5 takeaways from Kelly Wearstler’s Interior Design Masterclass
If you’re interested in interior design or interior decorating, then you’ve definitely heard of Kelly Wearstler before. Famously known for designing the proper hotel in Santa Monica, California, Kelly Wearstler is renowned for her unexpected, bold, and Maximalist design. Born in Myrtle Beach, SC, Wearstler’s father was an engineer and her mother an antique dealer. From a very young age, her mother would take her and her older sister to thrift shops, auctions, and flea markets. It was through those experiences that Wearstler began developing interests in fashion and design. She later went on to earn her bachelors in interior and graphic design from Massachusetts college of Art in Boston. Post grad, she started out working as a set decorator, till she later moved on to open her own interior design firm – Kelly Wearstler Interior Design (KWID.) She has built insane masterpieces along the way, written several books, and has been featured in major magazines such as Vogue, Elle, and Architectural Digest.
If this doesn’t get you excited enough to watch her masterclass, don’t worry, that’s why I’m writing this post. I watched it twice just to be sure I didn’t miss anything the first time. What I will say is that as someone who is just starting out and still has a lot to learn, this masterclass was more like a movie than a teaching lesson. She is already established so her day to day looks very different than someone who’s just starting out. Additionally, because she’s at the level that she is, she has a team of people who help her with every project. You will not have this starting out. Again, I wouldn’t say it was an unhelpful masterclass, but it wasn’t very realistic. Here are the few good things I did take away though:
1. The Art of Collecting Things
This one particularly stuck out to me because I always saw collecting as another word for hoarding. Aka, why I never did it.
Kelly completely changed my mindset and I’m going to tell you why. She spoke a lot about how with the few dollars of spending money she had in college, she would go and buy stones. She spoke about the color, pattern, and texture inspiration she got from stones. But what really stuck with me was how frequently she went back to the stones and how much the stones were later incorporated in her projects. When asked to create something that meant a lot to her, she created a box filled with the stones she had collected.
What I took away from this is how connected and inspired she felt to what she collected. How doing something as simple as going and looking for a stone once a week would later impact her life in the way that it has. Thanks to her, I started collecting exotic mugs. I am learning so much about pattern, colors, and materials, it’s insane!
2. Looking for Inspiration
I definitely didn’t need to watch this masterclass to know that inspiration is everywhere. But this masterclass helped me understand this in a more underwhelming way.
Kelly speaks a lot about how she gets her inspo from flea markets, museums, vintage shops, galleries, auctions, and thrift shops. I remember her saying that the first thing she does when she goes on a trip is google search where all the mentioned above places are. She always brings stuff back from her trips and later finds ways she can incorporate these colors, patterns, and materials into her work.
I found this interesting specifically because I always thought of thrift stores, vintage shops and flea markets as stressful environments. Museums and auctions, not so much. I realize that I associated those stores with stress because I saw them as places where I could get a good deal as opposed to places where I could educate my eye. Because I associated those places with stress, I didn’t take the time to actually look at what’s right in front me. Especially with the number of things they have in these kinds of places, I get quickly overwhelmed. I see things differently now and have realized how many new patterns, colors, and materials exist that I had never seen before. I’ve also realized new ways that colors and textures can interact.
Point is, do things for the experience. Do things to educate your eye. That’s what it’s all about. The more you see, the more you learn. Don’t always go somewhere with a goal in mind. And especially go places that you think will have nothing to offer you. You’d be surprised at what you find!
3. Understanding Color
Going into this masterclass, I had a lot of questions about color. I know what my favorite colors are, but they aren’t necessarily ones that I’d want displayed on my walls. At the same time, I also wouldn’t want someone to pick my colors for me, so I was excited to see what she would have to say.
She happened to give some good advice on how to go about picking colors for certain rooms and certain walls. She said: “Go into your closet, and look at the colors. What you look good in is what you’re going to feel good in.” This was interesting to me because none of the colors in my closet were any of my “favorite colors.” They were blacks, nudes, various hues of white and an occasional splash of color. It made me rethink things a bit. I figured my colored pieces would be a good color representation for accent pieces whereas my whites and nudes would be a good color representation for the walls in my house. Even if I decide this is not what I want later on, it definitely helped me narrow down some potential possibilities.
Another thing she said was to “think about what you definitely don’t like.” This was good advice too because once you start to rule options out, you also start to narrow down your search, making it easier for you.
And finally, she spoke about the importance of how colors interact and how colors look different at different points in the day. When picking a color, you’re going to want to make sure you see what it looks like at 6 a.m. and at 6 p.m. You’re going to want to see what it looks like when natural and artificial light shine against it. You’re going to want to make sure one interacts with the other. You can do this by visually watching the colors together for days at a time or looking at a color wheel and figuring out what colors sit well with each other. Again, there is no right answer and Kelly’s style is bold and maximal so you might not pick the colors she will but the overall understanding of how to pick a color was solid.
4. Discovering texture
I don’t know about you but texture was always something that didn’t excite me. I always thought it was too much and almost unnecessary. What this masterclass taught me was that texture doesn’t have to be as bulky and intense as I thought it did. Texture doesn’t only have to be incorporated in big ways. For example, let’s say you have a calm neutral room that doesn’t have texture except for maybe the curtains. Adding a uniquely textured accent piece such as a chair, table, or sculpture can completely change the vibe in the room. Point is, you don’t need to texture every wall in the room to add dimension. It can be accomplished in small ways too.
Additionally, texture can be a great way to bring together everything in the room. “The goal is to make them work harmoniously together.” So, for example, let’s say you’re going for an earthy theme. Gather up a bunch of earthy like texture samples (wood, tree bark, etc.) and put them together. Do you like what you see? Do they work harmoniously together?
Don’t focus so much on the bigger picture. Start small, and put things together. Not all texture will work together, but you won’t know that until you put them next to each other. As she said and I quote, “Use texture to add dimension to your design.”
5. “Vibe trays”
Before this masterclass, I always wondered how you make big color, pattern, and material decisions without seeing them side by side. How do you know that they’re going to interact well? And lucky for me, I found exactly what I was looking for, vibe trays!
Vibe trays are essentially trays filled with different colors, patterns, and materials. You get a good idea on how the three work together. You also get a good idea on how they don’t work together. You get an idea of what you could add and what you could go without. It’s basically like inspiration in a tray. You might put together what you thought was a great idea in your head just to realize that you actually want something completely different. You may have really liked two types of marble but once you’ve seen them next to each other, you realize you definitely prefer one over the other. The craziest part is that you can get samples of absolutely anything today! Whether it’s color, materials, or patterns, it’s ALL out there!
So, my takeaway from the vibe trays was similar to my takeaway from texture. Don’t be scared. Don’t rule out things because they’re heavy on the eye. Realizing what you don’t like is actually important. You’ll get newly inspired from seeing things that definitely don’t work. You’ll be encouraged to search for/try new things.