Tailored, classic, understated, and sophisticated are just a few of the adjectives that come to mind when looking at the interiors of Leslie Hunt. From her attention to detail to her mastery of mixing colors and patterns, Leslie’s training is evident in all of her designs. A fortuitous internship with renowned designer Mark Hampton in New York led the UC Berkeley graduate into the world of design. After working as lead designer for Stephanie Stokes, Sandra Nunnerly and Scott Snyder, she launched her own design firm in 2003.
Known for her enthusiasm and impeccable eye, Leslie creates unique spaces for each of her clients based on their individual tastes and style. This personal touch accompanied by her professionalism has added to her rapidly growing residential design business which has also expanded into restaurants, country clubs and corporate offices.
After designing a cafe for her best friend in Santa Monica, Leslie began working on her friend’s home gutting the interior to make it more cohesive for a family of four. The courtyard and back house provide an ideal place for entertaining and taking advantage of the gorgeous Southern California weather.
A fountain original to the property provides a quaint focal point for the outdoor dining area.
A flag photograph by Oberto Gili purchased through Nathan Turner in Los Angeles inspired the red, white and blue palette. A variety of patterned pillows found at the Rose Bowl Flea Market play off of the stripes and colors in the artwork. This play on patterns creates a story in many of Hunt’s interiors.
What began as a kitchen and bath renovation evolved into a larger project including the dining room and living room. The kitchen and family room were taken to the studs and ceilings raised to create a more spacious atmosphere where the family spends most of their time. A dining nook off of the main living area includes Roman blinds in a Tilton Fenwick blue and white print for Duralee, navy lacquered bamboo chairs and banquette pillows in indigo hues from Hollywood at Home. A brass and ebonized pendant from Visual Comfort lends a modern touch to the space.
A sectional sofa with patterned pillows continues the blue and white scheme. A rattan cocktail table with shagreen boxes, design books, and blue beads add layered interest to the interior.
A pink rug by Madeline Weinrib was the starting point for the living room that inspired this warm and cheerful color palette. Diminutive barrel back chairs from Grace Home are upholstered in a pink and blue floral fabric by Tilton Fenwick for Duralee. Sofas by H.D. Buttercup are decorated with pillows made with fabrics by Peter Dunham, Schumacher, John Robshaw and Duralee. A large aviary painting purchased by the client in Montecito finishes the interior.
In the dining room, crimson red pulled from the Persian rug covers the walls. A gilded pagoda lantern from Horchow and blue leather used on the dining chairs contrast with the jewel colored walls. A Brunschwig and Fils multicolored suzani adorns a window seat. More printed pillows in blue and red mix enhance the vignette without overpowering it.
A mutual affection for the color blue inspired every space in this Pacific Palisades cottage. By using different shades of blue in each room and accenting with natural elements, the designer was able to achieve the client’s vision.
Leslie scoured local flea markets, estate sales and consignment shops to help the clients start their collection of blue and white porcelain displayed in the family room bookcases. Touches of orange seen in the flowers, accessories and sofa pillows by Carolina Irving play off of the blue and white color scheme. The client’s dog, Cupcake, is curled up on her favorite chair.
The living room continues the same palette but in a more formal fashion. A variety of blue hues found in a large abstract landscape are used throughout the interior. A sofa by Hollywood at Home in a deep blue textile by Kravet anchors the space. Lighter blues are found in the carpet and sofa pillows by Ralph Lauren and S. Harris. A larger patterned print by Kravet is used for Roman blinds and drapery panels.
The airy master bedroom is another variation on the blue and white theme. Against a white backdrop, an upholstered bed by Kravet is decorated with linens by Deborah Sharpe and vintage pillows. A leopard fabric by Schumacher is used on the bench for additional seating. An abstract fabric by Tilton Fenwick for Duralee frames the windows. Greek key bedside tables are from Mecox Gardens and Bunnys William’s iconic brushstroke lamps were purchased at Harbinger.
Photography: Stafanie Keenan and Amy Bartlan
Recognized for her classic yet eclectic style, Los Angeles based designer Leslie Hunt merges formal design with a relaxed and understated sophistication. Specializing in the creation of uniquely personal and chic interior spaces tailored specifically to each client is Leslie’s formula that has broad appeal to all ages and styles. Her motto is simply decorating the interior of people’s lives.
As an art history major as UC Berkeley, Leslie studied abroad in Europe and then moved to New York to begin her training with legendary designer Mark Hampton. It was there where she developed her use of colors, patterns, and textures. Over the next six years, Leslie worked as lead designer managing multiple high-end projects throughout the country with influential designers Stephanie Stokes, Sandra Nunnerly and Scott Snyder.
In 2003, Leslie successfully launched her own interior design company on the West Coast. Fusing the best of her inspirations and experiences in New York and abroad with her native California style, Leslie is known for her distinct ideas and passion that she brings to each project. She has a youthful flair and merges her knowledge of the past with an eye on the future.
Over the years, Leslie’s enthusiasm, attention to detail and follow through have been highly valued by her clients. With the growth of her residential business came the inevitable expansion into commercial spaces ranging from corporate offices to restaurants and to private country clubs. Working with different mediums and requirements in a commercial environment has been instrumental in expanding Leslie’s scope of work as a designer.
Please click HERE to see the rest of Peachy’s summer issue featuring Los Angeles.
WRITTEN BY Cathy Austin
PHOTOGRAPHY BY Tria Giovan
INTERIOR DESIGN BY Denison & Denison Interiors
ARCHITECTURE BY Ted Flato of Lake Flato Architects
LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE BY Lance Thompson of Thompson + Hanson
Perched high above the Llano River, an architectural masterpiece by Ted Flato blends beautifully with the landscape of the Texas Hill Country. The ranch house is prominently situated on a bluff to take advantage of the magnificent 360-degree views. Built in 1992, the 2,000-square-foot house features an octagonal pavilion for the living and dining areas with a kitchen that connects to the spine of the house, which includes three bedrooms and three and one-half baths. A long, arching entry porch runs the length of the bedroom wing. Limestone collected from the surrounding 800 acres is stacked to create walls and piers of the house. Every piece of stone was hand selected and skillfully placed by Henry Dueker, the builder, and his team of craftsmen. The unique structure perfectly exemplifies the architect’s vision of capturing the unique beauty of the landscape and connecting the inhabitants to their environment.
The owners purchased the property as a getaway from their primary residence in Austin. They enlisted the help of longtime friends Denison & Denison Interiors to assist with the design of the spaces. Darby Denison and Dawn Thompson, twin sisters and native Texans, served as an incredibly talented design duo that used the bucolic setting as their main source of inspiration. Darby and Dawn now have separate interior design firms.
Darby explains, “Our client asked us to create a space that could not only serve a large group of outdoorsmen but also a gathering of girlfriends and family that seek a more refined and livable home. When Dawn and I walked into the living room for the first time as ‘designers’ rather than just friends, our first inclination was to bring the outdoors in. The client wanted a soothing, neutral scheme, and we were using a lot of her existing furniture from other houses. The indigenous stone was definitely the driving force behind our color scheme. We decided to cool down the existing long leaf pine floors with a gray wash and painted any exposed wood trim a neutral color to blend in with the stone. We designed the furniture layout to meet all four focal points: the fireplace, the TV and two large picture windows. The upholstered chairs swivel around for TV viewing. We used zebra and cowhide rugs to marry the seating area with the rest of the room while creating a large yet intimate conversation area.”
The designers made sure that the light, neutral palette is just as forgiving as it is elegant. Whenever possible, outdoor fabrics or stain-repellent fabrics were used. In the dining area, a custom table was ordered from England with a reclaimed wood top and sleek steel base. Dining chair fabric by Kravet is both durable and resilient. The light fixture, fire screen and pot rack in the kitchen were made by Peck & Company of Houston.
In the octagonal pavilion, the pine ceiling rises to an impressive 14 feet and is highlighted with a colored gray wash that was pulled from the limestone. Sofas are covered in a Great Outdoors chenille, swivel chairs don Le Graciuex fabric and armchairs are clad in camel leather. The designers worked with a local artist to create the top of the coffee table which depicts the house and Llano River in terrazzo and metal inlays. A barrel base covered in Edelman leather with chrome nail heads was added to give it a “ranch-like” feel. A kudu presides over the fireplace.
The open kitchen features white oak cabinetry and Corian countertops. An antique French farm table surrounded by Janus et Cie counter stools functions as both a dining area and another prep area for cooking. Open shelves provide storage for pottery and everyday items while not obstructing the view.
In order to take advantage of the river views, the bedrooms are placed side by side in a bedroom wing. The entry porch runs alongside this wing and also works as another seating area. The neutral palette continues into the bedrooms. A rustic bed by Ralph Lauren is adorned with linens from Feather Your Nest in Austin. Accent pillows on the bed and the roman blinds feature a Galbraith and Paul leafy linen print, and a hide-covered bench from Arteriors sits at the foot of the bed. Another fireplace tucked into the corner provides warmth on chilly nights.
The twin bedroom showcases a mix of antique African textiles, a striped Kilim, bamboo beds and rattan accent pieces.
The sophisticated rustic vibe continues to the pool area, which is tucked into the side of the bluff below the main house. Lance Thompson of Thompson + Hanson designed the pool and galvanized pergola to be consistent with the materials and style of the main house. Sleek outdoor furniture by Janus et Cie serves as an ending point for the pool area as steps lead to a fire pit below.
Darby Denison, Darby Denison Interiors
Website coming soon…darbydenisoninteriors.com
Born and raised in Texas, Darby Denison has a unique flair for joining traditional, Southern elegance with casual, modern chic to create interiors that are both inviting and exciting. In addition to holding a degree in interior design, Darby brings an amazing breadth and depth of knowledge in antiquities to every project from her studies in 17th–20th Century Decorative Arts at Sotheby’s in London.“I love and appreciate something about every era. The real challenge is to know each one so thoroughly that they can be married seamlessly. I have such a passion for antiques and love seeing them come to life not only in their natural setting but also in combination with the dynamic, sleek lines of modern design.” Darby is known for asking her clients a million questions before beginning the design process.“I feel compelled to know all of the details. It is a complex process, and I believe it to be my job to make sure the clients’ intrinsic personalities and lifestyle are immediately visible upon entering their home, and that it is beautifully done.” Darby has been in the interior design business for over 25 years in both residential and commercial design. She resides in her beloved Austin and is currently working on various residential projects in Texas as well as collaborating on a home in the Bahamas.
Dawn Thompson, Dawn Thompson Interiors
Website coming soon…dawnthompsoninteriors.com
A native Texan who believes in an international level of design, Dawn Thompson affirms that the success of any project depends on the perfect blend of listening and understanding the desires of the client with the delicate art of interpreting and creating great architectural and interior design. According to Kristin Armstrong, friend and client,“Designing a space for one person, couple or family is challenging enough. Dawn’s ability to crawl inside a client’s head and view their dream space from their perspective is indeed a gift. Translating expectations, experiences and tastes to create a joint vision and a treasured outcome is what marks the difference between building a house and designing a home.” Dawn loves every aspect of the design process. Integrating the exterior and the interior is perhaps her greatest strength. She believes in staying true to classical design but always adds a twist to keep out the “expected” and maintain the “unexpected.” Layering antique and vintage elements with contemporary flourishes keeps the spaces vibrant, relevant and timeless. Working in both the residential and commercial fields of design, Dawn is currently collaborating on a restaurant and retail “village” in Austin with her husband, Lance.
A graduate of Stanford University,Ted Flato, FAIA started his career in the office of O’Neil Ford where he met David Lake. Since founding Lake Flato in 1984,Ted has received wide acclaim both nationally and internationally for his straightfor- ward regional designs that leverage each unique site and connect people to the natural environment. By employing sustainable strategies to a wide variety of building types and scales, Ted seeks to conserve energy and natural resources while creating healthily built environments. His firm and work have been recognized with 43 national design awards, four AIA Top Ten Green Awards, AIA’s National Firm Award in 2004 and in 2009, the Texas Medal of the Arts.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Melissa Rufty of MMR Interiors for my latest interiors feature for Peachy Magazine. I have been a long time fan of her work and am delighted to share more of her work and inspiration in my latest “Creative Minds” interview….
I had a successful career in advertising. I loved it but the pace was not sustainable with a family. I quit to raise my children but quickly found myself in need of a creative outlet. I had a passion for interiors and quietly started helping people. Before I knew it, I found myself in a new career.
It starts with the client and the space. I don’t have a go-to “look”. Like in my advertising career…I see my design work as packaging and branding the client. I like the home to be a true extension of them. I don’t necessarily want people to walk into a space I have decorated and say “Melissa Rufty did this room”. I would prefer it to look like a really great representation of the client. It makes my job harder but definitely more rewarding.
Our Kitchen in the swamp barn project. It had to be functional enough for a staff of caterers but also look like it had been there for a long time. It was no easy task but I think we achieved the goal. We went as far as to design an island outfitted with old wood crates to cover up the conduit but also serve as useful but rustic drawers.
My office is on Magazine street where I am surrounded by countless artists, antique stores and galleries. It takes about ten steps in any direction to get inspired. I’ll hit the street and find a piece of art or an antique rug that speaks to me and often the palette for the whole house starts from there.
There will be a collective eye roll from your New Orleans readership when I say this but – Katrina. There was so much damage that putting people’s homes together took on a new meaning. It showed me that it goes way beyond adornment. Making people’s spaces is a privilege that I don’t take for granted.
It has been a fun year. In addition to my New Orleans projects, I have worked on one of my favorite projects of my career. It is a party barn in the bayou. It is a working barn, entertaining space and guest house combined. It is situated right on the swamp complete with a quarter mile lit swamp walk that goes to the main house. I can’t imagine there will be many projects like that in my lifetime! It is so unique and the owners took great care in integrating it into the environment. I always am working on a New York apartment or two – I love mixing my Southern perspective with the edge of New York.
We are working on a beautiful old house in Monroe, LA. It is one of those great houses they just don’t make anymore. It was once decorated by Mark Hampton so it is fun to go back and look at old publications to see the differences and similarities compared to what I have done in the space.
Infusing soul in my design work. I want to achieve more than just pretty spaces.
Try to stay away from “the latest and greatest”. Learn how to discern what is a flash in the pan from what has staying power.
The list is endless…Tony Duquette for his flair, Amelia Handegan for her classicism, Bunny Williams for her layering, David Hicks for being timeless. Like I said – the list is endless.
My needs are simple – a nice beach with my family.
Watching TV in the bathtub.
Peace and quiet. I have three teenage daughters and two dogs that are frenemies…I am usually knee deep in drama by 7am.
The Rolling Stones…paint it black. I’m doing an all black butlers pantry right now and I am crushing on it big time!
Sweetgrass baskets (I’m originally from South Carolina)
Any shade of green.
I was captivated by New Orleans from the start. I feel that the qualities of the city definitely come through in my design….a little bit of gilt here, a little bit of grit there, comfort and a sense of joie de vivre throughout
There is no shortage of great spots in New Orleans. There are too many to list…from beautiful garden district homes to dive bars with plaster falling off the walls exposing the 18th century brick, the Sculpture Garden at City Park.
Thanks Melissa for a great interview!
Whenever I interview a designer for Peachy magazine, I always ask them handful of personal questions to get a feel for the designer’s personality and the inspiration behind his or her design aesthetic. My friends joke that I should start my own design talk show because I never get tired of discovering what makes designers tick and hearing about their creative process. A girl can dream!
I was delighted to hear Washington DC based designer Lauren Liess answer these questions. After the interview, I have included some of my favorite shots from her expansive portfolio. Her book HABITAT due out this fall will be a must for any design library!
Click here to read “Happily Ever After,” an article on a beautiful house she designed in Virginia.
When I graduated from college and started decorating my first apartment.
After meeting with client in their home and talking about needs, wants, and style, I take all the info back to my studio and mull it all over… I like to pull fabrics that feel right for the project to get inspired. I nail down a floorplan and then start to visualize the space coming together. Once I have an idea of how I want it to feel and what I’m looking for, I begin looking for the right pieces to fill it all in with my assistant designer.
I just finished my first book! It’s been an amazing experience and has really helped me hone in on my style and explain the reasoning behind everything I do in a design project. It’s been sort of a brain-dump of everything I know paired with photos of our firm’s newest work, which I’m so excited to share!!
There have been so many because you’re always changing and growing but I’d have to say starting a blog… I had no idea that the blog would become such a big part of my life and business. The friendships I’ve made are lifelong ones and I gained so much self-confidence through the blog and the really kind readers who have reached out over the years. It really helped launch my career and helped with getting published which has been very good for our business.
I’m working on some really exciting renovations/ whole home projects in the city… I love working on houses from the ground up like that. We also have a wonderful core group of clients who we are always working with, going room-by-room throughout their homes. We are also working on a couple of upcoming design showhouses which are a lot of fun!
Well, the book will be coming out this Fall (Habitat: the Field Guide to Decorating) at which time I’ll also be launching a Fall collection for my fabric line. Both showhouses will be featured in print magazines this Fall… I’m hoping that in the future we’ll be taking on more from-the-ground-up projects in new and exciting locations… I’d love to do a beach house, which would be a first for me.
For life…For loving my family and for being excited about the little things and finding fun in the every day. Hopefully for being caring and having some wisdom.
In my career… For “getting” my clients and creating homes that are deeply personal and loved… As someone who makes the design process fun and organized and enjoyable for everyone- both clients, my own employees, and the other businesses involved in any project. For being honest and forthright.
Have your work professionally photographed asap, even when you think you can’t afford it. It’s the best investment.
Oh so many!! But here are a few: Darryl Carter, Tom Scheerer, Peter Dunham
Honestly, I’ve been really lucky to have some dream clients… They are kind, fun, creative, opinionated, trusting, and open-minded.
I’m not sure who my dream client would be in an actual person but those are his or her attributes. I think it would be a lot of fun to work with someone in a creative industry other than my own- a musician, an actor, artist etc.
Relaxing on a deserted beach with my family… Somewhere near some really great food and drinks.
I’m really hyper-focused… When things get really busy with work I can get tunnel vision and I have trouble shutting down work thoughts at the end of the day. I have to make a really conscious effort not to check email on nights and weekends so that I’m fully there and available for my family.
Being alone somewhere in nature with my family…. Reading outside… Cooking a good meal with a glass of wine and eating it outside. Dancing with friends in our kitchen.
HaHa..Maybe “Dynamite” by Taio Cruz
Paintings of old men, botanicals, pretty stones
I’m not sure it would be considered a trick but I really love layering rugs… A natural fiber rug (like seagrass jute or sisal) underneath of a vintage rug is a favorite thing of mine.
Washington, DC has always held a special place in my heart. The summer after I graduated from college, I worked in the Special Events department of the National Gallery and fell in love everything DC had to offer. Being in the gallery after hours without the crowds was divine. I could experience the Matisse cutouts with just a guard present and could enjoy the Calder mobile in the grand foyer with not another soul in sight. At night, we would take it as much culture as we could ranging from attending free concerts on the Mall to experiencing my favorite dive…the now defunct New Vegas Lounge.
The latest Peachy issue is all about this great city. As I was working on my Interiors article about Lauren Liess, she was in the midst of her final photo shoot for her book Habitat due out this fall, in the midst of a MAJOR installation, and preparing for the birth of her fourth child.(Welcome to the world Baby Gisele!) I was in awe of her unending creative talent which not only included interior design, but also textile design and writing her amazing blog Pure Style Home. Be sure to read the entire Washington DC Peachy issue by clicking here.
Nashville is a city full of characters…delightful, creative, soulful characters that add a unique flavor to the charming Southern city. In early December, our Peachy editorial team made a scouting trip to Nashville featured in our latest issue. From rising country singers to established entrepreneurs, the latest issue details the stories of the people that make up this wonderful eclectic community. I was thrilled to write about my dear friend Jonathan Savage for the interiors feature. Not only did he entertain us in his own stunning home, but he also introduced us to many of Nashville’s brightest talents. Consider him our honorary “Guest Editor” for this issue!
Please be sure to read the full magazine by clicking here.
With just 24 days left until Christmas, I need all the help I can get! The Holiday Issue of Peachy is now live filled with an abundance of inspiration including decorating ideas, recipes, favorite traditions, and gift guides from our talented editors. Be sure to read the issue by clicking here.
Please contact the studio if you are interested in any of our design services.
Another fabulous issue of Peachy is now live featuring sublime Santa Barbara, California, also known as the American Riviera. The perfect climate and stunning setting between the Santa Ynez mountains and the Pacific Ocean make this coastal community an ideal spot to raise a family. It was a delight to write about Bernardo and Alina de Albergaria, their beautiful family, and their gorgeous home, Casa Ventalia. Please be sure to read the full magazine by clicking here.
|Bumping into Jonathan Adler at Marche Biron|
It is a rare and wonderful thing to find a kindred spirit like Holly Phillips who has almost identical taste in art, design, shopping and even wine! Our design adventures have taken us to New York, High Point, Nashville, Atlanta, Paris, and on the horizon are trips to Charleston for The Southern C Summit and Los Angeles for La Cinega Design week.
|Late night at Hotel Costes|
I recently had the pleasure to write an article on a fabulous project of Holly’s for Peachy Magazine. Here are some more questions I had for this social media maven and designer extraordinaire along with some favorite images of her work…