Arguably the industry’s current It Girl, Brigette Romanek is one of today’s most sought-after designers. She launched her eponymous studio in 2018 then quickly hit Architectural Digest’s AD100 — for three years in a row. Today, she rocks a megawatt client list, including Beyoncé and Jay-Z, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Demi Moore. Yet however grand things get, the former handbag creator stays grounded by “designing by feel” and focusing on sensory, soulful rooms. Big on plants (a black olive tree grows in her living room), light on trends (even the word makes her cringe) and high on real life, she’s primed for what interiors need right now.
On Living for Today
People are more invested and involved in what their home feels like, what it looks like and how it functions than ever before. Designing has never been more important to put people at ease and make them feel great. I’ve heard so many people say, “When my kids are gone, I’m going to do this.” Now I say, “No! Let’s do it right now. Life is happening right now!” As we’ve clearly seen this past year, you never know what’s going to happen, so let’s enjoy it.
On Deeper Conversations
Whether a client is buying land or a second home, it’s all about discovering what’s most important to them. The conversations have reached a deep and profound level. It’s not just about the pretty sofa, it’s about: Where am I going to be? What am I feeling? Am I going to be here forever? Am I not? These are conversations everyone is having with themselves as a way of moving forward and feeling secure.
On Livable Luxe
The thing I constantly hear is, “I want something really beautiful, but I want it to function.” I get it. I have two dogs and two kids and I like having people over (when we could and when we can again), so I want all of that brought together. I don’t want to have to say, “Don’t sit there!” I want people to enjoy it all. My mantra — livable luxe — is constantly in my head: Will this beautiful, luxe piece be something we can actually use? Is it something we can actually enjoy? And I always say “we,” because I picture myself living there! When we sit on this furniture and we entertain here, what does that feel like and how does that piece live?
In thinking about gatherings, we’re in the process of making a 20-foot dining room table for a family of five that’s going to be a real showstopper; it’ll look like a piece of art. We’re also creating a piano room for a client who used to play all the time when family wasn’t around. Now that his family is around, they’re like “Ugh!” The wife felt she and the kids hurt his feelings, so she wanted to do something special and surprise him with a piano room that’s going to be exquisite — we’re wallpapering, bringing in a chandelier, painting the piano celadon.
On Timeless Over Trendy
I really want to build spaces that are eclectic and cool where you could live forever. I’m not crazy about trends. Yes, it’s part of my job to be aware of what’s new and what’s happening, but if it’s like, “Someone’s doing a circle now so everything needs to be a circle,” I won’t do that. It’s not that I won’t use something I recently discovered; it’s more if I feel it could be there for many years to come. I appreciate good design of all different eras and styles. I think that’s what makes my interiors so eclectic, because all I want is for pieces to be harmonious. If this piece from the early 1900s and that piece from 2021 look beautiful together, I’m in.
It’s something everybody’s thinking about; you can’t not. Everything from wall paints to flooring finishes, from the chemicals to the longevity to the wear and tear — it’s all taken into account. You can’t not address those things, and it’s a constant learning curve. Clients are more informed and want to know what their options are, especially my clients with kids. Good design helps, because there are pieces you’ll keep forever. Maybe you’ll want to change the fabric, but you don’t need to change the piece itself.
On Warm Wools and White Walls
I’m a textural, tactile person. I love wools, mohairs, different dreamy grades of velvet. Right now, I’m loving lavender and putty colors. There’s a real push and pull with different colors I’ll use. Maybe on paper they don’t look like they’ll go well together, but when you get them in a room, they just sing! But there’s just nothing like white. I love white. There are more than 1,000 shades to choose from, and I once used 16 different whites in one house for different effects. White just gives you this canvas, this breath of fresh air.
My mom has always had plants; she would speak to them! So it’s always resonated with me to have some sort of greenery in the house as it brings such life and energy. I design 100% based on feel. It always surprises people when they enter my living room and realize, “Oh, there’s a black olive tree in here!” It makes them think a little bit differently, which I really appreciate. I try to put plants in any house that will let me. You can get a plant for $6 or $5,000 — all of it will bring some love and light into a room.
On Going Bolder
Whether it’s in the forefront of our minds or not, we’re going through a time that has shaken us all up. It’s also a time that’s showing us who we are and what we’re made of in so many ways. It’s allowing some of my clients to say, “Let’s go for it!” Clients are getting bolder and discovering parts of themselves they didn’t know, which is really fun. Design has to be functional, but the idea that you can put all these pieces together to create a space that brings somebody joy and makes them feel comfortable, supported and enhanced as a human being? That’s everything.