Home & Garden

The fine art of ambience

Shelli Palma, owner of Palma Home Design, with a holiday-themed display in her Nipomo showroom.
Shelli Palma, owner of Palma Home Design, with a holiday-themed display in her Nipomo showroom. Moments Like This Photography

Shelli Palma has made a career of creating the right ambiance — be it for a special event or for everyday living.

An interior designer since 2002, she opened Arroyo Grande’s Coastal Mattress & Furniture in 2006. When the recession forced her to downsize, she closed the store and opened Palma Home Design in 2008.

Palma Home Design is a furniture discount store and interior design studio that deals mostly in special orders. Shelli is able to offer 35 percent to 40 percent discounts off retail pricing because she is in a small showroom within the Nipomo Swap Meet.

Earlier this year, Shelli added Ambiance Event Design to her slate of services, which evolved from years of styling weddings for friends and family. Now, she handles all types of events, including weddings, quinceañeras, and holiday parties.

While Shelli has decorated her share of extravagant corporate shindigs, she also has plenty of easy, budget- friendly party advice up her sleeve.

“Think of fun things you can make with items you already have, or inexpensive items,” she said.

An easy holiday project, good for involving kids, is creating snowflakes out of cardstock and stringing them on colorful ribbon. Hang them from the ceiling or doorways, drape them on the tree or even tie them around your everyday vases for a festive touch. The best part: Winter-themed items won’t look dated after Christmas and can stick around for New Year’s festivities and beyond.

Another simple way to transition from Christmas to your New Year’s Eve party is to add an additional color to your holiday decor, such as chartreuse or hot pink. Then, incorporate practical party supplies into your decorations. Fill vases with noisemakers or sparklers and use masquerade masks or paper hats to brighten up place settings.

When the party is over and your home is stripped of its festive trappings, it’s often a good time to reevaluate your style. For this, Shelli offers a range of packages — everything from a full, computerized interior design scheme for one room for $125 (you put the room together yourself), to full-service packages starting at $500.

You don’t have to be a design client to take advantage of the discounts at Palma Home Design, however. The store is open to the public during the Sunday swap meet, and the rest of the week by appointment.

The showroom is about the size of a two-car garage and therefore has limited floor models. Customization, as with fabrics and finishes, is somewhat limited. Shelli does make custom draperies and pillows for clients and sells only solid wood furniture.

She acknowledges that not everyone is comfortable catalog shopping for furniture. But if you’re willing to do it, you can reap some deep discounts. For instance, one of the store’s top sellers is its $500 sectional that combines microfiber and vinyl. Customers can test out a model that Shelli keeps on the floor, then order the piece in one of six different colors.

Palma Home Design is open 10 a.m. to 2 p. m Sundays, and by appointment 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. It is in the Nipomo Swap Meet & Flea Market, 263 N. Frontage Road in Nipomo, 550-3732, www.palma homedesign.com.