Celerie Kemble: “I Would Rather Be Happy Than Dignified.”


Yesterday was the Best. Day. Ever. And I had no idea it was coming! The date was on my calendar (of course!) but I honestly hadnt had the time to focus on the event. In a world that seems as though every minute of everyday is over scheduled, often daunting and sometimes extremely boring, yesterday was a breath of fresh air.


I drew the lucky card when I scored a ticket to the Mint Museum’s Room to Bloom Decorative Arts Symposium at Charlotte Country Club. The bonus, this years speaker was acclaimed NYC designer Celerie Kemble. Just in case you havent heard of her, open up the new Special Edition Domino Magazine and turn to page 86. Celerie has a six page spread in the cult classic magazine that will change the way you feel about small spaces. She is also the author of Celerie Kemble: To Your Taste in 2008 and the recent Black & White: And A Bit in Between. Still not sure? Check out J.Crew’s “Real Women” ad’s and search for the blond-headed, long-legged beauty with the soulful eyes. Not amazed yet? This woman has three children 5 and under!


Check out artist Jennifer Levine’s artwork front and center stage.

The Skinny

Celerie is the owner of Kemble Interiors in NYC and Palm Beach partners with her mother, acclaimed interior designer Mimi McMakin. She was an English Major and is a graduate of Harvard University and she never planned on a career in design. In fact, Celerie worked in movie production before a side hobby of scouring NYC flea markets turned into a new career including a year of unpaid internships and ultimately one extremely successful business. Celerie is an american classic, a true beauty and one of the sweetest souls I have ever met.

My friend Brittan, whose sadly couldn’t make the event and whose ticket I scored, wisely encouraged me to get there early. I got to Charlotte Country Club at 8:59 and I think I was one of the first people in the grand space. I was by myself. I drank my 4th cup of coffee and grabbed a seat in the very, very front. (Insert dork here. . . again I am by myself and there are over 500 women, mostly in groups, in the room.)

Divine Inspiration

So I sat in the front and I took notes. . .9 pages worth of notes. . .and so I thought I would share with you my favorite moments from my 1 hour of design heaven.

Thoughts/Tips on Being a Designer

  • “Be honest with yourself!” How do you live? Are you messy? Do you entertain?
  • “You only remember things that are different.”
  • Stick with the traditional elements of scale. Other than that break the rules! Mix Metal, layer rugs, etc.
  • When it comes to compromising with clients, Celerie points out that “Compromise is where the genius comes from!” I know my decorator friends always wish that they had endless budgets and total control over the decision process. Instead, Celerie has learned to embrace her clients differences and credits each individual room to “build(ing) from the additives.” The elements that came to the marriage or the family, the unique and heirloom pieces that must either remain and/or be built around.
  • Celerie is addicted to natural elements like sisal and seagrass. They are in every room she does.
  • Do lots of editing (of the room.)
  • Indulge in fabric and lighting.
  • “When you need creative inspiration, take a break and come back.”
  • “Be open with your clients, build trust. Listen to what they say.”
  • One of my personal favorites is “Items that are found rather than made. . .that’s when you get special!”

Thoughts on and from her Mother

  • She never wanted to be a designer, she knew how hard it was. All she remembers is her mother running around the kitchen in her underpants “freaking out.”
  • “Nothing goes right all the time.”
  • “Keep your notepad by the bed” so that when you wake up with ideas you can write them down.
  • “I’d Rather Be Happy Than Dignified.”
Thoughts on Being a Mother
  • Some of my favorite moments came from listening to Celerie describe “living” in her house with her three children. That she would rather have many nice things mostly destroyed than live a padded, sparse house. She also points out that so many of her New York clients have designated spaces for the children and for the adults and how this can be a very bad thing when the children break free from their constraints . . . they get very destructive!
  • “Never let things get to precious.”
  • Celerie has a crazy schedule, but she has the flexibility to be there when it really matters. She calls on her family and her mother in law often to help with the kids and to be there for “snuggle” time.


Our beautiful table in the Donald Ross room.

After the Decorative Arts Symposium, I ran to Cooper’s pre-school for pick up and then headed straight to event sponsor Circa Interior’s & Antiques in Myers Park for the book signing. Again yes, I am the first one in the shop and an obvious über dork, but I get to meet Celerie when she walks in the door. She is so open and friendly and I really do feel like I am just meeting a new friend at a cocktail party. She signs my book first because I am now running home to meet Sadie at the bus stop.


An amazing ottoman at Circa Interiors pre-book signing.


I am dying of excitement and an even bigger sap than I ever knew at this exact moment.


Celerie signed my book, chatted up sweet, sleepy Cooper with stories of her little one and over all won my heart forever!

Click below to Purchase Celerie Kemble: To Your Taste


Click below to Purchase Celerie Kemble: Black & White (and a Bit In Between)


As an added bonus Wells Fargo Private Bank gave us all signed copy’s of her latest book!

I hope you love her as much as I do!



Images that were not taken by me were taken from her website www.kembleinteriors.com and from the internet. I tried to link the images to the sources whenever possible.


3 thoughts on “Celerie Kemble: “I Would Rather Be Happy Than Dignified.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s