HGTV's Design Star: An Interview With Interior Designer and Mom Lonni Paul

Sheri Reed
Lonni Paul, Design Star, designer, HGTV

Design Star's Lonni Paul and her twins

HGTV Design Star designer and mom of three Lonni Paul is here on CafeMom today.

She answers some questions on motherhood and making a home with children and reveals a behind-the-scenes Design Star secret too.

First, a little bit about Lonni...

Design Star contestant and designer Lonni Paul worked globally as a fashion model. That's where she developed a keen eye for understated elegance and her belief in the importance of color and texture, clean lines and the purity of design. She also studied sculpture, deepening her understanding of the aesthetics of form and continued her studies at the prestigious UCLA Architecture and Interior Design program.

Building on her career in art and fashion, Lonni’s art and couture experience translated into the development of luxury homes in Bel Air, Brentwood, and Manhattan Beach. Today, based in Los Angeles, her interior design company lonnipauldesign transforms unique contemporary spaces and luxury private residences from Provence and Aspen to Bel Air and the Hamptons. She bases her work in the study of all things simple, modern and clean.

So Lonni, where do you live and what's your family makeup?

I live in Los Angeles with my husband Don and our 3 1/2-year old twins Sophie and Jett. Our older son Mick lives in Hollywood.

Tell us what a day in your normal life is like. What does your everyday work/home balance look like?

My life is pretty much like every other mom's life, HECTIC! I get up with my kids and have breakfast. Then I go to my office, which is a guest house behind my home, and meet with my assistants and get their daily assignments on track and organize the day according to the lists I've made the night before (usually at about midnight after my kids are in bed; I've had dinner with my husband and spent another couple of hours in my office). During the school year, I drive my kids to preschool and then check job sites, meet clients, and work in my office until it's time to pick up my kids. During the summer, I've tried to incorporate other activities into their day such as swim lessons, soccer, and play dates. 

Aside from your obvious skills as a designer, what skills, as a mom,  do you think you bring to the show?

I think I have life in perspective and realize it's just a TV show! When you have kids, you pretty much know everything else is secondary. If I have a bad day, I know I'm going to wake up to those precious faces the next morning, and everything will be fine.  That was the most difficult part of the show, not being able to see my kids and husband or have contact with them. That combined with four hours of sleep and all the physical work made it very difficult, but if I decide to do something, I do it 100 percent. That's a lesson my parents taught me and one I'll teach my kids. If do your best, you may not win, but you'll never fail.

What's the best tip you can give busy moms who are bored with their homes?

Start small. Don't get overwhelmed. Make a little "look book" with pictures you love that you cut from magazines or print from the web. Once you get that together with your "dream room" start incorporating those elements into your home a bit at a time. Design is a process, that's part of the fun —it doesn't have to be done overnight. Or hire an interior designer, if you are able, to help guide you through the process! 

What about for moms who are overwhelmed with the "stuff" of family and daily living in their homes?

Oh gosh, we all go through that, don't we? Ha! There is so much STUFF that comes with raising a family! I have a file for EVERYTHING! but that's a bit easier when you have an office space. If you don't, just get a small file drawer.

One tip that has saved me is when you look at a piece of paper, act on it. File it, do it, or toss it. And if it's something you can get again (i.e., from the computer) and you don't need it now, toss it!

Tell us a Design Star secret (not who gets kicked off next or anything LOL). Just give us a little tidbit from behind the scenes.

All of these "reality shows" are edited for drama. All of us get on the phone with each other after every episode and LAUGH (and sometimes CRINGE) at what makes it onto the screen and how it's portrayed. It's a very one-dimensional snapshot of a person.  They want drama, so they create cliched characters and use footage that works to promote that image. When the audience sits down every week to watch a new episode, they often times don't realize that we worked non-stop all week without a day off to make the next episode, so as the show goes on, we are more and more tired (and look it! ha!). It's a very surreal experience!

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