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How to Decorate
93 minutes | a day ago
Ep. 180: designer Matthew Patrick Smyth
Today’s guest is acclaimed interior designer and photographer Matthew Patrick Smyth. He has been on ELLE Décor’s “A” List, his work has been featured in House Beautiful, Traditional Home, New York Magazine and more. He also wrote a new book “Through a Designer’s Eye: A Focus on Interiors”. We talk about his polished yet comfortable spaces, his love of artisanal pieces and antiques, his attention to detail and light, and some touching personal stories.What You’ll Hear on This Episode: Trials & Triumphs about feeling at home in a temporary rental, a pregnancy announcement (!), COVID within the family, tearing down and rebuilding a house, a nightmare new build next door, considering new drapery, and dishwasher woes. Matthew explains how his process begins — starting with the floorplan. Where Matthew finds his artisanal pieces and what he loves about them. Matthew’s love of antiques led him to interior design and carries into all elements of his style. How Matthew’s experience as a photographer impacts his design. The ways Matthew was able to decorate a casual seaside home and still use antiques. Why Matthew has an affinity for round dining tables and what chairs he recommends. More about Matthew’s personal home and falling in love with it. Matthew uses upholstery to modernize an older house with all antique interiors. Matthew’s love of black(ish) paint. What Matthew does to individualize the work for his clients. Matthew shares about his work and friendship with Gloria Vanderbilt. How is a designer’s eye different from the average person’s? Decorating Dilemma Hi Jenny,First of all, thank you for including the floorplan—so helpful! This is a very generous width for a dining room so the sideboard is not going to throw off the room; there’s still plenty of room and no flow problem whatsoever. It’s not a floor to ceiling piece, so your eye will go right over it. I would put a big mirror over the sideboard to reflect the windows and the beautiful view. That will really open up the room. It’s really important to keep that chandelier centered with the windows so I would not touch that. The table centered in the room is the way to go. It’s good that you’re thinking about it now…but don’t overthink it! It’s actually a nicely designed floor plan and well proportioned; I wouldn’t play with that. You’re in good shape, Jenny!MatthewMentioned in This Episode:Matthew Patrick SmythMatthew Patrick Smyth on InstagramThrough a Designer’s Eye: A Focus on Interiors on AmazonZillow Gone Wild on InstagramThe Schwartz House on InstagramChicology Roller Blinds
46 minutes | 8 days ago
Ep. 179: Picking Paint Colors with Fran Keenan Part II
Welcome back to Part 2 of “Picking Paint Colors” with interior designer Fran Keenan. If you missed Part 1, take a listen to episode 178. Today we talk all about exterior paint colors as well as a word we used a lot in Part 1—nuance! We also cover more of your FAQ’s all about paint including at what point in the design process to decide upon your paint color, how to make sure your bold wall doesn’t look cheap, and some expert tips in choosing specific paint brands and colors. What You’ll Hear on This Episode: Why picking an exterior paint color is a much bigger decision than interior Should you paint brick? How to choose front door colors Tips for choosing specific paint brands and colors What Fran loves about Farrow & Ball paints Fran breaks down her favorites within paint decks in several different brands Why paint should be the very last thing in your design What should trim color for white walls be? Can the front and back of interior doors be painted different colors? Should outlet covers be painted the same or different color? How to make sure a bold wall color doesn’t look cheap and/or depressing? What is Samplize? Paint ideas for coffered ceilings If you are doing DIY, should you use a roller, a brush or a spray? Mentioned in This Episode:Fran Keenan DesignFran Keenan on InstagramEp 178 Part 1
57 minutes | 15 days ago
Ep. 178: Picking Paint Colors with Fran Keenan
More than any other topic, we're constantly getting questions about paint -- how to pick it the right one? What are the best colors? Which finish to use? We're answering all of your questions with today's guest, interior designer Fran Keenan. We're big fans of Fran's work, and she was a guest on episode 83. She's always picking bold, saturated color in her design work, so we thought she'd be the perfect designer to chat with us about one of the trickiest elements of design, paint. In Part 1 of this two part series, we're talking about picking colors.What You'll Hear on This Episode: We talk about why paint she be the last thing you choose in a room Questions you should ask before you pick paint colors like, what is the narrative? Paint is the easiest thing to change Light is a huge factor in how your paint and your furnishings will appear in your room Picking paint when you have a new build Testing samples, how many to test and where to test them Why paint should be the answer to questions about the tempo and vibe of your room What it means for a paint to have 'age' Should all of your paint colors across your house look good together? We'll cover more paint FAQs and more in next week's episode We talk a lot about 'nuance' and what that means in paint Show Notes: Fran Keenan Design Ep. 83 with Fran Keenan
56 minutes | 22 days ago
Ep. 177: designer Debbie Mathews
Our guest today has been in the antique business for over 30 years. Debbie Mathews owns Nashville-based antique shop, Debbie Mathews Antiques and Design, and also created an interior design portion of the business in 2012. We talk all about Debbie’s love of antiques, why people shouldn’t be afraid to purchase them, and the best pieces to look for. Plus, Debbie weighs in on some Decorating Dilemmas about accent walls and mixing silver and gold!What You’ll Hear on This Episode: How Debbie got started in antiques and design in childhood and how it evolved. Why Debbie thinks people shouldn’t be “afraid” of antiques and how every room should have one. Tips for falling in love again with pieces you’ve had for a long time. Why Debbie is always on the hunt for a writing desk both for her shop and her clients. Debbie’s love of a Louis Philippe chest and mirrors. Which professionals to look for when restoring antiques. How to know when to leave an antique “as is”. Tips for feeling comfortable when buying an antique. Online sites for purchasing antiques. One of Debbie’s biggest goals is to make antiques more approachable. Decorating Dilemma(s) Hi Sheryl,First, I love accent walls! Nothing can quite transform a space like paint. Your focal point wall with the fireplace has too many different paint colors, and I definitely think you should paint the whole wall and cubbies one color. Leave the fireplace and the mantle as they are. I think it will make it more impactful and also more cohesive. This will also highlight that beautiful Oriental rug you’ve inherited. We all agree that we like the warm brown accent color so use that for the whole wall.We can’t wait to see it!Jamie,Absolutely I think you can mix this china with gold. One of the reasons I say this is because many of us, including myself, have china with a gold rim and we’re using silverware! Also, so many of the kitchens we are designing now have stainless steel appliances, but I’ll still use brass hardware and plumbing fixtures. I actually really like mixing metals, but I don’t like going beyond 2 metals. I don’t think there are any hard and fast rules in creating a tablescape, and I like mixing silver and gold. I think of it as creating a painting. When you have a white plate, you could start with a colorful tablecloth or placemat and think of the other layers as accents that work with your “painting”. I’m also okay with mixing patterns. I’m personally a big fan, especially as we struggle for normalcy in 2020, of using a family heirloom in my tablescape. You can also search for older pieces in antique shops or garage sales. Karen says go ahead and stick a salad plate in your bag and carry it around with you so you can layer it up with what you find and see how it looks and feels. She also thinks you can add some more gold accent pieces like these gold partridge salt and pepper shakers!Thank you, Jamie!Mentioned in This Episode:Debbie Mathews WebsiteDebbie Mathews on InstagramDebbie Mathews Antiques on InstagramDebbie Mathews on Chairish
47 minutes | a month ago
Ep. 178: designer Beth Kushnick
Our guest this week, Beth Kushnick, has decorated sets from some of your favorite films and TV shows including The Good Wife, Jumanji, and Anchorman 2 just to name a few. She joins the show to share what exactly a Set Decorator does, and how she started as an art lover in New York to compose visuals for the top sets in the entertainment industry. Beth also geeks out with us about lighting, picking the perfect colors, and her biggest pet peeve in set decoration. Beth also is the host of the podcast, Decorating the Set: From Hollywood To Your Home.What You’ll Hear on This Episode: The difference between decorating for a TV series versus in movies. How Beth started in theater with design and painting and got led to set design for movies and television. Why you should be on the lookout for the little “easter eggs” in movies and TV, a clever gift from the crew! How Beth designs perfectly for each character and makes the sets seem realistic to their personality. Why you won’t see black drywall screws anywhere near one of Beth’s sets! Artwork is so important to the set, and Beth explains how she finds appropriately themed artwork for each production. Beth explains the decisions on picking a color to make the actors look good and bring out their best features. The nuance of paint and why natural colors are so classic. Beth gets super jazzed about lighting and shares what she uses to honor the set design by using practicals for lighting. Decorating Dilemma Thank you so much for writing in! So, we think you have more space than you think you do. Beth agrees with you that the entry-way can turn into a small cabinet, and you could possibly move it back to create more storage space. This would then help you dress the window behind the cabinet, lending to you to some interesting color options. In this circumstance, the tape measurer will be your best friend, especially when it comes to depth. We would go as big as possible which could be your buffet, and you can add lamps and candles for some great lighting options. A funky chair facing the sofa to ground the sofa would be great.Mentioned in This Episode:@BethKushnickDecorating the Set from Hollywood to Your Home
59 minutes | a month ago
Ep. 175: designer Cath Kidston
Our guest today is known as the queen of print. Cath Kidston has a background in interior design and styling and started the brand, Cath Kidston, known for their vintage inspired prints and homewares. In 2017, Cath stepped down to start Joy of Print; a creative design studio that specializes in designing prints for interior design and fashion. She is also the author of A Place Called Home. We talk about joining the new and the old, the sentimental with the modern, and finding calm in color and patterns.What You’ll Hear on This Episode: While growing up in England, Cath started designing at an early age, studied fashion and design, then opened her own shop which grew into the Cath Kidston brand. Cath’s book reflects how all of us should think when moving into a new home, mixing some sentimental with modern elements. Cath’s goal in her home is to make it feel warm and relaxed; she loves using plants and flowers. How Cath is able to make strong colors work together without feeling too chaotic. Cath’s husband was a client; so, she eventually had to live in the bachelor pad she had designed! Moving is hard in terms of holding onto, letting go of, and finding new ways to use things we love. Why Cath is particularly fond of wallpaper and what here favorite types are. Cath doesn’t like clutter, so she finds ways to make small touches and “collections” in rooms. Cath has been finding hidden treasures at swap meets for years. The unique bathroom’s, and bathtubs, in Cath’s home. Procrastination can be a big, and expensive, mistake in design. How Cath was able to have a working, modern kitchen in such an old home. Plan for storage! It’s so important especially if you want to play with patterns and colors. Decorating Dilemma Jordan,I’ll start with the easier end; the desk should go on the far end away from the fireplace. I really like it in the middle of the room. Then while you’re working you could look towards the fireplace or even have someone sit opposite of you. Maybe under each of those windows you could build out window seats and put bookcases underneath the seats. For your father’s mirror, what about that area of the wall opposite that little niche? Just before you get to the dining room. If it’s a tight squeeze, you could even rotate and have it as a long mirror. A low table and a lamp would look really nice below it, as well. It would really open up the room when you first walk in. The couch could go on the wall to the right of the front door as you walk in. The couch could be L-shaped, but a short L. Or a section couch with a little foot stool. Put the TV over the fireplace. I wouldn’t do a rug in the middle but rather two rugs: one on the office end and then one on the fireplace end of the room. Behind the couch would also be a really nice place to hang some pictures and make it feel cozy. On the office side of things, you could have a big plant or a floor lamp or something that will make it less cluttered. Wall color will depend on what color the couch and the rugs are. Lastly, you could have a really cool feature chair in the corner in that gap near the fireplace.Take a look at the floorplan I’ve drawn up and be sure to send your pictures along!- CathMentioned in This Episode:Joy of Print on InstagramJoy of PrintA Place Called Home
55 minutes | a month ago
Ep. 174: designer Alyssa Rosenheck
Today’s episode features the multi-talented Alyssa Rosenheck. Alyssa is a renowned interior and architectural photographer, stylist, a cancer survivor, a lifestyle expert, and best-selling author of The New Southern Style. Alyssa shares her inspiring background and life pivots, and she encourages us all to tap into our creativity; whatever that means for us.What You’ll Hear on This Episode: Alyssa’s story; including growing up as one of the only Jewish families in OK, life pivots, cancer, and staying YES to herself. Alyssa left high stress corporate jobs and started helping build small businesses about 7 years ago. What is “The New Southern” movement and where was Alyssa when she came up with it? Alyssa describes what her new book The New Southern Style is; not just a picture book! Why rituals are so important and what some of our favorites are. What “living in the light” means to Alyssa. Alyssa shares some tips on how to counteract burnout with creativity. The different ways you can define “creativity”. Alyssa’s process for writing, and photographing, her book. How Alyssa does the job of two people both styling and photographing her shoots. Why you should be flowering your home with Israeli Ruscus. How Alyssa picked the people she would feature in her book. Alyssa’s book inspires and nurtures the idea that you can make a living being a creative. Mentioned in This Episode:Alyssa RosenheckAlyssa Rosenheck on InstagramThe New Southern StyleDecorating Dilemma Hi Cindy,I think this is a really great open space. I would love for it to all be one color and be light, bright, open and airy to reflect all the windows in the house. We all agree that statement walls need to be very intentional and think white walls with white trim in a different sheen will work wonders. I think this will be the biggest bang for your buck then you can bring in in textures and layered accessories within the same tonal family. Use art for pops of color. You can really change the meaning of this room by bringing the furniture in closer to the fireplace. Adding another chair and maybe a little card table would be good because this is a great room for people to gather. Add some more lamps with the plants on that table behind that long sofa, as well.I do like the bar area, but I almost want to see those top cabinets gone and do shelving above it instead. The important thing is to make this room more intimate.- AlyssaThe first thing I think you need to do is check out Lauren Liess; a designer in Washington, DC that specializes in this style house and uses an earthy, 7os color palette in a really modern way. The second thing is I think you really need to invest in your art collection. You have a lot of blank walls and I wouldn’t buy (or even make) anything under 40”. It doesn’t need to be expensive! I know you have a lot of windows, but 2-3 pieces above the TV, flanking the windows, above the bar or above the dresser could be great places. Think outside the box! I also with giant ceilings like this you could get some great, large light fixtures. I personally don’t hate the wood trim; you could try the wood trim but you’d need a professional help you out. We’re not sure about painting the brick around fireplace; start with painting the room one color first.Good luck, Cindy! We really like this room and its architecture and can’t wait to see what you do with it.- Caroline
65 minutes | 2 months ago
Ep. 173: designer Joyce Downing Pickens
Our guest this week is the founder of Los Angeles-based design firm JDP Interiors, Joyce Downing Pickens. She is the primary designer, and her work has been featured in the LA Times, Elle Décor, domino, and many more. We talk about her effortless design which features a California style mixed with a rustic English cottage look. Joyce gives us tips on bookcases and built-in stylings and other ways to make your space unique.What You’ll Hear on This Episode: Trials & Triumphs about over power washing a deck, hurricane debris, packing for a move and 4 days without power. Joyce has a varied style that is often a meld of her aesthetic mixed with her clients’ desires. How Joyce describes the California style; laid back, rustic textures, linens, etc. Joyce leans towards using a cream or a richer white rather than pure white to add depth. Joyce has a quirky loft in her home that she managed to turn into a cozy lounge/sleeping space. Ways to make a builder's home seem unique like trims, furniture and collectibles. Styling bookcases and built-ins are difficult but so important; Joyce shares some tips. What design changes Joyce has made, or wants to make, during the pandemic. The go-tos Joyce likes to use on projects (plants!) and when she entertains. When to use sconces vs. a table lamp. Joyce had a project in San Francisco with huge windows and few walls; how she designed for this. Finding a designer as you’re house shopping, or building, will save a lot of headaches. How Joyce was able to design with intention (and velvet) in another space with floor-to-ceiling windows. Mentioned In This Episode:Joyce Downing Pickens on InstagramJDP InteriorsDecorating Dilemma Hi Susan,The long skinny room is hard! The best thing you can do is what you’ve almost already done; break it up into two or three places. There is a lot going on, so try to think of those designated spaces and what you’d really like to achieve. Think of that center point as a place to have an entry center console table or an area with a daybed by the fireplace (see some examples from Jeremiah Brent and Nate Berkus). You could also use a bigger sofa in here; maybe on the left side that wraps in front of the window. Walking out of the kitchen area into two chairs could help break that up, but I understand wanting to be able to look out the window…this is not an easy room! Window treatments on the far left could really help warm up the room and finish it; think about them as the eyebrows to the room! I would do Roman shades on the double hung windows and either skip one on the sliding door or put a drape. Window treatments will overall give some height to this room. A standing tree or lamp could also help with height. I wouldn’t do a custom area rug for the whole room; use three rugs, that sort of tie together, to designate the different areas. Some vintage Turkish rugs that pair well together, but aren’t the same, I think would look great.We all agree that there are too many seating arrangements; you should really try for one big, focal seating arrangement. Maybe an L-shaped sofa with a chair; you could break up the “blockiness” by finding a chair with legs. Then you can have the chaise lounge in front of the fireplace. Then another seating area in the space you walk right out of. I even think you could make that a substantial dining area right by the kitchen instead of pushing the table into the corner; when you have guests over you can look out onto the water. The room is a little too piece-y now; I like to mix two different types of furniture but never more than that.One other thing you might want to consider is a floating desk; either where the table is now or in the kitchen nook. Both ways you can look out onto the sea.-JoyceThe Ballard Design Room Planner would be really helpful here! It’s a beautiful room! Please send us some photos and then invite us over for that wine!
76 minutes | 2 months ago
Ep. 172: designer Stefani Stein
This week our guest is Los Angeles-based interior designer Stefani Stein. Her work has been featured in Architectural Digest, Conde Nast House & Garden, Elle Decor, HGTV, House Beautiful, House & Home, and more. She was also named one of California Home + Design's 'Rising Stars' and has recently launched luxury wallpaper brand, August Abode. We talk about Stefani’s relaxed yet refined style, how California lifestyle affects her design, her love for an earthy palette and embracing imperfections.What You’ll Hear on This Episode: Trials & Triumphs about eroding light fixtures, basement updates, lighting trials and triumphs, budget solutions on flooring, storing gift wrap, falling branches, broken fountains, plants, bushes and trees…oh my! Regardless of the style, Stefani doesn't like clutter. She appreciates the negative space; as in having mindful or selective emptiness and leaving breathing room around items. Stefani took a risk and left her first, successful career to go to school for design. How to make rooms feel light & airy; mix traditional, clean lines and vintage, choose lighter fabrics, and avoid high gloss finishes. Stefani is influenced by the wabi-sabi philosophy; appreciating beauty that is imperfect and incomplete. How to work multiple wood finishes into a room; pay attention to the tones. Some tips and tricks on how to care for brass. Why Stefani prefers an earthly palette for its lasting power. A Cape Cod glam project where Stefani brought in elements she hadn’t ever used along with some cozy elements. How to compromise when one member of a couple has a very different vision than the other. Designing for the bungalow means packing function and beauty into a small space. It’s all about understanding the client’s lifestyle. Mentioned In This Episode:Stefani SteinStefani Stein on InstagramAugust AbodeAugust Abode on InstagramDecorating Dilemma Hi Caroline,From what I understand, the back countertop would stay but the island would change. What I would do to give this a more current feel is I would actually hone that back countertop. It would help the 90s granite feel more like a soapstone. I absolutely think you can have a different material on the island. I personally like a calacatta paonazzo because it’s a mostly white-beige background with warm veining. The cabinets are quite a bit of wood; my inclination is to keep the uppers wood and paint the lowers. The uppers should probably be bleached to be more modern, as well. Or you could paint all of it and do darker lowers and lighter uppers. I don’t think white cabinets are the way to go in this kitchen. If you want to keep them light, maybe do ivory. For the backsplash, I would go with a zellige. It has the imperfections in there and feels more current, plus it would go well with everything. I would maybe change the cabinet hardware to a matte black or an oil rubbed bronze. For the range; I agree with the one you chose. I like the simple, clean-lined hood. The part where it has wood on the bottom, you may even be able to use the remnants of your marble slab and tie it in here. When it comes to the pendant lights, you could get away with doing only two that are larger in scale. My personal preference would be a round table, but the oval still works if that’s your preference. I wouldn’t move the light from where it is, but you could swag it so that it’s centered over the table. Just use a chain instead of a chord as we think it looks better. What you have there now feels too light so I would recommend something heavier like the Remington. For the bar stools, we have a lot of suggestions like the Dayna, Allister, Dorchester, Adrian and Southport, but it’s hard to say for sure without knowing the paint color you choose for the lower cabinets. Make this decision last after you make all of the other choices. We think your instincts are spot on about what you should change.
65 minutes | 2 months ago
Ep. 171: architect Damian Samora
Our guest this episode is NYC-based architect Damian Samora. Damian studied at the University of Notre Dame and began his career in London before moving to New York and joining the esteemed architectural firm, Ferguson & Shamamian. Ferguson & Shamamian is on the AD100 and has been featured in all of the top design magazines. Damian has designed everything from rustic mountain retreats to historic apartment buildings to large family homes. We discuss why Damian and his firm always work in tandem with an interior designer, the challenges of working within the confines of NYC apartment structures, what to look for when hiring an architect and more.What You’ll Hear on This Episode: Ferguson & Shamamian have a deep-rooted philosophy in designing spaces with interior design at the forefront. NYC apartments are often limited in their structural changes. How Damian and his team confront those challenges to achieve the client’s vision. How Damian works with an interior designer to face challenges like finding sources of light even in tiny apartment hallways and combining two apartments into one. Familiarity is often how people choose their “warm” or comfort in their homes. While being at home more, people are more activity-focused. Things like pools, homework rooms, dual offices, etc., are becoming more popular. So are doors and walls! After living in London, Damian’s design was influenced by parts of the English style like respect for context and uniqueness. How furniture structure can evoke a feeling and affect a mood. Why soundproofing and hiring an acoustician can be so important to the function of your home yet is often overlooked. Damian’s tips on where to spend and save; depending on if it’s your forever home. When looking to hire an architect, Damian recommends finding the firm whose work you like then trusting their referral to the individual architect. It should also be treated as any other relationship. Damian gets most excited when clients want to design around their art collection. Are people still doing screens on their windows? Yes, but Damian recommends being selective and not placing screens on every window. Mentioned In This Episode:Ferguson & Shamamian#FergusonShamamian on InstagramDecorating DilemmaHi Kate,It’s going to be helpful to think about where your priorities are and then weigh it against what is most cost-effective. Your rangehood and your island carry the most weight in those spaces. So unless you are going to replace them, you have to work with them and not against them. In terms of light fixtures, we would shy away from matching them because they are doing different work. If you want to pull focus to the island, you could try a pot rack light fixture or something linear to give the kitchen some weight. For the breakfast room, we would definitely add a round table. We also like upholstery on the chairs to soften things up (Sunbrella or other performance fabric would be great with kids). Regarding the window treatments, you want them to be sort of “talking” to each other, and this is a great place to bring in some fabric. The backsplash is always hard and right now it’s grabbing too much attention. We would contemplate replacing the countertops to match the backsplash. We all agree that we like the color of your cabinets and painting it another color white won’t do much; the tile is the real problem. We also don’t think you need to paint the rooms; just balance the lighting and the window treatments. The island doesn’t necessarily need to change color either, but the stools should tie more to the value of color of the cabinets. Think of the breakfast room, the kitchen and the family room each as a node that pulls you inward to them. There’s a lot of great space here; don’t be down on yourself and give yourself some time.Good luck and please send us the after photos!
63 minutes | 2 months ago
Ep. 170: Nashville Week: Ray Booth
This is the last day of our Nashville Week! Our guest this episode has many layers. Ray Booth is a designer, architect, bestselling author of Evocative Interiors, partner at McALPINE Design and this year launches his inaugural furniture collection with Hickory Chair and his first accessory and lighting collection with Arteriors. We talk to him about the design of his multiple homes including a home that rose from the ashes; Travelers Ridge. We ask him about decorating the mundane spaces, his love of light and drapery, and how to know when we have overfilled a room.What You’ll Hear on This Episode: How Ray got his start with McALPINE and his journey from Alabama to NYC and back again. The backstory on Ray’s grand hilltop home, Travelers Ridge, in Nashville. He literally built the home from the ground up on the land of charred ruins. Ray shares how he makes use of the outdoor space using terraces and how he makes a 5200 sq ft home feel intimate using layers, texture, proportion, and scale. Ray likes to think of a home as a story using pauses and punctuation and uses things like screens, scrims, and curtains in the home to accomplish that. Ray likes to use lightweight and thin drapery in order to “activate” the windows in a room. Ray created “working pantries”, complete with a sink, as landing place for dishes and other things so the kitchen can remain the gathering place without having the messy stuff front and center. Round rugs get a bad wrap, but Ray thinks if you do them in a solid color it becomes a fun, graphic way to define a space. In terms of embracing or ignoring the style of a home, it’s important to listen and hear what the client is asking for. You want your design to have staying power, so we have to acknowledge where we are both location wise and architecturally. The design of Ray’s homes are heavily influenced by this. Ray hopes that people will seek more authenticity from their homes due to spending so much time in them during the pandemic. Our homes are such an extension of our inner selves. Ray considers light to be “magic elixir” and designs and builds to allow light into the home. Mentioned In This Episode:Ray Booth DesignRay Booth Design on Instagram“Evocative Interiors” – On AmazonTravelers RidgeDecorating Dilemma Hi Amelia,Great to hear from you again! Here’s what Ray has to say.Let’s start with the drapery. A lighter drapery is going to allow the light to come in. If you have to have the blackout option, I would look to a Roman shade instead of the heavy velvet. I would encourage you to not put the patterned fabric on the lampshades. Lamps are for light, so I like the crispness and the brightness of a white shade rather than a gathered fabric shade. If you are going to use that accent fabric, think of doing almost a king-sized pillow with it rather than chopping it into smaller pieces. Color wise, I think your walls are really the opportunity to bring some color into the room. This will contrast with the white lampshades and lighter drapery.Keep decorating and sending us your questions, Amelia!
50 minutes | 2 months ago
Ep. 169: Nashville Week: Rachel Halvorson
We are on Day 4 of Nashville Week! This episode we are thrilled to be joined by another Nashville-based designer, Rachel Halvorson, of Rachel Halvorson Designs. Rachel found big success at a young age gracing the cover of Garden & Gun and she’s also been featured in LUX, Traditional Home, Southern Living and Better Homes & Gardens. Her work is incredibly varied; from farmhouse to contemporary to mid-century modern (MCM). We talk about how her approach is unique across every project, yet she manages to keep a clean style. We also talk about her go-to elements, her love of lighting, and the highly controversial “bookcase bathtub” that we mentioned in our last episode with Stephanie Sabbe.What You’ll Hear on This Episode: Rachel found herself on the cover of Garden & Gun for her custom-designed porch swings. How Rachel makes a farmhouse, a very popular Nashville look, feel more authentic and elegant. Don’t rush the process! Designing your home is a journey. Rachel shares her approach to designing her own space. The highly controversial “bookcase bathtub” picture from out last episode with Stephanie Sabbe‘s was actually Rachel’s. How she came up with it and why she got hate mail on it. One of the most fascinating parts of design for Rachel is interpreting what people love and how they want to live, then incorporating that into her design. She likes people to think of their home as a time capsule. Bookshelves are a particular challenge for Rachel mostly because other people ask her to pick out their books! Are people actually reading books anymore or just decorating with them? “Tammywood” was an MCM project Rachel did for two members of the Little Big band. It was every bit as eclectic as her client; a kind of Hollywood glamour meets Bohemian. More than ever with people being at home, they want their homes to reflect them and their style. Rachel’s go-to elements are anything that has patina or is aged to give a house a sense of history. In terms of window treatments, she goes for lightweight to bring the outside in. Rachel likes to use texture, rather than additional pieces, to add layers and a statement to a room. Rachel is a fan of mismatching and adding in small vintage pieces to give a space character and make it feel “lived in”. Beds are the hardest part of her job; while room-planning and lighting are the easiest. Rachel uses things like sconces and lamps to create soft, flattering lighting; partially inspired by her grandmother. Mentioned In This Episode:Rachel Halvorson DesignsRachel Halvorson on InstagramDecorating Dilemma Hi Sarah,This is a very cute room! The first thing Rachel always does in a project is paint and lighting. We would pull the dark blue color from that rug (and push that rug under your sofa a bit!) and paint around the fireplace and even the built-ins in a semi-gloss. We would even consider painting the shutters that same color…even the trim! There is a lot of attention on the TV, so we would suggest buying a Samsung Frame. Then when it’s off, it acts as a piece of art. For the bookshelves? Go get more books! Old leather books from a used bookstore could be really nice. If there is an outlet by the bookshelves, little lamps on either side would be a great addition. How about those teeny lamps you already have on your acrylic table? Then add one single larger lamp on that table. Maybe add some floor lamps and some sconces on the panel wall. You do need more furniture. You could fit two chairs; stay away from matching chairs but two in a neutral fabric would be nice. Toss some throw pillows with maybe the same dark blue and/ or the red brick. A small chair by the fireplace would be very cozy and help round out the room. Another side table on the side of that sofa will also work. For window coverings definitely go for some lightweight or sheer curtains. If that’s a working fireplace, put some wood in it and use it. If not, some pretty birchwood or fireballs for a nice ambience.
55 minutes | 2 months ago
Ep. 168: Nashville Week: Julie Couch
This episode comes to you from Day 3 of Nashville Week! Our guest is Nashville-based interior designer and nonprofit art gallery owner Julie Couch. Her work has been featured in Country Living, Southern Home, domino and she was named one of Traditional Home’s Rising Stars. She was also on DIY Network’s Nashville Flipped. This busy lady sits down with us to talk about her many projects, her love of performance fabrics and textiles, staying accessible and how to jazz up the popular all-white look.What You’ll Hear on This Episode: Julie’s doesn’t have a particular style, but she likes to pull her client’s requests through her own filter. She particularly likes performance fabrics. Julie likes the motto, “If you feel like you have to impress somebody at your house, then you don’t need to invite them over.” And that design is evident in designing her own home. Having kids in the house doesn’t mean you can’t have nice things; Julie didn’t alter her home much when her daughter was born. Life is short—make your home beautiful! Even on a budget. Julie wants to take the intimidation out of the building and design process, so she is very transparent. What the best plan and biggest challenges are for all-white rooms; and how to make them unique. All about the spiral slide one of Julie’s clients wanted in her kids’ playroom. One thing Julie is seeing is clients being adventurous with their bathrooms, laundry and mud rooms. How to layer in textiles to make the light and white rooms feel more cozy. With more people at home, they are decorating and designing their spaces. Julie believes designing your home should be accessible; she has a blog with free advice and encourages people to think of design as an ongoing process. With so many clients finding Julie through social media, she has really embraced it as a tool. Why one of Julie’s biggest dislikes are rugs that are too small. More about Julie’s nonprofit art gallery, G Grace Gallery, that benefits chronically ill children. Julie’s tips on how to start and display an art collection. How Julie is able to bring back an old-fashioned classic, café panels, and make it feel modern. Mentioned In This Episode:Julie Couch InteriorsJulie Couch on InstagramJulie Couch on FacebookG Grace GalleryDecorating Dilemma Hi Lee,This room is adorable! We agree that the wallpaper would be so pretty and we would put it on every surface you can; walls, ceilings, everywhere. We would use a fun print but in a lighter color. For the window, a Roman shade mounted all the way up where it meets the ceiling will define the window but add a softness. Over in the niche, a little desk or vanity table would be really nice with a shaded sconce above it. Wired sconces on the angled ceiling would be great, as well. We love this room and can’t wait to see what you do with it!
59 minutes | 2 months ago
Ep. 167: Nashville Week: Stephanie Sabbe
Today’s episode comes to you from Nashville Week! We sit down with Stephanie Sabbe of Sabbe Interior Design. She started her career working in commercial and restaurant spaces and has transitioned to residential clients in her hometown of Nashville. We talk with Stephanie about how cozy her spaces make us feel, her love of traditional artwork, her favorite color palette and developing a flow to a room that feels personalized yet elevated!What You’ll Hear on This Episode: Stephanie specializes in cozy and comforting spaces. She approaches design from a livable way and often works with families. How Stephanie pairs her unique curation of traditional artwork with fresh colors and clean lines to create a more modern look. Stephanie tries to evoke motion as you move throughout a house; she wants a flow but for each room to feel like it’s a different space. If there is a space in your house you aren’t using, you need to design it better. Designing with kids in mind requires a great deal of practicality and thinking ahead. A lot of Stephanie’s style was inspired from her time living and working in historic Boston. Stephanie has an affinity for the autumn and earth tone color palette and often muted colors. Stephanie talks about her widely shared image of a bookcase behind a tub. Fun and personality are so important to Stephanie’s brand and her projects. Second to natural light, Stephanie thinks sconce lighting is the best lighting. Stephanie tried an old but new trick; painting the trim the same color as the wall. Tips on designing the “dog chair”. Mentioned In This Episode:Stephanie Sabbe on InstagramSabbe Interior DesignDecorating Dilemma Hi Julie!We love this sofa. As far as furniture layout, we would pull the two wingback chairs back closer to the fireplace and flank them on either side. If you use the storage below the glass shelving often, you could probably angle the chairs in a way so you can still have access. You could definitely add a second sofa; something smaller like a loveseat. Just be sure to consider back height and arm height on the sofa to make sure one doesn’t dwarf the other. Since you already have so many solids, we would try something fun like a bold pattern to make that second piece pop. We like the grey upholstery on the wingbacks and adding a patterned throw pillow. The shelves are hard because of their differences; we like your lamp idea. Another thing we would suggest is taking the art over the fireplace and replacing it with a mirror since you already have artwork over the sofa. You might also consider painting the space; definitely the ceiling coffers. We like creamy white for the whole room. The fireplace has a lot of elements going on and we think if the room were all the same color, it would unify it.__________________________________________________________________________How about a rug to ground the seating area? It’s not entirely clear from the pictures, but what if you centered the sofa with the fireplace? You may have to move the piano to the other wall because it feels a bit lopsided having everything on one side of the room. Stephanie agrees with moving the piano and then putting the bookcases behind the piano. Then centering the art and adding two side tables, two table lamps will make that wall feel more symmetrical. If you move the piano and wingback chairs, you have room to put additional chairs in there, as well, to accommodate all the people.You have a great space and a great start; especially for only 7 months living there! Keep us posted!
54 minutes | 2 months ago
Ep. 166: Nashville Week: Laura Thurman
In this week’s episode, we sit down with interior design expert Laura Thurman of Thurman Design Studio based in Nashville, Tennessee. We chat about how to handle bold, fall colors as well as having pieces of furniture in your living space that create a splash. We also discuss how to balance decor pieces that you may have picked up from different parts of the world with decor pieces that you already have.What You’ll Hear on This Episode:Laura’s take on the “modern” style and what it means to her.How important it is to educate clients on the design process, because most of the time, inspiration comes from education.How to not be afraid of bold, non-traditionally neutral colors and how to incorporate them into your fall decor.How Laura takes an outdated house and gives it a much more modern approach without tons of major renovations.How to utilize gallery walls in your space, and what goes into creating a good one!How your personality and interests should shine through when it comes to the design of your house, just like in Laura’s Cherokee Soul project.Design tips for when you have a bold-coloured piece of furniture.The importance of balancing new and older or collected decor pieces to keep a modern feel to your space.How to have a balance of scale and not have your space feel too cluttered while allowing your eyes to rest in certain areas.The three design elements that can spruce up a neutral color palette in a space.The importance of designing a fabulous powder room.How to decorate a foyer and give some advice on how to incorporate patterns, coffee tables, and faux plants!Mentioned In This Episode:Thurman Design StudioLaura Thurman on InstagramLaura Thurman on FacebookLaura Thurman on PinterestDecorating DilemmaLaura thinks you should paint the whole foyer! Because the walls are faceted, painting just one wall doesn’t seem practical, so go big or go home! When it comes to the rug, Laura thinks a big, round, patterned rug would be best because it would take up more floor space.You should also put the Wedgewood gray on the ceiling and stick to navy on the walls. Laura also doesn’t think the arches should be the same color as the foyer, especially if the arches are introducing a room that is a different color. For having two young kids, we’re all very impressed with how tidy your space is! Keep playing with some more patterns since your sofa and pillows are pretty solid, we recommend swapping out the solid pillows for some patterned ones. We also noticed you don’t have a coffee table and have two square ottomans instead, but we think a bigger, round ottoman would complement your space very well. You should also consider painting the mantle navy blue or a deep green! Some drapes in the dining area would help make everything look a little more cohesive. Some greenery or faux plants would also make your home feel more lived-in and can bring life to a space.
64 minutes | 3 months ago
Ep. 165: Peter Pennoyer & Alice Engel
Our special guests this week are renowned architect Peter Pennoyerand the Director of Interior Design of Peter Pennoyer Architects (PPA), Alice Engel. Their work has been featured in Architectural Digest, ELLE Decor, Veranda, Town & Country, and many more. We discuss their love of details and high craftsmanship; especially when they serve a function. We also hear about common mistakes they see from clients, favorite projects and what it’s like to have nearly 10,000 books!What You’ll Hear on This Episode: How to balance designing for the particular needs of a family while also designing a space that will last for decades or more. Craftsmanship is the key to longevity. Ornaments personalize a house and Peter believes it joins art with architecture. Alice and Peter both find delight in small design details that improve functionality. PPA’s approach is to work early in the process with a designer and always include the design in the architectural plans. When meeting with an architect, always have a wish list of how many rooms, and be candid about your lifestyle. Peter and Alice get real on the biggest mistakes they see from their clients. Peter opens up about realizing his dream when he designed his house in the Hudson Valley as a square villa. It’s easy to overdo your design scheme; Peter and Alice remind us that simplistic consistency is often the best approach. Different ways to bring in and enhance natural light in a house; including “borrowing light”. The impressive lengths Peter and Alice traveled in order to combine traditional and modern on a house in Ohio that was featured in Architectural Digest. Why PPA likes to connect to each artisan involved in the process and make it a collaborative process. How trends and perspectives on design and architecture have been influenced by the pandemic. PPA has an impressive library of nearly 1o,oo0 books that are central to the office both in design and as a resource. Why bright red is a color seen throughout PPA’s projects. Mentioned In This Episode: Peter Pennoyer Architects PPA on Instagram Ohio Home designed by PPA New York project with copper dome Find all of the show notes at ballarddesigns.com/podcast
75 minutes | 3 months ago
Ep. 164: designer Brigette Romanek
Our guest this episode, Brigette Romanek, is one of LA’s most sought-after designers. Brigette is the founder of Romanek Design Studio and has been featured in Architectural Digest’s “AD 100”, ELLE Decor, Vogue and more. With no formal training, Brigette relies heavily on her intuition and doesn’t believe there are hard rules when it comes to design. We discuss how her one-of-a-kind style is heavily influenced by her musical mother, her travels and her love of eclecticism.What You’ll Hear on This Episode: How Brigette went from having no formal training to designing Beyoncé’s home. Why it’s important to tune in to each individual client’s needs and “speak their language”. Brigette believes less is more (especially on windows!) and often strays from traditional design elements. What Brigette means when she says “livable luxe” and why she wants a home to feel functional yet uniquely yours. When designing a house, a room should be its own vignette but also fit together as a whole. Lighting is so important, yet difficult, to enhance the overall feeling of a space. Brigette likes to keep the original character of a building’s architecture and work with it instead of against it. Brigette’s clients run the gamut of completely hands-off to overseeing each step of the process; and she learns something new each time. What it was like working with Queen Bey! One of Brigette’s most challenging projects was working on a commercial project because everyone involved had different ideas. How Brigette gets away with including a wild card in each of her projects. Decorating Dilemma Brigette thinks you can break this up into two separate spaces that will serve as their own vignettes. You can put a rug down when you first walk in to immediately ground the space as well as some curtains to outline a seating area by the window. You could also have a cushion made to go on the bench you already have. As far as the rest of the room, using shelving or bookcases will make a decorative but intentional break in the space. In that middle space you’re not fond of, how about a beautiful table to place vase and even store your keys on? To store your winter clothes and other items, you do have that coat closet that protrudes. Let’s enhance that area and own it so you really love it! You could cover it with a fabric you love, you could paint it, you could change the hardware…play with it. A visit to the Container Store would help organize the inside of it.__________________________________________________________________________If we talk about using the things you already own, what if you took the bench you have and put it straight ahead when you walk in and then move the table where the bench is. And then just add Ballard’s double boot tray either right when you walk in or tuck on the backside of the closet. Maybe add hooks above it too? – KarenAnd don’t forget to use those high ceilings for some fun lighting!Mentioned In This Episode: Romanek Design Studio Romanek Design on Instagram Ballard Designs Find the show notes for this episode at ballarddesigns.com/podcast.
36 minutes | 3 months ago
Bonus Episode: What We've Learned & Our 4th Anniversary
Today’s bonus episode marks four years since we started the How to Decorate podcast! We talk about our favorite takeaways, tips and tools learned over the years. We are so grateful for all of our wonderful listeners and the amazing guests we’ve had and look forward to way more fun ahead. Listen in for some of our takeaways about treating your room as a vignette, why we aren’t mad at brown furniture, and a little more of the personal ways we’ve grown and changed throughout the past four years.What You’ll Hear on This Episode: Your house should be the most glamorous version of yourself. One of the biggest takeaways we’ve learned is there is no “right” or “wrong” when it comes to design. Brown furniture was an unexpected key player to emerge. Tone value is such an important learning tool to apply across the board. Treating the rooms as vignettes is a simple and manageable way to break up a project. One of the easiest and most instant ways to change it up? Paint! The personal changes we’ve all been through since we started the podcast. Having a plan before you begin helps you reach your full vision and less like you’re never finished. How much energy is saved using LED lights vs. traditional lightbulbs and all the other things we’ve learned about lighting. “The Cantaloupe Rule”—no accessories smaller than a cantaloupe! Performance fabrics will save you many headaches in the long run. The important relationship between designer and architect. You should respect and decorate specific to house style while finding ways to infuse other elements. The relationship between a designer and a client is so personal. We’ve learned how important measuring is. Or have we? Use our room planner tool! Contrast brings a space to life; textures, finishes, colors, styles, shapes, etc. How your wardrobe and personal style can be a reflection of your design style. We can admire a someone else’s style or approach while not adopting it for ourselves; but there are ways to take elements and apply them towards our own design. Really study how you live to see if your home is (still) working for you. You don’t have to buy everything for your room all at once; especially expensive items. Mentioned In This Episode:Ballard DesignsFind all of the show notes at Ballarddesigns.com/podcast.
62 minutes | 3 months ago
Ep. 163: designer Breegan Jane
In this episode, we sit down with the multi-talented Breegan Jane. She is an LA-based designer, entrepreneur, lifestyle blogger, TV personality, children’s book author, and mother. She’s been featured on HGTV, the Hallmark Channel, and more. We talk with Breegan about using design as a way to keep some order and cleanliness in the house, tips that we can learn from a 23-bathroom house, and how to keep things fresh and new using what we already have while at home with our family.What You’ll Hear on This Episode: How Breegan’s impressive and diverse resume has helped to shape her design style and visual expression. What exactly designing a 23-bathroom house entails. What kind of tips designers learn from their clients that they use for their own homes. How Breegan uses design to keep order and cleanliness with two young sons in the house. Why Breegan insists her 4 and 6-year-old share a bedroom (at least for now). How you can transition spaces, especially as we are at home more, without buying all new things. The opportunities and challenges Breegan has faced while working on HGTV’s Extreme Makeover and how she balances work and motherhood. Breegan talks about her go-to elements for glamour and what she calls “modern approachable luxury” including mixing textures. In our Decorating Dilemma, we dive deep into modernizing a space with color tones and having faith in the changes your designers suggest. Mentioned In This Episode:Breegan JaneBreegan on InstagramBreegan on FacebookBreegan on TwitterHGTVExtreme Makeover: Home EditionDecorating Dilemma Breegan thinks you know your biggest problem; you just have to be willing to fix it! The color tone in that wood is really dating the space. If you were to paint or stain over those cabinets in white, put two new pendants lights over the kitchen island and add a rug with some color in that space—you would be done! If you (or your husband) are not willing to part with the wood aesthetic, you could paint the kitchen white and try to ebonize the wood with a dark stain. Any color that gets you away from the yellow tone in the wood is really going to modernize it; you could do white, grey, brown or black. You already have a great, neutral style in your home and then you can accent it with any color you want; maybe even some fun bold-patterned drapery. There’s no getting around that dated tone, unfortunately, but you have a beautiful space with wonderful natural light! It may be labor-intensive, but you could do this yourself and it’s not very expensive. In terms of the backsplash? Leave it! You don’t need it and then you can put that money into the other things we recommended. Please report back, Megan!__________________________________________________________________________To sort of play devil’s advocate, Caroline thinks you could start by painting the doors, trim and fireplace while leaving the kitchen alone. Breaking up the uniformity of the space will help it look less dated. If you start small, you can get your husband on board with bigger changes.
68 minutes | 3 months ago
Ep. 162: designer Sara Barney
This week we were pleased to speak with Sara Barney—founder and principal designer of the Austin-based firm BANDD DESIGN. Sara is an Austin native who spent the first 10 years of her career in California in the sports and entertainment industries. Now back on her home turf, she’s taking the design world by storm. Sara was named one of Fortune Magazine‘s Most Powerful Women, one of Austin Monthly‘s Women to Watch, and is a member of the American Society of Interior Designers and the Female Founder Collective.What You’ll Hear on This Episode: Much of Sara’s style draws from her varied professional background and from living in California. Sara decided shortly after having her 2 daughters that she wanted to switch careers and try her hand at design. She took a 1 year online program and her business was booming before she even finished. We talk about Sara’s approach to styling shelves and her love/hate relationship with floating shelves. Solids work well for large elements and Sara ties in textures, layers and patterns with smaller pieces. Sara loves taking risks with wallpaper and shares some of her favorite sources. The all-white kitchen is a big trend, but Sara prefers playing with colors in the kitchen. Sara works a lot with young families and gives tips on where she recommends investing in more sturdy, stain-resistant pieces. 3D printed houses are here; and Sara explains how it works and how she got to design one. What are two of the things everyone is asking Sara for? (matte black fixtures and modern farmhouse) With people spending more time at home due to COVID, Sara talks about how design requests have been influenced. Sara talks about best home office solutions and how to make the space not look so “corporate”. We talk about Sara’s love of and use of deep teal and integrating functional items to fit within the design. Why one of Sara’s phrases is, “No Schluter ever!”
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