In Conversation with Interior Designer Laura Brophy
A lifelong Southern Californian, Laura Brophy was born in Burbank, grew up in Mission Viejo, and studied at Interior Designers Institute in Newport Beach. Now, she and her husband live among the cliffs of Corona Del Mar, overlooking the Pacific. “That’s honestly where I always wanted to be,” she says. Another thing the designer always wanted: to make the things around her beautiful. While she initially believed that would lead to a career in fashion, it didn’t take long for Laura to pivot to dressing homes rather than humans.
“Outside of the gated communities, Newport Beach really has some unique homes and architecture,” she says. “It’s really mixed: You have the farmhouse styles. You have coastal, and some homes that are more modern. We base our designs off the environment and architecture of a home, so if we’re working with an architect who’s designing a modern farmhouse, we are going to want to speak to that style in the client’s home. And when picking a color palette, we look outside the window for colors to incorporate into a space. That makes it feel so fresh and pretty.”
Ah, we can see why you’re drawn to Native Trails products; they’re all inspired by nature.
LB: You guys are my favorite plumbing brand for real. Your NativeStone products have this organic feel that is super fresh and modern but warm. Your designs are simple, not fussy. It’s a great line to blend into any house, any style. I love pieces that you could use for a Tuscan house, for a midcentury home or a modern home. Your bathtubs are my favorite.
What is your earliest design-related memory?
LB: My biggest memory growing up, which is related to design, was going to fashion shows with my parents. I grew up wanting to go to fashion school. I didn’t really know how cool the interior design world was. But when I was going to college for sports medicine, I walked into an upholstery shop one day, and fell in love. The person there was like, “You know, you really should go to interior design school.” So I did. And the rest is history. Here I am. I love it. Thank God.
Do you have like a certain design mantra or motto that you abide by?
LB: Just “less is more.” My team and I also always say “vacation vibe” because we like homes to feel really serene and calming. My designs are a little bit more organic and soft and warm so when you go into your home and feel at peace.
How do you create a sense of serenity or peace with a design?
LB: When you’re hiring an interior designer, a big part of what you’re getting is people who are good at knowing scale and how to balance a room. We focus on studying each space we’re designing and making sure everything flows. That’s what really creates harmony. Color is also a big part of it—making sure we’re putting colors together that harmonize. That’s super important, and a big passion of mine. And we really get intimate with every client and learn so much about them so we can create a space that’s special to them.
Oh, tell us more about how you approach that.
LB: Sometimes we have to kind of dig for it. But it’s nice to go in a home where you have things from the client that shows their life. On our Beach House Twenty Two project in Huntington Beach, the clients had tons of really beautiful tapestries and art that they had collected from different countries. We took those pieces to our custom framing place and used really beautiful frames that worked with the art and the new design of the house. The husband was a retired firefighter and had a fire extinguisher that we cleaned up and turned into a lamp.
Are there color combos you continually return to?
LB: Earthy colors. I feel like they’re never going to go out of style. It’s also amazing how well you can blend them. Greens are hot right now, and always a fun, serene color to put in a space. It also looks like we’re getting back into reds, but really pretty, moody burgundy-reds like the color of leaves turning in fall.
What does every kitchen need?
LB: The stone is really important, so I’m going to say a beautiful countertop with really pretty cutting boards. I’m pretty into quartzite right now.
What does every bathroom need?
LB: A really beautiful faucet.
Can you share a few of the interior designers that inspire you the most?
LB: Jake Arnold, Kelly Wearstler and Amber Interiors..
What something people don’t understand about what it’s like to be an interior designer?
LB: The number one thing I hear every day is, “You must have so much fun.” And while it’s fun, there’s a lot of pressure when you have people trusting you with how they’re going to live every day. We take it super seriously. And I’m super honored that people trust me and my team to learn everything about them, how they live, what they eat, what they don’t eat, what side of the bed they sleep on, if they use Kleenex or not, if they cook a lot, if they don’t cook a lot. It’s a very intimate profession.