Design Works Studio

We Specialize in updating spaces so that they function as a whole. We collaborate with homeowners, contractors, and city building departments to update residences thru improving function, structural components and design simultaneously.

Located in the heart of the Seacoast, on Maplewood Avenue in downtown Portsmouth

Emily O'Donnell


Accurately described as warm, professional and informal, Emily, lives in Portsmouth with her son and pup.

This Seacoast Native began her professional journey in Savannah Georgia at The Savannah College of Art and Designs Building Arts Department. She achieved a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree graduating Cum Laude. Emily has pursued Post Graduate Coursework in Building Systems, Interior Architecture, Architectural History, and Design Computing. She has been working on design -build projects in GA, SC, CA, MD, NH, and ME since 2002.

The Seacoast, with its rich history has been her base of operation for over a decade, with a return to her Hometown of Portsmouth New Hampshire. The area itself requires melding old with the new, weaving together fresh concepts with existing structural elements to create a unified project once finished.

Many of her projects are initiated by interior-focused work within the building envelope geared around improvements to: kitchen, bath, organization zones, storage, and laundry conversions

Contact Us

Professionally, an independent contractor who's chosen niche is renovation planning & design.
Emily does not swing a hammer onsite herelf, but brings a hybrid of skilllsets to the table that are typicaly preformed in a segregated manner.

  • I really believe after years of working on differing project types that the only known in renovation is its always a known series of unknown dilemmas.

Each project, regardless of size of scope, is a unique 'puzzle' with an array of challenges that need to be systematically resolved.

It's my job to guide clients and collaborators through renovations by first identifying what pieces to assemble "from the pile" resulting in a series of successful, informed decision making that leads a completed "puzzle"/project completion as effectively as possible with her bread and butter work into 3 categories:



Understanding a homeowners intended goals and establishing a project scope that is doable is the first step.

Space Planning to create modifications of a layout to incorporate redesign that preforms to meet the needs of the homeowner within the capacity of the site/structure and acknowledges affiliated components and accomplishes the intended function is the second step.



Building upon the proposed Layout details are added to the redesign including components that cause a space to come alive like Selections of materials, Lighting Layout, lighting design and integration of finishes. Form follows function in my approach incorporating impactful reasoning to each specification.



Aligning known, capable Craftsmen, Artisans and vendors that suit the Homeowner and Project needs while meeting the reasoned expectations of cost threshold and timeline makes the execution of a project and the demanding requirements of renovation feel better working in collaboration with the General Contractor and Homeowners to free up useful time throughout the design-build process.