Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Windsor Smith on Design

Windsor Smith is a designer whose career is on fire. In addition to her interior design work, she just debuted a fabric collection, a furniture collection, and a rug line as well (whew!). I recently had the opportunity to speak with Windsor and it was quite a treat. Her personality is as warm and sparkling as her interiors.

To borrow the tagline from the National Enquirer, "Inquiring minds want to know", and that's the way I feel about design. So I decided to get Windsor's thoughts on anything and everything design related.

On Her New Fabric Line:
Windsor's new fabric line for Kravet has received rave reviews, and it's not hard to see why. The fabrics that caught my eye were her bold and graphic prints. But don't think that these are "in your face" prints. Windsor likes the snap and pop of strong pattern, but she chose to render them in soft colors like celadon and clove. And she wisely chose to use no more than two colors per print. The result? Prints that are classic and easy to live with. (Fabric available through Kravet showrooms and through her website.)

"Insignia" in Seafoam

"Continuum" in Chestnut

On Mixing Prints...With Style:
One question that I am asked often is how best to mix prints. I'll be the first to tell you that I'm not completely comfortable with doing this myself. Fortunately, Windsor shared some tips. First, mixing florals can be difficult, so you might want to stick with just one. Also, stripes, especially tone on tone, can work with a variety of prints. And if you're mixing multi-color prints, proceed with caution! Windsor advises using no more than two. Interestingly enough, Windsor gives the green light to mixing vintage fabrics, saying "anything goes". Her rationale? Vintage textiles become found objects and art and should be displayed almost like a collection. In her mind, Lynn von Kersting's work is a great example of this kind of mix.

See how well this gray and white striped fabric works with the pink and white paisley print? Windsor obviously practices what she preaches!

And look at the smashing combo of the green tonal stripes with the punchy pink print.

On White... and Blue:
It seems that every designer has one color which they add to every room. For Albert Hadley, it's red. For many others, it's black. For Windsor? White! As she says "the absence of color makes other colors sing!" That said, she also admits that she has a weakness for blue.

Blue and white in an East Coast Traditional home à la Windsor Smith.

On the Stars of her Collection:
So unless you've been hiding under a rock, you know that Windsor recently introduced her new furniture collection. And just what are her picks for the stand out pieces?

Brittany Secretary. Works as a TV cabinet, desk, or in bathrooms to hold makeup and towels.

Slim Chaise. Looks especially good nestled at the foot of a bed.

Entry Round Settee. Looks very "Grand Hotel" to me!

On Her Dream Clients:

(Jane Birkin- in case you're wondering)

Legendary style icon Slim Keith

On Her Current Favorite Design and Architecture Books:

An Affair with a House

Vogue Living: Houses, Gardens, People

On the Details that Make a House a Beautiful Home:

1) Art and found objects that reflect the personality of the homeowner
2) Large bundles of the same type flower in a casual vase
3) Lighting that makes a room come alive day and night
4) Floor plugs

Windsor has some wonderful Found Objects for sale on her website, including this Early Chippendale Table and the Antique French Fireplace Canopy

On the Future:
So what's next for Ms. Smith? Plenty. She's working on some amazing projects including a late 1940's equestrian estate. And, big things are in the works for her website. In addition to her online shop, there will be decorating advice, newsletters, and video. I'd say Windsor is in need of a vacation.


  1. Jennifer -- thanks for this! I love Windsor's view on vintage textiles being like art and I think her website plans sound exciting. Everyone loves her style so I know the new features will be a hit :)

  2. Courtney- I know- I had not thought about treating vintage textiles as art, but it really makes sense. :)

  3. She has a great name, talent, a thriving business, and she gives good advice - I love the dream client question and photos!!!

  4. She is top on my list of favorite interior designers. I can honestly say there is not one room I've seen her do that I don't love. I hope she comes out with a book!

  5. Windsor is a goddess in my book. I am fairly new to the decorating world, having dived in a couple of years ago after a long time away, and Windsor is one of the few designers that has kept my attention. Her taste is impeccable (i.e. the same as mine, hehe!) and she can do little wrong in my book! If I could have one designer decorate my humble abode, I would trust Windsor without exception!

    Great post! xo Terri

  6. Vamp, Style, and Terri- It looks like there are a lot of us who are Windsor fans! I think she has a very bright future :)

  7. Thanks for the info on her online store! I always have liked her fresh style. She's a busy bee isn't she?!

  8. Everything she comes near turns out flawless.
    Her rooms meet every criteria I judge by - my first being the house/room must "age well".
    Would hand WS the key to my house without ever meeting/speaking to her, and know she'd do no wrong! !

  9. Lake- I think that's the ultimate compliment you can give to a designer!

  10. Oh, boy.. thank you for this post! My eyes are so full!

  11. She is a woman after my own heart.

  12. She has ultra gorgeous taste! Thanks for sharing her designs, definitely got my eye on her.