Have you ever met a traveling treasure hunter? Well, you are about to! Stephanie Hunt is an Interior Designer based in Park City, Utah and Newport Beach, California, who travels in a quest for flair; managing to find it wherever she goes. Her Instagram feed is filled with photos of her discoveries including art, antiques, vintage, salvaged pieces and clothing lines. She travels the world for her clients, sourcing accessories for the home that have that X-factor. Read on to find out more about Flairhunter...
Tell us how you came up with the name Flairhunter The name originally evolved from a conversation with a treasured friend and business consultant who encouraged me to start a blog because she thought my stories and unusual life could be a good narrative. It stems from my last name, Hunt, combined with the flair I am always looking for on my travels. It is a business name and now, accidentally, has become a persona. I love it when I run into people and they say “It’s Flairhunter!” It was a bit embarrassing at first, but now I love it. It’s not too serious, just fun and happy. I like the word flair because it doesn’t pigeonhole me specifically into interiors or fashion. Style can be such a subjective word and applies to so much. I never want to imply for one second that I’m a great arbiter of style, like I’m the boss of what’s stylish. But flair is different, I just know it when I see it. I feel like if I called myself Stylehunter there would be an arrogance in that.
Where is your favorite city for Flairhunting? My favorite hunting grounds are all over Los Angeles. I have lived and worked in the area for over 30 years, so I know it like the back of my hand. Also, Paris! My grandparents on my father’s side lived there when I was growing up. I minored in French and studied in Switzerland during college so I spent many weekends in Paris. I’ve also had the privilege of flea market shopping there with clients over the past several years, and in this chapter of my life I try to make it a point to go there at least once a year, or more if I can swing it. This past January I attended Paris Design Week with all the private parties, presentations and events that are part of that. Talk about a life highlight! Plus, I just love walking through the city taking pictures and notes of the fashion and style. Those Parisian women have mad flair and style in spades.
What is your favorite find? Some of my favorite found treasures include vintage glove molds. I don’t know why but I love them! The hands and arms seem to be reaching for something when they’re placed on a shelf or coffee table. Maybe it’s symbolic to me…They are also unusual conversation starters and, like so many things, they are much better in a collection of several rather than just one all by itself. I also love vintage signage and metal lettering — as a journalism major and avid reader, I’m obsessed with letters and fonts. Also, art and paintings are a personal favorite. My mother was an artist and my parents and grandparents on both sides were avid art collectors. It’s in my blood. My husband and I try to purchase art on our travels. One of our all-time favorites is a small charcoal drawing of two people in love that we bought in our early years of marriage from a street artist in Soho. We brought it home, framed it, and it’s always hung in a prominent place in our homes no matter where we’re living. It isn’t the price that makes something special, it’s the story; the memory and feeling it evokes. I also love buying tiny oil paintings at flea markets, wondering about the artist, and then framing them over-sized in a really special way when I get home.
How often do you travel? Is it mostly for business or pleasure? I travel a lot. I think I’m kind of a gypsy or a restless spirit. With grandparents in Norway and France, we lived and traveled extensively internationally when I was growing up. I love to travel and can’t stand missing out on a great adventure. I’m so fortunate to have friends and clients who want me to travel with them for business and pleasure. Additionally, our younger son is a professional snowboarder on the US Snowboard team, so his events literally take us all over the world. That life development was what started Flairhunter. I found myself in so many interesting foreign places all of the time with a greater opportunity to observe, document and participate in the conversation of style and flair.
What motivated you to become an interior designer? Ah. The evolution to designer. Raised by an artist and parents who were constantly buying, remodeling homes, selling and moving, it was a passion early on. But, the bigger story is that in the mid ‘80s I planned to go to law school after college. I watched LA Law and thought that seemed terribly sophisticated and glamorous. Ha! While working at big law firms in downtown LA and studying for the LSAT, I learned what really drew me to that life were just the beautiful offices and great clothes they wore. Then, while working for law firms and later, a real estate property management firm, I found that selecting the wallpaper for the conference room was much more up my alley. Not the practice of law. I was also newly married and starting a family, buying and decorating colorful, art-filled homes that people seemed to respond to, and friends started asking me to help them decorate theirs. I went back to school and took classes, started working for other talented designers, and the rest is history.
What does sustainable luxury mean to you? One example of sustainable luxury is choosing to reupholster an existing item vs. purchasing new. Instead of chucking the old piece because the fabric is outdated, damaged or no longer to a client’s liking, reupholster! It is more cost-effective, better for the environment and there are fewer materials being used or disposed of. If you select a practical, long-lasting fabric, then you can use the zippy, expensive, unusual textiles and patterns on some throw pillows that live on the sofa instead of using that fabric on the entire sofa. That is how I like to bring an awareness to sustainability. I also like to incorporate sustainability into my projects by using my love for vintage, antiques and salvage; using industrial or architectural salvage in the construction of a new home, or even aviation salvage as art. We hauled an enormous vintage airplane propellor back from Napa and have installed it vertically over windows in our TV room. It’s such a conversation piece. Using vintage and antiques in the decor of a home gives it such an interesting, layered feel. Like the home has a history and has drawn from the past. I also love using vintage doors inside of a home, or old snow fencing as a bed wall. Sustaining and re-using something from someone else’s story, long ago; I think it helps give the house a soul.
One way you personally channel sustainability into your personal lifestyle choices. Admittedly, I might be later to the sustainability party than others. In the past couple of years I have had much more of an awareness. But, I’ve always loved vintage clothing. At first it was because of the look and the story, now I fully recognize it as sustainable. I also like to shop local; supporting smaller, locally owned stores and businesses. Supporting local artists wherever I travel is a big one! By purchasing their works and bringing an awareness to their talents, I am helping to support and sustain them.
As a rising influencer in the world of interiors what key projects are you involved with in 2016? Because of my extensive travel schedule, and living in two different states, I’m not taking on any additional big design projects for at least the next two years. I am currently finishing a few projects, including an amazing historic ranch in Ojai, CA, just north of Los Angeles, on which the barn was actually one of the original Pony Express mail stops. It’s amazing. We are only changing certain finishes—tile and light fixtures—but we are adding tons of flair in the form of wall coverings, antiques, beautiful fabrics and upholstered pieces, as well as art throughout. Beyond that I’m focusing on evolving my business to new frontiers, promoting art and design events around the world and art or piece-specific purchases for clients from my travels.
What fuels your passion for design? The constant stimuli of amazing things and people I encounter on a daily basis, in my personal and professional life, but mostly from my travels. Art, architecture, the colors in nature, amazingly and unusually dressed people in different countries. And also the memory of my mother, who passed away unexpectedly almost 20 years ago now. She was a Norwegian, brilliantly talented and a recognized artist in the 1970s and 1980s, painting huge abstract expressionistic oil paintings in vibrant colors, some that filled our home and others that were in private and corporate collections around the world. She always created such beautiful, warm, interesting homes for her children no matter where we were in the world. We moved frequently, and as a mother myself I only now find I’m fully appreciating the enormous difficulties she must have faced in making us feel grounded, instantly, in an interesting and lovely home. I think it’s because of her that I literally dream in color, need vivid colors around me, and am always drawn to all things—and people—with flair. Some are soothed by neutrals, but I’m soothed by grass-green and canary-yellow. I like the unexpected and the exciting. I have a Viking spirit at heart, inherited from my mom.
Who or what inspires you? My mom. And also, recently I’ve begun to really take notice and study other amazing, stylish, fearless women all around the world who are aging with such flair. In their attitudes, wardrobes, the relationships and opportunities they create for themselves. I am inspired by fearless, passionate, colorful people. Men and women both. My husband and sons fit this description in so many different ways; fearless and living in Technicolor in every sense. Forging their own way.