What’s In Your Toolbox: Kelly Wearstler

You may recognize Kelly Wearstler as the glamorous TV judge from Bravo’s Top Design series. Maybe you stayed in a boutique hotel or ate in a chic restaurant boasting her dazzling interiors. Or maybe you’re just a fan of her color-drenched spaces and seductive styling. Whatever your relationship to Kelly Wearstler and her work, she has become the ultimate design crush and  one of the decade’s leading taste makers. My big sister introduced me to her designs years ago, and I’ve been a fan ever since. If only this interview included a peek into her closet! Please warmly welcome the much-celebrated Kelly Wearstler!

1. Design*Sponge: What is in your toolbox? What are the tools you can’t live without?

Kelly Wearstler:

2. Design*Sponge: Fill in the blank, “When I am in my studio, I feel fearless!”

CLICK HERE for the rest of Kelly’s interview after the jump!

3. Design*Sponge: What are on the top shelves of your inspiration library right now?

Kelly Wearsler:

4. Design*Sponge: How do you keep yourself organized?

Kelly Wearstler: My iPhone and Blackberry keep me organized.

5. Design*Sponge: What is the best advice you have ever received, and what is the one piece of advice you would offer to a young, aspiring interior designer?

Kelly Wearstler: The best piece of advice I have received is to be yourself, follow your dreams.

My 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.

6. Design*Sponge: How do you combat creative blocks? What tools do you use to keep your creativity flowing?

Kelly Wearstler: Spending time with my kids. Seeing the world through their eyes is a constant way to give your mind creative freedom.

7. Design*Sponge: In addition to being an interior designer, TV design show judge and author, to name a few, what would you like to conquer next?

Kelly Wearstler: There are a lot of evolutions and new adventures on the horizon. The interior design projects I am working on always inspire and are the core of what I do. However, those projects can be very individual and personal. I look forward to connecting to more people and bringing my work and vision to a greater audience. The next evolution is to continue to find ways to reach out to more people who share my passion for design, beauty and art.

8. Design*Sponge: Where do you like to shop for inspiration?

Kelly Wearstler: I love shopping for inspiration in all places — it could be at a puzzle shop with my kids or a vintage clothing store in Miami.

9. Design*Sponge: If you could peek inside the studio/toolbox of any designer/artist/craftsman, who would it be?

Kelly Wearstler: Though she just passed on, I would love to peek inside the world of Louise Bourgeois.

10. Design*Sponge: If you could make a master mix-tape of music that is inspiring to you at the moment, what would it be? It can be your favorite classical songs, blues, hip hop, NPR or whatever is on heavy rotation. Anything and everything!

Kelly Wearstler:

  • Green Day — Brain Stew
  • The Killers — Shadowplay
  • Phoenix — Lisztomania

I LOVE your toolbox insider posts! It hits more of a realistic place in the creative world–seeing artists & designers share what works for them in a broken down manner, so that we can realize it’s possible to reach our creative goals!


I love Kelly Wearstler , just got Hue for my coffee table. I’m using her as inspiration when decorating my bedroom. She is totally fearless in the studio and out! Thanks for this, You have a great site :)


Kelly is a true inspiration, I love her designs! Each space is layered and worldly, and mimics her eclectic style.


Okay, wow, I’m inspired! I’m imagining a nice room withOUT horse hair and dirt from my boots on the floor, no chicken feathers floating in the window, no refridgerators filled to the brim with goats milk and eggs…no closets full of livestock wormers and needles…a front yard without prickly chestnuts dropping all over the place…..just nothing but beauty and organization and cleanliness. MY DREAM! Keep inspiring us!

sara s.

not only are her spaces fabulous and totally chic, but she is too. love, love, love her!!! thanks so much for sharing!


Kelly’s style is unique + stunning. I Love
her sense of color along with all the details and layers she brings to a space.
Her fearlessness completely shines through.

Elizabeth Greene

More Toolbox interviews, please. Great idea. Would love to see this as a weekly feature.


I saw Kelly Wearstler outside her office a few months ago and was tempted to tell her how much I LOVE her work. I felt like too much of a goober, so I am free to gush here – I love her style!

Jamie Eidman

LOVE LOVE LOVE this post! Along with Kelly’s wonderful work, I LOVE her outfit? Any chance of finding out who the designer is?


Oh my gosh Grace I just saw you in a clip for Say Yes to the Dress on the TLC website!


Kelly Wearstler is fearless. I adore her bold use of color. As an artist, I enjoy how she uses art as a focal point.

She really knows how to mix patterns and to put things together in a way that a person might not think would work but, they do!

Her rooms are personality plus and unique!

Thanks for this wonderful post!

ginny branch stelling

hey everyone! i will do some sleuth work to find out where her gorgeous outfit came from! and thanks for the sweet comments, i really enjoy reading them :)


I love Kelly Wearstler!!! And I especially appreciate her advice for up and coming designers.

Thank you for this series!!!


way to go d*s! i am such a KW fan and to see her here is oh-so-impressive. thank you! thank you!


I have knew Kelly a long time ago and just was re-introduced to her and her amazing work. She has always had a special vibe about her and it’s wonderful to know she has followed all of her dreams, goals and desires! I feel so very inspired by her. Thank YOU Kelly!

ginny branch stelling

hey y’all, word is kelly’s dress was designed by the fantastically talented henrik vibskov!


love her sense of whimsy~she’s a one of a kind, so impressed with this “what’s in your toolbox” feature, i look forward to who’ll you feature next~ i loved mine and am so honored to be in such an impressive group of creative trail blazers and inventive spirits~xo

Tina Hambly

She is on my inspiration board and I am a shoe designer. I often take her rooms and design a style based on them. Love her, her style, her approach to life and her love for her boys!

Desha Peacock

Very inspiring, I like that she encourages designers to travel for inspiration- good advice for anyone, in just about any creative field. thanks~


Such a great series…love to peek into the world of such inspiring people. Especially KW! She rocks my world!!


Hey guys! For everyone asking about Kelly’s outfit, Target has a blouse that’s almost exactly the same: http://bit.ly/9i6Wcg
The color is different, but I’ve seen it in person and it’s really cute! Also comes in a gorgeous red. If you paired it with a graphic shirt you’d have a very similar look.


Grace, what a great interview! Love hearing from such creative and talented people. Thanks for sharing them with us, d*s!