We love to live outside during summer. Who doesn’t? It’s the perfect excuse to take things a little slower and to just enjoy being under the sun with the ones you love. And while a lot of our time and attention is spent on our outdoor spaces, it’s also a great time to focus on the inside of our homes. This summer, when you’re not outside, look for ways to bring summer inside and to create a cool flow from room to room.
That’s exactly what was on our decorating minds when we put together our summer catalog. For more details on how it all came together, we talked to Karen Mooney, Senior Vice President of Brand Management. She also shares her new favorite items.
Ballard Designs: What does outdoor entertaining look like this summer?
Karen Mooney: Unbuttoned and laid back. Our belief is entertaining doesn’t have to be this big production that’s daunting. It’s about inviting people you love into your home to spend time with them. After all, we have this wonderful window of time in the summer where we can put on our flip flops, drink lemonade in the sun and enjoy it with friends and family. So casual entertaining is about being low maintenance. Use melamine and unbreakable glassware that’s worry free but just as beautiful as china. Make sure there’s plenty of seating and deck it out with Sunbrella® covered cushions, pillows and poufs.
BD: What’s your favorite outdoor look?
KM: I really like the black and white Canopy Stripe. It gives you that very classic South Beach look that’s going on and you get a little pattern, too. And the white cushions with the black contrast welt is so sophisticated. I just love that look. It’s very resort chic.
BD: Moving indoors, you’ve done something new with the summer catalog. Rooms are centered around specific themes. Tell us about that.
KM: We wanted to create a whole house vibe from a certain point of view or personality. So for each theme, we designed a living room, dining room, bedroom and office, as if it’s all one house. It creates a real story for the customer.
BD: Let’s talk about some of those themes, starting with Resort Chic. What defines this look?
KM: Close your eyes and think of the retro glam of Palm Beach or the vibrant pink and green palette of Lilly Pulitzer. We’ve incorporated that sophisticated beach vibe into every room. We used a lot of this delicious kelly green, then cut it with the opposite color, which is a sort of a magenta-purple, for pops of accent color.
KM: We have literally been searching for a fabric that looked like raffia for a couple of years, because it’s a look we really love. We finally found it and it’s just amazing. It looks like raffia but it upholsters onto furniture and wears really well. It’s just gorgeous in a room like this. It feels very inside-outside.
BD: In the office, the magenta takes center stage.
KM: The colors that were in the common space take a backseat and the accent colors become the forefront. The woman who lives here is feminine — she likes florals and she likes magenta. So when you move into her personal space, away from the living room, you can see where she took liberty to really show what she loves in a bolder way.
BD: This is a bold look. What’s your advice for someone who likes it, but is not feeling quite that adventurous.
KM: We wanted to do something really light-hearted and summery. The easy way of recreating the feeling of this nook without a lot of commitment is to keep the pink cushion on the bench and go for a nice neutral, like Herringbone Sand Sunbrella®, on the upholstery. Layer in the color with the fun fringe pillows. You can do this in any room: take the elements that you respond to, whether it’s the layout, color or propping, and interpret them in your own space. If it’s the color, then take that coral, buttery yellow and hot pink palette and layer it in your room with flowers on your table or throw pillows around the room. It doesn’t have to be all upholstery.
BD: The bedroom is a softer interpretation of the theme.
KM: Yes, she’s carried the green through to the bedroom, and it still has that beachy vibe, but she infused it with tons of neutrals for a more restful feel. I really love this leaf pattern on our new Nora Green Fabric by the Yard.
BD: What are the elements of a relaxed home?
KM: The owner of a relaxed home is a family friendly, child friendly woman who doesn’t take herself or her home too seriously. She has a sense of humor. She’s very practically minded and designs around function. So you’re not going to be uptight when kids in bathing suits and sandy feet crawl up on your banquette, because it’s covered in Sunbrella® and you’ve got an indoor/outdoor rug below.
BD: We’re seeing more of that green palette in the office.
KM: This green is a new direction for us. It’s really going more emerald and you’ll see more of it as we go into fall. We picked it up in the porcelain vases on the hutch, the fun pillows and the art. We actually had the art recolored so we could create this clean black, white and green palette. Don’t you love the “To Do” letters with the arrow pointing straight at your bulletin board? That’s for your husband!
BD: This bedroom has a great mix of textures and just the right touch of boho.
KM: We just can’t stop with the pom poms, tassels and fringe. We all love a little boho. I was just reading a fashion article about pom poms, and what we love to wear ultimately ends up in our homes, too. Those little details make you feel young and light-hearted and a little like you’re on vacation. This shibori print style bedding recalls tie dye, only more sophisticated. But it’s a very laid back feel. This bedroom is very inviting.
BD: This is Americana meets summer.
KM: When we put these together we were really thinking that it was someone’s lake house or beach house. These rooms are designed for comfort and hanging out with friends and family. So we wanted to use very durable fabrics — all of the fabrics in the living room are Sunbrella® — and we wanted a very simple palette of navy and white with a little bit of red and green layered in. We also brought in a lot of materials that feel very natural, like raffia, wicker, zinc and lot of rough-hewn wood with some metals mixed in.
BD: The nautical motifs give everything a cool, relaxed feel.
KM: I’m not a big theme person, but they’re fun, especially for summer and especially if you do live on the water. But it’s really just the rug and pillows, and if you took them away and added a seagrass rug instead, you’d have a very universal room. You don’t have to go overboard — no pun intended — on the nautical motifs.
This room was conceived as an entry. We loved the idea of a daybed in an entry of a getaway home. It’s a place where you can dump your stuff, an extra bed for guests or just a place to relax with a book. There’s an immediate sense of relaxation. We also love the whimsy of Bunny’s Nap Time Sign.
BD: Who is the Sophisticate?
KM: She knows what she likes and feels confident pulling it all together. She has a great eye and doesn’t mind trying unexpected combinations. So if you look at this living room, you wouldn’t necessarily think to put these three tables together, but it works. I like to think of this person as well traveled: she picked up this table when she was in Morocco and got that table when she was in India and the acrylic side table came from a modern store. She also pays attention to the trends. She’s mixing in animal prints, gold metals and bold, structural statement lighting.
BD: Here, a few chic touches transforms this office.
KM: The sophisticate appreciates classic style. All of the major investment items in this room are classic in design. But when you mix in a modern chandelier, abstract art and lively fabric, it suddenly takes on a new personality. It breathes new life into a room that could easily feel tired. If people thought about furniture like that they’d probably take a second look at the stuff their parents and grandparents are trying to give them! If it has good lines and serves a purpose, take it and mix it in with with some things of a different color, era or style and see if it sparks the piece.
BD: Fabric is a great way to make a statement.
KM: One of my favorites is this great Florentine Taupe. It’s just beautiful. We really love that marbleized look, and the palette of the gray and spa blues fits perfectly.
BD: There are a few customized looks in the catalog we wanted to talk about. We love the look of this headboard.
KM: The beauty of our Giselle Headboard is you can completely customize it by choosing a different fabric for the headboard, tufted buttons and welt. Here, we wanted to continue the navy and white palette of the bedding with a white linen headboard with navy piping and buttons for a super clean contrast. When you get tired of this bedding, you can choose a different look. Even coral bedding would be beautiful with this headboard, so I don’t think you should think of committing to color on a headboard as limiting.
BD: Here, you show four different combinations of a custom Louis Chair with wallpaper and wall decor. Why?
KM: This is all about making it your own. Say you have an office and you’re wondering what you can do in there and how you can put your own stamp on the decor. Are you a neutral girl? Are you attracted to color and pattern? Do you want to go modern? Or maybe you want some glam. This shows you how you can take a few core components in a room and create a look all your own with Ballard that’s based on your design aesthetic. The possibilities are almost endless.
BD: Finally, this drapery is so much fun, but it’s not a stock item.
KM: No, it’s completely custom. I think most people know about our custom upholstery program, but you can also get a duvet, bed skirts, shams, pillows, drapery panels, tablecloths — you name it — in any of our fabrics or even your own that you send us. I’m always surprised to find out that so many people don’t know about our Customize It program. Our whole philosophy is “make it your own.”
Can we talk about this fabulous fabric, too? Mira Blue is a take on an animal print, but it’s also a fun dot pattern, and it’s in this fresh blue palette. It has a lot of dimension on a clean, white background. We went all out with it in this room, but it’s just as beautiful on a pillow or an office chair.
Karen’s 5 Favorites
This was actually inspired by a young saleswoman I talked to in a men’s shop in New York. She said, “You know what I need that I can’t find anywhere?” and told me how she and her friends have iMacs and that’s what they use to watch Hulu or Netflix. She wanted something pretty that would hold her computer, so she could watch TV with her friends, but she could close it up when she wasn’t using it. So this is our solution, a media station and office in one. It’s incredibly practical, but also really beautiful when it’s closed.
Faux Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree by Bunny Williams
I’m very excited about this tree. It all started when we were in Bunny’s office having lunch one day and brainstorming. There was this amazing looking tree in there and I asked how they managed to keep it alive. They said, “Ha ha, it’s fake.” It looked so real — we were all touching it! They pay thousands of dollars for these really nice faux trees for their clients’ homes, so we decided to make one ourselves that was reasonably priced. This tree is really great looking. And when you consider the expense of the real ones and how hard they are to keep alive, this is really worth it.
This is made by our Italian furniture partner, so it’s beautifully hand finished and has the really nice detail of nailhead trim that adds another level of sophistication. In addition to being a pretty demilune, it has a hinged top that raises on a gate leg to turn into a full-size table. It’s a dream for smaller spaces.
This is an attractive version of those hotel lamps. It has integrated charging that’s hidden in the back of the lamp, so you can plug in before you go to bed and never lose your charger. It’s great for a guest room, so they don’t have to borrow your charger or end up on their hands and knees looking for an outlet.
I love this table! The scale of it is nice, because it’s a little oversized, so it easily fits your magazine, cocktail and remote. Plus, the coco beads give it a very hand crafted vibe.
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