Design Q&A with Annie Kelly

Design Q&A with Annie Kelly

Abby Stone
May 16, 2013

For those among you who are just be starting out, hoping to one day make a name for youself in the world of interior design, the story of Annie Kelly is relatable. Trained as an artist, she became a color consultant. It was after images of her own home were published that she began to attract clients, who wanted her style — unusual color combinations, Asian elements (the influence of mentor Tony Duquette) and a casual/glamor mash-up that seems to be the special province of the Australians  — for their own (though it wasn't until a renovation she had worked on, Frank Lloyd Wright's La Miniatura in Pasadena, was featured on the cover of Architectural Digest that she realized that she'd changed professions!).  

The lesson: your own space is the ideal canvas on which to experiment and perfect your thoughts about how space, balance, color, function and light play together.  It also helps if you team up with an amazing photographer who can underline the magic of your rooms; Annie's husband is interior and architectural photographer extraordinaire Tim Street-Porter. The series of coffee table books they've collaborated on, Rooms To Inspire (there are four books in the series so far) are...well...inspirational.  

What is your favorite design moment (house, restaurant, building, public space) in Los Angeles?
The old Art Deco Bullocks Wilshire department store (now the Southwestern University School of Law). We forget that LA still has some magnificent Art Deco buildings.

Let’s pretend you have $400 to update a 250 square foot space — how do you spend it?
The fastest way to update a small space is with paint! I would paint a 250 square foot space with vertical stripes and give it a pale ceiling in a cool color to make it seem higher.

Tell us a little bit about your window for LCDQ's (La Cienega Design Quarter) Legends of La Cienega event?  (Annie's window is at The Antique Rug Company/The Rug Affair)

My window is inspired by the great Islamic-style masterpiece created by Doris Duke in Hawaii, called "Shangri -La." The building was finished by 1940, although she worked on it in later years, with help from LA decorator Tony Duquette. There is a museum exhibition on the house currently touring the USA.

What 5 things would you put in a time capsule?  (NOTE: The theme of this year's LCDQ event is Time Capsule: The Past, Present and Future of Design).

A design time capsule could include an iPhone, a printed mid-century modern auction catalogue, a copy of a recent issue of Elle Decor magazine, and a collection of fabric swatches from all the current Schumacher designers.

What period of history would you most like to have lived in?

I would have liked to have lived in 18th century France — with 21st century health care!

What would you bring with you if you were time traveling?

Gold and diamonds make great companions!  And a cashmere blanket.

What 5 things do you recommend keeping on hand for unexpected guests?

Cold wine, mineral water, champagne, good strong coffee, and lots of chocolates!

What’s your biggest design or home-related indulgence?

I can't keep away from auctions!  Oh, and those large Hermes coffee cups and saucers.

What’s your biggest design or home-related indulgence?

My favorite house from a TV show is Martyn Lawrence Bullard's very comfortable and exotic home, from Million Dollar Decorators. Even better is that I can visit it any time, as it is just across the road!

What do you love most about LA? 

Blue skies and palm trees! Also, the best residential architecture of the 20th century.

What’s your favorite cheap design trick or tip?

You can unearth great design in places like IKEA and CB2.

To learn more about Annie, click here.  To see Annie and Tim's Connecticut house, click here; for the books the couple have collaborated on, click here.  To learn more about the La Cienega Design Quarter Legends of La Cienega event, which begins May 7th in Los Angeles, click here.  

(Image: courtesy Annie Kelly)

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