Kelly Finley, Founder and Principal Designer at Joy Street Design, started her design career on an unusual path – in the court room. After 6 years as a practicing attorney in a corporate law firm, she began to realize that law wasn’t for her and enrolled in night classes through UC Berkeley extension, while still excelling at her law practice. In 2011, Finley started her own interior design practice – Joy Street Design, named after her first San Francisco home on Joy Street in Bernal Heights.
Today, Joy Street Design, headquartered in Oakland, is recognized as one of the top interior design firms in the East Bay, with 6 employees doing both residential and commercial interior design. Finley has a strong design vision, finding “joy in color,” firmly abiding by the rule “no white kitchens” – avoiding cliché muted color palettes. The use of color in her work is exciting and warm, integrating unexpected patterns and bright tones into home renovations and office designs (her work was even showcased on Property Brothers).
Finley found inspiration in her grandmother’s Chicago home where she grew up – “every wall was a different color and I felt like was being enveloped in a hug of nonsense” she told FA staff during our latest Third Thursday presentation. Despite some controversial color selections, her childhood home showed her how color can be used as an expression of life and joy.
As a part of the Joy Street Design family – Finley founded the nonprofit, Joy Street Initiative (JSI), in 2018 which donates time, money and design services to women’s shelters in the Bay Area. Not only does Finley use her own time on pro bono projects for organizations like Oakland Elizabeth House, but 10% of profits from Joy Street Design fund JSI projects. The JSI renovations are done with dignity and at a high level –without relying on hand-me-downs or second-hand furnishings and paying their contractors in full. Since the pandemic, Finley and the Joy Street Design team hosted a bedroom renovation giveaway to a COVID frontline worker – a nurse in the D.C. area, named Memuna, won the contest.
Throughout her career at Joy Street, Finley has thoughtfully cultivated a community of black designers and creatives in a predominately white space. From a longstanding relationship with her cabinet maker, to serving as an active member of the Black Artists and Designers Guild, Finley described how she hires employees and maintains collaborative relationships and networks among underrepresented groups in the design space.
We are looking forward to working with Kelly Finley and the Joy Street Design team in the future and are proud supporters of JSI. Donate to the Joy Street Initiative here.