My Lucky Seven: Jeff Trotter

If you’ve happened upon my Instagram account in the past few years, you probably noticed that my best friend is ridiculously good-looking. If his handsome ways led to clickage on his page, you’re also well aware that Jeff Trotter is an extremely talented interior designer with a design aesthetic that will make you question all of your life’s IKEA purchases. 

The backstory: While he was actually an English major at UCLA, Jeff frequently worked in set design and art direction on the side, putting his innate love of design to use. He had been moving bedroom furniture, rearranging wall art and switching out linens as a blue-eyed child, so eventually leaving his post-grad job at CBS to pursue a career in Interior Design was the natural thing to do. Clearly, it is working out for him-his leather-bound calendar is consistently booked-up with high profile renovations, company collabs and those coveted Instagram takeovers. But fear not, he still puts his education to use (parents love that) by regularly writing for design publications.

Trotter and I talked business after our weekly Sugarfish date and I asked him for tips on how to transform your living quarters into the home you’ve always seen on your mental vision board-without unloading last year’s salary. Let’s face it, designing a look within four walls is entirely different than dressing a human and some of us need a push in the right direction. So here it is-a small shove-from a professional.

1. Paint

One of the easiest, and most cost effective ways to transform your space is with a few gallons of paint. Whether it's a bold color statement, or a fresh coat of crisp white, painting is the quickest and most transformative way to give your space a facelift.

2. Go High/Low

Splurge on investment pieces and save wherever you can. When you come across a stunning coffee table, a rug that speaks to you, or some amazing antique, it's worth investing in them. Just be sure they'll withstand trends, and that you'll be able to love them long term. If you invest wisely, you should be able to fold in pieces from chain stores that won't break the bank without having your home look like a generic page from a retail catalogue. 

3. Don’t “One Stop Shop"

Speaking of retail catalogues, the most common mistake many people make when it comes to design is buying everything in sets or purchasing everything from the same store. It may be "easy" to do so, but it's a major missed opportunity to infuse personality and individuality into your home. 

4. DIY

If you're unable to invest in expensive art pieces, get creative! Purchase some gallery frames or shadow boxes to frame some of your favorite vinyl album covers, photos from your travels, or even pictures from magazines to give your space some one of a kind wall art.

5. Scale Is Everything

When purchasing furniture pieces, know your room's dimensions as well as the dimensions of the pieces you plan on purchasing. One of my biggest design pet peeves is seeing a space filled with furniture that is not scaled appropriately. I suggest using masking tape to tape out the dimensions of a piece on the floor of your room. Make sure that couch, chair, or dining room table isn't too small or too big for the room you intend to place it in. Another tip, measure your doorways and entry points. That expensive custom sectional may be perfect for your living room, but if it won't fit through the door, you'll be enjoying it from the curb.

6. layer your lighting

Lighting is exceptionally important when it comes to interior design. Almost every room requires ambient mood lighting and some form of task lighting. Recessed lighting mixed with table lamps and floor lamps will give you a range of lighting scheme possibilities. You'll be set whether you're watching a movie at home, or working late on that detailed presentation for work. Another tip I employ in every space I design, is that every light, everywhere, should be on an individual dimmer.

7. become a book nerd

There's nothing I love more than coffee table books when it comes to interactive accessories. They're a fantastic way to prop up other accessories, leave open on a table as a conversation starter, or display your personality in your space. From fashion to design, travel to cooking, beautiful books are a designer's best friend and should be yours too. They may be a bit pricy at times, but they're a statement that always pays off. 

And because enquiring minds want to know...I had a few more questions for Jeff Trotter Design:

Where are some of your go-to places to shop for clients?

I have a rolodex of shops that I'm a regular in, as each project I have may call for a different design style. Some of my favorite go-to spots however, are Mecox Gardens, Blackman Cruz, JF Chen Antiques, and Michael Dawkins Home. I'm also a huge proponent of "high/low" design. To that point, you'll often find me sourcing from William Sonoma Home and Restoration Hardware to incorporate more affordable pieces into my projects. 

describe your design aesthetic.

My design style is often described as tailored, livable luxury. I gravitate toward creating spaces with clean lines, layered, sumptuous textures, and high contrast tonal palettes. I always strive to create a space that is magazine ready, while also remaining effortlessly inviting and comfortable for my clients.

What’s next on your To-Do List?

I have several really exciting renovations in Los Angeles and Palm Beach that I’m looking forward to completing in the next year. I also have a few fun collaborations in the works with some companies that I’m looking forward to unveiling soon as well.


I'm very much a creature of habit, so my morning ritual rarely changes. My day starts by waking up around 5:30am, checking my Instagram, reading emails and making a protein shake. I'm extremely visual; I love sharing images from my work, my life, and things that inspire my creativity, so naturally, my Instagram is a priority. Cue the shameless plug: feel free to follow me @JeffTrotterDesign

What song is on repeat in your head?

Nice try. You know me too well to expect me to embarrass myself by answering this question honestly. educated guess is Britney

Interior images by Edward Duarte