How to Decorate

We want to teach you how to decorate! We'll help you unleash your inner decorator with interviews from interior designers, sharing the trials and triumphs from our own homes, and answering your burning decorating questions. Brought to you from the Ballard Designs team.
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How to Decorate





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Mar 19, 2019

Interior Designer Kate Singer joins the show to talk about her experiences with showhome designs, what she loves to mix to keep classic and traditional design style fresh, creating a sanctuary no matter where you are, and why loving colors (and neutrals!) may be something woven into our DNA.

What You’ll Hear on This Episode:

  • The inspiration behind the 2016 Hampton Designer Showhouse, one of our most pinned showhouse rooms ever.

  • Why Kate believes it’s all about mixing the old, new and making things feel curated and layered.

  • The cornflower blue color that surprised her (in a good way!).

  • The give and take and collaboration between other designers in a showhome.

  • How she got started in the business, and the inspiration her grandmother Marie gave to her for style and design.

  • You don’t have to wait until you have a beautiful dream home, you can create a space that reflects your taste and style wherever you are.

  • Some good starting tips for people just starting to decorate their home, starting with the sofa.

  • Kate’s love of mixing the old and new at different price levels for a classic yet updated feel.

  • Why Kate loves old art and thinks it is one of the most important accessories to create a great look without spending a lot of money.

  • Why Kate stays neutral on rugs and the bigger pieces of furniture and goes for bolder colors in accessories.

  • How we can use pretty brown wood pieces while still keeping it light and airy.

  • Creative ways to camouflage a television in a room.

  • The colors Kate likes to pair with blue, and the shades of blue she prefers to work with most.

Mentioned In This Episode:

2016 Hampton Designer Showhouse

Kate Singer Home


Kate Singer Home Facebook

Mar 12, 2019

This week we talk to the ladies of Pappas Miron, Tatyana and Alexandra, childhood friends and designers that have worked together since 2003. They talk with us about their contemporary and warm styles that mix together to create timeless and comfortable spaces.

What You’ll Hear on This Episode:

  • More about Tatyana and Alexandra’s updated traditional and modern eclectic style.

  • Where their love of contemporary furniture comes from.

  • How someone that loves a contemporary space can inject more warmth into their space.

  • The challenges they are solving on a regular basis regarding weird layouts and smaller spaces in New York.

  • Their creative use of closets, bins, and blanket boxes to provide even more storage for those with children.

  • The way they encourage their clients to incorporate their warm personal style.

  • What their individual homes look like, and how they each use texture and mood.

  • Dark doesn’t always have to be sad and depressing.

  • Tatyana and Alexandra’s advice for going over the top in a great way with pattern.

  • The reason they favor curvilinear furniture pieces in their rooms.

  • Their use of deep rich jewel tone colors for accents, and why we shouldn’t be afraid to embrace the dark.

  • What really goes into upholstering a room.

  • The favorite rooms they have ever done!

  • The upsides of having a partner in design, and yes they do consult each other in their own personal projects.

Mar 5, 2019

This week, we have mother-daughter design duo Ann and Elizabeth Pyne from McMillen Interior Design and Decoration, the oldest interior design firm in the country. They share why we should be fearless in design, the idea behind each room having a thesis, and a glimpse into what it is like to work as a mother-daughter dynamic. They also tell us about the three most important things to think about design wise when purchasing or renting a place, and rules for decorating with an infant.

What You’ll Hear on This Episode:

  • Why we should be fearless and courageous in our career paths.

  • An example of what they mean by each room having a thesis.

  • The differences in Ann and Elizabeth’s design style, and how they complement each other’s range of style to create a fantastic finished product.

  • You have to deal with the space first, and the client second.

  • What elements are classic and won’t go out of style, and what Ann and Elizabeth have seen stand the test of time.

  • Their own individual spaces, and Ann’s description of her 8 totally separate rooms.

  • McMillen’s reign of over 90 years as a trusted and established interior design firm.

  • Why we shouldn’t be intimidated by auctions, and how to navigate them in a confident manner.

  • The give and take Ann and Elizabeth have with their clients and artwork, and how they plan for new and fresh art ideas in a space.

  • The three most important qualities of any place to live: light, proportions and layout.

  • You do not have to have expensive things to make your place beautiful, and the Stark rug that changed it all for Ann.

  • Why we shouldn’t discount the unifying power of a beautiful rug, and some powerful “rug rules” in design.

  • Decorating with an infant - it can be done!

  • The classic approaches to design, and why we should invest in pieces that stand the test of time.

  • How to keep up with the evolution of lighting.

Feb 26, 2019

Renowned interior designer Alexa Hampton has done it all — TV, books, magazines, you name it and Alexa has been featured there. Today, she joins the show to talk about growing up with her  designer father Mark Hampton, the inspiration behind her two books, Decorating in Detail and Language of Interior Design, her recent travels for an upcoming furniture collection, and why there is no room for snobbery in design.

What You’ll Hear on This Episode:

  • What has been Alexa’s biggest challenges over the many different collections she has created and titles she juggles.

  • Alexa’s habit of drawing on a photograph as a low tech and practical way that gave her a “Eureka” moment.

  • Her father’s designation between a decorator and a designer.

  • People may not realize how much they really can put in a room.

  • Alexa’s self-described “rookie mistake” when redoing her bedroom, and the lesson learned in bouncing back after a misstep.

  • More about Alexa’s trips to Vietnam to check out prototypes for her new furniture collection, and going to Ireland with a group from the Institute of Classical Architecture and Art.

  • How publishing books in the world of decorating is more different than it has ever been.

  • The point of views from her books The Language of Interior Design and Decorating in Detail.

  • Design is no place for snobbery, and there is always more to learn, discover and see.

  • How the fee can grow, but the markup will be scrutinized.

  • The balance between having a trademark look, and being open to adapting based on the client’s needs.

Feb 19, 2019

This week on the show, we've got design duo Anne Maxwell Foster and Suysel dePedro Cunningham of the design firm Tilton Fenwick. This pattern powerhouse is known for mixing prints and the bold color palettes they work into their clients' homes. In addition to their wallpaper and fabric lines, they're moms, masters of collaboration, and big Ballard fans! 

What You'll Hear on the Show:

  • Why their partnership makes their designs stronger
  • How Anne and Suysel met and what sparked their initial creative projects
  • We talk about their fabric collections for Duralee and what inspires their prints
  • Anne and Suysel tell us about their most recent Duralee collection, inspired by a trip to Portugal
  • We talk about the design process of their patterns
  • Why surprising color palettes are their favorite way to refresh vintage prints
  • Why using a textile collection book can help you if you're intimidated by the volume of fabrics at a design center
  • How they mix patterns together and why fabrics are a great place to start
  • We talk about their own homes and how often they're changing things around
  • What they learned about their fabric collections and how it changed the direction of their second collection
  • The most expensive fabric they've ever used in a project and why they try to keep fabrics 
Feb 12, 2019

Interior designer Jenny Wolf  draws from her clients' personalities when designing a space, and we love the way her spaces feel organic and collected. On the show, we talk editing, collecting, Jenny's new shop, and how to work with a designer on a budget.

What You'll Hear on This Show:

  • We talk editing and how important it is to your home -- just like in your closet
  • Why Jenny thinks it's important to be honest with her clients about the pieces they already have
  • How her two girls affect her decorating style
  • Jenny tells us about her latest project -- a store in Pound Ridge, New York
  • What we can expect in her new store and why the project has been serendipitous 
  • We talk about decorating her girls' rooms
Feb 5, 2019

As the host of the podcast A Well-Designed Business, LuAnn Nigara is a wealth of knowledge about the business of running and interior design studio, so we wanted to share that valuable information with you! LuAnn is passionate about entrepreneurship and coaching interior designers through the challenges of running their own business. If you're an interior designer with your own shop, this is the episode for you!

What You'll Hear on This Show:

  • What led LuAnn to starting her podcast, A Well-Designed Business
  • What separates the most successful interior designers from the rest of the pack
  • Pillars of running a successful interior design business
  • We talk about systems and why you should iron them out
  • We talk about billing and the challenges of explaining your fee structure
Jan 29, 2019

We kick off today’s episode with some talk about our favorite Super Bowl hosting tips, tricks, and recipes. Then, we are joined by the incredible architect Gil Schafer. Gil shares his love of embracing tradition and memory, why we should pursue our ideas with rigor and clarity, and the importance of moving past our comfort zone. We also talk with Gil about simple design using beautiful materials, collaboration, his work with Miles Redd, and how he makes new places feel as though they have a history.

What You’ll Hear on This Episode:

  • What we are doing for the Super Bowl, along with some delicious snacks that may be created. Warning: potato bar and homemade guacamole discussion may cause hunger.

  • Gil’s description of what it is like to be both an architect and an interior designer on some projects, and his love of collaboration.

  • Why even the most seasoned and famed industry professionals should continue investing in their education and broadening their horizons.

  • More about Gil’s books: A Place to Call Home and The Great American House.

  • A little lesson on how to look at a renovation project through the eyes of an expert.

  • More about his work with the great Miles Redd, a total rock star designer, and how they complement each other perfectly.

  • Why we can learn something when we venture out of our comfort zone instead of staying within the confines of what we like.

  • His renovation of a summer camp home in Mill Valley, CA with designer Rita Konig, and how they kept the feel of an old house even though it was completely rebuilt.

  • What types of things signal a sense of being added over time in architecture, and why “perfect” isn’t always the goal.

  • Why bigger isn’t always better when it comes to architecture.

  • The importance of continuity, order, and clarity in creating a project that makes sense, and Gil’s personal pet peeves in architecture. (yes, Gil is a Virgo).

  • Ways to spruce up old lighting fixtures and improve the quality of lighting.

  • Ways to mix modernism and traditionalism in the same space.

  • The different feels of Gil’s homes in Hudson Valley and Maine.


Jan 22, 2019

Nicki Clendening is known for her eclectic style and ability to incorporate vintage and thrift store treasures into her design projects. Today, she talks about how to weave in old with the new, what she looks for when shopping at flea markets and antique stores, the opening of her design studio Scout Design and online store Beetle, and why blue painters tape should be your best friend. We will also hear some Trials and Triumphs, and get Nicki’s feedback on how to bring a small space together.

What You’ll Hear on This Episode:

  • Trials and triumphs including new cookbooks, missing plants, cool performance rugs and more

  • How Nicki’s dreams progressed from being Indiana Jones to working and living in New York, making money doing exactly what she loves to do

  • What shopping for a client looks like, and if Nicki has ever had buyers remorse

  • More about Nicki’s design studio, Scout Design

  • Where she likes to go to shop for both herself and Beetle, and how she finds one of a kind pieces to add to her collection

  • The inspiration her mom had on her in terms of art, creativity and fashion and her family’s love of global travel and collecting special items from all around the world

  • Her top picks for flea markets, and the importance of building great relationships with vendors

  • Functionality is key, along with using the space appropriately based on what your typical activities are (entertaining, reading, pets, etc)

  • How she came up with her online store, Beetle, and curates what is on the site

  • A glimpse into her own apartment, right at the top of Central Park

  • Why we shouldn’t be afraid to paint the ceiling

  • All about the mix of new and old, whether you own your home or you are renting

Jan 15, 2019

Brian McCarthy is an A-List designer with experience on projects all over the globe. His design projects are clean yet bold, traditional and contemporary with a fantastic eye for picking incredibly gorgeous art. Today, he shares how to create compositions that embrace the bespoke nature of the project, how we can shop for art on a budget, and what to consider when designing a boat. Brian is also the author of Luminous Interiors and Parish-Hadley Tree of Life, which he co-authored with Bunny Williams.

What You’ll Hear on This Episode:

  • Taryn’s trial which includes Atlanta’s shocking ratistic (rat statistic) and how she and her husband are working to solve it

  • Caroline’s trial when breaking down her beautiful Christmas tree, leading to possibly the biggest LED light knot, mess and spilled paste mixture in history

  • Karen’s trial (but she owns being a 60%’er at least) of upholstering the doors in her guest bedroom. However, she made up for it with the best Christmas gift ever to her husband thanks to artist Lacy Freeman

  • How the idea for Parish-Hadley: Tree of Life came about, which lead to him first writing Luminous Interiors

  • How he handles clients that “ghost” him, and the reasons why he would possibly turn potential clients down

  • How Brian’s design creates a joyful scrapbook in people’s lives, to cover the beauty and art that makes up their personal lives

  • How working with Parish-Hadley informed the unique way he lays out a room

  • Brian’s tips for creating a composition that works, including why you should never leave home without a folding ruler

  • The glamorous makeover Brian gave to a storied New York apartment, and his tips to deviating from the expected path of design

  • How we can shop for art on a budget, and where Brian finds art for his clients

  • How designing for a yacht differs from designing for a home

  • The importance of finding a mentor when developing an understanding of cost, and honing in on what art and pieces speak to you

  • Simple easy ways to refresh your space and continue with maintenance that won’t break the bank


Jan 8, 2019

This week, we are five peas in a podcast with besties and designers Carson Kressley and Thom Filicia. These hilarious gentlemen talk to us about how they met at the gym and eventually became members of the smash show Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, and a sneak peek into their new show Get a Room on Bravo. They also talk about why bad taste is better than no taste, their love of using design to tell a story, and how authenticity is the number one design trend in modern day culture.

What You’ll Hear on This Episode:

  • The hilarious story on how Thom and Carson met at the gym

  • How they auditioned and got picked for Queer Eye, and went on to bond filming over 100 episodes together

  • Their mutual love for taking on both large budget “dream” projects, and more small affordable DIY’s

  • The impressive knowledge that there is a difference between draperies and curtains

  • Thom and Carson’s tips to make a big impact with small places and smaller things

  • Why we shouldn’t be afraid to mix brands and prices in design, the same way we do with fashion

  • More about anchor pieces in each room, and why it’s crucial to invest in at least these items

  • What makes their design show Get a Room unique, and how the show was developed

  • Carson and Thom’s mission when working with people: to tell their story and bring it out in a beautiful way, and be serious about design while not taking themselves (or life) too seriously

  • Why your kitchen may be your new living room

Jan 1, 2019

On the first day of the year, we thought it apropos to talk about 2019 color trends, so of course, we went straight to the source - Benjamin Moore's Ellen O'Neill. As the Director of Strategic Design Intelligence, Ellen and her team pick the color of the year. Naturally we had to get the lowdown on how the color is picked, why they chose this year's color, how paint is named, and many more of your top paint and color questions.

What You'll Hear on This Episode:

  • Ellen talks through how they pick the color of the year, including what she calls 'color embeds' or when her first hints of what trending colors are
  • What type of influences there are in picking the color of the year
  • Ellen's 'personal palette' and why she is drawn to it
  • We talk about this year's Color of the Year -- Metropolitan AF-690
  • What makes Metropolitan special, why it's the color of the year, and why we should love this hue
  • Color naming -- how the name of a paint color factors into whether it becomes the color of the year, as well as the complications of naming colors in general
  • What is a 'chip pull' and how it changes once the color of the year is announced
  • What the word 'metamaric' means and why that makes matching colors tricky
  • Why Benjamin Moore hasn't added any new colors in a number of years
  • Whether you'll get the same quality and color of paint if you have another paint company color match a Benjamin Moore color
  • Ellen shares with us the top 10 grays in Benjamin Moore's catalog
  • The secrecy involved in the Color of Year
  • We talk about the timeline -- when they pick the next year's Color of the Year
  • Ellen's background and how one starts to work in color
  • How to get started picking a paint color for your space
Dec 25, 2018

Over the course of writing her nine design books, author and design expert Susanna Salk has learned a thing or two about decorating. Today, she joins us to share her journey in becoming a bestselling Design Author, stylist, and host of the Quintessence design series, and (our favorite) Ballard partner. She talks about why it’s fun to be fearless, her new book The Power of Pattern, how to mix and choose combinations that work, ways to use wallpaper and store photos, and how to know when you’ve gone too far.

What You'll Hear on This Episode:

  • How our partnership with Susanna came about organically.
  • How one can mix patterns and choose colors fearlessly.
  • The inspiration behind her new book, The Power of Pattern, and why every pattern featured up close and personal is one that Susanna personally loves.
  • The rules of patterns, and where someone can start if it’s a new concept.
  • Photo storage solutions including having a section in your home to display them, keeping them in an ottoman, and creating an online nostalgia folder.
  • Susanna’s recommendation on what we should display on our mantles.
  • The obsession / labor of love project that Susanna’s husband welcomed in renovating their barn.
  • Yes, you can have a rug in your bathroom!
  • Pattern doesn’t have to be a print, it can also be a texture.
  • Why wallpaper may be your solution for weird ceiling shapes and difficult rooms.
  • How Susanna picks topics for her design series Quintessence.
  • How it came about for Susanna and Stacey Bewkes to create the Quintessence video series, and some of the highlights of their already amazing filming locations.
  • Tip: edit out and only keep what you are in love with.
  • If all else fails - no ugly spoon holders!
  • Susanna’s jewelry and closet rule - if you can’t fit what you have, something must go.
  • Use pictures to guide you and remind you of what you love.
Dec 18, 2018

Lifestyle entrepreneur India joins the podcast to talk about her new book, A Slice of England, in which chronicles the process of decorating her home in England, as well as her other family homes. On the show, we talk about her upbringing into design royalty with iconic designer David Hicks as her father, what being an author, model and entrepreneur has taught her, amazing ways we can decorate without spending a lot of money and her new business model that empowers women.

What You’ll Hear on This Episode:

  • A firsthand look at India’s upbringing with her father, iconic designer David Hicks, along with some fun American culture references of his work
  • India’s love of storytelling within her brand, books and decor
  • Why India believes that good taste and design are by no means dependent on money
  • Why she prefers an inclusive and accessible style in design, especially for those of us with families and pets
  • More about India’s home in Harbour Island, and their intention to take it back in time to the 18th Century
  • The true story that India and her partner David really had only one argument when designing their American Farmhouse
  • How India works antiques into her home, and expert ways to not be intimidated when mixing traditional and contemporary
  • What makes India’s new home collection so near and dear to her heart
  • How India’s company is giving women a chance to become ambassadors and work on their own time with a network of other amazing women
  • The sunscreen that India swears by
  • What room is most special to India
  • How to keep a coastal home from being cliche
  • The inspiration behind her book, A Slice of England
Dec 11, 2018

Today we welcome Andrew Cogar, architect for Historical Concepts, and interior designer Kristin Kong! We talk to them about designing and building from the ground up, the balance of architecture and design together and the way the two fields complement each other, what to know when finding an architect or interior designer to work on your home, and some smart tips to help navigate this major investment.

What You’ll Hear on This Episode:

  • Taryn’s trial in the eyeglass world, and her triumph in seeing the comedian Celeste Barber live.

  • Yes, you can have Prosecco on tap at your office too.

  • The ongoing saga of Karen’s basement and her husband’s dream bar.

  • Caroline’s Christmas Tree trials and triumph, and how to correctly flock your tree to give it that beautiful snow misted look.

  • How the recession changed the relationship between architects and designers.

  • The ways architects and designers inspire and complement each other.

  • What Andrew and his team look for in renovations at Historical Concepts, and why one of their core values is to be “appropriate”.

  • How Andrew helps steer and educate clients in the direction of quality, skill and proportion.

  • Why seeing is believing holds true for what both Andrew and Kristin do.

  • Andrew and Kristin’s expert tips to add an interior designer early on in the project.

  • The importance of communication and trust in the process of both renovation and design.

  • Why the challenges that arise between architects and designers can actually be an opening for better dialog and a stronger partnership.

  • Personal stories from both Kristin and Andrew on some of the projects they are most proud of.

  • How both Andrew and Kristin weave in trends but still keep the integrity and lifestyle needs of the project.

  • Why it’s important to have a master plan, no matter how small the project is.

Dec 4, 2018

Today we welcome Chip and Pauli Wade! You probably know Chip from the hundreds of episodes from the 14 shows he has been on during his impressive 12 year (and climbing) TV career so far. At just over 1,500 renovations in the past 12 years, he is always learning and pushing the envelope and loves seeing projects go from start to finish. We talk about Chip and Pauli’s partnership in all things work and personal life, how to discern between entertainment and real life renovation, how to plan and invest in design and decor correctly, and when we should embark on a DIY project vs. outsource to a professional, and how he is changing the dynamic of how the digital purchasing experience for both individuals and brands.

What You'll Hear on This Episode:

  • The way Chip fell into TV, starting out previously as a structural engineer.
  • Real life in the fast paced crazy environment twist of Chip’s shows, including over 1,500 renovations in the past 12 years.
  • How Chip and Pauli met, fell in love and became partners and cheerleaders for each other both in romantic and business life.
  • What Chip feels is the most challenging in decorating and design, and despite what you think, it's not making things look good!
  • Who makes up all of Chip and Pauli's team, and why each and every role is pivotal to help homeowners make all the right choices along the way.
  • The biggest problems of e-commerce and online retail when it comes to curated confidence.
  • Why something functioning correctly in a room or house is more important than having it just because it was featured on TV or the front page of an editorial spread.
  • >The type of approach Chip uses when working with first time and potential clients to craft a concept of what is most suitable for their needs.
  • Why most of us are doing master bedroom design completely wrong, and how we can remedy it.
  • Little tweaks in our storage, layout, and function that can save us thousands of dollars and square footage of space.
  • Chips love of multipurpose function.
  • Some DIY projects that have spiraled out of control, both from us and Chip and Pauli.
  • As much as he (and we) love DIY, we hear Chip’s top recommendations on when to outsource to a professional.
  • Chip's new multipurpose and multifunctional furniture line, Xtraroom.


Nov 20, 2018

Design superstar and podcast fan favorite Bunny Williams joins us to talk about her new studio and creative getaway, her new upholstery collection, how to change a room with a simple few statement pieces, and a whole Living Room 101 lesson.

What You'll Hear on This Episode:

  • Bunny's new office that is adjacent to her home and how she converted a four bedroom house into one giant room with a beautiful view
  • A glimpse into her busy New York office and how she finds time and space to get inspired
  • Her new book “Affairs with Other Houses” due in the spring
  • How Bunny Williams Home started 10 years ago, built out of a need for certain products for Bunny’s design projects and how it grew into upholstery, lighting and accessories
  • The optimum size and height of a drink table and why no guest should ever be without a place to set their drinks
  • The addition of modern fixtures in a traditional home and the ability to mix contemporary with antique
  • Bunny’s tips for organizing things by groups to create an interesting statement
  • Break up the finishes, textures and colors so each piece stands out on it’s own
  • How to know what brown furniture to keep as is and which to paint
  • Why pieces should move around throughout the house over time, even as your tastes change
  • Why we should invest in wonderful furniture pieces as a lifetime purchase
  • Why the furniture has to fit the scale and proportions of the room it is going in, so you may want to opt for the 7 foot couch vs the 9 foot couch
  • Her new upholstery collection, including a scallop backed sofa, chairs and casegoods
  • The origin of the name of 'slipper chairs'
  • Raffia as a great way to provide a clean and streamlined texture to a room
  • Lighting options including standing lamps, and lighting fixtures on an end table
  • Why your collection of items should be personal to you and not something you have someone else purchase just to fill the room
  • How studying magazines will give you the confidence to make decisions in your own home
Oct 30, 2018

Today, Bradley Odom joins in to share his background in retail and interior design, the inspiration for his iconic store Dixon Rye, and how he is shaking up the home styling industry. He also discusses the mix of raw and refined, the importance of scale and ways we can make our space well curated and uniquely personal.

What You’ll Hear on This Episode:

  • Bradley’s background in retail and interior design and home stylist work.

  • How brick and mortar stores are still very much alive and important and require smart and educated decisions on what’s going where for particular seasons.

  • How we can understand scale, and what scales work for a particular space.

  • The mixing and editing of materials to keep the9 ebb and flow of old and new.

  • Bradley’s time at The Savannah College of Art and Design, and the challenges of obtaining a degree while working a busy full-time job.

  • His love for Atlanta’s artisan community, and why he chose Atlanta over any other possible locations.

  • The life cycle of products and the importance of good quality.

  • The most important things to invest in, and what items should be hand me down pieces.

  • Why Bradley may not believe in purchasing things just because they may be timeless.

  • Mixing neutrals, and how neutrals can take on a masculine or feminine role. And yes, there has been a beige sofa on the floor.

  • The history of Dixon Rye, and the challenges that the space faces due to the 1940’s industrial feel.

  • The amazing potential of small houses decorated and styles really well.

  • How to tackle storage in the bedroom without cluttering the room with furniture.

  • Why it’s not what or how many things we have, it’s the way they fit in the room.

  • A power statement can be everything, even just one rug.

  • Why not to gallery wall yourself out of every situation.

  • His use of brass, silver, and metal in different projects to create a look and feel.

  • How we bring more lighting into our space, picture lamps, and the importance of using lamps that work in scale.

  • Why it’s better to invest and buy “better, fewer things.”

  • The subjective nature of “luxury” and why the term doesn’t always mean high end.

Decorating Dilemmas

Hello ladies,

I have thoroughly enjoyed the podcast since discovering it a few weeks ago, and have since been 'binge listening', is that a thing?!? We are currently planning a complete remodel of a small footprint full bath off our hallway, and I envision something with a mix of styles. My question: Lucky for me, we live close by in Athens, but honestly, Atlanta seems a world away when it comes to navigating shops and good venues for sourcing tile, tubs, and good lighting. Can y'all recommend a few stores where I could see a good selection of higher quality tile in person? I already tried the big box options and I'm not finding what I'm looking for. I am really having fun with this process and look forward to exploring ATL and all it has to offer for stylish options to bring into my home. Thanks for any advice!


PS -- Scott's market is already on my radar, I've been a few times over the years. Also, I've purchased some nice brass door hardware at Masterpiece Lighting recently, and have them on my list.

Bradley gives some examples of local tile stores that are both boutique and big box stores. The tile itself matters, but the pattern and grout you choose also are large factors. A white subway tile with a jet black grout creates drama and an interesting mood rather than just plain white. You may also want to go to high-end stores for inspiration, then take your ideas for a combination of affordable and luxury tile.

Hi Ladies!

I love the podcast! It feels like a conversation with friends who love decorating and design even more than I do! Your warmth and humor comes across in each episode. When I heard the call for decorating dilemmas, I knew I could deliver you one!

My dilemma has to do with our master bedroom. We live in a 1923 house (american foursquare with some craftsman touches) which is lovely and has loads of character, but basically, no right angles left anymore. Our master bedroom faces the street, and if you leaned out the windows on the side wall, you could practically touch my neighbors MIL apartment above his garage. As you can see from the detail photo, one of the street facing windows is noticeably closer to the ceiling than the other. One is also right up against the side wall where my closet is. How can I cover these windows so it doesn't look weird? I'd like to not draw attention to the fact that the edges in this house are a little bit Seussian and we also need privacy. The current shades are leftover from the previous owner.

My second question is, how do I work with that fireplace? All the furniture in the photos is from my husband's bachelor days. All the pieces have basically been given a stay of execution and that is why they are still here. Having a fireplace in the master bedroom is pretty awesome. We do live in Texas, however, and have absolutely no need to use it. Your suggestions for what furniture to get and how to arrange it would be most appreciated! I don't want to ignore the fireplace but feature it in a way that makes sense for the space. My style vibe is new traditional.

Many, many thanks for your suggestions and pointers!

Kind regards,


One of the most new traditional things you can do is get rid of your ceiling fans! An outside mount with custom-made Roman shade can help draw attention to where it needs to go. Let the wood beams and fireplace be the hero because they are natural and beautiful. You can have some fun with your windows, and pick solid linen drapery on one side, and prints on the other. We love the deep brick, red of your fireplace, and the bungalow vibe it gives to the room. We also like the idea of a possible round standing sculpture on the wall.


Show Notes

Dixon Rye


Dixon Rye Facebook


Paul Schneider


Oct 23, 2018

Today's guest hails from the music city! We loved chatting with interior designer Kendall Simmons, who talks the Nashville scene, her mix of fun and spunky with timeless pieces to create her own signature style, and why our home should be unique to us - no matter what our mothers may think.

What You’ll Hear on This Episode:

  • When looking for new a new lamp, bring yours physically in to the store so you can make sure the shade fits perfectly
  • Caroline’s recent find in New Orleans, Nadine Blake, and what items she feels shouldn’t be missed
  • The super important steps to take when you have the feeling of wanting to throw everything out in your house
  • Kendall's journey from Kentucky, to New York, to back south in Nashville
  • Kendall’s work with Campion Platt, and how it helped inspire her to blend modern elements with classic buildings
  • How Kendall developed her own aesthetic and continues to keep developing and growing her tastes and proclivities
  • Kendall’s own personal projects in Nashville, including a loft in a converted factory building, and short term rental
  • Why her beautifully designed short term rental is so popular
  • Even if you don’t have a huge budget, Kendall feels it’s very important to have as many local art pieces as you can
  • Kendall’s “no rules” rules for gallery walls and her favorite artists for you to Google right away
  • How Kendall uses spatial and verbal descriptions when working with clients to help them understand the impact their decor choices will have on the room
  • The perfect condition for having different color trims and themes throughout the house
  • The criteria for painting a room dark and what to expect when you paint it in high gloss
  • Kendall and her husband’s commitment to travel and some of the interesting life perspective they have learned along the way
  • Kendall's advice for what to collect on your travels
  • Her top three shopping spots in the entire world
  • Kendall’s top secret insider information about flea markets in Paris
  • The weirdest things Kendall has bought throughout her travels, and what landed her to get questioned in the airport security line
  • Kendall’s high / low mix that allows for her clients to stay within their budget, yet splurge on some forever pieces
Oct 9, 2018

Robert Leleux joins us for a lively episode where he shares his journey into design and decorating, a sneak peek into his upcoming Southern Style Now Festival and Showhouse, what we should splurge and save on, why we should give our money to people making things with their hands, and how often one should change their sheets.

What You’ll Hear on This Episode:

  • How Robert’s rural upbringing led to him accomplishing his dream of working at in the magazine world.

  • Robert’s love for chic and stylish Southern design and decor, and his mission to bring it more into standard American design.

  • All the information behind the 4 Day Southern Style Now Festival and Showhouse, including a more experiential component to the event and a sneak peek of some of the special guests, including Ballard’s very own Miles Redd.

  • Robert’s love of celebrating the city of Charleston, and including up and coming young talent that he believes in such as Olivia Brock, Cortney Bishop, Cameron Stewart, and Angie Hranowsky.

  • Robert’s answers to our game “Go Low or Get High” where he gives advice to splurge on bedding, wallpaper, upholstery, lighting and save on rugs, eyewear and accessories.

  • Why Robert’s future husband called his living conditions “upper class squalour” back in their early dating days.

  • The connection between interior design and building a wardrobe with well maintained clothes.

  • Our bed habits including the frequency of changing sheets, sleeping on your back and preventing early morning face wrinkles.

  • Robert’s appreciation for the art of textile design, and his fondness of White Duck.

  • The impact of a yard of fabric in a room, and how to “fake it til you make it” if on a budget to add warmth and personality to a room.

  • Accessories as a collection of things we gather along the way, representing us and reflecting our life story.

  • Almost anything can be a lamp, and the fun to be had when getting creative with our lighting.

  • If you are going to go cheap, get solid colors, or a nice white.

Decorating Dilemmas

Hi ladies,


My daughter and I love your podcast and learn something new every time and over the years several of my favorite purchases including my comforter cover :) have come from Ballard.


Our dilemma - how to layout our living room. We live in an old 1880s Victorian in San Francisco with my elderly mother. We have a nice big living room used for everything from mom sitting there during the day, to homework, relaxing, entertaining and tv in the evening and its been very tough to figure out a layout that works. Recently we moved the couch from against the wall opposite the fireplace between the two entry doors to make 3 zones:

corner where my elderly mother sits in her chair

couch area in the middle with coffee tables in the back for lamps and homework / stuff creep

a reading chair in the far side.


We are redoing the family room so we’re open to getting new furniture and moving the couch and any chairs there. So the questions:

do those groupings make sense?

if yes, can we work with these pieces?

what should we do about coffee / side table(s)?

what art or furniture can go on the blank wall across from the fireplace (it’s not even / matching)

what would be good occasional seating if we have guests?

how else could we furnish mom’s little nook

Note the tv is mounted (logistically couldn’t go anywhere else but swivels so don’t need to plan around that)


Like your last question this week, I hope to hear an answer on your podcast :)




We all agree that it is a very big, beautiful room, so congrats on that. Robert recommends studying the Fifth Ave. Parlor rooms, and through that you will discover how many seating options you actually have. We recommend adding a second chair, a round ottoman, and a pretty table next to where your mother sits, to create a welcoming nook. We would invest in a nice coffee table, and some new side tables. Find some fabulous fabrics and some bright, beautiful pillows to add to the sofa, and pull the drop leaf table over to your mother’s nook, or paint it the color of the wall so it blends in a little more.


Robert thinks your mantle space is an opportunity, and calls for something bold, grand and tall, even bolder than the television. Visually relate to a television like it’s part of a gallery wall, then work around adding art and mirrors on top of that to draw the eye up. Fabric and color will be your friend, and you can use our room planner tool on our blog. Be sure to send us photos along the way!




Hello Lovely Ballard Mavens,


I heard you ask the listeners for more dilemmas, so here you go. Our new built home has serious lackluster lighting. Really, when we did our final walkthrough I was excited to see the lighting fixtures and then...cue sad trombone! Before I could stop myself I said, "Well, I won't feel bad about replacing those."


Would you be able to help me find lights that relate to each other for over our front door, the foyer, and dining room? There are clear sight lines between all these areas. So far the only lights I have felt comfortable changing were the exterior lights, because the old lights were shining into our neighbors house and function lead my choice.


Inside the home I've been trying to pull together a well traveled look with touches of bazaar and Asian influences. I've been drawn to your Moravian Star Pendant, Moravian Ceiling Mount, and Rose Chandelier, but I'm afraid of going overboard with themed lighting. Your last guest Suzanne Kasler spoke of visual sequence, I would love to hear more about this.


Thank you for your input!!


We think the dining room could take something of scale, and like the idea of the Rose Chandelier. We suggest some possible places for both the pendant and ceiling mount, but would definitely keep them in separate rooms. Additional lighting and lamps are going to be great for you, along with sconces. Add some rugs in time, and experiment with a new paint color.


As far as visual sequence, think of different sources of lights for different purposes.


Paint, Lighting and Fabric, and repeat.









Show Notes

@Robert Leleux


Legends of La Cienega

Southern Style Now

Traditional Home

Tina Browns Vanity Fair Diaries

Brian Patrick Flynn

Angies House Beautiful Room

Hibiscus Linens

Ballard Design Sheets

Lisa Fine in Elle Decor

Nathan Turners I Love California


Sep 25, 2018

Lucy Bamman, Market Editor for Hearst Magazines ELLE Decor, Veranda and House Beautiful believes that there is something for everyone in design and decor, and part of the fun is the journey that comes along with finding it. Lucy talks with us about her role as a Market Editor, and how she got into it, what trends she is into now and how she keeps feelers open for what’s good at all times, but also is very specific about what find will work best with what publication.

What You’ll Hear on This Episode:

  • What exactly a Market Editor is, and why you can thank them for featuring the best and most unique products, ideas and trends
  • The pressure (and fun) that comes with a job like Lucy’s, and what she appreciates most about sourcing for three very esteemed yet different publications and readerships
  • The differentiators between her three titles at ELLE Decor, Veranda and House Beautiful
  • The amazing locations Lucy gets to visit on behalf of work, including Paris, Milan, and Los Angeles
  • The latest trends Lucy is seeing now, including moving from brass to more natural materials such as wicker and straw, and interesting color patterns and choices
  • How she edits her own home when she constantly has so much input and information flying her way, and how she brings in her love of textiles in her own decorating
  • Why Lucy urges us not to fear color and bold choices. Even if you turn a sofa and put it on another wall, or change the paint or throw pillows, you can completely change the whole mood and make it as sophisticated or funky as you want
  • Her background and education, and how she learned her practicals from Richard Keith Langham
  • Lucy’s experience with Keith teaching her to know her colors, think like a true designer, and not be afraid to mix it all up and have fun
  • How Lucy’s job at One Kings Lane set her up for editing and spritzing in beautiful vintage pieces to demonstrate the beauty of collecting pieces over time
  • Tips for small spaces including the use of lower shelves under coffee tables
  • How to be your own Market Editor when you don’t necessarily have the house to decorate in quite yet
  • How to know when to refurbish, and when to do away with the old for something new
Sep 12, 2018

Chances are you have seen our guest Libby Langdon’s work on HGTV and The Today Show and in all of your favorite magazines — House Beautiful, Traditional Homes, and Better Homes and Gardens. We talk with Libby about her trifecta of combining product design, client work, and media and injecting them all into everything she does. She also spills behind the scenes secrets of makeover TV shows, how she learned to install a house in one day, and why she believes that the way you feel about your home reflects every aspect of your life. 

What You'll Hear on This Episode:

  • Libby’s background of growing up in High Point, North Carolina, the furniture mecca of the world. Her parents were both in the furniture and textile industry, so Libby learned design from all angles at a young age
  • Libby’s journey from modeling and fashion to hosting FOX Makeover TV show, Design Invasion
  • The common threads Libby noticed in many homes as a universal struggle including awkward furniture layout and bad lighting
  • The value of learning to install a house in one day, and how to design for the look that the homeowner desires.
  • Libby’s hilarious behind the scenes moments of Design Invasion where she surprised unsuspecting people early in the morning to completely transform their house in one day
  • Libby’s passion for skills cooking and event planning, and how she balances that with her busy acting and interior design careers
  • The common concern of clients that they will grow tire of a certain color, and how Libby walks them through picking colors that will stand the test of time
  • How a painting of a goldfish inspired an entire one-day home makeover
  • Her Rumson, NJ project that was featured in House Beautiful
  • Some of Libby’s favorite moments from her work on makeover television shows
  • The blending of exterior and interior design, and how we can mix and match indoor and outdoor products in design
  • Libby’s love of a Trellis print
  • Her hands-on approach to design and creation, rather than white labeling and putting her name on products already created
  • What Libby is designing now in her partnership with Kas Rugs, and when we can expect it to be ready on the market
  • The ways that Libby introduces her clients to the world of lighting and lamps, and some practical tips to get our lighting on point using dimmers, appropriate wattage and remote controls
  • Decorating for small spaces, and why leaving space white may not be the best answer
  • The benefits of living with less, and why smaller spaces have many luxurious benefits. We can also learn more with her new book, Small Space Solutions
Sep 11, 2018

Chances are you have seen our guest Libby Langdon’s work in all of your favorite magazines. Libby has been featured in House Beautiful, Traditional Homes, Better Homes and Gardens, and has been on HGTV and The Today Show. We talk with Libby about her trifecta of combining product design, client work, and media and injecting them all into everything she does. She also spills some secrets of behind the scenes screws of makeover TV shows, how she learned to install a house in one day. Libby believes that the way you feel about your home reflects every aspect of your life, and is here to teach us how to give our home a big hug with real life solutions and inspired decorations.

What You’ll Hear on This Episode:

  • Libby’s background of growing up in High Point, North Carolina, the furniture mecca of the world. Her parents were both in the furniture and textile industry, so Libby learned design from all angles at a young age.

  • Libby’s journey from modeling and fashion to hosting FOX Makeover TV show, Design Invasion.

  • The common threads Libby noticed in many homes as a universal struggle including awkward furniture layout and bad lighting,

  • The value of learning to install a house in one day, and how to design for the look that the homeowner desires.

  • Libby’s hilarious behind the scenes moments of Design Invasion where she surprised unsuspecting people early in the morning to completely transform their house in one day.

  • Libby’s passion for skills cooking and event planning, and how she balances that with her busy acting and interior design careers.

  • The common concern of clients that they will grow tire of a certain color, and how Libby walks them through picking colors that will stand the test of time.

  • How a painting of a goldfish inspired an entire one-day home makeover.

  • Her Rumson, NJ project that was featured in House Beautiful.

  • Some of Libby’s favorite moments from her work on makeover television shows.

  • The blending of exterior and interior design, and how we can mix and match indoor and outdoor products in design.

  • Libby’s love of a Trellis print.

  • Her hands-on approach to design and creation, rather than white labeling and putting her name on products already created.

  • What Libby is designing now in her partnership with Kas Rugs, and when we can expect it to be ready on the market.

  • The ways that Libby introduces her clients to the world of lighting and lamps, and some practical tips to get our lighting on point using dimmers, appropriate wattage and remote controls.

  • Decorating for small spaces, and why leaving space white may not be the best answer.

  • The benefits of living with less, and why smaller spaces have many luxurious benefits. We can also learn more with her new book, Small Space Solutions.

Decorating Dilemmas

Hi ladies!


I recently discovered your podcast and have really enjoyed listening. : )

I have a decorating dilemma I would love your help with. We recently moved to a new house and we're slowly working to make it feel like home. My dilemma is that I have two tall windows in my living room and then a 3rd on a different wall that is much smaller and further down the wall. Because of the soffit (is that the right word?) near the 3rd window I am unable to hang another curtain at the full ceiling height and therefore can't figure out what to do with the window as far as a treatment. Do I hang the same curtain that is on the larger/taller windows, but lower, to accommodate the soffit? Part of me thinks that would look odd. Do I not hang a curtain there at all?


Thanks for your help, and again, I've really enjoyed the podcasts! Keep up the good work. : )



Libby recommends hanging a soft fabric Roman shade all the way up on the window that is highest. When the shade is pulled up, it will be living on the wall space and visually make the window seem as though it goes all the way up. If you can put a chair and small table there, it will take the sting out of the fact that the windows start so high up off the floor. You could use the same fabric as other window treatments, but don’t have to. It is okay to put drapes on the outsides of the windows, as this will assure all the natural lighting makes its way into your room.


Hi Ladies,


My husband and I plan to purchase the house pictured below so none of this furniture is mine or staying (except the grey built-ins). This is the great room and it has (beautiful) built-ins on one side and a fireplace on the perpendicular wall. How do you suggest I layout furniture? We will do most of our TV watching in here so I would like at least a sofa or comfy chairs to face the tv but I also don't want to block off the fireplace. I anticipate buying new furniture for this space and recovering the lovely (read sarcastic) duck upholstered chairs. (They were left in a cabin we purchased furnished and I always hated them but they are comfy so I think I can make them into something wonderful.) The room is big - 19 ft wide from the bookshelf wall to the table and 22 ft from the stair wall to the fireplace.


If I were to do two sofas - should they be the same? And a solid, perhaps neutral color and then pattern on the chairs or vice-versa? I hate boring. And I have four kids so the fabric needs to be a bit on the indestructible side. And a rug? What size??


Also - ideas on colors? I love color but this house is totally neutral (and beautiful but not 'me'). I fear it will become a slippery slope if I start painting or changing too much because then the trim will look really creamy compared to my cleaner colors and desire for a white kitchen. Do white and cream play nice?


I know, there is a lot here I am asking about and really, I just need to hire a professional but I don't even know where to start to find the 'right' one or how the price their services.


Thank you.


Lost but trying,



Libby recommends facing the sofa towards the television, and adding two great swivel chairs in front of the fireplace, and two other chairs on either side of the sofas. You want to think in terms of a comfortable, yet well proportioned sofa.

For color, tan with pops of orange and navy, and a neutral sofa is a great way to go while the kids are young. We like the console you have going on, and maybe think about adding an ottoman, closed storage and making sure the front legs of the furniture at least is on the rug. If you can’t find an area rug for that size, you can get it cut and bound.


Show Notes

Design Innovation

Libby Langdon

Libby Langdon IMDB

A One-Day Makeover with Libby - House Beautiful

Libby for Kas Rugs

Libby in the Media

EtekCity Remote Control Outlet

Libby Langdons Small Space Solutions

@LibbyLangdon Instagram

@Libby Langdon Facebook

@LibbyLangdon Twitter

Aug 28, 2018

Kevin Isbell joins us today for a round of Would You Rather? -- Decorating Edition. We also chat about adding texture and soul into a modern home, Kevin’s superpower of using strong color in subtle ways, decorating pet peeves, and his recent Nantucket cottage project featured in House Beautiful. It is apparent that Kevin loves what he does, and is deeply passionate about the craft behind design.

What You'll Hear on This Episode:

  • Why a large enough rug is crucial for a well balanced feel within a room
  • Kevin’s fondness for antique and vintage pieces that have a story to tell and that add texture and warmth to the room
  • Why Kevin would never do away with accessories and little trinkets that we pick up along the way of experiences and travel
  • The little accessories that push home design from “nice” to the “wow” factor
  • Why even the ugliest of chairs have the possibility to be beautiful
  • How Kevin got into design, playing around with the late 80’s trends of color blocking
  • How a background in business and business management helps set you up for running a successful career in interior design. Kevin combined the desire from his parents for him to get a business background, and his own love of architecture and design
  • The difference of furnishing vs decorating a home
  • Kevin’s cross country adventure from San Francisco to New York in 2001
  • Kevin’s house in Nantucket recently featured in House Beautiful, and how he maintained the basic structure in the house while completely changing the decor
  • Facts on Nantucket’s global industry that inspired Kevin’s choices when picking decor and accents
  • How he combines his old-soul and craftsman mentality with modern day social media. Kevin’s time lapse videos on Instagram are works of art themselves, and give another personal touch to his projects.
  • How Kevin revamped a timeless Greenwich, Connecticut home, and made it approachable and livable with the beauty of a showhome
  • The balance of high, low and knowing when to invest compared to when to hold back and save money
  • Kevin’s use of strong color in a subtle ways and how he mixes several colors in one room, and how Kevin changes color usage depending on geographic location and setting
  • The real commitment needed to really go all in on a pop of color, and why accent rooms shouldn’t be just one colorful piece in a neutral room
  • Kevin’s choice of Ballard’s Original Office Collection for his workspace
Aug 14, 2018

Elizabeth Bauer joins us today to share her story on how a passion for flea markets and shopping to repurpose led to a career design and a successful shop in the West Village of New York. She talks about the importance of “getting the bones right” of a home upon first moving in, how to make the most of small spaces, and decorating a seaside and vacation home in a playful and sophisticated way. We take listener questions on sprucing up long hallways,  painting vs renovating, and why you shouldn’t be afraid to mix and match whites! 

What You'll Hear on This Episode:

  • The story of how Elizabeth opened her store and started her business in Greenwich Village 2008
  • How she decides what she picks when shopping to repurpose, and the trends she is looking for now when she hunts and gathers
  • Elizabeth’s featured work in House Beautiful in March 2017, featuring stunning de Gournay wallpaper, painted floors, high-gloss aqua lacquer, and French Bistro bar stools
  • The proper prep work to paint, why lacquer costs so much and Elizabeth’s choice of tone and color palette when painting wood floors
  • Designing for clients with children, and the way Elizabeth’s own design has changed now that she has a family. Elizabeth believes in using (and enjoying) her furniture
  • Elizabeth’s tips on how to put those ugly chair and couch arm covers to good use
  • How to embrace and work with having a large television in your home
  • How to compromise design and style with the husband happiness factor
  • The opportunity to create a luxurious space in a small apartment or studio, and why Elizabeth believes a small space can create an amazing feel, whether it’s layered, bright and colorful or tranquil and simple
  • Elizabeth’s home in Nantucket, and how she plays up the nautical and New England theme
  • The solution to matching whites, and why different whites isn’t something to fret over
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