Tiffany Howell’s Personalized Interior Design Work Will Make You See Space Curation As A Wellness Practice
rē•spin the way you think about interior design.
If Tiffany Howell’s interior design work were a film, it would be set in 1970’s Europe. “I love the colors and forms of that era. I also feel like there is something much more romantic about using vintage versus new,” says the founder of Night Palm Interiors, a Los Angeles-based interior design studio. Howell designs interior spaces to reflect an outer aesthetic that aligns with the inner worlds and experiences of her clients — taking the practice of interior design to a place that almost feels spiritual. “For me, designing a home for someone is probably one of the most personal experiences you can do — it’s very emotional to think and plan how best to create something that your client is going to rest their eyes on every day.”
Howell understands that a home, or even a workspace, is where important memories are made; thus, she strives to honor who her clients are completely when it comes to her designs. “For me, homes are not museum pieces — they are places lived in and experienced,” Howell says. Her process involves a thorough investigation into each client’s likes and dislikes, from the places they love to travel to their favorite smells, movies, and books. The end result is a uniquely curated environment that tells a story unique to each customer.
Her musical background — Howell is a former music video director and agency owner — also informs her approach to interior design. “I give each project its own special soundtrack because it helps me visualize how my clients might act and feel in the space, which helps [to] drive the design,” she says, adding that one project called for a mix of Sade and Donna Summer, while another’s soundtrack was comprised of ELO and Lou Reed. “I play the soundtrack when I’m flipping through my art and architecture books, looking at old magazines for references, or touring the house and taking photos. It becomes this ever-present thread that is just one of many elements that tie together the design.”
Howell’s process rē-spins the way we think about interior design as much more than a vocation. By attuning to each client and translating their essence into a visual space that is lived in, she is creating a work of living art. To Howell, interiors are a wellness practice that can bring us closer to our authentic expression, reminding us of the importance of enjoying our own spaces. “It’s my job to create the spaces and opportunities so my clients can experience it time and time again,” she says.
Below, you’ll find Howell’s tips on using your space to tell your story — you know, in case you decide to revamp your homes this season.
Design Inspiration: Vintage cinema with a modern twist
Howell speaks from experience when she recommends turning to film for interior inspiration. Back when she was producing and art directing music videos and commercials, she found a lot of inspiration from the 1970s and ’80’s movie interiors, mostly from European films. She feels that her clients hire her for her ability to integrate this specific design aesthetic while sourcing one-of-a-kind, special pieces. For instance, she will often work with vintage pieces but incorporate a modern twist such as a new fabric or finish.
rē•spin your space with a new color palette
Howell relies on color to change up an entire environment when it’s in a creative rut. For instance, a fresh coat of paint can dramatically freshen up space affordably, while new upholstery can bring a room back to life. She notes that upgrading lighting to be more beautiful and romantic adds drama to any given room. She loves incorporating greenery and flowers, with a special penchant for selecting flower arrangements for photoshoots. Sometimes, however, she refreshes spaces by removing pieces and things from the room, lightening up the vibe.
Use your space to tell a story
Howell recommends creating a story in your mind, around your day-to-day activities, to pick and choose items for the space. For example, she’ll ask herself, where will her clients sit when they are listening to their records? Where will the light fall when they are having their morning coffee? Where is the space in the house where they will put all their special treasures, photographs, or art pieces? Create ease and inspiration at every turn.
Identify the space’s character to guide your decor
As Howell puts it, the architecture of a home dictates the design and is a big part of the story she’s telling; she never forces it if there is no natural “character” to work with. Honor the architecture but also don’t be afraid to take things in a unique direction.
Mix vintage and modern touches into the space
Howell is a huge fan of juxtaposing the old with the new. Her advice is to have fun experimenting and to stay constant with your colors and tones in order to tie it all together.
Her seasonal design tips
Howell says to welcome pastels and lush jewel tones this spring and summer. After being locked up at home for more than a year, why not embrace comfortable fabrics for a cozy vibe? Contrast this softness with sculptural pieces, and perhaps elements of chrome. If you’re feeling festive and want to try out wallpapers, she suggests florals and garden-inspired prints to bring the outside in. Since travel was restricted, maybe incorporate pieces that represent places you’ve been wanting to go or have gone, to bring back that joy of travel.
Don’t be afraid to break rules
To truly rē-spin your space, don’t be afraid to design your space outside of conventional design guidelines. “I’m more of a design rebel than a rule follower,” Howell says. “I’m sure there are some rules that are absolute no no’s for other designers but I’m a big believer in that if there is something that you love and really makes your heart sing, then bring it in.”