‘Subtle and neutral hues’ is not a design phrase you’ll likely hear from designer Michelle Nussbaumer, founder of the popular design site Ceylon et Cie. This globe-trotting interior designer has a passion for travel, exotic looks and a full on maximalist approach to decorating.
With homes in Dallas, Switzerland and Mexico, Michelle Nussbaumer has a vibrantly diverse aesthetic and world-spanning range of inspiration. Her new book, Wanderlust: Interiors That Bring the World Home, brings her world-spanning aesthetic to vibrant life.
We have a serious crush on this risk-taker’s rich and colorful spaces. She just makes it work. Mixing poptastic patterns – think Scalamandre Le Tigre print pillows, electric blue suede, and canary yellow accent chairs – is Michelle’s bread and butter. Being this level of mix master also means that Michelle’s spaces are uniquely hers!
Here, Michelle Nussbaumer lets us in on what inspires her, the key pieces she looks for, trends to follow, and which rules to break.
What do you think is your design signature?
A worldly mix of textiles and furniture, sourced from around the world, and contemporary art, all placed together for a livable and comfortable modern environment.
I usually start with a rug in my projects to set the tone of the room and the color scheme.
What are you most inspired by right now?
I am inspired by vintage textiles, especially tribal textiles collected on my travels abroad. I just got back from Mexico, where I found some amazing antique Otomi cloths, which are one of the inspirations for my new fabric line.
When you travel, what do you like exploring that inspires your design?
Museums, artisans markets, private homes, and the countryside. I’m especially inspired by crafts people and their timeless traditions. For example, the way a toureg woman will tattoo her forehead is the main inspiration in one of my new fabrics.
What do you love about designing with vintage decor?
I think every job should have something antique or vintage. It’s really a great way to make your interiors personal. I really like using one-of-a-kind items that I don’t see everywhere.
What was your best vintage score?
The gold gilt Venetian capital, part of a crumbling palace ballroom interior. I scored it on a trip to Venice many years ago.
What are you crushing on on Chairish right now?
This antique 19th Century Bidjar carpet has a beautiful tomato-red open field. I love the two large-scale blue lotus flowers on each end. I usually start with a rug in my projects to set the tone of the room and the color scheme. This Persian rug would be perfect, and I can just imagine the room I would create using this rug. On the cover of my book, Wanderlust, is a similar one that I used in my house in Dallas.
Even though I’m a maximalist, almost any style can be done in a timeless way.
What is your golden design rule?
More is more. Less is never more. Less is obviously less.
What’s a design rule you love to break?
I don’t believe in design rules!
Best way to add drama to a room?
Bold colors and something unusual and sourced one-of-a-kind.
Designer you most admire?
There are so many. Kales Alton, Henri Samuel, Renzo Mongiardino, and Tony Duquette….all maximalists.
Space you can’t get out of your mind?
The indoor swimming pool of the Umaid Bhawan palace, belonging to the maharaja of Jodhpur. I’ve stayed there many times and it is the most dreamy, art deco, luscious, indulgent interior I can think of.
Most important room in the house?
The one you spend the most time in. For me, that is the living room. My family uses it nonstop. When the children were small, there was always someone lounging around doing homework, dogs at their feet, or my husband and I having an evening cocktail.