With an eye for antiques, a passion for handcrafted furnishings, and a spirited embrace of pattern and color, Heidi Caillier has swiftly become an important talent in the industry. The Seattle-based designer blends a sense of charm with a welcoming, lived-in sensibility that creates a true spirit of “home” in all her projects. As with any lover of vintage and antique pieces, she believes in embracing patina and history over glossy, surface-level perfection, resulting in rooms that feel utterly present yet well-loved. And the world at large has certainly taken notice; her work has appeared everywhere from The Wall Street Journal to Architectural Digest and Homes & Gardens.
We spoke with Heidi about her much-loved aesthetic, her favorite colors these days, how she works with antiques, and so much more. Read on to learn more about her design philosophy, and be sure to shop all her colorful, creative Chairish favorites as well.
Firstly, how would you describe your overall design philosophy and personal aesthetic? How has that changed over time?
I really lead my design process with a feeling in mind versus the aesthetic. How does the space make the client, their family, and visitors feel, and does that make a lasting impression? My work has certainly evolved over the years and has become well known for interesting use of color and print, mixing of old and new, and incorporation of both feminine and masculine details to create spaces that feel elevated and comfortable.
Speaking of your use of color, what are some of your go-to combinations? What are some favorites, and are there any shades or pairings you never thought you’d use but ended up enjoying?
I love to mix muddy colors with something brighter—olive green and cobalt blue, blue and muddy lavender, rust and teal. I tend to view many of the muddier colors as neutrals and I mix liberally with other colors not on that spectrum. It is all about creating something with balance that feels interesting but not jarring.
What’s your point of view when it comes to working with antiques and vintage pieces? Do you like to incorporate them with contemporary items as well?
Antiques make a home feel lived-in and comfortable. I’m all about a mix of vintage with contemporary and custom. Combined with use of color and print, that mix can create a magical, imagined space that feels lived in and layered.
Your firm is headquartered in Seattle, but you do work all across North America. How does geography impact your projects, and do you have a favorite place to design?
We take many things into consideration when designing homes across the country, including architecture, location, weather, etc. We want all of our projects to feel appropriate to where they are. What I would do in a Brooklyn brownstone is not what I would do for a Spanish-style home in Santa Barbara or a country cottage in the Hudson Valley. I truly love the mix of projects and locations we work in. I like to mix things up, and I want all of our projects to look and feel different from each other. I have a particular fondness for California and the East Coast, but I am also dying to work on something in Charleston or New Orleans.
What would be a dream project for you? What’s something you’ve always wanted to take on, whether it’s a particular type of space to design or a place?
I would love to design a boutique hotel. Something eclectic where we can really stretch creatively.
You have a very large Instagram following… congrats! How did that happen? Any advice for designers looking to grow theirs?
Thank you! I have been very fortunate; my growth has all been very organic. It has been slow but steady over the years. I am still diligent about posting at least four times a week, and I am pretty engaged with my followers. Consistency is key. The app has also changed a lot and I’m not sure I will ever be the person who posts reels or adds music. I still prefer the quietness and detail in a still image and wish Instagram was what it used to be.
Congratulations on your first book, “Memories of Home.” Tell us about it.
Thank you! The book is a really special project I’ve been working on with Haris Kenjar for the past two years. It highlights 12 of my most cherished projects across the US and I really enjoyed seeing the evolution of our spaces over the last several years.
On Chairish & Vintage Shopping…
What do you find most compelling about Chairish?
There is such a wealth of product available and you are still able to find things that you cannot find anywhere else.
How does sustainability factor into your design choices and love of vintage?
I am not into fast design. I do not embrace the idea of buying a sofa to last you a year or two because the cost is less. This is not an environmentally friendly industry and buying vintage is one way to combat a tiny part of that. I really want to work with pieces that will stand the test of time and be handed down through the generations. Vintage offers that, and the pieces often feel like the most special pieces in the home—the ones that clients will keep and give to their children someday.
Are there any dream vintage/antique “gets” you wish you could have? What’s a dream piece for you?
What are three of your favorite pieces on Chairish now?
I love this set of 10 French Fourmi dining chairs from Baumann; this blue pottery lamp; and this antique Swedish Rococo cabinet.
Some Design Favorites…
Favorite way to create a statement-making moment in a room:
Favorite decorating “cheap thrill:”
Favorite iconic piece of vintage design:
I don’t have a favorite! There is so much iconic vintage out there, and I appreciate so much of it.
Favorite paint color:
Favorite piece of decor in your home:
My growing collection of Majolica plates.
Favorite designer or artist from the past you most often turn to for inspiration:
Robert Kime—neverending textile inspiration!
Favorite style icon:
Design destination every creative should visit at least once:
Best piece of career advice you’ve ever received:
Pick up the phone.
Some Lifestyle Favorites…
Favorite vacation destination:
With kids: Mexico. Without kids: Paris.
Favorite hotel that’s inspired your work while traveling:
I was just in Italy and stayed at Masseria Il Frantoio, a rustic farmhouse in Puglia. It was perfection, and so inspiring. But also, I have two seven year olds, so travel looks very different these days!
Delfina in San Francisco
Favorite small museum:
Favorite hostess (or thank you) gift:
Peonies or cosmos
Favorite adult beverage:
Favorite way to unwind at home:
Bath, book, wine
Favorite entertaining essential:
All photos by Haris Kenjar