Nadia Geller Lends a Design Hand to Upward Bound Shelter

Nadia Geller Lends a Design Hand to Upward Bound Shelter

Gregory Han
Feb 5, 2010

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Los Angeles interior designer Nadia Geller at the recent Upward Bound Homeless Shelter Project in Culver City. Myself and 17 other designers came together to put our design style to create 18 completely different rooms using donations from local retailers, friends and family for the Los Angeles homeless shelter, converting an abandoned motel into welcoming and humanized spaces.

One room that really caught my eye was Nadia Geller's (shown above). Her attention to detail is really spot on and the way she used such a small space to define the areas in the room was really quite a challenge! She made a 300 square foot room look like a 700 square foot apartment!

Because there could be up to 4 family members living in the space; the first thing I wanted to achieve is distinct and functional areas. I was able to segment the room by using hospital track. I wanted to make sure that the bunk beds could be closed off. Hello…bedtime! It is such a challenge to keep a sense of normalcy while rebuilding a life. I wanted to make sure that the parents or parent in each family could continue to live in the room while their children were sleeping. At the same time; I wanted the ability to create openness. Curtains on hospital track was the solution. I also wanted to separate the back area and create a dressing room. It is also the area that is home to the sink and kitchen area. I thought it was important to have a private space to dress instead of locking the bathroom door.

Nadia's mix of glam and raw materials makes for such an unexpected visual composition, so we thought it would be fun to share her work and her background on design so we asked Nadia some questions about her experiences in design and what brought her to where her career is now. Hope you enjoy her interview below:

How did you become a designer?
I became a designer at the ripe age of 4 when I demanded that I select my own wallpaper for my bedroom. I studied graphic design and interior design in college which added to my artistic foundation. I planted my interior design roots in NYC back in 1999. I have been creating rooms and spaces my whole life. It is what I live to do.

What is your favorite color to work with and why?
I love color and I feel that to choose one would be really difficult for me. I love white. Everything works with white. Right now I love navy blue with white.

What color and design inspirations do you see using in the future?
I am on a big Scandinavian kick right now. Swiss chateaus and A-frame houses in old Alp ski towns are really making me smile. All the intricate hand painted stencils on wood inspire me with pattern choices. The primary color combinations with wood tones make me feel cozy.

What is your greatest source of inspiration?
I love vintage home making books and Architectural Digests from the 60's through the 80s. I am also a sucker for Holiday Windows in NYC.

Which interior or furniture designers do you most admire?
I admire Charles and Ray Eames. I love that they lived their design.

Describe your design theory in 4 to 6 words.
It is all about you.

What is your signature mark that you always try to implement in a space?
Whimsy and story telling. Because I cater each space to my client's personality; I don't label my designs as having a specific style. But, I am a fan of adding a third layer of color. Adding a lamp or throw pillow that has a different color in it just gives the space a bit more depth.

If you could redo any space what would it be?
My childhood home. I wish I could go back in time and help my parents out. I did my best then, but hey…I was just a kid.

What have you learned from having your own business that you wish you knew when you were just starting out?
Delegation is key. When I started out I did everything myself things that I am not the best at took me a lot longer to do. I like to work with people that are talented in their own right. My bookkeeper rocks. My accountant rocks. My assistant rocks. They all help me achieve success and I get sleep! I didn't think it was possible in the beginning to have people help me; I didn't think I could afford it. I could have started sooner.

Are there any hard and fast dos and dont's you'd like to share.
Be accountable for your actions and own up to mistakes. Always edit your work. Get an outside eye to critique a challenge. Trust your gut.

If you hadn't become a designer, what do you think you would be doing now?
I would be decorating cakes. I dream of having a small storefront and a bed and breakfast. I see myself accomplishing that in 10 years.

I know that the families that will be staying in her room will know how much thought and detail went into creating not a only a functional room but one that will make them smile. For instance, the large red and white light bulb hanging lamp and the push pin vintage bird boards so the families can share photos or crafts from school, I know they will certainly feel inspired in this area! Also her smart space planning by creating some privacy for the kids in the bunk bed area.

You can see her wonderful before and after images on her blog and more images here of completed spaces and the designers behind them.

This was a special guest post from Vanessa De Vargas, owner of Turquoise, a Los Angeles furniture and interior decor business.

(Images: WestEnd Gallery by Laure Joliet)

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