Anne Hepfer is an internationally renowned interior designer best known for her sophisticated palette and mastery of color in traditional and contemporary homes. Named “Designer of the Year,” in 2021 by House & Home, her work has appeared in a variety of top publications including House Beautiful, Architectural Digest, and The Wall Street Journal. Based in Toronto, her projects span a variety of regions and locales throughout the US and Canada. “Cities, countryside, lakes, mountains, you name it,” the interior designer says.
I recently spoke with Hepfer about her process, how she got her start, current design trends, her new book and so much more.
When did you realize you wanted to become an interior designer?
My mother was passionate about interior design and my father was involved in experiential marketing and events. I assumed I’d follow my dad’s path into marketing, but after a few years with an agency, I realized my creativity was best suited to the design world.
How did you get your start?
After completing my Associate’s Degree in Design at Parsons, I took a position with Daniel Romualdez, the architect and designer behind the homes of style icons Aerin Lauder and Tory Burch. So that was a pretty incredible learning experience.
How would you describe your style?
Fearless, colorful, and classic.
What’s your secret design sauce?
I’m obsessive about color and will go to great lengths to find just the right hue. I once ran around London with paint swatches trying to find a match for an electric ultramarine blue I’d seen so I could recreate the look back home. I still have that blue door today!
What’s the first thing you do when you start working with a new client?
We’ve developed an exclusive questionnaire that really gets to the heart of what people like, how they live, and how they want to feel in their homes. You wouldn’t think things like favorite fragrances, cars, and cities would influence a design scheme, but those preferences give me valuable insight.
What interior design trends or aesthetics are your favorites?
I wouldn’t say it’s a trend, but I have an old-school decorator streak, influenced by the likes of Billy Baldwin and Sister Parish, and I love to incorporate decorative trims, tapes, and tassels in a way that’s fresh and modern.
What trends are your least favorite?
Shiny textiles, themed rooms, poor quality— anything that feels forced and inauthentic is a turn-off for me.
How do you think outside the box when it comes to design?
I’ve never stepped inside the box in the first place! My projects are driven entirely by my clients, so there’s no formula or specific aesthetic I strive for. When I’m able to genuinely understand someone and their needs, that’s when the magic happens and we create something original together.
What have been your biggest design challenges?
These days, timing is the biggest challenge, as my industry peers can attest. With so many supply chain issues at play, it’s difficult to nail down a timeline or schedule on builds and product deliveries. We can source and purchase all day, but finalizing install dates is the most daunting obstacle we face.
What’s a project you’ve worked on that you’re incredibly proud of?
The rebuild of my family’s cottage in the Muskoka region of Ontario. It was a true labor of love, and though I designed it just for us, it’s been rewarding to see the kind of reaction it’s gotten, from global magazine covers to lovely comments on Instagram.
Tell me about your new book.
It’s called MOOD because I realized that for me and my clients, good design is about evoking a feeling. So the book is organized by all the key emotions I think we want to feel at home: happy, relaxed, energized, tranquil, sexy, cozy, and nostalgic. Mixed in with my design projects are recipes, travel memories, and even playlists, so it’s really a journey through my process and the things I hold dear.
What was the process like of writing it and choosing the projects to include?
It was a dream many years in the making! The pandemic’s silver lining was allowing myself to slow down and take some time to conceptualize this passion project. It turned out even better than I’d hoped, and I can’t wait for everyone to enjoy it when it hits shelves.