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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

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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.

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how to mix styles

Design Dilemma: How to Mix Styles In a Cohesive Way

It’s fun to begin to pinpoint your personal interior design style and design a home around that style. But very few people are drawn to one pure style. Rather, most people end up with personal design styles that are a mix of a few different styles. And many people’s preferences evolve over time as well. This means designing a space that incorporates multiple styles and mixes them together.

And if you live with a partner or roommates, you’re not just designing a space with your own preferred mix of styles, but you have to keep theirs in mind, too. And that also means mixing together even more style points-of-view on the overall design of your home.

If you’re feeling stuck or overwhelmed with how to combine styles in a shared space or just how to mix your own preferences together into one cohesive look, take a deep breath and keep reading. We’ve chatted with a few of our Modsy designers—who are experts in combining multiple interior design styles into one space. Today, they’re sharing some essential shared space design tips for mixing decor styles within a home!

Read on for some of our designers’ tips on how to mix styles!

how to mix styles

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1. Pinpoint Your Personal Style

You can’t start designing a space until you’ve pinpointed your personal style. Not sure where to begin? Browse some interior design ideas to pull inspiration for what style features, furniture, color palettes, and layouts you like. And don’t forget to take our style quiz to help you further drill down on your preferred design styles! Learning to name the styles you’re drawn toward will make it easier to figure out ways to merge those styles.

Once you’ve identified your preferred style (and everyone you live with, if you’re designing a shared space), you can start working toward combining elements from your ideal design styles for a cohesive home that represents everyone in the home and uniquely brings to life your shared style.

Bonus Listening: Check out episode 1 of Modsy’s podcast, The Render, to discover your personal interior design style and learn what it says about you!

how to mix styles

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2. Make Function a Top Priority

Instead of immediately getting caught up in how to mix and match the detailed elements of your design styles, start by taking a step back. When designing a room, the layout and function of the space should be established first. So, landing on the layout and the way you want to use the space will give you a solid foundation from which to build the design. This can also help you narrow in on style options for your space.

So, think about if you prefer a more formal or casual layout and how you want the space to function. Do you prefer the formality of symmetry or a more laid-back vibe? Or maybe you want something in the middle? It all depends on how you want to use the space and how you want to feel within the space. Let the function help guide your choices.how to mix styles

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3. Find Common Ground

Even if the styles you’re drawn to seem like they’re on opposite ends of the style spectrum—like glam and industrial or traditional and modern—you can almost always find a little bit of common ground. Take glam and industrial styles for example. At a glance, you’d think they have nothing in common. But look a little closer, and you’ll notice that both of these styles celebrate the use of the material as an ornament. While glam spaces tend to have more polished, sophisticated finishes and industrial design celebrates raw, rugged materials, you can find some common ground through glam materials in a more raw finish, like a marble side table. The same goes for mixing modern and traditional furniture. While these styles have very different sensibilities, both prioritize comfort in their foundational furniture. That commonality can help guide design choices in your space.

In this, keep things cohesive by not swinging too far on either side of the design spectrum. Instead, stay more “middle of the road” with design elements from each style.
how to mix styles

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4. Choose Furniture That Brings in Elements of Each Style

The furniture you choose is a great way to bring the many elements of your design style together. Use furniture shapes, materials, and finishes as a way to speak to each style. In the design above, the coffee table has traditional spindle legs, but the finish is more rustic. The accent chair has more modern lines, but the aged leather leans traditional. And having the fireplace and mantel as a focal point in the room is a very traditional move—but painting it all white is a very modern, minimalist approach. These are just small examples of how to bring in elements of multiple design styles into single pieces, which begins to impact the overall look of the space.

Another great tip to keep in mind? Many Transitional-style pieces are naturally “middle-of-the-road,” stylistically. So, Transitional furniture can provide a simple, almost neutral foundation if you’re struggling to mix your two styles.

how to mix styles

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5. Add Personal Touches

When you add decorative objects to a room, you have the opportunity to bring your own personal touch to the space, giving it a unique flair that helps drive home your personal style. This is a great way to bridge the multiple styles you’re mixing within a room. These personal touches could be objects from your travels, things you picked up during special events and mementos that are meaningful—like framed photos of your family or pets. Adding personal items helps a space feel more personalized and comforting, and in a shared space, it adds that extra element of building a space together.

Need a little extra help? Online interior design is a great way for partners to begin mixing design styles. Our designers are pros at combining design styles and can help you mix multiple styles into your home. And, with Modsy’s life-like 3D designs, you can try out different furniture and decor and confidently land on a design you love.

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living room

Style Spotlight: How to Get the Rustic Minimalist Look

You heard it here first: Rustic minimalism is a trend on the rise. What is rustic minimalism? Well, as its name indicates, this look combines elements of both rustic and minimal design styles and merges them into one space. What results are cool, spare rooms warmed up with bold but neutral colors and natural materials. You’ll also notice this look has a touch of rustic charm and a hint of industrial flair. Ultimately, this style combines pared-down vintage elements in a calm, monochromatic palette for a look that’s gender-neutral and inviting.

Ready to move in? We’ve got you covered! Read on to get the scoop on our stylists’ seven best tips to help you get the look in your own home.

rustic minimalist bedroom1. Go With Natural Materials

To really nail the rustic side of rustic minimalism, opt for furniture and decor accents that show off what they’re made of. Natural materials like unfinished wood, ceramics, metals, stone, jute, and linen are all great places to start.

Art that showcases the natural world is another way to pull the rustic vibe into your space – like this photograph of the Icelandic landscape.

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rustic minimalist living room2. Prioritize Comfort

Rustic minimalism is a style that’s meant to be lived in. That means it should be full of cozy, comfortable elements that make your room an inviting gathering space. For your base furniture, pick pieces that put comfort front and center – like this oversized sectional sofa. But don’t snooze on the fact that this sofa still has clean lines, which plays into the minimal side of this style. Layers of plush textiles and pillows will help up the comfort factor.

But to keep your room from feeling too weighty, you’ll want to balance out heavy and airy furniture, striking the right balance and contrast. For example, you can balance out the more substantial sofa with a minimal coffee table. Or, consider this accent chair: while still comfortable, it has a more modern frame that keeps the look lighter.

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office3. Add Warmth with Wood and Leather

We love the way that textiles can transform and warm up a whole space. Without the leather of the chairs, this office would feel very cool and industrial. But the addition of these chairs – along with the wicker baskets on the bookshelf and the palm leaf plant basket in the corner – changes the vibe in the best possible way.

Natural wood and leather tones add warmth throughout a room and will keep your rustic minimalist space from feeling cold or sterile, but they also won’t detract from the overall style! (Curtains and rugs are another great way to add warmth and texture.) And speaking of warmth, we love the way plants warm up a room and add a pop of color.

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office4. Stick to Frill-Free Furniture

To get this look, you’ll want to stay away from ornate decor and more traditionally shaped pieces, instead favoring sleek, clean lines. What results is a look that feels both current and gender-neutral. We love the wood and upholstery in this room, which together strikes the perfect balance of minimal and warm.

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dining room5. Go High-Contrast With Wall Color

Rustic minimalist design can feel spare. To keep it minimal but add a bold note, try painting a wall in a dark neutral. This could be an accent wall or the whole space. Either way, it will add a cozy vibe that’s right at home in rustic spaces but also strikes a bold note. It also creates the perfect backdrop for your art and decor to do the talking!

Bonus: a dark wall also makes wood and brass elements pop! Afraid of the room feeling too dark? You can add some life and color with a bright patterned rug.

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rustic minimalist living room6. Add Pops of Pattern and Eclectic Art

Rustic styles tend to feel more traditional – but to achieve the modern side of rustic minimalism, mix in fresh and contemporary elements to make it of-the-moment. We love an eclectic mix of organic patterns and playful art! A gallery wall is a great way to push your look more modern and trendy, and it gives you the opportunity to mix and match art styles to create a look that is all your own.

But don’t stop at wall art! Use textiles like throw pillows and blankets – but opt for patterns in the same color scheme to keep with the minimal vibe. We brought this to life in this room through using pops of black, white, and grey in the pillows, rug, and art.

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rustic minimalist bedroom7. Go Industrial With Your Lighting Fixtures

Remember how we said the rustic minimalist style has a slight industrial element to it? Well, you can usually spot this in the light fixtures.

Pieces made of metal, with a factory vibe, are key to this style. These matte black sconces are the perfect mix of rustic and industrial chic – but with a modern shape, they also add to the minimal vibe.

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Style Spotlight: Mod Collector

Designing a Modern Eclectic Space

 

The Modsy Fall Mod Collector Collection is finally here. A style that pairs mid-century modern forms with eclectic and personal accents, this is a look for anyone who craves a trendy space with a personal twist.

A style that plays with texture and pattern, this season’s Mod Collector Collection embraces rustic and bohemian undertones for a more trend-forward look that works for any interior.

Take a tour through some of our favorite customer design projects to see if Mod Collector is the look for you!

 

Modern Eclectic Style

With a color palette inspired by fall, this living room feels both warm and fresh. Try balancing the browns and tans from things like a leather sofa and jute rug, with a pop of green like this wasabi colored velvet lounge chair.

 

Modern Eclectic Style

If your ideal space is full of neutrals, consider incorporating pops of pattern to add some visual drama. We love the Greek Key patterned pouf and the Tibetan Tiger rug inside this living room, which bring a note of contrast to the otherwise neutral space.

 

Modern Eclectic Style

Geometric shapes are a great way to add a note of mid-century modern intrigue to your home. Try a coffee table with a retro shape or a mirror with an unexpected inlay. We love how the pop of brass in this geometric mirror helps warm up the space.

 

Modern Eclectic Style

The Mod Collector look is all about unexpected design elements. Try pulling in two poufs for extra seating that can also double as great footrests, or even a side tables in a pinch!

 

Modern Eclectic Style

You can’t go wrong with a pop of retro drama in your space. Try a statement lamp for a bit of mid-century glam to spice up your living room look. We love the unique, statement shape of this lamp which lends an instant cool-factor to any space.

 

Modern Eclectic Style

Balance a neutral sofa with a pair of statement chairs. We these woven leather safari chairs which sport a mid-century shape with an eclectic twist vie their woven leather construction.

 

Modern Eclectic Style

Not into statement furniture? No problem! Try a bold colored rug instead to instantly warm up any space. Pair it with other warm accents like fall-hued pillows or brassy accessories to tie the whole space together.

 

Modern Eclectic Style

This green velvet sofa brings the perfect pop of softness to this Mod Collector living room. The rounded arms and tapered legs perfectly pair with the mid-century details in the lamps, side table, and arm chairs.

 

Modern Eclectic Style

This deep red sofa makes a bold statement below this graphic mid-century artwork. Balance out the black by sprinkling other patterns throughout your space – try an ikat patterned basket or some geometric throw pillows.

 

Modern Eclectic Style

The Mod collector look isn’t just for your living room. Bring the wasabi green into your dining room as well with these velvet dining chairs for a cohesive space.

 

Love the Mod Collector look? Try it on in your space!

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