For stylist Lawren Howell the move to Ojai, California with her three young children and husband was all about getting back to nature. “I left Los Angeles and, before that, New York, to raise my kids with a deeper connection to nature,” she says of her decision to swap urban life for one at the foot of the stunning Topa Topa Mountain Range. Originally from San Francisco, Howell studied Art History Vassar College and then went on to New York City where she began her career in fashion working under the Creative Director of Kate Spade. Shortly thereafter she made the leap to Vogue, first working as an assistant to the Editor in Chief Anna Wintour, and then assisting Sittings Editor, Phyllis Posnick on photo shoots with icons such as Irving Penn, Norman Jean Roy, Patrick Demarchelier and Sebastian Kim. “During those years I saw the inner workings of the magazine,” she says. Titled with Vogue’s West Coast Fashion Editor, she eventually moved back to California in 2007 and was assigned to style celebrity portraits for the magazine. Now a Contributing Editor to Vogue and Architectural Digest, she also works on commercial interior and styling projects and celebrities homes such as Jennifer Aniston, Claudia Schiffer and Gwyneth Paltrow. “Both coasts and both urban lifestyles have deeply influenced my work and career,” she says. Here she talks aesthetics and influences and the inspiration behind her custom color Flaneur bedding collection.
FLANEUR: Explain your Flaneur bedding color selections.
LAWREN HOWELL: I love the different shades of green together because it brings in all the greens that are outside, pepper trees, olive trees, citrus, oaks, every thing that we see out of our windows. I also think that the green contrasts so nicely with the black on linen wallpaper we have.
How would you describe your design aesthetic?
Eclectic – a word that is overused in design terms, but accurate of my taste nonetheless. I am not averse to mid-century modern but am not typically drawn to it. I like antiques, hand-made things from masterful artisans, and pieces with an industrial past. I also like rich color and soft texture.
I do love color and allowing each room to have its own color story brought in through a rug color, art or throw pillow.
How has a career as a stylist influenced your own style?
The current freedom and adventurousness happening right now in fashion is being felt in design as well. One does not have to adhere to a specific style or movement in both fashion and decor, and mixing high and low is adeptly handled by the masses now thanks to social media. When you work in both worlds as I do, there is a lot of cross over visually in the culture. And I’ll add that as an interior stylist, I am going into some of California’s most beautiful and well designed spaces so it can be very inspiring but also make me really define my own preferences.
When it comes to your style, how do you approach color?
In a room, I prefer accent colors set against neutrals. I think too many bold colors at once would create cacophony in my mind but I do love color and allowing each room to have its own color story which can be brought in through a rug color, art or throw pillow.
If you were a color, which one would you be and why?
Lavender because I might then live in the South of France.
What’s the last thing you bought for your home or favorite object in your home?
A Mark Churchill teapot (well technically it was a trade). And my favorite object in my home might be the Becca Mann painting called “Gokstad Ship” that we bought directly from the artist many years ago.
What design element do you think makes for the perfect bedroom?
As you can see I love a wall covering and this is one is by my sister Stevie Howell who makes the most beautiful fabrics and wallpapers. And of course freshly cut flowers too.
Do you have an evening or morning ritual?
With three small kids I hit the pillow hard at night! But a bath before bed is something I love. And does a cappuccino count as a morning ritual?
What’s on your bedside table?
Books, books and books.
What are you currently reading?
I’m currently reading Zadie Smith’s essay collections Feel Free.
Where is your dream travel destination?
I love Scandinavia, and right now I want to take the family to Bornholm, a Danish island off the coast of South Eastern Sweden.