Race Against TimeAuthor:Lindsey Shook
Erin Fetherston puts her multidimensional design skills to the test when redesigning her own home in nine weeks
“I began my design journey in fashion, launching my namesake womenswear label when I was just 24 years old while living abroad in Paris. Over time, my creative interests evolved to include interiors, and that’s where I am presently focusing my personal and professional energy,” says designer Erin Fetherston on the evolution of her creative career, which has now landed in California full-time in the field of interior design.
With projects spread out across the state, a very pressing matter would soon take priority—finding and designing a larger home for her own growing family. “I was pregnant with my third child, and we had outgrown our previous house,” she recalls. “I was eager to find something before giving birth and this house miraculously came on the market just as I was entering my third trimester.” Unlike many stories recently heard about losing bids in this very competitive market, Fetherston and her husband quickly closed on the home nine weeks shy of her due date. “The day we got the keys, I had a crew in that morning to begin sanding the floors as I wanted to lighten them from a cherry wood tone to a light finish. It was daunting to make so many design decisions so quickly, but I knew we had a small window of opportunity before moving in. It felt like a now-or-never moment.”
With three young, active children, it was important to Fetherston to create a relaxed and durable environment while honoring the grandeur of the 1920s 5,000-square-foot Georgian home. “Oftentimes—especially with historical homes—the formality of the layout can result in unused or what I call ‘showroom’ spaces—i.e., the formal sitting room that looks pretty but no one ever goes into,” she notes. “In this project, I was determined to optimize the connection between every room to create a thoughtful flow of activity to support our daily family life. As a mom, this makes me really happy because I feel each room serves a purpose and plays a role in moving my children through the motions of their day.”
Similar to her delightful frocks, Fetherston’s interior design style is fresh, subtle and dreamy with a focus on scale. “I always like to embellish ceiling height, for example, so one technique I used in this house was to mount all the window treatments as close to the ceiling as possible, which lifts the eye up and creates more of a European proportion,” she says. “I kept everything in my signature light palette but tried to add layers of depth and warmth by using a variety of woven and wood accents.”
Racing against the nine-week clock that fell on top of the Christmas-New Year holidays and a Covid surge forced Fetherston to make swift decisions, including what to do with the abundant dark mahogany trim. “I spent about a week spinning my creative wheels on how to lean into this and work with the aesthetic, but ultimately I knew that was just too much of a stretch for me,” she recalls. “Sometimes it’s good to just know who you are and what your tastes are, even if it means a controversial choice, as many would say painting over original mahogany is sacrilegious.”
The kitchen was in dire need of an overhaul, but the timeline would not allow for it. Instead, she worked with the existing layout and cabinetry and added luxurious fixtures from the House of Rohl, new countertops from Cosentino and appliances from Café Appliances. “By simply changing these details and adding some beautiful light fixtures, the kitchen is now one of my favorite areas in the house,” she remarks. California Closets stepped in to provide the much-needed storage solutions not commonly found inside a 1920s home, which made the move-in and due date much more efficient.
Perhaps it was Fetherston’s years spent facing deadlines to send collections down the runways of Paris that prepared her for the speed of this very important personal project, which her entire family has fallen deeply in love with. “The stars truly aligned for us to have this home, and I was also so fortunate to work with such excellent tradespeople and vendors, who expedited everything as much as they could to make it happen for us in time to welcome our baby,” she says. “I think the best was when I brought my 2-year-old to the house after move-in day. He was exploring from room to room and discovering all the little details and things I had set up for him and in his sweet, lispy toddler voice he kept saying, “Thank you, mommy,” as though he truly understood all the effort I had put into creating a magical space for him and his brothers.”
SHOP THE LOOK and discover what’s inside Erin Fetherston’s forever family home.