September 18, 2013

Zenzi Gadson and Justin Maurice are those kinds of designers who were born to live in a world of aesthetics. The duo behind the hip firm, Maurice Gadson Interiors, they love to work with clients who have opinions. That said, their quiet charm and good taste go a long way toward shaping opinions too. They like people and it shows. 

Growing up with a father who designed prosthetics, and a step-father who was a contractor, Justin Maurice was steeped in ‘form and function’ at every possible level. Zenzi Gadson practically learned to scour a flea market for the perfect mid-century find before she could walk. Perhaps it was inevitable that their paths would lead to Los Angeles and their collaboration on interior projects together. 

Zenzi Gadson and Justin Maurice.

Images © maurice gadson interiors

A classic melting pot of styles, Los Angeles is a perfect place to showcase one of the fundamental beliefs at, that “blending styles makes for the most interesting interiors.” The work of this young duo does just that. After my last post on Nina Briggs, in which she examines what it takes to create the authentic home, I thought it would be interesting to get an inside peek at the work of Maurice Gadson Interiors.

A long, well-lit hallway and white-colored, glossy-floor dining room

Images © maurice gadson interiors

Q: What makes a home?

A home is not made in the placement of objects, arranging of furniture and selection of color palette.  It's much less tangible than that.  A home can only be "made" by the person or people living in it.  It is how the homeowner uses and connects to their space that gives the home feeling and meaning; how he cares for his family, how she receives guests, how the children barrel through the hall eager to go somewhere.  It is comfort and love.

Q: What are some key ingredients to make a decorating project successful?

Listening, flexibility and trust on the part of both the designer and client. Both must be willing to stretch their vision of the project in order to encompass a new idea.  It is often by walking new ideas three quarters of the way down the road that we distill what must be included in the project from the things that can fall away.  So, be open to new ideas, particularly ones that seem, at the onset, completely and immediately wrong.  Ultimately, it’s not important that the idea be used.  What’s important is what you discover about the project during the consideration of that idea.

Image © maurice gadson interiors

Q: What is your best advice for the home owner who wants to (re)decorate their home?

Allow the architecture of the home to inform your furnishing choices.  For instance, you may live in a more traditional home but prefer very modern furniture.  In this instance, it may be best to steer towards to softer side of modernity with simple pieces that have clean lines, but with more wood, fabric iron and stone and less stainless steel and glass.  That said, purist minimalism in an 18th century structure could create a fantastic tension, so break a rule or two.

Image © maurice gadson interiors

Q: What are your favorite decorating tips for blending styles and creating a “décor fusion”?

We have found that successfully blending high-end and low-end pieces has been a greater asset than fusing styles. Most people’s budgets have been diminished in the past 5 years, either through actual decreases in assets or through a renewed sense in frugality. As a result, we have had to accomplish the same result with less money.  We have found that a “high/low” approach yields the strongest look. In other words, spend half the budget for a room on a few select pieces, like the bed, the rug, the light fixtures, or the drapes, and then flush out the room with low-budget pieces that highlight the high-end ones.  It’s better to have a few stand-out pieces in an understated room than to have a full room of mediocrity.  

Images © maurice gadson interiors

Q: Any last thoughts?

Don't rush it. Unless you want to re-do you home every few years, you are shopping for the long haul so take the time to get pieces you'll like when the trends pass.  It’s okay to do a few trendy things, but don't spend heirloom money on them.  Whether you are doing it yourself or have a designer, you do not know need to know everything, but do enough research to really understand your likes and dislikes, and don’t let current trends over-influence you.

Written by Catherine Holliss

Interior Design Blog Writer,, LLC

Director of Interior Design, Sander Architects LLC.  


Photographs © Catherine Holliss unless otherwise noted. 

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