Wendi Smith has been in the design business for more than 20 years, beginning with commercial design work in New York City—from the Chase Bank trading floor to a standardizing two floors for Citibank in the MetLife Building on Park Avenue. “I have done everything from a brand new, 17,000-square-foot space to just helping first-time homeowners pick out paint colors,” she says. “I love what I do.”
In 2009, Smith founded Leftover Luxuries, a pop-up consignment shop for antique and contemporary home wares, and has since expanded it from Charlottesville to cities across the nation. We asked her to tell us about her favorite colors and textures and what she believes can really transform a room.—Caite White
Antique or modern? I love mixing both, but if I had to choose what to be surrounded by for the rest of my life, it would definitely be antiques. I love knowing the backstory on pieces.
Which colors do you gravitate toward? I love lavender and blues—something so soothing. Yet, my home has lots of rusts, blues and greens, which are very welcoming. Once my boys are grown and on their own, I would love to redo my home—all upholstered “soft” pieces, anything with fabric to be done in white, surrounded by rich woods and splashes of lavender and gold throughout.
What is your favorite interior design-related word? Scale and warmth.
Does your home look like the one you grew up in? Not even. I grew up in Southern California in the ’70s/’80s—a completely different vibe. But, I definitely do think I picked up a trait of my father’s: Every time we moved, as a little girl I would go to bed with the house being in total chaos, and, when I woke, it would be in order and complete. I do not like unfinished rooms in my own home. Even if I use a fill-in somewhere, I know that when I find the right piece, it will be replaced.
What’s one thing that can really transform a room? Definitely lighting, but I’m also going to throw in paint color. If you want to change a room, I love starting with the color of it.
Favorite designer? While attending interior design school in NYC over 20 years ago, I fell in love with Mario Buatta. I love the way he layers a room in patterns, color and texture.
Which design blog, website, TV show or magazine do you peruse religiously? Architectural Digest, Dwell and Veranda.
Décor-wise, what should a homeowner never scrimp on? Art. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but there should be a painting or artistic photograph in every room. It truly adds character on any budget.
What are you afraid to DIY? Probably wallpaper.
What do you wish you could do without? Social media—it just sucks me in. For business it has been a terrific tool, but I have had to set time limits!
What is your most treasured possession? Besides my children, my jewelry. The pieces handed down from the different generations.
If you could live in one historical figure’s house, whose would it be? I have always been obsessed with Coco Chanel—her place in Paris. She once said, “An interior is a natural projection of the soul.” Even though she slept next door at the Ritz, the apartment is an embodiment of her aesthetic and the spirit of a thoroughly modern woman who had the same irreverent approach to her home and fashion as she did with her life.
For more information, visit the Leftover Luxuries warehouse or go online to leftoverluxuries.com.