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: 2019
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
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