Laura Hodges is a Baltimore-based interior designer whose worldwide travels and passion for design from an early age have given her a keen eye, making her projects truly tailored to the client. Laura discusses her signature aesthetic, the importance of practicing sustainability, and what has impacted her work the most.
Where does your love for design stem from, and how did you break into the business?
My family traveled a lot when I was growing up, so I was exposed to many styles of architecture and design, which expanded as I began traveling on my own as a young adult. I earned my interior design degree from the New York School of Interior Design and worked with distinguished designers such as Jamie Drake and Thomas Jayne after graduating, before starting my own firm in 2016.
You define your aesthetic as clean and classic. How do you incorporate this aesthetic into your various projects?
As much as I love seeing new trends and design styles, I always take my cues from classical architecture and design. I lean more toward a modern take on traditional shapes with an emphasis on contrast and form.
What is your process like as you approach each project?
I always start with an in-depth discussion with my clients to find out not only their practical and functional needs for the space but also how they want to feel in their home and what would bring them joy and a sense of calm. From there, I look to their art collection (if they have one), travels, and interests, as well as my own intuitive take on their design style, to find inspiration for their project.
Where do you find the balance between functionality and style?
Luckily, we’re in an age when style and functionality do not need to be mutually exclusive anymore. We have access to so many beautiful fabrics and materials that are specifically designed to last. The primary function always comes first, but we consider both at the same time and happily have to make few compromises.
What’s your favorite piece in your own home?
I found a beautiful, handmade Italian Savonarola chair from the early 1900s at an estate sale, and it has remained my favorite piece.
You’ve traveled to many places in your life. How have your travels impacted your work?
I absolutely love traveling and never want to regret not having made the effort to visit historically significant or naturally beautiful places. My travels inform me every day—whether it’s the colors, culture, and style of another country or simply understanding how historically important architecture feels in person. I grew up traveling to France and England with my family, which formed my love for classical architecture. I later traveled to countries like Peru, Thailand, and Morocco, and they really opened my eyes to more extensive design styles and cultural influences.
You recently opened your own boutique home-decor shop, Domain. How did that come to be?
It’s been a longtime dream of mine to have my own home-decor shop. My husband and I had the opportunity
to purchase a property in the historic district of Catonsville, Maryland, in 2017, and we were excited to explore the possibilities.
How do you balance heading Domain with your design responsibilities?
Since the shop is in the front of our design studio, I’m able to physically be in touch with the day-to-day responsibilities while leading our design projects. I love sourcing locally for the shop and incorporating design finds from our projects. The two businesses definitely feed off each other.
Sustainability is a big part of your mission. How do you go about achieving this?
I always start my sourcing of furniture and fabrics from companies with sustainable manufacturing practices and a commitment to fair trade. We also help our clients find a new home for their unwanted furnishings and commit to donating salvageable building materials from our projects.
Tell us more about the Patapsco residence you designed:
The Patapsco project is in Catonsville, near Patapsco Valley State Park. The park was a big inspiration for the general color scheme and feel of the space. The main living space is very bright and airy, with beautiful views of the park, so I used a very light ivory color on the walls to draw focus to the view. This property was the model home of a newly built neighborhood, so it was important to bring a sense of character to the home and inject the clients’ personality as much as possible. I pulled the color palette from the breakfast room rug, which was one of the first design choices I made. Once the color palette was established, I chose modern sculptural pieces that would have a significant presence in this open space. Creating more intimate gathering areas that felt more welcoming was important to me.
The clients have a very fun and quirky sense of style that I loved incorporating into the design. They love birds and other animals, so the palette for the fabrics and rugs is upbeat and colorful with a sense of humor. I wanted each element to feel as personalized as possible.
Describe your favorite design elements in this project:
The red cabinet with the round wood mirror in the entry is one of my favorite parts about this project. The vignette feels so striking yet inviting when you enter the home, and it instantly gives you a sense of the homeowners’ taste.
The breakfast room is a warm and bright space off the kitchen that originally was of little use to the homeowners. I brought in an oversized daybed full of comfortable plush pillows and nesting tables, as well as a colorful rug, to create a cozy reading nook that’s now one of their favorite places in the home.
As an homage to their love of birds, the dining room has an oversized art installation of watercolor paintings on silk that makes a dramatic statement in this open-concept space. Sitting in front of these paintings are a beautiful, handmade dining table and bench from a local woodworker.
In the family room, the navy Chesterfield sofa anchors the large space, defining the room and creating more intimacy. A round wood coffee table brings in more natural textures and visual interest. The black-and-white photograph above the mantel and brightly colored chartreuse chevron lumbar pillows are perfect examples of their quirky style.
Who in your life has been most influential to you?
My grandmother and mother were big influences on me. They were both amazing mothers and wives, while also pursuing their own interests and education, which included art, travel, and all kinds of crafts.
How do you define success in this industry?
My own definition of success is based simply on being able to do what I love for my clients and for them to be happy with our service and projects.
When do you feel most creative? How do you overcome times when the creativity is harder to come by?
I feel most creative when I’m able to travel and visit new cities and meet creative people. I love going to High Point, North Carolina, twice a year for the furniture market. We find great pieces to create and design with there. When I feel uninspired, I usually find ways to spark interest by visiting an art museum, a design shop, or a maker’s space.
What is your favorite part about designing a space?
My favorite part is creating a space that is beautiful and functional but still speaks to my clients’ aesthetics
and makes them feel good in their own home.
For more info, visit laurahodgesstudio.com