1 of 2
2 of 2
Alexa Hampton used a valence instead of curtains to conceal motorized shades.
As the daughter of the late, legendary interior designer Mark Hampton, Alexa Hampton knows comparisons to her father are inevitable. She began working at his eponymous New York City firm when she was just 13 and took over the business at age 27.
Though Alexa shares the same good taste and interest in traditional interiors that were a hallmark of her father's work, her designs are unmistakably her own, blending classicism with a modern, youthful sensibility to create luxurious but livable rooms.
R•Home: Why did you want to write a book about interior design?
Alexa Hampton: Anything that is related to art can seem so mystical. I acknowledge that talent is part of successful interior design, but there are lots of very practical things about design, and I like talking about them. It makes it a lot less scary and more approachable.
R•Home: You have built a very successful interior design business for yourself, yet you retain your father's name on your business? Why?
Hampton: I was 27 when my father died. He was diagnosed with cancer that February  and was dead in July. I was shell-shocked … It gives me great solace and comfort to walk through a door that bears his name every day. Even if he weren't the great figure in this field that he is, I would still retain his name. I am sentimental.
R•Home: Is your design aesthetic more alike or more different than your father's?
Hampton: They are very different and get more different all the time. In decorating, as in everything, he was my father and he was my mentor. But my grown-up-person lifestyle is very different from his. He lived in a more formal world than I do. And the way people live today is radically different.
R•Home: In your book, you talk about the challenges of designing a room to accommodate children. How do you live stylishly with young children? (Hampton has a 3-year-old daughter and 5-year-old twin boys.)
Hampton: Let's embrace the fact that I'm a total hypocrite [laughing]. In my living room, I took out all the furniture and put down a mat of blue plastic interlocking squares. We live in an age where we don't want to have our kids shunted off into a back room and have that hierarchical relationship with them. Let's not pick the fabric that is $1,000 per yard, hand-woven by blind nuns in the Himalayas. Try not to decorate with things that can impale small kids.
R•Home: Where does trend fit into the "language of design?"
Hampton: Almost nowhere. The way trend fits into interior design is in what it makes available for purchase. When there is a big painting trend going on, wallpaper becomes scarce; when people go to neutrals, it is hard to find a Brunschwig & Fils Mughal Indian print. Trend has an impact on commerce. I don't let it dictate to me. I like what I like — I like pretty things, I like variety.
Want to meet Alexa Hampton? She'll speak at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 24, at The Jefferson Hotel, 101 W. Franklin St. Tickets are $65 and include general admission to the RAMA 50th Annual Benefit Antiques and Fine Art Show at the Science Museum of Virginia. Doors open at 9:30 a.m.; brunch begins at 10:30 a.m. with a book signing afterward. For more details, visit ramaf.org .