Megan Arquette – Beach Bungalow 8

Since moving to LA last year we’ve met a lot of great people and one of them is home design blogger, Megan Arquette of BeachBungalow8 and The Skirted Roundtable podcast.
We asked her to share her thoughts on the interior design industry as well as being a home design blogger which is one of the fastest growing segments of the blog industry.
C&H: Hi Megan – Can you share your background and how you came into being an interior designer as well as home design blogger?
Megan: I come from a design/art background. My father is an old-school Architect who worked with greats like Mies Van der Rohe and the Knolls. I grew up in a Georgian Colonial style house that was filled with mid-century pieces and great art- thus my penchant for eclectic mixes.
I was always aware of spaces and good design thanks to my parents. It’s no wonder that three out of the five kids in my family are professionals in the design or art world. I have a BFA in illustration which led me to doing freelance work as a textile artist in San Francisco. I was also doing some styling work on the side.
A photographer asked if he could shoot my house for a catalog. I had been working on my house for about a year and once those photos were published, I began getting calls which led to jobs. That was 15 years ago and I’ve kept on going!
C&H: Are there any unique challenges you face as a designer working in Los Angeles compared to anywhere else?
Megan: Most of my clients are in the beach area of Manhattan Beach (where I live) the homes are big on size, rather than on style or good bones. Having worked in San Francisco and Boston I’ve been fortunate enough to work with homes that have great bones and lots of character.
Learning to work with, oddly, over scaled rooms with little in the way of architectural detailing, is a big challenge for me. But I know that to be a good designer in business, you have to consider the needs and wants of the client. In the end, they are the ones who have to live in the space long after you’re gone. It’s my job to bring them great resources and product and hopefully have them collaborate with me.
C&H: What trends have you’ve identified this year that will continue into 2010?
Megan: I think the awareness of recycling, being kind to the earth and using raw materials for their beauty will continue. Elements such as woods that are cerused or left raw, natural products, eco-friendly fabrics and paints will continue to influence design, patterns, color palettes and textiles.

C&H: Interior design is constantly evolving. From where do you draw your inspiration?
Megan: I study a lot of the great interior designers of our time: Alessandra Branca, Charlotte Moss, Miles Redd but I’m also really drawn to less formal designers. I love checking out artists’ spaces that are less ‘put together’ with purpose and more loose or experimental. I have this thing for high-end vintage hippy chic. If Talitha Getty were a room, I’d probably love it.
C&H: What are the keys to a successful project that you find consistently across all of your jobs? What issues raise a red flag before going into a project?
Megan: Budget, is really foremost. Making sure the client understands the price of things. Can they really afford a designer? What is their budget. You can’t even begin without knowing your allowance.
After that, I’ve found that really listening to the needs and wants of the client from the get go is extremely valuable info to use as the basis of all choices going forward. It seems obvious but I know designers who are more concerned with their own portfolio than they are the client’s happiness.
As for red flags, I’m not for everyone and every client isn’t for me. I found this out the hard way. You have to follow your gut and interview them as much as they’re interviewing you. You will become a personal part of their lives for several months. You need to feel comfortable and be able to ‘partner’ with them
C&H: What are your favorite shelter and home magazines, websites, television shows or personalities?
Megan: I love Elle Decor, House Beautiful, ReadyMade…. loved Domino {r.i.p.} and I love the foreign Architectural Digests.
As for television shows, Man Shops Globe is one of my new favorites. Guilty pleasure is House Hunters I’m fascinated by the houses people tour all over the U.S. and what the dollar gets you.
I’m a huge fan of my super talented, friend Eddie Ross, he’s such a ‘personality’ and I recently interviewed Stephen Drucker, Editor of House Beautiful, and absolutely wanted to work for him, befriend him…. SOMETHING! he was so inspiring, intelligent and interesting.
Through my work as a podcast personality, interviewing designers, I’ve found most of these top designers you see published are extremely humble, generous and so aware and grateful that they’re blessed with their talent.
C&H: What impact has your blog had on your business?
Megan: I don’t use my blog as a promotional device for my business. My clients never seem terribly interested in having their homes put under a microscope. But it has created so many opportunities in the design world. I’ve collaborated with other designers as well as started spin offs of the blog. I’ve also been invited to write for several design publications.
C&H: When you’re not working with clients to improve their living space what do you enjoy doing?
Megan: When I’m not working with clients, I’m working on my blog, recording my podcast The Skirted Roundtable, raising two busy kids, working on my own house and constantly coming up with new and different business ideas.
C&H: Where can we find your work and contact you?
Megan: I’m in the middle of building a new website with a new look, but has several images of my own house.
C&H: Can you share your favorite interior design tip or trick that can be applied to any space?
Megan: Paint. I always say paint is such an easy way to change things up. Paint the walls a new color, check out vintage shops, ebay and craigslist for furniture needing a new home. It’s amazing what a coat of flat white paint can do for a vintage piece of furniture-along with a few yards of great fabric.

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