Caroline Lizarraga - A Creative Inspiration
Caroline Lizarraga of Caroline Lizarraga Decorative Paint
Caroline is a dear friend whom I have admired for years and feel blessed to have been able to work with. I recently had a fun exchange with Caroline and asked her some questions about her life, inspiration, and design projects.
How are you navigating your new life with your gorgeous "Peach" Rafaella, and your expanding business?
“Well, Navigate seems like an elegant word for just no sleeping! I am just giving all I have to Raffaella and my business. Luckily I am surrounded with amazing people who support me. My painting team is incredible. They are all stepping up in such an amazing way. And my family is super helpful. My son is constantly helping with The Peach and the business. He even ran to FEDEX the other night after dinner to overnight samples for a new hotel we are working on!”
Tell me a little bit about your background and education? I know you studied art restoration Italy. How did that education lead you into decorative painting?
“I actually first studied fashion design. I had a job as a buyer but I wasn’t sure it was going to be my end all. I always felt inside that I really had a purpose here and I was determined to find it. I always went to garage sales and flea markets on the weekend. I started buying furniture, but furniture that needed work and a transformation. I remember the first piece I bought, my mom saying that it was so ugly. I went home painted it chartreuse, hand painted magnolias, gold leafed the trim, and antiqued it. I mean I really had no idea what I was doing, but looking back it really wasn’t bad. I paid $20 for it and a designer that saw it offered me $1200...and there it began! I found a furniture restoration program in Florence, Italy and I moved. I then returned to San Francisco and apprenticed under a decorative painter for a few years before I went out on my own.”
Where do you find inspiration and ideas for all your fabulous finishes?
"I get inspiration everywhere. Fashion always, travel of course, nature, my friends, and other artists like Rothko, Cy Twombly, Dries Van Noten, and Alexander McQueen. It’s hard to not be inspired."
What's fresh and new that gets you the most excited about the future direction of interior design and decorative painting?
"Design is always changing and I love that. I have a hard time sitting still so it suits me. I think both you and I know as we advance in technology, the need for one of a kind and handmade has become even stronger. That makes me so happy to see craft and art going so strong. I feel so invested in doing things by hand."
We have worked together on several projects, which I have loved and am always inspired to work with you! What project was the most fun that you did for Found or my own personal home?
"Well it’s always such a joy to work with you and G. We basically love the same things so it’s very fun for me to paint my own taste. I would say the first thing we painted for you would have to be my favorite. We didn’t totally know each other yet, but I could see your look so clearly. We did your bar in 'Maja blue' with brass highlights in our agate finish. When we were done and all the accessories were in, I knew we were a match made in heaven."
During this challenging time, I know you have been very busy. Do you think the trend of people spending money on their homes and designing their spaces will continue as we move beyond Covid?
"Gosh, I have no idea what was going to happen with Covid. When everything started shutting down, I thought will we work again? That lasted about 5 minutes. I think some of our clients got worried that artists wouldn’t make it, so several of my clients literally went to their weekend homes, left me the keys and said, “Caroline can you do 5 rooms, whatever you want... just surprise us!”"
"I was so touched. I have always been busy but now it’s another level (the level where you wake up in the middle of the night stressing!!!). What I am seeing now as people get vaccinated, we will be back working all over the country again. We already have several projects booked on the east coast as soon as we are vaccinated. I think home decorating will be going strong for a while."
What was your most inspiring project?
"By far my most inspiring project was when we did Dita Von Teese’s house in Los Angeles...
"I already was such a huge fan, and when she called me, I almost fell off my chair! But the best part was that she trusted me, loved all our ideas, and let us do our thing..."
"We got to really push it because she obviously has very specific taste. It was a complete dream! She is truly the loveliest most beautiful soul."
What was your most challenging project?
"The most challenging was this year in the height of covid, and the elections. We had a project in Montana that had been in the works for 3 years. I had just had my baby, just a few months prior. My husband took paternity leave, and we drove with our 3 month old in a snowstorm to Montana. We arrived and it was 0 degrees! The job itself was so physically hard, but also everything was so behind. Let’s just say I am thrilled it is done and gorgeous now."
We are not able to travel as we wish right now and it is difficult for both of us because of our passion for travel, Where would you like most to travel and where have you traveled that you have found the most inspiration? Is the first place you will travel Italy!?
You have done many Decorator Showcase House rooms. What was the most fun of all the projects past and present that you have done for the Showcase House?
“Well, I do showcase only with the designers we work with constantly, and I consider dear friends. It’s really fun to see them design without perimeters and I always want to support what they want to achieve. I can’t really pick a favorite, I am just grateful that they include us.”
You know I love blues and greens, and have a custom 'Maja Blue' What is your favorite colors/color and are they also your favorite colors/color to work with?
“Well as a redhead, give me any green! Particularly chartreuse. We just made the most stunning color the other day, that is a deep yellow, with a touch of green. I am in love, hard. There is a joke that I spec orange like most people spec white. And it’s kind of true, it really can be neutral. Also we are having a major moment with Yves Klein Blue, that color takes my breath away.”
What is giving you hope, in the world of design, or otherwise?
“My son Sebastian and my daughter Raffaella! They are my everything. They are both flourishing in this challenging time, finding their paths. It really makes me so proud. But also my friends.”
"I know that Betty (Betty Lin, Mr. Lin) opened a store at the start of covid, which was designed by Eche Martinez and painted by you and your team! It is gorgeous!I love that it was born out of this time..."
"We all are working hard, believing in what we do, and putting only our best forward. We create our lives, and if you surround yourself with people that think and act this way, not only does it give me hope, but it inspires me and all the people around them! I am so grateful for all of this."
~Caroline has done some amazing work for us, from client projects to custom pieces. We have had her create a special wreath/malachite mirror for Children of Shelters, enhance a vintage chest, create a gorgeous custom screen, and paint an ethereal Redwood forest for our client's master bedroom wall. We adore working together and cannot wait for the next inspiration to do so again!~