Arthur McLaughlin grew up surrounded by style, the son of a San Fernando Valley decorator mother and a contractor father. During summers he renovated houses with his father, while free time was spent absorbing the grandeur and glamour of nearby Hollywood. His career began with James Northcutt Associates in Los Angeles, where he worked directly with Northcutt on “public and large scale projects,” like the Bel Air Hotel and The Mansion on Turtle Creek, in Dallas, Texas. That experience, McLaughlin says, put him “years ahead of the education process” for an interior designer, a process also accelerated by his access to Southern California’s vibrant design community.
It was during this time that McLaughlin worked designing sets for Paramount Pictures, which he credits for teaching him “how spaces can change.” That, plus knowledge gleaned while helping with his father’s remodeling projects, gives him a unique approach to interior design.
“Some people walk into a space and see one thing; I walk in and see walls gone, furniture in different places,” he explains. “Immediately, my mind is asking how we can make this place function best. I know what a load-bearing wall is and what isn’t, how to change an environment and increase value.”
McLaughlin has spent the past three decades designing homes for some of the Bay Area’s most significant clients. “My permanent interior projects are so personalized. We interview clients and ask what they like. Hearing what people are saying, really listening to them, that determines what they need, and what we design for them...You have to take the style you’ve chosen and make sure it functions within a client’s needs; if you don’t, they’ll come back and change it later. That’s a crime.”