Design Detour: Kate Lester

 From washed woods and vintage rugs to watery blue hues and handmade textiles, Kate Lester’s portfolio reads like a primer on curated California cool. While you may never see her advocating for a white kitchen (“I’ve seen enough to last a lifetime,” Lester says with a laugh), the designer has a natural bend toward rooms that feel like a breath of fresh air. “I firmly believe in spaces that tell the story of the people who live there. That said, the best projects we’ve ever design were born when our client gave us some direction and then let us run. When you’re given freedom to create, great things really do happen!"

Photography by Shane O’ Donnell


“I am absolutely obsessed with Esperanza, a new restaurant our clients just opened in Manhattan Beach. They’re known for their incredible décor, tequila assortment, signature cocktails and perfect Cabo-meets-Southern-California vibes, so obviously, this is like my mothership. My perfect happy hour table would include everyone who has been along on this crazy design journey with us over the years — photographer Amy Bartlam, Shaye Price of Brand Identity PR, our friends from Details Tile & Stone Studio and the team from our workroom, Twist Custom. I have been so lucky to be surrounded by so many strong and independent women who have helped show me the ropes, lift me up, and grow my business. I definitely owe them all a shot. Cheers!”


“I source so many of our textiles, wallcoverings and furnishings from Peter Dunham’s showroom, Hollywood at Home. When I first emerged on the design scene, this was the very first showroom I ever walked into where I truly felt inspired and happy — everything inside is a mix of vintage and color and pattern and personality. It’s an amazing spot where design is fresh, layered and fun again. I love it!”


“We’ve used the Limoges Pendant Collection by Suzanne Kasler more than I care to admit! They’re always the perfect complement to a more bold and/or dramatic millwork concept, and the plaster inspired finish is a wonderful juxtaposition to a brass hardware or plumbing detail.”


“I love working with the artists at Visual Contrast. They design and fabricate all of their collections at their studio in Los Angeles, and they’re always open to collaborating with designers when it comes to color palettes, framing materials and custom sizing. It’s always amazing to be able to present your client with a piece that was created specifically for them.”


“We have used so many Brook Perdigon textiles in our designs! They have a wonderfully light and inherently interesting quality. They’re hand-drawn and hand-screened in L.A., and many are inspired by Brook’s own travels and journeys, which really speaks to me as a creative who wants to give our clients something interesting and unique.” 

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“I always say that trad can still be rad! I love the streamlined silhouette of the Choros Chandelier by Barry Goralnick, and the mixed finishes add depth and personality to any space.” 


“The lines of the Alborg Stacked Pendant by Chapman & Myers are so interesting — the stacked shade suggests movement and the crisp white finish is a perfect complement to strong pattern or color elsewhere in a room.”


“I love to break design “rules” when I can, mixing my finishes in a way that feels curated, collected and chic. The hint of antique brass in the detailing and canopy of the Hanks One Light Pendant by Generation Lighting's Sea Gull Collection is a great way to mix in a contrasting metal at a lower pricepoint. Layering lighting finishes with complementary hardware and/or plumbing is such a simple way to achieve a layered look without a ton of effort, and it always helps a space to feel more dynamic.”