With a crisply tailored taste and an eye toward elegant neutrals, Laura Hodges is a designer to watch. After a childhood spent in England, Laura moved to New York for her studies and worked for major designers like Jamie Drake and Thomas Jayne. Eventually she relocated to the Baltimore / Washington DC area, where she launched her own firm and a brick-and-mortar store, Domain by Laura Hodges Studio. Today, her projects reflect her clean, pared back, yet inviting aesthetic, while also incorporating her love of vintage finds and sustainable design practices.
We spoke with Laura about her love of travel, her passion for eco-conscious ideas, and some of the English design legends who inspire her to this day. See what she had to say, and be sure to shop her curation of personal Chairish favorites.
First and foremost, how would you describe your personal style?
My personal style is classic and minimal, with a focus on natural materials, unique finds, and an appreciation for quality and sustainability.
You are known for putting wellness at the center of your design practice. Tell us a bit about that.
I always consider how a person might feel in a room that I’ve designed so I’m thoughtful about sightlines, textures, and the functionality of the space. I believe our homes and workplaces should support us and not only be beautiful, but functional and healthy too.
You have a strong passion for sustainable design. Tell us more about how green practices factor into your design choices and love of vintage furnishings.
We start every project by considering which design elements we can keep in each space and whether we can refinish or reinvent them for our client. From there, we donate or recycle anything we can, being considerate of everything from cabinetry and appliances to furnishings and decor. Once we start the design planning, we consider the architecture of the space first, incorporating sustainably sourced and highly efficient building materials as well as maximizing natural light and minimizing energy usage. When we begin planning for furnishings, our first source is always vintage and antiques to find the best quality and make use of existing pieces. Then we fill in with sustainably sourced new items, hopefully made locally or at least in the United States.
Your own decor shop, Domain, offers goods from designers all around the world. Talk to us about your global approach to design.
We love to source furnishings and decor from artisans, both locally and globally, that have fair trade practices and support their communities. This global approach allows us to show our customers a range of cultural design ideas as well as the quality of handmade items from around the world.
You were born in England and go back there quite often to visit. Who are some English designers and specific styles that have influenced you?
I love Kelly Hoppen and David Hicks, both of whom created styles that were iconic and timeless in their own ways. I also live by (and design by) the rule coined by British designer William Morris: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”
You’re an avid traveler and have gone to 30+ countries. How has travel influenced and inspired your design work?
I love to travel not only for the experience of discovering a new country and culture but also for how it inspires me to think differently about the world and design, more specifically. I love to explore new styles in my travels, whether it’s architecture, textiles, furniture or handcrafts. Understanding how people create and use different elements throughout the world helps me to be more thoughtful when designing for our clients.
What’s your personal philosophy when it comes to working with antiques and vintage pieces?
I think that vintage furnishings are often higher quality and more thoughtfully designed than newer pieces because they were handmade by talented craftspeople who could take pride in their work. We carry that philosophy through to sourcing new items as well, prioritizing pieces we know to be fair trade, sustainable, and responsibly made.
On Chairish & Vintage Shopping…
What do you find most compelling about Chairish?
I love finding unique pieces, whether they’re vintage, antique, or even just secondhand. It’s the thrill of the hunt, knowing that you might find something really special and one of a kind.
How does sustainability factor into your design choices and love of vintage?
It’s innately sustainable to design with vintage pieces since nothing new is being made and no waste is created through manufacturing. Sourcing within a limited radius can also cut down on the environmental costs of transportation. Since we prioritize sustainable practices, sourcing vintage furnishings is a clear first step for our design process.
Are there any dream vintage/antique “gets” you wish you could have? What’s a dream piece for you?
I would love to find a genuine Pierre Jeanneret chair. There are so many knock-offs that don’t quite capture the original scale and proportion so cleverly created in this piece.
What are three of your favorite pieces on Chairish now?
I love this pair of Jay Spectre Lounge Chairs and Ottomans; this pair of Oak and Rattan Armchairs by Hans J. Wegner; and this Swan Lounge Chair in Teak & White Bouclé by Arne Jacobsen for Fritz Hansen.
Some Design Favorites…
Favorite way to create a statement-making moment in a room:
I always consider color, texture, scale and proportion when designing a unique moment in a room so typically I’ll make a statement with a combination of those elements, whether it’s wallpaper, custom designed furniture, or a focus on the views.
Favorite decorating “cheap thrill:”
Plants are my favorite cheap and easy way to bring life to a space.
Favorite iconic piece of vintage design:
I love the Pierre Jeanneret chair.
Favorite paint color:
I love Benjamin Moore Hale Navy but I also use a lot of whites to create a blank canvas for artwork.
Favorite piece of decor in your home:
I love the custom sectional sofa I designed for our family room. It’s so functional for our space and has the design details I love, like knife-edge back cushions and long bench seat cushions.
Favorite designer or artist from the past you most often turn to for inspiration:
I love Dorothy Draper and her iconic spaces that stand the test of time.
Design destination every creative should visit at least once:
If possible, I would say Paris should be on everyone’s list for both design inspiration and a study in design history.
Best piece of career advice you’ve ever received:
Be true to your own design style and values and you will attract those who connect with those same attributes.
Some Lifestyle Favorites…
Favorite vacation destination:
Favorite hotel that’s inspired your work while traveling:
The Tambopata Research Centre in the Amazon rainforest in Peru
La Mercerie in New York
Favorite small museum:
The American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore
Favorite Instagram accounts to follow:
Favorite hostess (or thank you) gift:
Fresh flowers in a handmade vase
Favorite adult beverage:
Favorite way to unwind at home:
Playing music with friends (I play piano)
Favorite entertaining essential:
White serving ware for a beautiful presentation
All photos by Jenn Verrier