the home more comfortable. (Design by Katherine Carter for Homepolish; photo by Lauren Pressey for Homepolish.)
Thinking about starting a home remodel? Check out this how-to guide on Inspired Living.