Lonny Loves: Elizabeth Cooper
The San Francisco-based interior designer talks Rita Konig, mimicking Coco Chanel, and the design word that's forbidden in her house
Name: Elizabeth Cooper
Occupation: Interior designer
Resides in: Mostly in San Francisco, occasionally in New York City
Best known for: Creating comfortable and friendly interiors with a slightly coastal feel.
1. Antique or modern?
2. City or country?
Both! To use a made-up British word, I’m an urbalist: an urbanite who also loves and needs to spend time in rural, natural settings.
3. Which colors do you use most?
Blue—all shades of it: navy, indigo, sky, duck egg, robin’s egg, Tiffany, etc. After that, white, if white counts as a color. I love crisp lemon yellow, red, coral, and a range of greens from celadon to mossy. Basically colors that make me happy.
4. What are your favorite materials or textures?
Wicker or rattan, textured linen, horsehair, hand-painted wallpaper panels, lacquered walls.
5. What is your favorite interior design-related word or phrase?
6. Does your current home look like the one you grew up in?
Not at all, but I have a few treasured pieces that have been handed down through the generations in my family. And I often reference my family’s lake house in Northern Wisconsin when designing country houses.
7. Does a room need a view?
Ideally, yes. When that’s not an option, I love creating my own view with a piece of art or a wallpaper that incorporates a sense of the outdoors—birds, flowers, leaves, etc.
8. Who are your favorite designers or architects?
Palmer Weiss, Rita Konig, Martha Angus (my former boss), Steven Gambrel, Miles Redd, Peter Dunham. On the architecture side, Gil Schafer. I’m fortunate enough to know Palmer, Martha, Rita, and Gil personally and, in addition to being brilliantly talented, they’re all wonderful people.
9. Which design blog, website, TV show, or magazine would you be lost without?
Lonny, of course. I also love the interiors features in ‘Vogue’ and ‘T’ Magazine.
10. What qualities do you most admire in a room?
The people in it and a well-stocked bar cart! Also, comfort, interest, beauty, and that it reflects people who live there.
11. What are some forbidden words in your house?
Chenille, velour, ultra-suede.
12. Which design rule do you love to break?
13. What is your favorite room in the house?
The bedroom or a cozy library; any place I can curl up with a good book or movie.
14. What is your most treasured possession?
My grandmother’s charm bracelet and engagement ring.
15. What do you wish you could do without?
16. How does West Coast design differ from East Coast design?
West Coast design tends to be a bit more casual and tends to have fewer antiques than East Coast design, but not always. More of my West Coast clients tend to be DIY sourcers than my East Coast clients.
17. What is your favorite thing about the West Coast—design-related or otherwise?
Kind, talented, creative friends. The Irish green grass and the flowering trees in bloom in January. The smell of eucalyptus and orange blossom. Trail runs on Mt Tam. Tomales Bay. Montecito. On the design front, all of the great shops in West Hollywood.
18. If you could live in one historical figure’s house, whose would it be?
I can't choose just one! Edith Wharton’s the Mount in the Berkshires; Coco Chanel’s Paris apartment (and I’d sleep at The Ritz like CC, too); Sara and Gerald Murphy’s house in the South of France; Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello in the beautiful mountains of Virginia; The Frick Mansion; Edie & Edie Beale’s Grey Gardens during its beautiful heyday before the cats; Le Cabanon, Les Corbusier’s rustic cabin in Cap Martin; Bunny Mellon's Oak Spring Farms; and too many others to name.
19. On what movie sets would you like to live and why?
A pre-war suite in the Grand Budapest Hotel, for the pink walls and antique leather trunks; Susie’s house in Moonrise Kingdom, for the double staircase and coastal Rhode Island location; Kiera Kinightley’s bedroom in Atonement, for the chintz curtains; the summer cottage in Newport in the Age of Innocence, for the beautiful antique wicker and the lack of crowds in Newport then; Javier Bardem’s house in Vicky Cristina Barcelona, for the overall aesthetic and beautiful garden; and Aunt Vanessa’s house in Woody Allen's Magic in the Moonlight for the same reasons.
20. To which city or country would you move for the design?
London. I love the design aesthetic and incredible resources for antiques and art. Plus, my amazing youngest sister lives there with her family.
21. If you were reborn as a piece of furniture or an object, what would it be?
A painting by Matisse.