To say Libby Langdon wears many hats is an understatement. The New York-based designer is a published author, TV personality, and has her own furniture (including outdoor), lighting, and accessory lines. How does she do it all? With a no-nonsense approach and an easy, elegant, everyday style that’s reflected in her designs.
Shop Libby Langdon’s personally curated selection, exclusively on Sotheby’s Home.
How did you discover your passion for design?
I grew up in High Point, NC, the “Furniture Capital of the World.” My dad worked in textiles and my mom was a designer, so I was surrounded by people passionate about all aspects of the home-furnishings industry. But my design career started in makeover TV, and once I started traveling into real people’s homes across America, creating rooms I knew they would live in and love for years to come, I was hooked!
What is your favorite decorative object at home?
Oh gosh, that’s a tough one! Since it is nearly impossible to pick just one, I’ll name a few. I have a Michael Aram silver branch vase that I absolutely love; a gorgeous (albeit small) shagreen box, which is candy for the eye; and some solid crystal small animal figurines from my childhood, which are beautiful in their simplicity and also have meaning.
Read more about shagreen on the blog.
Is design an art or a science?
It’s most definitely an art, and they say ART is in the eye of the beholder. I am a firm believer in that, and don’t believe in design rules or hard and fast do’s and don’ts. I think all things are possible, and that it’s just a matter of discovering and decoding someone’s taste, and then creating a design that supports their aesthetic in the most pleasing, stylish, and comforting way.
Do you have any go-to color or pattern combinations?
Oh yes, I love mixing slate blue, gray, and cream, because it’s elegant, timeless, and a mix of colors that both men and women love. This combination artfully straddles feminine and masculine design.
When do you consider a completed project a success?
A project is finished when my client walks into their home, freaks out, and lets me know that they could never have done this on their own! I love it when a child walks into a space I’ve designed for them, whether it’s a bedroom, playroom, or family room, and they absolutely love it. This sense of unbridled and unfiltered joy, excitement, and wonder at such a young age is thrilling to experience and what keeps me going!
Share your biggest design secret.
Good lighting! A great lighting scheme with light sources positioned at different levels (think: ceiling fixtures; wall sconces or picture lights; table and floor lamps; and even uplighting from the floor) adds an instant elegance and warmth to a room. Layers of light at various heights not only make the space feel more expansive, but also allows your eye to rest on all the furnishings and gives the design a sense of depth. Conversely, when a space doesn’t have enough light or there is square footage that isn’t lit, the room closes in on you, looking and feeling smaller than it actually is. For this reason, I like to think in terms of lighting all four corners of a room.
What is the most common design mistake you see?
Small furnishings in small spaces! Using small artwork, lamps, drawers, bookcases, and rugs in an already-small space makes it look and feel even smaller and more cramped than it is, so don’t be afraid of using some oversized pieces.
How do you balance style, comfort, and functionality?
Using performance fabrics on furniture is one of the biggest ways I create an inviting and stylish space that works for my clients’ real-life lifestyles. All of them have kids, pets, and friends who drink red wine, so it’s up to me to find design solutions that allow me to create a beautiful but livable home!
Is there a specific item you typically use as a starting point? (ex: rug, artwork, statement piece, furniture)
I don’t really use items as a jumping-off point unless a client has a piece of artwork or an object we want to build the room around. I would say the jumping-off point for the logistics of the design always starts with the furniture layout. This helps ensure that we are using and sourcing items that will work with the overall design scheme while also literally fitting in the space with everything else. It sounds simplistic but this is a great place to start, as it ensures that the end result is fabulous and functional!
What do you think about Sotheby’s Home?
It’s great! I’m all about designing spaces that are fabulous but also functional. There are so many incredible pieces on the site, and I love that they are often a fraction of the original price. This saves my clients money, but they still get the elevated look they want.