Alexa Hampton comes by her impeccable design credentials naturally. Her father, Mark Hampton, was one of America’s leading interior designers; his impressive portfolio included the White House when the first George Bush was in power, residences for Brooke Astor and homes for other Manhattan elites. Alexa, one of his two daughters, grew up discussing the importance of curtain pleats and fabric patterns at the dinner table. Her father’s relaxed traditionalism rubbed off on her. After showing an early aptitude for drawing, she started working with him when she was just 13. When he died suddenly in 1998 at the age of 58, Alexa took over the family firm. Today, the 43-year-old president and chief designer of Mark Hampton LLC is highly regarded in her own right. Her elegant interiors have earned her industry accolades (including 2013’s prestigious Design Icon Award) and commissions galore. Her growing design empire includes bedding lines, TV shows and a couple of critically acclaimed decorating books. The latest of these, Alexa Hampton Decorating in Detail, will be the focus of her upcoming talk at IDS15, where she will dispense design advice along with celebrity gossip – everything being a matter of proportion.
Your father, a native of rural Indiana, has had an incredible influence on you personally and professionally. How do you distinguish yourself from him and his legacy?
In my opinion, no one can compare to my father. He was a once-in-a-lifetime talent. I wish we were indistinguishable, but that’s just not the case. I am (1) a woman, (2) born and raised in New York and (3) a child of the 1970s. Those are huge differences, and those are just the most basic.
You are a mother of three. How has your own family affected how you design?
I’ve become even bossier and more pedantic at work. My husband had to remind me the other day that he was not a child and that he did not work for me either. But in all seriousness, I am way more practical now regarding design choices. Having said that, please know that I am also comfortable being a total hypocrite. I just made my six-year-old daughter’s room so fancy I should be having my own time out!
What is a common design dilemma and how do you solve it?
The most common design dilemma is not trusting yourself to know what you like.
What would you never do?
I loathe short padded valances. They make me want to break something.
Well, I’m slightly terrified by how fast my children are growing up, and I want to spend as much time with them as I can. I’ve been with them many times to Greece, as they are half Greek, and I can’t wait to take them all over the globe. Travel always gets my creative juices flowing, so I’m sure you’d see the evidence of said travel in my work.
This interview has been condensed and edited.
Alexa Hampton will speak at ID S15 as part of Globe Style Saturday on Jan. 24 at 2 p.m.