As Homes Serve More Purposes, Smart Decor is Key, Says L.A.-Based Designer

Los Angeles-based designer Marissa Zajack, founder of Marissa Zajack Creative, recently marked her commercial interior design debut and the expansion of her creative studio with the launch of chic Downtown L.A. dining destination, Red Herring (which is currently available for pickup and delivery).

Ms. Zajack, who previously worked as a graphic designer in the entertainment industry, is also currently working on three residential projects in Los Angeles—her own four-bedroom, 3,000-square-foot apartment, one for the owners of Red Herring (after doing the restaurant, they hired her for their home), and one for a Hollywood industry executive.

Ms. Zajack’s previous work in the entertainment industry as a graphic designer has informed her current interior style, where she often applies a vibrant visual palette that is polished, but still fun.

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Her portfolio now includes interior design, furniture design and graphic design.

We caught up with Ms. Zajack, 42, to discuss the best neighborhoods in L.A., how to carve out a work space at home, and much more.

Mansion Global: How do you recommend creating a calming/Zen space?
Marissa Zajack: Keep it uncluttered and clean. During this time, it’s very important to tidy up at the end of every day. Starting your day with a fresh and clean space to easily flow through is essential. Get rid of or store unnecessary items in areas like kitchens and offices to avoid stresses on your daily routine. Have cozy blankets and pillows readily available in living areas so that your family can curl up and chill anytime they need. I’m using an essential oil diffuser to circulate soothing scents like eucalyptus, bergamot and lavender throughout the day and night.

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MG: Any recommendations for carving out a home office/home school space now that we all have to?
MZ: If you don’t have a dedicated home office, the best area to utilize is the dining room. Most people are working on laptops while at home, so it’s a good idea to be office/school by day and dining room by night.

You can easily have family members tidy up the dining room of all work accessories, and then set the table while someone is preparing dinner. This practice also helps you put work away at a particular time.

MG: How do you expect Covid-19 will affect the interior design business? How has it already?
MZ: Already, many people’s financial situations have changed due to Covid-19. I had projects put on hold due to this.

The hospitality industry will continue to be greatly affected by this new way of life. I think that design might look different due to social distancing and the need for contact-free service. This pandemic will require all interior designers to look at spaces through a different lens and be more innovative and inventive than ever before.

In this time of staying at home, most people have had more time to focus on what they would like to change within their environment. I think that residential interior design will continue because people will be opting to spend more time at home and will need their home to function in a new way. Your home is now turning into your office, your favorite restaurant, your children’s school, a spa, gym, and on and on. Most homes are not currently equipped to function in this way. This is an exciting new challenge I’m looking forward to working on in months to come.

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MG: Describe your dream property.

MZ: An open-floor plan with indoor-outdoor living space. Something with clean lines, but warm. Lots of light, lots of room for entertaining. Something that feels secluded but is pretty central in the city… and a pool.

MG: Do you have a real estate property that got away?

MZ: This was a few years ago, the home itself was a two-bedroom, small bungalow on an acre in Laurel Canyon [in California]. It was this magical enclave, and it felt like a sanctuary. There was a bidding war, and I got outbid. Now I’m in a building closer to downtown Los Angeles. I think right now, my needs of being close to downtown are important, so I do like where I am. But sometimes when city life is annoying, I think about it.

MG: What does luxury mean to you?

MZ: Spending time with loved ones in a space that reflects the people who live there. It’s about surrounding yourself with the right people and the right treasures.

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MG: What area do you think is the next hub for luxury properties?

MZ: Downtown Los Angeles is booming right now. I never thought people would be moving down there as much. You don’t need a car as much as other places. I just finished a restaurant project in downtown Los Angeles on Grand and Eighth. It’s completely in the hub, and there are a lot of high-end buildings and a lot more being built. It feels like a little slice of New York in Los Angeles. It’s really walkable, so you can be down there all weekend and not use your car, and that’s very enticing.

MG: What’s the biggest surprise in the luxury real estate market now?

MZ: My brother-in-law just worked on a development in London called the Southbank Tower, which is run as a hotel and a private club almost. There’s a concierge service, spa. He’s also working on some other projects like that, and I think that’s going to be the way people will be living in the future. There’s a sense of community, almost like being a member of the SoHo House.

MG: Where are the best luxury homes in the world and why?

MZ: Malibu, Brentwood, Beverly Hills [all in Southern California]. Los Angeles offers everything. If you like the beach, there’s Malibu. If you like the city life, Beverly Hills.

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MG: What’s your favorite part of your home?

MZ: I really like the light in my place. I like that my partner and I have separate bathrooms and closets. That’s the secret to our success.

MG: What best describes the theme to your home and why?

MZ: I live in a really incredible building called The Talmadge. It was built in 1922, built for silent film star Norma Talmadge. Her husband built her a building. I live in a four bedroom that’s really big—close to 3,000 square feet, and there’s a really cool history. There’s a lot of history there. I keep the space light and bright. For the furniture, I go for clean lines.

My uncle was a producer and owned a studio, and he and his wife were major collectors of antiques, and I’ve inherited a lot of Asian pieces from them. Also textiles and rugs from Morocco, and other travels, like Italy, Europe and Asia. It’s eclectic.

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MG: What’s the most valuable thing in your home?

MZ: My uncle gave me a table, with inlaid mother-of-pearl florals and birds. It’s just spectacular. It’s not just beautiful, it has a craftsmanship you don’t see anymore. And it’s a reminder of family and time spent together.

MG: What’s the most valuable amenity to have in a home right now?

MZ: For me, I like having a home office. I do have an office outside, too, but I really like that I can be home and peaceful and efficient.

MG: If you had a choice of living in a new development or a prime resale property, which would you choose and why?

MZ: I love the idea of a new development, but I also love the history of a home. I’m a sucker for the history and character of a resale.

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