Q&A with Designer Tish Mills: Decorators’ Show House & Gardens

Tish Mills' room in the Atlanta Symphony Showhouse

Chris Little/Atlanta

In May, we were proud to be a sponsor of the 44th annual Decorators’ Show House & Gardens, an Atlanta springtime tradition. Palazzo Rosa, a stunning Italian Baroque-styled home built in the 1920s, played host this year, where top designers from the Southeast were invited to express their creative vision in a dedicated space. We proudly sponsored two of those rooms, and we’re showing off the beautiful results!

Designer Tish Mills, owner of Harmonious Living, didn’t have to look very far to find inspiration for her appointed bedroom space in Palazzo Rosa. Her daughter’s love for all things French and very well-timed Sweet 16 gave Tish the idea of not just designing the room with her in mind, but designing the room for her. The deal: her daughter acts as client and helps her pick the fabrics, colors and furniture and, in turn, she keeps many of the items for her birthday gift: a redecorated bedroom fit for a mademoiselle.

We got together with Tish to talk about the French-inspired room, dubbed Chambre Tranquille De La Mademoiselle (translated to “quiet room of the miss”).

Tish Mills' room in the Atlanta Symphony Showhouse

Chris Little/Atlanta

Ballard Designs: This room is so lovely. And it was designed for your daughter? We have to say, she has very sophisticated tastes for a teenager!

Tish Mills: Yes! Her Sweet 16 is tomorrow and this is her present. Anyone who knows her would walk in and say “this is her.” She’s not your typical teen. She’s an old soul, and I’m pretty sure she’s lived lots of lives in Paris! She had a blast helping me pull it together. She’s had the same room since she was three. Actually, a lot of her current pieces are from Ballard.

Tish Mills' room in the Atlanta Symphony Showhouse

Chris Little/Atlanta

BD: Lucky girl! What strikes most people as they walk into this bedroom is the dramatic backdrop of the drapes flanked by the windows. And hanging the art piece over the drapes is such an interesting choice.

TM: Actually, there was a large mirror between the windows that I wanted to cover up, so I used the drapery. But then it didn’t make any sense to put a dresser in front of drapery. I pulled the measurements of all of the pieces and the bed was a perfect fit. I hung the art with fishing wire hanging from brass hacks to break up the space.

BD: Clever…the curtains also provide a sense of height and scale to the room.

TM: The furniture arrangement does that, too. With the bed opposite the door, it pushes everything back and makes this space feel bigger. We were able to create this seating area. Also, I put this large breakfront on what would be the natural wall for a bed, and it balances out the fireplace and the mirror on the opposite wall. It worked out beautifully.

Tish Mills' room in the Atlanta Symphony Showhouse

Chris Little/Atlanta

BD: You have a great mix of new and antique furniture, which really helps pull the theme together.

TM: This is what I do in a lot of my projects. If you use a few antiques that are really special it makes them stand out more. You would never know that this carved wood antique trunk is sitting next to an antique reproduction — and very new — side tables and bed. It makes it really pop and also elevates everything else in the room.

BD: Speaking of those side tables and bed, which are from Ballard, you customized them a bit.

TM: In this room I’ve shown how you can use some pieces from Ballard as-is and customize others to create your own look — which is still a budget-friendly option. The nightstands were actually white. I had them sent to my cabinet shop along with colors from the room and told them I wanted a French blue, which is similar to Ballard’s spa blue.

Tish Mills' room in the Atlanta Symphony Showhouse

Chris Little/Atlanta

BD: It’s very pretty — you may have just inspired us to add a new finish! But you didn’t stop there.

TM: The Louis Headboard was originally cane, and I sent it to my upholsterer and had it replaced with a hard backing upholstered in French blue fabric for an overall softer, more feminine feel. I also had the settee and chair reupholstered in the same fabric.

BD: All of these furniture pieces work so well together and really reinforce that French feel you’re going for.

TM: You’ll notice it’s all under-scaled, from the headboard to the marble-top side table, which gives it a more French feel. I didn’t want anything to look enormous. It’s not what you’d find in the suburbs of Atlanta where you use really big-scale furniture in a small room. Its more of a European approach where you under-scale it in order to maximize the space.

Tish Mills' room in the Atlanta Symphony Showhouse

Chris Little/Atlanta

BD: Did you take the opposite approach with the accessories?

TM: Yes, there’s a lot of scale going up above the fireplace, so I went for the oversized accessories. The Bisque Lamp Slips are such a fun play on scale. I really love them, and I’ve had a lot of people ask about them. I used the exact same scale and height on the bedside tables, but you’ll notice they have their own personalities. The lamps aren’t exactly the same. I rarely use a matching pair — it’s a great place to add interest.

BD: Talk about the bedding. It looks incredibly inviting.

TM: The white plays off the white in the curtains. I almost always use white sheets, because I like the crispness of them and I like the way they give that feeling of staying in a fine hotel. I also always use a coverlet at the bottom of the bed. Sometimes I’ll reverse the duvet and the coverlet, but I always like having that extra layer you can pull up at night. I love how washable this bedding is. You can take them out of the dryer slightly damp and they don’t wrinkle, which is a big plus. For the bedskirt, I wanted more of an upholstered feel to offset all of the sheeting, so I chose a heavy custom fabric in a deeper lavender that reflects the oh-so-slight lavender in the ceiling paint.

BD: We can’t let you go without talking about that chandelier.

TM: It’s a found piece that I finished in white gold. It’s a play between the gold accents on the breakfront and the white in the bedding, drapery and walls. I added additional drapery with amethyst, pyrite and aqua marine to give it more of a Parisian feel. It’s from my Studio B5B Collection.

Tish Mills' room in the Atlanta Symphony Showhouse

Chris Little/Atlanta

BD: And what was the reaction of your daughter when she saw it all come together?

TM: She came to see it and she was nervous! But she thought it was so beautiful. It was a highlight of the whole project.

All images courtesy of Chris Little Photography.

Find more inspiration for the bedroom by browsing How to Decorate or visiting our Bedrooms Pinterest Board.

How to Decorate Team

We enjoy spending days interacting with How to Decorate readers. From answering Design Dilemmas to writing How To articles and working with guest designers, our passion is to provide informative and accurate resources to help people solve their design problems.


  1. Reply


    July 17, 2015

    This is a beautiful room and I have used it as inspiration for our Master bedroom. Now that I have put the major pieces in the room, I am wondering about the size of this bedroom.

    • Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      July 22, 2015

      Hi Lisa,
      So happy to you love this bedroom. It’s really beautiful, we agree. Unfortunately, we can’t speak to the size of this room. Sorry!

  2. Reply

    Carroll Smith

    March 19, 2015

    Where can I get more information about the Pewter and Amethyst chandelier and where it can be purchased?

    • Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      March 25, 2015

      Hi Carroll,
      Unfortunately, we don’t have any information about this chandelier. We’re so sorry!
      The How to Decorate Team

  3. Reply

    Meg Ranney

    July 27, 2014

    This is a gorgeous room! Can I ask where the rug is from? It a beautiful piece.

  4. Reply


    July 19, 2014

    This room is just gorgeous! The colors and layers work so well together. Is the rug a Ballard piece, or does Ballard have a similar style rug?

    • Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      July 28, 2014

      Hi Meg,

      I believe this rug is an antique, but we do have something similar. Try our Ballard Designs Valentino Rug. It has a beautiful color palette and a teensy bit of sheen to it, just like the gorgeous rug Tish used in this space!

      Happy Decorating,
      The How to Decorate Team

  5. Reply

    Lucy HAINES

    June 24, 2014

    You have done a most beautiful job!! I like the idea of upholstering the bed which I have done in many of my designs. The whole room is just perfect! Great job!