By KRISTAN SVEDA
Photographs by CHICHI UBIÑA
Inspired by classic blues and whites, Lee Ann Thornton’s keen eye for design and romantic sensibility combine in her new home collection of ready-to-order upholstery.
The self-taught design guru got her cred with a string of home remodels and new construction that she and her husband (the green thumb in the relationship) tackled while living in Los Angeles, California. When she moved to Greenwich fourteen years ago, she launched her professional home design business with great success and now has recently launched her own line of home décor in her signature blues and whites. We talked to the designer about how she got started and what we can expect from her bespoke furnishings.
What inspired you to become a designer?
Ralph Lauren in the ’80s and his first home collection was in my opinion absolutely perfect in all ways. I couldn’t get enough of it. I was married and used my first home as a bit of an experiment. I was always redoing something in the house, a new wallpaper or recovering the family room sofa with my new favorite print. Some might say I was just obsessed with interior design and homes. I think I always saw a lifestyle being led through the interiors of the house.
How would you describe your design aesthetic?
I like it to call it Romantic American Interiors. There is a love of clean, American design and a warm inviting approach to what I do.
What services do you offer clients? Describe your team of experts?
Over the last 12 years I have developed a business that offers interior design and decorating, including furniture plans and space planning, consulting with architects and contractors, project management, project management, custom product design and assistance with art selection. My team is there from the onset of design to the management of the trades to lighting of the candles when the clients walk in for the big, ‘ta da!’
What do you think makes your firm exceptional in the industry?
Besides an innate understanding of what clients are looking for, I pride myself on guiding my clients to a reasonable budget and managing the project so we meet our expectation. I also believe quality furnishings will withstand the need to redo your home 10 years later. I always insist on quality.
Good design tends to blend timeless approaches with a fresh take on ideas. How do you merge the two?
I believe I always begin with a timeless approach and then it’s the client and what they want and their personality that brings a fresh take to the project.
What’s trending in the industry? Do you have any favorite trends or colors right now?
My feelings about blue and white are pretty well known, but I love red again—not early 2000s red, but happy flowers red, a fabulous geranium red. I want to do a kitchen in red. How stunning it would be to paint the lower cabinets red with a matted white marble countertop and a fabulous blue and white delft tile backsplash to achieve the happiest space for cooking and entertaining.
If interior design is like fashion for the home, who would your clients be wearing?
For men, it would be Ralph Lauren, Loro Piana and John Lobb shoes. For women it would be Chloé, Isabel Marant, Céline, Stella McCartney and Manolo Blahnik pumps.
Do you travel for clients? How far-flung have your projects been?
Yes, we work all over, but some of my favorites have been in Nantucket, Florida and Los Angeles.
Describe one of your most memorable projects.
I have a few and they have been cases when the client is really engaged and it is a collaborative effort—and where they have total trust in me! After years in this business, you understand when it’s a perfect partnership of client and designer and how that is what it takes to have a successful project. And of course, when I see my clients living a beautiful life where they will make wonderful memories with family and friends, those are my most favorite as well.
What’s next for Thornton Designs?
I have recently launched a line of bespoke furnishings: Lee Ann Thornton Home Collection. It occurred to me that there was a lack of options for custom furnishings. The designs that I have always used for my clients are now available to everyone. I have chosen twelve fabrics in my signature colors of blue and white in stripes, flowers, velvets and linens, that are all cohesive and would allow a person the option to either buy a piece or to decorate their entire home with the collection. My next fabric collection will consist of reds. I am hopeful a fabric line of my own is also in my future.
A dream of mine is to draw from my passion for entertaining. I would love to design a restaurant and create a menu that would be the most inviting place to dine. Custom furnishings and custom dishes and décor, plus an incredible charming environment is something I think Greenwich would love.
For more information, visit her website at leeannthornton.com.
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