Celebs Turned Interior Designers: Who Needs 'Em?

Would you hire Heidi Montag to grout your tiles? Whitney Port to pick out slipcoverings? Jennifer Aniston to design your life?

Probably a bad idea to go with the first two but given Aniston's place on the cover of the current Architectural Digest, sometimes celebrity designs are fine. Still, with the recent storm of celebrities from Lily Allen to Gwyneth Paltrow claiming to be interior designers and picking up the old design pen, it's tough to know who's trustable, and who isn't.

Let's take a run through the three most current options for all your celebrity decorating needs.

Kirstie Alley
Much of this started when Oprah announced that she and Kirstie Alley would come make over one lucky (?) winner's home. Skepticism was induced, but here's the putative catch. Before Alley was an actress, weight-loss spokesperson, and tabloid personality, she was an interior designer, a stint which has led to her offering such wisdom as "I like things that look Frenchy," and "I hate faux finishes." Certainly not afraid to be servicey, but unfortunately lacking in the kind of helpful tips that truly genius interior designers--like Mary Gilliatt--can come up with, helpful precisely because they are actually about the person interested in making over their room, and less about the author. What Alley offers is a look into her own design sensibility, something that may be intriguing to those diehard Alley fans, but far less so to the rest of us who are actually trying to, well, change our lives.
Upsides: Alley's famous and sorta fun to watch!
Downsides: You might not like "Frenchy" stuff.
Grade: B-

Zac Posen
Darling fashion designer Zac Posen, whose eponymous company has been reported to be undergoing some financial traumas as of late, has been tapped to help out with the design for a new luxury apartment building in Chelsea. Because what the world needs right now is more luxury apartment buildings particularly in Manhattan, but also it needs beauty. And that, Posen says unequivocally and frankly in an interview with The Real Deal, is what he can provide. No word on the specifics of Posen's design, but he does use words like "kitchen," "bathroom," "surfaces," and "lobby," which when seen together point to a wide-ranging and interested design vocabulary. As to what makes him particularly qualified, Posen says, with some jackass-ery that's nonetheless more enviable than it is annoying, "I was born qualified." And he's got a point. Designers tend to be good designers because they care about how things look. Posen has, in a sense, been altering his visual environment by surrounding himself with beautiful women who will wear his clothes. Moving on to interior design then, while not a sure thing, isn't the most ridiculous thing anyone's ever heard of.
Upsides: Posen's clearly an aesthete who knows his way around design considerations.
Downsides: Given that he's used to controlling how people look, imagine what he'd be like in your house.
Grade: B

Jane Seymour
The artist formerly known as Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, has just published a decorating book called "Making Yourself at Home: Finding Your Style and Putting It All Together." This, would-be celebrity-aided design-hounds, bodes well. Not only does the second word start with "you" rather than "my" or "mine" or "me," but the whole tone is one that acknowledges that finding your style and then putting it together are two entirely separate issues, both of which she can help you with. A slight downgrade at first for mentioning her china collection, but a quick recover when Seymour clarifies that she got these at a garage sale and also uses the phrase "not having money." As in, it is a thing that exists for some people who may still want to live aesthetically rich and fulfilling lives.
Upsides: Seymour actually seems to have an idea that decorating is a process that can be challenging, and ideas for how to get around that.
Downsides: On third thought, there are none.
Grade: A
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