Happiness at home—it’s so simple and so essential. Editorial Director Joanna Saltz spoke with five creatives to learn how they design abundantly cheerful interiors and how their clients get in on the action.
Joanna Saltz: There’s never been a more critical time to feel joy at home. But how do you achieve that through design?
Keita Turner: Art is huge for me. My mom is an artist, and I learned how to see color, pattern, and composition through her. At one point, my apartment only had art in it because my ex-fiance moved all of his stuff out. My friend said you don’t need anything else. I love original pieces, and I'm lucky enough to have a lot of my mom's original pieces. I’m currently waiting on a Derek Adams to add to my collection.
Lynn Kloythanomsup: It’s important for me to know the story behind a piece and who made it. That makes it all the more special and gives a lot more value to the piece, imagining the hours of creativity that went into it. In my own home, if we did a behind the scenes tour and I didn't just show you the rooms in my house, I'd be picking up every piece and talking about who I got it from, how they're connected to this other person, and then get into a large conversation about the Bay Area art scene.
Jo: Absolutely. It makes a room feel fuller, as if you’re in the presence of other people.
Caroline Gidiere: When I find my flow—and lose track of time and space—is when I’m taking a fabric and looking deep at all the little different touches of color, and then trying to figure out a way to give each one of those colors a voice in the room. I think of design in terms of music. Every instrument deserves its moment. I get so lost in it that I can miss meetings. I can forget to pick somebody up. That kind of moment of not knowing what's going on in the world and not being aware of time—as pushed as I am in the rest of my life—is really a joyful place to be.
Leyden Lewis: I really love the inception of an idea. I start to sketch and conceptualize. If it’s going to be a bedroom, I ask myself, Is this bedroom delicious? Is this bedroom sexy? How do I build that story? In my black-and-white sketches, I see a lot of color there. I see the foundation for the color. I’m also always looking for validation in my clients’ reactions. Nothing makes me feel as good as when, after all the construction dust has settled, a client takes pride in navigating their own space. It’s a great feeling.
Christopher Kent: For me, joy comes from connection. Joy stems from nature. I am constantly in awe of the wondrous things I see on a daily basis. What I can bring to an interior from the colors in a bird’s wing or a mandarin duck—that brings me joy.
Lynn: Joy for you is connection. For me, very similarly, it’s community.
Jo: Joy comes from beyond all the stuff—which this industry can get wrapped up in. What brings your clients joy?
Leyden: Sometimes I don’t know until it’s happening. I didn’t realize a client understood the composition of the architecture of the room, then all of a sudden they’re repeating it back to me almost academically. Nature is not only something outside of ourselves but also this idea of community, a mutual understanding that we share in this thing we’ve created together.
Keita: I found out one client used to be a DJ. I said, “Maybe you need to pull some of that joy from your storage unit. We need a little area in the home where you can play your old albums.” Music appeals to the senses, and his love of music wasn’t reflected in his home.
Caroline: It’s as simple as your client feeling seen. Their moment of joy comes from knowing you captured what they wanted.
Jo: Clients depend on you to give them something that feeds their soul! It’s a wonderful burden to bear.
Christopher: Design is all about soul connection. We start with a narrative, and
that narrative becomes a feeling. The joy that my clients feel is essentially a sense of, Ah, I can breathe. I will add that a couple of years ago, I decided to focus on me. I realized that if I was able to take care of myself, I was able to take care of those around me—which in turn became my clients.
Lynn: Everyone loves to be heard and to be seen and to join a conversation. We make space for that, and our clients take it from there. It’s a break in their day, and they get to talk about themselves and their aspirations—how they imagine their family living. How could you not feel joy from that? We help make those dreams come true.
Jo: I love that. Now, what color instantaneously puts you in a better place?
Keita: Yellow has always been my favorite color. You’ll see it in paintings throughout my apartment. I won't have a yellow room, because that could be agitating. But my color of the moment is periwinkle blue. It just really makes me happy right now.
Leyden: It makes me crazy how much I love orange. It’s metaphysical and spiritual. It’s beyond words how comforting that color is for me. My soul is connected to that color.
Caroline: I was going to say the same! It doesn’t get a lot of play in the design world these days, but I have orange all throughout my house. It gives a really soothing warm glow in the evening, and it’s bright and cheerful in the morning.
Lynn: I’m going to cross the color wheel and say green. It’s calming, it’s natural, but it can also be acidic or deeply saturated and sophisticated. I love the versatility. Every time someone pulls green out in a palette, I'm like that's the direction we're going.
Christopher: Green is my go-to. It’s grounding and affiliated with our heart chakra. Green allows us to pass love on to others.
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