When we first saw Elaine Welteroth’s Los Angeles home, we weren’t surprised. It’s not that the design isn’t jaw-dropping, because it definitely is, but with Elaine as the homeowner and Tiffany Howell as the interior designer, it’s obvious the result would be magical. Tucked in the hills, Elaine’s home feels full of surprises but with a comfortable familiarity. “I wanted to wake up every day in a home that made me think to myself, I can’t believe I get to live here,” Elaine says. Tiffany Howell of Night Palm, brought that dream to life for Elaine and her family. We are thrilled to have some of our pieces featured in the design and even more thrilled to get to photograph the space. Read on for more about Elaine and Tiffany’s partnership and to see the stunning home for yourself.
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NYT bestselling author, journalist, Project Runway host, and the second youngest editor-in-chief in Condé Nast history—you've spoken your truth and provided a critical perspective your entire career. What's the story you wanted to tell about your home?
When we moved to LA, we weren’t just looking for a house to redesign, we were ready to redesign our lifestyle. As someone who grew up in a small town and spent her entire childhood dreaming of a bigger life somewhere ‘out there,’ home never represented anything more to me than the transient physical space where I showered, changed clothes, and occasionally slept. Then the pandemic hit.
After spending 13 years ripping and running, building my career, I suddenly found myself locked inside our Brooklyn apartment rethinking my priorities. As the outside world felt increasingly chaotic, the concept of home as sanctuary took on new meaning. For the first time, I was ready to invest in building a life I loved as much as my career. After chasing dreams that brought me to NYC, I finally felt like I had outgrown that particular version of the big NYC life I manifested. Or at least the 900 square foot apartment we were living in.
Throughout my twenties and early thirties, life was a 24/7 grind, yet some aspects of my lifestyle never felt grown-up. Case in point: no one knows this but that apartment we were living in came furnished by the owner (something we viewed as a perk and a great convenience at the time). But after the lockdown, I felt this deep desire to nest—and I finally felt like I deserved to invest in designing a living space that was all our own; one that reflected how hard we work.
So, we packed up our lives and chased the sunshine to LA where you get more space for your money and a chance to reset. We left virtually everything behind furniture-wise (mainly because we barely owned any!) and started fresh. It sounds romantic but with our busy lives, it was difficult to prioritize the home design process–so after 6 months of feeling like we were squatting in our own home, we knew it was time to call in a professional interior designer to help get our design dreams off the ground.
Tell us about your home renovation and how you came to work with Tiffany on the project.
I wanted to wake up every day in a home that made me think to myself: “I can’t believe I get to live here.” And thanks to Tiffany, that’s exactly what we got.
We randomly met initially at a furniture store where we both fell in love with the same sofa. After hearing about her through multiple mutual friends and then seeing her work at one of their offices, I felt like she would be the perfect fit for us from a design aesthetic standpoint. Her work is so stunning and cinematic. There’s a lot of soul and character in the spaces she creates, which really spoke to me. Night Palm’s design philosophy revolves primarily around using a mix of vintage and custom pieces that personalize each space for a singular end result that’s akin to couture. Lucky for us, it’s also a nearly pandemic-proof process that side steps the excessive lead times typically associated with big box retailers. That approach was a major perk because I was 9 months pregnant by the tail end of the process, so there was no time to spare!
Congratulations to you and Jonathan on welcoming your baby boy! As new parents, did you prioritize creating serene and cozy spaces to spend time together as a family?
Thank you! Adding a baby to the mix only deepened our desire to get everything right the first time (because who knows–it may be another 18 years before we get to start over again!). Even though our little guy was a surprise bonus that popped up as we were revving up our renovation plans, we agreed to not let the baby interrupt our home design vision. Selfishly, we wanted to create a serene environment that felt almost spa-like. But we are well aware that this will require some baby proofing soon enough! Knowing this was the house our son would get to take his first steps in and that it would ultimately be his introduction to the world , we were really selective with the art on the walls and mindful about the cozy textures he would feel against his skin.
How would you define your at-home style now? How has it transformed over the years, from living in NYC to moving to Los Angeles to currently experiencing motherhood?
I feel like our at-home style gives late 70s vibes. We call it our Brazilian tree house because of the Bossa Nova lounge influences and the hilltop views. There’s a lot of elevated vintage with custom statement pieces that are conversation starters that all together tell a cohesive story about who we are and what moves us. I love that every nook feels special and warm and sensual in a way. There’s a special spirit in this house that I think the design really captures beautifully. As a LA transplant who is still occasionally bicoastal for work, I always say: in NYC you invest in what you put on to leave your house. In LA you invest in the things that make you never want to leave your house.
What's the feeling you want to evoke in people when they walk into your home?
I want our people to feel peaceful the second they step inside our home. It’s perched at the top of a tall, winding hill, which makes for a bit of a treacherous drive. But once they arrive, the goal is for them to feel like they’ve entered another realm that’s totally relaxing, grounding, and somewhere they feel right at home. I always have to warn our guests about the scary drive up the hill, but I lure them by telling them it’ll be worth it once they make it to the top.
You've spoken recently about reconnecting with the joy of cooking. With the holiday season here, are there any particular dishes you love making for yourself, family, and friends?
I am not much of a cook and my mom is the baker of the family, but the one perk of being on lockdown in the early days of the pandemic is I perfected my banana nut bread recipe. It’s literally my one claim to fame in the kitchen, haha. I love how warm and comforting it is. It’s perfect to serve our guests while they lounge by the fire.
Questions for Tiffany Howell:
Tell us about this project and how you started working with Elaine on her home.
We initially met at Pop Up Home in Los Angeles and instantly bonded over our love for vintage furniture; however, it wasn’t until Elaine saw my work on her friend’s production offices, that she reached out to ask me to help design her home.
With Elaine becoming a new mother, how did you balance creating the moody, romantic, and refined interiors you're known for with comfortable and functional spaces needed for new parents?
For their particular home, I leaned into a more natural palette and injected my moody and lush style through the materiality. We also used a lot of sculptural furniture with curves to minimize childhood accidents.
What are your favorite moments throughout the design process, from connecting with the client to selecting the perfect furnishings and accents to installing and styling everything?
My favorite moments are always when I’m first getting to know the client and their desires. When I initially started working with Elaine, I took her to an outdoor vintage market, which is where I began to understand the emotional aspects of what they needed as a young family of three.
You've referred to how you view interior design as a creative practice—like poetry, music, or painting. Does that approach inform where you look for inspiration?
I look for inspiration in all art; I always start my projects with a moodboard, where I’ll organize archival fashion clips, poetry, art, music, and other mediums to help me capture the right feeling and tone of the space I’m designing. It varies too, sometimes I become very inspired by a specific piece of art, a single runway look, or a poem, and it’ll act as the sole inspiration for a space.
And similarly, how does it affect your creative process?
I always start by pinpointing my clients’ desired tastes and aesthetics through sensory studies, like music, fashion, or movies, to really understand the clients’ personalities. This allows me to go beyond surface level understanding of my clients’ needs, like what they want the room to look like, and gives me the ability to understand them on a deeper level, thus allowing me to discover what the client wants the room to feel like and how they’ll actually live in the space I create.
Each project is customized to fit the client's wants and needs, but are there any qualities you always like to be present in your interiors?
Vintage furniture and art are a constant in all of my interiors.
Questions for both Elaine and Tiffany
Where did the inspiration to create this wonderfully calming and refreshing home redesign come from?
Tiffany: I always do a deep dive in getting to know my clients and bringing their personalities to life.
Elaine: We aligned on key words and intentions that really spoke to the soul of the home we wanted. That really set the tone and guided the design process. Words like ‘sanctuary’ and ‘retreat’ came up a lot. Places like Brazil and music like Bossa Nova inspired the vibe. We also shared visual references and talked a lot about what colors and textures we are gravitating towards — I discovered that I’m having a cognac and cream moment. I loved that color story so much that I started dressing to match my house! Haha!
Similarly, we love how the bedroom features a few Lulu and Georgia styles. Were these pieces chosen because they fit in with this theme of inviting and serene spaces?
Tiffany: Yes! Absolutely.
Elaine: I absolutely love my bed frame. The earth tones are really grounding and the shape feels sort of 70s to me. The texture and colors in the shaggy rug give the whole room a cozy feeling.
Now that you both have had time to reflect, what is your favorite room in the house?
Tiffany: The banquette area
Elaine: This is so hard! It’s a tie between the banquette and the master bathroom.
Lastly, do you have any advice for homeowners and designers when partnering together on a project?
Tiffany: Spend some time getting to know each other. Keep communication open and just know that there are going to be bumps in the road because renovations are never easy.
Elaine: Don’t do it while pregnant! Ha, just kidding. I would say it’s so important to find a designer who speaks your language and whose working style aligns with yours because you’ll basically be dating them for the entirety of the project. The goal is to enjoy the process as much as possible—it’s such a personal journey and there will be hurdles along the way, but it’s important to always feel like you’re on the same team.