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Kelly Wearstler is an American designer and one of the very top interior designers in the world, admired for her bold designs and fantastic interior projects. She served as a judge on Bravo’s Top Design and in 2012 Rizzoli published her fourth book, Rhapsody. Under the pseudonym Kelly Gallagher, she is Playboy’s Playmate of the Month for September 1994. The New Yorker once called her “the presiding grande dame of West Coast interior design”.
In 1994 Kelly Wearstler was Playmate of the Month for September, under the pseudonym Kelly Gallagher in Playboy. She used the money she made from posing in Playboy to pay off her student loans and help start her interior design business. Kelly Wearstler says that she is “not ashamed of” having posed in Playboy: “If people ask me, I did it…but I don’t talk about it“, explaining that “it’s a little different now …I didn’t, you know, hang out at the mansion and things. It was just, I did it and that was it.”
In 1995 Kelly Wearstler opened her design firm, Kelly Wearstler Interior Design (Kwid). In the late 1990s, she decorated the house of real estate developer Brad Korzen (whom she married in 2002), eventually providing design services for residential properties owned by Korzen’s Kor Realty Group. Wearstler would go on to redo the interior of the Avalon, a late 1940s-era hotel in Beverly Hills owned by Korzen. This launched her foray into hotel interior design, creating what the New York Times has described as “retro-theatrical” interiors for Korzen’s collection of boutique hotels, Viceroy Hotels and Resorts.
Her work within the hotel industry built her reputation as a notable west coast designer. Kelly Wearstler also designed the restaurant and lounge, BG, at the Manhattan Bergdorf Goodman store. In 2006, HarperCollins published Domicilum Decoratus, a photography book by Wearstler, featuring photographs of her Beverly Hills mansion and herself dressed in evening gowns. She has published three other books: Rhapsody, Hue and Modern Glamour. Wearstler was a judge on Bravo’s reality show contest Top Design for the 2008 season. That same year, she introduced a line of decorative home goods for New York-based department store Bergdorf Goodman, which continues to carry her line. Kwid also designs exclusive bed sheets for Sferra, rugs for the Rug Company, fine china for Pickard China, and wall treatments for F. Schumacher & Co.
Spring street residence
Bergdorf Goodman Restaurant
Bergdorf Goodman Boutique
The 10,000 sq. ft. Bellagio Residence was a 1939 Georgian Revival overlooking the manicured links of the Bel Air Country Club that was in need of a modern touch. Stripped down to the studs, Wearstler worked to create an additional 3,000 sq. ft. of living space, pushed up the ceiling heights, broadened windows and doors to allow more light and completely carved out a new master suite upstairs.
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The 40-acre Viceroy Anguilla marks the first international location for the brand and Kelly Wearstler’s most textural interpretation of Viceroy style to date. The expansive property provides a serene setting for its guests with the designer’s signature mix of organic elements.
The focus of the house was clearly the ocean, and Kelly Wearstler worked, as she says, “to bring the outside in.” In the living room, floor-to-ceiling windows frame the spectacular Pacific. At the center of the house, an enormous skylight was installed and sunshine pours in from above; one leafy tree, soaring two stories high, was planted in the main hall. The color palette, muted and complex, was drawn from the oceanfront setting: silvery barnacle gray, spindrift white and driftwood taupe. All of the building materials— bleached walnut flooring, Douglas-fir kitchen cabinetry, wave-patterned marble walls—seem to mirror the natural setting. “The marble is so organic and full of movement, it feels like the ocean,” says Wearstler, “or like being inside a shell.” A range of marble—from watery green to brooding storm-cloud black—was used throughout the house as wall coverings, custom vanities and dramatic fireplace surrounds. There are tiny, spiraling, fossilized shells embedded within the marble kitchen counter, and an enormous sculpture of a chambered nautilus in the foyer seems to tumble to the floor, evoking a Jules Verne vision where the known world spins into the imaginary (a Wearstler trademark).
Kelly Wearstler’s designs attract and inspire an enviable roster of A-list clientele from the film and music industries, as well as top celebrities, and tastemakers worldwide. Her trademark sumptuous and vibrant interiors imbue luxury hotels and grand residences from Beverly Hills to the Caribbean and around the globe. Among Wearstler’s expansive and diverse lifestyle portfolio are collaborations with some of the most respected global brands across the luxury market space. Wearstler’s lifestyle brand boasts its own bespoke furniture collection as well as a favored and long-standing presence on vintage and antique online retailer 1stdibs.
I love history… everything is inspired by history, so that’s why I love vintage and antiques.
My motto in life is ‘Take risks;’ you don’t have a voice if you don’t. You have to venture outside your boundaries. That’s what life’s all about.
I look at every piece of furniture and every object as an individual sculpture.
Having an eye is one thing, but you have to be able to execute.
Whether you’re going to a museum or a flea market or flipping through a book, always be on the lookout for something special.
As an interior designer, Kelly Wearstler finds influence in Modernism and old Hollywood glamour as created by Dorothy Draper and William Haines, and the work of architect Aldo Rossi. Her style has been described as “Hollywood Regency” and “Maximalism”. She is credited, alongside Jonathan Adler and Miles Redd as bringing “the florid and the decorative back to interior design”, mixing modern and historical designs, such as a Rococo mirror, against a turquoise painted wall, accented by a shag rug. Wearstler visits auction houses to collect furniture and decor items for projects. In 2008 she was deemed a “mega decorator” by Domino, being described as reaching out to “the hip design public”, in the many hotel interiors she has designed. Wearstler believes clutter to be the biggest faux pas in home decor.
Wearstler‘s advice to aspiring interior designers would be to travel. You have to see and study other cultures. If you have an opportunity in school to study abroad or to do any type of traveling, take every moment you can. And if you can’t or don’t have the means to travel out of your country, then take a road trip and explore another town you’ve never seen. Being an interior designer is all about discovery and adventure.
Standout accolades for Wearstler include Vogue’s Best Dressed list, Architectural Digest’s preeminent Top 100 Architecture & Interior Design list, French AD’s World’s Top Interior Designers, and TIME Style & Design’s elite “Design 100” group of global creatives. Wearstler served as a judge on Bravo’s popular interior design television competition series, “Top Design,” and has penned monthly style advice columns for InStyle, The Huffington Post, The Coveteur and Domaine. Her work and profiles have been featured in Vogue, Elle Décor, Architectural Digest, InStyle, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Condé Nast Traveler, Vanity Fair, The Wall Street Journal, Women’s Wear Daily and The New York Times. International press includes the French, German, Spanish, Russian, Chinese and Indian editions of Architectural Digest, Elle Decoration UK, Wallpaper, Vogue Paris, Vogue China, Residence, Belle, Vogue Living, House & Garden and Hong Kong Tatler.