The Style Files: Palmer Weiss

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Palmer Weiss is a talented San Francisco-based interior designer known for her penchant for color and neo-traditional style. Palmer was raised in South Carolina and credits her Southern upbringing for giving her an appreciation for traditional style, formality, and eccentricities. Growing up in the South, a reverence for family and heritage was instilled in Palmer who has combined these valuable tenets with her rebellious streak, resulting in vibrant spaces filled with rich colors, striking patterns, and a true joie de vivre.

Like so many others in this profession, interior design is actually Palmer’s second career. She spent her first several years after university in investment banking and retail merchandising, but eventually found her way to her true calling as a designer, establishing her eponymous design firm in 2002. Since then, Palmer has been featured in numerous publications including ELLE DECOR, House Beautiful, Luxe, Traditional Home, and Domino. I have followed Palmer’s career since her Domino feature in 2008 and have found myself continually inspired by her talent and unique style. I recently had the opportunity to interview Palmer and am thrilled to share this installment of The Style Files with you today. Enjoy!


Paloma Contreras: How would you describe your style?

Palmer Weiss: Well, I’d say I’m a little bit country, I’m a little bit rock-n-roll. Just kidding, I have always wanted to say that in an interview! But seriously, I think describing your style is like describing who you are as a person and the lyrics speak to the fact that we all have so many sides to who we are and what constitutes our style. The question does not readily lend itself to a few sentences. My style is the melting pot of so many things: a reverence for history and classicism that comes from growing up in Charleston, my natural rebellious tendency to want to break rules and follow my own instincts, a Willy Wonka type need to make the world a happier and brighter place and an embarrassingly strong love of beauty and luxury.


PC: Has living in San Francisco influenced the way you decorate in any way?

PW: Absolutely! I love the lack of formality in our city. My clients appreciate nice things and luxury, but are not interested in pretension or having a home that is not relaxing and inviting. I am also heavily influenced by the weather and have spent the past 14 years trying to decorate myself and my clients out of a fog depression – hence my love of color! Finally, like myself, many people are East Coast transplants and while we love so much about our heritage and traditions, we have all embraced a more modern and free California lifestyle.


PC: What does your home say about you?

PW: That I work too much and need a professional organizer on speed dial!


PC: Where do you turn for inspiration?

PW: There are of course all of the expected sources that many draw from – art, nature, books, etc. But more than anything, I am inspired by anyone who is dedicated and excels at their trade regardless of what that is. It is the energy and effort to get up every day and try to be better that is inspiring. I am a rabid (albeit conflicted) football fan and I find particular inspiration in the effort and “leave it all on the field” mentality of so many players. My favorite player is wide receiver Torrey Smith who happens to be a stand-up person as well.


PC: What is your guilty pleasure?

PW: Spending the equivalent of a college education on Starbucks lattes.


PC: What trait do you most admire in a person?

PW: Integrity and the guts to stand up for what is right.

Weiss_Palmer-Washington_Res-0054PC: Who or what has been your greatest professional influence?

PW: My parents: My mom for her incredible style and design eye, my stepfather for his insistence on excellence and strong work ethic and my father for showing me how far good people skills can get you.


PC: What is your idea of living “la dolce vita”?

PW: Doing something you love for a living, spending as much time as possible with my kids and friends (ideally all at the same time) to laugh, be outside, drink wine, listen to good music and enjoy life. Oh, and being married to your best friend.


PC: What can we look forward to next from you?

PW: We are just finishing our own Sonoma house that has been a ground-up construction project. I worked with my parent’s very talented architect, Mark Paullin, out of North Carolina to collaborate on a West Indies meets Wine Country architectural style. Any designer will tell you that working for yourself is the most challenging undertaking, but it is also the most rewarding. I move in next week and cannot wait to start sharing it with friends and family! Photos to come soon….




Go-To Outfit: Skinny jeans, flats (I am running all day), Helmut Lang or other designer t-shirt and jacket.

Style Mantra: Feel happy in your body and you will look good in a potato sack.

Scent: Whatever shampoo I am currently using

Piece of Jewelry: My engagement ring. I love it as much today as I did when I received it 14 years ago.

Color I Never Tire Of: Any shade of green

Flower: Daffodils (they remind me of my birthdays as a child as my mom always gave them to me)

Indispensable Design Tool: I have to say Pinterest. It has revolutionized the way we organize our designs both internally and with clients. I am working on many out of town projects with architects, clients and contractors all in multiple places. We use the Secret Boards to vet ideas, choose products, review floorplans, etc. I am honestly not sure what we did before it!

Dream Project: I luckily just started it! An amazing compound in Montecito for existing clients I know and love. New construction working with the top architects from Santa Barbara on a beautiful piece of land. Every work trip ends with a few glasses of wine at the San Ysidro Ranch. Did I mention I love my job??!

Fabric/Textile: Robert Kime voiles, Carolina Irving prints and brightly-colored Elitis solids.

Hostess Gift: a well-chosen book

Meal: fresh pasta with tomato and basil

Drink: Kistler Chardonnay


Way to Unwind after a Long Day at Work: SF Bootcamp – It is my one chance to be outside in nature during the week and I love getting my rear kicked in so many beautiful spots in Golden Gate Park.

3 Things I Love About My City: the open mindedness, breathtaking natural beauty and all of the incredible destinations within 3-4 hour drive (Wine Country, Tahoe, Carmel)

Weekend Destination: My new Sonoma house!

Hotel: The Grand Hotel D’Ankor in Siem Riep Cambodia

City: Charleston

Artist: I was an art history major so the list is too long to cover here! However, my favorite person who is an artist is Rick Guidotti ( He gave up a lucrative career as a fashion photographer for Vogue and the likes, to photograph people with genetic differences and change the way we define beauty. His works are stunning and he is quite possibly the most inspirational person I have ever come across.

Song that Always Puts Me in a Great Mood: How It Feels To Be Free – Nina Simone

Actor/Actress: Sean Hayes (Jack from Will and Grace)

Prized Possession: my education

Risk Worth Taking: Telling someone the truth rather than what they want to hear.

Greatest Extravagance: A luxury SUV. It is diesel so I feel a bit better about the environment and I do my part elsewhere. It is so expensive (for me) and large that we all lovingly refer to it as “the apartment” as it could very well be one here in SF.

Go-To Color Palette: No go-to’s! I love so many combinations and tire quickly of ones already used.

Movie Set Design: Gone with the Wind

I can never have too many…laughs

Paloma Signature

{Images Courtesy of Palmer Weiss}

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Tell Me What You Think! leave a comment...

  1. Chic and sophisticated in her personal style and interiors. Just love the wallpaper and I definitely see a hint of her Southern roots in her design…stunning!