Laura Michaels Design is a Connecticut based, full-service design firm. The former fashion designer, Michaels specializes in residential and commercial interiors, mostly working in the Tri-State area in addition to the Hamptons, Martha’s Vineyard, and Miami. The company’s online GetARoom feature allows clients to take a project into their own hands before placing it into Michaels’. Michaels designed a room in the Hamptons Designer Showhouse in Bridgehampton, on view through September 3.
Why did you make the move from fashion to interior design?
I worked in the garment industry for 15 years. I love being a fashion designer, but travel and working seven days a week no longer held my interest after I had children. I could not bear to be apart from them, so I stopped working.
I then decided to move to Westchester and put furniture into rooms. People came into my home and thought I had a unique style and from that my second career was born.
You have a unique style questionnaire on your website. How did you come up with it?
Some time ago, I started having very internet savvy clients, and I had to rethink my approach to the Millennials. I noticed that they shopped online constantly and price shopped as well. I saw a trend and felt I needed to react to it in order to remain current.
The idea was to establish GetARoom as an online design business that would serve that client. A questionnaire allowed us to gain an insight into the client’s needs and begin to formulate a design theme.
What inspires you as a designer?
Everything! I walked the High Line yesterday and was inspired by the architecture, the gardens and the creativity it took to transform something discarded into something that gives such pleasure. It transformed Chelsea. Every day I am exposed to beautiful homes, materials, architecture and people.
I feel like I learn something new every day. I am a passionate collector of information. I absorb the information and often I recall a small detail to use it in my designs.
What areas do you specialize in?
I specialize is all custom interiors, including kitchen and bath. I love kitchen and bath design because it requires a blend of materials, technology, and functionality. The basic layout of a kitchen is usually dictated but certain architectural elements and then the rest is pure imagination!
My kitchens and bathrooms tend to be more unique and usually incorporate exciting new materials.
What are your favorite elements to work with?
I love to mix materials in unique combinations. I search the market for unique products to combine with well-known products. I love mixing metals with stone and wood. It elevates each material to another level and makes what could have been basic into something unique. It also adds dimension and texture.
How would you define your signature touch?
I always add bespoke elements to all rooms. I want the client to have a singularly custom designed home.
I feel it is my job to create something unique for the client so no two projects look the same and fit the clients’ idea of what their home should look like.
What are some tips you have for those wanting to update their interior style?
It is possible to add pillows and other accessories to update a room. Wallpaper or paint is a very easy and fast way to make a major change.
Do you work or partner with certain brands/companies?
I have traveled and visited many factories to learn and see these vendors’ manufacturing facilities: Kohler, Porcelanosa, and Cambria. I have been fortunate to have the support of Phillip Jefferies, Studio Marte, and Peter Maier, who supported and contributed to my room at the Hampton Designer Showhouse that runs until September 3 in Bridgehampton.
You’ve showcased Simple Vodka in your work at Hamptons Designer Showhouse, how did you pair up with that brand?
I wanted a display of wine bottles but changed my mind when I saw the clean and simple lines of Simple Vodka bottles. The Simple Vodka company also donates 20 meals to the hungry for each bottle sold. It was easier to spend hundreds of dollars on display bottles when I knew I would be helping those in need. My Hamptons Showhouse display provided 360 meals to the hungry!
I was so taken by their dedication and mission that I contacted them directly and sent them the images of the show house to use to promote their mission. I had one small voice as a designer in the show house and thought I could use that opportunity to spread the word.