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Rug: Annie Selke; Throw Pillows: Good Mood Design Studio.

Last May, after her divorce, interior designer Patricia Nogueira settled into a circa 1953 rental in Tiburon, California (a peninsula across the bay from San Francisco). Unlike the house Nogueira shared with her ex, her new home acts as a lab where she can experiment with a jamboree of different references and styles. “There’s no fear of disapproval from anyone. It’s really liberating,” she says of her newfound, freewheeling approach to decorating. Moving during the pandemic, on the other hand, was a “physically and emotionally” draining ordeal given the precautions Nogueira had to take. Here, she takes the stress out of the experience for future relocators, letting us in on exactly how she safely started her new chapter.

Throw a New Kind of Garage Sale

Nogueira had a massive garage sale to unload everything but her bed, a few lamps, and some records. “I was really craving a fresh start after the divorce, so getting rid of stuff was easy,” she says. To prevent the spread of the coronavirus at the event, Nogueira only let one customer shop at a time and masks were required. Much to her surprise, she had a large turnout and raked in an impressive $4,000, which she later used to furnish her new rental.

Be Your Own Real-Estate Agent

Wallpaper by Scott Living: Lowes; Throw Pillow: Good Mood Design Studio.

Finding a home last spring was no easy feat as families across California hunkered down—inventory was low. “I spent two months obsessively looking for a new house online,” says Nogueira, and the challenges didn’t stop once she found one. The listing agent stayed in his car while she toured the home in order to maintain social distancing rules, meaning no one was there to answer questions or point out important details. Thankfully, Nogueira knew this was coming, so she put together a list of “watch outs” ahead of time—the status of the appliances, making sure the doors properly locked, any damage—to ensure she didn’t overlook any potential drawbacks in the moment. 

Shop Secondhand, Hands-Free

Rainbow Pillows: Jonathan Adler; Daybed: World Market.
Table Lamps: Oluce.

Unable to visit brick-and-mortar shops to fill in the blanks left by her garage sale, Nogueira turned to Craigslist, Etsy, and her “best friend,” Facebook Marketplace. Her discoveries include a $40 set of Patricia Urquiola dining chairs that typically retail for $1,500 apiece and a Knoll table she scored for $500. “I wore gloves and a mask and didn’t even meet the seller most of the time,” Nogueira says of the process. Sellers would leave the item outside for pickup, and often she would Venmo them rather than use a credit card or cash. Before finding the pieces’ perfect spot inside, Nogueira gave them a thorough wipe-down. “This home’s decorated exactly how I want in every possible way,” she says. “It feels amazing.”

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