La Maison Interior Designer Davinder Chawla Redefines Southwestern Design.
Anytime a retail or gallery space is given a French name, it’s inevitable that prospective customers will instantly think sophisticated, glamorous or perfectly urbane. However, the origin of the name comes from a more pragmatic place. When Davinder Chawla and business partner Alan Reinken were poised to open their new showroom in nine years ago, they were playing with a variety of possible names when their Seattle-based marketing firm they hired presented them with a logo containing the words La Maison that just felt right.
Chawla shared that La Maison is French for the home, it could also be a definitive statement of how they approach working with their clients, starting with a showroom where space design is curated rather than installed to achieve an effect that is at once dramatic, cozy, true to the home’s geography and compatible with the client’s lifestyle.
La Maison is French for the home, it could also be a definitive statement of how they approach working with their clients, starting with a showroom where space design is curated.
“Just like one puts together a perfect wardrobe that fits who she is and will spend extra on unique accessories, Alan and I are not afraid to invest a little more money in finding one-of-a-kind pieces for the showroom,” she says, describing La Maison Interiors Scottsdale showroom philosophy. “These specially selected items, in turn, help us explain to clients how and why it’s worth the time and effort to find accents that will set his or her living space apart from others. While other showrooms play it safe, even if their pieces are high quality, we want to show clients that a final room can have a uniquely individual look. Our clients are mesmerized when the visit the showroom by that approach because they instantly see they have options they did not previously consider.”
Beyond that, La Maison is built on top of a solid foundation, incorporating a passion for vibrant colors and textiles Chawla cultivated during her youth in India as well as 20 years honing her design, customer service and business skills. As one of its lead sellers and top designers, she built enduring relationships with clients and purveyors that necessitated the opening of La Maison. From buying trips to commissions, she affirms she’s learned a lot from her contacts around the world, which she says has led her to becoming a better, more open-minded design professional. All of it also informs her design outlook, which transcends labels as well as geographic borders.
It’s interesting to consider how so many interesting patterns evolved through the generations, and distinctive colors like reds and rusts of the Earth, the greens and blues of turquoise used in Indian jewelry and the yellows and oranges of sunsets.”
“There are so many different ways we can do Southwest design because there are so many interpretations of the aesthetic as well as numerous historical and natural influences to draw from,” Chawla says. “On one hand, there’s the desert’s natural attributes, Native American culture and the iconic symbols of the American West, including the cowboys and the horses. It’s interesting to consider how so many interesting patterns evolved through the generations, and distinctive colors like reds and rusts of the Earth, the greens and blues of turquoise used in Indian jewelry and the yellows and oranges of sunsets.”
Influences from halfway around the world also influence home design in the Southwestern U.S., especially as many of her clients are well-traveled and local architecture is internationally inspired—Spanish and Italian villa-style housing and elements from the Middle East and South Asia that find their way into clients’ homes and outdoor spaces. “Southwest architecture trends, especially when it comes to private homes, are definitely more varied than when I started 30 years ago,” she says. “In the past, there were a lot of Santa Fe-looking, casita-type houses. About 10 years ago, there were a lot of Tuscan-style homes being built, with curly iron elements and a lot heavy gold and mustard colors used inside and out.
While modern farmhouse and contemporary are styles that are more popular today, there are ways to update the interiors, such as switching out the heavy-looking chandelier, or altering the dark appearance of the beams and floors. Though we’re keeping the structure the same, by introducing a palate of lighter colors on the walls, lighter and more neutral fabric accents, and streamlined furnishings with personally selected accent pieces, we can accomplish a look that’s both updated and unique to the owner.”
Around the time we launched this company, clients wanted to replace big bulky things with a more minimalistic look. Today, it balances a more streamlined, cleaner aesthetic with traditionally rustic accents. Color palates are warmer, lighter and neutral…allowing the client and I to work in special statement pieces. Furniture pieces feel less heavy. All of these changes allow for more personalization.”
Although there are many ways to create a look for a room or home that’s harmonious with the desert terrain and its patchwork of architecture, Chawla stresses specific elements have to be combined in such a way so it truly makes her client feel at home. To get this right, paying attention to a client’s personal tastes and lifestyle requirements is essential. There are also practical do’s and don’ts for a room’s anchor furnishings. She points out very austere modern pieces will not work with the architectural design framing many local homes. Instead, Chawla suggests transitional pieces that stylistically bridge the gap between the heavy rustic pieces defining the Southwestern look of past decades with the cutting-edge pieces that may be too austere for the existing architecture.
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If you are ready to redesign your home or if you are building a new home, Chawla says start clipping pictures from magazines and creating a Pinterest mood board. These images serve as the common language that brings the design to life. Bring images of what you do not like as well, as that also informs the design.
“I have learned that it is so important as a designer to really listen to clients and translate what they want into their new space. We use the showroom as our canvas to start painting a work of art that literally puts the new ideas in front of them before they finalize their decisions—essentially test-driving their new interiors and how they look and feel in real life. “It’s really nice to know what your new interiors are going to feel like and how that new sofa feels before you have it delivered to your home,” she says. We want to project the new space while we are still designing so it’s just what our clients want in the end.