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Latest & Greatest

Read All About It: Get to Know Our Interior Design Contributors

You’ve seen their work here on the blog for several months now… but this just may be the first time you’re seeing their faces! We are totally obsessed with our interior design contributors that have become part of the GM team, and we’re pretty confident in saying that you’ll love them too. (If you haven’t yet seen their work and read their advice weighing in on allll your important interior design questions, then head to the interiors section of the blog.)

You may be familiar with the variety of interior decorating ideas our stellar contributors bring to the table, but we wanted to give you a closer look at exactly who they are—including what makes them tick, how they got their start, and of course, what their favorite piece of Gray’s fine art photography is. Ready to dive in? Let’s go…

Meet: Kate Lester of Kate Lester Interiors

Instagram: @klinteriors
Website: http://katelesterinteriors.com/

How would you describe your signature design style?

I would say my design style is sort of modern coastal bohemian. I just made that up, but it sounds like a thing so let’s run with it.

How did you get your start in the interior design biz?

I actually have a business degree from USC so I didn’t start out in interior design. (Shocker. Does anyone ACTUALLY start out in interior design?!) I worked for a few years in corporate America before realizing I would rather be decorating my corner office than working in it, so I decided to go back to school to study interior architecture. After design school I got a job with an amazing design firm where I worked my way up from design assistant’s assistant to senior designer. I learned so much working there, and stayed until I opened my own firm in 2011.

What’s your #1 design pet peeve?

OMG just ONE? I have a million! If I had to choose I would say tiny nightstands. Please, please anchor your bed with something substantial if you have the space. I am a big fan of the three drawer chest, and almost never use traditional small nightstands. Other things that make me cringe are bad crown molding, accent walls, and when people say “couch” instead of sofa. I could keep going, but I think there are a few more questions I need to answer.

Image by Lauren Pressey

If you could live forever in one room you’ve designed in the past… which would it be and why?

I can tell you that it would NOT be a kitchen, considering I barely know how to turn on my oven. I would probably say this amazingly perfect family room from our Malibu project. I love warm wood tones, crisp white sofa, and texture via the venetian plaster treatment on the walls. The oversized stills from the Endless Sumer remind me of my younger days as a (mediocre) surfer girl, and that makes me happy. Also, this home is a compound on like an acre in Malibu, so it would be rough… but I think I could tough it out.

Image by Amy Bartlam

What would be your first piece of advice for someone who wants to design a fab space of their own, but is on a budget?

Don’t bother. Haha, I am totally kidding guys. Even people who build million-dollar homes have a budget. (It’s usually a big one, but nonetheless a budget.) If your budget was a little tight, I would say make your design motto “high-low.” Find one or two really splurge-worthy pieces (a nice comfortable sofa or fabulous light fixture) to elevate the overall feel of the space and then mix in more affordable pieces. OR, even better, shop for some unique finds from a flea market or vintage store.

What’s your favorite Gray Malin print of all time?

Hands down Two Cowboys. It’s in my entry and I say goodbye to them every morning when I leave for work. My daughter has named them Carl and Bob and we often have long conversations about what we think they are saying to each other about that lone Prada store.


Photo by Lauren Pressey

Meet: Daniela Benloulou of Daniela Benloulou Interiors

Instagram: @danielabenloulou
Website: http://danielamalca.com/

How would you describe your signature design style?

Clean lines, bright whites with intense bursts of color and pattern, and serious global accents.

What are some of your favorite places to shop for the home?

Handicraft markets around the world (especially throughout Latin America and Morocco); Target (seriously), and West Elm never disappoints. I can name fancier places but I prefer to shop for pieces that I won’t get a heart attack over if something (pet or child) happens to them. 

How did you get your start in the interior design biz?

Watching HGTV as a child planted the seed. Then after college I dabbled in it casually before finally enrolling in design school. 

If you could live forever in one room you’ve designed in the past… which would it be and why?

This super vintage powder room I designed, which is surprising because I gravitate toward modern design. I can’t have curvy furniture or accessories in my own home. I just can’t deal. I need 90-degree angles. 

What would be your first piece of advice for someone who wants to design a fab space of their own, but is on a budget?

Target. All day. As a rule of thumb, steer clear of dark furniture. Leave that to the experts. If you can keep everything light and bright, adding pops of color/pattern/texture and some plants, you’re golden! 

What’s your favorite Gray Malin print of all time?

The Porter prints from Gray Malin at the Parker, for many reasons: 1) mid century modern architecture, 2) my favorite color is orange, 3) I have a very clear obsession with camels, 4) the composition is so simple, yet makes such a statement (It’s literally a camel and some cactus in front of a doorway. But it’s brilliant.), 5) the juxtaposition of Hermes on a desert animal. 


Meet: Dee Murphy of Murphy Deesign

Instagram: @murphydeesign
Website: http://murphydeesign.com/

How would you describe your signature design style?

My signature design style is cool and collected (modern and vintage), with a flare for mixing colors and patterns. You might recognize a Murphy Deesigned home… but each one will be wildly unique!

What are some of your favorite places to shop for the home?

Lawson-Fenning, Roman and Williams Guild NYC, H.D. Buttercup, Consort Design, Chairish and 45 Three Modern Vintage Home for Vintage pieces, Lulu & Georgia and CB2 for online shopping!

How did you get your start in the interior design biz?

I was always the kid who was redesigning her bedroom growing up, and went into college with very clear ideas about how I wanted my dorm to look! After enough friends kept asking me for help in designing their own homes, and one of my best friends asked me to design her house in the Pacific Palisades from the ground up, I knew that interior design is what I wanted to do. But I really credit this friend for giving me the confidence to make the “jump” professionally!

What would be your first piece of advice for someone who wants to design a fab space of their own, but is on a budget?

1) Create the budget. 2) Figure out what is MOST important to you when it comes to function, comfort, and impact. 3) Spend the most on those items, and then find budget friendly sources for the rest!

What’s your favorite Gray Malin print of all time?

Artist In Residence from the Gray Malin at the Parker series, for sentimental reasons. My husband and I know that our son was conceived at the Parker Palm Springs… which is why his name is PARKER!


Meet: Ashley & Andrea of Avenue Interior Design

Instagram: @avenue.id
Website: https://avenueid.com/
Specialty: Hospitality Design

How would you describe your signature design style?

We’ve always prided ourselves on not adhering to one specific design style. Instead, we curate our interiors based the property location, the client’s needs and the brands ethos. We’re constantly finding inspiration from recent travels, fashion, artwork and historical moments in time to bring a fresh perspective and individuality to each project.

How did you get your start in the interior design biz?

Ashley and I were both raised in creative homes, and had an early passion for all things design. Pursuing our interests throughout school, we both began our careers early, working at large interior design firms.

If you could live forever in one hotel you’ve designed in the past… which would it be and why?

La Serena Villas in Palm Springs! It’s such a beautiful, relaxing property, right in the heart of Downtown Palm Springs.The boutique hotel is so special with spectacular mountain views and residentially inspired interiors—you’d never want to leave. Each room also has a private outdoor space which gives guests not only luxury accommodations but indoor/outdoor living, an essential component to vacationing in SoCal.

What would be your first piece of advice for someone who wants to design a fab space of their own, but is on a budget?

Let the design unfold organically and be a true expression of yourself. Mixing pieces from different stores and price ranges helps give identity to your rooms. Also, collecting things over time from antique stores or travel, things that have a story or meaning, help add individuality to your design.

What’s your favorite Gray Malin print of all time?

We’ve always loved the La Dolce Vita collection and each of us purchased a piece for our homes last year. The colors and composition are perfection, adding such a fun and whimsical vibe to our interiors.


Did any of their answers surprise you?

Thanks again to our incredible contributors—we never tire of your expertise and to-die-for design. Show them some love by following them on Instagram and visiting their websites for more projects and inspo!

And of course, keep your eyes peeled on the blog for more of their upcoming posts and interior design advice…

Xx Team GM

Photos: (Header) Lauren Pressey for Kate Lester, Daniela Benloulou, Dee Murphy, Avenue ID


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