A Day In The Life

A Day In The Life With Interior Designer + Author, Lauren Li

Lauren Li is a master at wearing many hats. The interior designer founded her own studio Sisällä in 2012, but she’s also a mentor, a mum of three, and a columnist — and now she can add author to her list of accolades.

Her debut book, The New French Look, was inspired by Lauren’s own Emily In Paris-style experience when she worked in London and frequently caught the train to Paris to soak up the city’s romantic architecture and beautifully lived-in interiors.

The effortlessly cool ‘it-factor’ of French style is chronicled in her new book, and we joined our resident interior design contributor for a busy day in her life, just before the first copies hit shelves!

Christina Karras

Amelia Stanwix

Sisällä founding director Lauren Li in her home office.

Lauren’s been running her interior design business from home since 2020.

‘We take on a handful of client projects a year. I enjoy getting to know the clients and designing a home tailored to their personality and their lifestyle,’ Lauren says.

‘Then, Phil [Lauren’s husband] handles the procurement, liaising with trades and builders. Basically Phil makes it all happen!’

The mornings are normally when she gets her best writing and design work done.

Lauren’s new book, The New French Look, evolved from this story for us at The Design Files in 2018!

‘Thames & Hudson contacted me quite out of the blue about writing a few books based around some of the stories I’ve written here. So I can honestly say that if it wasn’t for The Design Files, I would have never written this book — thank you Lucy!’

Christina Karras

Amelia Stanwix

29th of August 2023

Lauren Li says writing her first book has been a ‘huge learning curve’.

‘I imagined that I’d be sitting at a windowsill, Carrie Bradshaw style tapping away, however it’s been more spreadsheets and emails,’ Lauren adds.

The interior designer is no stranger to writing, having been a columnist here at TDF since 2018. But throw this mammoth new project in with her successful business Sisällä, responsibilities as a mum to Indi (10), Coco (9) and Benji (almost 2), and it’s a lot for one person to juggle. That’s why Lauren feels especially lucky to work alongside her husband Phil, who handles the logistics of all her interior design projects.

The couple met at a nightclub when Lauren was just 19 years old. ‘Not only do we share the day-to-day things of running a business with three kids, he has a belief in what I do,’ she adds. ‘To have someone in your corner goes a long way.’

Lauren’s interiors are all about blending function and form to create personal interiors that make you feel properly at home. Scandinavian design is a key influence on her style, but her debut book is all about exploring her long-time love affair with the magical ‘je ne sais quoi’ of French design.

‘The idea for The New French Look came from a story I wrote here on The Design Files in 2018,’ she adds. ‘When I lived in London, I’d catch the Eurail on a Friday after work and lived my best ‘Emily in Paris’ moment.’

‘I loved the way that they live amongst history; old buildings are really lived in. I was fascinated how art surrounds daily life in France. It’s not reserved for just above the mantel, art is everywhere; kitchens, hallways, bathrooms. The French don’t need to try so hard, it’s all there.’

Needless to say, it’s been a big year for Lauren — and we can’t wait to get our hands on her book, The New French Look, which is out in all good bookstores from today!

Read on below to see how she gets through a typical day in her life.

‘Since my mornings are more productive I will try to arrange any showroom visits or client meetings in the afternoon,’ Lauren says.

‘I wish that I could say that I routinely visit showrooms and galleries for inspiration, but there is always so many other things to do that seem more important.’

But Lauren does get a chance to head out, she says it always ‘fills’ her cup!

Sourcing furniture and decor for a shoot.

Lauren with her beautiful kids, Indi (10), Coco (9) and Benji (almost 2)!

The family likes to switch off with a walk on the nearby Yarra Trail.

‘I try to be present with my family everyday,’ Lauren says.

First Thing

I wake up 6am at the moment as I’m going through a gym phase. I hop on the treadmill and I get through some great audio books. I’m looking forward to earlier mornings in summer as I love walking in nature.

I love dropping my girls off to school and listening to them singing along to Taylor Swift in the car. After the girls are at school, Phil usually spends time with Benji and I dive into work. We’ve held back from sending Benji to childcare and it’s an absolute pleasure to have him with us everyday — it does come with challenges though. The word ‘juggle’ doesn’t begin to describe it!


We’ve worked from home since we closed our Chapel Street studio in 2020 and we haven’t looked back. I usually get some productive hours of writing done in the morning.

Otherwise, two mornings per week I’m meeting with the design legends inside my online platform called The Design Society. Today we met with a wonderful psychologist to talk about setting boundries with clients and contractors. This is our education side of our business, and we often hold talks with all types of experts; lawyers, SEO experts, branding agencies and some really inspiring designers.

My days are pretty varied, which I love. Phil and I might sit down and talk about what needs to get done, look at where our numbers are in the business and talk about some big picture goals, as well as any immediate things that need to get done for clients. I’ve been working on some book publicity and have recorded a few podcast interviews lately and we’re also excited to announce a book launch soon.


I always break for lunch and if it’s a nice day Phil and I will sit on our balcony and enjoy a few moments of enjoying the leafy view. Lunch is usually a sandwich (they’re under-rated!) and BLTs are a firm favourite.

Since we moved to Ivanhoe East after being in South Yarra, we eat a lot more home made meals. Where we once would have ducked out for noodles, sushi or brunch we’ve really enjoyed staying home and keeping it simple.


Since my mornings are more productive, I will try to arrange any showroom visits or client meetings in the afternoon. When I’m shooting one of my projects, I’ll hire a van to loan any props like small furniture, flowers, crates of books and décor pieces. It is quite a production! I also subscribe to Masterclass and a few memberships so I like to spend a bit of my ‘down time’ learning something.

I love picking up the girls from school and just going to the local Westfield. I’m sure that sounds like the most dull afternoon ever, but it’s those simple ‘mum’ everyday moments that I really love. It’s nice to take the occasional afternoon off, get sushi and hang out together at their favourite shops. They won’t want to hang out with their Mum forever!


The thing about working for yourself is that there’s no set time to clock off. But the flexibility means you need to take the good with the bad. I might spend a few hours with the kids after school, so I’ll find myself finishing some work after dinner. I’ve been giving the slow cooker a good workout this winter for our dinners. I also cooked Julia’s Miso Eggplant Rice Bowls and they were a great vegetarian weekday dinner. The kids all loved it and I only told them after that it was eggplant. They thought they didn’t like eggplant – ha!

To unwind, I absolutely love going for a walk on the nearby Yarra Trail. It’s so beautiful being amongst the trees and water. It’s a 20 minute walk to Heide and Heide is ALWAYS a good idea.

We have family movie night every Friday, which is a great way to round off the week. These little rituals are so lovely, plus we share a big bowl of popcorn and snacks!

Last Thing

I aim to go to sleep by about 10pm. Since Benji is now sleeping through the night, (it took a while) I’m feeling more myself, yet the bags under the eyes never seem to go away! I need a lot of sleep but luckily I can fall asleep anywhere — it’s my special talent!

Right now I’m listening to, watching, and reading…

I listen to music all the time and love Arlo Parks, I saw her show a few weeks ago and she was amazing. I feel young again when I listen to G-Flip, King Princess and HAIM.

I’m watching Tiny Beautiful Things and I’m desperately waiting for the Parisian Agency series 3 to drop. It’s a reality show about a gorgeous French family and their luxury real estate business.

I read anything that Reece Witherspoon tells me to, basically. I’m also reading Kate Toon’s book Six Figures in School Hours and Linda Marigilano’s Love Language. It depends on my mood. I also have a few design books on the go, Arent & Pyke’s book Interiors Beyond the Primary Palette is beautifully written and of course, a feast of the eyes.

A philosophy I live and work by is do what you enjoy and don’t care too much what people think.

Lauren’s book, The New French Look, is in all good bookstores from today!

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