How to: Create a unique space
Even her name is stylish. Based in Victoria, B.C., this interior designer who got her start as a math and architecture whiz, Lana Lounsbury, of Lana Lounsbury Interiors, shares her tips on creating a unique space, how to pick a designer, her fave reads and the fastest way to improve a room. (Read more from Lana in the story Designer Talk).
Style at Home.com How would you describe your design?
Lana Lounsbury I would describe my aesthetic as modern-traditional with a good dose of boyish. No matter what style I implement I like clean lines with a certain grounded softness to make you feel completely at home in every room. And I add "boyish" because I like architectural elements that have weight and a few rough edges.
S@H Whose style do you admire?
LL The work of Modigliani. I know it's kind of cheating to name an artist! But his paintings are both modern and personal, even so many years later. It's a quality I strive for in my design work that I don't know if I can ever fully achieve.
S@H What tip would you give someone looking for a designer?
LL Interview at least two designers. Pay a few design fees in order to get face-to-face interviews. (Click here for questions to ask your designer)Take a chance. If you click with a young designer don't be afraid to use him or her because his or her portfolio doesn't fill a library shelf. If the references are good, you have a good chemistry and they seem to have a vision or a connection with you, then go for it.
S@H For those of us on a tight budget, what's the fastest way to smarten up a room?
LL Throw something out! It's really the fastest way to make your house look fresh. I know it's hard, but take an armful of ornaments, knickknacks and things that random people gave you that litter the mantle and ledges of your home to the local thrift store.
S@H What was your favourite project ever, and why?
LL One of my favourite projects was also one of the smallest and one of my first: An ensuite renovation for a retired woman. At our first meeting she told me she wanted to wake up every morning and feel happy and luxurious in a pretty new bathroom. We turned that tiny space into a gorgeous jewel box, like something from an old hotel, but the best part was that she was so happy. She now looked forward to getting up and getting ready in her bathroom. I guess it was at that point that I began to see the therapeutic benefits of design and realized that what I was doing had the ability to really help people. After that job I saw design not just as a way to make something look beautiful, but as a tool for happy, healthy living.
S@H: Aside from Style at Home, what are some of your favourite decor magazines?
LL: I really enjoy Veranda, Dwell and Architectural Digest. Sometimes the designs they feature are incredibly gaudy and over-the-top, or so starkly minimalist it really puts me off. And I love that. I want to feel something when I look at an interior, and then I want to know why I'm feeling it so I can either use those devices to my advantage or avoid them.
S@H: What resources do you use on the web for design?
LL: The main resource I use for design on the Internet is high-fashion websites. I can view the next season's collections with a single click and about 10 minutes. Contemporary artists and couture fashion designers drive mainstream design in all areas and I want to know first. I want to begin to feel what is coming, what the volumes, the colours and the shapes are going to be in the future.
S@H: What about books?
LL: The Not So Big House series by Sarah Susanka.
S@H: Is there anything you tend to find yourself saying to clients again and again?
LL: My pet saying is "What do you want this space to FEEL like?" It always baffles my new clients when I shake my head as they recite the colours and style of tables they think will work, ask them to forget everything they want, and force them to think beyond interiors to the place they want to come home to every day. Is it a jaw-dropping wow for entertaining? Is it a cosy retreat? Is it the neighbourhood gathering place or a sanctuary?
S@H: Can you think of three tips to help our readers to create a unique space?
LL: 1 My number one tip is don't do all your shopping in one store. There's no way to disguise you bought the rug, lamps and furniture from one place and it will look stale and contrived.
2 Experiment with custom. Put your designer, local artisan or spouse to work and come up with unique designs for custom railings, moldings, fireplaces, sculptures and furniture. Anxiety often surrounds custom work because the client can't see the pieces before they are done, but they are always the things that turn out best.
3 Take one medium-sized element, maybe an entrance table or a dining room chandelier, and ask a friend or family member to pick it. Give them a budget and ask them to pick something for you that they love that they want you to have. You'll be surprised at how much life can be breathed into your house by a random object of love.
Helen Racanelli is a writer at Style at Home magazine and the editor of canadianliving.com .