sneak peek: laura aviva

laura aviva was born and raised in los angeles to two intrepid travelers who instilled in her a lifelong obsession with travel. after living in barcelona, then working as an event producer in los angeles, she moved to nyc in 2000 where she held the position of creative director for travel + leisure magazine for 7+ years. in 2008, laura launched l’aviva home. originally conceptualized as a one-time two week-long trunk show featuring textiles she had collected during her travels around the globe, it took on a life of its own and has grown into an ongoing series of collections of luxury handmade artisan wares. this month debuts its first pop-up store in nyc, and there are lots of great plans to stay tuned for in 2010. given her background and the history of l’aviva home, it’s easy to see the inspiration for today’s “sneak peek.” there’s tons more information and inspiration after the jump (including more about the complete gut job of this rental space) and additional images (and hideous before shots) right here. {thanks a million, laura!}anne

{photos by tom kletecka (he also shoots for l’aviva home)}
[above: i love small bedrooms, and i love bedrooms that really are very simple and sparse. i think there’s something especially sexy about a bed that sits right on the floor. i’m wholy obsessed with linen sheets – vintage french, luxe italian, pure irish, all varieties– a huge luxury. the tone-on-tone embroidered mexican bedspread is made by the otomi indians in puebla (we sell them on the website, and i wrote a short article on them for keith recker’s great, great magazine HAND/EYE). written on the chalkboard above my bed is a frida kahlo quote that i’ve always loved, which essentially translates to: ‘i have wings in order to fly.’ nice + dreamlike.]

here you can see a hint of the big french doors we built to separate the main space and the bedroom; they reach from floor to ceiling and span the entire width of the loft. i appreciate the desire for a big comfortable couch that you sink in to, but i don’t crave that in my own space – i like the slightly more communal feeling of a bench-like seating configuration. i put this piece together on the fly for a party a while back, and it just kind of stuck. it’s just a wooden platform on castor wheels (i put castor wheels on anything and everything i have, feeds my need to rearrange easily + constantly) topped by a twin-sized mattress, covered in oatmeal linen and draped with a vintage moroccan wedding blanket. the white palomino cowhide rug on the floor is a really special one, nice and rare and thick. the stool is from kenya, but i bought it from mustafa (his name sticks even this many years later), a crazy vendor at a street fair that used to be off 6th avenue somewhere in the 20’s here in nyc – it’s a shame that it’s not there anymore, there were some african vendors there who had some pretty great things if you sifted thru it all. the stool itself is so beautifully multi-functional – i use it as a chair, as a side table, stack magazines on it, pull it up to table at a dinner party…

the dining table is the central gravitating point in my home. the top is actually an antique moroccan door that i fell in love with. i wanted the base to have a nice industrial-feeling contrast – it’s steel (also on castor wheels), and i had it made at master kitchen supply on chrystie street in nyc. i’m obsessed with those guys. they can make anything from metal – you go in, scrawl and sketch and brainstorm – they do a bunch of conferring in chinese and come back at you with a quote that seems almost unreasonably reasonable, and pull it all together really quickly. incredibly gratifying. the wrought iron chairs are from a stoop sale in brooklyn (which we call ‘garage sales’ in la, ‘stoop sale’ still sounds very strange to me) – i recovered the seats in a really lovely purple-striped hemp linen fabric. the lamp, which is a glass globe surrounded in antique copper filigree, is from istanbul – possibly my favorite travel find ever – i searched it out on my last trip there and carried it home with me. we sell them on the website now – the person i bought it from has become a good friend as well as an amazing resource.


CLICK HERE for the rest of Laura’s sneak peek after the jump!


the paint on the wall in the kitchen is a benjamin moore color called ‘deep space.’ it’s the perfect charcoal – looks really great in a multitude of lights. it’s the only colored wall in the entire space, and it really pops. the cabinets are from ikea – i was really set on having black cabinets, i wanted them to blend into the floor and be quite inconspicuous/almost disappear – the vintage metal pulls give a bit of character and make them feel less generic. the butcher block countertop is also from ikea – and i think one of the best buys ever, an incredible value.


these stairs lead up to the l’aviva home studio space. on the low moroccan chair sits one of the maybe 20 stacks of shelter magazines i have piled around the house and the studio – i’m the furthest thing from a pack-rat in any other sense, but i can’t part with the mags. the white cabinet is from ikea – it’s incredibly ubiquitous, but useful, and beautifully innocuous. the green bowl is from jinggala in bali – they stock a truly lovely collection of basic kitchen ceramic-ware. and the circles are actually new, from cb2 – an interesting item for them to have – they are reminiscent of vintage bicycle wheels. i’ve hung them all up the stairway, in an irregular configuration, evoking the feeling of a bouncing ball. i like that the formation creates a nice feeling of movement, leading the eye upwards.


i designed the stand for the sink and had it custom made, like my dining table base, by master kitchen supply. in the window is a framed piece i got from marrakesh on a trip a few years back – it’s camel skin stretched over a wooden frame and painted with henna. i wish i knew the story behind the drawing, it looks so lyrical. i’d love to work with an artisan to do a special series of these pieces at some point.


my desk is hands-down my favorite piece of furniture i’ve ever had, and it has a great story. there was an iconic restaurant in los angeles called spanish kitchen – it opened sometime in the late 30’s, and was a famed spot for many years. then, one day in the early 60’s, it closed – completely out of blue (as in, the employees showed up one day to work only to find the doors locked). all the tables were set, everything in place. and it remained that way for maybe 30 years. was a total mystery what happened to the owners (there were rumors of mafia involvement). great hollywood noir. a couple friends of mine snuck in to the space in the early 90’s and hoisted this desk and some other pieces through a window. hugely illicit. but beautiful l.a. lore. the bag on the floor is another favorite piece – it’s from one & only palmilla in cabo san lucas – the cleaning staff use it to carry around fresh linens to the rooms (so over the top, but true…) – the craftsmanship is pretty exquisite.


on the wall is my favorite new piece gathered for the website – it’s a juju hat from cameroon – used by tribal chiefs and dignitaries in special celebrations. it’s so beautifully whimsical hung on the wall, i love the way the feathers splay out into this huge circle. this is what i first see when i walk up the stairs from the foyer that leads into the main space – and it really does put a big smile on my face each time. beneath it sit a couple piles of miscellaneous design books – i have a bit of an aversion to bookshelves, really do love to see books stacked on the floor somewhat hap-hazardly. and the stool is one of a pair from a display at the anthropologie store here in soho some years ago – before anthropologie launched into home wares in a big way, they had sprinklings of really beautiful installations in some of their stores. i saw these stools there at one point — which were not for sale — and i literally stalked the store manager daily for them until she finally gave in and got permission to sell them to me.

about the space:
i moved to nyc from los angeles in 2000. i’ve lived in soho essentially the whole time. just over a year ago, as l’aviva home was starting to take off, i realized i needed a larger space that could function as both a home and a studio (as well as a very carefully plotted storage space). i (somewhat impetuously) decided to move into a place that needed a ton of work, and do a full, gut renovation on it. i don’t own it, so it was more of a quality of life decision than a financial one. growing up in los angeles, i had always lived in spanish colonial-style homes. but in new york, open plan living space really speaks to me. working with my friend, the amazing laura emrick, we stripped the entire place – floors, ceilings, walls… and started from scratch. it was hugely overwhelming, and also hugely gratifying. i like to keep everything quite sparse – white walls, glossy black floors form the background for all. i am constantly surrounded by so many colors and textures and patterns in my travels and as i source for the website, and i find the calm of a more sedated atmosphere really appealing at the end of the day. i also love to be able to constantly reconfigure and recreate my living space – it’s a bit of a mania of mine.

  1. Stella says:

    looks like there was some arranging mid-shoot in the kitchen! Wood vases in one, drinking glasses in another. I love everything, especially the IKEA cabinet (mine is red) since it is the only thing I own from this Sneak Peek! I love the charcoal paint color in the kitchen, but does it get water stains being so close to the sink? Some of us are not immaculate dishwashers.

    I aspire to this sneak peek, but I am unfortunately neither a traveler (yet!) or a non-hoarder.

  2. Alissa says:

    Love it! Clean, chic…

  3. Lynn says:

    An amazing home, a very personal space, full of stories, fabulous and inspirational. Thank you!

  4. kz. says:

    oh man, gorgeous! I love the simple bedroom. any suggestions or recommendations on brands or designers of linen sheets?

  5. kalanicut says:

    I’m a totally GAGA over this house! The floors, the paint, the cupboards — the sparseness! Ahhh!

  6. emma fairley says:

    what a beautifully inspiring place. a clean design slate with a surprisingly luxurious sense of comfort. i love laviva home and adore laura aviva’s imported linens and especially the turkish wares. her website is a great source for designers looking for a sense of worldly craftsmanship within a very modern design tableau.

  7. Courtney says:

    So wonderfully serene. Sigh. I adore the dining room light fixture and the desk. I am so inspired!

  8. laura trevey says:

    love the large vase in the bedroom!

  9. kay* says:

    seriously, i just skimmed the photos to get to the comment box because i am so excited by this house tour! one of my favourites to date – has so many elements i’ve blogged about that i want to put into my own home.

    off to read the post!

  10. Asha says:

    Wow!! Gorgeous home. I especially love the giant glass piece next to the bed- with the flowers in it. Love it. The kitchen looks awesome as well. Inspiring!!

  11. reeve says:

    This is amazing. So sophisticated in a welcoming, friendly way.

  12. kay* says:

    okay. officially my favourite. everything has a story. LOVE.

  13. MK says:

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this sneak peek!! Ms. Avivia’s home has creatively triggered so many ideas for my rental apt. I love the spaciousness yet cozy ambiance she has created. I love seeing the large glass vase with one stem next to the bed. Such a magical feeling! Thank you!

  14. Sandra says:

    The bedroom is simply and beautiful. The idea from the blackboard behind the bed is great and the big vase is “the touch” in this room. Wonderful!

  15. Sarah says:

    Love love the IKEA kitchen, the pendant over the dining table and especially the Moroccan wedding blanket on the makeshift settee-beautiful space, thanks for sharing!

  16. Shelly says:

    My dream house has some of these same simple, beautiful looks. Thanks for sharing.

  17. catherine says:

    This is my favorite sneak peak of all time. Simple, organic. So tasteful.

  18. such tranquility – and so divine…..

  19. Tracey says:

    I love this… it’s simple, yet elegant AND comfortable at the same time. Beautiful!

  20. That kitchen grey is not doing anything to help my urge to rush off and paint my whole house in shades of grey and purple! It looks just perfect from here. And that bedspread is just amazing in cream…

  21. Emily says:

    Any tips on where to find a large blown glass vase like the one in the bedroom?

  22. wg says:

    Are those black Lack shelves from Ikea in the kitchen?

  23. Tara says:

    I rarely ever see so much white look so good. Brilliant design! One thought – toaster staged next to the kitchen sink – yikes!

  24. Love it! That bathroom sink is great!

  25. Christine says:

    I would never know it’s an Ikea kitchen! Thanks for letting us know the grey paint colour. Love it!

  26. Renee says:

    wow she has some really great pieces!

  27. Kathryn says:

    Great tour and I agree about the kitchen color, awesome! We’ve had the ikea butcher block counters for ten years but we stained ours black and sealed them. After ten years, the area around the sink where I dry dishes has definitely fallen apart but ten years of wear for that price is not bad.

  28. Elice says:

    Wow. That table.
    I do hope you aren’t visited some day by a mafia thug looking for something inside a secret compartment in that table. Haha.

  29. Fiz says:

    I love this space, it feels so effortless and relaxed. I would really like to find out how you did the floor, it looks amazing!

  30. please someone tell me at what age children can allow parents to regain aesthetic control of the house? Love this pictures – partly because there is no MESS!!!!

  31. hrhkat says:

    I want to go to there.

  32. @Emily
    I’ve found old demijohns in fleamarkets that could serve as a large vase. The old ones are the prettiest.

  33. Lillian says:

    Wow, I love this.

  34. Etincelle says:

    Completely in love with this place! this is right up to my taste… love love love!!!

  35. PhillyLass says:

    This is absolutely gorgeous!!! I wish I had the vision to pull together an interior like this.

  36. Tamara says:

    What went into finishing those amazing floors? Are they paint on wood? hardwood? plywood?
    any advice would be appreciated.

  37. Eleanor says:

    Very very nice! Totally clean and simple!

  38. melissa says:

    gorgeous space. where did you get the juju hat? i love it

  39. laura aviva says:

    hello, all. wow – overwhelming, this positive response. insanely fun to read all the comments! thank you, thank you. i see some questions, so a few super quick answers… yes, that vase on the floor of my bedroom, love it. i got it from my friend gaby of kirah designs, handmade from recycled glass in bolivia. she sells thru surevolution (you can contact marcella there – not sure who their retail outlets are right now – i am working with her to do a custom design for l’aviva home in coming year). also true that they have very similar at anthropologie (not sure who their supplier is, would be curious). re: linen sheets: matteo makes gorgeous ones. vintage french from french swap meets. the best ever are at the setai in miami – they’re irish, have been meaning to investigate who makes them. yes, kitchen shelf is also from ikea, just a painted lack shelf – needs sanding + priming first (kitchen really is all ikea, all the time). floors are indeed painted wood planks. was a bit of nightmare, many many attempts to get it just right. net net – hate to say it, but you have to go with the super toxic stuff, it’s the only way to really get the gloss…

  40. laura aviva says:

    ah, and last bit, re: juju hats… we’ll be selling these on the website ( starting in the new year – but we have some here in the studio now, if you are interested, email us at

  41. jfox says:

    Ms. Laura… have not until now seen a floor to go w/ my flour white walls…
    can you give us the NAME/COLOUR of the paint used… and how do they wear? I have a pack of 10 year old boys (not to mention the dogs…) running thru my house on any given day!!! thank you for your help & TOTAL INSPIRATION!

  42. Else says:

    I love how she turns ‘less is more’ into something you immediately understand.

  43. ink and post says:

    beautiful… and very much my aesthetic as well!

  44. Elissa says:

    I love the cream wall colour – what is it?

  45. Erin says:

    Adore everything about this lovely place. The desk is amazing. A favorite is the chalkboard above the bed with the Frida quote. Any suggestions on where we can find a similarly wonderful chalkboard? Thanks so very much for any thoughts!

  46. eco-stylista says:

    OMG, this is an amazing space! So inspiring! Love it all. So serence, simple, organized… Congratulations!

  47. Heidi says:

    This place is amazing and the charcoal gray in the kitchen is exactly the color I have been looking for! I would die and go to heaven if you posted the color…thanks!

  48. I loved the color of the kitchen so I painted my workspace’s accent wall that color. It turned out to look a little more like navy to me though…


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