TALKING TRADE SECRETS WITH LA'S BETSY BURNHAM

by Marisa Marcantonio

Betsy Burnham Design's work is the epitome of the interiors coming out of LA right now -- casual, new traditional and fun. Her fearless and free layering of bold color and festive prints have sunny California verve. The results are livable rooms that are not for the faint of heart. Coming from a fashion background, the transition into home design was a natural one. Fourteen years ago, she had a party in her home that caught the eye of a guest. They soon hired her, and from there she was off and running.

Photo by Patrick Cline
Betsy's office mixes trad plaid, hints of black, bamboo chandeliers, and a giant Parson's table where she spreads out her samples and gets to work.

Photo by Patrick Cline
A room scheme comes together on a board in her office. It sits beside a standing lamp with a Burnham Design signature element, a Union Jack shade.

Photo by Grey Crawford
A home office Betsy did in Benedict Canyon mixes a Quadrille chocolate brown and white print on the desk chair with a ruby red De Gourney wallpaper. The unexpected zebra rug and blue and white urn take this room into the territory of beyond fabulous.

Photo by Matthew Millman for Western Interiors
Using a classic set up of a screen behind a headboard, Betsy pulled the celadon and pink colors from the Chinese screen together through the lampshade and bedding choices. Clean lines of a Parson's style nightstand keep the traditional aspects in the room fresh.

Who did you work for and where did you study to learn the trade?

I’m basically self-taught. I mean, I have a creative background: I studied fine art undergrad at Dartmouth, and after graduating, I worked in the fashion industry for about 6 years. when I moved out here, I studied for a year in the interior design program at UCLA extension, which gave me some fundamental drafting and space planning skills. but I did most of my learning (and I’m still learning) on the job, and in collaboration with contractors, architects and colleagues.

When did you know this was your calling in life?

Late-ish. As I said, I’ve always been creative and been interested in and good with color and fabric, but I honestly thought that fashion was where I’d end up. I always had fun with my own homes, and it was a guest of mine who first suggested interior design-she became my first client about 14 years ago.

Do you have a signature look and how would you define it?

Thrift and couture. A mix of patterns, layering of styles, a love of color.

Your work is full of color and fashion forward. What do you think is next regarding trends in color, material, style, influence, historical period and locale?

I definitely had a year of teal, then a summer of grassy greens. but it isn’t always bright color: on our table right now is a neutral room in the works: oatmeal, taupe, cocoa brown mixed with black wood finishes. it looks very fresh to me. also, lately I’m attracted to skirted sofas and am putting them in the same rooms as mid century painting and sculpture. I guess for me, it’s always classic with a twist.

Do you have a favorite fabric pattern or print?

I have so many, but one is “Natchez” by Kravet. It’s a cotton ikat, that comes in several really usable colors and is super reasonably priced. Regardless of trend, ethnic prints remain classic and timeless.

What other designer do you most admire?


Many designers here in LA who I consider my professional peers inspire me: Joe Nye, Peter Dunham, and Suzan Fellman to name a few.

What books do you own old and new that you constantly refer to?

Elle Décor's So Chic, Time Saving Standards for interior design and space planning, Time at Home and A Home For all Seasons.

If you could design your own product collections what would they be and in what style?

That’s easy. I’d love to do fabric and I’d love to design a few rugs. they’d be colorful, and there would have to be some offbeat plaids, some bright paisleys, some sort of variation on camouflage, and of course an animal print or two.

Who would you like most to collaborate with on a project?

The Rug Company (Chris and Suzanne, take note!)

What material do you love?

Cottons and linens. There’s nothing wrong with a soft leather or a good faux snake.

Where do you go to get inspired?

Vintage stores in other cities. My daughter and I found some great ones in Florence this past summer and spent hours poking through clothing and furniture despite some serious heat and humidity.

What stores do you shop in the most?

Weego Home, Lawson Fenning, JF Chen, Hollywood at Home, Barneys, and Ebay. Oh! And 1st dibs. What did we do before that?

What is your favorite project?

I designed a 15,000 square foot house on a private island in northern Michigan on Lake Huron. The clients (3 siblings) are probably my favorites ever: young, cool, wonderfully eccentric and lovers of all things vintage. The entire house is filled with finds from Ebay, vintage stores and auction houses and has a distinctly nautical theme. The results are below.

A nautical navy and white living room with hints of yellow.

The view is the star, so comfortable seating areas with ethnic fabrics complement the scenic aspects.

A wall of French doors in the dining room provide easy access to the outside. For relaxed dinners, comfortable upholstered royal blue high back chairs sit around a dark wood table. Nautical art is hung around the perimeter of the room.


TWO IS BETTER THAN ONE: PETER DUNHAM AND KATHRYN M. IRELAND PILLOWS ON OKL

by Marisa Marcantonio

Another great Tastemaker Tag Sale is coming up this Saturday morning (8am PT/11am ET), August 7th on One Kings Lane, featuring pillows from two of LA's tastemakers, Kathryn M. Ireland's bohemian bright fabrics and Peter Dunham's ethnic inspired fabrics.

Here is a sneak peak of what you will want to scoop up:







IT'S A DOGS LIFE: UPHOLSTERY LOVES COMPANY

by Marisa Marcantonio

I have a soft spot for adorable dogs and how their personalities come across when a camera is present. Here is a round up of designer's dogs, showing how they love to sit on gorgeous upholstery and live the good life.

They love the ottoman, my mom's darling Westie's Lilly and Daisy, even with plenty of dog beds to choose from. Still, they prefer the ottoman.


Matthew White's new book, Italy of my Dreams, shows Holden sitting on his favorite 18th century Venetian chair. Thank you for the darling photo Frank.

Photo by Tim Street Porter
Peter Dunham's brood


Lucy, Bunny Williams canine cutie

Bunny LOVES her dogs and tries to select fabrics that are dog proof. She puts pretty quilts and throws over her sofas so the dogs are always welcome.



Noodles, Katie Leede's dog, sits daydreaming in a chair covered in Katie's bird fabric

Beth Greene from Kravet's Wheaton terrier Murphy ignoring the alarm clock


Patricia Shackelford aka Mrs. Blandings Rosie naps on the window seat


Tricky, approving the new rugs at Schuyler Samperton's. Her neighbor found him in the bushes of a Ralph's grocery store in the valley in LA, and she has had him since he was 4 months old.


Martyn Lawrence- Bullard's Diva on a custom bed in Madeline Weinrib fabric


Rufus, a mini labradoodle belonging to food writer Carolynn Carreño

Oakley a Norwich napping with his master James Anderson


Oakley and Dash, Steven Gambrel's Labradoodle, sharing the duvet


Grant Gibson's Westie's, Campbell and Wallace

Wallace snuggling on a Fortuny pillow

If your dog loves to do this too, send me snaps!

CHANGING SPACES: HOLLYWOOD AT HOME HAS A NEW HOME ON LA CIENEGA BLVD

by Marisa Marcantonio

Hollywood at Home has a new home! Since 2007, the shop has led the way in California traditional design. Interior designer and Brit Peter Dunham came to LA in 1998, changing the design landscape with his eclectic mix and bohemian vibe. He recently moved his shop from Almont Yard to the bustling La Cienega antique shop row. His new shop oozes charm and livable design, with textiles from Lisa Fine, Carolina Irving, designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard, Jed Johnson Home and his own line, Peter Dunham Textiles. Furniture from his Hollywood at Home line is comfortable, well-designed and provides a sense of history in an interior. The final touches comes from well-edited antiques, vintage textiles, and accessories placed throughout shop--the home you never want to leave!

A red awning and door set an upbeat tone, welcoming visitors. Dunham red has become a trademark in his work, and it can be seen in the distance at 724 N. La Cienega Blvd.

Upon entering the space, you are transported to a casual chic environs, filled with antiques, chic finds and furniture and accessories of Dunham's own design. A large scale framed print by Peter Dunham for Natural Curiosities hangs to the right of the front desk.

The scene is set. White walls are the perfect backdrop for the printed fabrics.

Fabrics are hung on hooks that extend along the wall, showcasing the spectrum available in full lengths.

By creating a homey setting, shoppers are encouraged to hang out and scheme rooms. Natural light streaming in the windows makes for accurate color matching.

Hydrangeas in an antique vase sit in the center of the table stacked with vintage books and a Martyn Lawrence-Bullard exotic scented candle.

A 19th Century Hudson Table by Hollywood at Home is available in custom sizes and finishes with leaf extensions. Everywhere you turn, there is another great fabric to look at.

Amazingly, the numerous fabric collections all work together. Their bohemian style and rich colors go together well.

The Bobbin Chair, based on a 1910 Austrian chair, is made of hand-turned walnut and hand-woven rush, adds a rustic element to a room. Panels made of Martyn Lawrence Bullard's Majorelle fabric hang in the windows and a sofa is upholstered in his Moorish- inspired print, Marrakech. The rich Italian and ethnic colors and patterns look great en suite.

A bedroom set up in the large room is dominated by a 4 poster bed with bed hangings in Carolina Irving's Patmos stripe in Lake. Walls are upholstered in her Calico print in blue. A cozy seating area sits next to shelves with pillows.

A bedroom is not complete without a cozy reading chair. The Gibbs Chair, with a deep seat and tufting, is based on a late 19th century English model. It is on brass casters so it can easily be moved. Blown glass jugs have been made into gorgeous lamps by Dunham.

An antique 20th Century Tanzou lacquered chest holds photos and books, along with a mid-century turquoise crackle lamp on white bases, creating a lived- in home ambiance. A Hollywood at Home Moorish mirror in a black crackle finish hangs above it. The rush How to Marry a Millionaire Chair is a big success for H at H for its comfort and modernist lines.