Lisa Bartolomei Talks Design Resolutions and Favorite Brands

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If you could pick 3 (belated) New Year’s design resolutions to make for 2014, what would they be? Why?

1. Keep it Simple! Historically I tend to over-think things, but I am finally at a point in my career when I can trust my initial design impressions.

2. Weed my own garden. I work hard with my clients to create perfect storage solutions for their homes, and I always tell them to “weed” their homes and get rid of the things they haven’t used in two years (and, of course, to let go of what I know we can’t use in the new design). I have a hard time letting go of things myself, so I hired a fashion consultant to weed my closet. Seven large green garbage bags went to the consignment shop and five went to Goodwill. Sometimes we all need outside help to really clean out our clutter!

3. Use more color. I tend to create spaces that are very welcoming to art, which means a lot of neutral walls. Now, I think that the walls can be the art themselves. I am going bold! On a recent project, we painted the dining room a deep blue, and while the client is thinking the living room should be dark brown, I am encouraging them to choose an amazing dark eggplant. Dark rooms can be  so cozy and inviting, and this particular home has plenty of open space to balance out the use of strong color.

Name your favorite furniture and décor brands to work with. What makes them so special? 

Working with the right vendors makes all the difference in the world. I love working with people who are creative, love their work and product and are highly concerned with great customer service. Sounds easy right?  In today’s economy, it’s pretty tough to come by that combination. When it comes to standard furniture companies, it is important to work with people who will stand by their work if there are any problems. I have had a lot of success with Hickory Chair, Century and Duralee. We do a lot of custom work, and there are only a handful of vendors I would highly recommend.

I specifically love working with Randolph & Hein on custom designs. We just completed a custom dining table and matching chairs for a client in Palm Desert. The challenge is in the finish on these pieces; we needed a decidedly unnatural color that still showed the wood grain. The company came up with a wonderful taupe stain on zebra wood, and they sent several samples back and forth until we got it right.

When we visited the factory, we fell in love with a mirror and asked them to take the same type of angles and create a buffet. They have a new designer who is turning out some really graceful and exciting new furniture, and what he came up with is very dynamic. We decided to use a metallic car paint for the finish. Should be dramatic!

We couldn’t find a bed for the master bedroom that we really liked, so I designed one. Randolph & Hein are making it for us. They have included it in their line and have designed a very nice nightstand to go with it.

While working on this same project, I went to almost every stone yard in the LA area. I must say that they have very unique stones imported there…much more exciting than what I have found on the East Cost. While searching for the perfect stones, I visited Stoneland in LA. They do some amazing custom carving work there. James Brunning showed us around, and we found some gorgeous pavers that they make. They simulate ancient stone pavers and are cut from slabs so you can have any size! We created a contemporary patterned floor for the master bath using the “ancient” stone. It hasn’t been installed yet, but it will be a beautiful juxtaposition to the very sleek contemporary bath design. It is very soft on the feet as well. Stoneland has amazing stone carving abilities, and when we couldn’t find a stone pedestal that would work with our other stones, James said “No problem.”  I sent him a picture of a sink I liked and sketched how I wanted it to look transformed into a pedestal. They sent us computer drawings for review and six weeks later we had a unique solid stone pedestal for our clients home.

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