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L.A. Design Concepts

When I was in Stockholm this past Fall I mentioned here on decor8 that I continuously found quality fabric that wasn’t to the trade only as the Swedes believe that good design should be available to all, with or without a designer. As I investigated this further by researching how to the trade works in other countries, I found that most don’t have such a thing, that to the trade just may be uniquely a North American thing — I think they do this in Canada but maybe my Canadian readers know better and can leave your thoughts here.

Ironies is one of the many to the trade showrooms
that you can have access to with a designer.

This leads me to telling you about L.A. Design Concepts and you’ll see why in a moment. I’ve been in conversation with Frank, owner of L.A. Design Concepts, because he contacted me via email and I had to get on the phone and learn more about the services his company provides. When he first wrote in stating that he has the first company of its kind offering national access to designer furniture without having to hire an interior designer, I was a bit skeptical. Now I’m a believer as this really does open up good design to all in a sense, of course with a fee.

To sum up our conversation, L.A. Design Concepts offers direct access to design centers throughout the United States and via their website to over 300 to the trade only manufacturers — all without having to hiring a designer to work with you. In other words, anyone can get in on so many products you crave that you couldn’t purchase otherwise from either the convenience of home or they offer a letter of introduction where consumers can shop any design center in the nation without having an interior designer present.

What about fees? They offer a processing fee of 20% above designer wholesale cost. This represents a large savings compared to the traditional 30-40% designer mark-ups, plus hourly fees charged. So you can pretty much bypass the designer and get your goods on your own. Or if you wish to have design help, they offer a complete range of interior design services for a fee.

So I have my opinions about this and I’ll state them here. If you need a lamp, a coffee table, or some accessories this may really work. If you are going to purchase an entire room, I still would consider hiring on a decorator or designer and work through them because you don’t want to make huge costly mistakes. Designers aren’t hired merely for access to trade only items. They are hired because they, or shall I say we since I work with clients myself, understand how everything works together from proportion to color, and we do all the run around work for you so you can sit back and just watch your room come to life with little vendor involvement. Consider that while you can save money in some areas, you risk to lose more if you install that $180 per roll wallpaper-of-your-dreams only to realize once it’s up that you hate because it’s out of scale and looks horrifying in your entryway. Then you have to spend days removing it then more time ordering something else. But I think that so many amazing talents are running around out there who are perfectly capable of decorating their homes without professional help so if you consider yourself in this category by all means, consider L.A. Design Concepts. If you are willing to admit that you have a terrible time pulling together a room, then go the route of hiring a little help.

And thanks Frank for taking the first step to open trade only products up to all because I still think good design should be available to everyone especially here in America where freedom is something our country was founded on. Shouldn’t we have freedom in what we’re purchasing as well?

(image from ironies)

Posted in designers, furniture on April 04, 2008

Penthouse Living in Los Angeles

Reading through Vanessa’s post, I’m reminded that I seriously need to start taking on design clients again. I really miss working with people in their homes, and it’s taken a bit of a backseat in my life as I’ve been extremely tied up with other things. Plus I have a lot of writing deadlines, and decor8 to maintain, so it’s been a challenge for me to write as much as I do and still maintain everything else in my life. Did you know that my husband and I now have a 2nd home?


I can’t wait to talk to you more about it in the upcoming months. I am officially bi-continental! The gut renovations are complete in our apartment in Germany so between now and July, I’ll start ‘decorating’ it from afar, ordering furniture and accessories online and having things shipped there so we can have things like a bed and a sofa when we arrive later this year. If you’re interested in seeing the apartment and the things I order just let me know and I’ll share that on decor8. We’ll only be staying there a few months each year since our primary residence is in New Hampshire, but to have our own apartment will be worlds better than staying in a hotel suite as we usually do. And if anyone needs a vacation to Hannover, you just may have to ask nicely. :) I’m really close to Berlin and Hamburg and a 45 minute flight to places like Amsterdam and Copenhagen, so it’s a great hub in Europe. So! I’ve had a lot going on in my life over the winter but very soon I want to start taking on client work again and sharing some of it right here on decor8. For now, I’ll share some of Vanessa’s work. She’s my new sidekick out in L.A. who posts on decor8 once weekly. I call Lady V my decor8 west coast connection. Check out this penthouse she designed in Los Feliz.

Penthouse Living in Los Angeles by Vanessa De Vargas

Bordering Hollywood in Los Angeles is an area called Los Feliz. When the movie Swingers came out that featured Vince Vaughn and John Favreau it ended up making Los Feliz a household name. With many bars and clubs like the Dresden Room and The Derby, Los Feliz became a desirable neighborhood in the 90?s for the hipsters of Los Angeles to move to.

As a native to Los Angeles I have seen this side of town go through a huge transformation and was honored when a very busy movie producer asked me to help her consult on a penthouse in the area. She wanted a space that did not feel cluttered, was calm and had room to entertain. She wanted the space to feel like you were either in a New York loft or a modern penthouse in Europe.

The space was transformed into a chic bohemian place where she could display her wonderful eclectic vintage finds, like the chrome and glass coffee table and vintage walnut chairs (in the wallpapered room) which all came from the Pasadena Rose Bowl. The vintage 1960?s entry cabinet she inherited from her grandmother was a perfect fit and the brass sconces located in the living room were purchased from Rewire. We mixed new custom pieces to look old, like the custom leather dining benches and the red bathroom cabinet in her powder room.


The tufted bench against the wallpapered wall came from Lawson-Fenning and the pillow is Jonathan Adler. The tall vintage orange poster was a San Francisco find from a vintage shop on Haight Street. We still have some more work to do and unfortunately the bedroom was not finished in time to post this. I do promise to add those pictures when we are done and hope you enjoy the space, decor8 readers! – Vanessa

(Photos taken by Vanessa De Vargas)

Posted in designers, guest bloggers, shopping, travel on March 14, 2008

Meet Kishani Perera of Fuse-id

Contributed by: Vanessa De Vargas, decor8 West Coast Correspondent.

I was at a store opening in Venice, California and I was introduced to interior designer Kishani Perera of Fuse-id. Kishani?s look is timeless and so well executed. Within her interiors, she has an ability to place unexpected design elements that never seem totally obvious. Such a wonderful design trait. I hope that you enjoy my interview with Kishani and continue to watch her career as a designer. Enjoy. – Vanessa


Vanessa: How did you come to be a designer Kishani?

Kishani: I?ve always been obsessed with design, but didn?t always realize it! When I was young, I would redesign my room over and over again, paint the walls different colors at every whim, take salvage out of the garage that I would reinvent into ?art?, and attempt to refinish/ reupholster vintage things that I picked up at the local thrift shop. This design bug followed me into my college years, where in between classes I would go from dorm to dorm, helping friends out with their ?design? needs. So after college, when I was not quite sure what career path to pursue, everyone in my life kept telling me that I should go into interior design — it seemed so obvious to everyone but me! I decided to take their advice and try out a class at the UCLA interior design and architecture program, just to see what I thought. From the very first day I was hooked! I went on to work with some great designers in the consequent years who taught me a great deal, until ultimately I started my own company 4 years ago.

Vanessa: What’s your favorite color to work with and why?

Kishani: I love all colors, so that?s a hard one! But if I had to pick, I would have to say that I enjoy working with shades of grey. I feel like grey is the new beige, a great neutral that brings balance to a room and also allows vibrant accents to really pop.

Vanessa: What color/texture/material combinations do you see using in the future?

Kishani: With the Green movement gaining such momentum in the design world, and with the concept becoming more and more mainstream, I foresee clients requesting that I incorporate more eco friendly materials and products into their projects.

Vanessa: What are your greatest sources of inspiration?

Kishani: I find inspiration all around me — anything from fashion, nature, art, fabrics, people and places, I never know what will trigger that light bulb! Some of the most interesting ideas I?ve had, have been inspired by the most seemingly mundane of things.


Vanessa: Which interior or furniture designers, past or present, do you most admire?

Kishani: Two of my favorite designers are Tony Duquette and Muriel Brandolini who are both eclectic and fearless in their designs.

Vanessa: Describe your design theory in 4-6 words.

Kishani: High-end hip meets flea market chic

Vanessa: What is your signature mark that you always try to implement in a space?

Kishani: A touch of whimsy

Vanessa: If you could redo any space, past or present, what would it be?

Kishani: Hmmm, more than one specific space, there are areas I would love to work on. I would love to be involved in the revitalization of parts of Los Angeles, such as the Historic West Adams District. This area specifically is one of the oldest neighborhoods in L.A. and home to one of the largest groups of historic buildings in the West. There are so many architecturally stunning structures that are in desperate need of TLC. All I can think about while driving through these neighborhoods is what I would do to restore these homes to their original grandeur if given the opportunity!

Vanessa:. What have you learned about having your own business that you wish you knew when you were just starting out?

Kishani: There?s so much! Mainly, I wish I had known in the beginning how much actual business (accounting, detail, paperwork, book keeping, contracts, etc.) was involved in the interior design world. I was incredibly naive, I thought it would be all about the creative process and all I would do is shop all day long! The reality of my day to day is quite far from my young imaginings!

Vanessa: What are your best practices when it comes to client relations?

Kishani: It is vital to always be honest with your clients, even if it means you have to tell then something you know they don?t want to hear. Also, you have to really listen to what they?re saying. At times as a designer you almost have to read between the lines and virtually interpret, because sometimes a client has difficulty putting their expectations into words.

Vanessa: What 5 things does a well designed home need?

Kishani: Personality, first and foremost, practicality/functionality, warmth, comfort and color.

Vanessa: If you hadn’t become a designer, what do you think you would be doing now?

Kishani: Probably one, or a combination, of the following — a decorative painter, photographer, writer or vintage furniture shop owner.

Vanessa: Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Kishani: I?d like to grow my business to include offices in a few locations across the country and develop a custom furniture line which I would sell, along with fabulous vintage finds, out of a little shop somewhere.


Thank you so much Vanessa for this interview. For those who aren’t familiar with Vanessa, she drops in on Fridays to contribute a post on decor8. She’s an accomplished interior design and showroom owner based out of Los Angeles; click here to learn about her life as a designer.

(images: living room magazine photos by holly Becker for decor8, all others: grey bedroom and blue/grey living room: troy house; living room w/ wooden beams, pink/grey living room, pink stripe bathroom: jean randazzo.)

Posted in designers, guest bloggers, interviews on January 25, 2008

Liza Giles {designer}

I’d like to devote the next few days to featuring images that inspire me, ones that I think best fit my design aesthetic, whatever that is – I still don’t know. I was trying to describe it to my friend yesterday and she said I sound like Lily Allen in the beginning of this video as I attempted to sum up my style. I think she’s right. But perhaps another pal of mine recently nailed it with Crack House Chic. Not! More on that below. So let’s first look at the abode of Liza Giles who works as a senior stylist for Designers Guild London. It’s very much the style I fell in love with 12 years ago in London and one that I’ve stuck close by ever since.


Looking with lust at her very hot flat, shown here in the Swedish Elle Interior (my copy above, thanks to Tess), I’ve enjoyed examining all the details, thinking of ways I could be more imaginative as a designer myself. I recently shared some of my favorite images and books with a native New Englander and she didn’t share my enthusiasm as she referred to spaces like Liza’s (shown here) as, “Crack House Chic”. I was both amused and offended. Is that how some perceive such spaces? Like a run down crack den with a touch of glam? How sad!


When I see industrial bits combined with feminine details like embroidered lampshades or handmade quilts in bold prints, I coo in delight. An old wood coffee table with a few pale stains from coffee cups topped with a gorgeous Asian teapot filled with peonies, I’m all over it. White slipcovered sofas sprinkled with velvet worn pillows in fuchsia and teal, sounds like a place to spend the afternoon. But a crack den? This comment left me a bit frustrated, but also enlightened because I mistakenly assumed that most people envy such spaces and even if they wouldn’t live in them, they still appreciated such design. But many of my real life American friends don’t get why this style is attractive to me. Perhaps that’s why most magazines here shun this look for the most part and precisely why so many of us “alternative crack den types” love British, Australian, Dutch, and Scandinavian glossies because sin dens filled with heroine addicts lounging in their less than Ethan Allenified digs attract us.


I see these rooms as creative, inspiring, playful, romantic and filled with a sense of history and personal style. I don’t imagine doing lines on the marble table. I don’t envision myself passed out for days fully dressed in the lovely clawfoot bathtub. Liza Giles’ pad was not only featured here in Swedish mag Elle Interior, but also in UK glossy Elle Decoration. But surprise! not yet featured in US Elle Decor. Interesting, huh? Does the average American look at these spaces as undesirable and run down? I mean, in a land where symmetry and establishing focal points are still all the rage, along with chocolate and robin’s egg blue, I guess I can see why.


What I love about this look: Classic combined with trendy finds and flea market scores. Bright white walls with amazing color dotted around the space, single walls decked out with a bold paper, all the prints and texture everywhere, lavish materials (silk, velvet, trims), and the whole bohemian beauty that feels so uncomplicated, casual, artsy, and most of all inviting.

Some can call it Crack House Chic if they want, but I call it wonderful, beautiful, and elegant. I’ll take it and live happily ever after in complete ecstasy – not the drug, the feeling. :)

(images: elle decoration, uk edition october 2007 (no 182) and elle interiors, swedish edition november 2007 (No 7), all photography by James Merrell, via: this is glamorous and a beautiful living.)

Posted in designers, inspiration on January 03, 2008

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