INTERVIEW Designer Molly Luetkemeyer

mdesign studio city master

I am super excited about this. I have been obsessed with Molly Luetkemeyer’s style for a good while now. Her design firm, m. design, has a knack for highlighting vintage pieces within a colorful and artful contemporary context while adding just a touch of glam, and with such balance. Not to mention she writes a fresh and inspiring blog, molly loot, and is hard at work on a line of textiles (double yay!). And she is super cool, too. Bottom line: SHE ROCKS.

But this was my first profile so I was nervous about asking the right questions, and knew I didn’t want to ask the same questions we’ve seen. I think for me (as another creative professional) I am interested in her process, you know, what makes her brain tick, what gets her creative juices flowin’ to be able to turn out such great spaces? Let’s see if we can learn something from this major talent…(and bear with me, it was like-really-really hard to pare down all the images I wanted to use!)

mdesign studio city master

1.    When first starting a project, what are some ways in which you get to know your clients’ tastes and preferences?
i always have my clients complete four pieces of homework so i can better understand what they are really looking for in the design of their home.  i ask for:
1) five adjectives for how they want their home to feel at the end of the project
2) the specific functions that each room must serve/accommodate
3) to see their five favorite possessions – these can be design related but don’t have to be.  i have had people show me everything from a vintage leather chesterfield sofa to a watch their grandfather gave them to their college sweatshirt.  each of these items says something about what the client values and i always attempt to work those values into the project.
4) tears from five different shelter magazines.  i ask them to show me what they like and what they don’t like.  often, people find it easier to identify what they don’t like and it is rather instructive.

** I love this answer and actually said out loud “No way!” because I always ask for 5 adjectives from a client before starting a new project (and sometimes even in the interview process).  I find it’s also helpful to ask for 5 adjectives of what they don’t want.

mdesign studio city living room

mdesign studio city dining room

2.    What is your favorite aspect of a project?
the initial concept/brainstorming meetings.  that’s the time we get to really push the envelope and explore less traditional approaches to each space.  we don’t always end up there but for me, it is always the most creative and invigorating part of the process.

mdesign laurel canyon entry

mdesign laurel canyon bedroom

3.    What are some things you do to get out of a creative rut?
look at art.  go for a hike.  look at design books of designers i respect and dissect why the spaces move me.  do all the filing and paperwork that inevitably has piled up.  believe me, after all that paper pushing, i can’t wait to be creative again!

mdesign hancock park family room

mdesign hancock park hallway

4.    If you could give your professional self advice 10 years ago, what would that be?
write a business plan!  my business evolved organically and i was very lucky but i never sat down and laid out my goals and hopes and dreams.  i think you end up with the biggest and best success possible if you lay out a plan.

mdesign beverly office

mdesign beverly office

5.    Do you think the Interior Design industry has changed since you first started in it?
tremendously!  when i began, the role of the interior designer was as a procurer/designer.  we knew where to shop and who to take the sofa to to get reupholstered etc and guarded our sources carefully.  the internet really changed all that.  people can now find anything their hearts desire (with a little patience) so the designer has really become more of a curator.  we are the ones that understand the big picture – the scale, proportion, color palette, room layout, flow, vibe etc.  many people think that because they know where to purchase things that they don’t need a designer.  i would argue that in most cases, that’s flawed thinking.

mdesign manhattan living room

mdesign manhattan desk

6.    When and where was the last time you walked into a designed space, and just said, “wow …”?
the first time i went to the soho house in west hollywood.  it was designed by waldo fernandez and he just killed it.  it is on the top two floors of a tall, relatively non-descript office building and when you step off the elevator, you can’t be prepared for what awaits you – beautiful old herringbone wood floors, backlit marble stairs, incredible views, sofas covered in christopher farr cloth, a dining room open to the sky complete with living trees and fountains.  it is comfortable and chic and i love it more every time i go.

soho house west hollywood

[ Soho House, West Hollywood ]

soho house west hollywood

[ Soho House, West Hollywood ]

7.    How do you find such great vintage pieces?!
i look everywhere.  flea markets, junk shops, auctions, estate sales, antique malls, thrift stores.  pop your head in every spot you see and you’ll be surprised what diamonds in the rough you might find.  remember to look past the current condition.  if the piece is structurally sound, it can (almost) always be brought back to life by a good refinisher (or a coat of paint!)

mdesign bel air living room

mdesign bel air living room

mdesign bel air dining room

8.    Are there any trends that you see that are up and coming, or that you hope to use more in your projects?
i am very interested in painted floors at the moment (miles redd is the king of these and very inspiring).  i also see lots of jewel toned colors as well as pastels and neon on the way.  i love experimenting with unexpected color combinations and can’t wait to try to work in a little neon!  the 80s are back in a big way and i am particularly fond of michael taylor’s neutral, overstuffed malibu vibe.

michael taylor archictectural digest desert oasis

[ Michael Taylor via Architectural Digest ]

9.    Are there any complimentary professions that you may look to — or interests you have — that inform your work and style? (This one’s from my architect husband…can you tell? LOL.)
of course!  architecture, photography, sculpture, painting, graphic, fashion and textile design – all of these are chock full of inspiration for me and inform lots of what i do.

mdesign benedict canyon family room

mdesign benedict canyon shelves

10.  If you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be?  What’s your favorite place to visit?
i have to confess to being pretty damn happy here in los angeles.  i can’t say that i have one favorite place to visit.  variety is the spice of life, don’t you know, but my shortlist would be paris, south africa, anywhere in greece and tuscany.  i am dying to go to australia and new zealand and everywhere in south america.

mdesign benedict canyon master

mdesign benedict canyon master

Many thanks to Molly for allowing me this opportunity to share with you a little about her creative process. I hope you all got something out of it like I did!


Erika Brechtel

Erika Brechtel

Creative Director

Desiring an online space to explore well-rounded, inspired content in all topics she loves most, Erika created 'The E List' (formerly the Small Shop blog) in 2010. When not enjoying an “occasional" glass of wine and wanderlusting for even warmer climates, Erika can be found sharing laughs with friends and family, and trying her very best to keep up with her 6-year old daughter (yet failing miserably).

  1. that was amazing. everything she touches turns to gold! must get my hands on a lucite coffee table for own LR. I’m going to be in LA from the 16th-23rd. any chance you would want to meet for coffee?

    1. I’m thinking the same…I’ve been looking for a square one, perhaps the waterfall style…

  2. Great interview! I love her to pieces and you only forgot to ask her one question: if she would hire your friend E so I can move there and see you guys all the time!
    -e (modern24/7)

    1. There was another one I wanted to put up that I was thinking, Mad would love this room (and similar to this one!). I’ll email you.

    1. I’m always impressed by her and her work. I love that she gets out there and looks for art and uniqueness where she can find it. An Angeleno at heart.

  3. Molly is so good!!! I know we share a our love tonight, especially that room with the lucite console! I’m also loving the first two images!

  4. I love that pink bedroom! I so tore out the pages of that when it was in, was it In Style? LOVE.