Interior Design

Kelly Wearstler reveals how she achieves her signature style – and where she sources vintage pieces

Kelly Wearstler's interiors are famed for their eclectic mix of vintage and contemporary elements. Here, she tells H&G exclusively how she brings her schemes together

Kelly Wearstler
(Image credit: Kelly Wearstler / Harry Crowder)

We are big fans of the flamboyant, eclectic style of Kelly Wearstler – from her sculptural furniture designs to her expressive, liveable interiors and her colorful collaborations. 

In an exclusive interview with Homes & Gardens, she reveals how she achieves that Kelly Wearstler look, mixing vintage and contemporary pieces for a balanced scheme.

1. Don't stick to one-era design

Living room in Kelly Wearstler house

(Image credit: Kelly Wearstler/The Ingalls)

'I am a firm believer in that in every era there is incredible design and I pull from lots of different periods – I love mixing deco, Bauhaus, mid-century; sticking to one era can be a bit one note,' says Kelly. 

'If you buy all your furniture new it’s going to start to look dated quickly, but if you take the time to curate and shop in a variety of places, you end up with a much more timeless room.'

2. Find a balance between vintage and contemporary

Kelly Wearstler living room

(Image credit: Kelly Wearstler)

'I start sourcing furniture early on in projects, and taking time to find the right pieces makes all the difference. I’m always looking for a balance between vintage and contemporary. If I buy a new sofa maybe I’ll look for a vintage coffee table, so they offset one another.'

3. Don't be afraid of the fade

Dining room in Kelly Wearstler house

Kelly Wearstler's Malibu beach house perfectly demonstrates her use of vintage and contemporary styles

(Image credit: Kelly Wearstler)

'There’s nothing I wouldn’t buy vintage – I’ve even installed 1960s carpets before. Vintage carpets can be so beautiful, the fading of the colors and the patina of the rug.'

4. Check online vintage buys carefully

Pink/red dining room by interior designer Kelly Wearstler

(Image credit: Kelly Wearstler)

'I always look at quality when buying vintage and how something’s put together. When sourcing online, you have to make sure you know what you’re getting. Ask for a condition report and photos of everywhere even the underside of a table. 

'Checking if there are any labels is important, too – if it’s a classic piece, make sure the label or insignia is attached or intact. And don’t be afraid to bargain and cost reference what you’re buying.

'When buying chairs online, I ask the vendor to have somebody sit in the chair and take photos at all angles. Or if I’m buying a credenza, I ask them to put a lamp on it, and a chair next to it, because it helps with understanding the scale.'

5. Where I shop for vintage

'I visit lots of flea markets and vintage stores. I always go to Round Top in Austin for a big shop! I also love 1stDibs, Brimfield Market, JF Chen, The Future Perfect, Holster Burrows and Pamono

'The auction houses I go to are Cambi and Piasa. I love finding pieces by Pierre Paulin, Augusto Bozzi, Gae Aulenti, Tito Angoli and Franco Albini.