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New upholstery line captures the best of past and present

Design today

Interior designer Reagan Hayes got so many requests to design customized furniture that she launched her own line of upper-end upholstery.

Reagan Hayes

"My clients wanted a designer to redo their home and they wanted a certain look," said Hayes, speaking from her apartment home on the west side of Los Angeles. "But they couldn't afford the high-end designer showroom lines. I saw the opportunity because there aren't a lot of lines out there at this price point that offer the customization and detail and represent this particular style."

Hayes describes her style as "youthful elegance," a classic look pared down to clean lines and details that give her furniture a modern sensibility.

So far, the line includes four sofas, a chaise, five chairs and four dining chairs in retail price points that run around $5,000 for a sofa, and $2,900 to $3,300 for a chair. There are 60 fabrics in the collection, ranging from $25 a yard for cotton twill to $97 for vintage velvet, or customers can supply their own. Hayes currently is working on more upholstery pieces and expects to move into case goods in the not-so-distant future.

"I just want to be sure we're strong in our upholstery before we add something new," she said.

Hayes, who balances her business life with a home life that includes 18-month-old son Henry and husband Luke, a private equity specialist, often designs whole pieces around a specific detail.

Thomas Sofa
The clean-lined Thomas sofa stands tall on slender wood legs.

For example, the proportions and lines of the collection's Thomas sofa were designed to feature the sofa's tall, slender legs. The wood-frame oval back of the Cynthia dining chair features an elegant, graduated bevel that allows it to be slender and sleek but built to be sturdy.

Hayes uses an unidentified factory in Los Angeles to produce her furniture, with a four- to five-week delivery time. The company offers 14 finishes, metallic leafing details, deep seating and custom sizes. "I really want my line to be appreciated for the detail more than anything," Hayes said. "I spend a lot of time designing these pieces from every angle. When we were in the product development phase, a lot of care when into 'where this piece meets this piece and what is this angle going to look like when it's built.'"

Hayes works from her home in what was formerly a 1940s hotel, lovingly restored with original woodwork and ornate door knobs. Along with her furniture line, Hayes also handles interior design projects in Los Angeles, most recently a boutique store in Beverly Hills.

The oval back of the Cynthia dining chair has a graduated bevel that sturdies the sleek design.

Hayes is a native of Baton Rouge, La., where she was first exposed to design by working with her mother, a residential interior designer. She then headed to Chicago where she received her BFA in interior design from Harrington College of Design, one of the nation's top interior design programs. She started her design career working on high-end residential and hospitality projects, including boutique hotels, at Simeone Deary Design Group of Chicago before starting her own design firm here.

She said her goal is to make design available at a not-too-scary price. "Really, with the line what we've strived to do is bring the best of what the high-end showrooms have to offer in terms of quality and construction in terms of customization and level of detail to everyday consumers at about half the price," she said.

"I just want it to be a great boutique line and have it available to the end consumer and not just exclusive to interior designers."

Although brand new, the Reagan Hayes Signature Line has found its way into specialized stores in San Francisco, SoHo, Santa Monica, Burlingame, Calif., Hampton, N.Y., and Los Angeles.

In rolling out her line, Hayes is offering exclusivity to her customers by opening only one dealer in a specified geographic area. "That's become extremely important to them," she said. "A lot of times they'll pick up a line and before you know it, it's in every showroom down the street. We're just taking it slow and steady and looking for the right dealers."

Who's right? "We really just want to work with people who really love the line," she said. "We've actually passed on larger retailers in favor of smaller ones because they so enthusiastic about it. That enthusiasm is contagious when they talk to other people."

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