L.A.-based interior designer Bridgid Coulter has a sunny personality to match her sun-soaked environs. And it influences the warm and inviting spaces she creates for clients both stateside and at Kohanaiki, a private club and collection of residences on Hawaii’s Big Island. “I feel like my goal with any design is to make it comfortable, as well as stylish,” Coulter says. A mother of two with husband actor Don Cheadle, Coulter’s priority is also making sure the rooms she designs foster family togetherness. “Family is huge to me,” she says. “The most important thing is the people in your life.”
Q: What are some of the things you keep top of mind when you’re on a family project?
A: One is to create environments that foster conversation. You want to have comfortable levels of seating. And if your kids are young, they tend to spend a lot of time on the floor and jumping from the couch to the floor, so having a sofa that’s sturdy enough to handle that without compromising style is always helpful. I also like to use neutral palettes on the big items, like the sofa, then bring the fun with pillows or a seat cushion with a little stripe to give a bit of flavor. Neutral with some sort of texture is always interesting to the whole family.
Q: How do you get creative when it comes to the kitchen?
A: A lot of the kitchens I’m designing now are open to the whole house, so I like to create spaces for people to sit, like with an island or a peninsula and a couple of bar stools. Also having that bit of separation means those who are preparing the food aren’t tripping over those who want to taste it. If you cook a lot, having a huge cutting board next to a prep sink is super useful. And if you do the sort of entertaining where you have people over to watch a game or something on TV, it’s nice to have a way to see it from the kitchen, so the people in there cooking don’t feel left out.
Q: What are your tricks for doing a child’s room?
A: I love doing rooms for kids. It’s so fun because they’re so creative and bold, and they love color. But I also want a room that will grow with that child. I choose well-made, neutral foundation pieces, such as the bed and the bookcase, and then the pillows, drapery, and art can bring in the punch. As with the family room, I create space where they can be on the floor with throw pillows. And kids love to hang their stuff up, so a place where they can clip and show their art quickly, like a pinboard or a string running across a wall, is key.
Q: You do a lot of vacation homes for the members of Kohanaiki. How is that different from designing a main residence?
A: I find that in a second home, the focus is more on the gathering spaces and less about having a formal living room, for example. I tend to make it a bit more casual. I want every item to feel as though it can be touched and washed and jumped on and, if it’s sandy, vacuumed.
Q: What fabrics are good for that?
A: I use leathers. Chenilles are great; linen is great. Cotton is really washable. I probably wouldn’t select a dainty lace. Or silk. The sun just eats silk. And although I’ve seen it done, and done really successfully, I probably wouldn’t use a fancy velvet. But I do have a friend whose second home has gorgeous green velvet chairs, and she manages to keep them looking great. She may have a secret that I have to learn, because I’m obsessed with rose-colored velvet sofas right now. But I have a sofa problem. I don’t buy clothes, I buy sofas.
Bridgid Coulter Shops Collective
The designer’s picks among the pieces for sale.
Italian Murano Amethyst Colored Glass Chandelier
It’s just a stunner of a piece, a show-stopper. It’s a pop of color I’d put in a very neutral room that would be dynamic and stunning.
Contemporary Eskayel Splatter Rug
This is a piece that would ground a room and instantly add wow. It’s beautiful and kind of like a watercolor. And it would contrast amazingly well with the chandelier.
French Art Nouveau Walnut 7 Piece Salon Set with Carved Acorn Corners
I am passionate about art nouveau. I love the lyrical-ness of it. This set is elegant and timeless.