Designer Celerie Kemble On Creating Soulful Spaces
Share

It could be said that interior designer Celerie Kemble specializes in refined exuberance, but her spaces also have something much more nuanced: soul. As a partner at Kemble Interiors, the Palm Beach firm originally founded by her mother in 1982, the NYC-based Celerie aims to “put the person in the place,” and in doing so, sends the pulses of design lovers everywhere racing. With two books, furniture, fabric, floor coverings, and wallpaper lines under her belt, this Harvard grad has risen to the top ranks of the design world with her sense of humor intact, and the warmth of her interiors beautifully reflect the designer herself. To go along with her curated collection of Chairish favorites, Celerie shared some of her personal favorites with us, including why vintage beats big-box every time, her advice to fledgling designers, and where you’re likely to find her noshing in NYC.

SHOP ALL OF CELERIE’S FAVORITES >>

Celerie Kemble
Photo by Annie Schlechter

What do you love about shopping on Chairish?
I love the sense that I can be in a flea market, a furniture showroom, or an antiques store, all from my chair. There is a wonderful mix of high and low and that gives me the sense of serendipity that is at the very heart of why I love to do what I do.

Any specific things that Chairish has become your go-to for?
I wish I was that focused. I might start hunting for accessories (I like the immediacy of the small stuff due to the sense they can be quickly picked up), but I usually veer off course and end up outside my original search within about 10 minutes.

Favorite items on Chairish right now?
French Majolica Oyster Server, Vintage Berber Kilim

Celerie Kemble Interiors
Photo by Brittany Ambridge

Design

Favorite thing about designing with vintage pieces:
Vintage finds provide so much character, soul, and variety in my designs.  They aren’t filtered through trendy mass market lenses, and I don’t tire of them quickly because I see them repetitively in advertising or other people’s homes.

Favorite way to add drama to a room:
My favorite drama tools are the sparkle of a mirror, the unusual shapes in vintage lighting, and some big time house plants.

Celerie Kemble Interiors
Photo by Brittany Ambridge

Favorite source for design inspiration:
I’m pretty old school. I still think the most beautifully composed rooms are shown in the printed magazines. When you add the best designers, photographers, stylists, and the chance to see more than just a room in a home someone has usually made a huge commitment to, it makes House Beautiful, Elle Decor, Traditional Home, and AD my most anticipated inspiration sources.  I have, and I’m speaking of the weight here, TONS of old magazines and it is hard not to find something to go off of in even a blind grab.

Favorite paint color:
Icy Moon Drops, a pale, happy aqua from Benjamin Moore.

Celerie Kemble Interiors
Photo by Brittany Ambridge

Favorite pattern (and how you love to use it):
I like tortoise shell and shagreen – patterns from nature. They add elegance and old world legitimacy to a room, whether used in accents like on trays and picture frames, or larger pieces like coffee tables or even wallpaper. I designed a tortoise one with F. Schumacher and love seeing it on ceilings or the interior of bookcases. I also love floor tiles – wooden form Mirth Studios, concrete, or the best. . . vintage Portuguese painted ones.

Favorite design rule to break:
I don’t even remember the rules really. . .

Favorite color combo:
It is a personal favorite, but I’m always thirsty for the flair of geranium against a grassy green.

Vintage finds provide so much character, soul, and variety in my designs.  They aren’t filtered through trendy mass market lenses, and I don’t tire of them quickly because I see them repetitively in advertising or other people’s homes.

Celerie Kemble Interiors
Photo by Brittany Ambridge

Favorite way to mix high and low:
I think of high and low as a pricing thing, so when I’m designing I focus more on fancy and casual as juxtapositions (i.e. glossy or gilt or precious and fragile against things that you can run broader with in use inside your budget and be more casual and sloppy in handling). So, I guess I have high materials and low materials in my head? Fontana Arte glass accessories (high), vintage wicker (low), an expensive Aldo Tura parchment ice bucket (high for style and expense), on top of a inexpensive bar cart (low for rugged utility and practicality). They dress each other in a nice balance.

Favorite way to work a bit of vintage into a room:
The more the better. The word “bit” is already putting me off.

Celerie Kemble Interiors
Photo by Brittany Ambridge

Have any of your design aesthetics changed lately and if so, how and why?
I think as I am getting older I have more respect for the collected and layered. Things that feel cleanly one look or another smell a little funky to me, like someone bought into a trend or a temporary identity and I can feel it all decaying at the same rate. There is no heartbeat.

What one piece of advice would you offer to a new designer starting out today?
Learn to take notes while you talk on the phone. Document your conversations or work in teams (I love designing with a partner because it makes the experience much more fun in addition to thorough). People (read: clients) can be wishy-washy and forgetful, and the process is long. Since you are the one that is going to be held responsible in the end – write it down and email it to your clients. It can be very expensive later if you are left without the record of your incremental conversations and the decisions met within them.

I think of high and low as a pricing thing, so when I’m designing I focus more on fancy and casual as juxtapositions … They dress each other in a nice balance.

Celerie Kemble Interiors
Photo by Brittany Ambridge

Lifestyle

Favorite travel destination:
Home to my family in Palm Beach

Favorite hotel to check in to:
Play Grande Beach Club in the Dominican Republic

Favorite weekend activity:
Reading and napping

Favorite app:
Find My iPhone. It is so necessary for me it supersedes all other functions.

Favorite morning beverage (and how you take it):
Just after I bash trendiness in your other questions, I have to confess to maximum trendiness in my coffee. I like Bulletproof with added fresh turmeric and a little ginger.

Favorite way to treat yourself:
I eat out a lot. I eat a lot. In NYC I live an amazing cycle of hunger, restaurant curiosity, and gratification.

Celerie Kemble Interiors
Photo by Francesco Lagnese

Favorite thank you/hostess gift:
I’m not very good at gifts when they feel obligatory or mannered. I think the nicest thing is a sincere thank you and in invitation into your own home.

Favorite adult beverage:
Tequila with a grapefruit twist and drop of Celery Bitters. (Really not chosen because of my name — it just has an amazing old book, smokey flavor with a hint of citrus floral).

Favorite saying/quote:
Something along the lines that people don’t remember what you said, did, or wore — they remember how you made them feel.

Favorite entertaining essential:
Good lighting

Favorite artist:
Too hard a question, but I have always liked Hopper and Andrew Wyeth in a special way.

Favorite thing to collect:
Tole flowers

I’m not very good at gifts when they feel obligatory or mannered. I think the nicest thing is a sincere thank you and in invitation into your own home.

Celerie Kemble Interiors
Photo by Brittany Ambridge

Local Favorites: NYC

Favorite restaurant:
Bar Pitti

Favorite hotel to recommend to visiting friends:
I like my friends to stay with me! Otherwise, The Marleton in the West Village is great if you don’t mind micro-tiny rooms.

Favorite local culture hub:
Pioneer Works

Favorite local attraction:
Endless walking, shopping, eating, and bike ride down to Battery Park to see the end of the city.

Favorite local flea market/vintage hunting ground:
I have to revert to West Palm Beach and Los Angeles for good vintage and flea markets. I don’t think there are any more in NYC. Please someone help that!!

Shop Celerie Kemble’s Favorites >>

 

 

 Lead photo by Francesco Lagnese

May 9, 2018

Viva la vintage! Chairish curates a fabulous collection of chic, one of kind vintage furniture and decor. Shop our hand-picked, "best of the best" offering of Mid-Century Modern, contemporary and antique finds. Happy hunting!