Laurel & Wolf CEO Leura Fine founded her flourishing online interior design service when she realized how many people lived in a space that didn’t make them happy. Her solution? To bring the skills of a professional interior designer to everyone by streamlining the process and moving it entirely online. Recently, the service has even caught the attention of celebrities like Scandal star Katie Lowes. “The vision for Laurel & Wolf was to democratize interior design, but in essence what we’re doing is providing a new, fun, and easy way to decorate your space,” Fine says. “After all, we spend money in places that are beautiful; when we travel, we like to stay in places that are beautiful. Even our airports are getting better looking. So why not have that in your home?”
Leura Fine is a person who seeks to surround herself with beauty everywhere she goes. In her impressive metal Rolodex of incredible places around her home base of Los Angeles, everything from beaches to brunches to boutiques is ranked based on aesthetic appeal. So clearly, there was no one better to tap as an ultra-stylish weekend guide to spots like West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and Malibu. Here’s how to see L.A. anew through the eyes of an interior designer at the top of her game.
So, you’re in Los Angeles, and the weekend has begun. Where are you going?
Leura Fine: I love Malibu, and especially when friends come for a weekend visit, we’ll drive down the Pacific Cast Highway and start our day there. There’s so many fun destinations, whether it’s going for brunch at the Malibu Farm Café at the end of the Malibu Pier or going to Paradise Cove Beach Cafe at Zuma beach for a cocktail. I also love Geoffrey’s—it’s one of those places that’s been around forever, and has lovely views and great lunch options—and Nobu on the beach is fun, too. Then there’s the Malibu Lumber Yard and the Malibu Country Mart there, both with great shopping and all these amazing boutiques and brands.
From Malibu, I usually head into Santa Monica. Walking down Ocean Avenue is great—you can visit the Santa Monica Pier, you can visit the Promenade, everything is super-condensed right there. And then, if you’re looking for a sophisticated, upscale experience, Shutters Hotel on the beach is one of my all-time favorite places to go and have a glass of rose and a great salad.
Whew, that’s a lot already. So what’s next?
Fine: From Santa Monica, I usually head to Beverly Hills. I’m at heart a Beverly Hills girl, I just love it there. There’s nothing more iconic than having your Pretty Woman moment at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel [where the hit movie was filmed] and then strolling down Rodeo Drive.
And from a design perspective, walking into Rodeo Drive stores like the Ralph Lauren flagship or Hermès and seeing the finishes, the fixtures, the art inspiration—that’s an art tour in and of itself. Most of the time when I go shopping its not because I want to go out and buy something, it’s because I want to be surrounded by beauty. Touching the fabrics, seeing the furniture, seeing how each brand put together an experience—this is delightful from a designer’s perspective. And Beverly Hills is the best place to see that. There’s a reason it’s such a major international destination.
What other Beverly Hills spots do you return to again and again?
Fine: I love food, and I love to cook and host dinner parties, and so there’s several places I regularly go before I have guests over. There’s a Ladurée on Beverly Drive now, and sometimes I’ll pick up macaroons for dessert. The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills is also my happy place—I love going there and picking up truffle cheese. And Sugarfina is one of my favorite destinations to get the most beautiful candy ever.
What about when you’re looking for design inspiration in the city—where do you go?
Fine: One of my favorite destinations, especially for furniture, is a place called Big Daddy’s Antiques. They have crazy-awesome stuff in a really unique place. J.F. Chen on Highland Avenue also has one of the most incredible collections of furniture and is a major design destination in L.A.
But really, there’s tons of inspiration right outside the front door of the Laurel & Wolf offices. We’re in the La Cienega Design Quarter, the heart of the interior design world of Los Angeles. Its called the ‘LCDQ,’ but the name isn’t so well-known if you’re not in the interior design industry. We’re on Melrose Place, situated in a high-end area with so much eye candy surrounding us. For example, there’s Paul Ferrante right on our street, there’s Waterworks—and their showroom is exquisite—and there’s tons of great art galleries, rug galleries and more. If you’re going to look for antiques, one-of-a-kind pieces, or art, the LCDQ should be your destination.
In general, what do you think of the design scene in Los Angeles?
Fine: L.A. is a really exciting city for design. After all, we have the movie and entertainment industry here, which inspired and brought—and still brings—a lot of brilliant, creative people all to one place. As a result, you have Frank Lloyd Wright homes, you have Spanish bungalows from the earliest days of California, you have colonial homes—there’s so many great homes and do many different styles. I always call Los Angeles ‘the city of cities.’ Places like New York or San Fransisco kind of have just one flavor and one vibe, but because L.A. is so spread out, this is a city made up of all these other little cities. And we have every type of design and style imaginable as a result.
How about when you want to have a great meal out—where do you go?
Fine: I’m always tempted by new restaurants with my husband or friends. I’m at my happiest when I’m being fed. Really, if I have great wine and a great meal, I’m happy. I’ve recently been to Gwen, which I’m obsessed with—I had the seasonal tasting menu, which was divine. One of the wildest dining experiences I’ve had recently was at Vespertine. It was like having dinner on a space ship. It was a long and bizarre night out—we had 30 courses!—but absolutely worth it. It’s food as art. And some of that food was among the most exquisite I’ve ever eaten. Osteria Mozza is also one of my husband and my favorite places—it’s cozy, classic, and we love Italian food. I like getting dressed up in a good cocktail dress and going out to dinner there.
What does luxury mean to you?
Fine: Luxury is a feeling. It shouldn’t be a price, and it doesn’t have to be a certain quality of thing. There are luxurious moments as much there are luxurious towels. And I think life should be about celebrating lots of the little luxuries. The grand gestures and the big luxuries are lovely, but they’re few and far between. So for example, I love to host dinner parties and pull out my best table linens and my most beautiful dishes and set out flowers because when people come over, I want them to feel like they’re having a luxurious moment. Just like with good design, the luxury is in the details, the luxury is in the feeling.