• Sylvia Westphal

Why We Started Herringbone & Brass

In 1999, I decided to add a roof deck to our Santa Monica home. I’d never managed a major home project on my own, but I took on the challenge and was thrilled with the end result.


One by one, I started taking on more remodeling and building projects: A full renovation of a colonial in Brookline, a gut remodel of a historic brownstone in Back Bay, a modern beach-home build in the South Shore—until I’d remodeled or built 10 luxury properties.


I loved imagining what a space could look like and seeing the vision come through after months of hard work, and I thoroughly enjoyed project managing the whole process. After working with multiple teams of builders, landscapers, and designers, I started to develop a deep understanding of the factors that lead to a successful real estate journey—particularly the prominent role of design.


To help illustrate why that design role is so important, I’ll share why I started the firm, how it’s changed over the years, and why we’ll continue to do the work that we do.



A Missing Piece in the Luxury Real Estate Journey


I decided to apply these newfound remodeling skills in a more formalized way by working in luxury real estate. I wanted to take what I’d learned about project management, timelines, and design, and help others find similar success for their particular journey. But in my work with clients, I noticed a disconnect: many luxury homeowners didn’t realize just how much time and work is involved in getting a large or lived-in home ready to put on the market.


I realized these clients were missing out on a crucial step in making their homeselling journey more successful—a presale design service. This service was an essential missing piece of their real estate puzzle, and I wanted to use my remodel and build experience to help them feel confident and informed in their sale decisions.


I reached out to Amy Bishop, an interior designer who’d made a name for herself as a set and production designer in Hollywood before working for several well-known interior design firms in New York and Boston. With her vast experience in design and my personal and professional experience in real estate, I knew we could help fill this gap for high-end homeowners.



What Sets Herringbone & Brass Apart as a Presale Design Service


Herringbone & Brass was founded to serve the needs of luxury homeowners in the presale process. Not only is our team known for being responsive and available, but we also pride ourselves on listening to our clients’ needs and making sure their home and their furnishings work for them.


While some design firms can be almost dogmatic about their aesthetic—e.g., pushing clients to purchase something that will look good for the firm’s portfolio but perhaps isn’t true to what works for the client—Herringbone & Brass is incredibly intentional about focusing on what the homeowner truly needs. We want to provide our expertise and advise what will look best in a space, while also preserving, highlighting, and incorporating the unique aspects of the home.



Our Mission: We style and design beautiful spaces for, and with, our clients that help them live well, while enhancing and highlighting key features that maximize their luxury home's potential, regardless of whether they decide to stay in it or sell it.

As our base of clients and referrals has grown, so has our team. Since founding Herringbone & Brass, we’ve added another full-time interior designer, whose expertise lies in commercial spaces, as well as a junior designer and assistant. Each team member brings their own experience and expertise to Herringbone & Brass, helping us to serve a broad range of clients and projects. We will continue to evolve our team and services to meet the needs of our clients.


Why “Herringbone & Brass?”


Real estate and real-estate-adjacent firms often use personal names in their company names. But to me, our team’s work is not about any of us as individuals or about what we want for our portfolio—it’s about the client: what they want, how we get along and vibe, and how exactly our team can help them. I wanted to keep the name focused on those collaborative, presale design outcomes. Hence, two of the most classically modern patterns and finishes in interior design (and two of my personal favorites).


Herringbone is an especially interesting floor and tile pattern. It has movement but is also symmetrical, creating visual interest without too much distraction. There’s texture without being overwhelming. It’s subtle but beautiful.



Herringbone tile pattern in kitchen backsplash with stainless steel appliances.

The gradient tiles paired with the perfect symmetry of the herringbone pattern gives this backsplash just the right amount of appeal.


Brass is a more muted, warm finish. It's one of the most beautiful tones to use as an accent for hardware or for decorative objects.


White and blue cabinets with white diagonal trapezoid tiles, stainless steel appliances in renovated Brooklyn kitchen.

The brass hardware in this Brooklyn kitchen gives the space an inviting yet elevated feeling.


Why We Care About This Work


We believe clients should be able to live well, make informed real estate decisions, and sell their properties fast and successfully. To us, being the preeminent presale design service firm requires our work to be:

  • Bespoke: Every home has a unique story, and we edit each space—starting with existing furnishings and decor items—to enhance its key features.

  • Collaborative: We style and create beautiful designs for—and with—clients. We always build these projects around individual timelines, budgets, and goals.

  • Magazine-worthy: We bring in only the best colors, fabrics, and finishes—all to give sellers, prospective buyers, and homeowners that “Wow!” feeling.

I continue to do this work because not only do I love creating gorgeous designs with our clients; I also want to give clients that assurance and same sense of both excitement and relief in their real estate journey that I felt on my first, second, and tenth home projects.


If you’re a luxury homeowner looking to feel more confident about and informed in your presale design options, contact us about a free consultation.