When a former Formula 1 driver and a model/fashion designer purchased their new home, it was still under construction. They brought on designer Caitlin Murray of Black Lacquer Design to prevent any “builder-grade” finishes from taking over the space. Nestled in the hills of Bel Air, Caitlin brought her signature color-soaked style, added a dose of eclectic maximalism, and finished it up with a strong nod towards Hollywood glamour. In a recent chat, the designer told us more about the unique property:
Tell us a bit about your clients. They hired you at a unique time, right?
The homeowners were the loveliest humans ever through the entire project. Total dream clients. They wholeheartedly trusted in the process, gave me permission to take creative risks, and were always game for the fun and unexpected – even for some of the wilder ideas I had. Since they purchased the house from a real estate development team who were in the middle of construction, we were brought on a bit later than typical to pivot what was essentially a standard builder’s design (think neutral-toned and crowd-pleasing) into something personal and packed with personality. A definite first for us! Hardly any of the finish materials had seen install, so it really was the perfect moment for us to interrupt the process and make quick, but super thoughtful, reassignments. I think we had the full interior design completed in two months, which is a little bonkers for 10,000 square feet. From that point, our job was centered around collaborating with the developer’s crew (and some of our own talented fabricators that we pulled onto the job) to make sure that every detail was executed flawlessly and in record speed…did I mention that there was a baby on the way?!
What was your vision for the space?
Eclectically curated around a purposeful color palette. Color is kind of my thing and I’m always inspired by new striking compositions! We’ve become known for color-soaked interiors and I was excited to do that on a slightly larger scale for this project. I love that it feels like you’re walking throughout an abstract painting – without feeling at all overwhelming. An ultra colorful, transitional-boned home and on such a sweeping scale is just not something you encounter everyday, and I really ran with creating that tension while still maintaining a contemporary and clean aesthetic to a certain degree.
Did the location factor into your design at all?
Across the street is an undeveloped bluff, bursting with succulents, cacti and wild California flora – and the spirit of that greenery made its way inside through some of the design choices. You can see it immediately upon entering the foyer which we coated in a daring sage hue, bound with black architectural molding. The adjacent dining also feels like a natural extension of the landscape thanks to the elemental wall-covering. This estate is ultimately a family home, so we wanted to fully embrace the glamour and style of both the clients and the space while infusing it with cozy, livable aspects throughout. Striking a balance between them made for a rather unexpected and eclectic interior, full of a lush assortment of color, pattern, and texture.
Were there any hiccups or challenges in the process? If so, how did you overcome them?
There weren’t any significant hiccups other than the small daily crises that come with all construction projects – ha. I think the biggest challenge we faced was the timeline. Not only did we want to get the clients settled as soon as possible, we also had to meet tight scheduling from the developer’s side. It was imperative that we clinch the design for the full interior in a few weeks’ time so we didn’t hold up construction with costly delays. The scale of the home and the level of detail in the architecture (and our designs for each space!) made this no small feat.
It was also of course a challenge to jump into a project that was well underway and to join forces with a real estate development team that didn’t typically work with an external design firm. They were great partners from day one (first clue, they hardly batted an eye when we made the difficult choice to rip out the newly installed stone in the master bathroom which, needless to say, I just felt terrible about) – it was really just about finding a groove that worked for their team, ours, and the client. We had to adapt our internal processes a bit at the outset and remain flexible in order to do our jobs effectively. One of the great benefits of having a boutique firm is the capacity for that flexibility so it was more than doable, but I’d be lying on behalf of my own team if I said it was a breeze!