The Masters Touch

The eclectic tastes of interior designer Amanda Masters.

By Amelia Fleetwood

With a bright red vase for a pop of color, framed art resting on the counter, woven chairs and a shiny brass light fixture, Masters has combined a variety of elements and textures to bring visual interest and dimension to a clean, modern kitchen.


nterior designer Amanda Masters has spent the last two decades creating her clients’ homes and work spaces as enviable locations. She’s amassed an eclectic roster of clients, everyone from the Hollywood elite to artists and ranchers. This former Londoner has put roots down in California, calling the rolling hills of Klentner Ranch home.

“I am a road warrior,” Masters exclaims. “I drive to Los Angeles to my office every week. I always have projects going on down there and L.A is where we source the best furniture, fabric and antiques.”

Most recently, Masters completed the Los Angeles flagship store for fashion designer Natalie Martin’s eponymous line. Closer to home, Masters is refurbishing a tasting room for a Santa Ynez winery called Folded Hills, as well as designing interiors for a Summerland beach house and a beautiful home in Ojai for a film director and his family.

When asked how she got her start, Masters answers, “I was working as an accountant for a business man and helping him run his house. He hired a decorator to redo his home and I was immediately taken with the process. I knew right away that this was what I wanted to do. I was struck by how careful and thoughtful the decorator was, how the development was so instinctual.”

Soon, Masters began putting the finishing touches on constructions her property developer husband was building. “Most of the time the new owners would hire me after they bought the properties and it all just snowballed from there.”

Masters traveled as a child, spending summers in the South of France. She lived in Paris during a long stint as a fashion model. “Traveling the world helped define my personal style,” she says. “European influences are hard to bring to the table in design unless you have lived it. America is the most wonderful place to live, but my design influences are definitely from Europe. I love the way the English do things, the way they mix expensive art with a beat-up, frumpy sofa — it’s an English thing where everything does not have to be so perfect all of the time. It’s always fascinated me.”

Masters is also inspired by trends which jive with her affinity for California beach living. “People love that Californian-clean, modern, open interior design and mid-century modern furniture, but it is a trick to make it warm enough for a comfortable existence,” she says.

She has honed the skill of straddling these two worlds; her specialty is making spaces inviting, especially by bringing the outdoors inside. “We live in California where we can marry the interiors always with the exteriors. Even if a person just has a small balcony, it is always practical to include some nature to tie it together.”

Not one to shy away from color and bold patterns, her passion for textiles is paramount. “Fabrics and textiles are my hugest loves.” Masters recently returned from a buying trip in Marakesh, Morocco, where her appetite for textiles was satiated. “ I came home with some incredible rugs. I was newly inspired by the culture, craftsmanship and the artisans who create there.”

Self-taught, Masters relies on instinct and her catalog of experience. She sees the role of a designer as that of a conduit who draws out the personalities and expressions of clients, and interprets her findings into their environment. Masters helps her clients to personalize their space, keeping those individual touches which she feels are key. Masters shares, “I want my clients to feel comfortable, and to be proud of their homes. I bring them educated and inspired choices and ideas, but ultimately, they have the last say.”

Masters does not like disposable furniture; she favors things built to last. “I can’t stand the idea of junk furniture filling up our landfills. I prefer the idea of buying something that will stand the test of time. I still have a sofa that I bought thirty years ago. Of course it has been recovered many times, but it is still amazing.”

“I tell people to keep it interesting,” she continues. “For example, I love table-scapes. They say something about the people who live in the house.”

Another of Masters’ rules of thumb is to keep spaces transformative and impactful. “Keep it low. Low sofas, low coffee tables, low lighting with dimmers and candles. Don’t hang art too high. It should always be at eye level for maximum enjoyment.”

Amanda Masters Design

“Fabrics and textiles are my hugest loves,” says Masters, shown here in her stylish Carpinteria home, where colorfully patterned rugs, cushions and throws contrast beautifully against the bright, airy architecture. Photo by Michael Haber


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