5 chic interior updates from celebrity design duo Pierce & Ward

Looking for an interiors switch-up? LOUISA PIERCE and EMILY WARD, the team behind the boho-chic homes of Lily Aldridge, Dakota Johnson and Karen Elson, have a few design tricks up their sleeve. Here, they share their favorites with OLIVE WAKEFIELD


If you’ve noticed an increase in William Morris wallpaper and Persian rugs on your Pinterest feed, chances are Louisa Pierce and Emily Ward may have something to do with it. This LA-based design duo are the poster girls of the Arts and Crafts revival that’s got us all rethinking minimalism and embracing eclecticism. At a time when life seems, well, somewhat sanitized, Pierce & Ward are bringing back a healthy dose of fringing, velvet and print that errs just the right side of chintzy.

Like their style, their interior design company came about completely organically, when a night out in New York led to a roundabout introduction to their first real client, Karen Elson. A decade down the line, and every room they’ve put their name to has become Instagram fodder: think Lily Aldridge’s tiled oven hood, the girls on the Coven wallpaper in Karen Elson’s boudoir, or Dakota Johnson’s olive-green kitchenette.

This week marks the release of Pierce & Ward’s first major book, published by Rizzoli; a collage of references, style tips and testimonials from their starry clientele and a deep-dive into the eye-wateringly exquisite rooms they have designed during their nearly decade-strong partnership. “The art of more is not about having a lot of stuff. It’s about making your home an unrestricted expression of creativity,” Pierce says. “We are both untrained designers. We just follow our instincts and go with what moves us. I’m sure we are breaking a million design rules, but we don’t care as long as it makes us and our clients happy.”

Here, the pair share their five favorite tried-and-tested techniques:


“We start with a mood board for the room and layer and layer as we go along. It makes it feel like the person has lived in that house forever. We made the book the same way. It wasn’t done on a computer. We went into the office with all the photos and started cutting, pasting and moving the images around. Of course, we have paint colors and fabrics that are our staples – some colors look good in every space – but we customize. A lot of our clients are friends and they don’t want the same things in each other’s homes, so we have to be careful about doubling up. As designers, we talk on the phone all day, every day, sharing ideas. We love to sift through old books and designers’ work, drawing inspiration from timeless things rather than following trends.”

The art of more is not about having a lot of stuff. It’s about making your home an unrestricted expression of creativity
Louisa Pierce


“Online auction houses are great for one-off vintage finds. [Louisa] found Karen Elson’s beautiful swan sink for her bar on eBay. You win the jackpot when you find a sketch book by a student artist in an antiques market. It’s a really inexpensive way to put art onto a wall. For Lily Aldridge’s kitchen, we decided to source some really beautiful, inexpensive tiles and cover the whole place. We felt that was more impactful then using a super-high-end tile on just the backsplash.”


“We don’t really plan things; they come together very organically. That’s part of the reason that the homes we design don’t look overly ‘decorated’. We just finished a house in LA where we decided to paint the bottom half of the room at the very last minute. It was the perfect final touch. That’s what is nice about people trusting you: you have the space to evolve your vision over time. Our first clients, like Karen Elson, let us do literally anything we wanted. For her house we wanted it to represent her, an English rose, and it still does.”

It’s sweet to surround yourself with memories, and it gives guests a glimpse into your heritage
Emily Ward


“We’re huge fans of built-in storage,” says Ward. “Each shelf or display can become its own little world and tell a story about who you are. Including personal items in your design will help you feel connected to the rooms. It’s sweet to surround yourself with memories, and it gives guests a glimpse into your heritage. Emily’s twins love their nursery and they’re always pointing at things in the built-ins. Half of it is from Louisa, because she’s their godmother. She travels a lot and always comes back with a gift.”


“When the house calls for it, we stay true to its genre [of architecture], but then get quirky with the decor. With Dakota Johnson’s house, we were really inspired by the bones of the property. It had such good integrity to begin with. It’s a mid-century design (built by architect Carl Maston in 1947) and was previously owned by Ryan Murphy. Some aspects were a bit clinical – there was a lot of stainless steel – so we warmed it up with the color palette. The floor upstairs needed to be replaced, so we used wood. Her bathroom is one of our favorites – we got to make it from scratch using concrete. Dakota definitely had a vision for the house. If she had a specific idea for a paint color, or if she found a chandelier, she would text us and say, ‘Where should we put this?’ Her mom (Melanie Griffith) gave her a David Hockney portrait for her bedroom. Not a bad house-warming gift!”

A Tale of Interiors by Pierce & Ward is published on September 22



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