Designer Spotlight: Jeff Trotter
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Jeff Trotter's style is thoroughly modern yet infused with laid back luxury that Californians so perfectly epitomize. After attending UCLA, Jeff began his career with a major motion picture studio in set design and art direction. After six years in the entertainment industry, he worked for several top residential interior designers before launching his own firm, Jeff Trotter Design. Specializing in high end residential and commercial interiors, his fresh, yet timeless design aesthetic has made him one of the country's most sought after rising design professionals. Jeff's style is often described as having a contemporary twist on coastal comfort. His discerning eye seamlessly blends both traditional and comfortable elegance with contemporary undertones, resulting in spaces that are beautifully tailored and livable.
Recently, Mecox LA had the pleasure of working with Jeff on a new store window, designed as his ideal library would look. With personal pieces from Jeff's own home and some of his favorite Mecox finds, he created classic space adorned with edgy accents. Jeff spoke with Mecox about everything from fashion to movie sets to design pet peeves. Don't forget to vote for Jeff in Traditional Home's Rising Stars of Design New Trad Contest!
So, Jeff let's start with the basics. How did you become a designer? I think I've always been a "designer". I was that kid who constantly rearranged my bedroom furniture and asked my parents for new window treatments. As I matured, so did my love for design, so I felt it only natural to make it my full time career.
You're quite the fashion guy, as well. Do you find that fashion and interior design are related? How you choose to present yourself is a natural extension of your personality and style. For me, fashion and design are one in the same. Whether I'm dressing myself, or dressing a space, I always want to capture and convey my, and my client's, individual style.
We follow you on Instagram, and you travel to a lot of gorgeous places (and we're very jealous!). Do you find that world travel effects your design aesthetic? I absolutely love to travel, and I make it a priority. From old architecture to new fashion trends, there are so many visual aspects that reinvigorate my sense of creativity when I'm outside of LA. With that said, can someone please hire me to work on a project in the Maldives?
What is your design process? What is the starting point for a room/home for you? I always start by asking my client, "what is your intention for this space?" It applies to both residential and commercial projects, ground-up builds or the decorating of a single room. I never assume that a room is going to serve a traditional purpose for a client, as they may have a completely different intention in mind.
What is your biggest design pet peeve? I design a lot of bathrooms and I hate seeing exposed tile edges. I'm always looking for an interesting trim tile piece or edge detail so that I never have to see an exposed, raw edge. I have nightmares about exposed tile edges.
Your look is very clean, yet luxurious, which we love. Is there a signature Jeff Trotter design style and specific element that you try to incorporate in every design? I'm all about "tailored livable luxury." I want each of my projects to be a mix of clean lines, layered textures, and beautiful objects that create inviting and livable spaces. I always use grey somewhere, and you'll always find something marble. If I could wear marble, I would.
While you can clearly create a room in any style, what is your personal favorite vibe? My personal design vibe is always changing. I'm often heavily influenced by the projects that I'm currently working on. One day I'll want luxe, dark and masculine and the next I'll want everything, everywhere, white.
Well designed homes are so much more than just the visual. There has to be interesting textures to touch, entertainment sources that provide a relaxing background, and of course, they have to smell good. What's your favorite candle or scent to set a soothing mood? Le Grand Café Wild Blackberry candle by Zodax.
What do you feel the next big home design trend will be? I'm not much for following or forecasting design trends. I'm aware of what may be "in" or "out" at the moment, but I tend to air on the side of more timeless design than trendy.
What do you find that your clients are willing to spend big bucks on? Where do they like to economize? My advice: Spend on the finishes! Cheap finishes will always look cheap. Spend on items that you love and can't live without. Save wherever else you can. I'm a firm believer in high/low design.
What is your favorite room to makeover? My favorite room to makeover is any room where a client says "I trust you, do anything you want."
You do amazing bathrooms. All that gorgeous tile and stone work! What is the biggest challenge in creating one of your spa-like bathrooms? Hiding exposed tile edging! I'm serious...
You're quite the photography buff we've noticed, and you seem to favor black and white over color. What is it about black and white photographs that you're attracted to? I love the drama that a black and white photo evokes. The absence of color really allows you to focus on the image itself and the essence of the captured subject.
Who do you feel are your design 'Icons' in fashion, home and furniture design? Tom Ford. Candice Olson. Michael Dawkins.
You have such a clean, sharp perspective that comes through in your designs. What do you feel separates you and your work from other designers in LA? Design is art. I believe when you follow your gut instincts and trust your eye when you create, your art sets itself apart from that of someone else's naturally.
So many clients come into our shop and tell us they want the look of Meryl Streep's Santa Barbara home in “It's Complicated”, or the Hamptons kitchen of Diane Keaton in “Something's Gotta Give.” Do you think the film industry has changed people's idea of what a well-designed home should be? What is your favorite movie interior? Media in general, film, tv and social have had a massive impact on what the average consumer desires, since there's so much more access to inspiration. As for my favorite movie interior, Cameron Diaz's home in "The Holiday". Ironically, the film's production designer was the same designer on "It's Complicated" and "Something's Gotta Give". Clearly, your customers have good taste.
We LOVE the display window you designed exclusively for Mecox! What was your inspiration? Thank you! It was such an fun experience. When I began the design process, I came across the "Sable Island" equine photograph by one of my favorite photographers, Drew Doggett. My first instinct was, "If I had a library, that would be hanging in it." From there, I began to design my ideal Mecox meets Jeff Trotter Design library. It's a space filled with many of my favorite things. From the denim shirt off my back, to my favorite Hermes blanket from my own collection, this window highlights some of my signature Jeff Trotter Design elements.
Is there anything in the Jeff Trotter world coming up that we should be aware of? I have a lot on my plate at the moment, including a couple of really exciting renovations in Los Angeles and Palm Beach that I'm looking forward to completing. I also have a few fun collaborations in the works with some companies that I can't wait to reveal as the year progresses!