Kelly Wearstler, Interior Designer


“Being around my mom’s creative spirit, going to flea markets and [antique] auctions with her, is probably part of why I loved being creative since I was small. I always wanted to make things, whether it was drawing or working with two-dimensional forms. When I got older I studied architecture and graphic design, and then did an apprenticeship with Milton Glaser. He’s an iconic graphic designer—he made the I-heart-NY logo—but also did some interior design. It was really great being exposed to his studio’s multi-disciplinary work. After that, I moved to LA and got my first project. This couple had just moved to LA and bought a house in Venice, and someone referred them to me for the design. It was a great opportunity, so I didn’t charge very much and I waited tables in order to keep it going. A year or two later I got another job, and it kept growing—eventually I hired my first assistant, and at one point I was like, ‘OK, I have to get an office.’ I was working incredibly hard, 16 to 18 hour days, and kind of figuring it out by myself. Now I have a sixty-person studio in Los Angeles.

We’re a multifaceted firm—we do architecture, interior design, graphic design, textile products, experiential design, hotels... We work on projects that are high-rise, new construction, mixed-use projects, townhouses, apartments. We did this experiential design project for the new Hummer launch, where we made a video and created this incredible garage that’s all CGI rendering. I love the balance. I love the mix. As an artist, you want different canvases, and the different projects are very much like that for me. Every project looks very different from one another because I don’t have a formula. It really just depends. I always say I’m a free spirit, but I also do a lot of work to get into my client’s head. I need to be a great listener. It’s important to understand the vision of the project, the programming, how people want to live in the space... I always ask, ‘What is the vibe?’ And a lot of people are like, ‘I don’t know!’ If they don’t know, the next step is putting together a board of things that excite them. Is it fashion? Is it art? Is it landscape? There’s always a common thread. I take all of that information and look at the architecture, the location, the topography you can see looking out of the window. Then I start the project.

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Interior design is such a powerful force because it helps people live their lives better. It’s about making spaces more functional and more beautiful, which can in turn make you feel more protected and loved. Good design elevates everyday experiences. Incredible sheets, what you drink your coffee out of… A lot of people rush. They buy a lot of the same things. I really emphasize taking your time and limiting your purchases. Maybe you go out and buy one chair. And then maybe you go buy a piece of art. Over time you’re actually educating your eye, and that’s going to help you make smarter decisions. You’re going to find things that you like more.

I like going to different facialists because everyone has their own point of view, and I end up learning different things. I see many different doctors for the same reason. It might be a combination of three different perspectives that works best for me, you know? For my skin, I see my dermatologist for laser, which helps boost collagen. I see Melanie Grant on Melrose Place every four to six weeks—she’s awesome. She has lots of powerful machines, and the one I really love is for light therapy. Depending on what my skin looks like it needs, she’ll do blue, yellow, or red light. I also see Barbara Sturm.

Interior design is such a powerful force because it helps people live their lives better.

To wash my face, I use Augustinus Bader Cleansing Gel. I love that it’s gentle and not very drying. I see a difference from his products, for sure. I also use The Rich Cream, and his Body Cream. I have several different serums—at night I use the Skin Medica TNS Advanced Serum, which is great for skin texture. I’ve been using that for years and I really love it. In the morning I use the Skinceuticals CE Ferulic, which is a great antioxidant. That’s more for anti-aging. Another serum I use once a day on my face and neck is the Biologique Recherche Serum Yall O2. It really helps with any fine lines and is a great renewal product. Before I apply cream, I put on my May Lindstrom Garden Botanical Face Mist to give it some water to hold in. It smells amazing, and it’s super refreshing. I also carry it with me and use it a lot throughout the day. I put the Biologique Recherche Creme Contour des Yeux VIP O2 around my eyes—I love that it’s in a stick and that I don’t have to put a finger into it. And everywhere else, I use the Auteur Definitive Restoration Cream, which is super moisturizing and has a really nice texture. I’ve been using that for about eight months. I use the Skinceuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50 last every day. I don’t wear makeup often, but when I do that’s also a great base. It isn’t greasy, but has a lot of sheen.

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I don’t like heavy foundation, but if I’m going out I’ll use one from Giorgio Armani. The Hourglass Vanish Foundation Brush helps it go on really smoothly, and gives me more coverage without having to use more. The bristles are super fine, and I think that helps it go on in a thin layer. Usually, I’ll just use the Westman Atelier Vital Skin Foundation Stick if I have a blemish or something I want to cover. That’s really lightweight and easy to use, and I apply it with the Hourglass brush too. I also have a couple brushes that I love from Patrick Ta. They’re all different shapes—I use one for powder, and the other for my bronzer. I like to put some Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Finish Setting Powder in Fair 1 in my T-zone because the sunscreen can be a little too dewy—for work, I need to be a little more polished. And I like the Tom Ford Soleil Glow Bronzer in Terra 02, which comes in this super big, luxurious compact.

I have thick brows and they’re kind of dark already, but I fill in a couple little holes with the MAC Eye Brows Styler in Spiked, an espresso color. I kind of spot-treat with it. And if I am going to be out for the day, I’ll use the Anastasia Beverly Hills Tinted Brow Gel to keep my brows in place. After that I use an eyelash curler, which is by Kaasage, and then Kevyn Aucoin Volume Mascara. I work out during lunch, and I don’t have any issues with that stuff smudging. If I have a meeting and have to look extra polished, I’ll use the Dior 5 Couleurs Couture Eyeshadow Palette in Cruise 022 [Ed note: shade discontinued]. [The shades] are all neutral with a slight peach-y tone. I don’t really wear lipstick, but there’s a lip liner that I like, Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat in Pillow Talk, which is literally the exact same color as my lips. Then, I’ll use this really amazing neutral lip moisturizer on top of it, Augustinus Bader’s The Lip Balm. That’s my day lip balm that I keep in my purse, and at night I use Dr. Hauschka’s Lip Care Stick. I’ve been using that for as long as I can remember. I just buy it at Erewhon.

I like going to different facialists because everyone has their own point of view, and I end up learning different things.

I do so little to my hair. I see Mischelle Navar for a cut, who actually moved to Miami. And I’ve been seeing Cassondra Kaeding for color for probably six or seven years. She’s amazing. I get highlights maybe twice a year, and I’ll do a gloss every once in a while just to keep the color rich. The water here in LA can make it a little bit brassy.

I switch my hair products pretty often, like every two weeks, because I think it’s important. Davines Oi Shampoo is clarifying and really deep-cleaning—for two weeks I’ll use that and the Oi conditioner, then I’ll switch to the gentle shampoo and conditioner from Sachajuan. I use the Ouai Fine to Medium Hair Treatment Masque when I have time, maybe once a month or every 45 days. Jen Aniston recently sent me some of her new hair products, and there’s one that I absolutely love, the Lolavie Perfecting Leave-In. It’s literally amazing. It makes my hair super silky. I don’t brush my hair with a hairbrush—I use the Mason Pearson tortoise wide comb, and only right after I get out of the shower. Then, I go to bed. I don’t use any hairdryer on my hair or anything like that. I wake up and kind of run my fingers through my hair, and I’m kind of done.

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There’s a Detox Market here in LA, and I like to go there to get Pai’s Comfrey and Calendula Calming Body Cream. It’s super luxurious and it really is moisturizing. It has a nice texture to it. I dry brush almost every day. And in the shower, I use the Mustela Gentle Cleansing Gel. It’s for babies—maybe that’s weird, but the smell reminds me of when my boys were little. It’s super non-drying and simple. I also love baths. I took baths with my boys until they were probably five or six years old and we could barely fit in there. My husband was like, ‘Time to cut the cord here.’ [Laughs] But it was just the best time. We would talk and laugh and play games. But anyway, I love baths and try to take one at least once a week. I love the aromatherapy of essential oils, and have a bunch of different Pranarom ones: eucalyptus, rosemary, cinnamon bark… I like to mix it up.

I am the ultimate multitasker. I work out twice a day, tennis in the morning at 6AM, and then pilates. I see Andie Hecker, who’s amazing—she gets tons of celebrities’ bodies completely ripped. I go to work and leave for lunch every day and I go see her. I call it my afternoon rite. Then, I’ll come back to the studio and I’ll have lunch while I’m in a meeting. I’ve also been known to get manicures, pedicures, haircuts, color, waxing... in meetings. I get manicures and pedicures religiously, and my manicurist comes to the office. She’s probably there for an hour and a half. And actually, Sally Hershberger is in the same building as my studio—I’d go upstairs, get my color put on, go back down in my robe and be on call for 30 minutes, then go back upstairs to get it washed out. All of these things take time, and I might as well be working. And it lets me get home at night to see my family for dinner. That’s the most important thing.”

—as told to ITG

Kelly Wearstler photographed in LA by Katie Thompson on September 23, 2021.