In TZR’s franchise, Interior Motives, celebrities and tastemakers discuss their unique approach to home design and how it reflects their personal aesthetic.
“Practical is not a word I use — it’s kind of a running joke with anyone who knows me,” says Chelsea Hansford, creative director of Simon Miller, when I asked her if the past year indoors led her to make any practical purchases for her Los Angeles home. “I definitely had to buy a lot more furniture for this house, particularly a lot of outdoor furniture, which was new to me. But I never created an office. I worked from the dining room.” And why wouldn’t she? The 1960s home in the canyon Hansford moved into mid-2020 features an open floor plan with tons of natural light and windows that offer picturesque views of her backyard.
“I moved from a super mid-century, modern wood house in the [Hollywood] Hills that had an amazing view, but no yards,” explains Hansford. “My house now has an amazing pool and this flat backyard. If you had asked me two years ago, if I wanted to live in the Hills with the view or somewhere a little more flat with a yard, I would have picked the Hills. But now that I've got the yard and the pool and this entertaining lifestyle, I never want to give that up.”
Indeed, one look at Hansford’s house is like stepping into a Simon Miller photoshoot — likely because it’s often the location for so many. The colorful sculptural furniture, rich, textured fabrics, and quirky patterns and accents pieces definitely make a case for life imitating art. The space reads like a natural extension of the Insta-famous fashion line that’s become beloved by fashion girls far and wide.
It’s also worth noting that Hansford’s retro-style abode (which she describes as “space mod”) has turned the designer into quite the host — although don’t expect any Super Bowl parties or movie nights anytime soon. “I don't have a TV!” laughs Hansford. “We have a TV in the bedroom, but I don't have cable and I don’t have a TV in the living room. It's just something that I feel changes the energy of the house. I know that from an entertaining perspective, people will go over [someone’s house] and they watch a game or they watch a show. It's not something that I can really offer. When people come over, we hang out by the pool or we're in the living room with the fire and we're playing games. I love to play Scrabble and Backgammon or do a puzzle. And we talk and that's the environment, you know?”
Oh yes, we know. Ahead, read all about Hansford’s artsy home and the things that regularly spark her always vivid imagination.
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What is your favorite space in your home?
Well, I have two favorite spaces. One is the dining room, which has a little bit of a seating nook that looks out to the pool. This is where I kind of work and I have all my meals. We set up nice dinners there. I have a record player on a credenza in there. It gets a lot of great light and kind of the central flow of the house.
My other favorite room is the living room, which I begin to use a lot more when it gets cold. One of my favorite assets of the house are the dual fireplaces, one in the dining room and one in the living room. So, if you light them both, you can see them at the same time throughout the house. It creates a super special ambiance, but the living room in particular is so nice when you have the fire going.
How would you describe the overall aesthetic of your home?
I always say I have a mid-century mod home. It's a little bit space age-y — I like a lot of fiberglass and very mod shapes and structures. I don't use many woods when it comes to interior or furniture. I'm more of a plexiglass and fabric girl. So I use a lot of plexi in credenzas, chairs, lights, and seating. And then I have a couple of fabric, upholstered pieces, like the bench that's in the breakfast nook and then my couch, which is kind of the focal point in the living room. It’s this bright, bold blue couch.
Did you work with a designer when you first moved into your home?
No! One of my very, very best friends who lives in London actually just started a design firm called A Good Chair. She was kind of my go-to in terms of [guidance]. She was my confidant in a way. But I didn't work with any design firms — I get everything from auctions and vintage stores. I rarely buy new. My couch is one of the only pieces that I bought new from The Future Perfect.
What are your go-to retailers or designers for furniture and decor?
I buy a lot of my furniture from auctions, so I start there. Los Angeles has amazing vintage furniture — in particular, Palm Springs. I get a lot of pieces out there. If I'm going to buy some new pieces, they’re going to be expensive. So, I don't do that often. I like to find better deals at auctions and vintage shops.
In terms of designers, my go-to inspirations for everything are [artists] Verner Panton and Pierre Paulin — they are two of my favorite designers. I also love Wendell Castle. I just bought a red fiberglass two-seater by him. Fun fact: He was actually my next door neighbor growing up in upstate New York. So I grew up just around his workshop, around him, and around a lot of his pieces. We lived on a farm and my parents used to trade land for some of his furniture. So, I've been lucky enough to have some of his really nice wood pieces, like a three-legged desk and things like that.
In terms of art, all the art in the house is from family, friends, and people [I know]. Art is so personal, so it usually has a personal connection. Another neighbor we had growing up was Leonard Urso, an amazing sculptor and painter. So a lot of the big sculptures I have outside — as well as some of the paintings inside — are from him. I've done collaborations with him, with Simon Miller, on jewelry and things like that. I have another friend here in LA, Ashley Cahill, who’s done a couple of paintings for me, too.
Speaking of Simon Miller, obviously the brand is known for its fun, colorful, and quirky design. It sounds like your home exhibits the same qualities. Would you say that one influences the other?
I would say my personal aesthetic inspires both. My passion is interior design. I've never, you know, studied it or took it seriously as a profession, but it’s what I like to shop and research. I get inspired by architecture and interiors and that funnels over obviously to Simon Miller. There's so much crossover, not necessarily with a particular garment or piece of furniture, but in the way we style our campaigns and the lifestyle [we’re portraying] and the mood and the colors. I think it’s all one in the same.
What inspires you from a style and design perspective?
I like a happy world, you know? I like a colorful, happy place [with] a lot of light, curved lines and curved objects, circular spheres, wavy lines. [I’m inspired by] some of the designers I mentioned who've been like stand-outs for me for interior design. But it’s also an eclectic accumulation of what I've seen and liked and think would look good together.
Is there a particular city or country you’re drawn to as a source of inspiration?
My travels are crucial for my Simon Miller collections and accessories, because I'm a very themed person. I love to get into a theme and you know [...] tell the story with the colors and embellishments. When I travel, I try to really focus on places where I can find inspiration for the collection in the culture: the colors, nature, food, music, everything.
Although, I don't know if it necessarily inspires my interior so much. This area [LA to Palm Springs] has so much of what I'm looking for in terms of that. But I definitely pick up some eclectic pieces [when I’m traveling]. I have a toucan sculpture hanging on a perch in my dining room. I have little eclectic things that I've picked up in Jamaica and Panama in my kitchen — but those are more personal, kitschy touches that are accents to my home.
Let’s talk about your personal aesthetic. Would you say it has evolved over the years or have you always been really into the sort of mod, ‘60s, ‘70s vibe?
I definitely am always evolving, but I don't think my aesthetic has necessarily shifted from [that of] the Simon Miller [aesthetic]. My passion has always been bold colors and mod. But, when I say mod, it’s more of like space mod. It's really not mid-century modern in terms of, you know, Danish wood, clean lines. I can't describe it in words other than designers like Verner Panton.
You have dabbled in home interiors a bit with Simon Miller over the past year. Is that something you're going to expand upon in future collections?
Yeah! A goal of mine is to have that become a serious leg of the business. I think we have to get a little bigger before [our customers] can actually take that more seriously. But what I launched it as initially last year was as an upcycle project. We basically took all our excess production fabrics and made them into home goods. We were sitting on all of this unused fabric and we're like, ‘We've got all these amazing prints and all these fun things. What should we do with them?’ So we decided to make tablecloths and napkins and market totes. And with some of our vegan leather, we started making pillows, which got a lot of attention.
We started selling a bit of vintage homeware, too, like some glassware, vases, and things like that. I found that to be very fun, but very hard work to maintain because you had to be sourcing constantly and finding the best price so that you could actually mark it up and sell it. So that wasn't really sustainable. But in terms of the upcycle project, we continued to do that, and I love it. I would like to get into homeware properly and have bedding and sheets and things like that. Once the brand [expands], we can take that a bit more seriously, whether it's in-house or licensing — who knows?