Five Questions With

6 Questions With Interior Designing’s Queen, Alexa Hampton

By Francesca Ricciarini

Today we are joined by the one and only, Alexa Hampton to share her wisdom on the ins and outs of being an artist and female CEO all at once. Regularly named to Architectural Digest’s Hall of Fame, House Beautiful’s Top Designer list, as well as Elle Décor’s A-List, and recipient of Cosmopolitan’s Fun Fearless Female Award, Alexa Hampton is the ever-reigning queen of interior design. 

Since taking over her father Mark Hampton’s iconic firm as owner and president in 1998, 

Alexa Hampton has furthered its legacy, turning it into an international interior design empire. Whether it be in New York City or Hangzhou China, Alexa Hampton’s presence is a promise for classical elegance and practical modernity. Welcome, Alexa Hampton! 


If your style was the offspring of 2 people, creatures, characters, living or dead, fictional or real…who would they be?


In a perfect world, my taste would be the reflection of my many design heroes. If I have to pick two, I’ll pick my father who raised me professionally and personally, and Madeleine Castaing, a French designer and antiques dealer who, to my mind, was the perfect example of a cool continental eye. However, having said all that, at my ripe age of 52, I am proud to think my taste, at this moment, might simply be my own.


What are the absolute NO’s in decorating? Like, if a client asked you for it you would have to push back.


Successful design, — interior, architectural, or landscape, — in large part, hinges upon context. Is the thing being designed in harmony with where it is, how it works, in its setting and for whom it must serve. I push back when an idea is too arbitrary, too impractical, or feels inappropriate or in conflict with its context. While I aim to be diplomatic in how I phrase my negative responses, I remind myself that I am actually being paid to deliver those opinions. It is, in the most literal sense, my job to tell clients “no” when I feel they are heading towards a misstep.  


What are your favorite parts of the job? 

Haha! I love making rooms beautiful and functional. When harmony is achieved, you can feel it in your bones. I also like making people happy. My least favorite part of the job is discussing money. I feel like this is the product of my growing up as a woman in my era (I was born in 1971). I hope I’m among the last of the generation of women who feel uncomfortable talking about something that should be entirely straightforward. It should be a dispassionate conversation. I’m working on it


Do you follow color trends in your decorating, or do you just follow your heart (and set new trends!)?


I do not follow color trends. I might “rediscover” color combinations because they are in the zeitgeist at a given moment. However, no one wants to paint their room shocking pink in 2023 to be on trend (think Barbie), only to find they are off trend the next year when rich chocolate brown becomes the trend. I use colors that specifically speak to my client’s color preferences, and I try to create rooms that will feel timely now and timeless 15 years from now. Nobody wants an expiration date attached to their interior design.


Where do you draw your inspiration from? Is designer’s block a real thing? 


I draw inspiration from absolutely everywhere: travel, fashion, television shows, magazines, even food. Design informs so many things and, if you are as beguiled by it as I am, you see it wherever your eye lands. I don’t know if designer’s block is a thing, but if an idea doesn’t come fast, as with any riddle, sit with it and tease out the answer. Sometimes that’s the best part of a project. 


If you could give any advice to a female designer just starting out, what would it be? 


Do your homework and be prepared, of course. Do not confuse being unpleasant with being authoritative. Value what you do and what you bring. Don’t be timid about charging for your worth. If certain situations make you feel uncomfortable, approach them as a game or a challenge to overcome. Be the kind of professional by whom you wish you were surrounded. If there are qualities you dislike, that you find typical of being a woman in business, work on them. However, at the end of the day, be okay with being a woman in business. We have special traits and gifts that are intrinsic to us that men probably wish they had.

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