Interior Designers Share Their Design Guilty Pleasures

Colorful living room of interior designer Natalie Papier features huge pink ostrich

Natalie Papier

Who says design rules aren’t meant to be broken every now and then? Personally, I can’t get enough of bust sculptures—which, just a few years ago, never would have fit within my largely blue and white, traditional decor scheme. But as my style has grown and evolved over time, so has my passion for these stone sculptures. And even though my extensive collection is starting to make my home look a little bit museum-like, I just can’t stop scooping up these pieces whenever I come across a new one that I adore. While friends and visitors do often compliment me on how I’ve styled the busts, what’s most important is that they bring me joy every day. 

If there’s a certain off the beaten path print, style, or hue that you love, just go for it—yes, even if you’re a professional. We polled six top interior designers on their biggest guilty pleasures in their homes—their answers may surprise you! 

Funky Faces

Who says the faces displayed in your home have to belong to people you know? “I have quite a thing for quirky vintage portraits,” designer Jennifer Jones said in an email. Her passion extends beyond owning just one or two paintings.

Living area from designer Jennifer Jones features portraits

Jennifer Jones

She explained, “One of the walls in my home is dedicated to this ever-growing collection of oil paintings and drawings of women throughout the decades. It’s a fun and unique conversation starter!” Not sure where to purchase oil portraits of your own? Flea markets, vintage stores, and shops such as eBay and Etsy make for excellent places to start! 

Unexpected Accents 

Wallpaper has a multitude of potential uses; you’ve just got to get a bit creative. Designer Danielle Chiprut enjoys “using wallpaper in unconventional places or unconventional ways” around her home. “I most recently wallpapered the ceiling in my home office, and I can't believe how much beauty the bold floral print added to the space,” she noted in an email.

Danielle Chiprut's wallpapered ceiling in her home office

Danielle Chiprut

“Not only did the look of the room change, but I also feel inspired and energized every time I look up!” Wallpaper is an excellent vehicle through which one can take calculated decor risks. Added Chiprut, “I love the idea of adding an unexpected twist to a tried and true design staple.” 

Quirky Creatures 

Natalie Papier's living room features lots of animal themes, including the huge pink ostrich

Natalie Papier

Designer Natalie Papier can’t get enough of featuring animal-themed pieces in her spaces. “Monkey wallpaper, horse statues, giant wooden cobra, tiger rug, swan table...the quirkier, the better,” she stated in an email.

Natalie Papier's living room features a console table with black swans as the base

Natalie Papier

“It’s like my own Noah’s Ark up in here.” In addition to being charming, these touches help prevent a home from feeling too severe or serious. Added Papier, “There is a whimsy and playfulness to adding animal decor into your home I can’t get enough of!” 

A Makeshift Garden 

Green friends are nothing new; in fact, we can’t get enough of them! But decorating with all faux plants like Caroline Harvey does is something we don’t see quite as often. “It’s not that I have a black thumb, but I prefer only having to tend to live plants outdoors,” Harvey explained in an email. “Plus, the quality and authenticity of fake plants has improved significantly in the last few years—some are quite beautiful and hard to detect!” 

No matter your unexpected design staple of choice, there’s no reason to be shy about displaying decorative objects that you love. Oftentimes, the more risks you take in your home, the more potential for reward—and if nothing else, you’re bound to have some excellent conversation starters when guests pay a visit! 

Military Memorabilia 

Designer April Gandy, who along with her late grandfather is also an Air Force veteran, greatly appreciates featuring a special piece of their shared history in her home. “My house is totally transitional Hollywood glam, but my one guilty pleasure that is so not my style is my grandfather’s flag shadow box,” she said in an email. It doesn’t bother Gandy that the flag “never matches anything,” as the item carries so much sentimental value. Plus, she noted, “It’s also a great conversation piece!” 

Natural Touches

Who doesn’t love displaying a fresh bouquet of flowers when the opportunity strikes? “Fresh flowers always finish off a space and enhance my mood,” designer Amy Youngblood said in an email. However, Youngblood enjoys taking her arranging a bit further by incorporating unexpected elements from nature; she particularly enjoys mixing in rocks and twigs. “It really brings the outdoors inside,” she added. “For me, the mix of natural elements with elegant flowers makes an eclectic, thoughtful piece of decor that is much more interesting than a bunch of roses, say bought at the grocery store.” Not sure where to find such accents? You may not need to look too far. As Youngblood noted, “You can even go in your own backyard to make these types of arrangements as well!”