Updated: Jan 13, 2019
Christine Werlin is a Bainbridge Island designer who creates beautiful, functional spaces that solve problems and meet each client's needs, all within budget.
Decorating is part of Christine Werlin’s DNA. For as long as she can remember, Christine has been redecorating rooms, rearranging furniture, and advising friends and relatives on how to beautify and maximize their living spaces. When Christine was growing up, her mother would regularly enter the front door, stop dead in her tracks, and shout: “Christine! Get down here and put all the furniture back!”
As a child, Christine spent a lot of time making her bedroom look exactly as she wanted it. She’d raid the rest of the house for the right pieces, stage her room perfectly, and photograph it. Her love of interior design extended into imaginary play. “For me,” Christine recalls, “playing with Barbie dolls wasn’t about the Barbies. While all my friends were into changing Barbie’s clothes and doing her hair, I was making Barbie’s furniture and setting up her house.”
Christine’s dad, an attorney-turned-general-contractor who was an early house-flipper, would let Christine keep funky old finials and interesting salvage pieces. He liked to bring Christine along to look at prospective properties and help assess interior options.
Born and raised in Sacramento, CA, Christine went to college to study interior design. But she completed her design projects so quickly and proficiently that her professors ran out of assignments. Christine found herself cleaning and reorganizing storage rooms. Bored, she switched to business marketing. Even there she outperformed. During her senior year, she held down a fulltime job running a nationwide visual merchandising program for a San Francisco based company—a job that required travel—while going to school.
LIFE BY DESIGN
Careers and life pulled her and her husband JP (who she met in college) across the states and around the globe. After spending a year backpacking abroad, the couple landed in Seattle where Christine worked for a retail design firm. After a short-lived stint in Belltown and Queen Anne, work took the couple to Salt Lake City and Westchester, PA. Years passed, and along the way, they had two children.
Christine quit her job as a director of marketing and became a fulltime mother and “remodelholic.” In 2010, ready for an ideal place to raise and educate kids, the family moved to Bainbridge Island. They still live in the house they bought eight years ago—Christine’s continual redesign project. “I wanted a house with good bones—and something I can tear into. I’m usually drawn to unusual houses with a lot of character and problems that need solving. But on Bainbridge, we bought a spec house. I love the house, but I’m still turning it into my vision.”
As Christine integrated into the Seattle community, friends would rave about what she’d done with her house and beg her to help with theirs. “I was the remodelholic who remodeled my own spaces and my friends’ spaces, helping them shop and set up their homes. But it got out of hand. Soon, people I barely knew started calling me: ‘You’re the one who can help me with my flooring selection!’ And I’m like, who are you?” JP suggested Christine start charging for her work. She decided to test the waters.
Christine arranged to meet with a group of real estate agents — one of whom was Shannon Morgan — and pitched her staging and interior design skills. “Within three days, I had my first staging job. The week after that, I landed my first interior design project. I didn’t even have a business set up yet! I had to scramble for contracts and software.”
Christine got busy—busier than she wanted to be. After the first year and a half, she realized the staging side of her business was eating everything up. And she found herself buying specific pieces for staging specific homes, just because she could see how good a property could look. Not a good strategy for a stager.
Today, Christine can focus on her real love: Design, with a focus on problem-solving. “I’m a fixer. When I go into a space, I see things right away. I see the problems and I see the solutions. Whether it’s an unfortunate remodel or a house with too many conflicting styles, I love finding the solutions while respecting the aesthetic integrity of the house.”
When it comes to seeing the options, Christine encourages clients to push boundaries. “I like to work with people who are brave. One of my clients told me the design idea she was most afraid of doing turned out to be her favorite part of all. I love that.”
When a project is done, Christine wants her clients to love their new space—and to feel, in retrospect, that it was almost too easy. “Interior design should not be a scary ordeal or intimidating commitment,” Christine says. “My job is to make it look easy. I also try to educate my clients, explaining the design process and principles so that later, when they’re shopping on their own, they feel confident and empowered in their choices. I love it when a client sends me a photo of a new piece and says, ‘Look what you taught me!’”
Many people think hiring an interior designer means signing on for a big-budget project, but it doesn’t have to be that way. “I charge by the hour,” Christine explains. “If you have an idea and want to run the idea by me, I’ll come and take a look. I can come to your home and edit your existing items or help you think about your space in a new way.”
Christine invites curious community members to visit her studio at the Farm Business Park, 8893 Three Tree Lane NE, #3. “Stop by,” Christine says. “I’m offering a style and look that isn’t found elsewhere on Bainbridge. You can come in and order a sofa or buy a decorative element. Sometimes I can’t even get new pieces into the studio. Recently, someone bought a lamp from me as I was unloading it from my car!” You’ll love slipping into a beautiful modern chair in Christine’s studio. Just don’t bring the Barbies, unless you’re ready for a Barbie-sized design project.
Find out more about Christine at www.christinewerlin.com.