The Greatest Indoors: An Interview with Interior Designer Jake Arnold

Words by Alex Falconer

  • Photo by Clarke Tolton.

    Photo by Clarke Tolton.

  • All interior photos by Michael Clifford.

    All interior photos by Michael Clifford.

Navigate to slider image 0 Navigate to slider image 1

Nearly 10 years ago, Jake Arnold had a vision. As he drove down a London freeway, rain pittering against the windshield in a grey haze, he imagined himself zooming along a different road—one that was five thousand miles away. He pictured palm trees and sunshine; he pictured Southern California. And then, after applying for a Los Angeles-based internship on Twitter, he found himself there. “I felt like it was so deeply real that it just happened,” he says. “It definitely was the universe, because nothing was that proper. It just aligned and happened in a way that was so organic.”

When Arnold first moved to Los Angeles, he knew no one. He was working for an interior design firm that took him under its wing; one day, he met an architect whose designer had left halfway through a project. The architect asked Arnold, “Do you know somebody who could finish this house?” As a joke, Arnold replied, “I could do it.” It was the home of dancer and actress Julianne Hough. “I didn’t have any vendors, no contacts, nothing, and I just figured it out,” Arnold admits. “I worked with her, and we got a story on the cover of Better Homes & Gardens the next year.” From there, Arnold’s career took off, with clients reaching out to him directly. “I was living like a normal 23-year-old, but working on multimillion-dollar projects,” he recalls. “It was a very strange dichotomy for me, because I had to do one thing in the day and then at night, it was something separate. But it always kept me driven.”

Jake Arnold

Fast-forward to today, and Los Angeles officially feels like home for Arnold. “I feel like my whole adult life is here,” he says via video. He is sitting in his office, the rich red walls—the color is Portola’s Lighthouse, for anyone wondering—enveloping him like a cozy throw blanket (though they have since been painted Old White by Farrow & Ball). The office is recognizable from his Instagram, where a gorgeous grid gives fans a 4:5 look inside his world. Arnold’s designs are bold and inviting—delicious, even. Just looking at his work evokes the idea of being beckoned to come home.

“I think you can do a full neutral space, but everything can be a beautiful texture—and it has a richness to it just by the fact that it has depth in the materials that you use,” he explains. This philosophy appears to be a staple in his designs; the metal finishes with patina, the textured tiles, the soft curves of furniture or doorways—they all amount to spaces that are incredibly layered and dynamic. In a world where many people succumb to chromophobia—fear or aversion to color—within their homes, Arnold’s approach is to meet clients where they’re at: “Really what we’re meant to do is push the boundary for someone.”

Jake Arnold

And while he’s leaning into color and prints more and more, the neutral palette will always be a cornerstone of his work. “I approach all projects as new, but at the end of the day, there’s also a palette where the types of finishes are going to be consistent throughout,” he explains, “because A: those are the things that I’m drawn to, and B: as a company and as a brand, there is a level of consistency. Clients will see that it’s in line with what we’ve done, but it will also have a stamp of something that feels special and unique for their house.” This steady aesthetic has made Arnold the go-to designer for many celebrities in Los Angeles, including Chrissy Teigen and John Legend, Rashida Jones, Sophia Bush, and Aaron Paul. When asked where he’d like to design a home beyond LA, he answers, “Ironically, I would love to do a place in London. It’s right up my kind of tastes—I love the Georgian architecture and original Tudor houses. It’s fun to do something that has a juxtaposition of styles, whereas in LA, for example, a lot of houses are a lot newer, so it’s harder. Outside of London, I would say somewhere like Italy. Sounds like heaven.”

The full interview is available exclusively in Natural Habitat Print Issue No. 1. Order your copy here.