Eye for Pretty’s Nicole Salceda Creates Inspiring Spaces Using Warm Minimalism

In the realm of interior design, Nicole Salceda from Eye for Pretty stands out for her impeccable taste and a knack for infusing warmth into minimalist spaces (coined warm minimalism). Recently, she wrapped up a transformative whole-house project, where one standout feature captured attention: the Native Trails Avalon 62 bathtub in Ash, masterfully appointed in the primary bathroom.

Designer uses a NativeStone concrete tub in color Ash to perfectly complement warm minimalism design style
NativeStone Avalon 62 in Ash elevates this space into a sanctuary for relaxation

Nicole Salceda, the Bay Area-based designer behind Eye for Pretty, started her interior design business a decade ago with a few friends-turned-clients. Today, she’s grown it into a rapidly expanding portfolio full of homes in her signature style, warm minimalism. The style is characterized by its ability to effortlessly balance the starkness of minimalism with cozy elements, infusing rooms with warmth through carefully curated details.

For one recent whole-house design, which is pictured throughout this blog, Nicole appointed the primary bathroom with our NativeStone Avalon 62 tub in the Ash finish; its earthy yet sophisticated presence exemplifies her ethos, serving as a focal point that harmonizes with the bathroom’s design, while adding a touch of organic warmth.

Here, we talk getting started as an interior designer, tips and tricks for aspiring designers – and most importantly – why she picked a NativeStone tub.

Crafted from sustainable materials, the Avalon 62 perfectly complements Salceda’s aesthetic

Let’s talk about the bathroom that you designed with our NativeStone Avalon tub. Can you tell me about your design process and how that project unfolded?

It was our first spec build with our builder. I feel like the word spec kind of turns people off, and they think it’s very basic and as cheap as possible. But in fact, this house was the exact opposite. It’s a really custom home. The only reason I say “spec” is because we did not have a client in mind for it yet. We were always going to sell it. So I was fortunate enough to be the client myself, and I basically designed what my next dream home would look like.

We stayed true to our Eye for Pretty aesthetic and brand, but also, I pushed myself a little bit in that house. I went a little bit moodier. We went with darker tones and we went more organic and natural, which is where the tub came into play. I knew I wanted the primary bathroom to be a statement. It was a really large space, and I knew that the Native Trails tub would be like the perfect showstopper focal point.

A walk-in shower featuring marble tiles and a peak of our NativeStone Avalon 62

Have you worked with our products in the past?

We have used some of your sinks, which I’ve loved as well. But this was the first time using the Avalon.

What made you want to work with Native Trails products? And what do you love most about them?

I like the brand story and the unique characteristics of the products. Especially in California, we’re seeing a lot of natural materials. I loved that the tub was unique and different, and I think that in a custom home, that was going to appeal to a lot of people.  

Eye for Pretty uses Nipomo in Ash in 2019 project

Speaking of brand stories – we love yours! Can you tell us about the ‘Eye for Pretty’ origin story, including your transition from elementary school teacher?

I always tell people, this is definitely my second life, my second career. I loved teaching. I was super passionate about it, but as my kids got older, it was time to transition out of it. My husband and I started working on our own homes. And then I started working on my friends’ homes, and just by word of mouth, I got super busy, and I was like, “Hey, I could do this full time.” So I made the jump.

A functional living space that embodies Salceda’s design style, warm minimalism

What advice do you have for interior designers who are just starting out?

My advice is to take some time to set the foundation for success. Talk to other interior designers, see what programs they’re using. And don’t be afraid to ask for help and support!  I jumped in because all the work was coming my way, and I was saying yes to everything I could, so I put the business side on the backburner.

The best thing I did was to hire out as soon as I was able to.

A lot of us think that’s an added expense to our business. But really, it’s going to be making us money if we hire the right people — so things like having a technical designer, someone who could come in and do AutoCAD and SketchUp much faster than I can has been really beneficial to my business.

How would you describe your design aesthetic in just three words?

California, transitional, organic.

An organic wood table and opulent lighting anchor this dining space

What’s your design mantra or motto?

Do what makes you happy and don’t worry about what anyone else thinks.

What’s something people don’t understand about being an interior designer?

It’s not just about pretty things or shopping. It is a ton of paperwork and business, and just a lot of work.

What does every kitchen need?

A functional island people can gather around.

A gorgeous, functional island featured in Salceda’s spec house project

What does every bathroom need?

A really pretty moment, whether it’s the tile or the faucet or the vanity or the tub.

Who or what is inspiring you right now?

Travel is always really inspiring. We live close to wine country and Napa Valley. Anytime I get to get away and have a fresh perspective on life and nature, that’s always inspiring to me.

A California casual primary suite

What three interior designers are you most excited about?

Ali Faulkner from AEF Interiors. I just did a workshop with her, and listening to her business mind and how fast she’s grown is really inspiring. Also, the queen — Shea McGee — because I am so in awe of everything she does and how she runs her company and how fast she’s grown. And then, as far as new designers that are just starting out, I met a gal named McKenzy Golding at Goldenbird Design. She just started, and she’s doing everything right.

Find more designer spotlights and projects featuring our products on our blog.

All images courtesy of: Eye for Pretty & Jessica Brydson Photography