Interior designer CeCe Barfield Thompson has a passion for vintage linens, D. Porthault, chintz, fine china, entertaining, and for creating a beautiful life with the things you own. A fellow Texan, CeCe left her hometown of San Antonio to earn her degree in Interior Architecture from the Pratt Institute in New York City. The summer after college, she moved to Paris to study at the École Escoffier Ritz. CeCe then spent time working at Vogue before honing her talents with the legendary Bunny Williams and launching her eponymous interiors firm in 2015. In 2016, she was named among House Beautiful‘s Next Wave list of designers and Elle Decor‘s Designer to Watch. I was delighted to see CeCe’s beautiful Manhattan apartment on Gramercy Park currently featured on One Kings Lane, and I was thrilled when she agreed to a Q&A for today’s Style Profile! Let’s take a look at CeCe’s style throughout the years and get to know a little more about her…
Q: What inspired you to become an interior designer?
A: Design is in my blood. Both my grandmothers were talented artists (a musician and a children’s clothing designer) and my mother is an accessories designer. Each have taught me the joys of the creative process and the importance of the well-lived life. When I say that, I don’t mean always having the best but rather, always living your best life and that starts at home.
Q: How do you describe your style?
A: I feel like my style is constantly changing but I hope it would be characterized as elegant, timeless, and layered.
Q: Did working with Bunny Williams influence your aesthetic? What was the best piece of advice she gave you?
A: Bunny has without a doubt been the greatest influence on my aesthetic. She is a perpetual student and that is reflected in her interiors which are carefully collected. She requires her designer team to get out and see things, which is sadly not the norm these days. Hunting for “that” special piece teaches you so much about styles, periods and history. It trains your eye. Antique dealers have taught me so much too. The acquisition of objects is a lost art and a true luxury. Bunny taught me that.
Q: Your mother is incredibly chic, and I love her elegant handbags. How did she influence your style and career?
A: My mother is the most amazing lady. She is not only stylish, but also amazingly kind and welcoming. She has never met a stranger. Growing up with her, I learned the importance of casual elegance and easy living. Her house was never perfect, but always beautiful, inviting and personal. Those three elements are truly the tenets of good design and what I try to bring to each one of my projects.
Q: There is a saying that you can take the girl out of Texas, but you can’t take the Texas out of the girl. How did your Dallas upbringing shape you?
A: Texans are social, we love to entertain! I hope growing up there made me gracious and welcoming.
Q: In addition to your brilliant interior designs, you are known for your exceptional hostessing skills. What are your secrets to throwing a great party? Do you have a signature dish?
A: The most important thing is to make entertaining easy or else you will never do it. My husband and I like have dinner parties as often as possible and have a formula to keeping it simple yet elevated (and hopefully memorable). Since I never know how much time I will have to prepare on the day of the party, I try to plan everything in advance. I’ll think about how I want to set the table a few days before the party so that I can order flowers and make sure the linens are pressed. I plan the menu the day before the party. If I have time to cook I will, but if I’m busy I have zero problem outsourcing the meal. Your guests will remember the fun they had much longer than the food you served. If they remember the meal first, you are doing something wrong! Entertaining at home is all about the experience – the people, the setting, the music, the wine, and finally, the food. If I do cook, my favorite menu is Tex-Mex. It includes chicken enchiladas from The Dallas Junior League Cookbook, Spanish rice, Mexican corn and “Chispa” Margaritas (one part fresh lime juice, one part good tequila, one part Cointreau).
Q: What are five daily necessities/luxuries that you could not live without?
A: French Press coffee, walks in the park with my children, a red leather mole-skin, bubble baths, and a good book. Currently, I am reading a biography of the six daughters of George III. They were the original Mitford sisters!
Q: Do you have any items you like to collect?
China, linens, books… I have an entire closet dedicated to china and an entire closet dedicated to linens. This is quite a lot in a small apartment!
Q: What are your favorite design elements and accessories to incorporate into a room? Do you have any particular go-to fabrics, paint color, linens, etc.? I love that you love chintz!
A: I adore a good chintz. It is so old world and exudes Southern style to me. Chintz is wonderful because it can introduce a variety of colors into a scheme. Currently, I am also loving jewel tone cotton velvets from Holland & Sherry, Bennsion Fabrics, and airy Belgian linens for curtains.
Q: Any design advice you would like to share?
A: If you love something and it fits, buy it! Truly anything will work if the scale is right.
Thank you, CeCe for sharing with us today! To learn more, please visit CeCe Barfield, Inc. Interior Design. And to recreate CeCe’s style at home, please click here to shop her curated sale for One Kings Lane.