Vance Burke

Vance Burke & Todd Peter Interior Design
(323) 654-5602

Sometimes people want to represent all parts of who they are in one house,” says Vance Burke, a notion to which many non-decorator types can surely, rather sheepishly, relate. “You have to edit it down to tell just one story of who you are — and that story changes.”

Vance keeps his main residence in Los Angeles, along with a place near Seaside in the Florida Panhandle. But we met him in his south Palm Springs condo in Seven Lakes Country Club — the story he tells there being “clean and modern without being cold or boring.” His partner, Todd, found the Seven Lakes development and was drawn to the period architecture. The interior, however, needed a major overhaul to suit their lifestyle. Because Todd loves to cook and they both like to entertain, they have always made a big kitchen top priority. In this home, they relocated the sunken kitchen to what used to be the family room, affording it much more space and creating an open arrangement next to the living room. “At the end of any party, everyone winds up in the kitchen anyway,” Vance says. Even in their clients’ homes, “we like to make the kitchen a big room that harmonizes with the rest of the house rather than being pushed off to one side.” Vance says their own kitchen’s aesthetic (shown on page 2H) is such a departure from the norm that during one party a guest asked in what room he was standing. As an alternative to the traditional kitchen island, a Lucite-and-glass, counter-height table serves as a focal point and social epicenter. A light fixture integrated into the floor shines up through the glass, while another shines down from above — a concept Vance has modified for several clients. More and more, he has been interested in layering different light sources to manipulate a room’s mood and control the affect for different events or times of the day.

As far as trends go, Vance says outdoor living is still a hot topic, as he fields many requests to create outdoor environments that achieve the same level of quality and aesthetic as their indoor counterparts. “We’ve been making a lot of outdoor furniture that repeats the same shapes on the same scale. If we do an interior sofa, we’ll do a different version for the outside, in outdoor fabric, so it’s almost a yin and yang,” he says. “It makes for a seamless vision.” Kitchens and bathrooms with outdoor components or extensions have also been popular. For one recent project, Vance added walled-in private patios to each bathroom, giving the client an option to shower indoors or out, a novelty Vance calls “a nice experience. I think it’s important to blur those indoor-outdoor lines, especially in a community so much about great weather.”

In addition to the prominent kitchens, layered light sources, and outdoor spaces, Vance has one more signature inclination: “I like fewer, bigger things.” He throws the notion of standard-sized furniture out of the room more often than not, opting to fashion custom 9- or 11- foot sofas. When his clients balk at the bulk, he’ll build a muslin replica first to prove the look — and size — are appropriate. “We scale all of our upholstery specifically for each room,” says the designer who began his career working in New York for Donghia and Parrish Hadley. “I think that’s the biggest contribution we make.”

Favorite way to entertain:
Cocktails and dinner with friends and neighbors. “Everyone here takes turns having people over. We feel really lucky.”

Favorite way to relax:
Driving around and stopping to browse in local thrift stores

Personal style:
Clean straight lines, a boldness of scale. Quiet but luxurious finishes, which translate into both traditional and modern interiors.

Dream client:
“I love people who have the ability to make a decision. And I love when they can tell you what they want, even if they don’t know how to achieve it.”

People notice first in his home:
The black glass wall in the living room

Notices first in someone else’s home:
“I like to see someone has thought about something and achieved a high level of resolution. It’s exciting when I disagree but they’ve done something to make it work. It’s disappointing when I go into a space and realize no one has thought about it.”

“It takes me a while to convince people that big spaces need big pieces of furniture. It’s important to have big pieces to anchor a room. One way to ensure someone looks lonely is to put them on a small piece of furniture.”

Challenge In his own home:
“I’m afraid I’m guilty of always decorating.”

Clients want:
A reorientation of their homes to suit the way they use them, starting with the entry point. “I’ve been doing some beautiful custom garages — it’s the first thing they see when they drive into the home. Or we do a beautiful back entry if that’s what they use most.”

Why clients love him:
“I believe in making it as easy as possible for everyone involved. It can be such a happy, joyous experience. We try to make it easy and fun.”

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