The Big Apple was starting to bring celebrity chef turned interior designer Travis London down. “I get so seasonally depressed in New York,” he says. “I knew I wanted to be in Miami.” The Florida hot spot’s neon-tinted exuberance was much more on London’s wavelength, so he decamped to the famously sunny city in early 2020 in search of a fresh start.
In some ways, moving south was a full-circle moment for the creative, who devoured Gianni Versace’s Do Not Disturb book as a Southern California teenager. The late fashion designer and famous Miami resident inspired a love of design in London, who modeled his own adolescent bedroom after Versace’s Lake Como boudoir.
After landing in South Beach, London stumbled across a 1940 town house with pristine Art Deco detailing including an original fireplace, travertine floors, and charming interior arches. London initially wrote off the 2,100-square-foot, four-bedroom property as “way too much space” for him and his three poodles, but quickly decided it was meant to be and moved in shortly thereafter. Now, he relishes the freedom that such a canvas gives him to express himself fully. Notably, the home also serves as a de facto show house for his budding design business, Studio London Co. (He closed his high-profile catering company, Healthy Chic Eats, in 2015 in order to focus full-time on design.)
“A house is always a reflection of where we are in our life,” says London, who ended up doing most of the renovating and decorating during COVID-19 lockdowns. “When things came to a stop, I got to actually think about who I am and how I want to express that in this house. It took a different turn and ended up the way it is [thanks to me] having that time of self-reflection.” After some rehabilitation work—the walls needed to be primed and sanded, and the uneven crown moldings were taken down—the designer was ready to turn his vision into a reality.
The resulting interiors are a testament to London’s more-is-more take on life: Awash in bright hues and animal prints, the rooms were decorated to reflect the various moods he cycles through, from playful to sophisticated, and flirtatious. London considers himself a masterful product finder: “I source 1stdibs, I go to markets, I’m online, I’m on eBay… I find stuff in every corner of the world,” he says. He paired vintage finds and beloved knickknacks with furnishings from CB2, RH, and Anthropologie. (His most prized possession? A cluster of decorative eggs from Joan Rivers’s collection that he keeps on his bedside.)
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As for the art, there’s a clear running theme—most of the paintings and prints showcase London and his dogs: Sebastian, Pierre, and Stella. “This is the only time that I get to have 30 photos of me on the wall,” he says. “The times that people celebrate you and your life are so few and far between as you become older.” He commissioned pieces from artists Lex Marie, Sasha-Loriene, and Kendra Dandy, and framed some of his own black-and-white iPhone images. “I chose all Black female artists,” he explains. “I was raised by my mom, and I believe in always supporting women first.” Other design gestures throughout the home, such as a Drop It Modern wallpaper in the office which showcases gestural faces, pay homage to female creatives.
With most furnishings purchased at retail stores, London’s house offers an exciting blueprint for style-minded homeowners on a budget. “I’m big on getting something cheap and making it more high-end,” he says. As one might therefore imagine, he had many key items customized by upholstering them in fabrics that fully transformed their look and feel. For instance, the RH Cloud bed in London’s bedroom takes on a sultry vibe in Jim Thompson’s Serengeti fabric, while hot pink and orange Scalamandré velvets add a jolt of energy to the chairs and sofa in the living area. “Color is everything for me—it gives me hope,” he says.
Now fully settled in, and spending much of his time cooking and entertaining for friends and family (costume parties are a favorite pastime), London is itching to transform his surroundings again. “I’ve started collecting things and putting them in storage,” he says, adding that he hopes his house will be something of a chameleon. “Maybe it’ll be constantly evolving.”