Interview with Lauren Nelson of Lauren Nelson Design - Period Art & Design June 30, San Francisco
Period Art & Design

How did you get started in Interior Design? What is your background?

I've had a creative side in me from an early age, starting with painting and drawing. Then my love for interior design was sparked when I landed my first job after undergrad at Williams-Sonoma, Inc. I quickly became immersed in all things related to the home while working among brands like Pottery Barn, West Elm and Williams-Sonoma. After several years of corporate work, while taking design classes simultaneously at UC Berkeley, I decided interior design was my calling. I moved to LA in 2007 to work for a talented interior designer, Erinn Valencich, and was thrown into the design world head-first. I haven't turned back since.

What was your first interior design project?

My first solo design project was for my former boss at Williams-Sonoma Inc. She and her husband had just built a beautiful modern house in Tiburon and she hired me to work on a few spaces in her home. It was a blast.

What inspires you?

Travel. It is hands-down the best way to open up your senses and see things from a different lens. When I can't get away on a trip, I take a walk in my own neighborhood. The houses in the hills are an amazing mix of different styles of architecture and gorgeous landscaping. The colors, forms and patterns I see in both nature and architecture have a way of surfacing in client's homes.

What is your style or design aesthetic?

I consider my style to be relaxed sophistication. I don't like over-decorating.
Instead, I want my spaces to feel clean, bright, and calming. Some spaces lean more
modern, some more classic, some more bohemian, depending on the client – but the overall thread is keeping it light and fresh.

What are some current trends you are seeing ?

I'm seeing a shift away from the very neutral monotone Belgian aesthetic and hard-edged Industrial look, toward an embracing of color, polish, and whimsy.

What projects have you worked on in the past? Current projects?

My projects have ranged from a large Tudor home outside of Boston, to a gorgeous Colonial Home outside of Chicago, to historic Victorian flats in San Francisco and modern remodeled homes in Marin County. It's been fun to work within such different locales and architectural styles. It's definitely helped develop my appreciation for a range of design aesthetics.

Who is your clientele?

Most of my clients are young families that want a stylish home without pretention. Right now I have the best clients – they are laid-back, excited to be involved, and have a sense of style, which helps tremendously in the design process.

What is your experience with auctions?

Auctions are a great way for designers to mix things up and source unique pieces to integrate into their designs. I've found that most clients don't want everything to be new, new, new - even if they have a modern aesthetic. They want some pieces to have age and character. Auctions provide just that.

How do you feel about integrating antiques or traditional pieces into interior design?

I always try to mix old with new when it comes to furnishing a space. I think antiques give a home soul. Patina tells a story, and reminds us of past design eras. Why not balance a clean-lined modern sofa with a 19th century antique Khoton rug, or wood carved gilded chair?

Any upcoming projects?

We just started an exciting new commercial project for a high-end online women's accessory brand that is opening their first showroom on Union Square this year. We're designing their showroom and office space. The founders are both stylish and creative, so it'll be a fun collaboration.

What would your dream project be?

For me a dream project involves a space with beautiful bones and lots of natural light, adventurous and easy-going clients, and a generous budget. If those 3 things are in the mix, I'm a happy designer.

Lauren's picks from the June30 Period Art & Design Auction are lots 5426, 5252 and 5112


Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to

Related auctions