This Material Is Better Than Velvet, Says Shannon WollackWords by Morgan Goldberg
If Shannon Wollack’s design style were a fashion icon, it would be Michelle Obama.
The Los Angeles-based interior designer, who runs Studio LIFE/STYLE with her partner Brittany Zwickl, draws parallels between the former First Lady’s boundary-pushing, mindful way of dressing and her own home transformations. “When she was the First Lady, she was able to dress fun, sophisticated, youthful, and take risks,” Shannon raves. “She mixed high and low while still standing apart.”
That alchemy is Studio LIFE/STYLE’s bread-and-butter. This well-balanced approach is largely to thank for the firm’s roster of A-list celebrity clients like Fergie and Chris Pratt. Here, Shannon shares some more of the secrets that brought her this success, from the colors she’s loving right now to the item she always makes custom.
The architectural style/design era that inspires me most
I'm inspired by homes with old bones in a classic architectural style, like Georgian or colonial, that are furnished with more contemporary elements and a mix of vintage pieces.
The colors I’m loving right now
We’ve been into rich plums and deep reds recently. Typically, our firm has stayed away from purples and reds. Brittany hates purple and I hate red. It's really funny that we've steered towards them this past year. We have been diving into the muted, deeper, richer versions—not the bright, vibrant, primary colors.
Especially coming from LA, where there's been this huge push for indoor-outdoor, all neutral, very calm and serene style, we feel there's a lack of depth in some of the color stories. Going into these deeper plums or richer wine colors and layering them with darker wood tones adds a little more richness and just makes spaces stand out and feel unique.
I’m dying for a client to request
A vacation home on the coast in Italy or France. It feels sophisticated yet relaxed—and who doesn't want to go? I’d also love to design a kitchen with stainless steel cabinet fronts.
My best small-space trick
Mirrors have been our go-to since day one. They transform a space by making it look bigger and brighter. They can fill a wall and provide impact because they create a visual point of view, but they also really open a space up by bouncing light around. If a mirror is reflecting plants, it can project more greenery or nature. It acts as a magnifying glass onto objects in the room.
The one thing that should always be made custom
Window treatments. Rooms can fall really flat if they don't have the right window treatments, but when you use the right scale, material, and layers, it creates visual excitement. They’re also practical in terms of function because cheap window treatments often fall apart, they typically don't provide blackout properties, and they're usually mismeasured, so they're not kissing the floor—they're either too short or too long—and it doesn't look great.
Formal dining room or eat-in kitchen?
Eat-in kitchen. The kitchen's the heartbeat of the house. It's where everyone hangs. Do I think dining rooms are coming back? Absolutely. Do I love a dining room? Absolutely. Is a dining room way more fun to decorate? Absolutely. But we're a practical firm and we work with a lot of families. An eat-in kitchen is not only just where people eat—it's where people pull up their laptops, it's where kids play games, it's where everything happens in a household.
The most underrated material I love to use
Mohair. It's just a luxurious material that’s a level above velvet. Velvet can get a little shiny, but mohair has this richness. It's a little bit thicker and has this soft, luxurious feel.
A design trend that needs to be retired… and one that should make a comeback
We are tired of overusing neutral colors in a room. We much prefer a space with more depth and texture. We love seeing more traditional, interesting edge details, wood-clad windows, stained glass, and classic millwork details. We are also paying more attention to different types of wall treatments. We’ve been using a lot more wallpaper, murals, patterns, and other paint and plaster techniques to create a multi-dimensional feel.
My go-to fabric?
Linen is just a staple to us. It might not be as exciting as mohair or as fun as printed fabrics, but it’s incredibly transitional. We use it all the time, especially living in California, from window treatments to sofas and bedding. It works almost anywhere as a base, and then we layer other fabrics and materials on top.
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