From Set Design to Interior Design

Spatial Therapy Starts at $100 a Room

Do you want your living room to be a sanctuary of escape from the bustle of daily life — calming? Or should it be fresh and energetic to foster a sense of vitality? How about your office? Essentially, what “feel” do you want your space to have?

Figuring that out is as far as you need to go. Erin Ellwood (aka The Lone Arranger) can help you translate those desired feelings into a material reality — and for the viable cost of $100 a room.

“I can figure out what colors translate into emotions. They just have to tell me what they want to achieve and I can achieve it,” Ellwood said.

Room 1, before
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Room 1, before

Resistant to the label “interior designer” because she feels it drips of “connotations involving expense and retainer fees,” Ellwood prefers instead to be dubbed a “spatial therapist.” The term is not a mere public relations gimmick. Ellwood said she provides the spatial renovation needed for emotional restoration. “I get people in emotional crises,” she said, “like women whose spouses have died, who want to rearrange things for a happier feel and a fresh start.”

She said she strongly believes that “everyone deserves to have their home reflect who they are and how they live.” If the problem is getting there, Ellwood is part of the solution. “I interview people, and take into account all the things they don’t. I have no emotional connection or past history with clients, so I can walk in and be objective,” Ellwood asserted. People often just “don’t know what it takes to make their room flow and work for them,” she said.

Room 1, after
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Room 1, after

But Erin Ellwood does. A lengthy, lively career of commercial set design in Los Angeles honed her spatial awareness and aesthetic prowess. Lengthy being 20 years — lively being as many as 15 sets in a single day. That all changed with a baby named Amélie. “Having a child is like wiping everything off of a computer and reinstalling the software,” Ellwood explained. “I wanted to raise my child in a different atmosphere than L.A. I wanted a different speed of life.”

Ojai was the change of pace she was seeking — and the spatial sage took a couple years off to focus on being a mom. But her insatiable itch for arranging spaces grew with time, and “translating it into a real-world skill” happened at a friend’s house. The friend lamented, as Ellwood tells it, “I don’t like my living room. What would you do to make it better?”

A couple hours and some rearranged furniture later, Ellwood’s newest application of her talents became clear. “Why aren’t you doing this professionally?” her friend asked.

And so began The Lone Arranger. “I hated the idea of promoting myself and selling myself, so I came up with a name for a business I could promote instead,” she divulged. “It’s not about me, it’s about the service. She added, “My father was an architect and used to quote the saying ‘Form follows function.’ Function comes first. Are there children? Dogs? Once I leave you still have to live in the space. The space needs to work for that.”

Room 2, before
Click to enlarge photo


Room 2, before

With daughter Amélie and two greyhounds (Bella and Milo), Ellwood is conscious of the utility required for a comfortable living environment. There’s nothing pleasing about impracticality. Her couch, for instance, is not “some goofy $8,000 thing.” It has washable, removable pads so she can nonchalantly allow her canines to lounge.

Ellwood welcomes unconventional function, seeing it as an opportunity for unique, chic zestfulness: “In my living room there is a swing. There was a ceiling beam perfect for it.”

Room 2, after
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Room 2, after

This zingy practicality further manifests itself, in her Ojai abode, in the form of a chalkboard in the living room. It works for her needs. And, it’s fun. She understands that heaps of “stuff” comes with children: “I work with mothers a lot, and I’m all about incorporating it, not hiding it. Don’t fight it — embrace it.”

“For my clients, I try to introduce them to the idea of incorporating their kids into every room, not just the kids’ room. Children don’t live in their rooms; they live in the house. So I try to come up with fun ways to incorporate the kid stuff with the adult stuff. This often involves designing and building custom pieces of furniture or shelving, or finding really cool, large baskets to put the kids’ stuff in,” Ellwood explained.

This spatial finesse derives from a lifelong fascination. “As a child I was obsessed with how many ways one room could be arranged. I used to take my furniture out of my room and put it back in with different goals. I’m still obsessed with making the most out of a space.”

The Lone Arranger’s pricing guide is simple. A hundred dollars for a quick fix (working with what is there to make a room more functional). For anything beyond that, she is more than willing to “talk money.”

Erin Ellwood
Click to enlarge photo

Gaszton Gal

Erin Ellwood

Ellwood is not limiting her services to Santa Barbara, by any means. “I’ve traveled to Morro Bay before, because there were a few women who each wanted a couple of their rooms arranged. I’m willing to travel anywhere in California if the number of people or rooms is enough to make it worthwhile.” But California is not the only state in the union capable of being “arranged.” With dreams of further expansion, Ellwood has recently employed a new arranger who hails from Austin, Texas. Her name is René Norman — and Texas will be her mission field of arrangement. A talented artist, René too has an eye for aesthetics.

The vision of The Lone Arranger is not restricted to residential environments — she can artistically arrange offices, restaurants, gardens. She just loves spaces.

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