Interior designer Kelly Wearstler can help make your home work for you

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Kelly Wearstler is sharing her experience on an Interior Design Masterclass. Photo courtesy Kelly Wearstler Interior Design.

Many of us are working from home for the fourth straight week now. So how is your home working for you? 

Some spaces may have proven too open for a crowd, or cheerless, if you live alone. Then there’s furniture that’s not meant for desk work and decor that doesn’t create a great backdrop for Zoom.

So can you make some changes while sheltering in place? 

Yes, says Kelly Wearstler. Wearstler is the doyenne of Los Angeles interior design whose portfolio of boutique hotels, restaurants and homes includes Santa Monica’s Viceroy and Proper hotels, the latter of which will be opening an outpost in downtown Los Angeles soon. Now she’s teaching an online MasterClass on interior design, which offers numerous insights for making small spaces larger or dark spaces lighter, and for showering interiors with your own personality.

She shared some tips with Frances Anderton at KCRW's DnA: Design and Architecture.

Open plan living was great until now. How do I separate myself from my roommates/children/partner to work in peace?

Kelly Wearstler: Create separate areas with a lined-up collection of potted plants for a solarium type effect, plants on plant stands, big pots with a lot of greenery that can afford some privacy while also adding color, and an inviting dose of nature into your indoor living space. ome LA nurseries are offering curb service or deliveries. 

Add folding screen dividers; there are a lot of great vintage options available online.  

Reorganize your floor plan and create new vignettes with current furnishings, such as floating a credenza in the middle of the room and bookend with lamps or sculpture.  Laying out rugs to help divide the space into new seating areas is another idea.

Noise cancelling headphones are also a great option and a lot less heavy lifting. 


The new Proper Hotel in Santa Monica demonstrates how plants can separate spaces. Try this in your home. Photo by Matthieu Salvaing, courtesy of KellyWearstler.com.

I’m bored by my interior. Should I change the color?  

KW: In all of the Zoom meetings that I'm doing, 95% percent of people have white walls. People are frightened of color. But color really evokes emotion. Living without color is like living without love. And color can be that perfect shade of white. It can be that perfect shade of gray or black. And it also can be citron yellow, a bristol blue or mint green. So, order a quart of paint, in three different colors. Paint it on the wall, let it dry, look at it at different times of the day and then commit to one of those and paint one wall. Sometimes that's all it takes, just one wall. And it completely transforms your space. It gives your space dimension.  Note: many L.A. paint stores are open during shelter in place.


Never fear color, as demonstrated in this seating area at Proper DTLA, opening in the fall. Photo by The Ingalls, courtesy of KellyWearstler.com.

I look terrible in Zoom meetings. How can I improve the lighting?

KW:  So it's great to be in an environment where there's a lot of natural light, because natural light is everyone's best friend. Have the light facing your face. It creates balance. No down lighting, that is deadly. I'm sure you’ve been in an elevator. That is not a great look. 

I don’t have an ergonomic office chair and now my back is hurting from working on the laptop on the sofa. What do you recommend? 

KW: I recommend working at a table in a comfortable chair that is high enough to support your back. You do not need those office chairs. I really don't like those anyway. I prefer a sexier chair and there's so many options online. We're all nomads now. You can transfer your desk, go to another room, work from bed. I mean, how amazing is that. Just make sure you have everything that you need at a small table: your water, your phone. Being efficient and functional is just as important as a beautiful room.

I’m going stir crazy in my home. It’s making me depressed.

KW: I'm all about staying busy and learning about something and getting off the sofa and looking around your home and just organizing. I mean, that's step one, just organizing and get rid of [stuff] that you just don't need, and donating it and just feeling good about that whole experience. And you feel good. And you help others. And we all come together and we will come out stronger on the other side.   


A home doesn’t need to be grand but it should have thoughtful moments. This vignette is in Proper DTLA, opening in the fall. Photo by The Ingalls, courtesy of KellyWearstler.com.

Why does our interior matter?

KW: Your home tells the story about you. I've had Zoom meetings where somebody is in a gorgeous room. There's a beautiful piece of art behind. There's a sconce on the wall. And it looks super tight. I've been on other Zoom meetings where there is a dead plant in the corner. The lighting is bad. I’ve been on another one where there's dirty dishes in the background. Presentation is everything. And it doesn't have to be an incredible home, but it should have thoughtful moments.    

Learn more from Kelly Wearstler, at her Interior Design Masterclass.

Catch Frances Anderton’s full interview with her at kcrw.com/dna.

Credits

Guest:
Frances Anderton - Host, 'DnA: Design & Architecture' - @FrancesAnderton

Host:
Chery Glaser