The Bright Side of Boston: Meet Designer Liz Caan
Boston is the cornerstone of New England culture. It is the home of the Ivy League, the NBA’s beloved Celtics, and award-winning clam chowder. And in recent years, has experienced a new “revolution,” thanks to the work of designer Liz Caan & Co. who is known for her signature style of mixing vibrant color and patterns in a way that honors
tradition with a modern sensibility. In just over a decade, Elizabeth’s work has elevated some of Boston’s most distinctive and historic homes with renewed vitality and charm and has been featured in design publications nationwide. We met up with Liz to talk about color, pattern, and her secret to brightening things up in Boston…
“Great design is an exchange of ideas. When clients are engaged in the design process, it becomes a creative dialogue that is alive with possibilities, leading to fresh, unexpected, and individualized solutions. The end result is a beautiful home highly attuned to who you are and how you live.”
C: You have a degree in Fine Art and professional background in sales and marketing. What led you to start your business?
LC: Well, I’ve always cared about my spaces. I read a ton, and am passionate about art and design, and I’ve always been attracted to bright colors. It wasn’t until my kids were old enough and we moved from Chicago to Boston that I decided to pursue interior design. I started working in a local retail store and learned the business. Within a short time I took my first job; it was small, but it quickly led to others, and eventually full-time design work. That was over twelve years ago.
C: Can you tell us more about what inspired you to shift your Newton boutique from a traditional retail operation to a collaborative studio space and showroom that hosts local industry partners?
LC: Yes, we have vetted a network of talented resources and love to support local business. We believe that by giving our clients the opportunity to meet directly with a vendor not only allows them to learn about the quality and production of a product, but it adds greater value to their investment.
For example, I bring small businesses to the showroom, like local artists or custom bedding design companies, but will travel to just about anywhere with a client to learn about a product if it makes sense for the project. I’ve taken clients to visit the Merida Rug factory here in Boston. I’ve also gone as far as Atlanta to visit a stone fabricator, and to Urban Electric in Charleston. My clients loved the experience, and now feel a personal connection to the product; it becomes part of their design story and history of their home.
C: That is amazing- you have really established yourself here in Boston. Tell us a little about your experience with Carlisle. Which Carlisle floors would you say work best with a brighter palette?
LC: Yes, about 5 years ago, I found Robert Ellington, my wide-plank specialist, when he started working at the Boston showroom. I immediately appreciated the quality of Carlisle’s top-tier building products and the unlimited selection of finishes available.
I adore Walnut floors in a random width with a natural finish. I’m also attracted to the Reclaimed Hardwood floors with the Watermill Textures. It all works so beautifully with the historical architecture of Boston. And the rich, dark color provides a nice visual anchor for colorful palettes.
C: Speaking of color, you are known for your ability to mix color and pattern. What are your favorite combos right now?
LC: There are so many; I’m attracted to anything with a handmade quality and adore geometric patterns and primitive florals. When it comes to colors, I really like warm tones, like browns, grays, pinks, and corals. And pinks with a bit of a “blushy” vibe.
C: What advice would you give to someone who might be ready to add color to a neutral space?
LC: I would tell them to start with a couple of accent pieces in a color they love. An ottoman, some pillows… Live with it to see how it feels. Maybe even paint a door in a matching color. If they like it, then move into bigger items like furnishings and walls. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing- adding gradual color can be a fun way to change up a space over a period of time.
C: We admire how you work with color, but are also obsessing over the character of your spaces. We can almost feel the personality of your client in every image. What’s your secret – are there certain questions you ask that best inform your work?
LC: Yes. The big question I ask every client is, “How do you want your home to feel when you walk through the front door?” Their answers are very telling for us, and as we continue to learn about them, we try to write the narrative in our head. We are immediately thinking about who (which vendors) would partner best with the client in order to make the design process an enjoyable and enlightening experience.
C: This is so intuitive- you are also designing their experience, which is so smart. And the way you style a home: It’s beautiful but personal- right down to the finishing touch. What are some examples of accessories you might add to aspace to make a client feel at home?
LC: In many cases, we like to use things they own. We try to repurpose existing items. For example, one thing we like to do is collect existing art and reframe it to create a new collection. Clients really appreciate this, as it honors their story in a new way. When it comes to styling, a lot of accessories come from us. And with that, we try to find pieces that are practical and will have meaning, like hand-made pottery and vases by local vendors, or anything that will be unique to their home. I especially like to support local brands that are not so recognizable which make a project that much more special.
That’s great advice. Liz, you’ve inspired us to shop local, fall in love with new fabrics, and add a pop of color to our lives. You are truly bringing new style and character to Boston. We can’t wait to see what projects will be gracing our favorite design magazines in the near future and look forward to making more wide-plank floors to make history with your work.