Ask the Experts: Trying a DYI Remodel?

The interior of Lucile Glessner's own Eichler home shows a mixture of modern, Asian, and traditional. All photos courtesy of Lucile Glessner

Are you thinking about revamping your interior but worrying about the cost of hiring a professional designer? Thinking about doing it yourself? Great idea, maybe.

“It all depends if you enjoy the process and can put in all the time to do it right. If some people love doing it themselves, they don’t need a designer,” says Lucile Glessner, a Sunnyvale Eichler owner and proprietor of Lucile Glessner Design, an interior design firm.

Glessner, who is LEED certified, has done interiors of offices, a martial arts school, condo lobbies, and much more, in a style that is modern, simple, and with canny use of color. She worked on a Greek Revival mansion in Palo Alto, and has worked on many Eichlers, which are close to her heart.

“Working in Eichlers is more difficult because of the electricity and plumbing,” she says, noting how hard it is to conceal pipes and wires in a home that lacks either crawlspace or attic. She’s had to install soffits in hallways and to widen beams to hide piping.

“It’s a challenge,” she’s said, “but the style of the Eichler, to me, is so great it’s worth the challenge.”

She is working on three Eichlers now, including one that is almost original, with original mahogany panels, floors, and unpainted ceiling. 

Glessner shows her touch in this remodeled kitchen in a Palo Alto Eichler

“It’s a challenge if your client wants to change the look of the actual Eichler. I generally will have a problem with that person if they are changing it too much, like putting a window in the front of the house.”

Then she had a client who wanted to redo an Eichler in a modern way then found a fiancée who preferred turning the house “traditional.” “I ended up stopping the job at that point,” Glessner says.

If you’ve got an Eichler that could use some interior improvement, a nicer kitchen or bath, or just better use of space or furnishings, Glessner says, the initial discussion is free for potential clients. She also provides consultations on an hourly basis.

“A consultation would be useful to help people gauge what they could do with the house. ‘This is how I would go about it,’ ” she says. “I could simplify their thought processes about how they would go about it themselves. I could give them ideas about who to talk to when they’re looking for contractors.”

It’s clear, though, and not surprising, that for most jobs, Glessner believes folks are better off to hire a professional. She notes that for many remodels a professional architect or interior designer is needed to prepare the plans used by the contractors. You’d do well to bring in a professional, too, when structural work is needed.

Glessner combines plantings with interior furnishings to create a nice indoor-outdoor connection.


“[Hiring] a designer would be good if you want the overall look to be consistent, [if you want] someone to think about the whole concept, versus the one bathroom you’re doing.”

Hiring a professional may not cost you money – it may save you some, she argues. “I pass on my discounts so you can save money [on the furnishings]. If you consider that time is money, I can save you lots of time, too. I make the process simpler, more enjoyable in general.”

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