Interior Design Crash Course

In case you’re just tuning in, we’re moving to France this summer! We’ll be in center-city Grenoble, the “capital of the French Alps” in an old Haussmann style apartment, like the fancy ones you picture in Paris. After about 15 years of anticipation, it’s finally happening this year (2021).

When I’m not obsessing over politics or managing my kids’ virtual schooling, or figuring out the logistics of moving one’s family across the ocean to a different country, I’m obsessing over how in the world we are going to design and decorate our new home. You know how when you’re anticipating some big change coming up and try to imagine it and walk through it in your mind as if you were there, as if it were finally happening?

Well, it’s slowly starting to materialize in my mind, but we still have a ways to go until we finalize the architectural details, finishes, and the overall style. What better opportunity to explore the world of interior design?

First, I took a masterclass given by Kelly Wearstler, which consists of about 2-3 hours of videos and a pdf with ideas to hone your style and exercises to get you thinking about design. One suggestion she gave was to get a bunch of books from the library and get an idea of what designers/styles you like.

So I did just that. It took about 2 weeks, but I either read or skimmed each of the above books. I feel like I learned a bit and have a better idea of what I like, including some ideas that I may be able to use in our new home. It was fun to dive into the world of design and learn about the history and evolution of famous designers. This process gave me a much deeper appreciation for the art of design as well as some context for future exploration.

Tara Shaw’s Soul of the Home was super helpful and enlightening, especially since I’ll be in France, home of some amazing antiques and plenty of Louis III-Louis XVI furniture. If I’m going to see something a lot, like in historic homes, I’d like to know what I am looking at and be better able to appreciate it.

Now I at least have somewhat of an idea what the differences are between the styles. I’m not even really into antiques that much, but I do like furniture with character and history. I’m more comfortable now with mixing and matching with more contemporary modern pieces than I would have been.

Practically speaking, Shaw gave pointers on where to find great antiques in France and Italy, including the differences in bartering between the two countries. She also introduced me, dangerously, to auction sites like, in case I want to spend a few thousand dollars and on a special piece of art (be it furniture, jewelry, paintings, etc.). I had to close the tab after a few minutes because I could be there all day.

I’ve started looking on French furniture sites to see what is available on the other side of the pond. It’s striking to me how modern/contemporary the interior spaces tend to be there. I suppose it’s because so many there have grown up with antiques and items older than the US. Of course old world antiques are less interesting to the “old world”! I’d love to hear others’ perspectives on this.

Speaking of old world antiques, and well, old fashioned styles, Alexa Hampton’s The Language of Interior Design was a lesson in what I DO NOT like. Too traditional, too fussy and busy. However, after learning about Sister Parish and some of her wildly print heavy finishes as if chintz threw up all over the room, I can appreciate Hampton’s restraint a bit more. Funny how learning the background on something can improve understanding and appreciation and even temper one’s otherwise strong opinions. Could this be a universal truth that we could consider in other areas of life? I’m also thinking about the brutalist architecture rampant in some cities, including Grenoble. Maybe once I learn about it, I won’t hate it so much?

Letting one’s imagination have fun can also lead to some rather inspired ideas. Magical Rooms was a fun skim of inspirational styles using color, texture, sparkle, and even clashing motifs (of which I’m not a fan). It inspires you to think outside the box and be a bit bolder. Between Kelly Wearstler and some of the other designers showcased in Inspired Design. I am more excited than ever to decorate because I will have my own office space which will double as an extra guest room. My own space that I can decorate however I want, as in, fuchsia or emerald pull out couches and fun wallpaper. And it will have a fireplace and a balcony. So much potential!

On Style is another fun book full of inspiring ideas that are not so outlandish that you can’t pull off yourself. Author Carl Dellatore focuses on 50 designers who he sees as the next generation. Within this next gen, he categorizes them as such: the New Traditionalists, the Modern Minimalists, the Saturated Colorists, and the Casual Bohemians.

Keep your eye out for my top 5 favorite designers from Dellatore’s 50. I will link here when it is up.

Update: This post was written and saved until now, February 2022. Life got pretty hectic, as you can imagine. Since then, we have moved into our apartment with a 6 month delay. It is still not completely finished, but we are there, and slowly working towards decorating. I did get my green velvet pullout couch, though my office has also become our dressing room that my husband is for the most part, agreeing to let me make my own. Stay tuned in the coming months to see the progress! Or, check out my IG or FB accounts for photos in the meantime.

And here’s a teaser photo of my dog Cosmo in my office, ready to do some yoga

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