People & Community

Friday, Feb 22 2013 12:42 AM

Real People: Roger Upton, interior designer

Compiled by Hillary Haenes

He fell in love with designing during his early grade school years. Roger Upton, 58, sees design in everything. In fact, interior design is only one facet of his business, Roger Upton Design.

Upton recently closed his downtown shop after 25 years to concentrate on his clients' projects. He's currently taking on a restaurant remodel, and is in the process of redesigning several homes. He's also completing the scenery and costume designs for Cal State Bakersfield's "The Taming of the Shrew," which will run from Feb. 28 to March 3 at the Dore Theatre.

Related Photos

Roger Upton explains the process of the stencil and design work on the ceiling seen throughout the Guild House.

Learn how Upton got his start in the designing business, what services he offers, and get tips on how to brighten up your home for springtime.

How did you get started in interior design?

My family moved to Bakersfield at the beginning of my high school years, and that's when I took to working in costume and scenery theater design. After graduation, I started working at Brock's Department Store in the display department where I learned the retail side of design. While working my way up the ladder at Brock's, I continued designing for all of the local theaters, which worked its way into interior design.

After Brocks, I opened Renaissance, a boutique interior design and antique store on H Street. It thrived there for 19 years, before moving to 18th Street in 2008, where it transformed into Roger Upton Design.

I have designed the sets for The Bakersfield Business Conference, Bakersfield Centennial Party of the Century, as well as countless fashion show backgrounds, runways and bridal events. I still enjoy doing the costumes for Cal State Bakersfield's theater and music departments.

What is a typical day like for you?

There is no such thing. One day may be interiors, the next taking meetings for a special event, and another day may be retail or restaurant design. Never a dull moment.

What types of services does your business offer?

For interior design, we can start with an hourly consultation, or help you with your contractors. We also offer a full design service with a planned budget, where we take on a complete project from ideas to installation. I guess that goes for all my design jobs. The client chooses how much help they want, and we are there to make it happen.

A huge part of my business is holiday design. We decorate many restaurants, medical and energy companies and homes. I am kind of known for my holiday design, including the animated windows at the historic Brock's building, and now at Timeless Furnishings. We will be opening a pop-up Christmas store this fall, somewhere near you!

What has been the most rewarding project you've worked on?

I have always loved the rooms I designed for the Bakersfield Showcase of Design, often a historic home of local significance. They were always a bit over the top, and let local designers really show off. But I would say it is The Guild House, which was another historic building project. It took more than two summers with a committed group of volunteers to renew and redecorate the beautiful Queen Anne home. We incorporated historical stenciled ceilings, soothing colors, custom carpet and furniture that highlights the wonderful millwork and Edwardian details.

Describe your personal interior design aesthetic:

I used to think it was traditional opulence or historic, but I truly enjoy all styles. I just completed a very contemporary/modern custom home and another modern farmhouse from the blueprints up. I love mixing old and new, giving the interiors a collected personal style, always with a bit of whimsy or special details that make them memorable.

What have you enjoyed most about your career so far?

The variety. Each day can be a new experience or something new to learn.

Can you share a design tip on how to liven a home for the spring season?

I just returned from Las Vegas Market, where one of several new trends was intense color, with a capital C. Bohemian in theme, we saw brights in orange, turquoise, magenta and hot pinks mixed with all sorts of natural.

It's cliche to say, "add a few pillows/cushions, some new bric-a-brac, and paint a focal wall" (yes, I still like to use several paint colors in any room), but it works every time. For a weekend project on a $100 budget, you can make your space fresh and new, even if it's for the season. Adding or trading a few accent pieces will make it new to you and make you happier.

For help, I can be reached for appointments at 327-2902, or by

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