Setting the Mood with Interior
Physical pleasure is only part and parcel when it comes to intimacy. Allure and intrigue should be infused into your home and conjure a mood that invites bliss and temptation. And Tiffany Howell knows that firsthand.
The talented Los Angeles-based interior designer, who works with clients like Caviar Kaspia Los Angeles, journalist Elaine Welteroth, and actress Laura Harrier, leans into a moody glam aesthetic to evoke their personal style and find extraordinary interior pieces they covet.
“As a designer, my goal is to bring my client’s personality to life,” said Tiffany. “The common thread with all my projects is a bit moody. There’s a bit of romance and my interiors feel a bit soulful. Sometimes I’ll build a whole room around an amazing piece that we've found."
Here, Tiffany divulges her best tips for setting the mood with interiors. She talks texture, lighting, and curves and angles for making your space an intimate sanctuary.
When designing a home or any sort of space, where does inspiration stem from?
Fashion, for sure. That’s typically the first place I look. Old cinema, old art house. We built a whole house for Laura Harrier around the movie Paris, Texas. The whole thing was about the pink sweater and we brought it to life.
I’m also inspired by music because I used to produce music videos. My whole family is made up of musicians, so music is very important to me. Each client also gets a custom soundtrack, so we can express how we want the project to feel before the visuals are carried out.
Tell us more about your curated playlists created for each client. How does that help inform your design process?
First, we have the sensory study, which is essentially a questionnaire. It’s important asking points of our client to get to know what they’re drawn to. We ask about their favorite smells, what they love to eat, and where they love to travel. It’s that foundational feeling that I want them to have before I even start working on the aesthetic part. What do you like to listen to? Who’s your favorite musician? Who’s your favorite photographer? Who’s your favorite fashion designer? I go into all these little things that we call the emotional landscape of our clients to really dive in and get to know them.
When thinking about pleasure, intimacy, and interiors, are there any important pieces or trinkets that are important to include to make sure that your space evokes a mood?
My favorite word to use is lush. Sexy and lush. For setting a mood, it’s important to incorporate certain smells and velvety textures that are very sexy to sit on and rub your hand onto. I want to make sure that there are multiple levels of lighting and I want the textures to feel good on their legs and feet.
Also, the color tones on the walls that make your skin look beautiful is important. I placed a beautiful brass light fixture above a bed because I knew that my clients could like look up and see themselves in it, which is a total turn-on. What’s going to transpire in this room? If it’s a bedroom, what is their skin going to look like? How is the dim lighting? I think about all these things.
Why is lighting so important?
It’s probably the most important thing because, subconsciously and consciously, it’s affecting you. Just like the weather, it can affect you dramatically. If you have a house where light is trapped and it’s very dark, you tend not to like those areas or feel depressed in certain rooms. I go deep into skin tones and how you’re going to look when you walk through the space and how you’re going to feel.
I consider lighting to be the jewelry of the space. There’s an opportunity to bring in beautiful pieces that are the outfit of the room. You can also have these beautiful sculptural pieces that look like the Kiki de Montparnasse chair, something that’s very vibe-y and sexy. I’m doing a lot of lime wash right now on walls, and it makes them look like a suede texture, which is another really sexy fabric. Then all of a sudden, it has depth. It’s stunning.
Speaking of texture, are there any fabrics to keep in mind when creating a bedroom ambiance that can act as both a sanctuary for lounging and pleasure?
Definitely velvet. Italian linen, and then obviously silk. Silk is having such a moment and such a comeback right now. I love using silk on pillows and everything in the bedroom.
You brought up our KikiDM Tufted Boudoir Chaise and being thoughtful about curves. Why is it important to bring in angular pieces?
It’s weird to use the words masculine and feminine nowadays because what does that even mean? I tend to be more drawn to masculine colors, but I’m very drawn to the feminine form. I love sculptural items and a lot of times when I’m designing a piece, I use the feminine form as the foundation.
Do you have a favorite place to source from?
For furniture, I like ma+39 in Los Angeles. He specializes in Italian fifties to eighties pieces. And I love South Loop Loft in Chicago. She also specializes in Italian and French sixties through eighties. I love that time period.
We have four archetypes at Kik de Montparnasse. For each archetype, what do you think is an important piece to incorporate for setting the mood?
La natural embodies an understated sensuality:
A gauze linen drape. Something blowing in the wind.
The ingenue is the ultimate tease:
Leather upholstery, like a beautiful black leather chair.
La Femme Forte, which straddles the boundaries that society has put on sensuality. Boldly playing in all spaces:
Wallpaper for sure. Some beautiful, interesting, artful storytelling wallpaper.
La Voyeuse unapologetically seeks pleasure and provocative play:
It could be one of two things. A beautiful, velvet loveseat, something that’s cozy for two people, but open for yourself. Something that brings two people together. Or I’d say a really yummy plush pile carpet or rug. Something that you can lay on.