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Michelle Workman is one of the most sought-after interior designers in Hollywood, with celebrity clients like Jennifer Lopez, John Travolta & Kelly Preston, and Kirstie Allie. She counts decorating legends like Billy Baldwin, Dorothy Draper, and Sister Parish amongst her major influences.
Michelle Workman’s signature style mingles the modern with the vintage. She’s inspired by the Federal Period, Early American decor, and shows a healthy respect for the French influence on the art of design. At the same time though, she’s very much influenced by the contemporary. Her biggest challenge is getting her clients to see things the way she does. However over the years she has become pretty good at changing traditional perspectives because she knows how to match her clients to colours that resonate within themselves.
A client’s personality informs her, giving her an initial direction about whether to go soft or bright. “I always start with colour,” she says. “If I don’t have it, the process becomes craziness for me.” A single woman might want warm pinks, but if her personality isn’t exciting and exuberant, Michelle will take the tone down, keeping it pink but softening it substantially. Another client might want an exciting look and therefore the palette will use combinations of complementary colours to express that personality. She listens for what people like and don’t like in their clothes and lifestyle, their hobbies and interests. She’s sensitive to whether someone leans towards a traditional or modern point of view. “Once I have those basics down, I’ll go to colour to communicate a large part of their personalities,” she says.“If they’re outgoing and gregarious with a sense of humour, I’m apt to use more colour. If they’re conservative and elegant, I’ll use more subdued colour.”
She recently pitched her work to an older gentleman engaged in the finance industry who had an exciting personality, but was also a traditionalist. She elected to go with a conservative navy blue theme, with “pops” of a complementary orange to express his artistic side. “It all goes back to their personalities,” she says. “If they’re fun-loving, the colours are brighter. If they’re sedate and traditional, the colours are more analogous.” To this easygoing perfectionist, the way the eye is guided through a room is highly important. “It’s a flow, versus a stop,” she says. “The eye travels over everything and it all makes sense because the right colours are next to each other.” She won’t hesitate to educate her clients, if necessary. If someone hates something she’s suggested, she’ll ask that they try it out for a few days. “Then I’ll come back and they’ll say, ‘I don’t know why, but I love it.’”According to her that means that she has read them right.
Sunset Condo Project
Dorothy Draper Goes Avant-Garde
For this project Michelle Workman makes use of traditional furniture within a modern space. The plum lacquer walls and white furniture emphasise the avant-garde interiors that achieves a space that is bold and striking.
WeHo Condo Project
West Hollywood Meets Palm Beach
Bright, cool, and crisp interiors were created by Michelle Workman for the WeHo Condo project. White walls combined with edgy hardware helps define a bold glamorous home.
All images courtesy Michelle Workman
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