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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Now displaying: October, 2018
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