When designer Lulu deKwiatkowski moved to L.A., six months pregnant with twins, she envisioned a home where her yet-to-be-born children could run around barefoot and swim, she could paint, and friends could hang out happily. Her own childhood had been nothing short of magical—Lulu split her childhood between the Hamptons and the Bahamas’ Lyford Cay, which she describes as “a very Babe Paley and Slim Aarons mentality. My parents were really that type.” She wanted her children to have that same casual relationship with both elegant living and the great outdoors. “When my husband showed me this house, I knew right away it would be our first home together.”
She now has three sons, and the four-bedroom ranch-style house is every inch the dream home she wanted. She converted one of the bedrooms into a studio space where she dreams up her vivid textile designs and paintings and runs her wildly successful lifestyle line, Lulu DK. “We’ve kept having children, so the house is getting a little squishy,” she says, “but it’s too charming to ever leave.” We loved dropping in on the designer’s beautifully styled home and seeing her colorful take on California living.
We’ve kept having children, so the house is getting a little squishy, but it’s too charming to ever leave.
Converting to California
Lulu’s known for her wild designs, many of them inspired by her own travels and peripatetic life, but when she and her husband moved to L.A. she was in a total homebody mode. As she puts it, “I parked my suitcase in the bedroom and never left. Because of the pregnancy, I was basically under house arrest.” This led to a deep attachment to the new house. “At first, I was still very East Coast. Then one day I was looking through the French doors that open to the pool and saw light glittering on the water. From then on, I was a California girl.”
The interiors reflect a mash-up of the elegant beachy lifestyle Lulu grew up with and her husband’s Italian heritage—he grew up in Rome. There’s a strong foundation of elegance, with contemporary art collected by her husband and Italian heirlooms, but nothing is precious. With three energetic boys—the twins Francesco and Matteo, and Pier Giorgio (named after her husband’s great-uncle, who has been beatified by the Catholic Church)—the doors are always open to the lawn and pool. “Sometimes they all hop into the pool, and I think, Perfect! Now we can skip the bath tonight!”
One day I was looking through the French doors that open to the pool and saw light glittering on the water. From then on, I was a California girl.
Living in Color
Lulu clearly lives and breathes color; it’s the organizational force not only in her art but also in her life. But in her home, color really comes in through the accents (the bedding, the art, the pillows), while the rest of the furnishings stay neutral. “I prefer the white neutral as a foundation,” she says. “It’s like an artist’s canvas; you can add color to it.”
Case in point: She wanted the master bedroom to be neutral, in a soft palette inspired by a camel leather and gold bag she’d spotted. Once she had that foundation, she added some radiantly colorful bedding—a dose of Bahamian coral and some happy sky blues.
I prefer the white neutral as a foundation. It’s like an artist’s canvas; you can add color to it.
With a big family, mealtimes are the moment to connect and be together. In the mornings, the boys pile into the breakfast nook before the dash to school. As for breakfast, “the boys are half-Italian, so if there’s Nutella anywhere in the house, that’s what they have for breakfast.” Lulu sips tea and makes sure they also down a fruit smoothie before they’re out the door.
When the family entertains, they set up a buffet on the dining room table, but everyone ends up taking his plate outside. Lulu laughs that the dining room “has become a buffet room and a drop-your-knapsack room.” It’s a no-fuss, no-muss setting. “We do lots of afternoon parties so that everyone can swim. People can just eat finger foods or be more formal, whatever they like.” Her husband whips up Italian-influenced food, and they always serve a refreshing vodka-soda lemonade.
Into the Studio
Once her children are at school, Lulu slips into her studio and switches into work mode. Her New York office is three hours ahead, so she “makes sure the world hasn’t fallen apart.” The designer tries to take care of logistics and communication first—conference calls and emails with everyone from New York to China. It’s part of her Capricorn nature, she says, to do the homeworklike stuff before the fun stuff. She generally works in a cool and casual uniform of white linen pants and a white linen shirt.
Closing the laptop, she turns to the creative work. Lulu has lines of textiles, paintings, and now crazy-in-demand temporary tattoos (she’s currently creating some for the NBA). She works in total silence. For her, “painting is like meditation. Some people go shopping, some people drink wine, I paint.” Even once her children are home from school, she’ll stay in the studio—she’ll set them up with their own paints, and “once they’re distracted, I’ll get a little more work done.”
While a lot of work gets done in this home, there seems to be a nap-ready nook wherever you look. This is partly because the boys insist on all sharing a bedroom, so other rooms became playrooms and nap-rooms. Perhaps this mentality comes from the lovely Italian tradition of taking an afternoon siesta—the family does spend all summer in Porto Ercole, on the Italian coast, where they get into a more European groove. Lulu says she “travels back and forth, since I’m a worker bee, but the boys run around all day with their cousins and are in bliss.”