Q&A: Nicole Richie

The uber-chic designer, TV host, author and mom shares her thoughts on entertaining, decor, and celebrating the holidays with flair.


She’s well-known for her eye for style and sharp wit, but as the Christmas season approaches, Creative Director of House of Harlow 1960 and fashion icon Nicole Richie reveals exclusively to Plume that she’s also a surprisingly traditional holiday hostess. “I want Christmas to be the magical fantasy for my children that it was for me,” she explains. As she gets ready to share her Holidays in Style collection, available on Joss & Main, Nicole reveals her own plans to celebrate the season, her relaxed approach to entertaining, and the music that will be rocking the Richie-Madden household on Christmas Eve.

How would you describe your home design aesthetic?


Tell us about your process for creating your interior décor. Where do you find inspiration? Do you follow a specific design style or let it evolve loosely?

I’ve lived in my house for four years, and I’m still working on it. I take things slowly; I need to live with each piece and see how I feel. As time goes on, I decide what I want to do next. I think of it as me growing with my home. I’ll get an end table and sit with it for a month before making any more moves.

Do you have friends, family or colleagues who you depend on for advice?

Fortunately for me, a few of my close friends happen to be interior decorators, so that helps. Being surrounded by designers, musicians, painters… They are artists. They have also been next to me most of my life and understand what I am trying to create. I value their eye.

How would you describe your entertaining style? What is your favorite way to entertain with friends at home?

People are in and out of our house every day and every night. We have a no-shoe rule in our house, so people come over, take off their shoes, listen to classic rock and eat good food. Anything goes here. On any given night, Joel will bring home some rapper to have family dinner with us.

On your AOL show, Candidly Nicole, you say that having fresh flowers in the home indicates you’re truly an adult. What else are the keys to a grown-up household?

Are you insinuating that I am a grown up? I wish! There is always a part of me that looks at my parents’ homes and think: “When I grow up, I’m going to have a responsible house like this one.” I still go to my parents’ house as if it has magical powers to make anything I want happen. I guess it’s all perception.


As a mother with two children, how do you incorporate their play areas into your style of decor? Any tips for our readers with children?

This is a hard one. There’s nothing you can do about these kids’ awful, neon toys nowadays. I collect vintage trunks and put them anywhere in the house that I can. I let them run wild during the day and then throw everything into trunks at night. Beautiful storage baskets help as well.

As a style icon yourself, what was important to you when designing your closet space?

Unfortunately, this is where I struggle. My closet is a mess. It makes sense to me, but it’s a mess.

Do you enjoy gift shopping?

I’m not an “out and about” type of girl. I don’t normally spend time shopping or in stores, but I love going into department stores during the holiday season. Being around that energy, hearing the holiday music play throughout the store… it makes me feel like I’m in a ’90s romantic comedy.

What’s your gift-giving style?

My friends and I do Secret Santa. It’s just easier.

Any secrets for finding something unique for your friends and family?

You can never go wrong with a beautiful photo.

Do you have a signature gift-wrapping style? Any tips on wrapping children’s gifts?

All kids care about is getting what’s inside. Don’t sweat the wrapping.

What do you think is the ideal hostess gift to receive?

I love D.L. & Co. and Diptyque candles. But listen, I’ll take some cash!

It’s Christmas Eve. What music is playing in the Richie-Madden household?

It starts off with traditional Christmas music. A few hours and a few bottles of wine later, we’re moving into more of a TLC/Missy Elliot kind of world.

Any special albums or songs that always get you in the holiday spirit?

Mimi. Duh.

Are there any stories or favorite books that you love to read to your children during the holidays?

The Night Before Christmas.

Is there a particular food or dish that is a must-have on your holiday table?

My Brussels sprouts, dates, and bacon dish!

What are your tips for incorporating children’s preferences and tastes into a holiday menu?

I’m lucky because my kids have a mature palate–they eat anything. If something is too seasoned for them, I set it aside. I encourage my kids to join in while I’m cooking, which makes them feel excited to eat something they helped make.

What is your guilty treat or indulgence during the holidays?

Homemade gluten-free gingerbread cookies and eggnog!

In a nutshell, what’s your formula for a great get-together, any time of year?

First and foremost, I break out the Polaroid cameras. I have a few that I lay out with extra film, and people love taking pictures all night. I collect rugs from different places around the world and lay them out on the ground so that we have more room to sit. We’re usually outside at my parties, so I keep several white Moroccan wedding blankets out in the event that people get cold. Flowers are an important detail for me; Eric Buterbaugh & Botany do my flowers, and we have them on every table. We have a hand-painted teepee in our backyard, and I’ve seen some really cool and interesting ones on Etsy as well. I really love the relaxed vibe of friends sitting on the floor, D.L. & Co. candles burning, and listening to music.