Jeff King Talks With

Berkeley-based Interior Designers Lynn Kloythanomsup and Heather Menegat of Landed Interiors & Homes

Photography by Lauren Edith Anderson

Landed Interiors & Homes is an award-winning full-service interior design firm led by Creative Principal, Lynn Kloythanomsup. Launched in 2015, the firm has quickly become a Bay Area favorite and was named to Luxe Interiors + Design’s 2021 Gold List. With a knack for creating warm, personal spaces that enhance the lives of their clients, their work has depth and personality–a certain je ne sais quoi if you will. Fostering collaboration in everything she does, Lynn shares the spotlight with Senior Designer, Heather Menegat, as well as the rest of her team; read on to find out more about this design firm with big aspirations.

Photography by Haris Kenjar

Jeff King: How are your projects typically organized in terms of your firm’s staffing?

Landed Interiors & Homes: We are a small office, so we do our best to keep things simple and manageable. Our team of 5 includes Lynn Kloythanomsup, our Principal and a lead designer; Heather Menegat, a senior lead designer; our project designers, Tiffany Kim and Angela Ochoa; and our design assistant, Allegra Muzzillo. One lead designer is assigned to each project (currently either Lynn or Heather) and serves as that project’s creative director and project manager.

On projects with a smaller scope, the lead designer may be performing the bulk of production, with other Landed designers pitching in as needed. A smaller scope project may look like a furnishings-focused project with minimal renovation or the renovation of two or three rooms rather than the renovation of a whole home.

We consider whole homes to be our larger projects and they often require collaboration with larger teams, inclusive of exterior architecture and landscape architecture (such as plantings, pools, and hardscaping). These projects are currently staffed with two dedicated designers–a lead designer and a project designer–who work collaboratively. We also regularly review drawings and presentations as an office. That way, we get to see what everyone is working on and offer fresh perspectives.

We cannot leave out our administrative and support team who help keep things rolling. Our design assistant supports us with our marketing and social media efforts, vendor outreach, our sample library, and procurement for our projects. We also lean on our business managers and agents at The Eye Agency who are so valuable in negotiating our agreements and fee schedules.

Photography by Brad Knipstein

JK: How do you describe Landed’s style? What are some design elements that you most value, that provide a big impact?

LIH: We design interior architecture that provides a supporting dialogue to the architecture and the location. We think the decorative elements should similarly provide a supporting dialogue to the people who will be living there. There should be some symbiosis between the two, but you can get away with quite a bit on the decor side when the bones of a home feel good.

Design elements can change from project to project, and we often choose sensible and quietly detailed elements with the sentiment that selections don’t need to be visually “loud” to be impactful. Don’t get us wrong, we love the “oohs” and “ahhs” a show-stopping staircase or view can elicit. However, for the kind of design that excites us at Landed, we find that the most lasting impact occurs when we can encourage storytelling and a lifestyle that suits our clients.

For a young family, a big impact item may take the form of a little nook under the stairs that kids or dogs can make their own private space. If a client likes to sleep with the windows open, we ask the landscape architect about situating some fragrant plants near a bedroom window so that their scent can waft in during the evening. We might repurpose a hutch that a client has from the house they grew up in or search for an antique cabinet to retrofit into a bathroom vanity. We wholeheartedly believe that when a home takes care of its inhabitants and contributes to their life stories, its residents are more likely to take care of the home in return, and that always feels like a job well done.

Photography by Haris Kenjar

JK: What’s your favorite way to find inspiration?

LIH: When it comes to developing concepts for our projects, we find ourselves trying to capture a feeling as much as an aesthetic. When our inspiration taps into how a space is going to be experienced, it can strengthen and benefit a project in ways we probably aren’t even fully aware of.

Sometimes this connection to the feeling of a place can be found in a photo, though we also like to explore different dimensions of how a project is going to look, feel, smell, and sound. We find inspiration in books, film, fashion, places we’ve visited, personal memories, and beyond. While all of this may not make it in front of the client, especially the more abstract bits, it helps us think about a project beyond its practical and visual aspects. (And it’s fun!)

Precedent research also naturally guides us in the right direction so that we honor and enhance the foundational architectural language of the buildings we work in. We frequently work on historic and heritage homes and also share a deep appreciation for classical architecture and detailing. There are lots of reference books scattered around our desks showing how classical details and millwork are proportioned and drawn. We participate in the Northern California chapter of the ICAA (Institute of Classical Architecture & Art) and use their resources to learn about the architecture of different periods and regions whenever we can.

In some cases, a project may be intriguing for one reason or another, but the building will lack a strong existing vernacular. In these cases, we find joy in thoughtfully infusing new character and discovering how much we can stretch the house and the client’s vision.

Photography by Haris Kenjar

JK: What’s would be a dream project for your firm?

LIH: Oh, a design firm’s favorite question… We appreciate creative variety and a holistic approach on our projects. Ideally, our overarching project goals include addressing the architecture, interiors, and landscaping concurrently, with a strong team of collaborators in place.

Currently, we are working on a satisfying mix of primary residences and vacation homes, both new construction and renovations, in different styles and vernaculars within California and beyond. Future scenarios we’re dreaming about include a country manor, a Case Study house, a garden folly, an Art Deco home in the Los Angeles hills, a Brutalist residence somewhere tropical, an austere Shaker home, and a bed and breakfast by the ocean. As we’ve intentionally expanded our roster to include not just local, but regional and national work, we aspire to a future where we are invited to design internationally.

We are happiest when we are working with clients who trust and appreciate us, respect and honor the process, value adventurous design, and want to build or renovate a home with longevity in mind (we particularly love historic and heritage homes). While we believe that meaningful and impactful design work can occur at any budget level, the project budget needs to realistically align with the project goals, and we do our best work when the project goals are creatively fulfilling to us.

Work can feel like play when our collaborators share key aspects of our work identities–creative philosophies, ethical design, commitment to detail, and aesthetic inclinations, to name a few!

Photography by Haris Kenjar

JK: What are some of the ways you and your team celebrate your successes?

LIH: This is a great question. This past year, in particular, has taught us to lean into the good bits when we can and we try to regularly practice gratitude–which may sound a bit smug, though we also want to acknowledge how difficult it can be to keep it prioritized (it’s so hard, y’all!). Celebrating the wins, even the small ones, is a necessary part of making sure that everyone feels appreciated.

We may mark an anniversary by getting lunch together at a favorite restaurant, cheer when someone hits send on that really long email, gather around someone’s phone to admire photos from an exciting site visit, or cap getting a CD set out with a treat at the end of the day. Celebrating at Landed usually means finding a way to enjoy each other’s company.

Photography by Thomas Story for Sunset

JK: What are some notable design-related shoutouts you have individually or as a team?

LIH: We are regularly captivated by work from designers, artists, and creatives across the world. There are truly too many to name. Designers that our team members have brought up recently in our office include Gil Schafer, Historical Concepts, Workstead, Isabel Lopez Quesada, Commune Design, Nickey Kehoe, Studio Ilse, Rita Konig, Chan & Eayrs, Reath Design, Darryl Carter, and Studio Mumbai.

And we always love to support our artisan community, including Jim Zivic, Kieran Kinsella, Brian Persico, Victoria Morris, and locals Windy Chien, Jacob May Design, The Long Confidence, Fyrn, and Theodore Ellison, among so many others. The most interesting pieces in our work are often the result of custom collaborations with artists and furniture designers, so we always try to include them in our furniture and lighting schemes. It is an important layer that makes our projects feel personal and unique.

Photography by Haris Kenjar

JK: What do you all do to recharge and unwind?

LIH: As a studio, we try to get outside of the office, connect with our industry, and see the world–a practice which we are slowly and carefully re-incorporating as the world figures out how to navigate the pandemic. We like to visit workshops, studios, galleries, and museums. One of the best things about interiors is that the landscape is constantly shifting and innovating, and there is always more to learn.

Outside of Landed, we tend to mix being homebodies and visiting or exploring with friends and family. We go camping and hiking (with varying degrees of vigor), visit flea markets, explore San Francisco and the Bay Area, read, garden, cook, bake, listen to podcasts, watch movies and binge-watch the occasional show on Netflix, engage in the occasional DIY or craft project, and take a good nap when we need it. Nothing mind-blowing, but we have all experienced burnout in the past and are more aware of the need to protect our energy. The important thing is that we prioritize (and re-prioritize) balancing work and home. Not always as easy as it sounds!

Photography by Aubrie Pick

What an absolute joy it was to talk with Lynn and Heather. To learn more about their firm and design process, head over to their website and check out their Instagram page for inspiration and the occasional peek behind the scenes.