I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing one of my favorite interior designers, Molly Luetkemeyer. You might be familiar with Molly since she has been one of the featured designers on TLC's Clean Sweep for the last few years. Molly's style is so hard to describe since its clean modern mixed in with bright and elegant all wrapped up together. She has a clever way of making it all work and her projects reflect that complicated style so perfectly.
Following are some questions I asked Molly about her inspiration, background and her interior design practice.
How did you come to be a designer?
When I came to LA from New York, I was working in the film business. Ironically, the move made me realize I didn't want to be in the movie business anymore and left me thinking, what's my next move? As I was soul searching and talking to friends, I kept hearing over and over that I should go into interior design. My friends reminded me that every time I came to their houses, inevitably, I would insist that we re-hang the art or reconfigure the room before I left. They actually confessed that my "designing" might have garnered me a lot more dinner invites than I might have gotten otherwise! At first, I balked at the idea of interior design – to me it was a career for middle-aged ladies whose kids had gone off to school and didn't know what to do with themselves. But I decided to take some classes at UCLA to see what it was really all about and BOY was I wrong. I realized that all of my intuitive pushing around came from a deep dark interior designer struggling to get out. And then, about a month into school, I met Kelly Wearstler at a party and realized that interior design could also be sexy and hip and fun. I managed to finagle an internship in her office and that was the beginning.
What's your favorite color to work with and why?
That is such a hard question to answer. I use loads of color in my work in all sorts of ways. I love all colors, really but I suppose the color I use most consistently is white. It always acts as a calming element, a place for the eye to rest, a crisp contract to saturated color or pattern. I use white so that I CAN use bright colors – you have to find the correct proportion. For instance, a room with hot pink walls and navy blue curtains may be too much for most so I'll paint the walls a crisp white and let the curtains, bedspread, lampshades etc pop with color.
What color combinations do you see using in the future?
I see two palettes on the horizon. The first is pastels of all kinds. I think pastel has sort of been a dirty word for the past decade, connoting Easter bunnies and bad prom dresses but I think people are more ready than they realize for colors that are soft and pretty and feminine. On the flip side, I also think the 80's are back in full effect so I think you are going to see splashes of fluorescents popping up in materials and accessories.
What is your greatest source of inspiration?
Another hard one – I've never have a greatest source of inspiration although I am consistently inspired by nature, art and fashion. Just taking a walk at the beach or a hike in the mountains can present color combinations I would never have considered. The same is true walking through a museum or flipping through a fashion magazine. Oh, and travel always inspires… always.
Which interior or furniture designers, past or present, do you most admire? Furniture designers: Gio Ponti, Tommi Parzinger, BDDW, Patricia Urquiola, Carlo Bugatti, Line Vautrin, Claude and Francois-Xavier Lalanne. Interior designers: Dorothy Draper, Antonia Hutt, Kelly Wearstler, Albert Hadley, Tony Duquette, David Hicks, Peter Dunham
Describe your design theory in 4-6 words.
Balanced, specific, lively, livable, chic, elegant
What is your signature mark that you always try to implement in a space?
I actually try not to have a signature mark. I am always trying to draw out my clients' personal style to make their homes look like them, instead of me. However, at the end of the project, there is usually a graphic crisp quality to all of my spaces.
If you could redo any space, past or present, what would it be?
My office! We are bursting at the seams but too busy with work to turn our attention to it…
What have you learned about having your own business that you wish you knew when you were just starting out?
Nothing. If I knew everything I know now, I would never have had the courage to start my own business. Naivety and optimism were my best tools in the beginning.
What are your best practices when it comes to client relations?
Working hard in the beginning to get my clients to be specific about what they want and then doing all I can to deliver it.
What 5 things does a well designed home need?
1. A place for everything to be put away. There's no point in designing a fabulous room if you can never see it or enjoy because there is junk everywhere.
2. Comfortable seating.
3. A great dining area for intimate meals or larger dinner parties.
4. Good lighting – it changes everything; the mood, colors, how people look (how you look!).
5. A balanced, personal mix of styles and patterns that reflect the style and personality of the person living in the space.
If you hadn't become a designer, what do you think you would be doing now?
Only god knows…
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I would love to have a textile and furniture line. Maybe some more tv? Great clients and a thriving practice…