You’d be hard-pressed to find a design lover who doesn’t let loose a sigh of dreamy appreciation when she sees a gorgeous coastal design. Which is probably why we felt like we were indulging in some midday meditation when we first came across the work of Blackband Design, owned by Greg and Wendy Blackband (Greg is the financial, logistics, and publicity brains, while Wendy is the head designer). Easygoing yet sophisticated, upscale yet unpretentious, classic yet thoroughly modern, Blackband Design interiors all exude a laid-back confidence and a welcoming ambience, thanks to their mix of the traditional with more eclectic pieces like reclaimed wood, vintage linens, ethnic textiles, and antique or flea market finds that practically tug at your sleeve and call out for conversation.
We sat down with Wendy—a lifelong world traveler and a frequent guest lecturer in the UCLA Interior Design and Architecture program—to talk about her inspiration, items that will never go out of style, and her go-to advice for decorating.
Fresh American: What’s your earliest memory of being interested in design?
Wendy Blackband: My dad is a custom home builder, so I always had home building in my blood since I was a little girl. My mom is a professor at UCLA in the interior design and architecture program. I traveled all over the world with my mom. She inspired me so much growing up, teaching me about design, art, and culture—all these wonderful, fantastic things. I feel these experiences with both my mom and dad have turned me into the type of designer that I am today.
FA: What has been the biggest change in your design approach or aesthetic over the years?
WB: Things are taking a more modern twist in the design world, so we have been adding that element into our designs while keeping consistent with our bohemian coastal roots.
FA: What’s your greatest challenge as a designer?
WB: Designing my own home! Have you ever heard of the saying “Cobblers’ children have no shoes?” That’s my home. Too much inspiration and not enough time!
FA: Which design “rule” or idea do you refer back to over and over? Which have you tossed out?
WB: I am not big on having everything in the home matching. I am constantly mixing things up—I like to mess things up a little bit. . . . I understand balance and composition of colors and patterns, so I really try to make it interesting while still having some structure.
FA: What are your go-to sources for inspiration?
WB: I start by Googling everything, even destinations like Bali, to pull inspiration. I also go on Pinterest, Houzz, and Instagram. I still like flipping through magazines as a main source of inspiration, to find things like colors or light or flowers that catch my attention. It’s not even so much looking for the furniture that early on; it’s more important to figure out what the vibe and feel of the space will be.
FA: Which design trend or idea do you wish would go away? Which design trend or idea are you loving right now?
WB: Love: mixed metals, and mixing different woods. I also love bringing back some jewel tones. Another one of my favorites is mixing vintage with new; style that is current but has history to it (new vintage and legacy items). Go away: monochromatic interiors. I want more color!
FA: Which designers or blogs can you not get enough of?
WB: Ralph Lauren. The style is always classic and timeless.
FA: In your opinion, what’s one thing that will never go out of style?
WB: Indigo blue, chestnut-colored suede, and turquoise beads!
FA: What’s the one item in your home you couldn’t live without?
WB: My husband, my kids, and a good book.
FA: If you were to chuck design for another career, what would it be?
WB: A photographer for National Geographic.
FA: Which book is on your nightstand, and which movie is tops in your Netflix queue right now?
WB: I’m always reading. The best books I’ve read recently would be F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Life in Letters, Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and My Man Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse. One of my favorite things to watch on Netflix right now is Sherlock. I’m also a big fan of Veep on HBO.