Kelly Wearstler: Color as Her Muse

6 years ago by

Photos Lou Mora

It’s almost like Kelly Wearstler comes from a dream. The houses she designs are a dream – bold, intricate, daring, colorful, sensual and ravishing. After meeting her, I have to tell you, this is exactly the way she is.

Kelly needs no introduction but okay, if you insist, she has worked with a lot of celebrities, Cameron Diaz, Cher and Elton John just to name a few. She’s designed homes, hotels, restaurants and has her own line of home objects.

What inspires me the most about her is her boldness – the sense that she truly is herself and creates her own story and aesthetic – and what I can perceive as a laser focus on making the best of every second.

Today we meet at her home in Beverly Hills. Ah, the dream!!!

[podcast_episode episode=”266275″ ]

On being curious from a young age…
My mother was very into antiques and I can remember being young and going to auctions, vintage stores, and flea markets. I was always really curious. I can remember the tables filled with all sorts of things and picking them up, looking at them and always asking a lot of questions. My nickname was Questionella!

On starting out as a designer…
When I moved here, I didn’t know that many people, but a friend of a friend bought a place in Venice and they wanted help with their dining room. So I said ok, I’ll do it! I was so excited. And they loved it and then I did the living room which led to the whole entire house. That was my first project. Somebody saw that house and I got another job and it just kept going!

On her advice to young designers…
One of the things I tell young designers is that you have to know history in order to be a good designer. Not in depth, but you have to know what is classic and beautiful design that has stood the test of time, and then put your spin on it. Because everything has been done, really.

Kelly Wearstler Atelier Dore

Kelly Wearstler Atelier Dore

On the common thread throughout her work…
Taking risks is a thread that’s been constant. You have to keep pushing yourself, keep evolving, using your clients as inspiration. They brought you on and they are my muse, my inspiration.

On how she chooses projects…
It’s timing. We’re a boutique firm so we have to be selective and I like doing residential and love doing hotels, commercial and retail, so I like to always have one of those types in the mix. It’s also the energy with the client. You want to have fun and enjoy the process, because you spend a lot of time with them.

What makes her good at her job…
Being a really good listener is so important and including the client in the journey. And it is a journey, when you start a project, you don’t know what it’s going to look like. Really looking at the architecture, what’s outside the window in a room design, it’s like art on the wall if there is a gorgeous tree outside.

On managing day to day stress of running a business and team…
It’s call my afternoon delight! It’s workout in the afternoon. I’m telling you. You do really get stressed, and I’m very much in the mix. We have a 6,000 square foot open studio, so I’m always out with everyone and people tap me on the back and say, “Can you look at this?” or “I just need you for a minute,” but they don’t know I just had 10 people do that prior. I have an amazing assistant who is very calm and helps control my day. But yes, it can get overwhelming, but you just stay focused.

Kelly Wearstler Atelier Dore

Kelly Wearstler Atelier Dore

On dealing with insecurities…
I was super shy and I still can be, but it’s about being comfortable with the person. Some people can be really intimidating and then I get a little scared and nervous being around certain people. I get a little quiet, but I’m pushing myself and doing this podcast and really working on it. It’s like working out, the more you do it, the stronger and better you get!

On being serious about sun protection…
I’m really careful about the sun. I have my car windows extra tinted. I’ve been pulled over and gotten a ticket and had to take the car downtown, have the tinting taken off and then I go and get it put right back on!

On California style…
It’s not rooted in any tradition, it’s very free spirited. There is casualness, but there is a formality, as well. There are so many different types of architecture and design all over, so I’d say California is very much a casual free spirit.


Shabby Chic
Barry’s Boot Camp
What the Health

A special thank you to Kelly for letting us record in her beautiful home. Be sure to check out her latest hotel project, Proper Hotels, and for more frequent updates, head over to her social here, here and here!


Add yours
  • Kelly Wearstler has had a huge impact on probably everybody’s homes, since her aesthetic has been adopted by so many other designers, and then spread beyond to mass market offerings. It’s so interesting to hear how she got into it.
    I’ve been re-listening to your podcasts as I go about spring cleaning. Thank you for giving us such a perfect mix of casual/personal/intellectual discussion. It’s lifesaving while doing drudgery.

  • The greatest lesson I ever learned and am so glad to hear Kelly say it here , is to be a good designer you must know history. Wether you’re designing a room or a dress History is at the core of design ! I loved this post !
    Dress The Part

  • J’aime beaucoup ces interviews ! j’aime découvrir les parcours des un(e)s et des autres, c’est très enrichissant et cela donne envie de se dépasser !

  • Bonjour! et merci pour ce joli post. J’ai lu hier votre texte concernant les posts négatifs… et moi qui ne commente jamais rien ici, et qui pourtant vous lis assidument, et bien j’ai envie de vous témoigner tout le plaisir que j’ai à venir sur ce blog, découvrir et m’enrichir de vos rencontres, découvertes et expériences… bonne journée l’Atelier Doré!

  • Veronica March, 20 2018, 8:51

    That is so sweet, Helena. Merci! xx

  • Asheville is located in the mountains of North Carolina, not South Carolina!

  • ARIANNA March, 21 2018, 1:35 / Reply

    Me encantó la entrevista, admiro mucho a Kelly por su frescura, su energía tan vibrante se queda en los proyectos que hace. Su vida personal la cuida muchísimo y es difícil saciar la curiosidad de la gente que como yo la seguimos de cerca, sin embargo en esta entrevista creo que Garance llego a una capa más profunda.

  • I wish very much there were video of the interview! That would be just perfect watching you talking!

  • Thank you so much for interviewing Kelly, Garance !! I loved every bit of this … and can really relate regarding plenty of exercise and avoiding the sun. :) I use a trick I inherited from my redhead mum while driving, which is to keep a large, thick white men’s shirt on the passenger seat and when I climb in, I put it on backwards, fold up the collar to hide my neck and use the cuffs to protect the backs of my hands – works like a charm! Thank you both – such fun, joy of life and inspiration. x0

From the Archives

This or That
  • This or That
  • Holiday Gifting
  • Happy Holidays!
  • #AtelierDoreDoes
  • How To...
atelier dore this or that summer sandals chunky sandals vs. delicate sandals

This or That / Sandal Edition

This or That: American or Française?

This or That: American or Française?

atelier dore this or that lingerie lace or cotton sex month

This or That / Lingerie Edition

This or That / Blush vs. Bronzer

This or That / Blush vs. Bronzer

This or That: The Beanie

This or That: The Beanie

This or That: Nails

This or That: Nails

This or That

This or That

This Or That

This Or That

Silja Danielsen Photo

This Or That: Low Knot or Top Knot