Podcast, Episode #10: Interior Designer Melanie Turner

Interior designer Melanie Turner joins the How to Decorate podcast

We can’t help but be struck by how powerful yet restrained interior designer Melanie Turner’s spaces are, and we were even more struck by how down-to-earth and cool she is. In only seven short years after opening her interior design business, she’s earned such accolades as Veranda’s Southeastern Designer of the Year, Trad Home’s Top 10 Designers, Architectural Digest’s 2010 Kitchen of the Year, and many more. We were beyond thrilled when she sat down to talk with us about her recents trip to Morocco, the power of vision boards, why she never puts bookshelves in a home, and so much more.

What You’ll Hear on this Episode:

  • How Melanie uses vision boards to turn her dreams into reality
  • We talk about the photo shoot Ballard Designs did at Melanie’s house
  • The powerful history of her historic home and the spiritual connection she has to it
  • Why she feels like a steward of her house instead of an owner
  • She talks abo how practical the home is for modern life, even though it was built in 1923
  • We talk a bit about Atlanta architect Phillip Shutze and historic preservation
  • How owning a historic home has helped her with her client work
  • All the fabulous locales where she currently has projects
  • She tells us all about her trip to Morocco, including what she brought home and visiting Yves Saint Laurent’s house
  • How you remember much more if you can’t take photographs
  • Why instead of gifts, they take a family trip every year during the holidays
  • Why editing is the most powerful thing you can do to refresh your home
  • Her approach to picture frames — framing them in one big mass on a stairwell instead of spread throughout
  • Melanie talks about how she manifested her project onto the cover of Veranda magazine with a vision board
  • How rewarding it is to give purpose to her client’s homes
  • How at her client installations, the husband is usually the one who cries the most!
  • Why you shouldn’t dismiss how important your home is
  • Why she loves decorating for bachelors
  • Why it’s so hard to decorate her own home
  • How many times she’s moved since she’s been married (she’s married to a builder and developer)
  • How you can give a new build home that old character that gives a house soul

Decorating Dilemmas:

Hi Ladies,

First off, I want to say how much I adore your podcast! I found it over the holidays when I was driving a lot to see family and friends and I am now hooked! I love listening to your tips, and the three of you really make me laugh.

Now, onto business… I am 27 years old and rent an apartment. I took a year hiatus from my corporate job to do grad school in NYC. I graduate this May, and upon graduation and my move back down south, I plan to give up my apartment (which I love) and buy my first place. It will likely be a small bungalow, but still an adjustment from a one bedroom apartment. What are the pieces you recommend I invest in upon move in? I will be moving from a small place and will need to buy a lot to fill a bungalow, and I don’t have any idea where to start!

Thank you!

First off, we’re all jealous that you are starting from scratch because you have the world at your feet! You can go in any direction which is awesome. Melanie suggest starting with a neutral sofa. Buy one that will last forever! Then move onto art. Either paint your own art and frame it, or go to an art school and buy something from an up and coming. Art will separate you from everyone else, and even without a fully furnished house, some art on the walls will go a long way in creating a cozy space. Another great choice is a big rug which will help set the tone for your space.

Chairs are always a great place to start because they’re so versatile. They can be worked into any space, so it’s never a mistake to buy a great chair with an interesting shape or fabric.

I also suggest buying a sofa with a bench cushion, so one large cushion. I have a oversized sofa with a bench seat, and it’s great if we have a ton of guests over and our one guest bedroom is full.


Dear Ladies of Ballard –

Longtime fan, first time dilemma. J I love the podcast and would appreciate some help with my current decorating dilemma.

I recently moved into a new apartment and have a dark, narrow entryway into the apartment. I’m not sure how to make the hallway look bright and balanced with all the doors that open into it. Due to the doorway openings, I’m not sure where to put anything to make it look centered, but be functional when we have to open the doors. A couple more complications – I live in Nebraska, so I need a boot tray (so we don’t track in the snow/salt) and a couple hooks for daily wear coats in the hallway. I’d also love to have a small bench so we can sit down when we put our shoes on and off.

I would love your decorating tips for this space! For visualization, the floorplan is below with some dimensions for reference.

Hallway width: 42 inches
Door width: 36 inches
Back wall length – 102 inches

Happy Decorating!

I just have to jump in first to suggest putting your boot tray and all that messy stuff in the big closet behind your door. Then let your hallway be a pretty moment.

Melanie suggests embracing the dark and narrow rather than trying to make it light and bright. You’ll be fighting the natural tendencies of the space, so embrace the dark and do a chalkboard wall or a dark wall color. Then, on your dark backdrop, but a piece of light art or a light piece of furniture. Balance your colors and masculine and feminine. Add in a bench tucked under console or a garden seat.

Look for something that’s narrow. We have several console that are 14 inches deep, like our Penelope, Durham, and Braden Consoles.


Hello Everyone ,

First I want to say THANK YOU for the podcast . Its so much fun and I love hearing from designers like Erica Ward and the bed stylist was the sweetest ! She really made me think about my beds. She had so much good advice and I love her vibe. I look forward to many future episodes!

Okay, on to my Master Bedroom. I have a black traditional bedroom set, and the bedroom has dividing wall into open bathroom. I would like a muted grey and dark emerald green color scheme.

The vibe I want is kinda Hotelish, soothing, sleepy like an exhale. I came up with 2 options and I want your opinion. I am a color fiend by the way so its hard to go neutral, but when I see magazines I love the neutral rooms.

If you have better options than mine please advise. Like I said, I want calm and soothing which is so hard for me!

Option #1
Lighter grey subtle walls all around and use drapery and pillows to get my dark grey and green color fix I’m after.

Option #2
Dark Grey behind Black Bed as accent wall
Dark green wall across
Lighter accent drapery and bedspread

Finally the kicker, I have a dividing wall that is detached from the ceiling and separates the master bath. I’m longing for a river rock or rock wall, but its messy and I don’t know who or how to do real rock. Sherwin Williams offers a rock wallpaper, but is this cheap and tacky? What else to do to add interest to this wall? I will send a picture in follow up email.

Thank You,
Southern California

We like the idea of the grey walls with pops of emerald green. Gray and green together are a pretty combination. Karen actually painted a super dark gray on her bedroom ceiling. You’re usually in your bedroom at night, and that dark ceiling is so comforting. Melanie suggests doing a dark wall, then do a mostly white or light bed. It’ll create that hotel feel, and your bed will be like a beacon calling to you! We aren’t sold on the rock wall. It doesn’t seem to work with your gray and green hotel space. Instead maybe cover that wall with drapery. Do an emerald green chair, drapery, and maybe a lumbar pillow on your bed.

Mentioned in This Episode:

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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


    August 31, 2017

    Hey girls I’m addicted to your podcast!! I’ve just finished listening to every single episode and I feel like you are all friends of mine now. The Melanie Turner episode was amazing- not only because of her wonderful decorating advice, but listening to her talk about her memory/mood boards was so inspirational–Yeah!!! I live on Peaks Island in Maine- so I have a little kinship with Taryn. MDI is one of our favorite family places to visit. I’m looking forward to hearing more and please let me know how I can be included in your bloggers conference at Ballard Design. You can find me at http://www.backshorenotes.com

    • Reply

      Caroline McDonald

      August 31, 2017

      Thank you so much for listening! I’m so happy you found us and that you’ve been making your way through all of our episodes. Melanie Turner is so lovely. I’m glad you enjoyed her episode!

  2. Reply


    July 19, 2017

    I love your suggestion of a bench cushion on the sofa! I’ve had my separate cushions converted to a single bench cushion when I’ve reupholstered pieces, but it is very difficult to find single bench cushions on comfy, sink-in sofas that you find in the usual retailers. Perhaps Ballard could offer that option on the Baldwin and Davenport sofas!!!

  3. Reply


    March 4, 2017

    What a great interview! About decorating questions–what do you recommend for an outdoor living space? We have chairs and a bench. . .do you think it’s good to add a rug, fire pit, wall-mounted fountain? I’d love to hear your ideas. TIA!!

    • Reply

      Caroline McDonald

      March 22, 2017

      We always suggest adding a rug to an outdoor space, and a fire pit sounds lovely. We’ll bring up your question in an upcoming episode!
      Thanks for listening!