It might sound crazy for one of Hollywood’s to leave fashion for interior design, a field in which she has no formal training.
But Simone Harouche has been called crazy before. Like, the time she custom-made a brass kitchen island, strung up a tree swing in her living room, and sought out a set of rare Borge Mogensen chairs for her dining room.
All those decisions did prove crazy — crazy good.
“I’m having a mid-life crisis of sorts, but I haven’t reached my mid-life point,” laughed Simone.
Christina Aguilera, Miley Cyrus, and Nicole Richie, among others, have showcased Simone’s fashion work, but many would recognize her first as the stylist who was with Kim Kardashian in Paris the night of that horrific robbery.
“After getting off the plane after what happened, all I wanted to do was just come to my house,” remembers Simone. “It always just felt comforting. I never felt weird after that about the security or anything … Just because my house, you know, it’s your safe place.”
The 1920’s Spanish-style home in question is certainly calming and comfortable (and beautiful, to boot). It was Simone’s first solo design project, and she’s since started to take on clients, many who were inspired after visiting her home.
In the living room, Simone painted the original sausalito tiles with white epoxy to keep the colors airy and soft in contrast to the eggplant velvet couch. Custom shelves holding Simone’s reference books also match the wood of the beams above for a neutral effect.
But about that swing.
“The joke is like everyone who walks in [that room asks], ‘Are you OK? This is insane,’” says Simone. Insane because who puts a tree swing in a home, and insane because who puts a tree swing beside a glass coffee table when they have two adorable, wee babes?
Visitors come around though once they sit on it. “They are like, ‘I really like this. This is really relaxing,’” says Simone. After all, “it’s still an adults house, too.”
When designing, Simone believes in honoring a building’s original architecture. Typical to Spanish-style houses, her home is made up of quirky, smaller rooms — such as, a tiny bathroom under the stairs, a breakfast nook and a butler’s pantry.
Her friends urged her to break down the walls to make a live-in kitchen with a TV and a sofa, “but that’s not a Spanish home …. Part of their character is in those little spaces or in the archways.”
The young interior designer may be learning as she goes, but a lack of formal training opens her up to new ways of thinking, and her work as a stylist informs her design sensibilities. She builds rooms around statement pieces like she would craft an outfit around a statement dress or shoe “so that everything works together in a fluid way.”
Fashion and interior design have always been happy lovers. Hubert de Givenchy outfitted Audrey Hepburn in gowns as iconicized as constellations, but he also designed homes pretty enough to make you weep. Ralph Lauren, Tiffany, and Cartier have long had decor branches; think even of the phrase, “dressing a house to sell.”
If switching from fashion to interior design is about learning and taking risks for Simone, the kitchen was both the school yard and the poker table.
Simone wanted a brass island. Her husband said that’s crazy, but she went ahead and found a welder to wrap brass sheet metal around the counter. The worker also said that’s crazy, then did it for her any way.
Now everyone thinks it’s beautiful.
“I kind of just allowed myself to make choices and be like, ‘OK, it might be a mistake, but at least you are following your instincts,’” she says.
Simone worked with interior designer Courtney Applebaum on her last home — “I guess I wasn’t feeling quite confident yet.” — which was more punchy. Think: a black library with gold wallpaper.
Instead, a sense of lived-in casualness pervades this current home, from her son’s art on the wall to the towering plants tucked into corners. Simone wants guests to feel instantly at ease, but that casualness is not to be confused with a lack of effort or care.
Her determination is proven eight times over in the feat that is her Borge Mogensen dining room set.
She fell in love with two of the vintage chairs by chance and decided to just buy them and hunt down more. “One of the guys at the store laughed at me. He was like, ‘Good luck,’” Simone says.
As luck would have it, she completed her set — even if it did take her four months, three states, and two countries to do so.
Much of the home’s pieces are also vintage, like the reclaimed tile from Italy in the bathroom and the Philip Arctander "Clam Chair" in the living room. Others are custom-made, including the master bedroom’s nightstands and headboard, a slab of wood Simone bought online from Northern California. It’s one of the great organic and raw moments in the home.
So, do the Kardashians support their stylist’s newest career venture? Yes, full-heartedly.
“I was talking to Kim the other day, and I was like ‘Yeah, I’m really trying to step out of styling. I really just want to focus more on interiors,’” Simone says. “She was like, ‘You need to talk to Kourtney. Kourtney and you should open up your own firm.’ Because I’ve known Kourtney forever too, and Kourtney loves interior design.”
Given Simone’s talent and the family’s business aptitude, that sounds like a grand idea to us.