Style Court

Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes 2006-2016


Living with Art: From Gwendolyn Warner to Molly Luetkemeyer

[Gwendolyn Warner and daughter Laura at home in 1970, photographed by Horst and published in Horst Interiors.]

There are other rooms in Horst Interiors that I could have used to draw some literal comparisons between Molly Luetkemeyer's 21st-century work and iconic design from the 1960s and 1970s, but this picture of Gwendolyn Warner with her daughter captures a certain feeling. To me at least, it speaks cozy glamour. And, according to Horst author Barbara Plumb, many of the furnishings were chosen to be juxtaposed with Mrs. Warner's art collection.  The black-and-white pillows relate to the Bridget Riley above the sofa, and a globe lamp and albino tortoise shell are said to be counterpoints to Jules Olitski's Juice.

[Interior design by Molly Luetkemeyer. Photographs courtesy M. Design Interiors.]

Similarly, Molly told me that when she begins to design a room, she tends to think about the art first.  "If my client has art, I always try to build the room around it, rather than build the room and then try to plug in the art," she says,

When her client doesn't have art but wants to start a serious collection, Molly usually suggests an art consultant. Her go-to women in Los Angeles are Sarah Cohen of mixed media consulting ( and Cardiff Dugan Loy ( 

"Both of these women are super-plugged-in to the contemporary art world and can really help the client navigate it and find just the art they like," she notes. (A spin through the M. Design Interiors portfolio shows that many of Molly's clients definitely have an appreciation for fine art and photography.)

[Interior design by Molly Luetkemeyer. Photo by Justin Officer.]

[Interior design by Molly Luetkemeyer. Photograph courtesy M. Design Interiors.]

That said, when Molly works with clients who don't have a big zeal for art, she still encourages them to consider various types of prints, accessories that serve as sculptural elements, or sometimes even a graphic, decorative painting on a wall. For example, the bold diagonal and horizontal stripes pictured above are simply intended to be decorative (although art history enthusiasts may be reminded of Sol LeWitt or Bridget Riley). Since she wasn't attempting to pass the stripes off as a Sol LeWitt, Molly felt free to use them as an enormous unifier, deftly echoing colors from all of the fabrics and furniture throughout the madeover 1960s Bel Air house. 

"Stripes are pretty easy to paint," she explains, "because you just tape off the lines and then run a bead of caulk along the edge (to prevent bleeding) and then paint right over it. Once the first color is dry, remove the paint and tape along the edge of the already painted stripe, add the caulk and repeat. It’s the best way I know to get super-crisp lines."

[Interior design by Molly Luetkemeyer. Photo by Justin Officer.]

Textiles are another passion of Molly's and she's never timid about stratigically using them to punch up a room. Check out the chevron stripe she used at the windows in her sister's master bedroom. Also, as mentioned the othrer day, different views of this house are in the April 2010 InStyle (the Modern Mom story about Molly and sibling Julie Bowen addresses kid-friendly fabrics, among other things). And the interior designer is working on a fabric line of her own, so there's much more to look foward to.

For other thoughts on collecting art, see Angie's Sources and Collecting. Try 20 x 200 for affordable, good quality prints from a batch of really interesting artists. And, alternatively, if antique paintings and drawings are your cup of tea, never discount auctions -- surprisingly attainable pieces often show up there.

Related past post: Lived In.

 [Interior design by Molly Luetkemeyer. Photograph courtesy M. Design Interiors.]


Sanity Fair said...

I love the idea of building a room around the art - beautiful and interesting pieces you've gone to all the thought and trouble to acquire shouldn't have to fight for attention. If you want the piece to disappear, it probably wasn't the best match for you anyway... and I love that modern mom spread! Great dress.

Maggie May said...

Great post:)

realartlover said...

Having just been to the Affordable Art Fair in London, I was bowled over by the work of work of one particular artist, Richard Snowden.
There were 1000's of paintings, alot of them quite samey, but then you turned the corner and POW! the vibrancy and vitality of this guy's work just stopped you in your tracks!
This is the sort of artwork that brings a room to life.

Karena said...

Love Molly's philosophy on art. It is of course my own. Build around a great work of art you love! Even if only one piece at fist. I guarantee you will receive so many ooh, and aah s!!

Art by Karena

Patty said...

Molly is an amazing designer, I love the wide stripes of color on the walls they really open the room up.

Tina Steele Lindsey said...

Some build a room around art, some purchase art to fit a room, and others purchase art of arts sake. The common denominator is art. Someone was commenting about affordable art. If I ever had any advise regarding the purcahse of art it is to never hesitate to make an offer to an artist. If it isn't unreasonable, they will always consider it because all artists appreciate those who enjoy their art. Wonderful pics.

Janet said...

Such a clean and fresh eye!

Mélanie said...

I love Molly's philosohpy ...and her style.