Podcast, Episode #8: Stylist Natalie Nassar

Stylist Natalie Nassar shares her secrets for creating a layered home on the How to Decorate podcast

Natalie has worked with us here at Ballard Designs for years, so when we caught a glimpse of her chic, layered family home, we knew we had to share. We posted her whole home tour here on How to Decorate yesterday, but we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get even more decorating goodness out of her to share on the podcast! We talk about decorating with kids, styling, layering, and so much more!

What You’ll Hear on This Episode:

  • I hosted my largest ever dinner party and I give you a whole run down
  • My seriously embarrassing ‘trial’ that involves my robot vacuum
  • Another installment of Taryn’s dog chewing disasters
  • Taryn tells us about her trip to South America and what she brought back
  • We ask Natalie about her style which she calls ‘collected, global’
  • Why Natalie likes to choose neutrals for her large furniture pieces, then adds in colorful accessories
  • Her history with Ballard Designs and how she got started styling rooms
  • We talk about her dining room, which you can see here
  • Natalie talks to us about how she prioritized decorating each room
  • We talk about the cute little ways Natalie styles her home, like buying cute hand soap (shown below)

The hand soap Natalie stockpiles to use in her bathrooms and kitchen

Decorating Dilemmas:

Hi ladies,
We’re months out from a major kitchen renovation and I’m 90% sure of the direction we’re going but still struggling with a decision on the backsplash.

We’re doing white cabinets, charcoal gray soapstone (or similar) counters, with wood accents on the range hood and in the open shelving. My heart was set on a black and white encaustic tile backsplash but afraid it could overpower things, so have decided to use it as an accent behind the range instead.

That leaves the rest of the backsplash as a TBD. I do love and really can’t envision anything other than white subway tiles as a backdrop to the graphic encaustic tiles. But, are we at the tail end of the subway tile trend? Or is it already out?? Or maybe (hopefully ?) timeless/will never go out? Would love to hear your thoughts 🙂

Christina M.

Christina, don’t worry about subway tile being a trend. It’s been around for decades and isn’t going anywhere. Karen found a pretty bathroom where subway tile and encaustic tile are mixed together to help you visualize how well the two will go together. Natalie suggests having your tile installer do a small portion with the dark grout to see how you like it, then you can still change your mind if you need.

Taryn makes the case for you to use the encaustic tile throughout if you really love it, regardless of whether it’s a trend or not. We all agree that the encaustic tile over the range and subway tile on the rest of the backsplash is safe and will look great. It should all depend on what YOU love.


Hello ladies,
Attached is a floor plan of my home that was built five years ago. Our living room and family room are not separated by walls along with the entry, since this is one big space could you please offer advice on creating cohesion for decorating and furniture placement. I have three small children so it needs also to be functional! The entry is tiled and the family room living room area is carpeted in the same color.

Another question I have is in the entry. We have an angled wall, and I placed a small settee here with a large photo above. The next adjoining
wall is all open (the one leading from entry to steps on right), would it be too much to add a mirror here or a console table? I am at a loss for what to put here! Ideas would be appreciated!!!
Thank you so much,

Natalie thinks you should definitely add a console and a mirror on the wall as you walk in the door. It won’t be too much, and in fact, we all agree it’s necessary functionally. Actually, Natalie’s entry is a great example. You can see it here. She has a narrow, glass entry table and a large oversized mirror above it. Use the same formula for your own space. Find a console table that’s very narrow and open, either glass or metal. That openness will help it from feeling too heavy.

Eventually we all come to a consensus that you should do a large sectional in your family room with a narrow sofa table behind it so that your three kids can watch TV. You could also do a big storage ottoman in the middle to hide toys, books, and such.

Karen suggests putting a Coventry Storage Bench on the back wall of the family room, the wall that shares with the staircase, and maybe hang a gallery wall over the bench.

To address the carpet, add a rug on top of the carpet to help differentiate the spaces.

To tie the two rooms together, choose one color palette. Maybe use a more bold interpretation in your family room where the vibe is a little more casual. Then a more tailored version in your living room. A pair of rugs that are different but have the same color palette would be a great way to accomplish tying the two rooms together.

I suggest using an arrangement of four chairs in the living room, and add two small upholstered benches when you need more seating.


Hey Ladies!!

I’ve started listening to your podcast and I’m in love! I recently bought a couch from Ikea that I’m in love with! The color is “skiftebo dark orange” and I’m excited to make it the color focus/pop of my living room. But I’m very new to decorating and have no idea what to do!

1. What colors would complement my couch?
2. What 5 colors would y’all suggest as my living room color palette?
3. What ideas do you have for throw cushions, coffee table, lamp or a room rug that would complement it?
My living room is in a 110 year old building, so hanging items is difficult (old plaster that chips, so I can only hang things under 16lbs with those heavy duty command hooks), and my walls are currently tan with off white trim. One wall the plaster has been chipped away to expose the beautiful brick. My floors are the original wooden floors, very dark, maybe black walnut? The entrance to my bedroom off the living room is a set of gorgeous glass panel French doors.
4. A curtain for privacy would be nice, but how do I pick one that works for my bedroom color scheme and my living room?!

I’ve attached a picture of my couch and the living room, laundry and all!

Thank you!! I already subscribed to your podcast!

Natalie suggests letting your couch be your color focus, so add in lots of neutrals like grays, flax/beige, lots of white, and maybe some light green. She also suggests choosing a new rug if it’s in your budget, as this rug doesn’t add much to those pretty hardwoods. I chime in because I really feel like you need to tie your new, clean-lined sofa to the old architecture of your apartment building. Sometimes really modern furniture looks strange in an older shell if you don’t tie the two together. Maybe consider a more antique inspired patterned rug or something vintage. It doesn’t necessarily need to be bold in color, just look for something with a classic pattern. Karen suggests a seagrass rug because of it’s lightness.

Taryn suggests doing a rectangular coffee table in front of your sectional. Then, at the end of the sofa arm, add a little side table to make it so your cat can’t scratch the arm. That barrier might help the cat from scratching! Natalie also has a trick from her parents who put clear double sided tape on the edges of the sofa. The cats hate it so they won’t scratch.

You can also do some small cubes or garden seats to add extra seating since your space looks small. Karen makes the point that if you have lots of neutrals (letting your sofa be the pop), then it’s easy to shop in a palette of white, grays, and tans. You can just slowly start collecting in those colors over time.

In terms of art, you definitely need something. Maybe consider leaning stuff like a super large canvas or a leaner mirror so you don’t have to hang anything. I have plaster walls, and to prevent cracking, I just put a small piece of tape in the space where you’re going to add your nail.

Taryn makes the case for more color since you seem to be a color lover. Navy is a great choice because it’s not neutral but still goes with everything.

You definitely need drapery panels, even more so if you won’t be hanging much on your walls. We all agree that while you don’t need something super expensive, don’t buy the cheapest thing you can buy. Karen suggests our Essential Panels because they’re heavy, lined, and still a great price. You want something that is lined, and buy extra panels to add width for windows that are wider than a single window.

Mentioned in This Episode:

Ina Garten's Devil's Food Cake with Coffee Meringue Buttercream

Please send in your questions so we can answer them on our next episode! And of course, subscribe to the podcast in Apple Podcasts so you never miss an episode. You can always check back here to see new episodes, but if you subscribe, it’ll automatically download to your phone.

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Caroline McDonald

Caroline lives for pairing together patterns, mixing furniture styles, and oogling over our newest furniture pieces. As you can imagine, her little 1920's craftsman is in a constant state of flux. Here on How to Decorate, it's her goal to help you turn your home into your own little slice of paradise.


  1. Reply

    Becki Kidder

    February 1, 2017

    Love your podcast!! Discovered it a few weeks back & quickly listened to them all!! On my way back from school drop off today I was listening to this and as soon as y’all started talking about Natalie’s bathroom soap I knew they were the Garrison ones from Home Goods!! As soon as Natalie said they were from Home Goods I shouted out “I knew it!” I’m certain other drivers were staring! I’m obsessed with that soap- amazing scents, gorgeous branding & I love the scale of the glass bottle! It just occurred to me the other day that the bottle would look great to decant shampoo & conditioner in my big glass master shower! Why didn’t I think of it sooner! Thanks for the great podcast!! Love Ballard & y’all!!!

    • Reply

      Caroline McDonald

      February 1, 2017

      Thank you so much Becki! So glad you are listening, and how funny you knew exactly which soap she was talking about!

  2. Reply


    January 31, 2017

    AMAZING input. Thanks!

  3. Reply


    January 31, 2017

    Do you have a suggestion for which color to pick for my set up? Thanks!

    • Reply

      Caroline McDonald

      January 31, 2017

      Since you have a flax-colored couch, I’d suggest the Natural Linen!

    • Reply

      Caroline McDonald

      January 31, 2017

      Another good option could be Suzanne Kasler’s linen panels which is what Natalie has in her house. She has the blanc panels, but the Blanc, Camel, Parchment, or Greige could all work with the neutral foundation you’re working toward!

  4. Reply


    January 31, 2017

    Hello! I need help picking out a drapery color. We have edgecomb gray walls and a flax color sofa. We would like to do the neutral idea Natalie was talking about so we can change up colors with pillows for the season. I like the drapery Karen suggested to Rachel! thanks!!!

    • Reply

      Caroline McDonald

      January 31, 2017

      Thank you so much for listening! So glad you’re finding the podcast helpful.