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 Los Angeles’ 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.
On Life Right Now…
What have you been keeping busy with during quarantine?
I’ve been busy with my girls and working — my two favorites!
How have you shifted to working from home / remotely? What’s your workspace like?
My workspace is either the dining room table or in my solarium… such a fancy word. It’s just a room with a lot of plants, and it makes me happy. Somehow I’m transported to a country house, but I’m still in my LA!
Have you been doing anything special to keep your home spaces fresh over the last few months?
That’s a great question. I love books — whether it’s reading books or enjoying coffee table books and fashion / photography books. The good news is that during quarantine, I’m still able to get 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.
When we’re all able to travel again, what’s the one place you most want to visit?
Now that your clients are home more, are there decor items or projects that you’re hearing them request, like more art or better lighting or more functional home office setups?
Yes! It’s great, because they are really using their homes and feeling and experiencing them in a new way that’s sometimes pleasing to them, and at other times informative. Sometimes a room needs more seating, or another room needs a floor lamp, and outdoor is a big one right now for obvious reasons. 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 need some of that right now.
Favorite way to work a bit of vintage into a room:
By thinking of it as the pièces 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 item on Chairish right now:
French Lounge Chairs in William Morris Blackthorn Pattern
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