Home Decorating Annie Selke’s House Rules: Lifestyle lessons from our Founder & Chief Vision Officer

Annie Selke’s House Rules: Lifestyle lessons from our Founder & Chief Vision Officer

With a recently completed full home renovation in Palm Desert, California, now felt like the perfect time to share Annie Selke’s own House Rules. Trained as a textile designer, Annie started her career in merchandising and development. She founded her own company in 1994, and her Pine Cone Hill bedding and Dash & Albert rugs were instant hits. Annie’s style is colorful, classic, and distinctly American. Her approach to decorating is both practical and whimsical.

Here are Annie Selke’s design rules to live by, plus a peek inside her new vacation home:

01.
Do a little daydreaming.

For Annie, interior design always begins with what she calls “playing:” creating a palette and a mood board. “Let your mind go where it wants to go and then visually consolidate that. That gives you a map,” she says. “Then as you refine down the path, that’s the design process. The rubber hits the road when you go from mood board to product selection.”

02.
Take cues from your natural surroundings

“Each location inherently has a different vibe and feel, and I think that should dictate a different interior style,” says Annie. “California has an entirely different natural palette than the Berkshires. The light is different. There’s bright green grass, shocking pink bougainvillea, and bright blue sky. Whereas in the Berkshires, it’s more muted: I wanted this house to be a backdrop for nature.”

03.
Create an indoor-outdoor connection.

“When I was designing my current home, I wanted to have the interior reflect the exterior,” says Annie. “When you walk in, your eye is drawn immediately to the mountains. I wanted to keep that. I didn’t want anything like a big, bold pattern or an incongruous color to visually block the view. I wanted it to flow.” Not only did Annie take palette and pattern cues from the outdoors, she made a physical connection by paving the courtyard and terrace in the same stone tiles as the inside of the house.

04.
Concept the house holistically

“When I design, I really think about the whole house. Each suite has its own personality, but it’s very much of one piece,” says Anine, who strove for common threads throughout her design. For example, she used one flooring throughout. “I like floors to be a unifying factor,” she says. “If you use one material throughout the entire house it gives you continuity,” says Annie.

05.
An open kitchen calls for elevated design.

In Annie’s Palm Desert home the new kitchen is completely open to the living and dining spaces. “When it’s all one room, you really have to think about the finishes,” she cautions. “They have to be elevated because everything is viewable from every angle.” In addition to the custom cabinetry and Organic White countertops from Caesarstone, Annie opted for matte white appliances from GE’s Cafe Series for their chic finishes and decorative handles.

Bethany Nauert Photography

06.
Pick a metal to lead your design.

Annie likes to mix metal finishes, but she says you should choose a dominant metal and use others as accents. “There’s a mix of metal in the house, but it’s predominantly a matte gold/satin brass with touches of chrome and some stainless. Deciding on your dominant metal early is important” to help guide your decisions, she says, especially on furniture where finishes can’t be customized or easily changed.

07.
Use beloved pieces as design keystones.

“I brought my favorite things–some vintage pieces in particular–from my old house,” says Annie. “It’s always good to have something that you know you’re going to use when you’re looking at other pieces.”

08.
Pay careful attention to scale

Annie designed much of her new home from afar because of COVID travel restrictions, and she says she was reminded of the importance of triple checking measurements before purchasing. “That lesson cannot be underscored enough,” she says. “Go see things in person, if you can. Then get out a measuring tape and blue tape and mark it out so you know what size things are!” For especially large pieces, she recommends making a model with pieces of foam core to better experience the scale.

09.
Follow your heart

Annie likes to look to a house’s locale and architecture for inspiration, but she also believes in being true to your own desires. “I’m a girly girl,” laughs Annie. “Even though I’m trying to be restrained, clean, and modern in this house, I’m having a tester bed with drapes made.  It won’t be all ruched and foofy, it’ll be cleaner, but it’ll still have that presence.”

10.
Use restraint with pattern.

No one loves patterns and prints more than a textile designer like Annie, but she cautions that it is possible to have too much of a good thing. “When you’re working with an all-over print, you have to use restraint,” she says. For example, in her main bedroom, Annie used a subtle block print fabric on two chairs and the outside of her bed canopy, reserving the brighter, more colorful print for the inside drapes, where it remains mostly hidden. “When it comes to creating an interior that you want to live in day in and day out, avoid anything too trendy or bold,” says Annie noting, “you can get sick of something so quickly.”

Bethany Nauert Photography

11.
Plant design stakes in the ground

“Once you commit to a design element, like ‘I am painting that wall pink,’ that decision will dictate other decisions. Design is always about where you put the stake in the ground. It’s a moving target until you pin something down,” she says.

12.
Choose patterns that could be cousins.

“When you see all the prints that will go into a house together, you should be like, “Oh, I get it.” They have a similar vibe,” says Annie. In her own home, Annie was looking for looser, unfussy patterns. “They’re all kind of flowing. It’s hard to describe, but the lines are wiggly, not straight and the colors are really subtle,” she says.

Bethany Nauert Photography

13.
Go long on grasscloth.

“I love grasscloth in general: It is such a great way to add texture to the walls,” says Annie. “If you want something subtle that isn’t just a big bunch of sheet rock, consider grasscloth.”  Especially in a room with high ceilings. Annie’s guest bedroom has a metallic grasscloth on the walls. “It harks back to kind of the best of mid century interiors without being kitschy. It’s beautiful,” she says.

14.
Make a plan for disorder.

Annie’s design called for her desk to be on display in one of her two guest bedrooms, but she confesses the closet is “my real office—my messy office. The printer is in there, a magnetic white board for all my swatches. If guests come, I can just close the door.” Likewise, in her Berkshires home, Annie relegated all the dog paraphernalia to one room, so she could close the door on the mess.

15.
Don’t neglect utility rooms

“You should have the same clarity of design in your utility rooms as the rest of the house. Make it lovely because you do spend time in those rooms. In my house, the laundry room is really pretty with the same type of cabinetry that’s in the kitchen. I believe in being thoughtful about the places where you spend time.”

Bethany Nauert Photography

16.
Details bring a room to life

“Choosing the accessories, artwork, flatware–all that kind of stuff–is important,” says Annie. “That’s where you bring a space alive and make it your own and not generic.”

Bethany Nauert Photography

17.
Limit your paint palette.

There are only three paint colors used throughout Annie’s whole house. “You have to exercise restraint if you want a unified interior,” she says. Annie opted for soft, subdued color on the walls, to help the house play backdrop to the natural beauty just outside the door. “I was going for a much cleaner, serene, peaceful space.” Here are her picks:

17.
Limit your paint palette.

There are only three paint colors used throughout Annie’s whole house. “You have to exercise restraint if you want a unified interior,” she says. Annie opted for soft, subdued color on the walls, to help the house play backdrop to the natural beauty just outside the door. “I was going for a much cleaner, serene, peaceful space.” Here are her picks:

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1 comment

Nancy Woolard February 12, 2022 at 4:22 am

We have very similar tastes and decorating ideas. When I purchased my 1 level Villa, I made so many changes. T had every wall and ceiling painted white, and the floor was 12″ shiny white tiles. It makes it look twice the size and I picked the 2 main colors as white and soft aqua. That’s why I want to replace my area rugs, but the 2 bedrooms are wall to wall nougat in color and it’s silk & wool. So it’s pertinent I find those area rugs. If I could somehow send you a pic via this cell phone, youvwould see exactly what I’m looking for. Let me know if I can forward a pic to you via text msg. Thanks so much. These that I have down now I purchased new 7 years ago from a catalog, they are Martha Stewart 100% wool, light aqua with a pattern carved in them of large flowers, all same color!!!

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