After a long haul spent in the laidback land of surfing and sunshine, interior designer Raili Clasen brings that same feel of fun and warmth to every space she styles. With a penchant for whimsically fresh interiors, everything Clasen creates is bursting with brightness and soul befitting her California spirit. We took a moment out of our own daily grind to find out her go-to Schoolhouse picks, top design tricks, and why any piece can always benefit from a little extra DIY love. Welcome the newest member in our Designer Spotlight series: Raili Clasen.
Describe your aesthetic when it comes to decorating. What styles are you drawn to personally?
“I love to start with a super minimalistic style, then let the design process start exploding with a great statement piece like an oversized light fixture or an amazing piece of art.”
Where do you find most of your inspiration and who are your influences?
“I came from a from a long career in the surf industry so I cannot escape the whimsy and casual style that stemmed from the design surrounding those days in fashion. I never know when a huge inspo moment will hit me. Today, it was the front counter at a hipster coffee house. I took a picture and showered by crew at the office and was like “this needs to be a kitchen in one of our projects!” I’m also seeing the coolest design coming from the Ukraine and Australian design blogs of course.”
Where do you find most of your go-to basics when it comes to decorating a space?
“I don’t really have a basic starter kit. Depending on the budget, we either design custom furnishing and then add some spice with 1st dibs, 503 Found (a local furnishing source), and of course, Schoolhouse has been ordered in 99% of my projects… wait, it’s definitely 100%.”
Tell us a little about your process when it comes to designing a space for clients.
“Those initial meetings are usually a huge ‘getting to know ya’ time. Most of our projects are new builds or major remodels so this means we are entering into a relationship. Thank goodness I have somehow attracted amazingly fun clients. Once they get out their list of wants, I go to pinterest-town and the conceptualization begins. After I get the thumbs up or thumbs down from those ideas we have a great idea of the direction we will go.”
Favorite design trends or timeless looks you love?
“Well, the trend of layered rugs is one I hope never goes away… not only do I love to mix and match prints and textures, it feels really good to walk on several layers of rugs… oh and lots of indoor trees and plants.”
Favorite color palette or materials to work with?
"Oh don’t get me started. I love every shade of green and love to put them all in one small space – like a shelfie with green books, green plants, green ceramics – all different shades. My favorite material has to be saddle leather, unfinished. So so good."
Least favorite design trends?
“Hanging wicker chairs, wide plant light oak floors – we can do more interesting things with that beautiful oak.”
What’s your top design trick?
“Well, my mind goes straight to ‘how can we customize this?’ when we put in any accessory. For instance, a perfectly good raw wood side table, I look at it as ‘should we paint a stripe on it? Should we dip in paint? Should we burn a brand into it?’ It’s a problem.”
Favorite local spots (food, drink, culture, shop, stay)?
“We just moved back to Lido Island and it is amazing. The whole village has been carefully renovated but kept with the OG style. They are putting in the best shops and restaurants. Zinque is our favorite eatery and Claire Vivier is my favorite shop.”
What makes a house a home to you?
“Well, I’ve been to too many ‘designer’ homes where nothing stands out and although the furnishings are lovely, the spaces are void of any real connection to the family. I really focus in on the entry as being the stage-setter for a family’s personality. I usually start designing that space well into the process, when I really have gotten to know them and their dynamics. Yes, designers need to minor in couples resolution counseling for sure!”
Images via Raili CA Design