If you're a fan of that quintessential laid-back California vibe there's one interior designer who nails it every time: Amber Lewis of Amber Interiors. It's hip but never trendy, refined yet eclectic, and always impossibly cool. Lewis has perfected the art of boho-chic creating texture-rich lived-in spaces that are both cozy and sophisticated. Functionality is just as important to Lewis as style—this before and after in Venice Beach proves it.
Her latest project for a young family of five in Los Angeles brought all of this together under one whopping 7000 square foot roof. Despite the expansive interior, Lewis managed to make it feel quaint and inviting with a highly curated collection of stylish décor, modern furniture, and a whole lot of vintage rugs, pillows, and throw rugs (which Lewis says she personally handpicked for the space). Ahead, Lewis shares her style notes and challenges behind the design.
The entire space is earthy and warm thanks to the designer's love of a neutral palette: Natural woods are fused with woven materials and textured patterns. "I like to add texture and layers to all the spaces I design," she says. "I like using woven and wood to give some organic interest and variations of colors with warm undertones." The Urban Electric Co. pendant adds an industrial vibe to this boho entryway.
The neutral tones continue into the kitchen where Lewis kept things fairly minimal and sleek. "I chose these hues to help the space feel collected and interesting, but not overloaded, leaving the bright primary colors as accents," she said.
If you're a fan of her work, then you'll know her obsession with vintage rugs, well, rugs in general. "I spent hours and hours sourcing the perfect rugs for the house," she said. "I chose a mix of patterns and styles but I tried to source them in similar color hues, so there was a nice flow between each room and space."
Lewis loves to pack a space with texture and color. While her selection of rugs and pillows certainly deliver this in a space, artwork is also key. This home combines a mix of vintage paintings and unique finds. "The clients owned the oil painting of the man smoking the cigar in the living room, and the framed flag in the bar downstairs, as well as the Mohamed Ali photograph," she said. "The clients and I wanted to use their existing pieces and then add art that complemented those."
With such a large space to cover, the family was acutely aware of the space feeling too formal or stuffy. They wanted it to feel lived-in and cozy, which just happens to be Lewis' specialty. By layering gorgeous rugs and textiles, Lewis made the large grand space comfy and warm. "When I was designing each space I approached it as I would a smaller home," she said. "We just adjusted the scale of the furniture. It all had to be a larger than usual."
When compiling her mood board for the space, Lewis and her team curated images homes with a ton of character. "We gravitated toward mixing new with old and wanted our main pieces of furniture to have a certain patina to them," she said.
Lewis' knack for curation comes to the fore with the stylish shelves in the living room, which is a selection of vintage finds and rare objet d'art. "We scoured antique stores, and shops to look for random and cool items within a similar color story," she said. "For the family room, you'll see we used green as the accent color, and then mixed in brass pieces, wood pieces, and then lots of books."
Patterns are a part of Lewis' design vernacular, so clearly there is plenty of them in this home. But aside from her usually throw pillows and rugs, this home also features textured wallpaper. The master bedroom is where it's at. "I kept the main living spaces bright and white, so I could put the pattern into the rugs and curtains," she said. "When I had a challenge of adding interest to a particular room, like in the master bedroom, I added the wallpaper so I could give the illusion that the room was a little smaller than its actual enormous size."
Looking at the home now, it's hard to believe there were any challenges but no major rebuild is complete without some hiccups along the way. "I was met with a lot of resistance from the builder when I was hired," Lewis said. "The client had already chosen tile and materials when I was brought in, and they were unhappy with the direction the space was moving in. I had to essentially remove the majority of what had been installed, and resource and re-do a lot of it.
"It was a very sensitive situation because time, money, and egos were involved. So I tried to keep it very clear that my job was to make my clients happy and give them the look they wanted. It was an interesting experience to come in this late in the process and change so much, but the clients were so thrilled in the end, the hurdles we had to jump with the builder were all a distant memory by the time we wrapped up."
Despite all the trials and frustrations along the way, seeing the happy faces of her clients after seeing the finished product made it all worth it. "They had been through so much building the house, all I wanted was for them to be happy," she said. "Luckily they were, and as always I was so grateful for the opportunity to make their new house a home. Their reaction was priceless, and in the process, I grew very, very fond of this family."