LA Inspo Field Trip: Issa Vibe

June 1, 2021

As an LA-based interior designer, I love inhabiting and exploring a city that constantly stokes my imagination and intrigues my artistic design eye. From restaurants to consignment stores to nightclubs, our city is just chock full of design inspiration. Everywhere I go, my trained eye takes it all in, constantly evaluating what works when you think it wouldn’t, gathering new ideas, and noticing how color, lighting, and furniture create a vibe.

I’ve missed my LA Field Trips, but doors are reopening and this city is ready to be soaked in. There are new, old, and revamped establishments all over town; let’s dive into a few and analyze where their je ne sais quoi comes from.

These gorgeous environments are so for a reason - their design team collaborates with ownership, chefs, and mixologists to bring the desired ambiance to life. It’s the same process within a home. Vibes don’t just come about - they’re curated and created with precision and collaboration between designer and client.

Are you looking for a fun, eclectic feeling to go with your furniture collected over years of travel and consignment store hunts? Does your family need more space for both togetherness and alone time without a lot of square footage to work with? Are you more of a jazz lounge or Hamptons bakery-type person?

Questions like these factor into the overall feel of a home or business. A field trip like this hones in your own personal inspiration. So for our first foray into LA, we’re focusing solely on why these places make you feel something and, more importantly, how you can recreate the same feeling in your own space.


Middle Eastern Restaurant

500 Mateo St, Los Angeles, CA 90013

Open 5pm-11pm daily

Does it get any prettier than this? Honestly - I need that plant chandelier in my foyer STAT.

The food at Bavel is all about fresh, healthy, light Mediterranean ingredients. So naturally, their restaurant benefits greatly from tons of natural sunlight, wide-open spaces, untreated wood, and tons of greenery.

How I’d design open, fresh, and airy:

- Knock down walls to create an open floorplan.

- Add skylights or enlarge windows when possible.

- Add more organic materials and design elements.

- Keep the walls light while using deep, sultry accent colors to warm up the space.

Motley Design Warehouse

Consignment Store for Furniture and Men’s Clothing

1907 E 7th St, Los Angeles, CA 90021

Open 11am - 5pm daily

This is that eclectic, all-over-the-place-by-still-totally-works thing I was talking about. And this, my friends, is what I specialize in. Motley Design Warehouse in DTLA is just teeming with the best of the best. This warehouse is chock full of inspiration in both the pieces they offer and the way they display them. A jaunt through here on a Saturday has me all ready to get back to work on Monday.

I love the furniture humans collect over the years. We find gorgeous rugs, ottomans, and chairs while traveling to far-off places like Morocco, at a garage sale down the street, and everything in between. Inherited furniture, repurposed furniture, sidewalk furniture, consignment furniture - it all floats my boat and makes me so happy.

The eclectic vibe naturally screams hominess. These items are loved and curated over a lifetime. Wall colors and accent pieces are chosen with care, all centered around a beloved furniture item or wallpaper choice or anything else. Eclectic works because there is a central focus highlighted by all the other decisions in the room. But I have to admit it takes an artist’s eye to get it right. And that’s where I come in.

How I’d design eclectic, all-over-the-place-by-still-totally-works: No fear. That’s the bottom line. You have to either embody that or have someone (me) in your corner telling you that yes, those colors look stunning together and yes, your grandmother’s yellow chair just needs to go right there. Eclectic is a balance of bold, knowledgeable, and a little quirky to get it right. And I’d like to say I’m a third of each.

Sycamore Avenue

Between Willoughby and Romaine

Just One Eye at 915 N. Sycamore Ave.

Similar to NYC’s Soho, Sycamore Avenue in Hollywood is an up-and-coming neighborhood largely born from abandoned or dilapidated film warehouses from the Depression and WWII eras. This industrial-chic canvas is now home to unique boutiques, trendy eateries, Sirius XM Headquarters, and even Jay Z and Queen Bey have moved their studios there. If that’s not worth a visit to Sycamore Avenue, then I don’t know what to tell you.

There are so many excellent places to explore, like Just One Eye, a 13,000 square foot boutique, and Supervinyl, a very posh record store. But my favorite is Gigi’s.

Gigi’s at 904 N. Sycamore Ave.

Gigi’s is a Mid-Century Modern marvel, and you know how much I love that. With white and black tile floor, rounded furniture, and brass finishes, I wouldn’t be surprised if this were a Mad Men set.

With Mid-Century Modern more in than ever, I have become a 1950’s expert. Lucile Ball and Marilyn Monroe are my queens, their homes, my muse. I wrote an entire blog on it a few months ago, but here are a few more tips.

How I’d design Mid-Century Modern:

- Create space with Feng Shui and minimalism.

- Include bold shapes and primary colors.

- Mix in original, reproduction, and newer furniture items.

- Reintroduce brass into the conversation.

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