Carolyn Robbins Site Design

Carolyn Robbins Site Design

5.0 (1)
2 employees
36 years in business

About this pro

I run a full design agency and I believe in my clients doing much of the design work and helping them with whatever they need. Often I will design the full project but I try to find out my clients style as much as I can. I do commercial projects too and specialize in restaurants, kitchens and baths. 

I enjoy helping people and I love to design. I also like working with contractors in the buildng process. 

Read more about this pro


Novato, CA 94949
Email verified
Phone verified

1 Review


  • Ines Cortes

    The work she performed was incredibly creative and very professional. She is a problem solver and one of the most interesting designers I have met. The work was impeccable, delivered on time, beautiful and within budget.

Photos & Videos


What is your typical process for working with a new customer?

I am very comfortable sketching ideas on a first meeting. Usually I find this is helpful since it comes easy for me and so often the client needs help visualizing. I ask about the functional areas the clinets live with now, and what they would like to change. I also ask them about what they like about the architecture they live in and a bit about the esthetics they prefer. Most of the time I'm inquisitive as is my nature, but for me, leaving some ideas behind is what I strive for. Since I have also done a fair amount of commercial work, I'm pretty good at estimating costs from the get go. 

What education and/or training do you have that relates to your work?

I have built over 40 restaurants and 25 residences in my thirty years as a designer and project manager. I have training in corporate identity graphic design and architecture. Most of my educational experience has come from my grandfather who was an architect builder and my motheer the same. I draft well and understand construction equally. 

Do you have a standard pricing system for your services? If so, please share the details here.

I charge $125. for design services and consultation on design. My fee for working with contractors is $70. per hour when not associated with a job priced and invoiced by me. In the latter case, the fee is part of the job cost. I charge $35. for travel time and $45. for administration time. I would call myself unique in charging various percentage fees for each job I manage. Some are easy and some not. For this reason, I believe it is more fair for the client and for the budget, to charge according to the difficulty of adminstering each material and labor job. I would be happy to explain this in more detail. Usuually it means there is more money for the details that mean the most for the success of the project.  

How did you get started in this business?

I made adobes in the hot sun in New Mexico for my granddad, Leon Watson, who build the classic adobe homes. I hated that job but I learned a lot! To this day his homes are on historic registers. He taught me the principals and good design and construction. My mother remodeled homes in Marin County, California and taught me how to manage construction and how to draw. I was brought from Macy's downtown SF where I worked in store planning to design a 130 room hotel in Coconut Grove, Florida, with each room various themes. From there I went on to become an interior designer.  

What types of customers have you worked with?

Every kind you can imagine. Restaurant, nightclub owners, retail shop owners, CEOs in business for offices, convention rental agents, hotel owners and many unique residential clients. 

Describe a recent event you are fond of.

I recently attended a wedding on a ranch complete with dancing under the stars and outside grilling and wonderful lantern lit tents. 

What advice would you give a customer looking to hire a pro in your area of expertise?

I write quite a bit on Quora if you would like to know the details of my customer experience and suggestions. In a nutshell though here is my best advice: Look carefully at the work the designer has done and how it feels different for each client. I believe the project should reflect the client's natural style and not the market style. Talk to people who have hired the designer and find out if they are happy. Find at least two contractors who have worked with that designer and get their feedback too. Make sure that everything is well drawn out and estimated, before proceeding with construction. 

What questions should customers think through before talking to pros about their needs?

What areas don't work for us in our home? What functions do we use for each room and which ones would we like to add? What styles are we drawn to? What styles have we lived with? What did we like and not like about the home we grew up in? What budget would be ideal? If you feel uncomfortable to reveal the budget to your designer, then you may incur the cost of redesign. It's always a good idea to know what are the peramiters. What is your ideal timeline? Are you a visual learner or not? If not, how do you best learn?