I write about interior design for a living, but I’m not a designer. I consider myself an enthusiastic amateur, who is lucky enough to get to interview designers and preview a lot of projects. In my own life, I have strong opinions, but I use a real designer for every project. Right now, Diane Falanga, who founded Space Defined, is working with us on both our new co-op apartment in Brooklyn and our ground-up build in Park City. Diane has saved us time, money and frustration, while helping us figure out two very different looks for two very different homes. If you’re unsure of your look, that’s an even better reason to use a professional; he or she will help you refine and define your space into something that fits you and your needs.
That said, the more you know about design and the more you know can show someone what you like and don’t like, the better the results. Interior design magazines and their websites are an obvious starting point, but there are a lot of blogs and websites written by designers and stylists, and they are another valuable resource. Here are the five I’ve bookmarked as my faves. Note, they’re also great follows on Instagram!
Centered by Design
Claire Staszak, founder of Centered By Design, is a talented Chicago-based designer (I’ve written about several of her projects over the years), and she’s a fabulous writer! Her blog is fun to follow. It’s usually about the process of interior design, but sometimes she throws in a city guide from her travels or a lifestyle tip. Her design style is approachable, but never dull. Do follow her in Instagram as well as her blog, since she posts fun reels on how you can layout tile, her favorite bold paint colors or what an installation day is really like. For a designer like Claire, the obvious reason to do a blog is to attract clients, but she’s very generous in sharing her tips and ideas, so the blog never comes across as strictly a marketing exercise.
Los Angeles native Colette “Coco” Shelton started her blog CocoCozy over a decade ago by documenting the renovation and redesign of her Hollywood Hills bungalow. The blog was just a side-gig (she was a tv and marketing executive), but after 11 years, she was able to turn it into her full-time job. Since then, she’s expanded into textile design and home accessories, and she executive produces and stars in CocoCozy Design House on Amazon Prime. Impressive! I like her website because it has a California cool viewpoint, and she mixes inspiration, how-tos and an occasional lifestyle post just to keep things interesting. Since she’s not a designer, she features other designers’ projects that she likes so you get differing styles, but they’re all through Coco’s curated eye.
Athena Calderone’s blog, EyeSwoon, has a lot of interior design advice, much of it centered around the renovation and redesign of her Brooklyn brownstone and her Amagansett summer home. Both, to say the least, are lovely! The blog also has posts about design trends (bouclé is hot, if you didn’t know!), but she also covers food and entertaining. If you’re looking for a “modern Martha Stewart,” as she’s been called, this blog is a great starting point. I haven’t cooked any of her recipes, but they do look fab. Athena has two books, Live Beautiful and Cook Beautiful, which expand on the themes of her blog, plus she has a weekly newsletter which has behind-the-scenes content for true enthusiasts. I also like her “Ask Athena” posts, where readers send questions and she answers them. If you’ve ever wondered exactly what color of paint someone used, those posts are for you.
Mad About the House
Kate Watson-Smyth is a journalist who writes about interiors for publications like The Financial Times, but her real passion is her blog, Mad About the House, which is fabulous. Her style is probably the least like mine—she’s British and doesn’t mind a bit of clutter and mismatching— but I love following her. She has a podcast, The Great Indoors, with interior designer Sophie Robinson that I can only recommend for true design enthusiasts (you’re listening to descriptions of rooms, rather than seeing them in front of you). If you have or love old houses, or simply dream about a flat in London, you’ll enjoy reading her blog. She’s also written three design books that are very down to earth, and quite practical. My only complaint is that her affiliate website, Design Storey, which condenses the whole world of interior choices to her 10 faves from each category, has mostly British brands and they’re not easily available in the U.S.
Style by Emily Henderson
Emily Henderson got her start with a gig as a stylist on an HGTV competition show (long since departed), but it was the exposure she needed to launch her eponymous blog, which now produces daily content on every design issue you could imagine. Bathrooms, bedrooms, color choice, fireplace design, kitchen faucets—if you search for it, you will find inspiration. The team also covers several long-term, whole house projects that she is involved with and I love the transparency. She talks about missteps, gives credit to the team, and opens up the process, which is informative and terrifying if you’re about to embark on a big renovation or redesign. She also has several branded partnerships with retailers and if you’re looking for diversion, you’ll find occasional posts on parenting or food or travel, but the majority of content is really about making a space your own.
Check out Marjie Killeen’s post on her favorite Instagram accounts by women over 50. What blogs do you follow and why? Let us know on social media, we’d love to hear from you!