On HBO Max’s Stylish With Jenna Lyons, the former creative director and president of J.Crew begins her next venture, a company that even she admits is nebulous—but she knows it will involve fashion and interior design. So she plays CEO, creative director, and HR manager as she attempts to assemble a team to make her vision a reality.

Courtesy of HBO Max

Lyons is notorious for her meticulous style (she’s the reason daytime sequins exist), and because she’s been a Domino cover girl, we already know she’s a pro at putting a room together, too. (We’d expect nothing less from a woman who has a folder filled with pictures of peonies she likes—New Zealand coral—and ones that are too magenta.) In true Lyons fashion, she’s always teaching us something. Here are four design rules we learned while we watched.

Go Monochromatic

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“When in doubt, stay in the same color family,” Lyons says about styling outfits—and homes. Her trick for keeping a corner interesting (and not too matchy-matchy) is to play with shapes and textures. In this vignette she made for a friend’s brownstone in the first episode, a large pink glass vase mingles with a tiny textured ceramic one. The yellow in the gold mirror and bud vase bring it all together.

Create Distinct Sight Lines

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In the same episode, Lyons commissions Dean Barger (who painted the walls of New York City’s Le Coucou, a Roman and Williams project) to make a mural in her friend’s brownstone—and then the associate hopefuls block its view with three large pieces of furniture. Her feedback: “I think sight lines are one of the most important things.” To feature the mural front and center, Lyons takes away their clunky pieces and adds a sleek console so that your eye goes exactly where she wants it to.

Choose Lo-Fi Lighting 

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If there’s a kind of glow Lyons prefers best, it’s candlelight. In her friend’s brownstone, and later at her own upstate house, she adds sconces that rely only on taper candles as a warm, welcoming light source—no electrician required. 

Make Mistakes

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Lyons, who oversaw the interiors at the J.Crew Collection store on Madison Avenue and has renovated all of her New York City apartments, says it took her years to get the hang of design and find her own sense of style. “I only know these things because I’ve made mistakes,” she tells the associates on the show. So the next time you paint a room the not-right shade of white or accidentally obscure your fireplace, embrace your mishap and know that, like Lyons says, it’s just part of the process. 

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