Donobedian’s Refind Home is a San Francisco institution for those in search of hard-to-find pieces. A seasoned dealer with an eye for the uncommon, Tod Donobedian works with clients to furnish their spaces in character-steeped objects that tell a story. His advice for starting a collection? “Bombard yourself with visual information, make no apologies for what you love, and run with it.” Here, he shares his tips for creating memorable rooms and his favorite finds from Chairish.


What made you passionate about interior design?
My parents were antiques dealers. I grew up being influenced by their love of sourcing and placing  found pieces in our home. My siblings and I had free reign in our bedrooms. My brother and I were allowed to panel one wall and paint another deep purple to go with our waterbeds and lava lamps.

Photo Courtesy of Tod Donobedian

How’d you get your start in interior design?
I was living in Santa Fe, New Mexico and had just returned from a buying trip to Paris after having remodeled a house. My plan was to stage a sale at the house. If I had  a great response, I would consider opening a shop. If the response was tepid, I felt I would have at least furnished the house. A woman attended who turned out to be Herb Ritt’s aunt and she asked me to help her on a project at her ranch outside of town. That got me kickstarted.

What do you find most compelling about Chairish?
I was fortunate enough to align with Chairish from its inception. I had a massive warehouse full of pieces that I knew could perform well on Chairish. As I looked into the qualifications of the founding members, I was blown away by the breadth of their knowledge and success. From their experience in technology, marketing and beyond, I was convinced that they had the chops to create a viable and thriving platform. I was not wrong.

Interior Design by Tod Donobedian | Photo Courtesy of Tod Donobedian

How does sustainability factor into your design choices and love of vintage?
I will always attempt to source a vintage piece before a newer one. Significant resources have already been employed so why not extend their lives by contextualizing them in a new home? New pieces require new materials and they have increasingly become expensive to acquire.

Favorite way to create a statement-making moment in a room?
I start by analyzing the shape of a room. From there, I begin to see things in geometric relationships; circles inside squares, rectangles inside circles, etc. That is the foundation from which can spring the flourishes that belie the strict geometry underneath it. The statement is not something you see but rather what you feel. That is the ultimate statement. The goal is that a person feel a sense of place, a sense of loose symmetry, grounding and pleasure.

Donobedian’s Refind Home | Photo Courtesy of Tod Donobedian

Do you have any go-to color palettes and color combos?
This is one area that I would admit to being in an arrested state of development. I am partial to intense, saturated jewel tones that pulsate as the light shifts throughout the day. I never allow this to go to a cartoonish extent. To layer in the subtleties of lighter shades of pale are not necessarily in my wheelhouse. Neither am I a fan of the tyranny of taupe that I often encounter.

What advice do you have for first-time clients about making their spaces truly personal?
Bombard yourself with visual information. See as much as you possibly can and start to assess whether certain themes emerge from the images you select. Is there a common thread in the images you love? Is it a color scheme you are drawn to? A time period? Is it minimal, maximal, traditional, avant garde? Make no apologies for what you love and run with it.

Lead Image: Donobedian’s Refind Home, Photo Courtesy of Tod Donobedian.

February 24, 2024

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