Claudia Morales: Communication is Key in the OC

Claudia Morales understands that to have a happy client you need a unique set of design skills and the ability to forge a strong line of communication.

Thanks for joining us, Claudia! Tell us a little bit about your training in interior design and how you came to choose both the profession and location.

Having been born and raised in Berlin, Germany, I strongly feel the international aspect of my upbringing paved the path that I was born to follow….interior design was definitely in my blood! I was taught very early on by my Grandmother and Mother that it’s not a bad thing to constantly move furniture around to give your home a whole new look.  By the time I was 12 years old, I confidently stated: “I would like to be a Photographer and an Interior Designer”.  I initially chose the photography route, studying in NYC at FIT for Fashion Photography, and later after moving to Los Angeles, I became a color effects designer for Film and Television.  Within that time I, too, constantly moved furniture around. I pretty much “remodeled” every room I lived in starting with my dorm room in Munich, Germany. Very quickly, I discovered that one of the least expensive changes one can do to a room to make it feel new & fresh, is through paint. I decided in my early 40’s to finally go the Interior design route full force and attended UCLA extension where I was awarded a certificate in Interior Design.

Is Southern California a challenging market for interior decorating? What are some of the major influences for the area?

I would say that the Southern Californian market is not necessarily more or less challenging than any other area in the country. Our urban areas have some highly creative individuals designing, ranging from bold and outrageous to ultra modern and high end. In the OC you most definitely still can find an over the top, cluttered design that the McMansions seemingly demand. Due to Southern California’s location, the area may be a little bit more specific on certain design decisions one has to make for instance, designing beach homes/cottages to implement an indoor/outdoor kind of vibe, or enhancing and complementing Spanish colonial architecture. Spanish Colonial architecture is still very predominant here in southern California, old or new construction.

What’s your design philosophy? How do you try and implement it in your work? 

It most definitely is a very precise process.  I like to plan things out in minute detail (probably my German background).  The communication process is not only finding out in great detail what my clients are requiring, it also involves getting to know them on a very intimate level.  And then, I can now start the process of my design.  In a kitchen and bathroom remodel I always do extensive drawings so there are no open ended questions from my clients or my contractors. Everything is documented. I feel my design philosophy starts with ultimate organization.

Are your clients typically looking for big jobs, or a room-by-room type thing? 

It really has varied.  Some like to start out slow, with one room at a time and then move to additional areas.  At times it can be a cost issue or depending on the potential scope of the project, they may want to experience the personal dynamic first before committing completely. A home remodel can at times be extremely anxiety ridden, so it is crucial that you get along on so many levels as you will be spending an enormous amount of time together.  Larger projects of this scope can run continuingly for well over a year. Other clients immediately just want to get the project completed.

When it comes to floor coverings, tell us how you incorporate area rugs into your designs. 

Area rugs are most definitely a very important part of interior decorating in pulling a seating cluster together successfully.  One example: I just specified a beautiful, custom living room area rug for a client of mine.  This rug was definitely a showstopper.  In order to not hide this beautiful rug we added a very simple, yet striking coffee table all in glass.  They were both able to shine, in this instance each on their very own.

Area rugs add some warmth to space. What are some other ways they can be used?

In some cases they can definitely be room dividers.  If one has a very large room with several different seating vignettes, area rugs most definitely can add to that division by either pulling those vignettes together, or deliberately setting them apart.

Do you have any types of rugs you use more often than others in Southern California? Favorites for certain homes? 

I’ve most recently have implemented a lot of Seagrass flooring.  Wall to wall, or as area rugs.  They fit perfectly in cottage/mid-century type homes located in beach towns like Laguna or Newport Beach.  In more contemporary homes I have implemented large, shag type area rugs where location per se didn’t seem to be a factor.

Any other tips or tricks for using area rugs?  

I feel the most common mistake made is purchasing an area rug that is either too big, or too small.  If furniture has not been purchased yet I feel it is important that one has a professional draft a furniture plan layout. If furniture is already in place and the only item missing is an area rug, simply just measure the area and put tape down for visualization purposes.  This is a simple way to do it yourself with very good results.

Where can readers find your work, or make a booking for an estimate?

They can either contact me directly at (213) 248-4802, or preview my website first at


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