Talking Textiles, Texture and Travel with Designer Laura Michaels

Every once in a while we could all benefit from taking an objective look at our lives and assessing what works and what doesn’t. From our careers to our homes, embracing change can elicit surprising and wonderful results.

We had the opportunity to check in with a woman who exemplifies this very concept. When designer Laura Michaels found her career in fashion had become so all-encompassing that, while successful, it did not leave room for other elements in her life to thrive, she did what every good business woman knows how to do: she pivoted. She turned her eye for style from fashion to interiors and found that many of her skills translated beautifully. We talked to Michaels about that decision, how her life in fashion has impacted her current work and what pitfalls to watch out for when designing your own space.


TLV: What drew you to change direction and pursue interior design?

LM: Fashion design was a seven day a week job with extensive travel. I had children and travel was not an option for me. I was called upon by people who saw my home to help them with their project. I was able to work within my children’s school schedule and work locally.   I found that I had a fierce passion for interior design that grew as I acquired the resources to develop product. I found that my design background gave me to the ability to create designs in all areas. I have designed and produced furniture, lighting, tile and carpet. I became known for creating one-of-a-kind items that were designed exclusively for that client.


Image Courtesy of Laura Michaels

In fact, her ability to “see a room as a whole collection” has been an incredible asset. She explains: “I had to design full collections that were filled with layers of fabrics and textures. Wovens, knits and prints. Each of those elements had to tell a story and relate as a whole. The same applies to a room. Each fabric is reliant on the next to enhance the item it is adorning. Each layer of material, be it a window treatment fabric or a pillow fabric or a woven wood or metal on a cabinet or coffee table, all has to create a totally coordinated story or …collection. It is my love of materials when I was a fashion designer that I bring with me and use to create beautiful layered rooms.”


TLV: Do you have any signature element you like to incorporate into your projects?

LM: I like to incorporate unique materials into my custom cabinetry. Leather, vinyls, textiles, metals anything that will make the piece unique and add another layer of texture.

Image Courtesy of Laura Michaels


TLV: How does your focus on textile inform the way you design?

LM: I am a very tactile designer and the fabrics I select are generally soft and luxurious. I play with layers of texture. It is all about balance and in creating some that looks unique and interesting. I keep searching until I find the perfect blend of design, color and texture.


TLV: What design elements make the biggest impact in a space?

LM: Wall color or treatment. I find that a bold small room makes the largest impact. I frequently lacquer walls or cabinetry in deep colors and find that far less furniture is needed since the impact has been made with the walls. I find the lacquer finish to be extremely beautiful and luxurious.

Image Courtesy of Laura Michaels


TLV: What’s a common mistake that the average homeowner makes in or to their home?

LM: Impulse purchases without have the BIG plan. I don’t purchase anything until I have a floor plan. I know exactly what sizes I am looking for and search out each piece in the proper scale. I find homeowners buy something they like and then struggle to make everything work around that piece. It is the biggest pitfall.


TLV: How would you describe your personal style?

LM: My personal style, much like my wardrobe is quite neutral. Black, black, black, white, camel, gray, ivory. I love neutrals and find that my home after almost 20 years is still so pleasing because of the neutral palette that I love so much. I have no pattern other than a leopard woven fabric from Scalamandre and an Hermes blanket . Just layers of neutrals.   I find it very soothing.

Image Courtesy of Laura Michaels


TLV: What’s your own home like?

LM: I purchased my home almost 20 years ago. I walked to the front door and said I will take it without even seeing anything other than the front entry. My husband could have killed me!   My house is lovely. It is a stone home that looks like a charming carriage house but inside has large spacious rooms with high ceilings. The architect raised the living room, dining room and entry ceilings with beautiful peaks and angles. These ceilings have beautiful barn wood applied to them. When we made additions to the house I designed the rooms to have the same elements and followed his lines. I adore my home. It is transitional but has many antiques that my husband and I collected many years prior. The house and its furnishing still look fresh even after so many years.


Image Courtesy of Laura Michaels


TLV:  How has the rise of social media – instagram in particular – impacted the world of design? Or alternatively – how has it impacted your work?

LM: I love Instagram and find new sources daily. My Instagram page is more updated than my website and is a great way of communicating new product…although I have yet to maximize that fully. I find I have a more informed client that has greater exposure.


TLV: Favorite city for design inspiration?

LM: Paris is my favorite city and one I know so well after years of traveling there several times a year. The architecture is so beautiful, the people and the language are mesmerizing. However, and I have yet to visit, but my most inspired design style comes from Belgium. I love the use of wood, stone and metal …all very minimalist but so powerful. I research architects and designers on line and study their interiors for hotels, restaurants and residential interiors.

Image Courtesy of Laura Michaels


TLV: Favorite item in your own home?

LM: I have a Biedermeier china cabinet that my husband and I bought almost 30 years ago. The patina on the wood is amazing. It is a very treasured piece.


Thank you Laura!

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