4 Interior Design Secrets You Need to Know

When it comes to the never-ending quality versus quantity debate, Christiane Lemieux, the founder of DwellStudio and the upcoming lifestyle brand Lemieux et Cie, is firmly on the quality side of the argument. Her new book, The Finer Things: Timeless Furniture, Textiles, and Details (Clarkson Potter, $60), is an homage to the best of the best in the interiors world. Lemieux describes it as “a loose encyclopedia of the decorative arts,” from paint and wallpaper to upholstered furniture and ceramics. “It’s a love story to quality,” Lemieux says. “I’m tired of living in a world where everything is disposable.” Each chapter takes you through the history, production, and major players in a certain category, plus how to incorporate that element into your own home; it’s the ideal handbook for those who want to be their own decorators. Here, we pulled a few of our favorite facts from the book about some of the most important pieces in interior design.


Photo: Horst P. Horst/Vogue/OTTO/Conde Nast

Wallpaper doesn’t have to be brand-new

“When stored properly, paper is an impressively resilient material. Think of rare books or historical documents: pure, non-acidic paper, in the right conditions, can survive for centuries,” Lemieux writes. “Thus there’s a small trade in vintage wallpapers.”

Photo: Horst P. Horst/Vogue/Conde Nast Collection

More important than paint is what’s under it

Walls should be covered with a layer of plaster, then painted with four or five coats of primer to create a flat surface. “That level of detail, that commitment to creating a surface that’s perfectly level, goes well beyond the cursory sanding, patching, and taping that most do-it-yourselfers consider the boring prep work,” explains Lemieux.

Photo: Hannel Cassidy/Conde Nast Publication/OTTO

Stone can be glamorous

“Though its properties make stone an ideal surface for utilitarian rooms like the kitchen or the bath, by no means should it be strictly limited to these hardworking spaces,” notes Lemieux. Kelly Wearstler agrees, telling Lemieux, “Mother Nature is the best designer. Real stone on the walls just has a richness and importance.”


The inside of a sofa can matter more than the upholstery

“When you sink into a sofa, it’s also what’s between those springs that you’ll feel. Fine sofas like George Smith’s are stuffed with cotton battening; the sofas you see on the curb on trash day almost always have some kind of polyester foam spilling out of the innards,” writes Lemieux. Frames and springs will also be different based on where you shop.

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