Five years ago, Kelli Lamb was in a bit of a rut. After moving to a new city and searching endlessly for a good career fit, she was unsure about her future path. But a serendipitous Facebook search and five years of hard work landed Kelli the Managing Editor gig at one of our absolute favorite design publications, Rue Magazine. You’d think that a career in the design world would make someone tired of thinking about home decor on their own time — but Kelli’s managed to draw inspiration from her work (and from gorgeous architecture, her friends’ artwork, and just about everywhere else) and make it her own. Take a tour through Kelli and her husband’s beautiful LA home, then read on to learn more about her awesome career, her favorite places to buy furniture, and the things she wishes more people knew about interior design.
You’re the managing editor and head of social at Rue Magazine. What career experiences led you here?
I have always been a writer, but never professionally. I had experience in ecommerce and I had a blog to fulfill that creative side. When I moved to San Francisco, I applied to anything and everything that felt relevant to my resume, but I didn’t get a single callback, not one interview. I was really discouraged and like, “OMG… what the hell am I going to do with my life??” One evening, after a day of soul-sucking job applications, I went to a party that Rue hosted at The Gap. I had been a fan of Rue’s and I guess I thought I would meet new friends? I was too shy to talk to anyone but my husband and I took a few photos in the photo booth. (I swear this story is going somewhere!) I checked Rue’s Facebook page the next day to see the photos, but instead, I found a listing for an internship with Crystal, Rue’s co-founder. I literally had nothing else to do with my days until I landed an interview, so I wrote a very passionate email practically begging for the role. It was unpaid, and so I made the decision to sell my car (I didn’t need it in the city anyway) and went in with the idea that I would be there to learn everything I could and network along the way. I figured by the time I ran out of money, I would at least have met someone who could help me with my job search. It ended up being a great fit and they officially hired me when my internship was over! I’ve now been with Rue for five years and went from an editorial intern, to Associate Editor, and now Managing Editor.
What do you love about your job? What do you wish more people knew about the magazine industry? About interior design?
We’re a small team, but we work very well together and trust each other. There’s a lot of freedom that comes with that and I love that I’m given the opportunity to write about what I love.
As for what I wish people knew… it’s that no one’s life (or home) looks exactly like it does on the Internet. Photo shoots are big productions and a lot of thought is put into each shot, from what fresh flowers will photograph best to how to perfectly drape a throw blanket. The space is still beautiful in real life, but once the camera is off, homes usually look a little different. For example, Homepolish did a feature on my living room. I got a lot of positive comments and compliments, which made me feel like a star! Then I looked over and my cat had puked on any soft surface he could find. So I mean, home tours are a great way to get inspiration for designing your own space, but people do actually live there and it’s real life, so don’t beat yourself up if you feel like your own home isn’t “insta-worthy.” It’s all about creating a place that makes you feel comfortable and happy.
I wrote a very passionate email practically begging for the role. It was unpaid, and so I made the decision to sell my car and went in with the idea that I would be there to learn everything I could and network along the way. I figured by the time I ran out of money, I would at least have met someone who could help me with my job search.
How long have you lived in Los Angeles? What’s the best part about living there?
I have lived in LA for two years. We live in the Los Feliz/Silverlake area and I really love our neighborhood. We moved here from San Francisco and I was really devastated — I thought that SF was the pulse of everything cool. But LA is pretty affordable compared to other big cities, so a LOT of really rad people are moving here to follow their dreams. It’s not just all Hollywood and celebrities, either. There are amazing art galleries, cool restaurants, and great boutiques!
How did you find your current place? What were you looking for?
We moved for my husband’s job and had to look for rentals in the midst of planning our wedding. We were unsure if we would even like living in LA, so a priority was making sure our home was a place we liked to be. If we hated the neighborhood, at least we’d have a haven where we could feel safe, comfortable, and happy.
We found the listing on a great rental site (therentalgirl.com) and were used to the San Francisco market, where you have to move FAST if you want a place. We frantically called the rental agency, flew down to LA the next morning, and had all of our applications ready with a crazy long list of references. (We even had a reference for our cats.) I mean, we were annoyingly eager, but it paid off! I am always so grateful that we found this place. The landlord is incredibly kind and we have really great neighbors too.
Where do you start when designing a room?
I am less of a planner when it comes to designing a room; it’s a slow and organic process for me. It takes actually living in a space for awhile before I know what it needs. This often results in a few iterations where it’s not quite right, and then a major a-ha moment where I wonder why it took me so long to figure it out.
How did you manage designing a space from which to work from home? What’s most important when creating a work-from-home space?
I do have a separate office, but it doesn’t get any natural light and is also where the litter box is. (We didn’t photograph this room.) So for me, it’s best to work from our dining table. It’s open and bright, I have a sightline of the front and back of the house, plus I’m closer to the coffee. It’s also important for me to have everything clear of clutter or I won’t focus on my work, so each night I straighten up before bed so I’m not tempted to do house chores in the morning.
Working at Rue gives you access to some of the best and most exciting interior trends in the business — how do you incorporate work inspiration into your own home?
I feel like sometimes, I can be over-stimulated with great design. It’s a lot when you’re looking at it and writing about it every day! But there’s a difference in appreciating great design, and resonating with one specific look. When I see something that really fits with my personal aesthetic, it REALLY fits with my personal aesthetic and I find a way to bring that vibe to my own space, whether it’s a styling idea or a color that I love. In the last year, I found myself really drawn to darker hues, so I made sure to find pieces that would bring some more moody elements to my space.
When I see something that really fits with my personal aesthetic, I find a way to bring that vibe to my own space, whether it’s a styling idea or a color that I love.
Your husband is an artist, and we love his work! How much of it do you choose to feature in your home?
Actually, we don’t have any of his artwork on display right now! There is a unit upstairs (not pictured), and it’s his studio. He spends a lot of late nights up there drawing and painting, but I think he enjoys having a visual break from his work when he comes downstairs. However, one of the biggest benefits of his line of work is that so many of our friends are amazing artists as well. Almost 100% of the art in our home was created by dear friends! However, if I ever have a different office setup, I’ll be sneaking some of Tim’s work into the space for sure.
Don’t beat yourself up if you feel like your own home isn’t ‘insta-worthy.’ It’s all about creating a place that makes you feel comfortable and happy.
Where do you shop for home decor?
I really love Interior Define. I hated our old sofa and opted to design a new custom one with ID — everything from the configuration to the upholstery to the brass legs. (It’s fun knowing it’s one of a kind!) I also really like Rose & Fitzgerald for home accessories (and our gorgeous leather chair in the sunroom), and I love to stop by Lawson Fenning in Silverlake and Consort on Melrose. I also feel like World Market has so many gems right now, which is amazing because I used to go there with my mom for like wine and candles and jewelry. My husband and I stopped in and I fell in love with this colorful lounge chair (that’s in the bedroom) and a gorgeous dresser. Who knew??
How long from move in until a point you felt the space was “done”?
We initially worked with Haley Weidenbaum of Homepolish to design the living room. She was basically my hero because I had moved from an old Victorian apartment with lots of vintage charm and architectural details to a white box, and I had no clue how to make the space work for us. She whipped the main living area into shape in about five months and we felt like it was a home. Over the next year, we made a few changes as we got to know the space and how we use it. I think it finally is in a place where I don’t feel like changing a thing.
What’s nice about our home is it is sort of all one big room.
What’s your favorite room in your home? Where do you spend the most time?
What’s nice about our home is it is sort of all one big room. I love to read magazines on the daybed, my husband and I love to binge watch a new series in the living room, I work from the dining room table, and when we have people over, the kitchen is big enough for a small party. I am happiest at home and feel like my time here is divided pretty evenly among the space.
Which room was the most difficult to design? Why?
The bedroom has been the biggest challenge, and I’ve thought about hiring a designer to help me more than once. It’s a pretty small room and there is a door or window on every wall. For flow, the placement of the bed makes the most sense where it is now, but the small window behind it looks directly at our neighbor’s driveway and the curtains absolutely have to be closed all the time. I felt so perplexed trying to camouflage that window. I looked for big folding screens or Roman shades, but it all felt weird or the wrong size. I had some mudcloth-esque curtains thinking they’d be like a cool wallpaper, but they weren’t blackout, so it ended up looking super tacky and showed the low quality of the fabric. I just wanted the bedroom to be restful and comfortable. I found Barn & Willow and realized a custom curtain solution was probably my best bet. I picked a Roman shade for the side window, which made that side of the room feel SO much bigger now that curtains aren’t puddling on the floor over there. And then I had custom drapes with interlining for behind the bed, which is blackout AND noise reducing. I chose white so it would just blend into the wall and feel like it was just a regular wall. I love how it turned out! On the other side of the room is a gallery wall. The only pieces there are things that are sentimental — art from family and friends, heirlooms, even the polaroids we took of each other at our wedding ceremony.
Don’t let fear get in the way. I’ve made (or not made) so many decisions because I was feeling nervous, afraid, embarrassed, or worried. It’s something I’m still working on, being braver, and I wish I had a few more years of practice under my belt.
How would you describe your design style? How has it evolved over time?
I never know how to answer this! I’m not sure how I’d describe the style… and it definitely has changed! Our last apartment was crazy colorful with a lot of vintage pieces, and this home became more muted and restful. I think it’s become a nice representation of us as a couple and we’ve moved away from specific trends and more into just pieces that we really love.
What’s next for your home? Is there a project in the works?
For the first time since we’ve lived here, no! I feel really pleased with every area in the home and am ready to stop fussing with it for awhile. I feel really fortunate that this is where we get to live and I just want the space we’ve created.
What advice would you give your 23-year-old self?
I would tell myself to not let my fear get in the way. I’ve made (or not made) so many decisions because I was feeling nervous, afraid, embarrassed, or worried. It’s something I’m still working on, being braver, and I wish I had a few more years of practice under my belt. I often wonder what career I would have chosen if I’d taken the leap into a creative field at a younger age.
Kelli Lamb is The Everygirl…
Best midday pick-me-up?
Health-Ade’s Cayenne Cleanse Kombucha
Favorite spots in LA?
I love Bar Stella, Black Cat, and Kettle Black for happy hour. Wundabar Pilates for a good workout! And Kate Somerville on Melrose Place for a little pampering.
Your iPhone camera role is full of…
Photos of my cats. So many photos of my cats.
If you could have lunch with any woman, who would it be and why?
My grandma, who passed in 2009. She lived nearby and we’d often go to lunch together. When I was young, my parents would always encourage me to spend even more time with her, since “you don’t know how much time you’ll have” and that I’d really miss it when I was older. They were right! I would give absolutely anything for another round of soup, salad, and breadsticks with that woman. She had the world’s best laugh!
Sofa, Interior Define
Pillows, Eskayel and CB2
Gold Bowl, Rose and Fitzgerald
Coasters, Rose & Fitzgerald
Leather Chair, The Citizenry
Woven Basket, Thayer Design Studio
Sconce, Schoolhouse Electric