Have you ever wondered what it’s like to own a design studio?
In this feature, we speak to someone who’s done it all; balancing the act of managing a design studio while making time to care for her young son. Born and raised in Southern California, Tracy Gilmore set up her own interior design studio back in 2010 out of her passion for art and design. An expert in designing classic interiors with a clean and cool aesthetic, she continues to nurture her artistic process by taking on more projects that challenge her creatively. Over the years, Gilmore Design Studio has grown to take on more projects in the Los Angeles area, from Santa Monica all the way to Orange County.
Since we last featured her colorful design for a family house in Mission Viejo, Tracy Gilmore has been busy expanding her design studio to make more dream homes possible. Now based in Santa Monica with her husband and son, we took the time to get up close and personal with Tracy, as she tells us her journey in the past year.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to lately?
Right now, I’m enjoying the challenge of growing Gilmore Design Studio (GDS) while retaining the personal touch that I am so passionate about providing to each client and project. We have a dozen active projects right now and I love that while all of our clients have a slightly different design aesthetic, my design ethos of classic, clean, and comfortable is central to them all. For example, some of our projects are clean and modern, like a great new ground-up home in Venice, while others are traditional like a Cape Cod-style home in Beverly Hills.
How has Gilmore Design Studio grown in the past year?
First, we are now Gilmore Design Studio, Inc. and that is really a recognition that the company is now something outside of me that I nurture and grow. My team now includes a talented full-time design assistant, a drafter, and a bookkeeper—tomorrow there may be a few more helping GDS.
We have completed quite a few projects over the past six months and I’m busy at the moment scheduling photo shoots for each of them. I have to admit that one of my favorite parts of the process is capturing the work in photographs and freezing it in time. My website Gilmore Design Studio and my Instagram page are great ways to keep up with all of our new projects.
What would you say are Gilmore Design Studio’s achievements in the past year?
Besides incorporating, my big goal for 2016 was to get more work published —and I did it! For me it wasn’t about advertising as much as, being a designer and artist, having my work shared with a wider audience and getting a response. I’m so thankful to the many online publications, especially NONAGON.style, who have helped make this goal possible. I’ve even had a traditional print spread in HGTV magazine.
Since we last featured the Strauss family home in Mission Viejo, have you kept in touch with the family?
Yes, the Strauss family and I continue to work together and I absolutely adore them. We are designing their home in phases, and last year we finished their dining room and living room. Right now we are remodeling their master bedroom suite. Working on a home in phases is one of the creative ways we’ve come up with to help clients achieve their dream home —provided we have a unifying vision for the home, sometimes it works best to do it one space at a time.
What’s the most important part of the design process when working with your clients?
For me, it’s about the relationship with the client. Certainly as a designer, I have to consider budgets, the space, the architecture, the light, the adjoining spaces, the way the clients use the space, not to mention balance, scale, proportion, color, and rhythm! But my primary role is to listen carefully to the client and to the space we are working on, and provide them with the right design without the drama that can come with remodeling. So once we have a design scheme, it’s the little things like returning phone calls or emails quickly, and updating clients before they have to follow up with me – design without the drama.
And I love how my relationships with clients endure, and that almost all of my work is from referrals. I’ve had the pleasure of revisiting projects 10 years after completion to refresh and redesign a room or two based on the clients’ current needs. It is just the best feeling to look back at the work and see that these spaces have stood the test of time.
What are your current favorite design trends?
I adore following the work of other designers – past and present. I have a design library with dozens of books by designers, and an archive of old magazines that I cherish. I go out to showrooms quite often and I just love Instagram. That said, I stay away from super trendy designs—my goal is to always design timeless spaces.
What are your favorite projects that you’ve done the past year?
One of my favorite recent spaces is a dining room that we gutted and remodeled in Bel Air. The project was extra special because I got to collaborate with one of my mentors (the very talented architect Tim Barber), plus I got to use a chandelier designed by another design mentor, the late Joe Nye. So for sentimental reasons, it was quite special to me and the room turned out amazingly! My client has told me that they smile every time they walk past this beautiful new room, and I have to say it is a very rewarding feeling when clients give you that unsolicited feedback.
What are you looking forward to in the upcoming year?
I’m looking forward to more ground-up, whole house projects where we get to design everything from the flow of the space and the overall design direction, to the details of tile layouts and millwork. I’m also excited about taking an upcoming intensive course offered by the Institute of Classic Architecture and Art. I’m a stickler for balance, scale, proportion, and rhythm. I’m looking forward to learning about these design elements from a classical perspective.
Describe your personal home style.
My personal home style matches my design ethos – classic, clean, comfortable.
Two of my favorite elements are the large, framed photographs that my husband has taken during our travels and the library of design books that live in a vintage bookcase from my grandparents.
Photos: Gilmore Photography
*This article has been edited for clarity and length.
Did you enjoy this feature? Make sure to sign up for our newsletter and like us on Facebook to stay updated. If you are interested in seeing more articles from interior designers, how about reading What Makes a Rental Feel Like Home or see how designer Ellie Rains likes to keep things organized in her studio space.