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From time to time, we like to dip into the Domino archives and revisit some of our favorite spaces—like the Beverly Hills guesthouse of designer Kelly Wearstler, which was featured in our October 2008 issue. Let’s take a look.
Moving on from Hollywood Regency, Kelly Wearstler, the ultimate trendsetter, goes for bravura modernism, applying a “no-construction, complete decoration renovation” to the nondescript guesthouse in her Beverly Hills backyard. Here, she unveils her rich, layered retreat and discloses insider info (and an eight-step plan!) for turning nothing into something.
In the bedroom, Wearstler laid the groundwork for her pile-it-on approach to modern decor with simple shapes: a platform bed and boxy Robert Kuo side tables from the ’70s. Then came a profusion of patterns unified by a pink-and-purple palette: a whimsical linen on the walls and even covering a window (“Concealing it made the busy room look cleaner,” she explains), a kimono-inspired linen headboard, ikat pillows amid matelassé bedding. Vintage brass lamps introduce masculinity to the pastel party. 
“If the basic elements are unfussy,” says Wearstler, “more can be more.”
The jeweled pieces from Wearstler’s home accessories line for Bergdorf Goodman (above) embody one of her home-design credos: For subtle complexity, stick with one color scheme but vary scale.
“If you don’t have an architecturally stimulating environment, fabric and color can make the space luxe, modern and cohesive,” says Wearstler.
Wearstler turned the second bedroom into an office, again upholstering the walls—here in an embroidered-linen faux bois—to provide dimension. To hide two doors she deemed extraneous, she devised a custom screen with brass details that adds structure and intrigue while also establishing the sea- foam and metallic palette. “A monochromatic theme fosters depth without overpowering a small room,” she explains.

“In a busy room, everything can’t be on the same scale—it’s like too many people speaking at once.” Wearstler played with varying graphics and textures (in the curtains, carpet, chairs, pillows) to bestow an overall sense of movement to the living room.

 “The reflective quality really opens things up,” she says of the de Gournay silver-leaf wallpaper. Likewise, metallic flashes—“more classic than most colors”—have a floating quality that lightens the space and prevents the black-and- white scheme from feeling cold.

How to decorate like Kelly

For those of use who don’t have our own design firm to call on, Kelly Wearstler distills her high-end project-management savvy into an eight-step plan for pulling off a total redo as quickly (and sanely) as possible.

1. Order everything at once.

As soon as you’ve chosen your paint, floor treatments, fabrics, etc., call them all in. Some will arrive immediately and others will straggle, so it’s best to act quickly.

2. Enlist some pros.

Unless you can do everything yourself, you’ll need a skilled upholsterer, painter, and electrician. Gather your team through referrals, or consult Franklin Report, which is a great resource in major cities.

3. Send out fabric, furniture, and trimmings right away.

Having things upholstered can take anywhere from four to six weeks, if not longer, so get this out of the way early on. Speed up the process by opting for solid textures, a matching patterns can be time-consuming. (NOTE: Ordering too much fabric can be pricey. Ask the upholsterer for correct yardage measurements, and give clear direction on an welting and trim details to avoid mishaps.

4. Deal with floors first. 

Before you paint or paper walls, undertake messy tasks like staining. While that happens, keep your space as clean as you can.

5. Install cabinets before painting.

Cupboards and shelves should be put up before you paint the walls, so you do all your painting at once.

6. Hang light fixtures after you paint.

Sconces and chandeliers should go in after the walls have been painted, which you can obstruct installation.

7. Add furniture last.

Arrange chairs and sofas according to a predetermined plan. Don’t be afraid to veer from it, though, if things looks different in person than they did in your imagination.

8. Accessorize.

Objets and art are the icing on the cake. But no matter how much planning you’ve done, anticipate impromptu shopping runs for that extra something that completes a room.

Finishing touches: Kelly’s last-minute styling tips:


1. Accessories are a room’s soul.

Each piece should have its own distinct voice but work with the rest. A loose color scheme, like the metals and turquoise shades on the dresser (above), prevents a chaotic quality.


2. Functional but beautiful is the name of the game.

Boxes, vases, and vessels that conceal mess or display pencils and other sundries enliven a surface. “In my bathroom, I have probably 40 boxes and each and every one has stuff in it,” Wearstler admits.


3. For a dynamic still life, keep things varied.

Change up the scale, form and material (such as the tiny marble urn, turquoise-embellished bauble box, and brass knot.) Don’t analyze too much or it will seem precious.


See more home tours from the Domino archives:

Inside Alexander Wang’s Effortlessly Cool NYC Apartment Jenna Lyons: Totally Modern Timelessness Secondhand Love Story