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The home is the biggest purchase people make, with the exception of those who bought limited-edition Beanie Babies in 1997. Because it's such a large investment, it's important to keep it looking its best. That's where interior decorators and the Dream House Company steps in. They meet with home sellers to stage homes, making rooms look their best to attract buyers. They also consult with new owners, or those simply looking for a change, helping them decorate and taking them on shopping trips to use her professional discount at several major homewares retailers.

1401 Park Avenu #408
Emeryville,
CA
US

A Southwest-based company for more than a century, Frazee Paint and its team of manufacturers are well acquainted with the unique climactic conditions of the region. Always pulling from the latest technology, their technicians design each of their paint and coating products to withstand dry heat, sparse rainfall, and showers of chewing tobacco from passing cowboys. Their quality paints, wall-coverings, wood-care products, and painter's tools stock the shelves of more than 125 retail locations throughout California, Arizona, and Nevada, as well as international dealers in Mexico, China, and Guam.

4881 Telegraph Ave
Oakland,
CA
US

Although a mirror only reflects your façade, your home ought to reveal your true self. The designers at Heather Cleveland Design take this into account as they create interior designs that transform the four walls of a home into a comfortable refuge. After mapping your movements from room to room, they create a cohesive and efficient layout. Then they build upon this foundation by selecting color palettes, pieces of furniture, and decorations that reflect your personality.

When they aren't helping homeowners settle into their domiciles, they can help them move out—and potentially get a better price for their home—through staging. This strategic interior design technique highlights unique features with major design overhauls or subtle changes in lighting and decor. If necessary, the designers can recommend a few renovations, such as repainting with flattering colors, adding new flooring, or replacing a beaded curtain with an actual front door.

2012 Sandcreek Way
Alameda,
CA
US

Because memories have slippery wrists, they're difficult to hold. Place them in a pillory for $50 with today's side deal: an hour-long photo session with Joey Chandler Photography (a $250 value). Say "cheese" anywhere in San Francisco (parks, playgrounds, homes, post offices, etc.) during the shoot. Afterward, you'll receive all of your images in a handy digital format on CD. If you want your picture taken outside of San Francisco, an additional $50 fee will apply (paid directly to the photographer).

96 Forbes Avenue
San Rafael,
CA
US

Barbara Kaufman created her first painting in 1980. It was in a process class where she sat in front of a blank sheet of paper and felt “A push. And this fear. And all this possibility and absolutely nothing at the same moment.” So she began scribbling, and something happened. “Something always happens,” she says. “That white paper never remains white.” It was an exhilarating feeling––an infectious feeling she hasn’t lost in more than 30 years as her paintings have accumulated and signposted her life as an artist, a teacher, a mother, and a cofounder of The Painting Studio. Barbara wasn’t born with a brush in her hand––she came to painting later in life––yet she'd carved a path straight toward it without realizing. She had nurtured a teacher's patience as a certified speech therapist, played with ingredients and recipes while running a vegetarian restaurant in Europe, and found the joy of a journey when hitchhiking to San Francisco. These seemingly disparate events form, as she describes, a relationship with creativity—with life—that focuses on the exploration rather than on the product. It’s a relationship that she carries into the studio, where she encourages students to play with their own creative energy rather than work with visual prompts or technical advice. In a talk she gave entitled “Stepping Into the Unknown” at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, she acknowledges that “the process doesn’t listen to me.” But then adds that the key to her unprocessed method is, in fact, “the letting go of control––the kicking and screaming.” Since her first painting kicked and screamed its way onto a blank piece of paper in 1980, Barbara has helped “ignite the creative desires” of students from diverse stations in life. And above all else, her workshops are adventures, though without the typical treasure map and jetpack. Together, she and her students spend time exploring a life that is nothing but their own.

300 Chenery St
San Francisco,
CA
US

Family-owned and operated since the mid-1970s, Fregosi and Co. Paints is a local paint business and retailer of Benjamin Moore products. The blossoming company features four Bay Area locations, including this friendly South-of-Market showroom. Old-fashioned, knowledgeable customer service here comes straight from one of three generations of Fregosis and their staff, answering all paint-related questions with easy charm and industry know-how, but none of the pretension that can sometimes overwhelm folks at similar shops. These guys may provide the industrial-sized paint supplies and services to large-scale hotels and office buildings, but they are always happy to assist small contractors and DIY-ers with issues from color matching to tricky finishes. The showroom also supplies your peripheral paint needs, like tape, brushes and dropcloths.

273 7th St
San Francisco,
CA
US