Design Files

Amanda Nisbet

Amanda Nisbet spent years at famed auction house Christie's before launching a successful career in interior design. Nisbet is now highly sought-after for her bold use of patterns and color and is a frequent contributor to Elle D閏or, The New York Times and House Beautiful. We asked her to tell us about her start in design, share her creative process and offer up a few simple decorating tips to make over any space.

You specialized in art history and spent years at famed auction house Christie抯. When and how did you begin your career in interior design?
When I was at Christie抯, I specialized in jewelry, which I still love. To this day, jewelry is one of my biggest sources of inspiration. After I got married and had children I took a break from working. Once the children were older, I was eager to get back to work. People were always complimenting me on my apartment, so I finally decided to hang a shingle up and started the business. It抯 funny how you come to your career in your life桰抦 so happy I抦 here now.

How would you describe your design aesthetic?
I really like to mix modern and traditional pieces together. Color has always been one of my hallmarks, especially early in my career when I was working with limited budgets (to this day, I still believe that a can of paint is the easiest and most cost-effective way to transform a room).

Decorating/redecorating can seem like a daunting project. How does your creative process start?
I go through a lengthy meeting with my client before I begin. I like to call myself the color whisperer because I instantly know which color to use after speaking with a client. Coming up with new color combinations is something that I do in a unique way. I also always start with fabrics when designing.

What抯 been your favorite project thus far and why?
For designers, I think your favorite is always the last one you installed. I just did a big house in the Hamptons, which was fun because I collaborated with the architect to design the house.

Where is your favorite place to pick up furniture/d閏or?
I always peruse 1stdibs and I抦 a huge fan of Todd Merrill.

Do you have a favorite room to decorate?
I love decorating the living room. It gives you the chance to be all-inclusive and work with every sort of bell and whistle. I always keep in mind that the living room is meant to be used and shouldn抰 just be pretty to look at.

If you owned a salon, what would it look like? How would you furnish it?
If I designed a salon, it would be very glamorous with sparkle and lights. I抎 want it to be soothing, too. I don抰 like going into a salon where you feel like you抮e in a train station, so I would put in a lot of soundproofing.

I抎 look into using reflective materials and pretty light fixtures, but nothing over the top. I抳e yet to see a salon that抯 clean and streamlined but still has some luminescence and sparkle. In terms of color, I think lavenders are very soothing and soulful paired with chartreuse and deep navy. Lately I抳e been getting into Feng Shui, which often informs my decisions.

What are some simple tips salon owners can implement to make a space feel new?
Invest in really modern lighting. I抎 also put up cool vinyl wallpapers. Vinyl wallpapers are great because they can take a lot of wear and tear but also add an element of interest. They抮e a very inexpensive way to transform a space.

If you could decorate anyone抯 home or space, who, what or where would it be?
I抎 love to be able to decorate The Carlyle or The Four Seasons Hotel in New York. I抎 also love to work with Kate Middleton.

How do you wear your hair?
I have long hair with a bit of a curl. I love getting my hair done桰 think it抯 one of the biggest luxuries. It really makes you feel empowered when you start your day with a great blowdry. One of women抯 best assets is their hair.

How does your personal style inform your design aesthetic?
I always wear very tailored, classic clothes but spice it up with a dash of color or a great accessory. This translates into my preference for furniture. For example, I have Louis XIV chairs in my office, which is a very traditional design, but I have them upholstered in a modern, bright chartreuse leather.

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