Designer in Profile | Laidback Lee Design

Jun 01, 2021

Founded by Stephanie Ferrara, Laidback Lee Design is a Sydney-based studio that works across all aspects of the interiors industry. As a passionate creative, Stephanie and her team of like-minded designers love to push the boundaries and bring a fresh outlook to interior design for their clients.

Below, Stephanie shares with us her passion for interiors, her business journey and some style tips on how to elevate your space.


Image above: Stephanie Ferrara, Founder & Head Designer of Laidback Lee | Photography by Samuel Henson Photography


What's your professional background, and how has it influenced your work today?

My early career saw me excited to work in a job that felt like creative freedom. I was working in visual merchandising and went on to expand my passion for interiors while studying a Bachelor of Design at UNSW. I was so passionate about interiors and I began working on my own projects so much so that I thought it was a good time to fuse my interior design and visual merchandising flair into a homewares store of my own.

Whilst running the homewares store, I was juggling full-time study and completing my honours degree all in the same year. I knew I had a lot of ambition, passion and excitement when it came to all things design and that interior design would be the career path for me.

Having built a healthy list of clients and contacts during my time running the store, I spent time putting together a business plan for an interior design service business. As demand grew and I needed flexibility throughout the week to see clients, I took the leap, starting Laidback Lee Design Studio and never looked back!

Pictured: Stephanie Ferrara working at her home

How does a typical day for you unfold?

I start every morning much the same, a big almond cap while flicking through Instagram and replying to comments and Direct Messages's on our Laidback Lee Design page.
I jump onto emails and jump into calls with my team by 7:30am-8am so that by 8:30am I am on the road and seeing clients and my team know what our goals are for the day!
Between seeing clients, I am dropping into my favourite showrooms, picking up samples and jumping back and forth between our Inner west Studio and my home office to ensure I can maximise my time.
The days are filled with client calls, chatting to trades, organising suppliers for new projects and more often than not, I am chatting to new clients interested in our services.
Ah the joys of running your own business!
I end my days around 6:30pm most nights (sometimes later… I’m trying to change my ways) and my husband is the best cook ever so I am super spoilt that he sorts that out while I am looking at fabric samples and signing off on designs.

When did you first develop an interest in interior design and styling?

I was a major enthusiast of all things interiors and from as early as I can remember, I would wait for my parents to leave for the day so that I could rearrange my room and drag my furniture around the place for a fresh feel. What would start as a reshuffle of a few things would then spill out to the rest of the house. I would be re-decorating vignettes and pretty much anything I could move on my own.

Pictured: Benjamin Ripple Buffet

I would wait to see their reactions and that was probably the most exciting part for me. The end result and reaction were the aim, focus and goal…always. I have so much passion and so many ideas that are custom to each home or space I work in, and so, I feel really great when a vision is brought to life. Interior design and styling evolved into something that I really leaped into while studying design and working in various internships at a young age. I made sure to cover all different types of experiences within the design field and that has allowed me to be a chameleon for the varying projects and briefs I work on and have my team involved in.

Pictured: Benjamin Ripple Buffet & Tolv Pensive 1 Seater Sofas

Are interiors your obsession as well as your profession?

Working as an interior designer and in a creative profession, I find it incredibly hard to ‘switch off’ mostly because I really enjoy what I get to do each day and most of the time I find it hard to understand the difference between my interests and research for ‘work’. Most will vouch that I am and always have been obsessed with interiors. I am forever rearranging, redecorating and most recently working on redesigning my house despite my husband’s efforts to remind me that the house doesn’t need to be a running project forever!

Pictured: Elle Block Square Side Table

Describe Laidback Lee’s style and customer?

Laidback Lee customers are sophisticated and understated. Our customer is appreciative of high-end finishes, great quality items and look for layers within a design to understand the success of a cohesive design. Our clients are communicators and we are the story tellers. We work to create a design each and every time that is a dynamic environment which is easy to be in and live in. The style first and foremost is and always will be beautifully resolved design.

Pictured: Henley Chevron Console

What's your favourite GlobeWest piece/collection and why?

A tough question, but one that I’m not afraid to answer. At the moment I am drawn to the Artie Collection. The gorgeous curves and minimalist design are something that is so refreshing to see and to add to projects. From time to time, our studio is looking for a piece that does all the talking without saying too much and over complicating other elements in the design. These pieces in the Artie collection allow for beautiful curved detail, solid structure and a really versatile aesthetic that will translate so well in various styles of homes and spaces.


Artie BuffetArtie Coffee Table

What interior staple could you not live without?

Lamps! My friends will laugh at this response and my husband is already shaking his head – I can see it!
While working in lighting design for a few years throughout my career, I really learnt the importance of colour temperatures, the effects of light on mood and experience and many more technical elements which are sometimes overlooked. I am constantly looking at how a ‘glow’ will translate to the experience in a design that I am working on.

Pictured: Benjamin Ripple Buffet | Photography by Photographed With Love Events

What are your top three styling tips to elevate your home?

START WITH A FRESH CANVAS

Always begin with a fresh and clean space and some freshly painted walls if you can! There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing a beautiful space that has been styled on a blank canvas. This might be my OCD shining through – but I can’t tell you how fresh a lick of paint is when elevating your home.

FIND YOUR PALETTE
You don’t need to include every colour you love in your home. With that being said, if you are drawn to neutral interiors or love seeing a pop of colour, don’t be afraid to do this. A nice way of incorporating a lust worthy palette, is with soft furnishings. They can easily be swapped out when your vibe changes. We love keeping most bases and larger items quite neutral so we can layer texture and colour to suit the desired feel.

Pictured: Elle Round Block Coffee Table & Juno Orb Occasional Chair (Sold Out) click here for similar.

INVESTMENT PIECES
As someone who has experienced varying stages of life, from living with parents to moving out as a newlywed and moving into a home for our growing family, I have personally learnt the craft of figuring out what I should be investing in to make the most impact.
Finding a piece that you can keep for many years to come is always a nice way of making a house feel like a home. The familiarity of bringing some of your favourite pieces with you when you move, is really a special thing.

When you invest in some big-ticket items like a gorgeous console or buffet (these were mine), it allows you to dress the room up around you with items that might change, while planting your signature home style with your signature pieces. Investing usually means great quality which is also so important in a society that so easily can replace the contents of their home in a heartbeat.

Pictured: Zahra Storage Unit

What's your creative process?

Every project is different and I think every designer’s process is so unique. My process is constantly changing and evolving based on the type of project.
As a rule of thumb, I love to get to know my clients and also learn how the space will be used once I am done with it! I start off by mapping a few key questions and a few key deliverables which help guide my decisions.
I am constantly challenging the way I am thinking to position myself in my clients’ shoes and to understand their way of thinking.

Pictured: Laidback Lee Mood Board

Ultimately my design and creative flair will shine through, however I am an avid believer in design that makes sense!
I work with many different suppliers and actually start by looking at scale and shapes in a space to understand how things will flow. Beyond that I focus on materiality and the layering of a space to really create something special. When I am working on a design and construction project, I do much the same however focus on hard finishes and how they will all interact with the new spaces we are putting together!

Who and/or what inspires you?

I am constantly inspired by many different creatives from different fields. I love seeing how other designers, artists, architects and design and construction companies are steering the way that we design and create through new and innovative trends.

I also love to look at architects and designers across history, especially when designing in different period homes. It’s so nice to reflect and get new ideas and appreciation for details in design from the ages. I then will also bounce ideas off my team to really create something that is unique and true to our Laidback Lee design ethos.
My favourite book of all time: Ed Ruscha and some Los Angeles Apartments is inspiring to me and a book I always flick through. It tells a nice tale of individuality and functions of a city and streetscape.

What do you love to do in your spare time?

In my spare time I am hanging out with my young family and our gorgeous Persian Cat Felix. It’s one of my goals to try to switch off on weekends or when I am not out with clients.
Most recently as a family we are currently working on some plans for an extension of our federation home and how we can transform it to work with our growing family for years to come!
We love having friends and family over around in our spare time, and that by all means is when I am not checking emails or sketching plans on the weekends!

What's your dream project?

Since 2021 began, I had a long list of new clients for the year and every single one has been super exciting, challenging and rewarding. Most days I spend arranging other people’s homes and it is the dream – for me anyway!

Now as I write this, I must say, a dream of mine is actually away from interiors (just for this project) and to work on a landscaping project in my new yard and to knock down our fibro garages from the rear lane and build a two-level garage/ studio space.

Ultimately this space will act as a space where I am able to work from home, get super creative and even bring clients over for a coffee and to review ideas.

Pictured: Maui Dining Arm Chairs

What's next for Laidback Lee?

The list is endless. I am the queen of compiling lists (for everything). We are working on putting together a new 2021 e-book about all thing’s interiors including a trend forecast and some insights into amazing ways to transform spaces at different budgets. We are also working on our Podcast https://anchor.fm/laidbacklee!

I am working on 24 projects at the moment which I cannot wait to get shot and published – some which include LOTS of new GlobeWest items which is exciting. Apart from that, I hope we continue to grow our fabulous team of creatives, keep designing Laidback Lee Design Style projects and continue to employ different trades to help us make our clients spaces next level.


Where can people learn more about you?

WEB: www.laidbackleedesign.com

INSTAGRAM: @laidbacklee_design

FACEBOOK: /laidbackleedesign


Laidback Lee are a GlobeWest referred designer.

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