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Laura Pavlovich of Therese Carmel on Responding to Change & Rediscovering Home

We can’t control what happens outside ourselves, but we can reshape our interior worlds. Laura Pavolich, owner of design firm Therese Carmel, opened her new Laguna Beach showroom just one day before before California’s governor mandated that retail stores close. Fortunately, the firm had plenty of one-to-two year projects in the works, and they found that their services were needed more than ever, despite the change in plans.

Interior by Therese Carmel. Photography by Peter Vitale.

As clients shelter in place, they see the importance of designing rooms to flow well between interior and exterior spaces. People also need their homes to be more functional than ever.

“They are understanding even more the importance of bringing the outdoors in,” explains Laura, “That there can be beauty in day to day rituals, and how vital function is in addition to form.”

In the lead-up to their store opening, Laura and her daughter Ashley — who work together — viewed the showroom as a laboratory to play with palettes, textures, finishes and furnishings. They’ve put their experiments to good use in current projects, bringing organic shapes and natural materials into homes that blend custom contemporary furnishings with antiques from France, Italy, Turkey, China and elsewhere.


Interior by Therese Carmel. Photography by Peter Vitale.

California’s landscape pervades Laura’s perspective. In her interiors, the view often takes center stage, with ocean-inspired blues and greens finding their way into artwork, rugs and upholstery. It’s a mindset that extends beyond color choices into the way a home feels and functions.

“Bringing in the outdoors — views, fresh flowers, sea breezes — is not only for aesthetic reasons, but for our health and wellbeing as well,” she says. “We’ve always believed that comfort is a luxury, and clients now understand even more how rooms must be an inviting, gracious and comfortable refuge.”

Natural woven rugs evoke sandy beaches, while pale silver-blue walls reflect the sky. The effect is calming yet compelling — there’s always something new to be discovered.

Interior by Therese Carmel. Photography by Peter Vitale.

An open-minded approach leads to unexpected pairings. In one home, a series of Chinese antique painted panels echo the Pacific Ocean beyond the windows, while French antiques, Murano glass lamps and an Oushak Rug create contrasting — yet complimentary — patterns and textures.

Interior by Therese Carmel. Photography by Peter Vitale.

Laura finds inspiration in both far-flung places and close to home. Family is central to her business, and multiple generations inform her aesthetic approach.

“I have admired the Asian sensibility for as long as I can remember,” she says, “in part because of the travels and treasures of my globetrotting grandmother, and also because my parents taught us about appreciating the beauty of nature, having an eye for natural materials — be they young or old with patina — and learning the history of objects.”

She’s passed those lessons on to her daughter, Ashley, who joined the firm five years ago after receiving her degree in interior design. Having studied graphic design before transitioning to interiors, Ashley brings a fresh perspective and an eye for color.

Interior by Therese Carmel. Photography by Peter Vitale.

It was also thanks to Ashley that Laura discovered PAGODA RED. “About ten years ago I wanted to find a very special tall blue and white vase with a phoenix bird on it for my daughter’s wedding reception,” she recalls. “Thankfully I discovered PAGODA RED, and the perfect vase was found. Since then, we’ve found many, many other unique furnishings and accessories there.”

Interior by Therese Carmel. Photography by Peter Vitale.

To learn more about Laura and Ashley’s work, visit them online at, or stop by their new showroom when stores re-open. Located in a historic Laguna Beach building, the shop features a revolving inventory of bespoke designs, one-of-a-kind antique and vintage pieces, original art, and artist collaborations.


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