The Style Files: Shelley Johnstone

Shelley Johnstone Portrait


Shelley Johnstone is a talented, up and coming designer based in Lake Forest, Illinois. I first came across Shelley’s work on Instagram and instantly identified with her elegant, traditional style. She is known for elegant, European inspired interiors with a modern twist– an aesthetic I can certainly relate to. Shelley trained at the Inchbald School of Design in London and has completed projects in various parts of Illinois, Rhode Island, London, and Naples, Florida. Shelley is adept at embracing color and the special, bespoke details that make for stand-out interiors. I hope you’ll enjoy learning more about this chic and promising designer.

Paloma Contreras: How would you describe your style?

Shelley Johnstone: Classic and timeless with modern and curated pieces layered in to create interest.

shelley johnstone living room

PC: Has living in Chicago influenced your aesthetic in any way?

SJ: Chicago and my home town of Lake Forest have given me a tremendous awareness and appreciation for beautiful architecture and the importance of small details: On a walk through town, I am fortunate to see Chevron doors, Chippendale gates, limestone urns, and other design elements that provide flair.

shelley johnstone treillage

PC: What does your home say about you?

SJ: That I enjoy creating a beautiful place where my family and friends can also feel comfortable and at home.

Shelley Johnstone Bedroom

PC: Where do you turn for inspiration?

SJ: I am inspired by everything around me – a shell on the beach, the prettiest pink tablecloth at a restaurant in Capri, a Rothko hanging at the Art Institute of Chicago. I try to recreate the many visuals and environments from my experiences into my design and my home.

Shelley Johnstone Kitchen Detail

PC: Who are your personal style icons?

SJ: I am most influenced by the beautiful lifestyles created and enjoyed by Oscar de la Renta, Valentino, Bunny Williams, and John Rosselli.

oscar and annette de la renta vogue

{Oscar and Annette de la Renta}

PC: What trait do you most admire in a person?

SJ: I admire those who are kind, considerate, and well-mannered.

Shelley Johnstone Breakfast

PC: What is your guilty pleasure?

SJ: Chocolate!

shelley johnstone blue and white

PC: Who or what has been your greatest professional influence?

SJ: My parents, who are extremely creative and entrepreneurial while keeping an emphasis on family and life at home.

Shelley Johnstone Kitchen 2

PC: What is your idea of living “la dolce vita”?

SJ: Creating and enjoying a beautiful life with family.

Shelley Johnstone Living Room

PC: What can we look forward to next from you?

SJ: I am currently designing a table for Veranda’s Orchid Dinner benefitting the New York Botanic Garden, and decorating a room for the 2017 Infant Welfare Showhouse in Lake Forest. Meanwhile, I am fortunate to continue working with amazing clients on projects for Shelley Johnstone Design.

Shelley Johnstone Vignette



Go-To Outfit: Roger Vivier shoes, jeans, and an elegant top

Style Mantra: “Keep it simple.”

Scent: Candles and fresh flowers

Piece of Jewelry: My engagement ring and my Cartier Panthere gold watch

Color I Never Tire Of: Chocolate brown

Indispensable Design Element: Chic natural fiber rugs (sisal, jute, abaca) and bamboo and rattan furniture

Fabric/Textile: Interesting prints on linen mixed with textured velvet and cashmere

Dream Project: More projects with the wonderful, detail-oriented clients I have!


Drink: Almond milk hot chocolate

Hotel: The Carlyle Hotel in New York and La Scalinatella in Capri

Museum: The Art Institute of Chicago and Musée Jacquemart-André in Paris

Artist: Mark Rothko (painting) and Massimo Listri (photography)

Actor: Cary Grant

Song that Always Puts Me in a Great Mood: Hello Goodbye by the Beatles

Movie Set Design: Sets from 1940’s Hollywood, especially You Were Never Lovelier (1942) featuring Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth


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