Combine southern charm with New York savvy and you have the talented Lauren Lagarde. She is the perfect combination of all things driven and stylish and we love her for it. From secretary at a law firm to magazine intern to owning her own PR company, we’re inspired by how she has let nothing stand in the way of her dreams. As if her career accomplishments weren’t impressive enough, Lauren has a serious eye for interior design. Her New Orleans apartment boasts as much charm as the city itself. We love how she has mixed high ticket items with hand-me-downs and repurposed pieces to create the perfectly curated space. And don’t even get us started about the exposed brick and her enviable art collection.
Read on to hear all about Lauren’s career, her gorgeous apartment, and what she loves most about living in New Orleans.
Full name: Lauren Lagarde
Location: New Orleans, LA
Current title/company: Owner, Lauren Lagarde Public Relations
Educational background: Bachelor of the Arts in Communication from Louisiana State University
What was your first job out of college?
My first job when I graduated from LSU was actually working as a secretary at a Law Firm in my home town. I moved home because I was hoping to save enough money to move to New York. My plan was to answer phones at this law office until I saved enough for my “real life” to start! I’m such a procrastinator by nature so I guess it’s fitting that I was putting off moving instead of just doing it! I started interning at a magazine on the side while I was at the law firm and really loved it. My editor told me one day that I should consider not moving away and I should try making a life in New Orleans instead. Hurricane Katrina had just happened at the time and I did feel this sort of cosmic pull towards the city and staying in the South. So I took her advice and started applying for PR/Communications jobs in NOLA and was lucky enough to get an account executive spot at a great boutique firm in New Orleans pretty quickly. Choosing to invest in New Orleans was one of the biggest and best decisions I’ve ever made.
How did you transition from working for someone else to starting your own PR firm?
I worked for just over 4 years at my first job. It was a small firm and the team was really talented. I learned a ton. You know, the great thing about working for a small company is that you get to do so much and the speed in PR is pretty fast so I remember feeling like I gained 8 years of experience in just half that time! At some point during my last year at that firm I met another publicist who was moving to New Orleans from New York and she was interested in starting a PR firm that specifically focused in lifestyle brands. I was immediately interested. In my position at the time, I was working on a variety of accounts that were pretty varied and the idea of working in a focused area really appealed to me. New Orleans is tourism driven city so a lifestyle PR firm that worked with restaurants, bars, hotels seemed like a dream! I weighed all of the options and eventually made the jump! I remember being so scared at the time but also exhilarated! I still think of that as one of the most exciting times in my life.
What do you love most about living in New Orleans?
What do I love most about New Orleans? Hmm, it’s so difficult to narrow that down… I love that on most nights I can hear music no matter where I am in the city. There is always a transient saxophonist or trumpeter playing a tune while walking home, a high school marching band practicing for Mardi Gras parades, an impromtu street dance party or a club on a corner with muffled music spilling into the neighborhood. It’s something I didn’t notice until I started traveling a good bit… there is always street noise in big cities but in New Orleans the street noise is almost always music. It’s magical. I love that New Orleans truly celebrates authenticity in every form. The culture here doesn’t just tolerate uniqueness, it embraces it and encourages it! It’s incredibly refreshing to live in place like this. And I love that you can have a cocktail at anytime of day here and people are more likely to join you than judge you.
Tell us the process you went through while looking for your place. Do you rent or own? How long have you been there? How did you find it?
I actually just moved into my new apartment in September and I rent it from a family friend who is a great landlord! I feel really lucky!
I previously lived in New Orleans’ historic French Quarter and lived in a building that was built in 1816 (!!!,) it was glorious and charming with great views of the city skyline. I heard music everyday from my windows and could watch the ships come in on the river from my roof top, it was a dream… but unfortunately the building and apartment were sort of falling apart. At first it was cute and charming but after 2+ years it became a bit of an issue so when my lease was up I knew I wanted to relocate to something newer ( which is hard to find in a city that’s over 200 years old!) I really struggled to find a place that felt like me and what was I wanted but I knew that when I found it, I would JUST know! And that’s what happened… I got a call from my little sister one afternoon who told me about a family friend’s building that had a sudden opening… I saw the space within the hour and within 24 hours I had signed the lease. And that’s where I am now. I adore it! It’s much smaller than my old apartment but there is something really cathartic about having to downsize. I can say that every single thing in this apartment is something I truly love and want to have with me! There is no room for the extra stuff (literally!)
How did you go through the downsizing / purging process? Any strategies you care to share for maintaining it?
Downsizing either goes one of two ways for me. I either throw everything away without regard or thought OR I agonize over every little thing and very little gets accomplished. Either way is not ideal or efficient….so most of my downsizing came with the help of a dear friend who also happened to be a professional organizer. She was a friendly drill sergeant who kept the process moving along and with her help, we made thoughtful choices about the pieces I loved and the ones I could live without. My new apartment is about half the size of my previous home so essentially what came with me are my favorite and most treasured pieces of art, furniture, linens and books. All of my furniture has form and function. Almost everything doubles as storage or display as books, art, blankets, etc are placed in unexpected spots that serve a dual purpose– one. so I can maximize the space and use every inch and two. to create a sense of whimsy and collected charm in the overall design feel.
How do you define your interior style?
I think I am drawn to both contemporary and traditional pieces and that sometimes my overall style can be a bit varied (I’m a gemini so I think my sign is to blame.) When I was in college I remember reading an issue of Domino that described someone’s style as eclectic collector. I remember thinking to myself at the time, that’s what I want my style to be “when I grow up” and those two words have sort of stuck with me ever since! I want to come into my home and be reminded of all of the places I’ve been, the people I love, the moments i don’t want to forget. I think my style is dictated by feeling more than anything else, I want my home to feel like Lauren lives here!
Your home has such an eclectic-cool-girl vibe, yet I feel like I could plop down on your couch for girls night and feel 100% comfortable and at home. How do you balance design with comfort so effortlessly?
Firstly, you are welcome over for girls night anytime! And secondly, thank you! When I was thinking about the design, I knew it had to be functional and comfortable because of the space limitations. I love to entertain so I chose comfortable large pieces and lots of smaller chairs and benches that could be moved easily to create more or less seating. I think also just filling your home with things that you love will make people feel at home and comfortable. Also, I haven’t plugged my television in yet so I think without that as a distraction my living room becomes ground zero for girl talk and wine with my group of girlfriends.
What are your favorite places around New Orleans to shop for home decor?
I think for interiors New Orleans has a great mix of eclectic shops that range from super high-end to bargain basement which nice for a girl on a budget like me. I’m able to splurge on somethings while pinching pennies on others all while supporting the local design community which is important to me. I think my number one spot in NOLA for great interior finds is Stirling Provsion in the bywater. I swear half of my apartment is from that store. The owners have a great eye for finding pieces that are unique and the price point is always reasonable. Other local favs are Hattie Sparks for my favorite Jonathan Adler candles–I live for the grapefruit one. Perch is a wonderful interior store on Magazine Street. FULL of color and whimsy, I can’t leave the store without finding something I love. For art, my go to spots are Martine Chaisson Gallery, Haley Gaberlage’s studio (I adore her portraits) and the thrift and junk stores all across New Orleans. I’ve found some of my best pieces in the thrift shops here!
What items for the home would you say are most important to invest in?
I think drapes can change an entire room. Those were a priority for me. I also splurge on framing and upholstery. I love a good chair re-do! The right fabric choice can make the world of a difference.
What are some of your favorite pieces in your home?
My favorite things in my apartment… hmm this is a tough one too! I can say that I love my art. So much of it in this apartment, are found treasures… things I’ve hunted for at garage sales, thrift shops or auctions. I’ve learned that if you have a good framer anything can be turned into a masterpiece! I’ve also recently begun to collect some pieces of fine art that I just adore. I’ve started with small pieces and the hope that my collection will grow in time!
What advice would you give your 23-year-old-self?
Trust your gut and don’t be afraid to speak up. I think I didn’t find my true voice and sense of self until much later in my twenties and if I could go back, I wish I would’ve had more confidence to trust myself earlier in life.
Lauren Lagarde is The Everygirl…
Favorite spot in New Orleans?
This is an impossible question.
Favorite way to spend a sunday?
A lazy brunch in the French Quarter at Cane & Table. They have an amazing courtyard in the heart of the Quarter, plus you can get a drink in a pineapple which is incredible. Then biking to Bacchanal in the Bywater for outdoor music. You can watch the sunset in the patio area and listen to great little jazz bands. It is a quintessential New Orleans experience.
Best advice you’ve ever received?
My maternal Grandfather (who was an entrepreneur) always said, “Keep it light and work the room.” I think about him and that saying quite a bit now, especially in my career. Often as a publicist I’m making connections for my clients and friends at events, parties or meetings and it’s important to lead the conversation and make people comfortable. Friendly banter and a genuine interest in the people around you is important. My grandfather was always great at making people feel at ease and like they were the most important person in the room. I try to do the same.
Most cherished piece in your closet?
A red YSL splatter-painted cork clutch from an old resort collection. I bought it when I first began working for myself and it always reminds me of starting out, being (semi) reckless and never looking back. Plus I just love it because It’s terribly impractical in the sense that is goes with everything.
Favorite band/musician or favorite go-to chick flick?
I still can’t stop listening to Andrew Duhon. He’s a local guy and his latest album was just nominated for a Grammy. It has such a soulful, easy vibe, I find myself going back to it over and over again. Perfect for the springlike days we’ve been having in New Orleans. This song is one of my favorites: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_ABkHg28hs
Aidan or Big?
Big. I always appreciate a romance where it takes years and marriages and deaths and near deaths for the couple to get together. It feels very Jane Austen to me.