Pamela Duque (L) and Lauren Larson (R)
Sara Story is an interior designer best known for creating timeless yet modern spaces infused with bold accents and a global sensibility. Her eponymous design firm which opened its doors in 2003 is headquartered in an airy Soho loft with a staff of six and a fast paced, energetic vibe. At any given time, the firm juggles an average of 10 projects and with such full workload, Sara relies on her two senior designers, Lauren Larson and Pamela Duque, to help bring her designs to life. Lauren, 25, is originally from Portland and has been with Sara Story design for nearly a year. She previously worked for Victoria Hagan which also happens to be where Sara got her start. (When Lauren isn’t not working, she pens a blog called Material Lust which explores the relationship between art and design.) Pamela, 28, hails from Texas and joined Sara two years ago after working for Bill Sofield. I recently caught up with Lauren and Pamela to get the scoop on how they got their start in the industry and what they love most about working for Sara Story Design…
Pamela and Lauren with Sara Story
Hi Ladies! Tell us about your background and how you ended up working for Sara…
Lauren: After graduating from Parsons I worked for Victoria Hagan for three years on high profile residential projects. Victoria throws you in the deep in and you either sink or swim. You learn the field quickly…the deadlines are fast and the clients are demanding. You learn how to make it happen. After ‘surviving’ years there you feel like you can do it with your eyes closed. I was familiar with Sara and have always followed her work since she’s a fellow Victoria Hagan alumn. Joining her a matter of perfect timing.
Pamela: Originally, thought I would become an organic chemist. I actually had some research published and then I realized that I didn’t quite fit in that world. I studied architecture at Yale and that background has helped me in being able to visualize a space from looking at drawings and to consider how things are constructed. After school I worked at Studio Sofield on more architectural design…retail projects and also millwork and furniture design. It was more technical and I didn’t deal with clients so much. I spent most of my time on the up-front production end of design. I had always admired Sara’s career and a former colleague let me know she was hiring so I applied for an interview and the rest is history.
Sara meets with Pamela and Lauren to discuss a client project
Did you always have an interest in interiors growing up?
Lauren: My mother is an artist, a watercolor painter — so I was surrounded by art growing up. I would often spend the day with her drawing interiors, architecture and landscapes. She always forced me to draw from real life rather than photographs which made me grow to have a connection to space. Whenever I am in a space I am always looking around.I was never really interested in becoming an Interior Designer until I went to Parsons to study painting. My foundation teachers pushed me to become an Architect after my drafting and drawing classes and Interior Design feel into place.
Pamela: Absolutely. I have spent countless hours arranging and rearranging my mother’s house, picking out furniture, looking at colors. Growing up, it was sort of our weekend ritual, finding more stuff for the house. And my room was rarely the same for longer than a couple months.
A sneak peek at a design scheme for a Sara Story Design client
What’s does your day to day job entail?
Pamela: It runs the gamut – there’s a lot of coordination — the follow up end of things, by phone and email — and then there’s also the creative side — generating drawings, finding inspiration, sourcing materials…
Lauren: Because it’s a small office everyone is involved and doing a bit of everything. In one day I could be scheming, to meeting with a client, to running to measure something on site, to meeting with a vendor or an upholsterer, to creating budget and proposals, to coordinating the shipment of a furniture piece.
An Upper East Side condo designed by Sara Story
How would you describe Sara’s style?
Pamela: Timeless and chic, with just enough quirky interest to remain elegant.
Lauren: Sara’s style is influential of her travels. She is always traveling and bringing back photos of architecture, interiors, furniture, artwork and textiles she comes across. Her style feels collected.
What do you like most about working at Sara Story Design?
Pamela: The projects are amazing, and Sara is such an adventurous designer – it inspires us as well as the clients.
Lauren: I have struggled a long time with the fact that people have always said to me Interior Design is 90% business and 10% creative, but Sara she gives both Pamela and I a lot of design freedom and allows us to have a vision along with hers.
What do you like least about your job?
Pamela: Chasing after people for answers!
Lauren: When things fall behind — vendors, shipments, etc.
A Sara Story designed living room
Do you have a favorite project that you worked on with Sara?
Pamela: The Elle Décor Showhouse was great to work on – it was no holds barred, and Sara is so unafraid of color and pattern.
Lauren: We just installed three Reading Rooms – one all yellow, one all green, and one all orange. They turned out so fun and full of energy!
What has been the biggest on-the-job challenge that you’ve had to tackle?
Lauren: The biggest is yet to come. We have two clients in Singapore and the coordination alone will be sure to bring some new challenges!
Sara at work
Finish this sentence: Sara Story is…
Pamela: A force to be reckoned with.
Lauren: Never repeating. Each project is looked at with fresh eyes and ideas.
What do you think you’d be doing right now if you weren’t working in interior design?
Pamela: Teaching elementary school and having a side career as an artist.
Lauren: I think I would be getting a Masters in Art History.
Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
Lauren: I like to think I’ll be living in another country working in the art world.
Pamela: Fabulous at almost forty!
Finally, can you share some of your go-to websites for inspiration?
Pamela: Mocoloco, Daily Icon, Coco + Kelley.
Lauren: I am obsessed with the website PATTERNITY. It finds pattern in everything from architecture to art.
Visit Sara Story Design
Photos by Nicole Gibbons for So Haute
L-R: Jessica Spink, Joe Lucas, Tami Carey and Jessica and Parrish Chilcoat
Meet the Assistant profiles the assistants and associates who work behind-the-scenes with some of the industry’s top designers to help make beautiful spaces come to life.
Interior design duo Joe Lucas and Parrish Chilcoat run a successful, multi-faceted design business. First there’s Lucas Studio, their high-end residential design firm known for producing beautiful interiors that exude style, comfort and that intangible California cool vibe. Then there’s Harbinger, their newly expanded retail showroom which features a range of to-the-trade fabrics and wallpapers as well as furnishings and accessories including pieces from their own Harbinger furniture collection. Between juggling high-profile interiors projects and running their bustling showroom, Joe and Parrish couldn’t get by without a little help from a superstar support team…which is where Jessica Spink and Tami Carey come in. Jessica, 30, is Lucas Studio’s senior designer who has been with the firm for a little over a year. She is originally from Boston and before joning Lucas Studio she worked for interior designers Michael Smith and Elizabeth Dinkel. Tami, who is 20-something, is originally from Canada but grew up in the Midwest. She is affectionately referred to as ‘the Shopgirl’ and manages the Harbinger showroom where she has worked for nearly three years. Read on to get to know Jessica and Tami and hear how they help Joe and Parrish keep it all together!
Tami Carey (L) and Jessica Spink (R)
Tell me about the path you took into the interior design world and how did you land your job with Joe & Parrish?
Jessica: I used to rearrange my room constantly when I was young and would draw scaled diagrams on graph paper to make sure it would all fit. I also designed layouts of my dream house and would always label the bedroom windows “ocean view.” I was obviously a big dreamer! It wasn’t until much later that I actually realized that interior design was a career option. I always thought I was going to be a big advertising executive like Heather Locklear on Melrose Place. Needless to say, I took a completely different path. I graduated from Boston University with a degree in Communication and also took quite a few interior design classes at UCLA before landing my first design job at Michael Smith. I have actually known Joe and Parrish for a long time – we are all part of a very close group of Michael Smith alums. They were looking for someone at the same time I was looking for a new job and it all fell into place.
Tami: I knew nothing at all about the interior design world before I started except what I saw during afternoons of watching TLC and HGTV. I am actually an actor which is what brought me to LA and I think I’ve had every job imaginable, except waiting tables, which is sort of ironic as an actor. When I moved out here, a friend of mine who was in the design industry introduced me to the Michael Smith and the Jasper offices and I started working with the Jasper Furniture production team. Then I met Joe and Parrish who were getting ready to open up the original Harbinger space so they brought me on to manage the showroom.
Did you cross paths while working for Michael Smith?
Tami: Jessica was on the design side and I was next door, in the Jasper offices, but our paths definitely crossed over the coffee pot in the break room and in the stacks, searching for rogue furniture.
A vignette inside Harbinger’s newly expanded showroom which recently re-opened on LA’s Famed La Cienega Blvd. (752 North La Cienega Blvd, West Hollywood)
What’s a typical day in the office like for you?
Tami: I do a lot of talking and typing and running back and forth, I send a lot of emails and make a lot of phone calls answering questions and processing quotes and orders. I help clients who come in to the shop which entails printing tear sheets and pulling samples, introducing them to the different lines that we represent, and helping them with whatever they need. I talk with our vendors. I also manage our website and send out news blasts. These are all pretty general things that are consistent day-to-day but I’ve really found that each client and order and new piece often require slightly different things, so I just adjust accordingly. It keeps me on my toes!
Jessica: Every day is different, which I think is why I love my job so much…never a dull moment. There are days when I am at client meetings with Joe and Parrish all day. Some days I’m out shopping for items like fabrics or carpets and some days where I’m sitting in the office doing paperwork. It really varies a lot.
Joe and Parrish
Has working with Joe & Parrish influenced your personal design style at all?
Tami: Oh yes. I’ve definitely paid attention to how they mix styles and new with old or put unexpected fabrics or finishes on a piece that totally work. It’s made me look at individual components completely differently. I love seeing their before and after pictures for clients’ homes and coming into the shop after they’ve moved everything around. I would never think to arrange things or use the space the way they do…I’m still working on learning that.
Jessica: I don’t think you can help being influenced by who you work for. I have such an eclectic style and it is definitely due to the fact that I’ve worked for designers with a wide range of aesthetics.
A kitchen design by Lucas Studio
What are the most valuable design lessons you’ve learned from Joe & Parrish?
Jessica: I would say one of their many great strengths is selecting paint colors. Before I worked here, I would have always painted trim work, cabinetry, interior doors, etc. some shade of white. I never realized what an impact you could make by painting all of the interior doors in a house a fun, dark color. Or by painting the kitchen island a different color than the rest of the cabinetry.
What is the coolest thing you’ve gotten to do at your job?
Tami: This spring, I went to New York to visit the printer who prints several of the fabric lines we represent. They showed me the whole process…the screens, the color mixing, how each line works…so I could have a better idea of what’s involved when I call and ask how quickly they can print an order or what custom options are available. It was really interesting and gave me a much better perspective on what happens behind the scenes. It also helps when talking to clients. I knew these lines were hand made but to be able to explain to someone what that actually entails makes each line and each fabric so much more special. And if that wasn’t enough, I also got to meet with the owners of several lines that are based in New York and learned about their inspirations, how they started, the history of the patterns, how they select colors and ground cloths to work with…It really was the coolest thing.
A vignette from a sitting room designed by Lucas Studio
Jessica – as a young interior designer where do you like to shop for your own home?
Jessica: I don’t have the budget that our clients have so I’m always on the lookout for unique, inexpensive finds. I love going to the Rose Bowl and Long Beach flea markets which is where I’ve found some of my favorite pieces for my house. I’m also not ashamed to say I have quite a few pieces from Ikea. I am totally a fan as long as you choose wisely and spread the pieces out throughout your house so it doesn’t look like an Ikea showroom. I do think upholstery is something that shouldn’t be skimped on and would always have the important pieces like my sofa custom made. Surprisingly, it’s really not that much more expensive than buying one off the floor at Pottery Barn and will look exactly how you want and will last much longer.
What do you like most about your job?
Tami: I love the people I work with- both in our office and clients who come to visit. I think this industry is so fascinating and I love to see each person’s unique take on design. It’s constantly inspiring and gives me a new perspective on a daily basis.
Jessica: I love that we have so much fun and Joe and Parrish are like a non-stop comedy team. Even on the most stressful day, we all manage to make each other laugh!
Photos of Joe, Parish, Jessica and Tami by Kiya Gibbons for So Haute. Additional photos courtesy of Lucas Studio Inc and Harbinger.
Ben Miller at home in Brooklyn
Meet the Assistant profiles the assistants and associates who work behind-the-scenes with some of the industry’s top designers to help make beautiful spaces come to life.
Ben Miller is assistant extraoirdinaire to the incredibly talented Laura Kirar of Laura Kirar*TRU Design, who has infused her modern, tailored aesthetic into the interiors of residential spaces, award-winning restaurants, showrooms, and hotels across the globe. Originally from Lafayette Louisiana, Ben, 29, moved to New York on a whim nearly six years ago and has worked with Laura for the past year-and -a-half. With offices in New York and Miami, a wide range of product lines that includes furniture, accessories, lighting, tile, carpets and more, not to mention an insanely busy travel schedule, Laura relies on Ben to help her keep it all together. I caught up with Ben earlier this summer at his 240 square foot studio apartment in Brooklyn and was utterly impressed with how he created such efficiency and style in his small home. Look out for a house tour here on the blog coming soon (!) and in the meantime, let’s get to know the fabulous Ben Miller…
How did you end up in New York?
A few weeks after Hurricane Katrina I was home in Louisiana driving back to Lafayette from dinner in Baton Rouge when a dear friend of mine called to catch up. She had just moved to Brooklyn and was telling me about how a couple of potential roommates had fallen through and was going on about how much I’d love the city. It wasn’t the first time we’d kicked the idea of me moving to New York around, but it was certainly different this time. It took the 45-minute drive from Baton Rouge to convince me to give New York a shot. The next day I gave notice at my job, broke the news to my parents and bought a plane ticket. Two and a half weeks later I flew to New York for the very first time, blew up my air mattress and fell asleep in my windowless 10′x10′ room. I got a job with a big ad agency a couple of weeks after the move and the rest, as they say, is history. It’s crazy to think that was nearly six years ago already!
What is a typical day in the office for you?
Between collections and interior projects, everyday is its own adventure. We start work around 9am and finish between 6 and 6:30pm. Some days are spent in showrooms but most of the time I’m helping out with the project management of the licensing collections and smaller scale design projects. The licensing collections is where most of my focus is currently. There’s so much that goes into launching these collections–from gathering inspiration through all the planning and promotion it involves–that the majority of my day-to-day is spent making sure things are moving along.
A lamp from Laura Kirar’s collection for Arteriors home
Do you have a favorite project that you’ve had the opportunity to assist Laura on?
Seeing the latest introductions from Arteriors home was big for me. It’s the first collection I’ve been a part of all the way through, from hand sketches to the launch at High Point.
How would you describe Laura’s style?
Utterly refined, simultaneously handsome and beautiful, grounded in her foundation as a conceptual artist and accented with worldly influences.
A lounge chair from Laura’s McGuire furniture collection inside a penthouse residence she designed at the W Dallas residences
Have there you ever had any crazy on-the-job disasters or mistakes that you’ve learned from?
Ha. Just last week I directed our driver to a random address in New Jersey I’d mistakenly picked up in an email chain. We were forty minutes out of the way but managed to make it to her speaking engagement on time! Best of all, she completely kept her cool while I turned five shades of embarrassed.
What do you like most about your job?
The fact that it’s a constant education. Our office is small but mighty so there’s lots of opportunity to be a part of all areas of the design process–I really love learning about new resources and techniques, though.
What do you like least?
Facebook! I’ve never been that active personally, so to do it for our company is truly bewildering.
Another view of the Laura Kirar designed penthouse at the W Dallas residences.
What has been the most valuable lesson Laura has taught you?
Scale and proportion matter more than just about anything. I’m paying close attention to the way she balances restraint and grace with something a little punchier, like rich color.
What are your long term career goals?
To always work with inspired, talented people who are doing what they love. I work best when collaborating, so hopefully to find a good partner or two to bounce ideas off. Maybe we’ll start a small design firm together one day.
A sneak peek at a vignette inside Ben’s Brooklyn studio
Finally – What advice can you share with our readers about decorating on a design assistant’s budget?
1. Start at the hardware store–grab some paint to completely shift the feeling of a space, swap in a dimmer switch to your most used light sources, look for creative new uses for otherwise typical products.
2. Spend as much as your budget allows on a few things–a comfortable sofa, your mattress and bed linens, and a rug that will work hard beyond it’s current home.
3. If you find something you absolutely love, get it, because chances are you always will.
4. Frequent your neighborhood antique shops and vintage stores–you’d be amazed at what treasures are hiding in those dusty corners.
5. Don’t be afraid to DIY–cut your own mats and dress up inexpensive frames, make some art, repaint (and reupholster while you’re at it) a tired chair with good looking bones.
Top and bottom photos by me
Meet the Assistant profiles the design assistants and associates who work behind-the-scenes with some of the industry’s top designers to help make beautiful spaces come to life.
This week we meet Max Humphrey, Senior Project Manager for Los Angeles based designer Betsy Burnham who is best known for her colorful, whimsical designs that combine East coast elegance with Hollywood glamour. Originally from New Hampshire, Max has worked at Burnham Design for nearly four years and followed an unlikely path into the industry. (He used to be the bass player in a touring punk band!) Max is incredibly funny with a gregarious personality that is infectious and after reading this interview, you’re going to want to become his BFF!
How did you end up in LA?
I drove cross country Grapes of Wrath style the day after I graduated from college to work in TV production – which is what I did until I started playing music full time.
Going from playing bass in a punk band to designing interiors isn’t exactly a natural progression. How did your drastic career change come about?
I had been on tour with my band for a few years and had given up my apartment and gotten rid of basically everything I owned so after spending so much time in hotels and sleeping on couches and floors I think it hit me that I really missed having my own home. After we stopped touring called it quits, I moved into my own place and spent a good part of the following year decorating it and learning about the history of interior design. I didn’t realize there was a professional industry out there until I started researching all the designers I admire from the 60s and 70s like Billy Baldwin and Albert Hadley and David Hicks.
A completed Instant Space project by Burnham Design
What did you study in school?
I went to Emerson College in Boston and studied new media, whatever that means. I wish I did have more formal training and I can’t stand it when people say you don’t really need a design degree to be a designer. There’s definitely a set of rules that you need to learn before you can start breaking them.
How did you land your job working with Betsy?
I saw the job posting online and wrote an enthusiastic cover letter to the office manager explaining that I had no experience but was the right person for the job and she agreed to schedule an interview. Betsy said I was the only person she ever interviewed who showed up without a resume but she liked my outfit so she gave me the job.
What’s your day-to-day like in the office?
We start off most mornings with a status meeting in Betsy’s kitchen over oatmeal and coffee to go over the priorities of the day. Then I go to my desk and put on some opera and check the blogs and auctions I follow and flash sale shopping sites and answer emails. There’s always some designing to do – meaning selecting fabrics and furniture and materials for the newer jobs, and invoicing or following up on orders for jobs that have been designed already and are in the purchasing phase. There’s also a lot of organization – we have a really specific filing system for paperwork and boxes and bins and trays for fabrics, wood samples, carpet, tile and stone, etc. Often before I can get to any of my actual to-do list from the status meeting something new and urgent will come up like we’ll need to reselect something or other or go back through our specs for a job in the construction phase for a contractor who needs an answer immediately. Then I leave for lunch or I go home and walk my dogs. We always have a few instant/space jobs going at once which is our online-only design-in-a-box service and I try and put some work into those every day. Then there’s usually some combination of eating cookies and opening the mail and fine-tuning any of the design work from the morning.
A Great Lakes summer home designed by Betsy Burhnam
What’s been the most memorable project that you worked on with Betsy?
We did a Tudor house in Beverly Hills that was just shot for a magazine that I’m attached to but the most memorable is a summer home on a private island in the upper peninsula of northern Michigan. It’s a really, really special house and the clients are amazing and have incredible taste. It’s close to Canada so it stays light out till 10 o clock at night in the summer. Going there is like vacation even though it’s work.
Your bio on Betsy’s website says you live in a 1920′s apartment accented with vintage Gucci barware and Hermes ashtrays which sounds pretty fab…do you entertain a lot?
No I find entertaining to be a waste of energy which is too bad because I’ve been collecting designer and vintage serveware for a while now and I have some pretty sweet stuff. Lots of chinoiserie Fitz and Floyd and Japanese airline coffee sets by Givenchy and Richard Ginori for Gucci Fine China. I set the table every night and use it myself at least.
Do you have any recent decor discoveries that you’re currently obsessed with?
Yeah I’ve been really into those Lucite and alabaster grape clusters that grandparents always have. Also the work of New York fashion illustrator Richard Haines.
What advice can you share with our readers about decorating on a design assistant’s budget?
My advice is to buy less but buy better. Also, Etsy is a great resource for design stuff. There are Etsy stores that sell pillows made from trade only fabrics and really good vintage furniture that have been professionally reupholstered and refinished. Finally, thrift stores are a really good place to buy coffee table books.
What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned from Betsy?
That you eat off silver but you WEAR gold.
Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
In Sweden collecting the Nobel Prize for eBay feedback!
Top photo of Max by Kiya Gibbons for So Haute
All Additional photos from the portfolio of Burnham Design
Carrie Kravetz – Design Director at Nathan Turner. Photo: Kiya Gibbons
Meet the Assistant is a new feature on So Haute that will regularly profile the design assistants and associates who work behind-the-scenes with some of the industry’s top designers to help make beautiful spaces come to life.
For our first installment, I’m delighted to introduce Carrie Kravetz – a former entertainment journalist who left the crazy world of red carpet reporting for interior design several years ago and hasn’t looked back since. Two years after joining Nathan Turner as design assistant, Carrie, 31, is now Nathan’s Design Director and the two seem to get along as swimmingly as Will and Grace. (We were especially amused when we showed up at their portrait session and they were unknowingly wearing matching blue & white checked outfits!) Read on as Carrie dishes about how she landed her gig, the lessons Nathan’s taught her and hear her top tips for decorating on a design assistant’s budget!
Nathan Turner with Carrie – in their matching checked blue & white outfits! Photo: Kiya Gibbons
What were you doing before you started working in design?
I was an entertainment writer and reporter. I went to USC Film School and graduated in 2002. I worked for Reuters, MTV, Teen People and Entertainment Weekly where I covered red carpet events. Then I went back to school at FIDM to become an Interior Designer and I graduated in 2006. Originally, I thought I’d be a set designer.
How did you land your job and how did your role evolve from design assistant to design director?
My first real design job was working as a design assistant for Kerry Joyce then I left there to work at Lucas Studio which is located behind our office and that’s how I met Nathan. When I first started off, I was working freelance for Nathan on AutoCAD*. As we started to get busier I became a design assistant. As Nathan’s firm continued to grow, we had to add more staff and I definitely started taking on more responsibility. Because Nathan is so busy now I’m often his eyes and ears. I visit vendors, make sure everything is being made properly and I try to resolve any problems before Nathan needs to get involved. (*Note: AutoCAD is a computer drafting/rendering program used by interior designers)
What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned from Nathan?
You don’t have to design by the book. It’s more important to go with your instincts and what you feel based on your experiences and education, but there’s no one rulebook for great design.
Have you experienced any crazy on the jobs disasters?
Yes! I think any designer who says they haven’t experienced job disasters or mess ups is not telling the truth. There are so many details involved in interior design. Most recently, I ordered a lantern for a client that was 6 inches too big. This wouldn’t have been terrible but the lantern was a cube so it was 6 inches too large on each side! It was enormous! Luckily our vendor worked with us to make it the right size. I felt terrible about it since I’m such a perfectionist.
Carrie says she enjoyed working with Nathan on designing the home, shown above, of his client, actress Amanda Peet. Photos by Coliena Rentmeester for Domino
Does Nathan have any funny quirks?
Yes, he has nicknames for everyone! Mine is “Shazz”. It’s such a random nickname that I’ve grown to like.
Where’d that come from?
There’s this photographer whose work we carry in the store. Often times clients request we order custom sizes and in order to do this I have to call the printer and order the custom size. The printer is now out of business but one of the guys I worked with was named Shazzi. Nathan would make little jokes about Shazzi being my boyfriend and somehow I became Shazz.
What do you love most about working with Nathan?
He’s just so fun to be around. Everybody should be as lucky as me to get to work with someone they like so much.
How would you describe his style?
Nathan’s style is elegant but relaxed. Glamorous but comfortable. He layers classic antiques with modern and ethnic pieces to create his signature space.
Has his aesthetic rubbed off on you at all?
My style is pretty similar…definitely eclectic. I like to create spaces that people just want to crawl into. I dislike rooms that are so perfect looking that you’re afraid to sit down on a sofa for fear of making a wrinkle in the linen. I like to juxtapose and layer new with old. I’m especially partial to mixing in industrial pieces. I live in an old toy factory. My loft is very bourgeois bohemian. Since working with Nathan, I’ve started to incorporate the color blue into my designs more…and definitely started adding a lot more ethnic pieces. Right now I really like Navajo rugs and African textiles.
What is a typical day in the office like for you?
It’s never the same. That’s one reason I love my job. Sometimes I’m in the office all day doing AutoCAD or scheming and other days I’m out shopping for clients or inspecting furniture at vendors’ workshops. There’s also a lot of correspondence and paperwork which I do daily.
Nathan and Carrie with Nathan’s black lab Nacho
How did you react when you found out that Nathan had signed on to star in Bravo’s Million Dollar Decorators? Were you psyched about the possibility of appearing on the show?
I was really excited and nervous at the same time. Nathan was like,”Hey, so I’m going to be in this show. I would love it if you were part of it, but if you don’t want to do it I understand.” It didn’t surprise me though–Nathan is so fun and entertaining. I knew he would be perfect for the show.
Did you ever get tired of having cameras follow you guys around all the time?
The cameras were there about 3-4 times a week. Sometimes less, sometimes more. It all depended on what we had going on. At first it was extremely awkward. I definitely felt a bit nervous when we first started taping but as I got used to the crew things became a lot easier. Nathan and I loved our crew. It was easy to be ourselves around them because they were so awesome. Sometimes it was hard to get everything done that I needed to get done when they were there though. We had to wait to go about our schedule until the crew got there to set up.
Can you share any details about what we can expect to see in the season ahead?
The first episode premiered yesterday and I’m on it for like 5 seconds. The dogs have more airtime than me! Nathan looks fantastic and he is so funny. I think the India party episode will be one of the best episodes. I haven’t seen it, but some of the crew members told me it looks fantastic! That was such a fun and gorgeous party.
Nathan with his client actress and painter Ione Skye in her living room. Photo: Mike Gardner for C Magazine
Do you have a favorite project that you’ve worked on with Nathan?
Ione Skye and Ben Lee’s house was one of my favorites. They live in a true mid-century house in the Hollywood Hills. When we first met with Ben and Ione they needed help rearranging the space to include a new room for the arrival of their baby. They had a huge master bedroom which we split into two rooms for the two children. We basically created a children’s wing. Ione’s daughter Kate’s room became Ben’s new studio and we turned the guest room into the new master bedroom. The new wing made the entire house feel bigger and more livable. Ben’s studio became his own space. I helped design a lot of custom furniture for the family room and living room. It was really fun as Nathan and I worked within the mid-century style but updated it with fun colors and textures. Ben and Ione were so easy-going…they were the perfect clients. They really trusted us and let us be the experts. They’re also both amazingly talented and brought such great energy into their living space.
What do you like most about your job?
Nathan! As if that wasn’t obvious! He is the most fun person to work with ever. We have a good time. Yes, often times work is stressful and the client demands are overwhelming, but we always seem to find something to laugh about. I also really like the interaction with our clients as well. I love it when they adore a piece of furniture I helped design. I really like space planning on AutoCAD. Is that strange?
What do you like least?
The paperwork. Also, I’m the one all the vendors and clients call or email if anything goes wrong!
One of Carrie’s mixed media works
What are your long term career goals?
I’m a mixed media artist and I’d love to incorporate my artwork into our design jobs and maybe get some commissioned pieces. Just like in my design, my mixed media pieces juxtapose old with new. I love using found vintage and antique ephemera. I have a ton of antique books and vintage magazines and there are all kinds of random images and texts. I love using beautifully hand written letters (18th-19th century) in my pieces. People don’t hand write letters like that anymore. I find my materials at thrift stores and ebay. I use acrylic paint, gel medium and other materials like wire and fabric. I’m inspired by the work of Rauchenberg, Basquiat and Darger. I’ve sold quite a few pieces through the store and our sales on One Kings Lane. My work has sold all over the world and my larger pieces are available through Nathan Turner. I’d also love to design tabletop and textiles – hopefully for a Nathan Turner collection.
Carrie & Nathan at his Almont Yard shop. Photo: Kiya Gibbons
Finally – Can you share your top three tips for decorating on a design assistant’s budget?
1. Craigslist has some awesome furniture.
You can get really amazing items for really cheap or sometimes free. Driving a U-Haul really isn’t that hard or expensive. Or, have a friend with an suv or truck help you pick up the items.
2. When renovating your place, concentrate on one room at a time.
Re-doing a whole apartment or house can be very expensive. Pick one room, make a budget, and make this room your sanctuary. You don’t need to do everything at once. I think concentrating on your bedroom is a good idea, because it’s the place where you go to recharge. Its your nest. Make it yours. Sometimes, all you need to get started is a fresh coat of paint on your walls. This is an inexpensive way to change the entire feeling of your room.
3. If your walls are bare, create your own art.
Really, you can just buy a few canvases, paint them solid colors and put them up on your wall. You can also frame anything–from old record albums to movie posters. If you just don’t have a creative inkling in your body you can buy great art for reasonable prices on the internet from places like Etsy or 20 x 200. Ikea has great frames that will totally fit in your budget.
If you want to learn more about Carrie you can follow her on twitter here or check out her blog, Missenscene.com! Also be sure to check out Nathan’s work here and watch him on Million Dollar Decorators (10/9c on Bravo)!
Photos of Carrie Kravetz and Nathan Turner by Kiya Gibbons for So Haute