How to Make Any Room Feel Designed with Intention

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Lisa Przystup’s new book, Upstate, is instantly inspiring: page after page of gorgeous interiors, all
from homes in Upstate New York, photographed by Sarah Elliot. The surprise is that Przystup is not a designer—she’s a writer. A writer with exquisite taste and an incredible sense for combining even very disparate elements into rooms that just sing.

Przystup’s nineteenth-century farmhouse in Delhi in the western Catskills serves as a base for her
gorgeous, much-followed Instagram account, and the book explores the house—along with Victorians in Hudson and
Greek Revivals in Hillsdale—in a way that’s easy to take inspiration from: Brand-new, vintage, and legit antiques
mix together easily in spaces that feel airy and minimal in an effortlessly lived-in way. She gave us her best tips for
turning your stuff (old? new? indeterminate?) into a gorgeously cohesive design.

Tip 1

Unify your colors

Using similar shades makes it easier to find the commonality or aesthetic overlap among your
pieces, so you get a visually more cohesive look, says Przystup. “For instance, we ended up with a bunch
of neutrals in our lives—black, white, and shades of brown—mixed with mustard yellows and blues,” she
says. “Keeping all the elements in this palette gives the pieces a neutral jumping-off point, so the
design never gets too busy.”

dining room door

Photo courtesy of Sarah Elliot


  1. Lisa Przystup and Sarah Elliot Upstate: Living Spaces with Space to Live

    Lisa Przystup and photography by Sarah Elliot
    Upstate: Living Spaces

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Tip 2

Tie disparate pieces together with texture

“I tossed sheepskin throws on each of the dining room chairs,” says Przystup. “We have four
vintage chairs (which were left at the house by the previous owner), two tacked-on IKEA chairs at either end of the
table, and a simple pine dining room table my husband made. The reason this motley crew works is due in
large part to the texture and color of the throws, which unify the chairs so they feel more connected.”

dining table

Photo courtesy of Sarah Elliot


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Tip 3

One strong piece has a halo effect on the others

“We have a great old wallpaperer’s table that serves as a sideboard for our record player,”
says Przystup. “The vintage-inspired lamps on it are from West Elm, and sitting on top of the
wallpaperer’s table makes them look actually old. We have a small West Elm sideboard in our kitchen, also
vintage-inspired. I added a mushroom lamp from eBay and a rustic carved wooden vessel from a thrift store
in Tucson, repurposed as a silverware holder—I’ve always been a sucker for brass silverware.”

Przystup by a table
table with lamp

Photo courtesy of Sarah Elliot


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  2. Roman and Williams Guild Teak Platter

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Tip 4

Consider white floors

One early design move Przystup was steadfast about was painting the floors white. “Well,
it’s incredibly impractical in a country house,” she says. “And it totally outs us as city people
upstate. But the simplicity of a white floor and white walls puts the focus on whatever piece of
furniture or item you set down in that room, and it elevates it.”

room with piano

Photo courtesy of Sarah Elliot

My goop Shopping List

My Design Inspo

“I devour interior design books and websites, taking notes on pairings and arrangements I like,”
says Przystup. “This gives me a catalog of visual inspiration that subconsciously guides some of my choices. A
few of my favorite books: Interiors by Martyn Thompson, The Inspired Home: Nests of Creatives
by Kim Ficaro and Todd Nickey, and Wild Interiors: Beautiful Plants in Beautiful Spaces by Hilton
Carter. I also follow Sunday Shop Co.; Sincerely, Tommy; Laure Joliet; and Nicole Franzen on Instagram, as well
as sites like Remodelista and Clever.”


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