Inside the Mind of Top LA Designer: Tracy Murdock Talks Interiors, Gardens and Inspiration

Renowned designer Tracy Murdock recently won Architectural Digest’s “Open Auditions” as her design was selected from over 300 entries to win her this much coveted acknowledgment within the design community.

Tracy Murdock has been designing for LA’s celebrities and its business elite for over a decade now and she has been published in several design magazines and is renowned for her exquisite work.  Her company not only works in interior design, but also outdoor and garden design, remodeling, event planning, property management and more.

The design world has always fascinated me as I’ve wondered what it’s like inside the mind of the great designers who see things through such an innovative and creative lens.  In an attempt to get a better understanding of the processes and inspiration behind the great designs, I sat down with Tracy Murdock and asked her a few questions about her life, her work and what inspires her.

Me: Tell me about what you do and what sets you apart from other designers.

Tracy Murdock: Actually there are many things that set me apart… As you know when I started doing interiors it was with my own houses that I purchased as investments. I built my business and reputation on that foundation. Because of my design ‘eye’ I have the ability to see ‘the big picture’ when looking at a property. I can spot potential that others cannot, not even a broker… and not just with the interiors, but with the exteriors and the landscape as well. The whole picture.

When considering the design, I always implement what will maximize and bring the most added value to the home. Good interior design is an investment, one that will bring a return on the money invested. Real estate is one of the single largest and the most important investments a person will make in their lifetime and the one that will appreciate the most over time. Investing in the interior design will only make the stock of that house go up.  Likewise, if a house is not maintained and updated as needed, the stock will go down.

Me: What initially drew you to design property, and how did you get started in the design business?

TM: I have always had an eye for detail, the artistic eye of a photographer, but it wasn’t until I worked alongside my former husband and ‘design mentor’, entrepreneur and real estate developer David Murdock did I discover the passion for it. He exposed me to so much and taught me so much.

Me: What are some design concepts that you specialize in?

TM: I love to do remodels, taking a ‘fixer’ down to the studs, moving the walls, changing floor plans and completely transforming that house. I enjoy and am very good with space planning and utilizing every inch of a property including (at times) encroaching ‘inside’ the walls to gain a few more inches necessary for a cabinet or for a niche or even an ‘indoor window’.

Me: What was your favorite or perhaps most interesting job that you worked on?

TM: Seriously my favorite clients are bachelors!  They are certainly the easiest, they just want you to ‘pimp it out’, they don’t want to be bothered with the details, they notice everything and are so appreciative of what you are doing and they are happy to write that check… with a big thank you!

Me: Have you noticed any signs of recovery or worsening from your business point of view?

TM: Oh yes, recovering for sure! Two years ago I went from having three projects going simultaneously and a three month waiting list to having my clients in productions cut back or stop completely to all the projects in the pipeline canceling all together. I have been lucky over the last two years to have one project in production.

Much to my delight, with the New Year came a flood of new clients and great projects.  Literally for the first three weeks my phone did not stop ringing with inquiries… I actually had to turn a few down and I am completely booked pretty much for the entire year. I am working 16-hour days, 7 days a week and thrilled. Productivity breeds creativity!

Tracy Murdock’s success is a testament to the impact the interior and landscape design of a home has on raising the value of a property. Style has the potential to play a prominent role in the sale of home; a unique and inspired design allows one to become attached to the character of a home and bring added value both monetarily and emotionally to the property for many potential buyers.

How important do you think the interior and garden design of a home is when it is on the market?  Do you think potential buyers like to be inspired by minimally designed space or have a more daring and obvious design excite them?  Please share your ideas and leave your comments below.

Comments 16
  1. Ashley Mirfakhrai says:

    I believe that interior and garden design are necessary to every home in order to bring a unique factor that sets your investment apart from other real estate. It is amazing that Ms. Murdock has a keen eye on not only bringing value to a real estate investment through her creativity, but most importantly bringing taste and personality into a home. A home with these qualities almost always impresses visually, and whether you are buying or selling a house, adding a flawless interior and garden design will always leave potential buyers excited.

  2. Rickie says:

    Great job Karl. That was especially interesting to me. Beside, you know I really like Tracy, and think she is a talented designer.

  3. Nick Segal says:

    Thank you Karl. I enjoyed the tone within the answers that Tracy and love that her business is picking up. That is good for all of us in the “home” world. Love her use of red as well. Great post.

  4. Thank you guys. I truly look up to Tracy and her inspirational designs. I agree, the manner in which a property is presented is critical inorder to catch the eye of interested buyers.

  5. Blake says:

    While she’s a decent designer, I don’t like how this article failed to acknowledge the effect that Mr. Bijan Pakzad had on Ms. Murdock. I seriously doubt that David Murdock’s influence is a great as that of Bijan. Almost all of the pictures on Ms. Murdock’s website are influenced by Mr. Pakzad, whether it be pictures of his eclectic home, her use of the original Bijan Yellow which she likes to call her own “Murdock Yellow”, or her use of Bijan perfume bottles to decorate the bathroom of her own home.

  6. Loved the “before” and “after” photos of Tracy’s work, Karl!

  7. Cynthia Cox says:

    A great real estate agent and a talented designer is the perfect paring to ensure a clients satisfaction with their new home.

  8. Robin Denker says:

    Having worked with Tracy, I can tell you she is the ultimate professional designer. She takes the time to listen to the client and delivers the total package. Nice article, Karl.

  9. Blake, I was fascinated by the discovery of Mr. Murdock’s influence on Tracy’s designs. However, I have been inside Mr. Murdock’s home and can attest to the outstanding impressions demonstrated by all elements of design to which Tracy has been involved. Though I didn’t see any overt influences of Bijan in Mr. Murdock’s home – I’ll definitely look into that connection!

    p.s. Mr. Bijan will be interviewed in the coming weeks.

  10. Thank you Blake for your acknowledgement of Bijan and his influence in my life and my design. There is no doubt that Bijan has had a major impact in my life. He has and continues to be my greatest and ardent supporter, professionally and personally for over 25 years now. And I, his. Bijan is a GENIUS and yes, his Bijan yellow is well… Bijan Yellow. For the record, my Murdock yellow is actually more of a ‘butter’ yellow and it is not ‘My’ Murdock yellow at all, but it is David Murdock yellow, a certain shade used and evident in ALL of David’s establishments from The Manele Bay Hotel to the 4 Season’s Hotel in Westlake and all the other residences and establishments that he and (We) built. A specific shade that works exceptionally well as a backdrop to English Antiques. Another favorite shade of yellow well documented on my website is the FENDI Yellow, which coincidentally IS Bijan’s shade of yellow… LOL, with all that said, I by no means meant to ‘exclude’ the impact that Bijan has obviously had and continues to have in my life and does so on a daily basis… However, I have worked extremely hard over the last 10 years to build my own name, in my own right, on my own accomplishments rather than to be defined as a designer just by the men I was married to and was quite appreciative that Karl refreshingly conducted this interview about me and not about the men I was once married to. For what it’s worth, I am so over yellow, ALL shades of yellow, my new favorite color is gray, perhaps I will call it Tracy Gray…

  11. Janet says:

    I love reading what Tracy is currently doing, because she decorated my home this past summer, and it’s fabulous. Tracy is a super talented designer, excellent at overseeing the work being executed to her specifications, and very detail-oriented. She made it a fun, creative process. Most important, she “got” the home, how we use it, our lifestyles, etc and tailored the home to work for us! Would love to work with her again. Karl, congrats on passing your agent’s license exam.

  12. jane hill says:

    I have known Tracy for a very long time and have watched her become one of the top interior designers in the business. I have used several interior designers in the past and feel both had one specific style they liked and somehow managed to incorporate that style in my home. Tracy is very different in that she gets to know her clients taste in design and then uses that keen eye of hers to build upon. The end product is spectacular and very different than her last project. I love the fact she can do both the interior and exterior which I believe should flow into one another. I recently witnessed her genius in space planning when I asked her to redesign my newly purchased log cabin in the NC mountains. She redesigned two small bathrooms into one glorious one, added much needed storage while enhancing the charm of the room. She also redesigned the kitchen which was a major challenge. Finally, I would be remiss not to mention that she is sensitive to giving her clients everything on their wish list without breaking the bank. I for one have never worked with an interior designer like Tracy who treats your money like her own and goes out of her way to bring the project on budget. She is one of the best in the business and so much fun to work with.

  13. Thank You Janet, I love the business I am in and take great pride in the talented group of people I am surrounded by every day here at The Partners Trust.

  14. Doug Arbetman says:

    Having worked with Tracy many years on many projects…I can only say she is BRILLIANT! She makes everything happen..and you will enjoy her as a true artist that she is. No one can match her skills. She has it all, skills, grace, and easy on the “Eyes”

  15. helena says:

    Ah Tracy .. you are uncreatively ‘locked up ‘in Ye OLDE world of ‘over clutter and over colour………….
    The 21st century living is SIMPLE .. GREEN .. ECO and ‘not in your face ‘ ..
    one ‘fancy chair.. is too much decor.. Get it Tracy…

  16. Justin baralos says:

    Tracy is an incredible designer, innovative and a visionary. Having worked with Tracy in the past has made me realize how important it is to work with someone that understands you and your design goals. I thank you again and again for your wonderful work!

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