Food & Home

Lisa Przystup

How to Make Any Room Feel Designed with Intention

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 Elliott. 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 Elliott

  1. Lisa Przystup and Sarah Elliot Upstate: Living Spaces with Space to Live
    Lisa Przystup and photography by Sarah Elliott Upstate: Living Spaces
    with Space to Live
    Bookshop, $41
    SHOP NOW
  2. Raawii Relae Vase
    Raawii Relae Vase goop, $110
    SHOP NOW
  3. Hangai Striped Three-Toned Purl Knit Yak Down Throw
    Hangai Striped Three-Toned Purl
    Knit Yak Down Throw
    goop, $525
    SHOP NOW
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 Elliott

  1. Ben Soleimani Ribbed Cashmere Throw
    Ben Soleimani Ribbed Cashmere Throw goop, $375
    SHOP NOW
  2. Roman and Williams Guild Fringed Flax Linen Napkin, Set of 2
    Roman and Williams Guild Fringed Flax Linen Napkin,
    Set of 2
    goop, $36
    SHOP NOW
  3. Sien + Co Loma Handwoven Pillow
    Sien + Co Loma Handwoven Pillow goop, $280
    SHOP NOW
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 Elliott

  1. Crosley Coda Shelf System
    Crosley Coda Shelf System goop, $250
    SHOP NOW
  2. Roman and Williams Guild Teak Platter
    Roman and Williams Guild Teak Platter goop, $160
    SHOP NOW
  3. Mepra Matte-Gold 5-Piece Place Setting
    Mepra Matte-Gold 5-Piece Place Setting goop, $174
    SHOP NOW
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 Elliott

My goop Shopping List

  1. Medina Mercantile Simple Open Weave Basket
    Medina Mercantile Simple Open Weave Basket goop, $60
    SHOP NOW

    “It’s a tote! It’s a catchall! It’s a work of art! It’s all of the above!”

  2. Smeg Toaster
    Smeg Toaster goop, $275
    SHOP NOW

    “Smeg refrigerators are a financial pipe dream for us, but this toaster is the next best thing. It makes our kitchen counter look more expensive.”

  3. Peg and Awl Step Stool
    Peg and Awl Step Stool goop, $95
    SHOP NOW

    “Hands down the most used item in our home—next to the coffeemaker.”

  1. R+D Design Lab Velasca Carafe and Glasses Set
    R+D Design Lab Velasca Carafe & Glasses Set goop, $205
    SHOP NOW

    “When the time comes and guests return, fast-track your superhost status by filling this with water and casually leaving it on the nightstand in the guest bedroom—along with a nice-smelling candle and maybe even a flower in a bud vase.”

  2. Summerill & Bishop Blue-and-White-Striped Napkin
    Summerill & Bishop Blue-and-White-Striped Napkin goop, $34
    SHOP NOW

    “Suddenly even canned soup feels like a special occasion.”

  3. Cinnamon Projects CIRCA INCENSE BURNER
    Cinnamon Projects CIRCA INCENSE BURNER goop, $150
    SHOP NOW

    “Beats sticking my incense sticks into the leftover wax of my burned-out Mrs. Meyer’s candle.”

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.”


We hope you enjoy the products recommended here. Our goal is to suggest only things we love and think you might, as well. We also like transparency, so, full disclosure: We may collect a share of sales or other compensation if you purchase through the external links on this page (including links to Amazon).

You may also like