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A Dozen Iconic Interior Designers

Meet the masters.

When thinking about your own decorating style, it's important (and delightful) to explore the history of interior design—from the birth of the "professional decorator" to the advent of the "Prince of Chintz" in the 80s and 90s. This list of legendary decorators is a great place to begin.

1. Elsie de Wolfe (1859-1950)

Rendering of The Colony Club, New York City

Courtesy of Gray Walker Interiors

Arguably the first "professional" decorator in the United States, Elsie de Wolfe had a penchant for mixing French antique furniture with animal print fabrics. In her famous interior design manual, The House in Good Taste, she articulated her design maxim: "Simplicity, suitability, and proportion." Her work at The Colony Club, a New York City women's club, featured her touchstones: indoor latticework, Neoclassical elements, French antiques, and an immaculate sense of proportion. She devoted her life to making everything she touched beautiful.

2. Madeleine Castaing (1894-1992)

Castaing's Lèves Country House

Photo: René Stoeltie

A legendary French decorator and antiques dealer, Madeleine Castaing is known for her unique and whimsical take on the interior. Her iconic style—"le style Castaing"—remains a decorating reference. Her country home (pictured above) featured her signature blue walls, a plush Napoleon III sofa, and 19th century antiques playfully arranged on the chicest ocelot carpet.

3. Jean-Michel Frank (1895-1941)

Born in Paris, Jean-Michel Frank is known for his modern, sumptuous interiors that featured exotic materials like shagreen, parchment, sheepskin, and bronze. His legacy resides in the iconic furniture he created, most notably his Parsons tables, club chairs, and sofas.


4. Dorothy Draper (1889-1969)

​The Greenbrier Hotel

The American decorator who penned Decorating is Fun! became famous for her "anti-minimalist" attitude and exuberant environments. Draper hallmarks include black-and-white checkered floors, saturated colors, baroque plaster work, and overscaled florals. Her point of view paved the way for the Hollywood Regency style, and she popularized the Banana Palm motif.

5. Billy Baldwin (1903-1983)

Baldwin created his famous Arbre de Matisse Reverse pattern to match his client's Matisse painting.

In the United States, interior decorating was considered a female profession until Billy Baldwin arrived on the scene. Boasting designs that were rooted in classicism but thoroughly modern in spirit, Baldwin believed that one must be faithful to his/her own taste "because nothing you really like is ever out of style."

6. Sister Parish (1910-1994)

Sister Parish made her mark on the American interior design landscape when she was invited to decorate the Kennedy White House. A master of pattern mixing, Parish believed that her job was "to give permanence to a house, to bring out the experiences, the memories, the feelings that make it a home."

7. David Hicks (1929-1998)

David Hicks was an English interior decorator known for his use of bold colors and geometrics, as well as his ability to effortlessly combine modern and antique furnishings. He attracted attention in the 1960s when he convinced his mother to let him redecorate her home and publish the project. Talk about a dream first client.

8. Tony Duquette (1914-1999)

Duquette's Los Angeles house "Dawnridge"

Tony Duquette was a renaissance man. As an interior designer, set decorator, and sculptor, Duquette's unique vision brought him much fame throughout the 20th century. The king of maximalism, Duquette fabulously illustrated that more is more. The offices of Tony Duquette Studios are still in business and operate out of his famed Los Angeles home, Dawnridge.

9. Albert Hadley  (1920-2012)

Born in Springfield, Tennessee, Albert Livingston Hadley Jr. attended Peabody College in Nashville and Parsons School of Design. He began his career working for Sister Parish, and ultimately he took over the firm. Like Parish, Hadley mastered pattern mixing. He stood out by injecting his spaces with a slightly modern edge.

10. Angelo Donghia (1935-1985)

The designer's living room

Courtesy of The Donghia Archives

Arguably the "it" designer of the 1970s and 80s, Angelo Donghia's client list included Mary Tyler Moore, Liza Minelli, Barbara Walters, and Ralph and Ricky Lauren. The above photo embodies his signature look: a relaxed yet sophisticated elegance with just the right amount of glamour.

11. Ettore Sottsass (1917-2007)

The designer's Milan apartment, 1958

Courtesy of the Archivio Ettore Sottsass

A visionary, Ettore Sottsass began his career as a multi-media designer. He founded the Memphis Group, a 1980s Italian design studio that challenged the tenets of modernism and laid the foundation for the postmodern design movement. Though his work remains polarizing, his mark on 20th century design is undeniable. Especially today.

12. Mario Buatta (1935-2018)

Mario Buatta, also known as "The Prince of Chintz," grew up on Staten Island and eventually became one of the most sought-after and influential interior decorators of the 1980s and 90s. His command of traditional furnishings and his selection of beautiful printed cottons resulted in some of the prettiest (but not overly precious) rooms.

A Designer's Advice for Choosing a Color Palette

The space of your dreams begins with a considered color scheme.

Selecting a color palette that feels cohesive, layered, and nuanced is overwhelming to most. Yes, it's important to consider your space and the furnishings that you have, but you should also have fun with the process. We've gathered some interior design tips that will allow you to commit with confidence.

Starting from Scratch

Courtesy of @theimaginative

If you're lucky enough to work with a blank slate, select a color that you absolutely love and run with it. Beginning with your favorites will lead you to a palette that you love. Often, we're drawn to tonal or complimentary colors, so chances are, things will work together. That said, you don't want your home to feel like a clown house, so you must learn the art of editing.

Begin with the wall color (this should be your favorite color). Then, move to the main piece of furniture in the space (like the sofa) and select either a tonal shade or a complimentary color for the piece. For example, if you select a deep, lush green for the walls, consider a lighter shade of green for the sofa or a complimentary color like coral. Layer in other desired shades through patterned accent pieces and accessories in the room, and voilà , you will have the beginnings of a developed and considered palette.

Embracing What You Already Have

Photo: Manolo Yllera, Courtesy of Architectural Digest

If you already have a few key pieces of furniture and are looking to develop a color palette that pulls them together, here's my advice: survey all of the pieces together and determine whether or not they actually work. If you're unsure, solicit an outsider's eye. Ask the friend who is your go-to for decorating advice. If there is any hesitation, it may be time to let go of the pieces that you can live without and replace them with something more intentional. If the answer is yes, there's likely a dominant color that you can pull to serve as a unifying wall color. If the pieces are different colors but compliment one other, consider a white backdrop that allows the varying accent colors to pop.

Capturing Your Essence

Artist and style icon Beatrix Ost

Courtesy of Harper's Bazaar Australia

This tip may sound a bit hocus pocus-y to you, but give it a chance. Each of us has an essence that is outwardly communicated to the world with the colors we choose to wear and surround ourselves with. LA-based color expert Jennifer Butler has spent her career reading clients' colors, and ultimately, transforming their lives. You can take a free quiz on her website to understand your own color essence. Once you have a better understanding of what your true colors are, think about incorporating them into your home to bring the space to life.

The Stylish Shoebox: 3 Ways to Maximize Space in a Studio

Just because you are low on square footage, doesn't mean you can't have it all.

A studio apartment is more than a single room combining living, dining, and bedroom; it's your self-contained world. But it's no secret that fitting everything can be a design challenge. When considering any floor plan, the first thing to ask yourself is: how do I live, and what's important to me? For instance, maybe you love to host people for an annual Oscars viewing party, or maybe you work from home and need an office. Just because you live in a studio, doesn't mean you can't do both.

Read on to see one studio, three ways.

Separate the Living and Sleeping Spaces

In this floor plan, there are three key zones for dining, living, and sleeping. This plan is great for someone who likes to host a few friends but wants to avoid feeling like everyone is in their bedroom. By using a screen as a partition, the bedroom area is clearly defined. The plan also allows for ample storage in both the living and sleeping areas.

Make the Bed the Focal Point 

This plan is perfect for the person who needs a designated work area. By floating the bed in the center, the area behind the bed remains open for a desk and a matching pair of low bookcases with lamps, providing both storage and a decorative moment. If you really want to separate the study area from the bedroom, you could select a pair of screens behind the headboard, a classic decorator move. Another go-to designer move: placing a small sofa and table at the end of the bed. In this instance, the sofa also functions as dining seating.

Make Storage the Priority

A classic studio arrangement, this plan is perfect for the person who needs the space to work hard. Drawing inspiration from Tori Mellott's studio, which was published in Domino in 2006, it features a bedroom that's separated from the desk by an open storage bookcase. The classic, budget-friendly option is the IKEA Kallax, but there are many others out there. If you have the budget, we suggest a Vitsoe system with a built-in feeling that spans from floor to ceiling.

Photo: Virginia Macdonald, Courtesy of Anne Hepfer

2019 Home Decor Trends, According to the Pros

We asked some of our favorite design pros for their tips on how to freshen up in 2019.

I absolutely love the shifting energy a new year brings. Whether it offers a fresh start or the opportunity to embrace change, a new year invites us to celebrate a new version of ourselves. Oftentimes, this change begins with a refresh of the space in which we live. Read on to find out how some of our favorite design pros are reimagining home in 2019 – from embracing maximalism to reviving the 1970s (one of my favorite decades ;)).

Add Some Punch

Photo: Brittany Ambridge

After several seasons of white and beige interiors, Caroline Grant and Dolores Suarez of Dekar Design are ready for some color. "We love a punchy orange. It feels refreshing and really energizing and can still be paired with lovely neutrals."

Adopt  the "More is More" Mantra

Photo: Virginia Macdonald

According to interior designer Anne Hepfer, 2019 will be the year to embrace maximalism: "Leave behind minimalism and instead pay homage to the more is more maximalism movement." Hepfer believes that those who take risks and trust the creative path will end up with spaces that are more unique, fabulous, timeless, and personal.

Set the Tone

Photo: Anna Routh

Nashville-based interior designer Jessica Stambaugh recommends picking a color and sticking with it: "Rather than a neutral wall, pick a color and commit to it for walls, trim, and a tint for the ceiling. Even if it's fairly toned down, like this muted green living room, it instantly creates a soulful space, and allows for an entirely new context with existing furniture pieces."

Fall in Love with Chocolate

Photo: Jenn Crawley

For the Los Angeles-based interior designer Vanessa Alexander, "brown is the new black." Alexander loves using all shades of brown from espresso to caramel to create deep, rich, and chic interiors. that feel layered and dramatic.

Try an Unexpected Pairing

Courtesy of: Urban Electric Co

If you're anything like Michael Amato, Creative Director of The Urban Electric Co., you usually "steer clear of hot, saturated colors in favor of a cooler palettes." But according to Amato, 2019 will be the year for "bolder colors and surprising pairings" like the blue and red in the photo above.

Embrace Color

​Courtesy of Artistic Tile

"Color, color, color! You're going to see color coming into cabinetry, details, and definitely into backsplashes. People are tired of only white and grey! The emergence of color is impossible to miss – Europe is embracing it, and it's landed in the US as well," says Nancy Epstein, Founder and Creative Director of Artistic Tile.

Opt for Pop 

Courtesy of SONDER Living

According to Martin Waller of Andrew Martin for SONDER Living, "Pop art is everywhere, and Warhol is being touted as the most influential artist of the 20th Century ahead of Picasso, Rothko and Matisse." Art.com is a great resource for finding your own Pop Art prints at a real-world price.

Decorate with Decals

Courtesy of Deborah Fribourg

DMF Interiors founder Deborah Fribourg recommends using wall decals as "an easy way to add a funk factor to any plain wall. Plus, they're super easy to apply! (and to remove!)." You can also try removable wallpaper if you are feeling adventurous!

And Again...Embrace Color! 

​Courtesy of Kate Hayes Design

Atlanta-based interior designer Kate Hayes says 2019 is the year to "Get weird, and don't shy away from color. Life is too short, have some fun and enjoy your space!"

Courtesy of The Inside

The Perfect Small Bedroom Layout

The average apartment bedroom is 11 feet by 12 feet, but legally speaking, a bedroom only needs to 70 square feet(!). Don't worry--there's always a way to make it work.

Urban life has many perks: access to great culture and nightlife, reliable public transportation, inspiring architecture, and a constant pulse of activity. But when it comes to living, urbanites are often presented with some real design challenges. For example, how in the world do you fit a queen size bed and ample storage into a tiny bedroom? I'll tell you.

The Classic Floor Plan

Try the Art Deco Bed in this plan.

This floor plan is all about symmetry. Matching bedside dressers and lamps flank each side of the queen bed, creating a pulled-together look and providing ample storage. This plan also allows for a tall armoire for more clothing and shoe storage. I love sourcing vintage armoires on Etsy like this one, and it's simple to install a basic hang bar if you want to use it as a closet.

The Modern Floor Plan

Try the Modern Platform Bed in this plan.

Let's say the view outside your window is not, well, ideal. Try floating the bed in front of windows and opt for low bedside tables and light-feeling lamps, like our Co-Founder and CEO did with her bedroom. You can also incorporate a large plant like a tropical palm, so that you still wake up to greenery. By placing the bed in front of the windows, this floor plan opens up the large wall for a double dresser, providing plenty of storage for clothing, etc.

The Cozy Floor Plan

Try the Square Back Bed and the Modern Bench in this plan.

Sometimes in an apartment bedroom, it's about pushing your bed into the corner and creating a cozy nook like this. Try installing a wall-mounted sconce in the corner and layering an antique runner on top of a sisal rug to really play up the hygge factor. By pushing the bed in the corner, you will free up a lot of floor space to accommodate an armoire AND a double dresser.