Three thirty-something talents take on the town, one room at a time.
By Sherry Moeller
With at least eight years in the interior design business, these three local professionals devote all their time and energy to creating spaces that speak to their clients, including themselves. Washington Life took a tour of Lori Graham’s, Kristin Peake’s and Jeff Akseizer’s homes to share what their clients already proclaim; they’re rising stars in the design industry.
JEFF AKSEIZER, 34: AKSEIZER DESIGN GROUP
Big City Pace
Having grown up on Long Island’s Gold Coast, “I have always been fascinated with the rush of ‘high’ design styles that came here from Europe between 1850 and 1940,” says Jeff Akseizer, who likes to visit places that have design voices from the past such as Newport, R.I. He even takes clients to Newport and plays travel agent so they can take in some of the design ideas that may become part of their own homes. “This town is filled with some of the most famous residential architectural works from McKim, Mead and White’s Isaac Bell House to Richard Morris Hunt’s The Breakers and interiors by Jules Allard and Ogden Codman Jr.,” Akseizer says.
While he approaches design with a clean, sophisticated palette, Akseizer loves all things old. He collects silver from the 1700 and 1800s and finds treasures at the Red Schoolhouse Antiques in Millwood, Va. where the proprietors ship in goods from Scotland. He also frequents John Rosselli, And Beige, Jean Pierre Antiques and Sixteen Fifty Nine. And he’s a big believer in lots of lighting. Besides his own custom line of lighting, Akseizer also likes Ochre, an online contemporary lighting and furnishings source. Clients are working at home more and often late at night so he’s installing more lights and designing more “flex” spaces, rooms that double as offices.
Influenced by Hollywood designers Dorothy Draper and William Haines from the past, today Akseizer is a fan of Kelly Hoppen, a British designer “who just knows the right balance and tonal flow of a space,” he says. “My personal design philosophy is to look at each room as a Hollywood set and create function and form, often times as an illusion, that my clients never thought was possible.”
KRISTIN PEAKE, 39: KRISTIN PEAKE INTERIORS LLC.
While Kristin Peake spent part of her childhood in Annapolis, Md. and graduated in interior design from the University of Maryland, she draws inspiration from other coastal countries for her clean, comforting designs. “My favorite destination is Italy,” Peake says, where she often visualizes the citizens, culture and beautiful landscape when designing for all her clients. “Inspiration comes from so many things: from a piece of sea glass you find on the beach to a linen napkin at a bistro in France,” she says. Besides traveling, her children, nature, magazines, new products and fellow designers inspire her.
Part of her trademark approach is the use of beige as a foundation followed by pops of colors. She’s weary of following trends in fashion and the industry because they tend to be “a flavor of the moment.” Peake says, “If you’re a good designer, you work with your client’s preferences and guide them to good design and good choices that will last a lifetime.”
What’s back in style right now? Textured woven wallpaper as shown in her foyer. The linen feel and three-dimensional quality add warmth. Its neutrality also goes with anything. “I think it’s been back for years,” Peake says, including wall coverings made from plant fibers by Phillip Jeffries and digitized custom vinyl images. For strong colors and geometrics, she looks to Osborne & Little. For timeless, true Americana styles, Peake reaches for Ralph Lauren. Some of her favorite furniture and accessory sources include bi-yearly markets, plus West Coast stores such as Noir Furniture, Custom Furniture & Cabinets (CFC) and BoBo Intriguing Objects.
LORI GRAHAM, 38: LORI GRAHAM DESIGN
Tulsa, Ok. native Lori Graham, principal of Lori Graham Design, travels far and wide for design inspiration. Her latest journey took her to Beirut, where the former lawyer was taken with the “sexy” Le Gray hotel. Graham adds that the J.K. Place Santa Maria Nevella in Florence, Italy is a perennial favorite. “My Dupont Circle living room is inspired by J.K. Place where I used images of sitting rooms to show the juxtaposition of classic elements with modern furnishings and unexpected accessories and fabrics as a timeless approach to design,” she says.
This mix of “old” and “new” is what keeps her designs fresh and her client list growing. Graham’s aesthetic continues in her own product line, LG Place, which features classic furnishings reimagined with modern finishes and details. But when she’s not incorporating her own products in her designs, she looks to consignment and vintage shops like Sixteen Fifty Nine for Mid-Century items; Timothy Paul for carpets, textiles and bedding; and Miss Pixies. “Other great bargains are found in the D.C. residences themselves,” she adds. “I love finding pieces my clients already own or fixtures in the historic homes they are renovating.”