Design Spotlight: Isabel Ladd’s Brazilian Carnival-Inspired Patio

You won’t find bright colors and bold patterns in every designer’s repertoire, but Kentucky-based Isabel Ladd lives and breathes them. The Brazilian-born designer defines her style as “curated maximalism.” She creates uplifting spaces that radiate with enthusiasm and are designed to make clients feel happy, turning uninspiring spaces into jaw-dropping scenes. But she’s not just limited to interiors – Ladd recently designed the patio space at Kips Bay Decorator Show House in Dallas, Texas. Speaking on the opportunity Ladd said, “As a Brazilian native who thrives in heat and sun, this outdoor terrace space hits close to home,” Ladd said about the opportunity. We sat down with her to learn more about her process, her inspiration and how our trade program helped take her project to the next level.

FG: What inspired you to become a designer? What was your journey like getting there?

IL: I’ve always had an eye for pretty things and making them collide in interesting ways. This foundation is what made me realize I wanted to become a designer.I decided I wanted to start my own business, which began by simply helping with my friends’ design projects. I slowly built my clientele and I’ve now been in business for seven years. It’s been a series of celebrations as well as learning experiences; there’s nothing I could have learned from a textbook to prepare me for the business of interior design.

FG: People have been spending a lot more time at home the past two years. How has this lifestyle change impacted your work as a designer? What have clients been wanting more of?

IL: My business skyrocketed when people stayed home because they became more aware of the impact their environment has on their work, home life, and mood. Fewer clients are seeking open floor plans, They’re instead wanting more walls to create privacy and separate spaces.

FG: What’s the biggest outdoor design mistake you see people make? How do you fix it?

IL: Keeping things too matchy-matchy. Design is more interesting when risks are taken, when an explosion of colors and fabrics work together. Introducing pattern and bright color is also easier to maintain as they hide the effects of nature’s elements better than solid or light colors. The ways to fix the mistake of matching everything: layer, banish the beige and play with pattern!

FG: Each room in the Kips Bay Showhouse has a unique personality and point of view. Was there a specific ask regarding the concept of this outdoor space? Can you describe your inspiration for the space?

IL: Kips Bay assigned me the patio and deck over the creek – then let me do my thing. The great thing about showhouses, especially Kips Bay, is that there are no specific asks. The designers have creative freedom. For this project, I drew inspiration from the graphics on the event invitations. There were tropical bird and floral motifs, which I used to create and print as an outdoor fabric. From there, the yellows and explosions of fabrics, prints, textures and patterns took off. As a Brazilian native, I wanted this outdoor space to read like a Brazilian carnival: loud, vibrant and saturated.

FG: How did Frontgate’s selections help to create this concept?

IL: When embracing maximalism it is important to know when to embrace vibrant elements and when to pull back with more traditional pieces. I achieved this by using Frontgate’s Chinoiserie Planters throughout my design. The classic blue-and-white motifs on the planters played an integral role in keeping the space balanced. Having that push-and-pull and knowing when to reign in the bold is key to capturing a curated maximalist look. Also, since this was an outdoor space, Frontgate’s glow balls, outdoor lanterns and candles created an inviting ambience. It was important to light up this space using soft lighting not only to set the mood outside, but to also bring people from the inside, out.

FG: Of the Frontgate pieces you chose, what features appealed to you for this space?

IL: My outdoor space did not include any electrical sockets, so Frontgate came to the rescue by supplying lights that were either battery operated or solar powered. Even if I did have electricity in this space, these options make for a more intimate, inviting ambience with their soft glows of luminosity, instead of bright aggressive lights.

FG: Was there anything about the materials and design of your chosen Frontgate pieces that made them ideal for the space?

IL: Having a variety of materials is crucial to keeping a space visually interesting. I love mixing materials. The organic, rattan of the solar powered lanterns juxtaposed nicely with the patinated iron of the pineapple lanterns. The modern white glow balls were a stark contrast to the traditional blue-and-white chinoiserie planters nearby. Diversity in materials and shapes is what keeps spaces fresh and exciting.

FG: What is your go-to design tip that surprises clients?

IL: Mix and don’t match. Clients are always surprised when given creative liberty to mix up patterns, colors and materials, and create juxtaposition. They’re surprised because they’ve always thought they needed to match.

FG: If you’re going to invest in one outdoor piece to refresh your clients’ space let it be _____.

IL: A medley of prints, colors, and patterns that brings you joy.

Follow Isabel on Instagram @Isabel_ladd_interiors. And if you are a designer, architect or developer, you can enjoy exclusive savings and dedicated service through our Trade program. Discover the benefits of a partnership with Frontgate Trade today.

Photo Credit: Nathan Schroder

November 10, 2022