As one of the most sought-after interior designers in the world, Kelly Wearstler’s multi-faceted style has been featured in almost every premium shelter publication in the last 20 years; she is a constant fixture in the pages of Architectural Digest, ElleDécor, and Vogue Living.
Wearstler is the founder and principal of Kelly Wearstler design studio, the Los Angeles-based firm that has been creating chic and cutting-edge residences, hotels, restaurants, and retail environments since 1995. She has designed ultra-stylish homes for celebrities like Cameron Diaz, Gwen Stefani, and Ben Stiller. Her unique blend of Modernism and Hollywood Glamour can be seen in luxury hotels like The Four Seasons Anguilla, Viceroy Miami, and The Avalon Beverly Hills. Her expansive portfolio includes designing a range of high-end furnishings for the home—from carpets and textiles to seating and decorative objets. She has authored five best-selling books, including her most recent tome: Evocative Style. Wearstler also has the distinction of being the first interior designer on MasterClass, the online education service that features tutorials from expert instructors across all fields. World-famous for her sophisticated and distinctive personal style, Wearstler’s extensive body of work can be described as a “multi-layered, sensory experience.” Here are ten decorating lessons you can pick up from her inspiring Instagram account.
1. Surround Yourself With Glamour
Glamour and drama are the hallmarks of every residential or commercial space designed by Wearstler. Sumptuous materials like buttery leather and plush wool adorn her stunning furniture designs while metallics and mirrors add sparkle and shine. In this posh dressing room designed for a client, Wearstler piles on the glitz with gold-leafed surfaces, luxurious textiles, and an ultra-soft carpet. When decorating a private space like a bedroom or bathroom, use rich materials to indulge all your senses and to add sophistication to everyday living.
2. Think Of Furniture As Sculpture
Every piece of furniture has a line, be it straight and unbroken, curvy and sensuous, or sharply-angled. Just like a work of sculpture, your furniture needs space to “breathe” in order to be appreciated. Crowding these in a space diminishes the impact and makes them disappear amongst the other pieces. In this client’s living room, Wearstler gives each item its own special place, allowing people to see their distinctive forms and imparting them with a sense of importance.
3. Balance Asymmetry With Symmetry
Create a sense of dynamism in your homes by juxtaposing asymmetrical designs with symmetrical ones. Simply put, when you combine something abstract or informal with something structured and balanced, you create visual interest. In this modern vignette, Wearstler has teamed a bold non-figurative canvas with a pair of classic white leather seats. The subject of the painting offsets the balance generated by the chairs while the color white unites the different pieces.
4. Don’t Hide The View
What could be more dramatic than a room with a spectacular view? A space like the one below would only suffer from looking fussy if Wearstler brought in heavy curtains or drapes. (She wisely opted for light blinds for when the client wants privacy.) Wearstler also selected a natural color scheme and clean-lined furnishings to create a neutral backdrop wherein the magnificent views are the main attraction.
5. Embrace Eclecticism
Eclecticism is the practice of drawing from different sources, styles, and tastes to create an exciting, vibrant, and unexpected look. What could be more predictable than to combine pieces from the same era or school of design? With Wearstler, mixing periods and materials is a trademark. In the provocative still life below, she has brought together dissimilar objects from different periods to create a tableau that is highly unconventional, yet succeeds in looking fresh and original.
6. Make An Entrance
The first impression a person makes about your home takes place when they cross the front door and enter your foyer. Wearstler believes that this is where you should set the tone for the rest of the house. In the entryway for this residential loft, Wearstler created a collage of important contemporary art and small gilded mirrors. The foyer serves as a sneak preview of the dramatic design and furnishings found in the rest of the loft.
7. Play With Scale
Always one to push boundaries, Wearstler eschews a floral arrangement in this dining room in lieu of a vase of palm fronds. The scale of this piece commands attention and that is exactly what Wearstler wanted—to make a bold statement and draw the eye to the center of the room. If the arrangement was any smaller, it certainly would not be as dramatic. Take a cue from Wearstler and experiment with scale.
8. Go For One Oversized Piece Instead of Several Smaller Ones
One important object creates more impact than several lesser ones. In this luxurious pool pavilion that Wearstler designed for a client, a brass sculpture of the female form rests on a substantial coffee table. Without any other items to detract from its sensuous shape, the eye-catching sculpture takes on more importance. When decorating, consider scale and purpose rather than just filling up a space.
9. Be Bold
Wearstler’s striking designs are not for the timid. Her aesthetic has evolved from her early days as a designer associated with the Modern Hollywood Regency movement (as seen in her first book, Modern Glamour: The Art of Unexpected Style) to her current individualistic, avant-garde style. Wearstler brings a cerebral approach to decorating; her spaces make you think about form, shape, and color. In this dining room, a striped table of her own design takes centerstage and imbues the space with character, wit, and energy. To keep the room from looking too eccentric, she has limited the color palette to black and white against salmon-colored walls.
10. Create Meaningful Displays
Wearstler’s tableaux are always purposeful. Her assemblage of vases, vessels, and other objets are there to impart a space with color, texture, and dimension. In this still life she created for her own residence, Wearstler brought in yellow fruit and flowers, yellow being a color that to her, represents optimism. When designing for yourself, consider using pieces you have an intimate connection with. Decorating should be deeply personal and you should always let your home reflect who you are.