Ruth Sonnenshein: The One You Call for Style Advice

Eclectic. High and low. Old and new with a contemporary flair. 

That's how wardrobe-stylist-turned-interior-designer Ruth Sonnenshein, of Wyatt Designs Inc., describes her flair. Ruth, who is a Denver native, will soon be gracing the pages of Colorado Homes & Lifestyles magazine as design editor. Her column, "Ask Ruth…Everyone Else Does," is aptly named. On top of her actual design clients, handfuls of Ruth's friends and acquaintances—including CHL Publisher Holly Scott—are constantly calling and texting her about what to wear or how to liven up a space.

We sat down with Ruth to learn a bit more about her personality and style, as well as what reader questions she will be fielding in upcoming issues of the magazine.

Tell us a bit about your background and experience.

I went to Colorado State University to study apparel and merchandising, and when I graduated from college, I moved to New York City. For five years I was a merchandising editor for Glamour Magazine, and then I briefly worked at Jane Magazine before I moved to Los Angeles. When I was in LA, I was a celebrity and editorial wardrobe stylist.

As a stylist, it’s very much a natural progression to design—if you’re dressing somebody and walking them through ways to look and feel good every single day, the next step is where they live. I would often have clients ask me if I could help them with their homes. So I started to do a little bit of that, but when I moved back to Denver about a year and a half ago with my husband and three children, that’s when I started focusing on interior design.

The wardrobe styling— that’s truly where I learned about having an eye and putting things together. Whether it’s what they’re wearing or where they live, I feel like they’re interchangeable in a lot of ways.

What's the story behind your company name, Wyatt Designs Inc.?

Wyatt is my husband’s middle name. He is so supportive of what I do, so I love that the company name is a nod to him.

Describe your style.

I’ve always had an affinity for high and low. I love an investment piece, whether it’s for your home or your closet, but then I also love the idea of putting it with things that look just as amazing as something similar that costs several hundred dollars more. Very often you’re given heirlooms or you pick things up  at thrift stores and flea markets, and a lot of people don’t know what to mix that with. So I love the idea of mixing high and low. 

I've always loved the dramatic look of books and accessories by color, no matter how small the space is.

What are some design trends that are happening right now?

Mixing and matching, whether it's metals, eras or patterns.

Brass: It’s sort of continuing to have its moment, and I don’t think that we’re going to see that drop anytime soon. And brass can play well with the nickel pulls and knobs that are probably already in your home. I also love the idea of adding copper, but it’s a particular client who can handle that. Similarly, I often get asked by my friends, “Can I wear all my yellow gold with my silver?” And the answer is always yes.

I also see and love the juxtaposition of mixing rustic with modern—like a farm table with Lucite ghost chairs.

To me, animal print is like a pair of jeans: It serves as a great neutral that plays nicely with everything else. So it’s fun to work a pattern story off of that. A lot of people are afraid of mixing and matching patterns—whether it’s in their homes or their wardrobes. My goal is to quell their fear.

I often see a two-color story, but I think there should always be three colors. And again, that’s my editorial background, because that’s what makes it jump off the page more. Think of everything in the form of a photo shoot. How best would something photograph and come alive on a piece of paper? 

These ginger pots are just an example of how one accessory can look random, but when it becomes a collection, it's suddenly a statement! 

What kind of topics do you plan on covering in your column?

I’ll be covering a whole bunch of fun ideas. House plants, for instance. They can transform a space, but a lot of people don’t know what to do with a house plant, so I’d love to talk about planter ideas. 

We may touch on how to style your bar cart. Most people can enjoy a drink or a mocktail.

Glassware, bottles and accessories are really fun and personable but oftentimes put behind closed doors, so I think that’s a great way to fill a space and add a lot to the corner of a room.

We might talk about all the ways to set a table and choose a party theme. Hosting dinner parties is a great way to entertain and feel like you’re getting out, even though the kids are asleep and you're actually at home. And I’d love to do a gift guide come November/December.

Keep your eyes peeled this summer for the first installment of "Ask Ruth… Everyone Else Does" in  Colorado Homes & Lifestyles magazine.

Categories: Stylemakers