Offices in San Diego,
CA and Scottsdale, AZ
Phone: (858) 945-8866


Does your home or business need a facelift? Whether some minor tweaking is in order....or a complete overhaul, you will save yourself time and headaches by enlisting the aid of a client friendly company that offers professional design advice.


Bella Designs was founded in 2002, after designer Diane Swenson found her client base growing beyond what she could service as a part-time job. Since then, the company has successfully completed projects for a variety of residential and commercial clients across Southern California (with a home base in San Diego) and Scottsdale, Arizona, earning accolades such as the design excellence award from San Diego Home/Garden Magazine and the Best of Houzz Customer Satisfaction for 2013.


Bella Designs differentiates from other interior design firms by using a collaborative style that clients welcome. Since design is very personal, Diane begins every engagement by listening to her client’s needs and dreams -- which form the blueprint of her work. Whether she is involved on a consultative basis, or in a project management capacity, coordinating complex projects, she remains true to the client’s vision.

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    MEET DIANE SWENSONDiane earned a bachelor of fine arts degree, with an emphasis on interior design, from San Diego State University, which is accredited by the Foundation of Interior Design Education Research (now known as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation). Diane is also certified in "Feng Shui Friendly Residential Design". She continually supplements her formal education by attending trade shows, seminars and conferences to remain up-to-date on the latest design trends.

  • DESIGNER VERSUS DECORATORDesigner and decorator are terms that are mistakenly used interchangeably by many people, despite the fact that there are significant differences in the qualifications and job duties of these two professions.
    Interior designers have earned a college degree and may have successfully completed a two-day qualifying exam administered by the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ). They are trained in design aesthetics as well as safety requirements and architectural drawing, so they have the ability to envision, design, and facilitate the creation of numerous environments.
    Interior decorators typically focus on aesthetics; their work is limited to assisting with how environments look. They don’t have the training required to provide the depth of services a designer can offer.


Whether your interior design needs are vast or minor, Bella Designs is there to help. Our client-first philosophy means we listen to your needs, and provide solutions for them; we don’t try to oversell by convincing you to increase your project’s scope. While we delight in participating in total makeovers, we are just as happy to suggest minor design changes that result in significant enhancements.

Kitchen & Bath Design

Bella Designs employs a team of professionals to assist with kitchen and bathroom design, since they require a specific set of skills to ensure a fantastic result. We can help you with every aspect of these projects, including the selection of tile, appliances, sinks and tubs, and fixtures.
We find many of our clients know what they want, but they seek the reassurance of a professional designer to ensure they don’t make costly mistakes. We’re glad to serve as an advisor, providing recommendations with regard to style and usability, and also act as a project manager, coordinating the work of your entire project team.
When you design a new or remodeled kitchen or bathroom, you want to make sure the end result is something you’ll be happy with for years; Bella Designs has that same goal.

Window Treatments

Installing window treatments is an excellent way to change the look of any room. Whether you seek to make a subtle change to an existing design, or you need a finishing touch for a new look, Bella Designs can steer you through the almost overwhelming number of choices available, everything from wood blinds and Roman shades to all types of panels and draperies.
Aesthetics is only one of the elements that must be taken into account when choosing window treatments; heat, light and privacy also come into play. Once you’ve made your choice, Bella Designs brings in an excellent installer who handles the professional measuring and hanging duties. If you’ve decided on a custom fabric, we work with a local seamstress who expertly creates your unique window treatments.
From whimsical to traditional, window coverings are one of Bella Design’s specialties; we especially love providing economical ways to make a big difference in a room’s look.

Feng Shui-Friendly Design

As a certified feng shui-friendly residential designer, Bella Designs can incorporate elements from this 8,000-year-old practice into your home. You’ll be surprised at how making some often-subtle changes has a positive effect on environmental energy.
Bella Designs is happy to integrate feng shui principles into new design projects. In addition, we can conduct feng shui home reviews, providing recommendations and options to enhance your comfort and safety by facilitating balance and energy flow.
Feng shui is becoming increasingly popular in the U.S., as more and more Americans seek more balanced lives. Bella Designs has the expertise to allow you to experience the value of this age-old combination of art and science.

Color Consultation

Wall color, which often creates the initial impression of a room, is something that’s difficult to select for many people. Bella Designs can provide a palette of paint selections based on what you like and what’s already in your home or office. We can also make recommendations based on current trends and our experience about what works well in specificsituations.
Not only is getting a color consultation from Bella Designs convenient—you’re spared from visiting paint stores—but you gain the expertise of a professional who understands both the aesthetics and the psychology of color. Regardless of your taste, anything from neutrals to hot colors, or even specialized treatments like faux finishing, Bella Designs can guide you to make decisions that will complement your environment for years to come.
Once you’ve made your selection, we’re glad to recommend a painter and/or serve in a project management mode to get the job done right.


Space planning is a skill that separates interior designers from “mere mortals.” Most people find it difficult to visualize how items will look in a room, but designers are trained in doing just that. Whether your need is to enhance an existing room—changing the flow, or adding or taking away furniture—or fill up an empty room, Bella Designs has the expertise to make professional recommendations.
We love being challenged to maximize space for a specific use, whether it’s in your home or office. For example, we can plan the space in a child’s room to take into account the need for studying as well as entertaining friends. We enjoy demonstrating our creativity, even when working within limitations such as windows and doors. We use floor plan drawings to ensure your furniture is utilized in the most functional way, providing several alternatives from which to choose.
Bella Designs can provide complete space designs, including lighting and electrical plans and ADA-compliant elements, as well as merely help you take best advantage of your available space.

Furniture and Accessories

Making recommendations for new furniture and accessories—including items available from stores limited to designers—is just one way Bella Designs can help you change the look of a room. We can also reorganize your existing furnishings to result in a more pleasing or functional arrangement.
We can research specific types of pieces for you, go shopping with you, or merely make recommendations based on current styles, your taste and your budget. We save you time, by doing the legwork for you, and we’ll also be sure you get the best deal that’s out there.
Whether you seek to purchase an entire houseful of furniture, or you’re just searching for the “perfect” lamp or knickknack, Bella Designs is a resource you can count on.


The variety of choices available for flooring today can be quite mind-boggling: carpet, wood, laminate, vinyl, and many types of tile. Bella Designs can help you decide what’s best for your needs, taking into account both usage and aesthetic concerns. We can recommend specific kinds of flooring based on our research, or accompany you to flooring stores to gather information on possibilities.
While selecting the style of flooring you prefer and making appropriate choices (i.e., carpet color and pile depth, wood type, tile design, etc.) is an important facet of the process, so, too, is the installation. We can coordinate that process, working with multiple installers if necessary, or recommend professionals who will ensure your satisfaction.
We realize that style is typically on your mind when it comes to all décor aspects, but when it comes to flooring, we never let you forget that practicality is equally as important.

Model Home Staging

It’s no secret that four walls alone don’t go very far to sell a property; model homes are designed to attract buyers. Bella Designs has significant experience working with builders and Realtors to showcase properties in their best light. This includes choosing a design scheme and all the elements to accentuate it: furniture, accessories, paint, flooring, fixtures, etc.
Bella Design’s skills can create a wonderful first impression that helps close sales.

The Process

Communication is vital when it comes to the design process, so at Bella Designs, we ensure that you understand up front what you should expect as we move forward. We maintain frequent contact during all phases of your project; we are available to answer any questions that might come up and provide guidance on demand as required. There are three important elements to our communication.

What should I expect?

As we begin our relationship, it’s very important that you have a clear understanding of what to expect from us. There are two equally important components: financial and operational.

Financial Expectations

From a financial perspective, once we have determined the project scope, we will provide you with a contract that includes broken-out costs for our services and any required materials. Your approval of that contract will signal the official start of the project.
We always want you to be clear about your financial obligations, so we will immediately contact you in the event that something changes with respect to material purchases. We will not alter your charge for our services unless the scope of the project changes from its inception.
We work very hard to provide economical services, since we understand that for most people, interior design is an “extra” rather than a budget staple.

Operational Expectations

At the onset of your project, we will clearly outline what you should expect during the process and at its conclusion. The last thing we want is for you to have unrealistic expectations; this is especially important if you have never worked with an interior designer before.
Since we work in a consultative manner, you will be making all decisions with respect to your project. Our role is to serve as your consultant; we will provide you with advice and recommendations, but in the end we’ll be carrying out your instructions.

What are the steps?

Regardless of the nature of your project, there are a number of steps that must be completed to ensure your satisfaction. We will be in constant communication as we move through these steps, to make sure we remain on the same page.

Information Gathering

This just might be the most important step of all, as it’s when we will listen to you to determine what your desires are for your project. In addition to learning about your personal tastes in areas like color and style, we’ll also want to become familiar with how you will be using the space we’re designing. The more information we have up front, the better job we can do zeroing in on options that will delight you.


During this step, we take all the information we’ve learned from you and research the various possibilities. This may include getting fabric samples or paint chips, providing catalogs, working on schematics, and any other legwork that’s necessary to prepare you to make choices about the direction of the project.


Once you’ve made your choices, we get going to make everything happen. This includes ordering products, providing direction to a seamstress or other vendor, scheduling and overseeing installations, and basically doing what’s necessary to see your project through to completion. Depending on the complexity of your project, this may be a lengthy process…or it could happen even quicker than you imagine.


This is the time for us to review the finished product. We’ll make sure you’re happy with the finished product and answer any questions you may have. Your complete satisfaction is our only goal; during this step, we want to ensure that was accomplished.

What is my role?

Your role in the design process is a critical one, as we will be taking our direction from you. Since you have requested our assistance, we do request that you respect our opinions and rely on our expertise. That doesn’t mean you have to agree with everything we suggest, but we’d like you to remember that our recommendations are based on our training, our understanding of your needs and taste, and what is realistically possible.

Myth #1 - It's too expensive.
That can be true, but not with us. We work within your budget to get the results you seek.

Myth #2 - The end result won't reflect my taste.
While there are designers who try to force their tastes on clients, we don't. We advice and recommend - you always make the final decisions.

Myth #3 - Only wealthy people use designers.
We certainly welcome clients for whom price is not a concern, but most of our clients are "regular people" who value the expertise provided by a talented designer.


It’s certainly true that a picture is worth a thousand words, so we are pleased to present this gallery of before and after photos that document some of our many completed projects. Please feel free to ask for more information about specific work that catches your eye.


  • I never thought I'd employ the services of an interior designer, but after just about completing the look of my modern condo, I was stumped when it came to window treatments. Diane suggested some great alternatives and then provided me with wonderful fabrics from which to choose. The installer she recommended did a great job, too. The entire process was painless and the result is wonderful. Adrienne Moch

  • Diane is professional at every turn and a delightful person to have guide me in making major and minor changes in several rooms. I'll call her again. Patty Edwards

  • In our past experience with decorators, we felt the outcome reflected the designer's taste rather than our own. Our experience with Diane Swenson was entirely different. She got to know us, was able to combine practicality with elegance, and add a dash of fun. Diane helped us define and refine our ideas and choices, resulting in decor that suits our style and feels like our home. We absolutely recommend Diane and will use her expertise again. Steve & Christy Roach


What's hot right now? What design trends are people raving about throughout the industry? Check back often as we'll be updating this section with news to report.

BELLA DESIGNS of SAN DIEGO Receives Houzz’s 2013 ‘Best Of Houzz’ Award
SAN DIEGO, California -- January 21, 2013 – Bella Designs of San Diego, California has been awarded “Best Of Houzz” 2013 by Houzz, the leading online platform for residential remodeling and design. The 10 year old residential and commercial interior design firm was chosen by the more than 11 million monthly users that comprise the Houzz community.

The Houzz “Best Of Houzz” award for 2013 is given in two categories: Customer Satisfaction and Design.Customer Satisfaction award winners are based on homeowner members who rated their experience working withremodeling professionals in 12 categories ranging from architects, and interior designers to contractors and other residential remodeling professionals. Design award winners’ work was the most popular among th community of 11 million monthly users, also known as “Houzzers,” who saved more than 124 million professional images of home interiors and exteriors to their personal ideabooks via the Houzz site, iPad/iPhone app and Android app.

“Bella Designs differentiates from other interior design firms by using a collaborative style that clients welcome”.

“Houzz provides homeowners with an in-depth, 360-degree view of building, remodeling and design professionals through images of their work, reviews and an opportunity to interact with them directly in the Houzz community,” said Liza Hausman, vice president of community. “We’re delighted to recognize Diane Swenson among our “Best Of” professionals for exceptional customer service as judged by our community of homeowners and design enthusiasts who are actively remodeling and decorating their homes.”

With Houzz, homeowners can identify not only the top-rated professionals like Diane Swenson, but also those whose work matches their own aspirations for their home. Homeowners can also evaluate professionals by contacting them directly on the Houzz platform, asking questions about their work and evaluating their responses to questions from others in the Houzz community.
Click to view Press Release
Feng Shui is Hot
A new year always seem to elevate people's wishes for peace, health, and prosperity and Feng Shui can help turn those dreams into reality. Feng Shui certainly isn't a new trend—it's been around for more than 4,000 years—but it's seen a rebirth recently in the design industry.

When your home or business has good Feng Shui, you feel balanced, supported and connected in all areas of your life. If your personal or professional life needs adjusting, a Feng Shui consultation can provide remedies that will enhance and improve your circumstances. There's a lot more to it than merely moving around a few pieces of furniture.

Diane's Take: I became certified in Feng Shui five years ago and recently completed an advanced Feng Shui certification program because the principles of this ancient practice really intrigue me. I applied them to my latest commercial project, Marquis Pilates & Fitness in Tierrasanta, and the result (depicted in the photo) is amazing. You can see more of this studio's transformation on my newly updated website.

For those of you interested in enjoying the benefits of Feng Shui while you get fit, please visit
Outdoor/Indoor Living
Those of us who live in Southern California are fortunate to be able to enjoy outdoor activities year-round, but even in our weather-blessed area, summer is the high time for entertaining alfresco. There are endless possibilities for turning your backyard into a living space that's functional, comfortable and stylish. Here are a few tips:
  • If you love to cook in the great outdoors, consider installing a backyard kitchen; you might be surprised at the variety of cool appliances—sinks, refrigerators, grills and more—manufactured for outdoor use.
  • Consider using elements like draperies and pergolas to create an exterior "room" that, when filled with comfy furniture, may become your favorite place to relax.
  • Take time to research the detail components of your design, including lighting, tile colors and patterns, and decorative items like flowerpots.
Diane´s Take: Designing for an exterior space isn´t that much different from doing the same thing indoors; the same principles apply, and you just have to make a few tweaks to take the weather variable into account. If you're not sure how often you´ll make use of a revamped backyard space, start small and you can always add elements as you discover how much you enjoy getting out of the house without leaving home.
Design Apps to Die For
I admit it; I've become addicted to my iPhone and iPad. You, perhaps, are similarly enamored with these technology devices, which seem to put the whole world at our fingertips…and now there are a number apps available that can enhance the design process. Here are just a few:
  • Ben Capture Color, an app from Benjamin Moore, allows you match a snapshot of anything to one of its 3,300 colors. ColorSnap by Sherwin Williams provides the same thing for its 1,500 colors.
  • Several tile stores, including Dal-Tile and Crossville, have apps that allow you to browse beautifully crafted rooms that inspire the use of their products.
  • The Mark On Call app is a personal virtual designer that allows you to design rooms with accurate size and layout, including architectural features, floors and furniture.
Diane´s Take: I love it! If you've resisted getting an iPhone (or other app-enabled Smart phone), you may want to reconsider just based on the availability of any number of design-focused apps alone. These apps are useful tools…and they´re fun to use.
Accenting With Color
One of my dear friends has a home that her niece refers to as the "rainbow house," due to the many colors she s chosen to use on the walls of her open living/dining/kitchen space: deep blue, gold, red and purple. Most people aren´t quite that bold, but even if you choose neutral colors for your design palette, you can accent with color to add vibrancy and celebrate a particular season. Here are a few tips:
  • Choose a few colored accent pieces–pillows, lamps or rugs–to add some pizzazz. Yellow is a bold choice for spring that will also work for the summer months.
  • Introduce one colorful piece in the room's center, perhaps artwork, to create an eye-catching focal point.
If you re really color shy, you can still create an eclectic look by using different shades and textures of brown, beige, black, cream and white. You can even mix different styles to create an environment that´s all you.

Diane´s Take: Unless you´re as daring as my friend, it´s not a bad idea to stick with a neutral wall color and accent with color around the room. This strategy will allow you to swap out accent pieces occasionally to bring a whole new look, and it can be as easy (and inexpensive) as getting some new pillows or flowers.
Designing Around Your Big-Screen TV
The popularity of big-screen TVs has led to a common design issue: how do you incorporate this large piece of electronics into the overall design scheme of your home? Here are a few suggestions:
  • Hide or hang. Many people treat their big-screen TV as a work of art and hang it on the wall, while others prefer to hide it in a media cabinet. This is certainly a matter of personal choice rather than right or wrong.
  • Viewing distance. If you measure the distance from the viewer to the TV screen and divide it by three, you´ll learn the optimal screen size. For instance, if you´ll be sitting 120 inches from the set, the screen size should be 40 inches.
  • TV placement. Your TV will perform best when you can view it straight on, so it´s best to place it eye-level from a seated position. TVs in bedrooms should be somewhat higher, to avoid neck strain.
Diane´s Take: I don´t typically care for having a TV as the focal point of a room (unless it´s a screening room). I really don´t like the somewhat popular trend of displaying big-screen TVs over fireplaces; my suggestion would be to hide it in a decorative cabinet if that´s the where you want it.
Getting Into a Purple State of Mind
Decorating with purple? Absolutely! This versatile color can signal luxury when a deep hue is selected and be calming in its softer shades…and you certainly don´t have to limit its use to your walls.

Dark purples, everything from deep aubergines to blue-tinted shades, evoke a feeling of grandeur and formality. They´re great wall colors for living and dining rooms, and are also appropriate for accent pieces from rugs and glasses to lamps and chairs.

Softer purples, like lavender, are good choices for bedroom and bathroom walls, or for any room where you want a tranquil environment. This soothing color can soften dark furniture, and when used in accent pieces like rugs, sofas, bedding and chairs, it provides an unexpected cheeriness.

Diane's Take: I´ve always been a purple lover, so I say the more the merrier when it comes to using this great color to enhance your dècor. I have a beautiful purple wall in my own living room. Don t be scared to think out-of-the-box and go purple where it makes sense.
Designing With Green in Mind
While green is certainly a color to consider in your design plans, you may have surmised that this piece focuses on making design choices that benefit the environment. The good news is that going green isn´t hard to do; many "planet-friendly" products are available today and manufacturers will continue to add new options due to demand from an increasingly environmentally conscious population.

Here are a few suggestions on how you can incorporate green practices into your design choices:
  • Use rapidly renewable flooring products, like bamboo and linoleum, to help reduce the impact on land and resources
  • Select low-odor paint with zero volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • Specify sustainable furniture and fabrics that support using materials from rapidly renewable, post-consumer or post-industrial sources
  • Choose energy-efficient appliances to both lower your operating costs and support a sustainable environment
  • Consider whether the materials you choose are recyclable, so they can have a "next life" instead of ending up in a landfill
Diane´s Take: I´m very excited that more and more clients are asking me about environmentally friendly design options. We all need to work together to sustain our planet, and it´s very simple today to incorporate "green" into any project´s design.
Focus on Intangibles
Gone are the days when only the wealthy could afford items affixed with the luxury label. Many things once considered unattainable by "regular" people, i.e., high-end vehicles like BMWs, suites in four-star hotels, and first-class airline tickets, are now considered commodities due to their widespread availability.

While luxury has traditionally been equated with having a high price tag, that is no longer the case. Luxuries now are more intangible, and are focused on enhancing your life. Today´s luxuries include sleep, time, comfort and relaxation…because these are all things that are found in short supply in most people´s busy lives. You owe it to yourself to do what you can to create a luxurious environment that soothes and refreshes, and you´d be surprised how subtle changes in your home or office can do trick.

Diane´s Take: I´ve always been all about creating a comfortable aesthetic for my clients, so this luxury trend plays right into my strengths. As a way of enhancing the services I provide, I´ve recently started offering Private Quarters´ wonderful line of products for bed, bath and personal pampering. I hope you´ll visit to see what´s available and then schedule an appointment with me so you can feel the textures of affordable luxury.
Décor and Fashion Meld
The line between apparel and home interiors is starting to get a bit hazy, after years of seeing décor trail fashion on a consistent basis. Those who track trends say the advent of the Internet is driving the change. Women have immediate access to the latest fashions, which they want replicated in their homes; the colors they see on the runway are often ending up in their décor.

Black and white will always be classic in both the fashion and décor worlds, and accessorizing that look with bright tones works both on your body and in your living room. Metallics such as gold, copper, silver and bronze are another constant in both worlds, as are beaded and encrusted fabrics.

Diane's Take: Before you decide to reupholster your favorite chair in the pattern of a much-loved garment, or have a set of drapes made to match one of your wardrobe staples, be sure it actually makes sense to do so based on the total look of the room.
Appliances Get Colorful
While white appliances remain popular—along with trendy stainless steel—major manufacturers are catering to consumers´ love of color by offering products with finishes in a rainbow of colors, everything from Tomato Red and Eggplant to Midnight Blue and Lemonade. (Never fear, no Avocado Green!)

Colorful washers and dryers are all the rage, as homeowners seek to dress up laundry rooms to incorporate them into their homes´ design schemes. Stainless steel remains king for kitchens, but colored refrigerators and ranges are starting to be introduced, with red being a particularly hot choice.

Diane´s Take: Purchasing a colored appliance is not something you should do on a whim. Since appliances have a long life, you want to be sure the color you choose is one you´ll want to live with for some time.


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We look forward to working with you on your next interior design project. Please contact us in the manner most convenient to you and we will be more than happy to answer your questions with a complimentary phone consultation.


Offices in San Diego,
CA and Scottsdale, AZ
Phone: (858) 945-8866