Design Q&A with Timothy Corrigan

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Timothy Corrigan grew up in Los Angeles — in fact, he even lives in the same Hancock Park home he grew up in! —  but you'd be hard-pressed to guess that just by looking at his interiors.  Their design vocabulary, which has been described as "comfortable elegance," probably owes as much to his time abroad (including 7 years in Paris as the head of the Saatchi & Saatchi advertising agency in a previous life) as it does to his California roots. 

 "An American mindset with a European look," is how he once described his design philosphy and it's an accurate assessment.  Plop down in a chair, put your feet up on the coffee table, set down a drink wthout a coaster.  These are spaces for living, not just looking.            


Showcased in publications from Elle Decor to Architectural Digest, with clients ranging from movie stars to royalty, Corrigan is proof that not only can you go home again, you can do so in magnificent style.  And, given the example of his successful switch from top advertising executive to top interior designer, you can reinvent yourself in the process. 


What is your favorite design moment (house, restaurant, building, public space) in Los Angeles?

My favorite design moment in LA is a project I am currently working on in Beverly Hills: La Collina is a wonderful 1920's Mediterranean Revival villa designed by Gordon B. Kaufmann. It's rich with architectural details: vaulted hallways, painted coffered ceilings, wood-paneled rooms, all set on multiple acres with gorgeous views.  It is to die for!


Let’s pretend you have $400 to update a 250 square foot space, how do you spend it?

Let’s paint the walls a bright, fresh yellow with crisp white trim to liven the space up and make it feel sunshine-y bright.  Then go to your local Chinatown (or order online) a bunch of inexpensive white ceramic Chinese Figures and blue/white plates to hang on the walls.  You can get a lot of PUNCH without having to spend a lot of money!


Tell us a little bit about your window for LCDQ's (La Cienega Design Quarter) Legends of La Cienega event?

Using a spectacular 18th century painted and parcel-gilt boiserie paneled room as the backdrop for a mixture of exquisite pieces of furniture and accessories spanning four centuries, the window will be the quintessential example of “Timeless Design.” 50 years from now people will be able to identify each element in the window as a true classic of its respective period and a true testament to Yves Saint Laurent’s famous quote: “Fashions fade, style is eternal.” (For LCDQ, Timothy will be taking over the window at Studio Workshops.  You can see it starting May 7th.


What 5 things would you put in a time capsule?  (NOTE: The theme of this year's LCDQ event is Time Capsule: The Past, Present and Future of Design).

- A laptop computer to show how primitive it will all seem in the future.

- Anything from Hermes — belt, handbook, accessory — timeless chic!

- A copy of my upcoming book, An Invitation to Chateau du Grand-Lucé,  in order to see if my design philosophy withstands the test of time!

- A piece of gold so that future generations can see what people used to value…by then,  water will be the most important commodity.

- A Hostess Twinkie.  They will still be as fresh and as moist as the day they were made!


What period of history would you most like to have lived in?

Because I have been most directly influenced by mid-18th century French architecture and design, I would like to have lived during that time. It was an era in which everything was changing very quickly. The age of enlightenment brought about the transition from the socially rigid, yet at the same time, very exuberant, style of Louis XIV and led the way to a less rigid social structure that, ironically enough, was more restrained and strict from a stylistic perspective.


What would you bring with you if you were time traveling?

I would bring my iPhone to capture my thoughts and images of all the wonders I experience, a group of my favorite books (because books are my all-time favorite things), a pair of custom Belgian Loafers (without the bows) because they are the most comfortable shoe in the entire world and always look chic, and at least one good friend to share it all with!


What 5 things do you recommend keeping on hand for unexpected guests?

I am very accustomed to last minute guests at both my home in Los Angeles and chateau in France, so I always keep the following essentials on hand:

- A couple of bottles of good chilled champagne and lots of vodka!

- A Timothy Corrigan Home candle in one of three inviting scents to make your home smell sexy and inviting.

- A basket of toiletries that includes everything that any one will need...from sunscreen to eyeshades.

- Charger plugs for iPhone models 4 AND 5!

- Frozen cookie dough: a plate of freshly baked cookies will take their mind off anything you might have forgotten!


What’s your biggest design or home-related indulgence?

My biggest home-related indulgence has to be my place in the French countryside, the Chateau du Grand-Luce’.  It doesn’t really matter what I am doing there (pulling weeds, feeding the swans and geese, or walking in the woods), this is the place where I find the true meaning of joy. When I am there, I continually give thanks that I have been so lucky in my life. Considering how little time I have been able to spend there in the past year it seems like even more of an indulgence!


What’s your favorite home from a movie or tv show?

That’s a tough question! Almost all of the interiors that George Cukor created for “The Women” were pretty spectacular, in that elegant, over-the-top way that he could do so well.


The Larrabee Estate on Long Island in Billy Wilder’s 1954 classic, “Sabrina,” with Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart,  was pretty great too; it reeked of understated 50’s old-money glamour.


And how could you not love all of the lush interiors in Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece, “Barry Lyndon?” For sheer beauty it would be hard to beat those interiors.  Such sublime attention to every detail and nuance.


What do you love most about LA?

Having lived in nearly every major city in the United States as well as seven years in Paris, I think that LA is probably the most “live-able” city in America.  The almost year-round perfect weather translates into a very positive, optimistic mindset that makes it easy to accomplish whatever you want!  And since LA is the city of dreams, it truly is a place where you can be just the person that you want to be without a lot of outside expectations.


What’s your favorite cheap design trick or tip?

Good lampshades are key. Even the least expensive lamp will look good if it has a good lampshade. Just as you can judge a man by the shoes that he wears, a good lampshade says a lot about a home; you can make a strong statement without having to spend a lot of money!



To learn more about Timothy and see more of his work, click here.  To learn more about the La Cienega Design Quarter Legends of La Cienega event, which begins May 7th in Los Angeles, click here.  


(Image courtesy of Timothy Corrigan)

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