Kim Gordon opens atelier on Montana Avenue
By Nicole Borgenicht
Design visionary Kim Gordon closes her eyes and imagines a complete result. As a self-taught interior designer, she was hired by designers to come up with and commiserate on artsy ideas.
“I did a 30 x 15 wall, a glass mosaic with light for a spa at Highland and Hollywood for designer Kerry Joyce,” Gordon said.
When she lived in Venice Beach, Gordon always enjoyed going to open houses.
“But I found the masculine cement floors, wood ceilings, funky room flows and the only way to the backyard was through bedrooms,” Gordon said. “And no light for dinner parties. I knew I could do more.”
Gordon had seen people redoing barns in Long Island creating great light and plantings; she wanted to make use of the amazing light and shrubbery in California.
When Gordon was 18, she spent a year at the French Culinary Institute in NYC when a then-unknown Bobby Flay was there, but it didn’t become her artistic sweet spot.
She then moved to Puerto Rico with her boyfriend at the time, where she worked with a group of artists in decorative and healing arts and fashion.
“I got the artist bug though I wasn’t a good painter,” Gordon said. “I loved homes and faux finishing, and began doing it.”
Gordon discovered that no one was working on cement floors. She had the vision to make them warmer and add color.
“I then had different labor work on the floors to look sexy,” Gordon said.
Later in California, Gordon met higher-end designers and worked at Capitol Records. She was eventually hired to work on Don Henley’s recording studio to antique the wood.
“I did the work with a butane torch, burning things to look antique,” Gordon said.
Gordon’s no-fear action style was derived from her upbringing.
“My dad was an electrician and built our family home,” Gordon said. “We lived in construction sites.”
At this time, Gordon was married, pregnant and finished the work on Henley’s studio. She gave birth to a son followed by another. As a Venice mom, she started going to open houses and flipping homes.
“The realtor would ask, ‘How much did you do this for?’” Gordon said. “As I came from bigger houses, mansion style, I could figure out how much space is needed for office and kitchen, and I would change cold flooring.”
At that point, Gordon met an all-cash investor and had been married for 10 years to contractor Mauricio Suarez, so they did the work together.
“I created softer interior architecture with better flow for families,” she said.
Some of Gordon’s specialties include flow to the yard, doors or windows that open out to plantings, and steel window frames. Gordon sources supplies locally and in Mexico, she works with gardeners, and is inspired by warm European colors and expansive homes in Mexico and Europe.
Recently, Gordon opened a design workshop on Montana Avenue in Santa Monica. The warm walls and elegant, artsy layout are perfect for her business and design studio. Gordon’s talent includes putting people together as a dynamic symmetry for her creative vision.
“It’s an atelier with terra cotta clay walls that look rose, which are clay troweled plaster,” Gordon said. “I focus on the big picture, what it will look like in a year. My team needs to be nuanced expertise to help find what the client wants. I am not wearing kneepads anymore. I can tell during troweling how the cement is by its smell in the bucket. I supervise, but I don’t micromanage. The team does the work, I go and see it. My whole being is involved in designer jobs.”
Kim Gordon Designs