For Washington, DC, designer Lauren Liess, home is where the heart is. She thrives on unique details that take an interior from conventional to deeply personal, reflecting the personality of her client. She explains, “Details that make you smile or go ‘aahh’ when you walk through the door or sit down to eat at a table. These moments are different for all of us, and I love figuring out what’s right for my home and for my clients’ homes. Perfection is not really my thing. I’m much more interested in reality and charm. Fresh flowers from the garden over long-stemmed roses any day—I love it when things are slightly off and tell a story.”
Liess employed her storytelling ability along with her relaxed aesthetic to create a stunning home for a young family. The client and designer hit it off immediately after meeting through Jenny Komenda of the popular design blog Little Green Notebook. “I was looking for something youthful, fresh and clean,” the client says. “I wanted everything to be family-friendly, informal and livable.” Room by room, they decorated the home using mementoes from the family’s collection with a soothing palette of soft blues, silvers and neutrals with warm accents.
The two-story family room was the starting point for all design decisions since it was open to all of the other spaces on the main floor of the house. Tailored drapery panels made out of trellis-patterned linen by Windsor Smith for Kravet soften the large expanse of windows. An overscaled soft silver and gold tiered chandelier fills the double height of the room and adds an element of formality that Liess desired for the space.
A vintage gilded hand-painted cocktail table was part of the designer’s own collection that she graciously let go because it was the perfect object for the room. The gold tones are repeated in the collection of figures displayed behind the sofa. Liess added multiple textures including mohair-upholstered wingchairs and wool carpet layered over coarse sisal rugs.
The palette extends into the kitchen adjacent to the family room. A cream and gold glass mosaic tile provides pattern and a focal point as the backsplash. Light and dark granite countertops break up the space. Neutral-painted cabinetry, nickel hardware, plumbing and light fixtures finish off the space. Over the breakfast table, a capiz shell chandelier adds a reflective element that also mimics the iridescent quality of the glass mosaic tile.
The entry hall introduces the palette for the home and opens into the dining room, living room and family room. A black and white sketch from the client’s collection hangs above a three-tiered cart displaying decorative objects, books and flowers. An Oly Studio resin pendant lends a sculptural element to the space beneath a custom gridwork ceiling that Liess designed.
Liess’s favorite space in the home is the dining room. The juxtaposition of modern and traditional elements in the room sums up the designer’s aesthetic perfectly. Thibault’s metallic chinoiserie wallpaper adorns the walls, and a nubby grasscloth covers the ceiling, accenting the gold pattern in the walls. Modern vintage dining chairs paired with contemporary upholstered host chairs sit upon a new Beni Ourain rug. Both client and designer were thrilled to reuse the dining table and cabinet in the newly designed space, taking great satisfaction in making something old look beautiful and loved again.
Glamour pervades the living room where metallic finishes are punctuated by black and white accents. Blockprinted shimmery wallpaper from York Wallcoverings lines the walls. A black piano anchors one corner, while a black and white abstract painting by Liess and sofa pillows add graphic punch. Lucite, shell, wood mosaic, sisal, hide, glass and gilded iron are layered in to add interest and texture.
The master bedroom palette is soft and tranquil using lighter touches of soft blue, oatmeal, gray and ivory. Cream walls under a pale blue ceiling set the tone for a peaceful retreat. An upholstered bed by Vanguard Furniture is dressed in custom bed linens and flanked by a chest and desk used as bedside tables. Opposite the bed, an intricate Peacock mirror from Wisteria hangs above a mirrored chest by Vanguard Furniture. A clear gourd lamp from Visual Comfort keeps the space clean and uncluttered.
Throughout the home, Liess successfully created a domestic haven for her clients that reflects their fresh, youthful lifestyle. The client elaborates, “My kids are all over the place, doing homework in the dining room, playing piano in the living room. My husband and I spend a lot of time together in the kitchen and family room. It really feels like us.” It is the perfect happy ending to the lovely interior story Liess designed for her clients.
Simplicity. Comfort. Nature. Ease. Relaxed luxury. Freshly picked, floppy flowers that won’t stand straight in the vase, a crooked smile, a ridiculously comfortable chair and a good book, time with loved ones. I believe it’s the little details—however unexpected or quirky they may be—that truly define our homes and make them our own. A home that reflects the people who live in it is a loved home, not a perfect one, and that’s what I aim to help create.
Five years ago, after realizing that design was my true passion, I left my position in public relations, sold my home with my husband, David—who, by the way, has a crooked smile—and got our company off the from my parents’ basement.
It was one of the best decisions of our lives. I love the process of getting to know our clients, taking care of them and creating havens for them. We take pride in always being open and upfront with our clients and in being mindful of their dreams and wallets. Designing homes that feel fresh and authentic is my passion, along with working on my textile collection, which features my hand-drawn designs inspired by common “weeds” and botanicals around where I grew up. We work out of our design studio in Great Falls, Virginia.
From the glamorous “big reveal” days to the not-so-glamorous days of schlepping furniture and doing paperwork, I love my job. My husband is now also my business partner, and five years and two homes later, we are so thankful for how our company has grown.