An Evolving Aesthetic with Studio Life/Style
Los Angeles-based design firm Studio Life/Style are known for creating interiors full of soul, striking a balance between the relaxed and the refined, the subtle and the striking, the curated and the cultured. We spoke to Shannon Wollack and Brittany Zwickl about layered the home with decorative touches that capture their clients’ unique histories and personalities.
Photography by Stephen Busken & Sam Frost
How did you first meet?
Shannon: We first met ten years ago. We were paired together on a job and the rest is history. We’ve been together ever since!
How would you describe your working relationship?
Shannon: We’ve always seen eye to eye creatively and have the same vision. We’re always able to feed off each other.
Brittany: We have great balance and love to bounce ideas off each other. We divide and conquer wherever we can to be the most productive and proactive.
Is there a common thread between all the spaces you design?
Shannon: We like to think we have a variety in aesthetic, depending on the client and the architecture of the space. There is a common thread of clean lines, all while incorporating a sense of warmth in the space. We like to add personality for each project so it’s not always predictable and expected. We have a growing team so we’re constantly evolving our design aesthetic too.
Brittany: We try to work with the style and architecture of the home. Designing a space should feel cohesive and we like to work alongside the architect if possible. We default to clean lines but add layers to make our spaces feel warm and lived in.
Give us a little insight into your design process.
Shannon: Each client and project are unique so the style and procedure may alter. We start with showing inspiration images and work off of those. We then develop our design intent throughout. It definitely varies from client to client.
Brittany: The process starts very broad and we eventually dissect each detail as we learn more about our clients’ preferences. We carry this all the way through to furniture selections and then the final layering stages of art and accessories.
"Life is full of imperfections - your living space doesn’t have to be 100% perfect."
You’ve created some breathtaking family residences. What are your tips for striking a balance between functional elements and more aesthetic design details?
Shannon: I think the key idea is to balance materials. We always try to source all materials together for a cohesive look. If we find a striking and bold element, we will try to work around that so the other pieces fit.
Brittany: Most of our clients are families and have animals so we try to take that into consideration when sourcing. We want the spaces to feel comfortable and inviting while having an edge and sophisticated elements.
Whether it is sourcing a handmade piece or incorporating a vintage find, you are advocates for the beauty of imperfection. What is it about objects with a patina that you’re drawn to?
Shannon: Life is full of imperfections and your living space doesn’t have to be 100% perfect! We love spaces with soul and timeless elements. We want to design spaces that are everlasting and “lived in”.
Brittany: We definitely design with a timeless feel and we strive to mix old with new to add personality in a client’s home. We try to refrain from designing trendy spaces as we know trends come and go.
What are your reasons for investing in quality pieces with real longevity?
Brittany: Through the years we’ve learned you get what you pay for! Anything of higher cost will usually be a better quality. Ideally, we want to incorporate items that last a very long time. These are investment pieces and should last our clients for awhile. We also tend to source high/low so not everything needs to be really expensive.
Shannon: If we can tweak a sofa design so that it’s comfier for the client and has unique detailing, it’s worth it in the long run. With custom pieces, we can add our own personality and preference. We like to incorporate custom whenever we can.
There’s always something timeless about the spaces you design. Do you have any advice for creating a home that will defy trends?
Shannon: We try to not ignore colour, but rather embrace it when it makes sense. We aim to design calming spaces that aren’t too bright and overwhelming. Pick colours that speak to you rather than what is trending at the moment.
Brittany: We love using natural materials. We also source items that have a nod to the past and history. The space should feel curated and well thought about. Shop locally and find unique pieces along your travels. You don’t need to curate all at once!
These days we’re all seeking comfort from our homes. How can the inclusion of tactile elements, like a rug, affect our energy and mood?
Shannon: Something like a rug can ground and add texture to the space. We love sourcing cosy rugs to help soften a space. Colour can also help add personality.
Brittany: The rug is extremely important in creating a unified space. We usually start scheming off of rugs and build from there. All the soft materials in the room should have a relationship with one another and a rug can tie it all in to create a cohesive story.
Are there any new colours, textures and materials you’re looking forward to experimenting with this year?
Shannon: Darker and moodier elements. Striving to add boldness, whether that’s a more textured fabric or a fun moody wallpaper.
Brittany: Richer tones. We’re branching out on the types of hard materials being used and this inevitably will affect the other pieces in the space. Darker and richer woods aren’t forgotten and can influence the soft materials in a space.
Finally, we can’t help but ask – what is your favourite Armadillo rug to have underfoot?
Shannon: Malawi! It’s usually our go-to, especially in a client’s primary bedroom. It’s so soft and cosy; we love it on our bare feet!
Brittany: The Agra Collection! I love all the tones. It is really luxe under your feet too! Each colour option is rich, and I like that it’s not 100% solid but rather a colour variation to add depth to the space.
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