When I had "Lunch with Alexa Hampton" and heard her presentation at the Miromar Design Center in Estero this week, I was already a huge fan of her stunning designs. Her ideas about what makes a house not just pretty, but extraordinary, are inspiring. And they remind me what I love about interior decorating.
Plus, the fact that she once sold her Volkswagon to purchase a damask club chair made by the famous New York upholsterer Guido De Angelis. Maybe a little extreme but I think we can all relate.
And her secret for removing red wine from furniture (which she jokingly said that she has done a few times): One jigger of Ivory dish wash mixed with one jigger of hydrogen peroxide. Information you can use.
When I spelled my name for her to sign my book: W-R-E-N-D-A, she said "Sir Christopher Wren!" I was amazed. No one ever makes that connection. Wren was my father's middle name and my mother made it up from there. Being from the Williamsburg, Virginia area, it is a big name in historical architecture and I have spent years going to Wren's famous architectural masterpieces in Europe. Of course she knew Wren. She laughingly said that she would never forget my name with that connection.
And I surely could not forget hers.
I already knew that Alexa was the daughter of the late interior design legend Mark Hampton. And I knew from a previous seminar that she is one of America's most influential designers herself having been listed in Architectural Digest and House Beautiful as one of the country's top designers. She designs the interiors of landmarks such as the Trowbridge House in Washington, DC, the official guesthouse for former visiting Presidents. She served as senior design consultant for the 25th anniversary of the PBS series, This Old House. She decorated a dressing room for Barbara Walters.
She told us that her beautiful New York apartment that was featured in House Beautiful is now decorated in "green, yellow and red Leggo," from her three young children. I realized that this design megastar had tips and secrets to share that all of us (yes, all of us) can use.
Her book, Alexa Hampton, The Language of Interiors, is one of those that you cannot get enough of in the first reading. Yes, it is dream book of beautiful residences with limitless budgets but it has basic design principles and tips that we can all use in our homes.
What struck me as the most important tip from her presentation had to do with color and color trends. We should adhere to our own palate no matter what the "trend." If we stray too far, we will not be happy. So true.
She says that when picking out furniture, don't be too specific with a period. Pick something that will blend and mix with almost anything.
I also love the fact that she points out in her book: "Training your eye is a lifelong process. It is a truism that only when you have learned the rules and the reasons for them, can you successfully break them."
And it is such fun to break the rules!