style envy

25 Famous Women on Decorating Their Homes

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As Hollywood’s interior-design savante, Nancy Meyers consistently transforms movie sets into Pinterest-inspired dream homes — think Diane Keaton’s utterly perfect all-white kitchen in Something’s Gotta Give, or Meryl Streep’s cozy, cosmopolitan bakery in It’s Complicated. Meyers has dismissed the buzz over her sets as “architecture porn,” but no one can deny the style envy she inspired. Many famous women have also spoken about their loves for decorating, Pinterest, and designing a place to feel like home. Read on for thoughts from Cher, Oprah, Mary J. Blige, and Ellen DeGeneres — plus Jenna Lyons on her Brooklyn brownstone and Martha Stewart’s sage advice on what to say when your friend’s house is ugly.

Nancy Meyers
“I do love [decorating], I must say. It’s a world I find tremendously fun. I can’t redo my own house every three years, so I put all that energy into a movie. I start like any homeowner would. We bring in fabric samples, look at construction drawings. We really do build the house from scratch. I get to be the homeowner without any of the bills. And I get to have a lot of great people helping me. I work closely on each set with set decorators like Beth Rubino and the interior designer James Radin, who did my own house and advises on my movies.” —Elle Decor, July 2012

Iris Apfel
“I guess people thought if I could decorate myself I could decorate a room or two. I don’t do run-of-the-mill stuff, and I don’t do minimal.” —Architectural Digest, October 2016

Florence Welch
“I’ve always been a bit of a decorator. I think if I wasn’t a singer I’d probably be in stage setting or interior design or something. I like clutter and I’m quite visually greedy. I can’t have things to be plain; I have to have things looking interesting … maybe I’m just a frustrated interior designer stuck in a singing career.” —The List, December 2009

Mary J. Blige
On her hidden talent: “Color coordinating. I like to do interior design, I love to quilt, I love to see different colors together, and I love to match things up.” —Shape

Martha Stewart
On whether she gives friends unsolicited decorating advice when visiting their home: “I learned many years ago never to criticize, only compliment. Even if their home is horrifyingly awful.” —her Reddit AMA, March 2014

Lee Radziwill
On her New York apartment: “I always begin a room with the rug; it is literally the foundation of the space. I then go on to the furniture. Virtually everything you see here was acquired in London: the Louis XVI chairs, which incidentally are by Jacob, the candelabra over the fireplace and the small English Regency desk. Oh, and those strange little oils … they’re Turkish and a necessary part of the Eastern quotations I bring to every room. If I really can be said to have a personal style, I think it is reflected in my taste for the exotic and the unexpected. I like to create rooms which are essentially traditional — and then add touches of the bizarre and the delicious.” —Architectural Digest, July/August 1975

Jenna Lyons
On decorating her Brooklyn brownstone: “Someone said I used a decorator, and I just about died. That’s the fun part for me. I’m a voracious reader of design magazines … I appreciate any material that ages, and things that have a sense of history. For me, it’s about having that twist of modern, a stark contrast. So where there is something vintage and aged, allow for something really modern, whether it’s a Saarinen table or a beautiful chair with chrome details.” —House & Home, January 2012

Kourtney Kardashian
“My mom has always had a vision for our houses — she taught us the joy of interior design.” —Architectural Digest, July 2017

Lauren Santo Domingo
“I have dozens of stools scattered throughout my loft to make for intimate seating and conversation pits during parties. The morning after a party I find them in the strangest places!” —One Kings Lane

Candice Bergen
“What’s important to me in a house is that there’s a tremendous sense of com­fort. Every chair you sit in is comfortable. If you can’t sit back, you’re just in transit. If you’re perched on a chair, you’re perched to leave. Every table should be the type of table you can put your feet up on. Life is too short not to be comfortable.” —Architectural Digest, October 1999

“My houses are passions … Though I loved collecting Gothic and can spend hours drawing with every shade of Pantone pen, I prefer a neutral palette, especially in my bedrooms, because the colors are so easy to live with … I always wanted an apartment that was one big bedroom because that’s really where I live, starting from the days when Sonny and I could only afford a bedroom.” —Architectural Digest, July 2010

Ellen DeGeneres
Her advice for decorating a new home: “First of all, start before you move in — envision where, say, your sofa is going to go, where certain pieces will go. And not that I believe in feng shui completely, but I do think there are certain aspects of it that make sense. Like, you want to have a clear path, you don’t want a lot of things in your way as you walk through a room. And you don’t want to see the backs of things when you enter — if you have to position the sofa that way, put a console behind it. And always remember: paint makes all the difference in the world.” —The Los Angeles Times, November 2015

Lorraine Kirke
“Wallpaper can bring an unloved corner to life. Even the tiniest of squares can evoke a glamour of another time. The nook; under the stairs; the bookshelves; on a landing; on the ceiling of a bedroom. Wallpaper can bring out the unexpected by putting it in a place where it wouldn’t usually be.” —Architectural Digest, April 2016

Tavi Gevinson
“I find that I need to surround myself with these objects that represent something important to me, something that represents a time in my life or something I did that I’m proud of, or someone who means a lot to me. So just kind of living in the orbit of all of those things — that’s the feeling of home.” —NOWNESS, January 2016

Diane Keaton
On her book, The House That Pinterest Built: “You might smile. You might shake your head and say, ‘This isn’t what I had in mind.’ You might think, ‘Hey, that’s my kitchen. She copied my kitchen.’ But the truth is, as much as I tried, I could never entirely recreate the light filled photograph of a kitchen that led the way to the journey that brought me here. No one can.” —Domino, October 2017

Venus Williams
“It’s always a dream house until you realize you don’t want all the things you dreamed. Why am I doing this? I just want a closet and a gym.” —The Washington Post, November 2014

Oprah Winfrey
“What you find beautiful has a lot to do with where you’ve been and what you’ve seen and the people you’ve met along the way. When I was just starting out as a local news reporter in Baltimore, a beautiful home meant two (count ‘em, two!) of those wicker throne chairs from Pier 1 Imports and a ficus tree that sent me into sticker shock. After The Color Purple, a beautiful home meant walking into the furniture department of Marshall Field’s and, with the help of one of their decorators, scarfing up all things contemporary. My Chicago apartment was done in cool white with an aubergine bedroom that in my fantasy felt sort of womblike but in reality was pretty tomblike, even on sunny days. Still, everything was glossy and chic, slick and sleek — exactly the place I thought a successful TV personality was supposed to have … Over time your sense of self evolves.
Hopefully, you grow into a deeper, more thoughtful version of who you are. Your need to please falls away and what is left is the blessed realization that you really don’t have anything to prove to anyone. At a certain point, you buy the shoes and pocketbook that feel right, instead of the ones that will impress people. You opt for muted tones that flow from one room to the next, you choose the sofa that makes you want to curl up with a good book on a Sunday afternoon, and create a space that makes your friends stop remarking on the exquisite art and start talking the night away. You let go of the cold stone floors that felt wrong from the start, and at long last you come home to floors made of old oak, floors that feel warm beneath your feet and bring peace and joy with every step forward you take. Those are exactly the steps I’m taking now.” —Oprah, February 2013

Bette Midler
“I’m excellent. I have a very good eye. And I am relentless, but I also know when to stop. I work with Fernando Santangelo and have for many, many years. And Brian Sawyer has been helping me with my gardens for many years. I don’t mean to be pompous about it, but, yes, I’m like Winston Churchill. I really do just love beautiful things.” —Architectural Digest, October 2014

Diane von Furstenberg
“Designing for the home has much in common with fashion. Both clothes and home decoration are ways of projecting yourself. Both need to be practical. An interior has to be inviting, reassuring, happy, and pleasant, but most important, it should be comfortable … There are certain things I always have in my rooms. I love big sofas and huge tables.” —Elle Decor, September 2015

Jennifer Lawrence
“When I first moved in, the house was crystalled out — crystals everywhere, and geodes. And I was like, ‘Please get rid of these; I don’t want people to come over here and think I’m a crystal person.’ Not that there’s anything wrong with that! But everyone told me, ‘You can’t do that. You can’t move them. You have to have the crystal lady who put them in move them … ’ I just had all the crystals yanked out. Sold them. And then my fucking house flooded. I hate crystals.” —Vogue, September 2017

Carolina Herrera
“I adore my dining room, because it is done like a garden pavilion, with lots of white columns and plenty of sunlight streaming in these marvelous big windows, reflecting on the painted floor. Though we are in Manhattan, it feels like an old Italian villa built in the 1700s. The highlight of the room for me is my set of 18th-century retour d’Egypte chairs … My home was designed for me, so all of it is a wonderful indulgence.” —Architectural Digest, May 2016

Kelly Wearstler
“No detail is too small. Elevated, thoughtful and everyday items like bar accessories punctuate a space with passion. My love of metal never dies. In a range of patinas, copper, silver, gold, and bronze, mixed metals adapt to any color palette and feel modern yet soulful.” —My Domaine, February 2015

Windsor Smith
“I’ve had quite a trajectory — an arc if you will — having been in this business over 20 years now. I love things that are classic and of substance and quality. I began as an antiques dealer, then turned to designing interiors and, eventually, to building homes from the ground up with the responsibility for their architecture. Yet through every stage my own home has remained surprisingly consistent. So many pieces travel with me wherever we go as a family. I’m a big believer in buying only things that you love and/or that hold some kind of meaning. I never buy just to fit a space or to match the curtains. Part of what makes a home great, in my mind, is a balance of new and old, sentimental with of-the-moment, and the glossy new with treasures in a perfect state of demise. It feels real to me … if I fancy a new piece, even if it’s a swerve in a wildly new direction, it still somehow miraculously finds its place alongside long-loved pieces to coexist in harmony.” —The Decorologist, February 2016

Ellen Pompeo
“The house represents [my family] because it’s hip but also comfortable. The furniture tells a story once it’s been lived in. That’s what makes a house a home. I don’t worship things.” —Good Housekeeping, September 2016

Joanna Gaines
“I can’t say it enough — don’t design your home with meaningless elements simply to get it decorated.Take your time and gather pieces that mean something to you, whether they’re framed family photos, a beautiful antique clock that speaks to you, or a knickknack that reminds you of your grandmother. Take care in the process, and don’t rush. These elements are what make a house feel like home. Throw the idea that your house has to look a certain way right out the window. In my opinion, what sets a home apart is when you focus on your family’s story, rather than a style ideal. Find pieces that speak to you, and give yourself the freedom to tell your story in your own unique way.” —Architectural Digest, June 2016

25 Famous Women on Decorating Their Homes