Are you following Kelly Wearstler’s seven rules of living room design?


Whether you’ve just moved house and your living room is a blank canvas or you’re renovating a front room that needs a little TLC, let Kelly Wearstler’s decorating pearls of wisdom be your guide.

Start by creating a ‘materials tray’

In the initial stages of conceptualising a space, it’s important to consider its intended use, whether that be as a family room or a place for entertaining, but I believe it’s also essential to reflect on what inspires you.

It could be something broad, such as a design era, or something more specific, like your favourite artwork or colour. I like to create a ‘materials tray’, where I bring together small moments of inspiration, ranging from fabric swatches to natural materials and diverse textures. Using this as a foundational point, I can build and expand upon the overarching design narrative.

beverly hills residence by kelly wearstlerbeverly hills residence by kelly wearstler

Kelly Wearstler

Ignore advice that advocates balance

The visual weight of a room’s components should be thoughtfully distributed but, contrary to the notion that every piece must command equal attention, I find asymmetry creates visual interest and tension. Every element within a lounge carries its own unique voice, and the artistry unfolds in the marriage of these voices to cultivate a harmonious dialogue throughout the space.

Go for locally crafted furnishings

I’m constantly on the lookout for distinctive pieces and design anomalies. I have collected countless items during my travels, from captivating artworks and objects to timeless antiques and one-of-a-kind furniture. I store them in my warehouse for moments of future inspiration. When it comes to commissioning new pieces and sourcing contemporary furniture for a living room, I love to support local artisans and creatives – it adds a truly authentic feel.

surf shack kelly wearstlersurf shack kelly wearstler

The Ingalls

Contrast can often be key

When selecting furnishings, I like to prioritise tactile elements and material qualities that cultivate an inviting atmosphere. The trick lies in exploring juxtapositions – layering contrasting colours and varied textures. Take, for instance, combining a rich brown vintage leather sofa with a sleek marble coffee table and a textured rug – the result exudes a soulful and welcoming feel.

malibu residence, kelly wearstlemalibu residence, kelly wearstle

Mark Durling

Embrace colourful, textural combinations

I advocate using colour, as it adds vibrancy and emotion. Simultaneously, shades such as black, white and beige can serve as a versatile canvas, allowing furniture, artworks and curated objects to take centre-stage.

To introduce a captivating interplay of dimension, I’ll incorporate contrasting textural elements and diverse materials. When sourcing furniture, my preference leans towards distinctive pieces that transcend functionality, evolving into sculptural artworks that spark conversation. Ultimately, it is the seamless integration of colour, material and form that contributes to the creation of a compelling and cohesive space.

Use lighting to set the mood

I like to harness the inherent beauty of natural light, using it as a foundation to build upon. This might involve tempering brightness with wooden screens or augmenting it through lighting fixtures and layered floor lamps. It’s crucial to incorporate light at different levels throughout a space, creating a visual journey.

In essence, lighting is a union of form and function, prompting thoughtful consideration of its integration with existing furniture. For example, place table lamps near seating vignettes to carve out an intimate conversation nook within a larger area.

'art scene', by kelly wearstler'art scene', by kelly wearstler

The Ingalls

Don’t forget, there’s a whole world outside

Location is a pivotal part of design. The view outside becomes the defining backdrop for the interiors, so it’s crucial to consider your external environment to create a truly localised experience. I’m drawn to rooms that play upon the raw beauty of the home’s surroundings. For example choosing a marble table, the pattern of which echoes the movement of foliage outside the window.


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