Mill Valley is laden with globally minded travelers, but few here can likely match the expanse covered by residential interior designer Florence Livingston’s journey from her hometown to Tam Valley, where she’s lived since 2007.
Born in Réunion, an island in the Indian Ocean that is an overseas department of France located approximately 950 kilometers east of Madagascar and 175 kilometers southwest of the island of Mauritius, Livingston is 11,265 from her hometown.
Livingston left Réunion when she was 18 years old, first to earn a BFA in Interior Architecture and Design as well as a BS degree in Business from Université Paris Dauphine. After college, she came to the United States, tackling a four-month business program through UC Berkeley extension, and then design school at Academy of Arts University in San Francisco.
“I was always a creative soul but I think I didn’t really know growing up that that was an option,” she says. “The business degree for me was generic enough that I knew it was going to help me whatever I decided to do. But when I took the time to think about what I enjoyed doing – I just love to think about what a home is for someone and how to create a home for someone.”
Livingston’s passion for remodeling developed over the past 10 years working as a residential interior designer.
Not surprisingly, “our business has really boomed in the past two years,” she says. “I’m very grateful that everyone has been home and has wanted to remodel over the past few years,” she says. “I also believe that people have really come to realize how important it is to have a beautiful home environment. We’ve been lucky to get a lot of projects.”
That success, Livingston says, has allowed the firm, which she’d long operated out of her home, to open its own design studio in October 2021. Having a distinct space also allowed her to grow to a team of three.
With dedicated space outside the home, Livingston says she’s found the sweet spot for her business, as well as a balance with all the bounty that comes with living in Mill Valley. She lives in Tam Valley with her husband David and their 11-year-old son Luca.
“Like a lot of people who live here, proximity to nature really is so important to me, for our well being,” she says. “And I like how close it is to San Francisco, giving me access for my work to the people of Marin but also San Francisco and easy access to its showrooms.”
“Mill Valley still feels like a small town, especially now where our new office is at 465 Miller Avenue,” she says. “Having Tamalpie so close, I can walk to Whole Foods and the other restaurants, and I can take clients or vendors there.”And Livingston still has deep connections to her home island of Réunion and her French culture, frequently traveling to France and the rest of Europe to explore museums, discover local shops and find unique artists.