Claire Thomas is always trying to tell a story. With a career that began in production and a passion for Hollywood's Golden Era, Claire's approach to design always leads her to ask her clients, “What story are we trying to tell?”
So when she got the opportunity to design her friends Chris and Lindsey's Los Angeles home, her personal relationship with the family and a blank canvas to create with inspired one of her most captivating projects yet, where every room is a setting where her client's stories can unfold.
We caught up with Claire to hear how this instant classic came to life and her advice for telling your own unique tale with tile. So grab some popcorn because this one is a thriller.
Can you tell me about this house? Is there a story behind it? Was this a remodel or renovation?
Chris and Lindsey are friends of mine, and when Chris, who's an amazing builder with his firm, CT WEST, told me they needed design help with their dream house, I was excited to jump in. This was a new build, which was a first for me, and I hopped in around the midpoint when the architecture is finished, but there are opportunities to add thoughtful touches around the home.
How involved in the design process were the clients?
Lindsey and Chris were super involved! I love collaboration, and at the end of the day, it's their house, so it needs to feel like them. Lindsey and I spent hours and hours together going over samples, colors combinations, antique sites.
Can you tell me about your design process? What phase do you enjoy most?
I love the shoot days when everything comes together, or the very beginning where I'm putting together the mood board and the full vision is coming together.
What were your points of inspiration for this home?
Because of the scale - those soaring ceilings - I looked to Europe and Mexico for inspiration in the shared spaces, like the entry, living room, and kitchen/dining. For the kitchen wall, I shared a photo of a restaurant kitchen I came across in Sonora, Mexico that I've been obsessed with for years, and luckily Lindsey was into it! For the private areas, I let more specific narratives fly - like the Parisian Deco vibes of the girl's room, the art deco bathrooms, and the moodiness of the master.
What sort of look or aesthetic were you going for?
I'm a big proponent of letting the house dictate the aesthetic, but with a new build, it means there's a lot more blank canvas than usual. I have a trick of creating a "story" for a space. Just like in a film or book, if something feels off about a character or there's a plot hole, you know something isn't right.
How do you go about choosing all your finishes?
For this house, the theme was "French rustic meets California Modern: antique limestone floors, sweeping 14-foot ceilings, and bespoke touches throughout the house will give the home a unique yet timeless quality." So if an item or idea didn't fit in that world, it didn't mean it was a bad idea, it just wasn't a fit.
There is a lot of tile in this house! Do you have a favorite tile moment? Or two?
So hard! But I think the kitchen wall because of the insane scale, and then the powder room. I love that deco tile and color combination so much!
How do you tie all of the spaces together?
We had a pretty consistent color palette of greens, blues, black, and white, so once we had those guardrails in place, it was easy to tie spaces together texturally.
Any tips on mixing various tile shapes // patterns?
Be Bold, especially in small spaces. I care a lot about resale value and ROI, and the truth is - a powder room has never prevented someone from purchasing a home, so let your personality and aesthetic really fly in the smaller spaces. For large spaces, I always try to find the drama.
Ready to be bold? Check out the rest of Claire's Fireclay designs and sample her favorite colors to start telling your own unique story with handmade tile made just for you.