Simon Paul Scott is a designer, collector, and restorer of beautiful things: furnishings, decor, and art. With a keen (and creative!) eye for good design, his inspiration is based on an intriguing mix of travel, wit, and irreverent glamour. Simon has worked for more than two decades in the interior design arts, and shares his love for ever-evolving interiors – and passion for objets d’beauté.
What is your background?
I’m a Los Angeles native. Second generation born in the San Fernando Valley. I’ve only ever lived in Los Angeles and Honolulu, really. But I’ve had the good fortune to travel the world quite a lot…Or, do you mean educationally? I flunked out of Cal Arts where I majored in Graphic Design. Thank heavens they politely asked me to leave because that was right before the advent of computer assisted design. Hand drawing typography was really not my forté. I ended up graduating from UCLA with a History BA with a special emphasis in South East Asia. I liked Pearl Buck novels as a kid, and “The King and I”, so that’s why the emphasis. I thought I’d go on to become an attorney and fight for women’s equality…I read my stepmother’s “Cosmo” mags.
How did you get into design? Have you always been aesthetically minded?
Oh yes. Always. Since I was very young I decorated and re-decorated my room every year. I can’t say that my taste has always been refined but I can say with absolute clarity that I’ve only ever cared about aesthetics.
How do you achieve a polished look without it seeming too precious and austere?
Nobody has ever called me “austere.” I do get called “precious” a lot but I’m sure that’s a term of endearment. Since I tend to over-accessorize my own interiors, I’ve had to really practice the art of editing. It’s maybe the most difficult thing any of us has to do to create a truly polished look. Edit until you feel like something is missing; almost until it hurts and then add a beautiful floral arrangement. Mother always said: “Put all your jewelry on and then take one thing off.” I feel that way about interiors. You don’t have to show off ALL your family jewels at once.
If someone is working within a strict budget, where do you encourage them to spend and save?
That’s easy! Spend on custom framing for the art because you can take a found object or something inexpensive and turn it into a masterpiece. You can’t achieve that with a pre-fab IKEA frame. And I say one of the best ways to save money is to either buy vintage furniture and have it re-upholstered/re-finished or buy perfectly crafted furniture because you can get a lot of mileage from a good piece re-working it every 4 to 5 years and making it brand new again. Buying quality now really does save a lot of money over the long-haul. I’m certain that if people will dig a little, we can all find affordable resources for refinishing or reupholstering nearby.
Do you have a signature and does it find its way into every project?
Of course I do! I manage to sneak in either my own marble grape clusters or some vintage alabaster grapes from Italy. I have a few other fetishes like giant clam shells and anything crusted with seashells…but the marble grapes are compulsory. You can jamais have enough marble grapes. (Jamais is French for “never” if you don’t know. I tend to pepper my speech with foreign language so people know I’m extremely cultured.)
Is there a current trend that you think will endure?
Yes, I think the “great mix” is going to endure because I think we’re all bored with any one distinct style. It simply has to be okay to include disparate elements into an interior because otherwise, it’s just devoid of personality. I do get clients paying me to come inject the personality into otherwise perfectly edited and minimalist spaces. That doesn’t have to mean a bunch of “stuff” everywhere. But there can be clever serving pieces for the table or a thought-provoking coffee table book…and something sparkly to catch the eye…some kind of jewelry for the room…whatever that means to an individual. I completely went off track! I think the mix of ethnic fabrics and motifs is here to stay. It’s not simply the BoHo chic trend. It shows a reverence for other cultures and honors history. Kilims, oushaks, ben ourains, kuba cloth, Shibori, batik,…interestingly note that all these include an element of hand-made.
What is your favorite recent project and what made it special?
A favorite recent project was the largest condo in the most expensive hotel in Beverly Hills. It was a dream because there simply was no budget limit. It was challenging because the client had the MOST discriminating taste and it’s not easy to “wow” slightly jaded people who’ve already seen it all, owned it all, can afford anything…and still remain tastefully restrained, yet colorful and full of life. It was very “her”, and I loved it.
Do you have a fantasy project?
YES!!! I want to build an authentic Ottoman style spa any place in the world with geo-thermal waters. Please, can we buy up everything fabulous in Turkey while the dollar is strong and transport it somewhere safe and accessible?
What are your favorite pieces on Previously Owned by a Gay Man and how would you use them in a project?
Here are my current favorites from Previously Owned…and you’ll probably notice that they all would go PERFECTLY into my dream project of a hammam style Turkish spa!
Firstly, these are some of my favorite things ever:
They’d be perfect in my dream spa, anybody’s beach house, everybody’s pool cabana and – because there’s a pair – stunning above a dining table or kitchen counter/bar.
This kilim (pronounced” “ka-LEEM” if you don’t already know) for all the obvious reasons. It’s so well priced that I can’t believe it hasn’t sold, yet. These are soft-enough underfoot to be cozy, durable as heck and timeless. It’s the right kind of colorful for almost every interior but subtle enough not to take over any room:
This stone bowl because I have them everywhere in my home: kitchen with garlic and onions, bathrooms with soaps, living room with candles, bedrooms with Santa Maria Novella pot pourri. They’re timeless, handcrafted and you can never have enough. Of course, in my spa they’d have gorgeous hand-made Turkish olive oil soaps in them.
And these Saarinen Tulip chairs are perfect for anybody’s home. Especially if you have kids because they’re so durable and don’t stain. Food fight, anyone? (Or red wine?–Which is fine afternoon in my opinion. Not for children unless in Europe and with meals only.) These have beautiful leather seats but I’d swap them out in my hammam spa with cushions made from indoor/outdoor fabric and put them in the anterooms for changing or relaxing between steaming and soaking and if I had young children, let them have their grape juice and crayons because these are practical, comfortable and oh-so stylish!