Creating timeless and elegant spaces for clientele across the United States, Travis Grimm of Travis Grimm Interiors has cemented himself as a name to know in the design world. The designer-homebuilder was featured in 2017 for his contributions to Albert Hadley’s “Rooms With a View” showcase and has been recognized for his projects in Atlanta, Boston, Cape Cod, Connecticut and Los Angeles.
Grimm recently sat down to chat about his design philosophy, trends to know in 2021 and his latest project — a stunning Paul Williams-inspired home in the Hidden Hills area of Los Angeles. His comments have been edited for clarity.
How did you get into the design business?
TG: You could say that I got into it at an early age. My dad made me work every part of the building industry growing up; cleaning construction sites during college, doing work at a lumber yard. I learned the ins and outs that way, all through high school and continuing on into college. After college, I started working for a developer, and it just took off from there. I’ve been designing for the past 12-14 years now.
That sounds like a very ground-up approach to learning the business. How has that helped you in your career?
TG: I work really well with builders because I know what’s possible; I’m not just throwing out ideas that aren’t going to work. I love the construction process. There’s nothing better than the smell of plywood — I love it.
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What drew you to the Hidden Hills area for your latest project?
TG: On my hikes, I would come up here and marvel at the views. There’s nothing like it that I’ve seen before. Every [hour] of the day, the views change with the light and the sunsets are spectacular.
Tell me about your inspiration for the house.
TG: Paul Williams is my biggest inspiration. I think I’ve stalked all the Paul Williams homes around Beverly Hills and Bel-Air. His work represents the classic architecture of L.A. That’s what I based this project on—finding old photos of the staircases and other features of his homes and using those to kind of transform [this project] into what will live well today.
You have a great handle on combining new/old design elements. What is your thought process when it comes to mixing periods?
TG: Generations of periods and times should be mixed. What keeps interior spaces from feeling stagnant are when you have a 1940s table next to a very clean sofa — I love that. I like mixing periods because I feel like it adds instant warmth to a room.
What are some of the elements of note with the Hidden Hills project?
TG: There’s nothing stock in this house. All the millwork is custom-designed. I took a lot of traditional things and made them original. My molding came from traditional molding I found in a New York townhome, and I cleaned it up to make it cleaner with more square edges instead of rounded. The floors are real hardwood, not engineered. All the custom marble mantles were designed by me. The bar; I love the walnut bar — it’s stunning.
What’s your favorite space in the house?
TG: I love our stairway; I spent so much time trying to make the engineering of that work. Surprisingly, the room we spend the most time in is the bar. We designed it so that the big bar is extra wide and there’s seating on both sides. It’s great for entertaining. We lay food out on it and then we use it as a family room for puzzles and board games. It’s just a warm room to be in.
What about the great outdoor swimming pool area?
TG: The pool took a lot of playing around with to get just right. We used limestone to keep a really clean aesthetic. When you’re in the pool, it feels like it spills off the mountain and that you’re floating. The natural light changes on the pool throughout the day and reflects the mountains and sky around it. It’s incredible.
How do you begin to conceptualize a room or space in your mind?
TG: I have files and files of magazine clippings and things saved on Pinterest. Anytime I see an architectural detail I like or a room I like, I’ll save it. I’ll start with a room. We knew we wanted this house to function for entertaining, when we can, and also have a family space. And I feel like that’s representative of the finished product — a well-designed home for family life and grand entertaining.
What sort of design trends did you see emerge in 2020?
TG: I think people are really leaning back to tradition again. Huge open spaces are really nice in theory but when a whole family is at home distance learning and working, people want private space. People now are wanting to be able to be together as a family but also to separate. Rooms like a real family room that has a little bit of separation in the kitchen, a real office, a master bedroom that has a real escape to them. I also think people are veering away from cold materials. Now, they’re looking for more warmth and more texture. I love that because we’re hitting a wall with slabs of marble and cold interiors.
Has flexible or auxiliary space become a standard or requirement when it comes to new home development?
TG: I think so. People like the option of having their own space. With our project, we have a pool house that also has a gym. It’s great when we go to work out because it’s a completely separate destination rather than just working out in a room in the house.
What trends are on their way out in 2021?
TG: I think the modern farmhouse has run its course. Especially in Los Angeles, [that style] has been ridden ‘til the wheels fall off. I’m very hopeful we’ll see more traditional architecture coming back, even if it’s traditional on the outside and clean and contemporary on the inside. A traditional home is what stands the test of time.
What advice would you give someone looking to break into the design or development business?
TG: Interior design and development are so different. With interior design, it is a tough world to break into. Having a clear vision of what your aesthetic is is very important. The key is making sure it is your aesthetic and you’re not mimicking others. Sometimes it’s best to work for somebody else to understand the business before you get your feet wet. I was lucky that I worked for my dad for a long time and then working for another developer, but I definitely started from the bottom doing some dirty work to get into that world.