Meet Designer Lauren Richardson, founder of The Sursy and Maximalist at Heart

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At The Sursy, Lauren Richardson turns spaces into shoppable vacation homes while supporting the crafts.

Hospitality designer Lauren Richardson is the founder, chief creative, and principal designer behind The Sursy, an experiential design and development group based in Denver, Colorado.

The Sursy operates a portfolio of shoppable vacation homes. One of them is the Coal Creek Cabin, a cozy and eclectic space featuring Clay Imports Thin Brick and Juice White.

Tell us about your project

LR: The Coal Creek Cabin project was a fun design effort for a 3b/2ba 1970s cabin located about 45 minutes outside of Boulder, Colorado. We wound up doing the bulk of the sourcing and install for the project at the early onset of the COVID pandemic, which created a unique set of challenges, and also came with its own unique set of challenges as we were designing amidst the unknowns that came along with the pandemic.

The Sursy Coal Creek Cabin.

Photography by Holly Fink of Home Skillet Photo.

What inspired you?

LR: I usually get inspired by one large piece in any given space, and build a design around it. For the The Sursy Coal Creek Cabin, it was the oversized, curved Gus Modern* Modular Arc sofa that anchored the nostalgic-yet-modern vibe that I was trying to balance. I wanted to pay homage to the age of the home, while at the same time making it suitable and functional for the homeowners and the Airbnb guests they would host.

@thesursy: There’s painters tape and trial swatches on the walls, buckets filled with firewood and cardboard galore all around but I love sharing the #wip process!

Why did you choose the product?

LR: When it came to the fireplace backsplash, I knew it needed to make a statement in the large, main living space, and that somehow the framing of the wood-burning stove needed to have more purpose. Originally, the small stove looked tiny and overwhelmed by the giant wall behind it, so we chose to build in large, custom benches on either side and picked the Glazed Thin Brick Deslavado Tile to execute an intricate tile pattern I saw Studio A Group apply beautifully for a commercial project in Austin.

@thesursy: A major source of happy vibes the past few days has come from progress pics from the Coal Creek Cabin!

How was your experience at Clay Imports? 

LR: Working with Clay Imports was easy breezy! Seemed almost too simple. The order was placed and delivered with no hassles, even amidst the restraints the beginnings of the pandemic were presenting for companies everywhere.

When working on a new project, what items are worth investing in?

LR: As a designer, I prioritize sourcing locally whenever possible. Obviously that’s not always possible given what a certain aesthetic needs or what a client’s preferences might be. However I think going custom – things like built-ins or made-to-order furniture pieces that fit perfectly in a particular space – is always worth it. It brings a premium look to a space. And most local artisans are happy to work with designers to make custom sized versions or variations of their pieces to fit into a design. It’s a fun way to tie-in the community into the design process.

Juice White design by The Sursy.

Walk us through your design process.

LR: I usually start with a phone call or coffee date with clients to learn more about their vision, understand their functional goals, and review any Pinterest or Houzz boards they’ve curated. From there, we go into the visioning process. Here I create mood boards for each room in a home that start to hone in on what the ‘big picture’ design aesthetic will be. Once the client is aligned with the general design direction, we dive into furniture sourcing. At this point, I’m usually given cart blanche on furniture selection and design details to meet the vision through final install. Some clients prefer a more ‘hands on’ approach instead. Which means we’re reviewing and deciding on every furniture and decor element together, down to the cabinet pulls and sheets. Either way works! Just a matter of preference and how in the weeds clients want to be.

@thesursy: This fireplace project has been keeping me up at night, y’all!! […]

What design trend are you vibing on right now?

LR: I’m a big fan of the 1970s style coming back into play; large curvy furniture pieces, swivel chairs, breeze block indoors, bead curtains, and funky mixing of patterns and textures; I’m here for it all! One trend I am happy seeing to be going away? Open concept floor plans. I personally love when rooms have purpose. And when a home has cozy nooks and separation, so am excited to see this trend losing steam. 

Describe your personal style.

LR: I am a maximalist at heart, and love eclectic looking spaces. For me: the more mixing of textiles and patterns, and of vintage or thrifted items with newer modern pieces, the better! Sometimes people worry too much about matching things. Whereas I think I focus more on things not matching to create a unique look and feel to a design.

@thesursy: Much better use of space, if we do say so ourselves👏[…]

What social platform do you seek inspiration from the most?

LR: Definitely the ‘gram. For me, scrolling through design or architecture accounts or hashtags I follow is like flipping through the latest magazine. Love it.

Do you have any design secrets you could fill us in on?

LR: I like to “take a risk” on the up and coming artists. Spoiler alert: it’s not taking a risk at all. There are so many talented people out there, many of which work full time and do their art or trade on the side. By going straight to independent artists, makers, and creatives as opposed to sourcing from big galleries or big box stores you are bound to get higher quality and more bang for your buck. 

If you could have an unlimited supply of one of our products, which would it be? 

LR: Oh gosh, all of it! I love a good pop of tile, especially in unexpected places throughout a home.

Do you have a go-to project management tool that you live by? 

LR: I use Asana now, but am planning to use Basecamp for the big motel project I’m tackling next year. My business partner also recently got me turned on to the Full Focus Planner. I try to be diligent about using it daily to set and keep track of everything from long and short-term goals for my company and me personally to how I spend my time.

What do you love the most about what you do? Assuming you love what you do. 

LR: Interior Design is a surprisingly personal profession. You really get to know and care about your clients, because the better you know them the better job you can do for them in making their vision a reality. It is probably my favorite part, getting to know and spending time with new people. And seeing how happy clients are in their space once our design is installed. It feels like a magic trick…though all designers out there know there’s a lot of blood, sweat, tears (and lots of calls with contractors!) that goes into the process behind the scenes.

@thesursy: Cheersin’ to the *almost* weekend likeeeee☕️[…]

If you weren’t an interior designer, what other career path would you pursue?

LR: I’ve worked in the agency world in the past, for a large corporation, and for a tech start-up. For me, I think I’ve found my place and purpose right where I am career-wise [with The Sursy]. There’s no other industry I’d rather be in than design and development! I am obsessed with real estate, and interiors, and the built world…so why not do it all!

Celeb/designer crush?

LR: The one and only, Kelly Wearstler, of course! I also really love following along with The Joshua Tree House. Their business model is similar to the path I am trying to forge myself with The Sursy, so it’s inspiring seeing people who have made it happen just doin’ the damn thing. 

Want to learn more about what Lauren is up to? Check out the The Sursy website here and make sure to to follow them on instagram.


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