‘I Dress Like I Design’: Kelly Wearstler On Color, Comfort, And Combining Vintage With Modern

by Freya Drohan

Whether you’re an interiors obsessive or not, chances are you’ve saved Kelly Wearstler’s jaw-dropping, double tap-worthy work to your moodboard. The California-native is a leading talent in the design world—and her personal style has made her even more of a sought after tastemaker. The award-winning creative has conceptualized the aesthetics of some of the world’s most famous interior spaces—cough: the Santa Monica Proper Hotel—and she continues to add strings to her bow. Up next? A first-of-its-kind partnership to create a range of paints with Farrow & Ball. We hopped on Zoom with her to talk about her love for color—and a power shoulder! 

Tell us about your collaboration with Farrow & Ball. This is a first for both of you!
It’s been a dream for as long as I can remember to do a paint collection—I love color! I’ve been using Farrow & Ball paint for all my projects for years. The opportunity presented itself to do a paint partnership and it’s a huge honor because they’re a legacy company that have been around for 75 years. And I’m t
he first they’ve partnered with! I went to the factory in Dorset in the U.K. and spent some days with their team and creative director. It was so enlightening! 

Can you talk a little more about what the colors mean to you personally? Are they trend-driven or more intuitive?
They said what are you thinking, so I put together a story and the team and I put together an inspiration board. It was all about bringing the California color palette to Farrow & Ball. When it comes to what inspires me, a lot of it has to do with my environment in California. The Palm color is inspired by the palm fronds in the city. Tar is a dark neutral inspired by the freeways, and Faded Terracotta is like the faded, sun-drenched pots and rooflines. They’re classics, and really work so naturally and beauty in this sustainable, high-quality paint. 

(Courtesy Harry Crowder)

What’s your earliest memory of wanting to pursue this kind of work?
I grew up with a mom who was an antiques dealer, so I remember we were always going to flea markets and auctions. I was always super curious and attracted to things that had color: it just spawned an emotion. My mom would design our rooms, and I was always so into it. One room was like color blocked, another one had a colorful wall covering. She’d let me and my sister help design them. It was probably a disaster at the time, but we loved it!

You have such a great sense of personal style, do you follow what’s going on in the fashion world or do you think your taste is more innate?
I’m inspired by everything—art, whats in the landscape, and fashion, which is a huge inspiration to me. I don’t really look at what the trends are, it’s more an emotional thing. My inspiration comes from travel and I love going to vintage clothing shows. 

(Courtesy of Farrow & Ball/Trevor Tondro)

How do you think your personal style is linked to your work?
How I dress is how I design. Something old and something new! Right now, I have on a vintage jacket and a vintage tee, and actually vintage sweatpants—I do have them on today! And new sneakers. It’s how I design too: new spirit, old spirit. That combination is timeless. If you buy everything new, it has a date on it. 

That answers my next question. I noticed, despite most people leaning into comfort wear, you always still look really polished on Instagram. Do you “do” casual or are you always one to have on a full look?
I love fashion! I workout in the morning and then get dressed and I enjoy that process. We all want to look cute but it’s how you feel when you wake up. I’m thoughtful about it, whether I’m going casual or a little more dressed up.

What are some of your most worn favorites in your wardrobe right now?
I would say my Air Force 1 sneakers—I have a nice collection of those! I love Off/White, Vetements, Balenciaga, Palm Angels…anything a little more edgy! Givenchy has an amazing new collection coming out too.  


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A post shared by Kelly Wearstler (@kellywearstler)

I feel like you’re always in a great padded shoulder!
A shoulder is everything. How can you not feel good in a great shoulder!

Any spring trends you’re particularly excited about—both in fashion and in the home?
Having your space flexible and versatile. We’re all working from home and people want to spread out. Enjoying your space, being able to work from different rooms in your house. People want rooms they can use every day. There’s no more ‘separate room for entertaining’—people want open space they can use frequently.

(Courtesy of Farrow & Ball/Trevor Tondro)

You’ve a huge presence on Instagram, is this something that happened quite organically or is it something you’ve always nurtured?
We started early on: everything that we do is so visual. It’s such a great platform for visual artists and designers and creatives to share their inspiration. And we’re trying to be very open and using it as a space to share knowledge and what inspires us. It’s like having your own channel! Telling stories; that’s what we do.

You’re such a known name in the world of style and decor, is there any other industry you’d secretly love to dabble in?
I’m open! We’ve had some really interesting partnerships and collaborations: things I never would have thought about doing. I always keep my mind open, it keep it interesting as a designer and you never know who’s going to call. When I started out as an interior designer, I never thought I’d do product design, which I now love. It’s constantly changing and made me a better designer, working with different team members like graphic, landscape, and furniture designers. Collaborating is so inspirational. 

(Courtesy of Farrow & Ball/Trevor Tondro)

Kelly’s range with Farrow & Ball will be available to shop in the U.S. on March 4.

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