Posts

famous women interior designers

Celebrating Women’s History Month with a Spotlight on a Few of Our Favorite Interior Designers

March is Women’s History Month—so we thought it was the perfect opportunity to shine a light on some of our favorite women designers. We’re highlighting some of the women in history who paved the way for female interior designers, as well as some current designers who are doing amazing work in the field.

Read on to discover some designers through the decades and learn more about 10 famous women interior designers you should know!

Elsie de Wolfe

Born in 1859 in New York City, socialite Elsie de Wolfe started her career as an actress, and later made the transition to working as an interior decorator. She was one of the first female interior designers—and some say it was she who invented interior design into its own profession. Prior to that, interior design was more part of the architectural process. But when Elsie hit the scene, she established it as its own discipline.

Alive during the heart of the Victorian era, her designs vanquished Victorian gloom—replacing heavy, dark interiors with light and uncluttered layouts featuring fresh colors and 18th-century French furniture. (Was she, perhaps, one of the original minimalists??) She also notably popularized chaise lounges and animal print upholstery. She had a very high-profile clientele, including Amy Vanderbilt, Anne Morgan (daughter of J.P. Morgan), and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

“Light, air and comfort—these three things I must always have in a room.” Elsie de Wolfe

famous women interior designers

Source

Elsie’s Most Iconic Design

One of Elsie’s notable decorating gigs was The Colony Club, New York’s first female-founded social club exclusively for women. This is the space that, nearly overnight, established her reputation as an interior decorator. In stark contrast to the dark, upholstered spaces in men’s clubs, Elsie decorated The Colony Club with a light, feminine style, full of glazed chintz, pale walls, wicker chairs, and even an indoor garden pavilion.

famous women interior designers

Dorothy Draper

Dorothy Draper was born in 1889 to a wealthy family. She was the first to “professionalize” interior design, establishing the first official interior design firm, Dorothy Draper & Company, in 1923. But she wasn’t just a pioneer of the field; she also invented the “modern baroque” look, a then-modern take on the elaborate, intricate style that was popularized in the seventeenth century. Dorothy loved using vibrant, splashy color in her designs—which contemporaries often referred to as “The Draper Touch.”

“It is just as disastrous to have the wrong accessories in your room, as it is to wear sport shoes with an evening dress.”Dorothy Draper

famous women interior designers

famous women interior designers

Two of Dorothy’s Iconic Designs

Dorothy Draper’s design style is so iconic, we couldn’t just pick one design. So, here are two of her iconic designs that we love!

Above is the Greenbrier Hotel in West Virginia. It features her signature black-and-white floors, with colorful walls—both striped and palm printed. Dorothy was hired to redecorate the hotel after it had been used as a makeshift hospital during WWII. Using bright colors and oversized patterns, she gave the space a luxurious, elegant facelift. She remained the resort’s decorator into the 1960s.

Below is a residential project she worked on in Michigan. We love the bright, cheerful pink and white palette. (And those Staffordshire dogs!) This space epitomizes what we love so much about Dorothy’s iconic style.

famous women interior designers

Sister Parish

Sister Parish was truly an American original. With no formal training, she launched her own decorating business at 23, during the Great Depression—during which time she really caught on, with friends and family wanting her to decorate their homes. As her design business grew, so did her clientele. Her high-profile clientele included the Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, Astors, and even the Kennedys. In fact, she designed the Kennedy White House.

She spent six decades professionally designing—with a “cozy, old-money” look being her staple style. She wanted every room to feel romantic and whimsical, and her iconic design style certainly reflects that. She’s widely considered to have created “American country style” and is considered to be the last of America’s grande dame decorators. And, fun fact: Dorothy Draper was her mother’s first cousin!

“Behind every attractive room there should be a very good reason” Sister Parish

famous women interior designers

One of Sister Parish’s Iconic Designs

You can’t talk about Sister Parish without talking about her design of the Kennedy White House. She worked with Jackie Kennedy to give the White House a facelift when they moved in, focusing specifically on the residence. Above is the Yellow Oval Room, a space on the second floor of the Whtie House, within the residence, that has typically been used as a private sitting room or a formal living room for entertaining. Sister Parish brought in Louis XVI-inspired furniture for an airy French-style salon vibe.

famous women interior designers

Ray Eames

Born in 1912, Ray Eames grew to fame in the design world for her designs with creative partner and husband, Charles Eames. She made groundbreaking contributions to the fields of architecture, furniture design, manufacturing, and industrial design. However, she actually started as an abstract artist. Over time, she and her husband began developing furniture and architectural design—creating famous pieces like the molded plywood chair and their iconic home, now known as “The Eames House.”

“What works good is better than what looks good, because what works good lasts.” Ray Eames

famous women interior designers

One of Ray’s Iconic Designs

Is there a more iconic Mid-Century space than the Eames house? Probably not. Located in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood of Los Angeles, it was designed and constructed by Ray and Charles to serve as both their home and studio. Built into a hillside, they wanted the natural elements surrounding the house to seamlessly integrate with the home’s design. The two-story steel and glass windows make the outdoors feel like an extension of the home.

famous women interior designers

India Mahdavi

India Mahdavi is an Iranian-French architect and designer who founded her studio in Paris in 2000. Her work is largely in the commercial sphere, consisting of bars, restaurants, retail concepts, clubs, and hotels. In all her designs, she loves using bright colors and says she gets her playful color palettes are inspired by the classic Disney films she loved as a child.

“My work is about joy and sunshine and how you can change the mood of a room full of people when the place has some kind of happiness to it. People need color. If I can bring that into the environments I create, I’m happy.” India Mahdavi

famous women interior designers

One of India’s Iconic Designs

India designed The Gallery at Sketch in London. A tea room and cocktail lounge, this space is full of so much glamorous, quirky charm. We love the use of pink on pink (on pink) and the opulence that the channel-tufted seats, velvet, and brass accents bring to the space. This is an Instagram-able space at its finest.

famous women interior designers

Sheila Bridges

Sheila Bridges founded her New York City design firm in 1994. One of her most notable projects is that she designed former-President Clinton’s Harlem offices. She was named America’s best interior designer by both Time Magazine and CNN. Sheila has her own lines of furnishings and decor that are sold in several retail stores—including her now-famous Harlem Toile De Jouy fabric and wallpaper pattern.

“Whether we’re dealing with antiques or modern furniture, everything can be classic.” Sheila Bridges

famous women interior designers

One of Sheila’s Iconic Designs

We’re pretty much in love with all of Sheila’s Harlem townhouse—but we were particularly taken by the artwork in this hallway. We’re big fans of cheeky animal art, so we love this floor-to-ceiling gallery wall. It’s full of framed moments from Sheila’s own Van Doe wallpaper, where a deer stands in as the subject of many famous paintings.

famous women interior designers

Kelly Hoppen

Kelly Hoppen is a British interior designer and TV personality. She started her career at the young age of 16 when she was given the opportunity to design a family friend’s kitchen. Since then, she’s designed jets, yachts, and many commercial and residential projects all over the globe. Her style is defined by the fusion of clean lines and neutral tones (she’s often referred to as “The Queen of Taupe”), but those neutrals are balanced with an opulent warmth. She’s the author of nine different design books, with her first book, East Meets West, defining her aesthetic and the balance she seeks to achieve through her designs.

“I am convinced that a calm, quiet and harmonious interior can be as beneficial to health as sensible diet and regular exercise.” Kelly Hoppen

famous women interior designers

famous women interior designers

One of Kelly’s Iconic Designs

The industrial modern vibes of this space are truly in a league of their own. Despite the hard lines throughout both spaces, both feel like an inviting place to gather. And, in the living room, we love how the organic forms of the chairs sit in such contrast to the clean hard lines throughout the rest of the space.

famous women interior designers

Justina Blakeney

Justina Blakeney is a designer, artist, and the author of New York Times best-seller, “The New Bohemians.” She’s also the founder of the decor brand, Jungalow®, which brings to life her eclectic, bohemian, and global-inspired design aesthetic.

“Add life: People, plants, and pets are the soul of the home.” Justina Blakeney

famous women interior designers

One of Justina’s Iconic Designs

Full of Justina’s signature bright colors and boho style, this living room is the perfect blend of that “Jungalow” style, mixed with some modern lines. The result is a space that feels trendy but livable. We’re big fans of the way that the mix of bright colors and a hanging chair give a youthful playfulness to this space.

famous women interior designers

Barbara Barry

Barbara Barry grew up with modest means in a family of working artists. She founded her design firm in LA in 1985 and has grown to international renown. In addition to interior design, she’s developed product lines of everything from furniture and lighting to dishes and tiles. Barbara takes inspiration from the colors and forms found in nature, and she believes these restrained color palettes bring order to the chaos of life. In both her home and the spaces she designs, she likes to bring a sense of elegance and simple luxury into the space.

“Underneath all I design, lies the solid belief that beauty is a positive force” Barbara Barry

famous women interior designers

One of Barbara’s Iconic Designs

From a residential project in Hawaii, this dining room really blew us away. Though it features a neutral, monochromatic color palette, the textures and shapes in this space give it so much visual interest. It very much gets at the heart of her design style—which leans on the forms and materials of nature, with a desire to bring order out of the chaos of life. famous women interior designers

Kelly Wearstler

Kelly Wearstler founded her own design firm in the mid-1990s. She built her reputation through designing boutique hotels, and she now works on both residential and commercial properties. Some of her major clients include Gwen Stefani and Cameron Diaz. As a designer, Kelly always refused to blend in, with her design aesthetic being very eclectic and avant-garde.

Today, her firm has evolved from simply working on interior design projects to an interdisciplinary lifestyle brand that offers not only interior design and architectural services but also product design, branding, and graphics. Kelly also designs and develops furniture, lighting, rugs, and more, which she sells under the Kelly Wearstler brand. She is the author of five different design books.

“My aesthetic is about mixology; always something old and something new, raw and refined, masculine and feminine.” Kelly Wearstler

famous women interior designers

One of Kelly’s Iconic Designs

Kelly designed the Santa Monica Proper hotel, using the city’s climate, history, and iconography as inspiration for the design. With a mix of vintage and contemporary pieces, the hotel’s lobby lounge gives us major Mid-Century vibes. It’s a feeling of walking back in time, without losing and of today’s modern conveniences. Excuse us while we go book a stay!famous women interior designers

Tiffany Brooks

Tiffany Brooks was the winner of HGTV’s “Design Star” in 2013, which helped launch her career as an interior designer. Today, she has a design firm in Chicago, but also works with HGTV on several shows and writes for her design blog. Her mission as a designer is to create stunning living environments that encompass her clients’ individual needs and unique style.

“I seek out to uncover that flavor; the soul of their home which always tells the true story of those that inhabit it.”Tiffany Brooks

famous women interior designers

One of Tiffany’s Iconic Designs

It’s an unexpected move to put upholstered accent chairs and ottomans around a dining room table. But somehow Tiffany makes it work in this space. We love how the seats and patterned curtains bring softness to this space, while the large windows and oversized plants make this feel like a truly special place to dine.

Start My Project

Playing Favorites: What Modsy Designer Anthony’s Loving Now

Come peek behind-the-scenes in our ‘Playing Favorites’ series and meet some of the Modsy designers who help homeowners reimagine their spaces each month.  

For Modsy designer Anthony, there’s no greater inspiration than nature’s beauty. It’s what inspires his designs, which often include a mix of natural materials, textures, and colors that are all about simple sophistication and comfort. And based on what he tells us, his own New York City apartment seems every bit just as chic and warm as his Modsy designs.

When he’s not dreaming up spaces, Anthony is always on the lookout for fresh and unexpected design ideas and keeps his finger on the pulse when it comes to the latest trends.

What’s catching his eye now? Find out in our quick-hit Q&A with him.

First things first, what’s your Modsy Style?

Inviting Industrial.”

Where do you get your design inspiration?

I take all my design inspiration from nature – it’s a beautiful thing! It is my goal to reintroduce people to the beauty of nature through design with the use of color, materials, and furniture. I want to create spaces that will make someone say ‘Wow!’ and feel immediately at ease every time they walk into their home.”

What’s one interior design rule you always break?

I never color inside the lines. True, there are certain design principles I live by, such as form follows function, balance and proportion, but once in a while I think it’s great to incorporate something totally unexpected that can totally change someone’s perspective. Sometimes it’s important to think outside the box!”

Your favorite piece of furniture in your house?

Definitely my bed. It’s a platform and I absolutely love its angular simplicity. It has a ledge on each side and also a black-leather finish that screams masculine and sophisticated. Not to mention, it’s comfy too!

What’s your favorite restaurant where you live?

There’s a place called Spice, which is a chain restaurant that specializes in Thai cuisine and can be found anywhere in Manhattan.

What’s the last book you read?

The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher.

Cats or dogs? Explain yourself.

I am allergic to both (bummer) but I don’t think anything could replace the genuine happiness and love a dog gives you every time you walk through the door.”

Favorite place you’ve traveled to or want to visit?

‘I left my heart in San Francisco’ certainly speaks true to me! The city is a marvel to me with the people, natural phenomena, and sustainable way of life.

Favorite color combo?

I’m a big fan of deriving color from nature, so I would say you can’t go wrong with wood tones, taupe, brick red, and gold. When I designed my bedroom back in 2015, that palette was a staple.”

Current obsession?

Definitely the revival of Mid-Century Modern with its angular pieces, deep wood tones, and brass elements. I think it gives any space a feeling of warmth and sophistication.

Check out more 3D rooms by our stylists!

Playing Favorites: What Modsy Designer Isabela’s Loving Now

Come peek behind-the-scenes in our ‘Playing Favorites’ series and meet some of the Modsy designers who help homeowners reimagine their spaces each month.  

Modsy designer Isabela might just be one of the coolest girls in our style tribe. She’s never one for trends and has always has a unique take on design, be it coming up with a forward-thinking dining room layout, a bright burst of unexpected color in a room, or building a custom bar for her own home in Chicago. For Isabela, it’s always about keeping her eyes wide open for beauty no matter where she finds herself.

Find out what Isabela’s loving now in our short and sweet Q&A with her.

First things first, what’s your Modsy Style?

“Mid-Century Chic.”

Where do you get your design inspiration?

Traveling and seeing how others live.”

What’s one interior design rule you always break?

I tend to stay away from massive trends. They usually don’t give you long-lasting good designs and you’ll usually find yourself over the look once it’s no longer all the hype. I learned this with the Millennial Pink/Blush wave.”

Your favorite piece of furniture in your house?

My bar and buffet—because I designed and built it!”

What’s your favorite restaurant where you live?

Income Tax. It’s a little spot in a not-very-popular Chicago neighborhood that makes amazing modern European food. Every single dish is designed differently, elaborate and absolutely beautiful.”

What’s the last book you read?

Not at Home: The Suppression of Domesticity in Modern Art and Architecture.

Cats or dogs? Explain yourself.

Both! Because I have both.”

Favorite place you’ve traveled to or want to visit?

There is nothing like France; the French know how to live the good life!”

Favorite color combo?

I like neutrals with pops of color. Imagine a white-fiber pillow basket with brown-leather straps with a royal-blue velvet pillow inside.”

Current obsession?

Dining spaces with overarching lamps and tall bookcases that are filled with china and dishware.”

 

Check out more 3D rooms by our stylists!

Playing Favorites: What Modsy Designer Brittany’s Loving Now

Come peek behind-the-scenes in our ‘Playing Favorites’ series and meet some of the Modsy designers who help homeowners reimagine their spaces each month.  

Modsy Stylist Brittany

California-based Modsy stylist, Brittany, describes her style as “modern chic” through and through. With her eye always attuned to the latest trends, she’s one for mixing colors, patterns, and metallics in her 3D design plans for homeowners. Naturally, the spaces she creates are often filled with bright, stylish accents, plenty of plants and greenery, and major personality.

Learn what Brittany’s loving now with our quick-hit Q&A with her.

 

Where do you get your design inspiration?

“Fashion. Runway shows and vintage books are great sources for me to draw inspiration from, and they give insight into upcoming trends.”

What’s one interior design rule you always break?

“To avoid mixing metals and mixing patterns. When done correctly, they can add interest and personality to pretty much any space.”

Favorite place you’ve traveled to or want to visit?

“Bali is definitely at the top of my list!”

What’s the last book you read?

Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler.”

Cats or dogs? Explain yourself.

“Both. They have different traits that are both great and not so great.”

Current obsession?

“Bringing the outside in! Plants are just as important as all other design accessories. They can also be a cost-effective way to enhance spaces and play up a home’s unique style.”

 

Check out more 3D rooms by our stylists!

modsy stylist amanda

Playing Favorites: What Modsy Designer Amanda’s Loving Now

Come peek behind-the-scenes in our ‘Playing Favorites’ series and meet some of the Modsy designers who help homeowners reimagine their spaces each month.  

Modsy Designer Amanda

Based in Denver, Colorado, Modsy designer Amanda has never been one for minimalist spaces. She loves rooms filled with vintage pieces, accents rich with history, lots of books, and dark colors that play up a cozy, lived-in vibe.

It makes sense for someone who’s very much a collector of things in her own home and describes her style as a mix of eclectic and transitional. So it goes without saying that her favorite spaces are always layered with interesting furniture, accessories, and visual details. When she’s not at her desk designing spaces, you can find her nose-deep in a novel for her book club.

Find out what Amanda’s loving now with our short and sweet Q&A with her.

First things first, what’s your Modsy Style?

Contemporary Collector.”

Where do you get your design inspiration?

I grew up in Seattle, and I loved the style of being in a big city where everyone likes something a little different. Since they had their heyday in the ’60s, most neighborhoods are inspired by mid-century styling with huge windows to absorb as much sunlight as possible (through the trees for the three months of the year there is actually sun).

“Like my Modsy Style indicates, I love a little bit of everything, swamped in history! I love spaces that feel lived-in and funky details that definitely have a great story behind them. I like things in all of the corners of my rooms and books in every room of the house.”

What’s one interior design rule you always break?

Personally, I love my homes to be painted darker colors than other designers usually recommend. I just painted my husband’s office dark peacock blue and it feels so relaxing and encompassing. One day I would love to have a black dining room… And who says there can’t be glossy dark paint colors on your ceiling? It feels cozy and intimate but also makes your ceilings feel so much taller.”

What’s your favorite piece of furniture in your house?

I have a big corner chair for reading in my bedroom, and I couldn’t live without it!”

What’s your favorite restaurant where you live?

One of our favorite places out here is called Smokin’ Fin in Littleton.”

What’s the last book you read?

I love reading! It’s how I spend most of my free time. I split my time between middle school adventure novels and the incredible Y.A. books my best friend recommends to me. Since she lives in Canada, reading brings us together! The last book I finished was called The Queen’s Rising by Rebecca Ross, for my book club.”

Cats or dogs? Explain yourself.

I have a hard time choosing. Honestly! One day I’ll have a huge husky, but I’m hoping for cats in the future too. In addition, I had bunnies when I was younger and would love to have them again! And my middle school dream of having a horse is still alive and well.”

Favorite place you’ve traveled to or want to visit?

Stockholm! It is such a peaceful, incredible city, with so many cool corners to explore.”

Favorite color combo?

I am a huge neutrals fan. I love the feel of mixed neutrals in a space, and am currently hooked on gray and camel. They are technically opposites in the neutral world, so they look beautiful together and add tons of interest to a space.”

Current obsession?

Industrial-styled attached greenrooms.”

Check out more designs by Modsy stylists!

 

Playing Favorites: What Modsy Designer Brando’s Loving Now

Come peek behind-the-scenes in our ‘Playing Favorites’ series and meet some of the Modsy designers who help homeowners reimagine their spaces each month.  

Splitting his time between Brooklyn, New York, and his native Arizona, Modsy designer Brando is an urbanite at heart with an eclectic sense of style. He has a knack for combining a mix of styles in his Modsy design plans for homeowners, which also often include lots of fun accents, unique furniture arrangements and lots of plants. The result are spaces that are anything but ordinary. To find out a little more about Brando, read on for our rapid-fire Q&A with him.

What’s your Modsy style?

Urban Collector

Where do you get your design inspiration?

“Insects and sea life. In college, I used the shapes of insect carapaces and seashells as inspiration for a few handbags and jewelry pieces. One of my tattoos is of a section cut of a conch shell.”

What’s one interior design rule you always break?

“I’ve always disagreed with the ‘rule’ of not mixing styles, and that’s probably one of my favorite things about Modsy! It’s so much fun being able to mix two very different styles and be able to create something entirely unique. My cousin came to me the other day and asked me to help her with her house. Her and her husband have such different styles and they couldn’t figure out how to both be happy. I just sent her to Modsy!”

Favorite place you’ve traveled to or want to visit?

“I’ve been to India twice to visit my dad’s side of the family, but I was so young that I wasn’t able to fully appreciate the culture. Now that I’m older I’d love to go back and experience it in an entirely different light.”

What’s the last book you read?

“Call Me By Your Name”

Cats or dogs? Explain yourself.

“Dogs! One time I saw a woman walking five Pomeranians at once, and they were all different shades of black and grey. Ever since then it has been a dream of mine to have an ombre gradient of dogs. Also, I’m allergic to cats.”

Current obsession?

“I’m obsessed with plants right now, which I’m sure any of my Modsy customers have noticed. Maybe it’s because I grew up in the desert and then moved to a city, but I feel that I can never have enough plants!”

Check out more 3D rooms by our stylists!