Design Experts
Sep 17, 2015

Inside design: Windsor Smith

By: Sara Cation
Inside design: Windsor Smith

Learn more about designer Windsor Smith. Author: Cindy Gold Photography

Design Experts
Sep 17, 2015

Inside design: Windsor Smith

By: Sara Cation

Get whisked away into the wonderful world of designer Windsor Smith.


“It isn’t just about pretty rooms anymore,” says designer Windsor Smith in her new book, Windsor Smith Homefront. “It’s important to look beyond shimmery surfaces, gorgeous fabrics and expensive furnishings, and think about the overall appeal of your home and what you want the quality of your life to be.” That’s why Windsor calls herself a “lifestyle architect.” She helps people find livable luxury in houses that cater to their lifestyles; she designs spaces that are meant to be used and encourage togetherness.

That’s probably why she’s among the most sought-after designers today, with celebrity clients like Gwyneth Paltrow; product lines with beloved companies like Kravet, Arteriors and Boyd Lighting; and smaller design programs that give those with tight(er) budgets access to her inimitable style. Her rooms are lovely, layered, elegant and inviting, much like Windsor herself. It’s easy to see why she’s so admired.

 

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Inside design: Windsor Smith

Gilded gallery

Windsor's golden rules for creating a gallery wall. 1 Start a collection: Gather frames and artwork over time so when you’re ready to create your gallery wall, it’s just a matter of marrying the items you’ve amassed. “Collect, collect, collect, and then lay everything out, move it all around and edit it until you get to the perfect configuration,” says Windsor, who suggests starting with empty frames and adding the artwork after. 2 Have a rule of thumb: You can have frames in different sizes, says Windsor, but they should always be hung the same distance apart. “Whether you choose 1 1/4" or 3 1/4" for your grid spacing, you have to be fairly rigid about the distance from one frame to the next,” she says. 3 Make your marks: After you have your layout, trace each frame onto a piece of paper, marking the location of the hooks. Use these mock frames to mark on the wall where each hook should go, and then start hanging. 4 Enjoy it: Pour a glass of wine, put on some music (Windsor would probably play opera by Alessandro Safina) and have fun!

By: Sara Cation Source: Cindy Gold Photography Credits: Style at Home

Inside design: Windsor Smith

Expect the unexpected

You’d be surprised to learn that, until recently, Windsor had a Ping-Pong table smack dab in the middle of her living room. “Both my sons are competitive tennis players,” she explains. “And living rooms are those lost spaces that are expensive to decorate but rarely get used.” So she made the most of hers and had it painted black, popped a bright blue Ping-Pong table in its centre and placed white linen sofas around the perimeter. “The kids loved it – their friendships were formed there,” she says. She’s since taken back the space and transformed it into a late-night sitting room with dark walls, white sofas and an art display (shown on the previous page). “It’s the room where everybody goes to relax at the end of a dinner party,” she says. “It’s dark and dreamy.”

By: Sara Cation Source: Cindy Gold Photography Credits: Style at Home

Inside design: Windsor Smith

On inspiration

“Pinterest is absolutely addictive, but I also love to visit my local design district or even root out smaller storefronts for in-person inspiration,” says Windsor, who lives in the Los Angeles area. “Sometimes, when I need to source a lot of pieces, I’ll jump on a plane to San Francisco because I love its design centre. It’s nice to get out of my element. Additionally, I attend great art exhibits and see old movies...I look for inspiration in everything.”

By: Sara Cation Source: Cindy Gold Photography Credits: Style at Home

Inside design: Windsor Smith

At play

Get the look of Gwyneth Paltrow’s games room. All these pieces are available on wsroominabox.com under “Goop games room.”

By: Sara Cation Source: Cindy Gold Photography Credits: Style at Home

Inside design: Windsor Smith

Star style

Gwyneth Paltrow and Windsor Smith became fast friends when the actress bought a show-house decorated by the designer. “I fell in love with Windsor Smith before I ever laid eyes on her...it was a house that did it,” Gwyneth writes in the foreword of Windsor’s book. The two have stayed super close ever since, and Gwyneth still looks to the designer for decor advice, most recently on her games room update.

By: Sara Cation Source: Cindy Gold Photography Credits: Style at Home

Inside design: Windsor Smith

Hallmarks of home

Windsor makes an art of mixing old and new, personality and style. The highlights of any home are those cherished items, says Windsor. She works with clients to incorporate their existing favourites into a fresh design. “Pull forward the pieces that make you feel good,” she says. “I get very uncomfortable in a space where everything is new. I just don’t feel at ease.” The Venetian silver lantern that hangs in the entryway of Windsor’s home has enjoyed the same pride of place in each of the three houses she’s lived in over the past 20 years. “A million people have tried to buy it from me but, as far as I’m concerned, it’s like my wedding band – I’ll never sell it,” she says. “When my husband and I walk into the house, it’s a nice reminder that we’re home.”

By: Sara Cation Source: Cindy Gold Photography Credits: Style at Home

Inside design: Windsor Smith

The Gatsby effect

It’s remarkable to see how inspiration manifests itself in Windsor’s designs. “I watched The Great Gatsby on a plane coming back from New York, and I kept stopping the film to take photos with my cellphone – it must have driven the person sitting next to me crazy,” says Windsor. “In Daisy’s opening scene, she has her hand draped over the back of a sofa and there’s sheer white drapery flowing in the background, filling the room. I was finishing a house in Los Angeles at the time, and the movie inspired the drapery – I ended up using these gorgeous gauzy sheers.” Windsor Smith Homefront by Meredith Strang (Rizzoli New york, $50)

By: Sara Cation Source: Cindy Gold Photography Credits: Style at Home
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Inside design: Windsor Smith