Fashion designer Lela Rose is a Texas girl at heart, but that doesn't mean she doesn't love to mix aesthetics that reflect her laid-back roots with big-city, New York style. This practicality-meets-posh fusion has set her fashion empire apart from her couture cohorts; she has dressed countless celebrities for the red carpet and brides for their big day. Her most recent limelight client? Jill Biden, who wore won her silky, silvery coat to the Inauguration on Monday (see a photo here).
And as it turns out, Lela’s standout taste translates to the home, as well. Her kitchen creations always come with a special twist that make them uniquely hers, like her barstools upholstered in remnant fabrics from past fashion collections. We caught up with Lela to get her take on great kitchen design, plus her must-have kitchen essentials.
CULTIVATE: First, why don't you describe the look of your own kitchen.
Lela Rose: We have a very modern, open kitchen that allows the family to all congregate there, but still focus on our own activities. The main element is the stainless steel island that we use to cook, eat, draw—you name it.
CULTIVATE: If you could remodel your kitchen, what items would be first on your list?
Lela Rose: I’d like to change the oven design from one large oven and one small oven to two large models. I’d also like to repaint the cabinets and change out the colored concrete to a different color.
CULTIVATE: How is your fashion sense reflected in your interior spaces?
Lela Rose: The use of textiles and materials is probably the most obvious fashion influence in my home. Most everything that is covered in a fabric, from chairs to sofas to curtains, is from one of my past collections. There is also a felt-wrapped room (floor, walls, ceiling). I really like the use of textiles as they give a real warmth to a home, especially a very modern one like ours.
CULTIVATE: Is your interior aesthetic similar to your fashion aesthetic?
Lela Rose: I believe that it is. So much of what I design are clothes that are meant for an “entertaining” lifestyle and my apartment is nothing if not good for entertaining. I also think the mixing of interesting colors and textures is similar to the collection.
CULTIVATE: Finish this sentence: A well-designed kitchen should be ________.
Lela Rose: A place you want to be all the time.
CULTIVATE:What is a normal day in the kitchen like for you?
Lela Rose: If I am home, I am in the kitchen. I make the kids breakfast in the morning while I pack all of our lunches. When I get home from work, I just set my bags down and get to work on dinner. We have quite a few fun gadgets in the kitchen—a sous vide machine, an ice cream maker, a Cryovac—that help make dinner quick and easy. If it is a weekend, I usually spend Saturday at the farmer’s market getting ready for Sunday dinner. We usually have a few other families over and I like to spend most of Saturday and then Sunday morning cooking before everyone arrives.
One of Lela Rose's favorite kitchen must-haves: a sous vide machine that slowly cooks vacuum-sealed foods in a water bath. We like the Polyscience Sous Vide Professional Creative Series from Williams-Sonoma.
CULTIVATE: What is your favorite item in your kitchen?
Lela Rose: My Thermador coffee maker. I love that I can press one button and get fresh ground coffee direct to my cup.
CULTIVATE: What are your top three entertaining essentials?
Lela Rose: A special cocktail, a fun attitude, and good food.
CULTIVATE: And what about your kitchen/dining essentials?
Lela Rose: A well-stocked pantry—this makes cooking so much easier and removes the frustration of being short on something. You should also have a good food processor. I use my Cuisinart daily, and I spend so much less time chopping and stirring. And finally: Good quality ingredients. I always buy the best—green market veggies, good butter, sea salt—because by using better ingredients, you won't have to do as much to make the food taste good.
CULTIVATE: Counters and floors can be great style points in the kitchen. What are your go-tos?
Lela Rose: I love a stainless steel counter top. We have a colored concrete floor in our kitchen at home but I have a linoleum floor in the office that is also used in the office kitchen. The linoleum is made to look like zebra wood. It is comfortable in addition to being quite chic!
CULTIVATE: What about your favorite paint color or wallpaper?