Understated Elegance

Updated traditional kitchen with herringbone floors, brass accents and a La Cornue range in Beverly Hills. Photo courtesy Lou Trapp.

The allure of interior design was not always at the forefront of Lindsay Chambers’ mind.

By Kristen Ordonez

Growing up in Palo Alto, California, she had ambitions of being a history college professor, pursuing a PhD at Stanford University. But while attending, something happened that would ultimately change her career path.

“One day, I got a knock on the door from a couple who worked at Google asking to buy my house. I didn’t have anywhere to move, but I realized I had an idea of what people wanted design and home-wise in Palo Alto,” shares Chambers. With this idea in mind, she bought a nearby home, gutted it out and updated everything in the home, even adding a basement.

That home was just the start. Enthralled in the process so much, Chambers then finished getting her masters degree and became a full-time custom home developer, founding Hazel.Wood Design Group. “The custom homes sold so quickly, and people were asking me to design their home like my houses,” says Chambers.

It did not take long for her to realize her strengths and love for interior design. Hazel.Wood was renamed Lindsay Chambers Designs in 2015, and rearranged its focus to both home and interior design. Now, along with home development, Lindsay Chambers specializes in interior designing with a focus in the transitional style of mixing contemporary trends with classic pieces, and vice versa. Much of her work is inspired by her surroundings, particularly the modern styles of Los Angeles and the “Old is New” aesthetic of San Francisco, blending together effortlessly to create what she coins “understated elegance.”

“I prefer clean lines, and a highly edited aesthetic,” Chambers notes. “I prefer to work with materials, textiles, and furnishings that are of a high quality but are also understated.”

When it comes to the business side of running her firm, Chambers has found that her clients tend to understand the simple yet sophisticated elegance she loves to incorporate. “Most of my clients are on the younger side,” Chambers analyzes. “They like the traditional aesthetic, but they want something cleaner, younger, hipper — but not in the cold modern genre. That is why I think the transitional style has become so popular.”

“A room in someone’s home should not feel like a museum. It needs to be a place that is beautiful as it is warm and welcoming,” she says.

Accommodating the client while also catering to her own likes and tastes is almost as easy as breathing for Chambers, whose choices in textures, fabrics, colors and pieces marry well in a style that is supposed to be a union of different eras and their corresponding aesthetics. And like any true designer, she knows how to bring a balance of both her vision and the interests of the client without the space feeling disjointed or cold. “A room in someone’s home should not feel like a museum. It needs to be a place that is as beautiful as it is warm and welcoming,” she says.

Chambers’ favorite spaces to design are kitchens and master bathrooms because of the freedom open spaces like these provide. “I love to work on both because, as the designer, you are often creating your own design from scratch and get to influence the interior architecture as well as the finishes. Whereas in other rooms, you are taking other people’s art, whether it be a sofa or table design for instance, and harmoniously putting them together.

Since her firm launched, Chambers has designed multiple homes in California and received well-deserved recognition. Her favorite project so far is the Hollywood Hills home in Los Angeles she is currently designing — for herself. “It is so exciting to try out new products and finishes that I have never gotten to work with before but have always wanted to,” she says. She has also come to find her love for art transform with every addition made into an ever-growing art collection, one she swears to never sell. “When I move into a new place, I can’t get comfortable until the art is up on the walls.”

Committing to designing a home for oneself has proven to have its highs and lows, according to Chambers, but ultimately she is loving the challenge of fitting into the shoes of a client. Her only complaint about the project so far has been over her own self-instituted standards. “I’m a perfectionist and since it’s my own house, everything has to be perfect.”

If reimagining the space for her own home was not exciting enough, Chambers is also taking opportunities to handcraft her own materials. 

Photo courtesy Christopher Stork.

“I designed my own cabinet hardware, which is being manufactured by Waterworks, for instance. I’m also importing some bespoke light fixtures from France.” These practices have fortunately not stopped just with her home. In the past, Chambers has designed her own line of fabrics with Guildery, but these achievements have reached a whole new level, as she is planning on launching her own furniture line.

Light, spa-like master bath with chevron marble floors and a Waterworks Margaux burnished nickel freestanding tub in a Tudor home in Palo Alto, California. Photos courtesy Roger Davies.

This summer, Lindsay Chambers will debut a 25-piece furniture line at a new showroom located in the West Hollywood design district. She says the collection will keep a soft contemporary taste and will feature coffee tables, woodwork-based items, dining room tables, beds and other basic fundamental pieces. Similar to the size of her firm, her furniture line will remain boutique-sized, making it easier for Chambers to stay involved with all her projects and “keep [her] hands on everything.”

Her hands will have lots to do as she continues to work on getting the showroom ready for the summer debut, as well as working with clients. She is currently working on helping a Stanford history professor renovate her home on the university campus.

With so much happening presently, Chambers still keeps a determined eye on the future and where she would like to see Lindsay Chambers Designs go, which is not too far. When asked where she would like to be in five years, she says “right where I am” with her offices in West Hollywood and in the San Francisco Bay area. Along with her desires to design a restaurant or hotel, she hopes to reach farther with the furniture line and expand the number of showrooms across the U.S.

Q&A:

Favorite and least favorite aspect of the job?

Favorite aspect: Defining a vision with the client.

Least favorite: Invoicing.

What is the most important element you have to include or remember to keep in any home?

Durability of the kitchens and baths. Some of the most beautiful design materials are not always the most durable. For instance, if a client wants to incorporate white marble as a countertop in the kitchen, I encourage them to have a portion of the counter in  another material so they have somewhere to chop vegetables and pour red wine that won’t stain.

What kind of design trends do you want to see in the future?

Master bedroom with gold and white washed tin ceiling tiles applied as the accent wall, in Palo Alto. Photo courtesy Roger Davies. 

I hear the 90s are back which means green should be coming back in. I like green so I am happy to see it starting to show up in design again in a significant way.   

What colors do you like to play with the most?

I have to admit I am a fan of gray, which is no surprise if you have seen my work. When I bought the book 50 Shades of Gray at the airport, I honestly thought it would be about an interior designer. First 10 pages into the book and I start to hide it from the man sitting next to me on the plane because I realized how wrong I was! 

What advice would you give to someone going into interior design or starting his or her own firm?

If you are going to start your own firm, don’t dip your toe in the water to test it out. Dive in with both feet and give it your best shot from the beginning. Go for it!