When Leslie Bufano walks into a home, she can feel its space, sense its potential and intuit its interior design. That's because the owner of Karma Home Accents in Westlake Village has a knack for color, home furnishings and comfort. "My approach is to feel my way and not to think too much," Bufano says between calls at her upscale accessories and design studio. "It's one of the things my dad taught me. When people think too much, there's nothing worse than contrived, there's nothing worse than perfect. It's cold."
Bufano's interior design business, a warm jumble of Old World and Tuscan accents, has become a one of the preeminent places to stop for the Italian villa look. Clients from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles for 13 years have returned again and again for her home consulting, design and staging services. And to peruse the collection of Peruvian tables, leather chairs, chenille sectionals, Bombay credenzas, ornate etegerés, end tables, lamps, paintings, chess sets, ceramic fruit and the jillion sconces, candles and hard-to-find accents layered floor-to ceiling in her 1,800 square-foot store.
"Whether it's designers or homeowners, everybody is searching for this kind of stuff," said Bufano, who has searched far and wide and through hundreds of catalogs for each piece. "That's really why I started this."
A native of Tarzana, she developed her eye for design while working at SK Interiors, the design studio owned by her father, Sy Katz, who founded The Leather Factory. Thirteen years ago, the single mother of three began peddling home accents out of her garage. Within months, customers began lining up for her monthly sales. Within a few years, her design business grew so big she opened up her retail store in the Villa Colinas Design Center, across from the Four Seasons Hotel.
She also has a warehouse of accents used to stage unsold homes. One such house, an ocean-front estate in Malibu, had been on the market two years. After Bufano staged it with a homey cream-colored sofa and shag treatment, the home sold in two weeks for $4 million.
Her business, she says, is based on trust. Unique products. Affordability. And an ability to listen. Although she's been asked to expand into other areas, she says she aims to stay local in order to serve her customers. "My biggest compliment is that people keep coming back," says Bufano, whose daugher Marisa Bufano, has also become an interior designer. "People are comfortable with me. I'm casual. I'm easy. I'll work with any price range. I love my customers ... I want their homes to look good."
Karma Home Accents
31149 Via Colinas, No. 603, Westlake Village