Names: Karen and Guy Vidal
Occupations: Husband-and-wife interior and exterior designers and founding partners of
Reside in: Los Angeles
Best known for: Historically sensitive renovations and an eco-friendly vintage modern aesthetic that nods to the summer of love.
1. Antique or modern?
We love incorporating vintage into our designs; it brings an element that is unique, quirky, and ecologically friendly. We do love modern, but our interpretation isn't a super contemporary one.
2. City or country?
Depends which one of us you ask. Karen loves cities—the shopping, the museums, the people-watching. But if you ask Guy it’s the country—he'd rather be in a treehouse. We’re a modern day Green Acres.
3. Which colors do you use most?
Orange and turquoise are favorites. Also a washed-out darker blue that feels old world.
4. Favorite materials or textures?
Tile. We can’t get enough of it. Design Vidal is launching our Mystical Journey Collection of decorative cement tiles this summer via our website.
5. What is your favorite interior design-related word or phrase?
“It’s only paint.”
(Ornate moldings play off a modern chair in rustic cow hide in the master bedroom of a Brooklyn home. Ph. © Chris Dorsey)6. Does your current home look like the one you grew up in?
Not at all. Karen grew up in a small traditional brick house in Massachusetts, and Guy grew up in an apartment on the beach. Because Los Angeles is so different from where we both grew up, it was important to include moments from our pasts. For example, Karen has fond memories of her Nana’s house on the Connecticut River, which had a large banquette that the whole family would sit around—if you needed to get out, you had to crawl under the table, which was kind of awesome. Hence, our large banquette.
7. Does a room need a view?
A room doesn’t need a view. There are tons of amazing rooms that are fabulous unto themselves. A view is a bonus.
8. Favorite designers or architects?
Charles and Ray Eames, because they worked together as a couple and created designs that continue to be relevant. LACMA featured a recreation of their living room and it was so inspirational to see the way they actually lived with blended elements from their travels and personal lives, and how they wove them into a rich tapestry of textures and layers.
9. Which design blog, website, TV show, or magazine would you be lost without?
Sunset magazine. It always has beautiful outdoor ideas, plus great West Coast trips and yummy recipes.
10. What qualities do you most admire in a room?
Personality. We love rooms that really illustrate qualities of the owner. If you have a passion, it’s wonderful to see it reflected in the surroundings.
“Shut-up” comes to mind, but that’s really for our two kids.
12. Design rule you love to break?
We don’t think there are any design rules. There are standards and certain minimum dimensions that need to be met, but beyond that there are no rules.
13. What is your favorite room in the house?
The library, because there are two really comfortable chairs, and if you manage to score one of them you feel victorious. It’s also very cozy with all of our books, photos, and art on the surrounding shelves.
14. What is your most treasured possession?
Our home. We really customized it to meet our needs, both functionally and aesthetically.
15. What do you wish you could do without?
Sugar. Because it’s not good for you and we all are hooked. It’s just so tasty...
The light and weather are big factors here. We can take advantage of indoor-outdoor flow year-round, and incorporate that into how we live. There are certain things we miss from the East Coast—attics and basements especially.
17. What is your favorite thing about the West Coast—design-related or otherwise?
California has so much to offer. We love Yosemite, Palm Springs, Montecito, the Sierra National Forest, Joshua Tree, San Francisco, the Hotel del Coronado—the list goes on and on. We love the food, the diversity, the design, and the momentum here.
18. If you could live in one historical figure’s house, whose would it be?
We would live in Hearst Castle during its heyday in the '20s and '30s and explore the 56 bedrooms, 61 bathrooms, and 19 sitting rooms. We’d play tennis with Charlie Chaplin and Cary Grant, watch movies from Hearst’s movie studio Cosmopolitan Productions, and swim with Dolores del Río in the Neptune Pool.
19. On what movie set would you like to live?
The King and I. The glamorous Hollywood interpretation of Siam was a vision that created many childhood fantasies which have evolved into grown-up design fantasies.
20. To which country would you move for the design?
We wouldn’t—there is so much happening here that is having an effect on design everywhere. It feels like the right place to be right now.