Published on February 19, 2019

Your home can skew from a sanctuary to a gallery. It’s equally a place for respite and calm as it is a space in which to showcase your favorite items—art collected over the years, tchotchkes picked up during your travels, gifts you’ve grown to love from friends. The contents of any house are deeply personal and, to paraphrase our favorite philosopher Marie Kondo, they better spark joy.

Designers make their living crafting beautiful spaces for others to inhabit, which is why it’s always interesting to peek into their own homes and see how they’ve parlayed their professional talents into their personal space. One thing is instantly clear: Any preconceived notions held about pristine, stuffy abodes that are full of high-end pieces and devoid of individuality should be swiftly tossed out the window. Our favorite designers’ homes are chock-full of cool touches and unique ideas, all of which hold one commonality: Their homes are designed to make them happy.

If you’re in the market to infuse a bit of joy into your own space, you’ll be inspired by these designers talking about the one thing in their homes that makes them the happiest.

The Item That Would Be Saved in a Fire…

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Photography by Tessa Neustadt

“When I was living in NYC, I bought my first piece of ‘real’ art. It’s a huge vintage drawing of a cartoon blimp, and I love it as much today as when I bought it 10 years ago. Although it was not much in price, it felt like a big and important purchase for me at the time. It not only still sparks joy, but if my house was on fire, you bet I would be ripping it off the wall as my arm hairs were about to burn off.” — Emily Henderson

The Upcycled Steal…

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Photography by Cody Guilfoyle

“You know that feeling when you make a big decision to invest money in a piece of furniture that you very quickly end up getting bored with? This is the opposite situation—I had no money left in the design budget, a 33-inch wide space to fill, and a hankering for a good multifunctional case. I am a huge thrifter and essentially cannot walk by a secondhand store without going in. I found this perfect little brass foot cabinet for $15, threw my body on it as fast I could (I have severe anxiety about people swooping in on my thrift furnishings), called a car, and got that sucker out of there as fast I could. I did make one adjustment by replacing the top with a marble slab for a little more texture and variation. It was the opposite of a drawn-out, thoughtful decision, but it’s one that has gotten better with time and most certainly brings me joy.” — Megan Hopp

Tour Megan’s NYC apartment here.

The Kids’ Room DIY…

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Photography by Reading My Tea Leaves

“I’d say my most recent favorite project is a china cabinet that I found on the street and refurbished to use in my kids’ room as a dresser. Since there were lots of signs of lead paint and it was going in a room with two little kids, I had it professionally stripped and then I replaced the broken glass doors, removed some ornamental woodwork, gave it a fresh coat of paint, and replaced the hardware. It’s made such a difference in their room, and I love that it went from literal trash to treasure.” — Erin Boyle

The Sentimental Surprise…

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Photography by Monica Wang

“When we first moved to Los Angeles, I wanted these bust vases so bad. They are fun and quirky and the epitome of joy. I was just getting my business reset up in Los Angeles and my husband was just starting a new job, so it really wasn’t an item that made sense to purchase. But after my husband got his first paycheck at his new job, he surprised me with a set of two busts. They are still my favorite pieces and they sit in our living room front and center.” — Joy Cho

The Multipurpose Treasure…

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Photography by Ashley Petrone

“I’m such a lover of fun finds and treasure hunting. Normally my go-to spot is a garage sale or a thrift store, but I actually found my favorite decor item at Homegoods. It was $4.99 (which makes it even better) and it’s a small wooden stool that I move all over the house. It has been used as a candle holder, spice display, paper towel holder, plant stand, and the list goes on. It’s a sweet treasure that sparks joy every time I see it and it reminds me why I love my ‘buy now, return later’ motto. I’ve never seen it at the store again.” — Ashley Petrone

Tour Ashley’s NorCal home here.

The Ottoman That Used to Be a Rug…

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Photography by Tessa Neustadt

“One item that makes me happy beyond belief is my Chautauqua Ottoman. It’s one of the prettiest pieces of furniture in my home; it’s versatile, it’s one of a kind—need I say more? It’s made with a vintage rug I found, and while it’s beautiful, I don’t need to be too careful with it. It’s sturdy AF and truly made for living. I kick my feet up on it every night when I hit the couch, and it’s easily my favorite piece.” — Amber Lewis

The Pseudo Pet…

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Photography by Autumn Hachey

“I have a 1970s ceramic leopard statue on my mantel that is hands-down one of my favorite things ever. I first saw a leopard statue at a vintage shop in Vancouver when I was there for work and became obsessed with finding my own. I ended up finding one at a local consignment shop. At the time, we weren’t allowed to have any pets in our apartment, so the leopard was our first ‘pet.’ We named him Jackson after the guitar because my partner is a musician. We have very different decor styles, and Jackson was a great mix of both: a little bit badass and a little bit rock and roll. Jackson was also in the first profile photo I posted to my vintage shop, Make Moves Vintage, thereby becoming a bit of a mascot for the brand. He was later included in my logos—I’m even planning to get a tattoo of him.” — Autumn Hachey

The Mural With a Message…

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Photography by Lisa Romerein

“This mural, commissioned by surf artist Matt Allen, reminds me every day to slow the heck down and count my blessings.” — Raili Clasen

Tour Raili’s Newport Beach home here.

The Conversation-Starter…

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Photography by Zeke Ruelas

“I’m a big fan of anything in the home that not only sparks joy but also initiates discourse. For me, this usually means adding something funky or fun into the home by way of art or a unique vintage piece—we don’t want our home to look like everyone else’s, right? This chair is weird in the best way possible. Plus, it previously belonged to Kelly Wearstler, which is a great conversation-starter.” — Dee Murphy

The Personal Paintings…

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Photography by Room for Tuesday

“I painted portraits of my dogs last year and am constantly smiling when I see them. They’re quirky and fun from a design point of view but also sentimental because our giant schnauzer has since passed away. I’ll definitely paint portraits of all of our dogs from here on out—they’re so special to us.” — Sarah Gibson

The Flea Market Find…

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Photography by SG Style

“There are so many things in my home that spark joy, but I’d have to say that, at the top of the list are my vintage, hand-carved three wise monkeys. I love them so so much. They are so special to me because I happened upon them at an antique flea market and I’ve never seen them anywhere else since. They bring such good vibes to our home and are such a conversation-starter. I’ll probably request to be buried with them.” — Shavonda Gardner

The Wish List Furniture Piece…

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Photography by Marisa Vitale

“I spent months looking for a vintage sideboard that fit my budget and aesthetic. I finally found my dream vintage piece. This 1963 Broyhill Brasília brings wonderful vibes to my home. I’m a firm believer that we need to be acutely aware of what we surround ourselves with, especially in our home. Intentionally styling your home with wellness in mind is key to every happy home.” — Anita Yokota

The Painting That Influenced an Entire Room…

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Photography by Allison Crawford

“Although I love every detail of this entryway, the Zoe Pawlak painting steals the show. For me, the original painting represents feminism, confidence, and originality, which sparks joy.  Pawlak is a talented painter based in Montreal, and when I saw this piece, I immediately fell in love. This purchase was the first building block when designing HOTELette Austin, and I based the entire living room around the colors and vibe of the painting.” — Allison Crawford

See more ways to have your decor spark joy:
I Put a Disco Ball in My Window, and It Has Brought Me Great Joy
It’s Time to Reconsider Decorating With Glitter
This Latest Decor Trend Is All About Body Positivity