Spotlight: Kelly Wearstler

Eye catching and brave, Kelly Wearstler’s designs are some of the most influential in the industry. The California-based designer attributes her success to achieving the right balance of tension and drama in every scheme. Never opting for the easy design choices, Kelly is constantly pushing the boundaries of creativity.

Kelly grew up in South Carolina, surrounded by her mother’s long-standing passion for interiors. This ever-moving aesthetic gave her the confidence to frequently rethink the design process, a defining feature of her professional career.

Since starting her own practise in 1995, Kelly has built a design empire, offering bespoke services as well as an impressive product range. From celebrity homes to massive hotel chains, Kelly’s portfolio is expansive and diverse, a true testament to her adaptability as a designer.

Colour concepts

Kelly never shies away from playing with new and exciting colour combinations, balancing deep and soft tones or creating dramatic clashes.

One chic example is the “California-cool” meets “Spanish-warmth” scheme she developed for the Harper Avenue residence in Hollywood. She layered each room in earthy and organic tones, injecting unexpected accents to elevate the overall feel.

Photo: Tribeca Loft

On the other end of the spectrum, Kelly’s Tribeca Loft shows her mastery of monochrome palettes. While excessive use of black and white can sometimes leave a room feeling a flat, Kelly cleverly balances patterns with lavish gold accessories, bringing her signature dramatic aesthetic to life.

Kelly’s tips on colour:

- Don’t be afraid to experiment with colour

- Use colour as a tool to help zone and shape a room

Texture and touch

Photo: Seal Beach

Varying texture is another trademark feature of Kelly’s designs. In her Seal Beach project, natural materials run through the massive 3,500 square foot space. Aged wooden sculptures in the shape of coral, stone statues, shaggy wall hangings and patinated metals all nod to the rugged coastline that sits next to the property.

Always seeking to achieve contrast in her designs, Kelly combines hard and unyielding shapes with soft, organic textures. This is integral to Seal Beach, which boasts beautifully curved metal accessories and furniture alongside gentlemen’s club side chairs in soft fur.

Kelly’s tips on texture:

- Use textures that compliment the same feeling or mood to create a sense of unity

- Add depth to the space by using a variety of soft and hard finishes

Stepping outside

Widely known for her interior schemes, Kelly’s unique designs often flow through to the outdoors too. In her LA Westfield project, she uses contrasting colour-blocked flooring to define functional areas. She then uses heavy stone and angular furniture to add more structure to the vast open spaces.

Kelly also has an outdoor fabric range that’s indicative of the organic colours and textures she presents in her garden and courtyard schemes. Dappled patterns and soft tones compliment the natural surroundings to create a visual unity.

Kelly’s tips for styling an outdoor space:

- Furniture is key. Choose pieces that will help zone and structure the space

- Patterned fabrics in organic tones can help blend furniture with a natural backdrop