Interior designer Brigette Romanek, of Romanek Design Studio, recalls the decorating of a friend’s Malibu home as being her first interior design project. Now one of the industry’s buzziest designers and part of Architectural Digest’s AD 100 list, it boggles the mind a bit to learn that Romanek, a Chicago transplant, is entirely self-taught. But one look at her Laurel Canyon home (shared with her husband, filmmaker Mark Romanek, and their two daughters) proves that unconventional is Romanek’s MO. Her home, rife in color, mood and texture establishes Romanek’s style as both fearless and endlessly luxe. Her ability to sync visual extravagance with fixed function has resulted in a diverse portfolio, ranging from Hollywood chateaux to Malibu bungalows and see-and-be-seen-style eateries. To go along with her recent Chairish curation, Romanek took time to share some of her handy tricks of the trade, from the classic print she’s vetting for a comeback to why you’ll never find her skimping on a room’s area rug.
What’s something you love for keeping spaces feeling fresh over time?
That’s a great question. I love books — whether it’s reading books or enjoying coffee table books and fashion / photography books. It keeps my mind fresh with lots of research, and adding to my collection makes me very happy. It’s a simple thing that makes me feel inspired and hopeful.
And when it comes to designs for your clients, how do you add a sense of inspiration to their spaces?
Sometimes a room needs more seating, or another room needs a floor lamp, and outdoor is of course a big one. If I can help bring some comfort or peace to a client, I’m happy. I really love what I’ve chosen to do for my career. I have a hand in helping people feel good, and we all need some of that.
Favorite way to work a bit of vintage into a room:
By thinking of it as the pièce de résistance, just adding one item of epic vintage will speak for the entirety of the space. A vintage light in a room will always add elegance.
Favorite way to add drama to a room:
Favorite place to splurge and favorite place to dial it back?
I always have to splurge on an area rug. It’s easy to dial-back on accessories such as pillows, blankets and books. If you do a vignette of vases, you could have a $5 vase next to a $200 vintage and they will elevate each other nicely.
Favorite decorating trick?
Focus on one piece and then plan and build around that piece to create the rest of the room.
Favorite design risk you’ve ever taken?
The decision to renovate my home in Laurel Canyon was a huge risk. I was able to take a lot of chances (like removing an entire staircase) since it was my own personal passion project. The risks taken always turn out to be the most bold choices in design. As long as you go with it and trust your vision, it will work out for the best.
Favorite project in your portfolio (and why you love it)?
I honestly love every project. I learn, I challenge myself and hope everybody makes me a better designer. Each project has a completely different feel and intention behind it, so I can’t choose just one. It’s like asking me who my favorite child is!
Favorite paint color:
Elephant’s Breath by Farrow and Ball
Favorite pattern (and how you love to use):
Houndstooth. A blanket, fabric for chairs, or a sofa would be incredible.
Favorite color combo:
Gray and tan
Favorite furniture maker(s):
Favorite room in your house:
My living room is a grandeur ballroom-like space. It’s a blank canvas and I treat it like my laboratory that is constantly evolving with finds I can’t let go.
Favorite piece of art you own:
My birthday cards from my children
Most unusual piece you’ve ever sourced for a project?
Artificial grass for an indoor playroom
Tell us more about your experience with Chairish!
Luxe, luxe, luxe! I think of it as a place to find items that are well crafted, really beautiful, and oftentimes unusual in the best sense of the word.
Favorite travel destination:
Favorite hotel to check into:
Four Seasons Punta Mita
Favorite way to treat yourself:
A trip to JF Chen
Favorite entertaining essential:
Favorite thing to collect:
On Los Angeles…
Favorite hotel to recommend to visiting friends:
Favorite local flea market/vintage hunting ground:
Feature photo by Anson Smart