Design Q&A with Nicole Gibbons

Design Q&A with Nicole Gibbons

Abby Stone
Dec 9, 2013

If there's anyone out there who still doesn't take blogging seriously, Nicole Gibbons is a great example of how, with a lot of style and a little bit of luck, it can be used as a great platform upon which to build a career.

In just a few years, interior designer Nicole Gibbons has gone from blogger to on-air personality. Her blog, So Haute, which she started in January 2008, is read by people in over 135 countries, and she appears on Home Made Simple, airing Saturday mornings on OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network. And to top it off, she's an online contributor for the newly reissued Domino.

Originally from Michigan, this daughter of a decorator started out in fashion pr, working with brands such as Victoria's Secret, before transitioning to design full-time. With her unpretentious approach to design, she's earned a reputation as the voice of decorating for a new generation of passionate home enthusiasts.

What is your favorite design moment (house, restaurant, building, public space)? Doris Duke's Shangri-La in Honolulu — it's one of the most beautiful and inspiring places I've ever seen.

Let’s pretend you have $400 to update a 250 square foot space, how do you spend it? I'd do the following 5 things

1. Paint: It's hands down the easiest, most inexpensive thing you can do to totally transform the look of your space!

2. Buy a few new decorative pillows and a bold throw blanket, and dress your windows with new curtains from a cheap n chic big box store: JC Penney, IKEA, CB2 and West Elm are great resources. Look for a killer pair of vintage lamps secondhand; they're a smaller decorative item that, when well chosen, can make a big impact. Craigslist, Goodwill, eBay and local flea markets are some of my favorite resources for inexpensive thrift.

3. Incorporate a fabulous mirror. This will help reflect light while also creating the illusion of a larger space. This is also something you can find at a thrift store or at your local flea market. Look for a large mirror with a pretty wood frame that you can freshen up with a new coat of paint to tie it in with your décor.

4. Restyle and rearrange: Work with pieces you already have and rearrange them to create a new look; it'll cost you nothing. Then, restyle your tabletop surfaces, like your coffee and side tables, with stacks of coffee table books, decorative objects, a scented candle and flowers. I also love incorporating decorative trays to help organize clutter and tchotchkes. West Elm and CB2 make awesome all-purpose (and inexpensive) lacquer trays.

5. Buy some fresh flowers: They're such a simple little luxury that will add instant color, life and beauty to a room.

What is your favorite big-box store, and do you have a favorite product? West Elm is a favorite for inexpensive decorative accessories and tabletop pieces for dining and entertaining.

What 5 things would you put in a time capsule? My collections of Domino, House Beautiful and Elle Decor magazines; my favorite black YSL (Saint Laurent era) pumps; one of the vintage watches I inherited from my grandfather; family photos; and one of my Apple gadgets, like maybe my iPad because I'm sure by the time the time capsule is unearthed there will be a Jetsons-like holographic iThing that operates with eye movements and hand gestures or something and it would be fun to see how the technology evolves!

What period of history would you most like to have lived in? NYC in the 70s during the height of the Studio 54 era seemed pretty fabulous. The clothes, the makeup, the personalities and the parties — I love it all!

What would you bring with you if you were time traveling? My iPhone and an internet connection!

What is your best tip for throwing an impromptu party at home for close friends? Well, most likely if your party is impromptu, things won't be perfect, so always keep a well stocked bar and offer your guests a drink as soon as they walk through the door. They'll loosen up immediately and won't even notice the little details. And keep it simple — order takeout from your favorite local spot but present it on pretty serveware, light a few candles for ambiance, and pick up a bouquet of deli flowers and arrange them loosely — you'll have a chic presentation with minimal effort!

What’s your biggest design or home-related indulgence? I'm addicted to buying things I don't need on eBay and have a coffee table book obsession.

What’s your favorite home from a movie or TV show? The classic Hamptons beach house in Nancy Myers's Something's Gotta Give is pretty memorable. The interiors in Tom Ford's A Single Man were also very well done, and so true to the characters.

What do you love most about LA? (or since you're bicoastal, NY...or both!) LA: The sunshine, the palm trees and the laid back lifestyle. NY: The culture and the intimacy of the city. Even though there are millions of people it feels like a small, isolated little place.

(Image: Kiya Gibbons)

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