Schuyler putting the finishing touches on her blue and white interior trailer remodel for her client, NCIS's Michael Weatherly
I first got to know LA-based designer Schuyler Samperton back in 2003, when I was Style Editor at House Beautiful when she, along with partner Anna Hackathorn, was part of Samperton Hackathorn and she was named one of America's Top Young Designers that year. When we discovered Trinity College in Hartford Connecticut was our alma mater, we took a nostalgic walk down memory lane remembering our favorite art history professors and the great energy of the place. She has since gone on her own, and defined her casual yet pulled together signature style that resonates so well with the LA lifestyle. I recently caught up with Samperton, and asked her, among other things, what she learned from current White House designer Michael S. Smith, her first design boss. Read on to get to know how the daughter of an architect achieves her elegant West Coast livable, layered look.
A countrified dining area set with woven wicker chairs overlooks a relaxed seating area in this charming Pacific Palisades guest house
You trained at Michael S. Smith. What did you learn from him while you were there? How did his aesthetic rub off on you?
I learned a million wonderful things from him – how to recognize quality, the importance of being bold when using patterns, and objects of disparate pedigrees and not to over think things. Something else that I learned was that almost EVERYTHING can be repaired! Inevitably, things would break, rip or get chipped, and he never flipped out about anything like that – it’s a point of view that brings a lot of serenity to a somewhat hectic line of work! Before I worked for Michael, I always admired his work – his use of antique textiles blew me away. Each project had its own feel, and a simple, comfortable, mellow elegance.
A relaxed formal living room near the beach in Santa Monica reflects a less fussy lifestyle where comfort is key and muted fabrics achieve a calmness
When did you know this was your calling in life?
My father is an architect, and I used to play interior designer with his Knoll samples. It’s something I’ve been interested in forever, and I grew up in a very style conscious household. Interiors and fashion were big topics for us, and I’ve always felt comfortable in both of those realms. Professionally, I stumbled into working for Michael. Previously, my career had been in entertainment publicity, but Michael and I became friends, and he kindly offered me a job.
Do you have a design mentor?
My parents and Michael were my biggest influences.
When did you know you were ready to go out on your own?
A close friend from my Fox days offered to back me out of the blue. Until then, I had never considered it, but he gave me the push I needed to take the plunge. He was the creator of an enormously successful tv show, and I figured if he thought I could do it, then maybe I could. I started my business with another Michael Smith alum, and we worked on the weekends to raise enough money to fund the business on our own, but it was nice to have the support of someone who believed in me.
What is the most important thing for someone to know that would like to start their own firm?
Be prepared to work seven days a week – this job doesn’t begin at 9:00 end at 5:00. I work almost every weekend, and even when I travel, I’m looking for things for clients, or thinking about their projects. I suppose that any job that has an artistic element to it comes with those “burdens.”
What other designer do you most admire living or not?
I love Commune, David Netto, Tom Scheerer and anyone who creates something with a soul.
If you could design your own product collections what would they be and in what style?
I’d love to have a fabric line, and have already started the design process. I adore vintage textiles, and would take my inspiration from pieces that I’ve collected over the years.
A welcoming red white and blue Pacific Palisades family room with the ever-cozy sectional sofa, warmed up with cosy striped throw pillows and multi-colored printed valance
Your work is full of wonderful layered spaces that have a relaxed feel? Why is that look sometimes harder to achieve than it looks?
Thank you! It takes time to select just the right accessories for every project, and in my opinion, the small touches are what makes a space personal and interesting. I happen to love combing through cluttered tables at flea markets, or the dusty back rooms of some off-the-beaten path shop. That kind of comprehensive searching isn’t for everyone, but I love it. I get so excited when I find just the right piece, and I always get a kick out of thinking who used to own it, and what they must have been like.
An indigo striped rug and woven chairs add a casual flair to a Hancock Park sitting room nook painted in the palest pistachio shade
What is your favorite project and why?
My favorite projects are those where the client trusts me to do my thing, and we collaborate in a way that meets their aesthetic expectations. It has nothing to do with the budget, but rather the freedom to create a beautiful space that works seamlessly with their lifestyle and personality. Rooms that I love include the family room in the Palisades, Carolyn’s kitchen and the bar in Hancock Park (it’s called Backyard Bistro on my site). The project we installed in the Sierras is one of my favs, but we can’t release those shots yet.
A cool Venice loft showcases a great mix of framed prints and interesting antiques united by a rich grey, red and black color scheme
Do you have a signature look and how would you define it?
My hope is that every project I do reflects the owners’ own personality, and doesn’t look too polished or decorated. I suppose I’m known for a relaxed, bohemian colorful point of view, but I truly love working in every style (except Hollywood regency – I loathe that, as well as boomerang coffee tables, or any 50s textiles that remind me of an old Donald Fagen video ). I’m not a fan of the matching ashtrays, aggressive symmetry or rooms that look like hotels. I want people to come into a room I’ve designed, and be drawn to a comfy sofa, or an interesting piece on the coffee table.
A Pacific Palisades bedroom in calming shades of pale blue and white. An ebony four poster bed with romantic South of France bed hangings and French doors that open onto a terrace complete the transporting respite
Do you have a singular favorite fabric pattern or print?
Impossible to say – I love so many, and most of them are from Michael’s Jasper line.
A trad floral print at the window provides the perfect pairing with a beautiful antique carpet and sharp red ming coffee table and neutral cream colored sofa in Hancock Park
What material do you love?
My favorites are linens, velvet, fur, feathers, distressed leather and vintage cement tile.
Where do you shop to get inspired?