Brigette Romanek’s Hollywood connections run deep – she’s the younger daughter of singer-songwriter Paulette McWilliams, who sang with Marvin Gaye, David Bowie, Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin, and many others. What grounded Romanek throughout her peripatetic childhood was her ability to “make any new space home” by decorating and personalizing it with special treasures and mementos that had meaning in her life. Before designing, Brigette followed in her mother’s footsteps by securing her record deal, later creating a successful line of handbags. Romanek’s husband, Mark Romanek, is a celebrated director, specifically in the music video industry, where he’s known for directing Beyoncé’s “Sandcastles” video from Lemonade. The Romaneks were recognized throughout Los Angeles circles for their stewardship of one of the city’s most storied estates in Laurel Canyon, often mistaken on celebrity tours as the Harry Houdini estate. The publication of the home led to friends seeking Romaneks to design their spaces, so a second career was born.
Her eponymous studio is only five years in the making, and her work will be memorialized this fall with the release of her debut monograph, Liveable Luxe (Chronicle Chroma), featuring a foreword penned by Paltrow.
Liveable Luxe presents a collection of Romanek’s distinctive residential interiors, highlighting luxurious yet casual homes and commercial projects in places ranging from Los Angeles to New York. Brigette’s essays and anecdotes share her intuitive and open approach to design throughout the book. Her aesthetic blend of both the high-end and the accessible, or as she calls it, “Gucci meets Gap,” is a refreshing approach and fully apparent in the spaces she crafts. Extensively featured in the book are the homes of her well-known clients, including Paltrow and Molly Baz, who admire and seek her design expertise in creating spaces that evoke a laid-back-yet-elegant feel.
ESSENCE spoke to her about what inspired her book and how she inspires others to embrace luxury daily.
ESSENCE: What inspired you to create your first monograph?
I had been asked in the past, but I wasn’t ready. Over the past couple of years, doing talks and being asked questions about how I started and what are some of my tools for design, I felt like it was a good time. Chronicle Chroma approached me, and I appreciated how they cared so much about my process and what I wanted to share, so it’s not just a book with pretty pictures; it’s telling my story.
Brigette Romanek: What does “Livable Luxe” mean for you? Why did you decide to name your book that?
It’s a way to live beautifully but comfortably. It is a way to enjoy all of your spaces equally. No rooms that are just for special occasions.
How can our readers create livable luxury?
Think first about how you want the room to function for you. A relaxing room or office where you can concentrate, stay alert, etc. Then, what items could help you achieve that? From there, create a board of all the things and a budget, and from there, decide what should be the star in the room and the other items around it. It is still amazing, but they don’t have to be expensive because the star is holding down the room.
You’re known for executing exquisite interior design concepts for top-tier celebrities. What’s your approach?
My approach is going in passionately, listening to my client’s needs, and helping them realize them.
What’s your favorite design concept featured in the book and why?
My theme is eclecticism throughout all the projects. That’s always been my favorite design concept. Personal and eclectic.
What’s your favorite design trend to apply to homes?
Organic shapes. I love that they’re becoming classics in different pieces—sofas, tables, pillows, and more.
How would you describe your design style, and why do you love using colors to elevate a space?
Classic, eclectic, with some whimsy thrown in. Colors affect moods, making the skin glow and setting a mood.
You speak about allowing clients to receive the unexpected. Why is that important for you?
It’s my job to gently push and show pieces my clients have yet to see and open up their views and thinking. Introduce them to new makers with new design stories to tell.
What’s your advice for other self-taught interior designers?
Understand that you’re in the service industry. Be willing to listen to your clients about what’s important to them and view it through your design lens. And have fun.
What do you hope your readers take from this book?
Do what feels good to you. Make it yours. That’s the way to be happiest.