5 Interior Designers Share Their Family’s Best Home Decorating Advice

published Jun 17, 2023
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Green suede sectional in living room with burnt orange pops of color.
Credit: Courtesy of Naika Andre

Some things can’t be solely learned through textbooks — interior design being one of them. Personal style is often born from a variety of influences, from travels to well-designed hotels and exotic locations, to nostalgia for a particular decade, or even your upbringing. In fact, many designers look to their families as major points of inspiration for their signature aesthetics. Think of things like a mom’s love of houseplants or an uncle’s knack for vintage finds. Ahead, five interior designers share their favorite design tricks and tips they’ve learned from family members. Spoiler alert: These ideas just might just come in handy for you, too.

Credit: Courtesy of Mitesh Trambadia

Go the DIY route when it comes to art. 

“The best thing I’ve learned from my grandmother and mother is to decorate with your own creations. Both of them loved to create embroidery and decorate their homes with DIY pieces. It brought them such pride, and ever since I have always incorporated my own art and creations into my home decor and encourage others to do the same. It might not be perfect, but it brings such pride, is completely unique and personal, and becomes a conversation piece.” —Mitesh Trambadia, founder of Desi Meets Design

Search for the best fabrics and materials money can buy. 

“When it comes to fashion and interior design, I always remember my grandmother’s advice, who had a strict Protestant ethic. She favored the noblest, most durable objects and materials, a trait that she has now passed down to me. Her obsession with the most exclusive fabrics continues with me today, and the origins had to be very clearly sourced and identified: cashmere and bed linens were Italian, and wool was Scottish. I’ve retained a taste for very pretty things chosen without accumulation, a gentle form of minimalism, and, above all, a great love for books. I spent my whole childhood without a screen, reading a dozen books a week during the holidays.” —Isabelle Dubern, co-founder of Invisible Collection

Credit: Courtesy of Jean Liu

Edit, edit, edit!

“When I was growing up, my mother ran our house with a rather minimalist mindset. Everything needed to be put away, all surfaces were tidy, and the only things left out were out for a reason. Otherwise, everything had a place no matter how small or large. I have inherited a similar point of view when it comes to how we advise our design clients. This translates into being a strong believer in editing rooms so that they remain fresh and relevant. We encourage our clients to curb the clutter or to have homes stay as organized as possible. There’s nothing more satisfying than walking into a room that is orderly, thoughtful, and layered in an intentional way.” —Jean Liu, Principal of Jean Liu Design

Credit: Courtesy of Jennifer Verruto

Use your travels to scout for unique smalls and artwork. 

“By far, my best inherited design quirk is from my mom. She was a Northwest Airlines flight attendant for 39 years and traveled all through Europe and Asia. She was known to ransack a flea market or antique mall and come home with unique finds — mismatched vintage plates, a well-loved old clock, a wobbly but perfectly funky stool painted several times over, a vintage woven basket. At one point, she schlepped an entire Japanese tea cabinet onto the airplane and enlisted the pilots to help load it up! She lovingly called this lifelong curation of items her ‘old junk.’ She also loved to pick up original artwork from street artists on her travels. She bought an oil painting from Venice in the ‘60s — and when I brought home my own painting from Venice, it officially kicked off my obsession with collecting artwork while traveling. I’ve built a whole travel gallery wall in my home around the concept, including her original Venice piece. I’ve clearly inherited her travel bug and love of old junk. Wherever I go, I’m on the lookout for a treasure to bring home and remind me of the trip.” —Jennifer Verruto, founder and CEO of Blythe Interiors

Credit: Courtesy of Naika Andre

Mix old furnishings with new — and add in a few plants, for good measure — for a layered, lovely room.

“Many of the women in my family adorned their homes with plants. One of my earliest memories is seeing my grandmother drape her walls with various pothos plants. Today in my home, I find myself doing the same. It’s my favorite plant to propagate. When designing spaces for my clients, I always try to incorporate plants when I can. Also when I was growing up, my mother modeled ‘something old, something new.’ As a child, I watched her incorporate antique-style furniture with newer items so beautifully in our home. Back then, I didn’t care for the mixed use of furniture, but now I, too, enjoy it. In my home as well as the spaces I design, I love mixing old and new furniture and accessories. It creates harmony, balance, and interest.” —Naïka Andre, Founder and Principal of NJA Interiors