Michelle Workman’s firm in Los Angeles, Michelle Workman Design, specializes in residential and commercial interiors. Her client list includes Jennifer Lopez, John Travolta and Kirstie Alley. Through The Red House Interiors, she sells high-end modern and vintage furnishings and accessories, as well as her own individual designs.
We asked her our five big Qs.
1. Which designers influenced you?
First, Sister Parish, because she is traditional, but classic. She feeds that early American that I love.
Albert Hadley modernized Sister Parish’s work. The projects they did together were a lot like what I do – a combination of traditional elements with modern forms.
I also love Billy Baldwin for his glamor. He started designing a classic, timeless look and introduced modern into it. It became glamorous and sexy, but with a traditionally grounded look.
I’m inspired by Dorothy Draper. She updated rococo by turning small motifs into over-sized decorative elements. I also love her bold color choices. Her office with black lacquer walls and a huge Federal mirror was the inspiration for a dining room I recently completed.
Lastly, William Diamond and Anthony Baratta. The combination of Diamond’s traditional style with Baratta’s modern aesthetic is a wonderful fantasy. They’re so bold with color it makes my mouth water.
2. What’s your favorite design style?
I don’t like any one design style over another, but I love the Federal period. Classic motifs and architecture mixed with a contemporary flair. Bold color choices. To boring and beige, I say, “Heave-ho with the ho-hum!”
3. What’s the essential home accessory (or piece of furniture) you use in your designs?
The essential part of design is color.
Color communicates so much about the person who lives in the house, so the color palette is the first thing for me.
4. What’s your favorite vacation spot?
The Dordogne region of France. It’s all vineyards, rolling hills and fields of sunflowers. The trees are lined up in neat rows, so when you look at the forest you see inside of it. I love the small towns and the food. At lunch, all of the shops are closed because everyone is at home. Dinner is at 9 or 10pm and it’s a family affair. Life is about beauty and joy, which is what I try to achieve in my own life.
5. Show us a picture of the room you most enjoyed designing and tell us why you love it.
My home was the most fun, but also the hardest. I wanted it to be a space my children would grow up and remember as happy and carefree. I could have gone crazy with color.
My living room has traditional wallpaper with a high-backed sofa. With small touches like the dog, the clean-cut rug and family elements like the lamp, it’s fun and bright.
My bedroom is more sedate. While I wanted to be able to relax in there, I didn’t want it to be boring. My palette was periwinkle blue and yellow with added pops of tangerine to give it a little life.
To see more of Michelle’s work, take a look at her blog.