Podcast, Ep. 29: Artist Andrea Costa

Our exclusive artist Andrea Costa stops by the podcast to talk art, decorating, and much more


We invited our exclusive artist Andrea Costa onto the podcast to talk to us about art, being an artist, and how she began her career as an interior designer.

What You’ll Hear on this Episode:

  • Andrea starts by telling us how she began her career as an interior designer before transitioning into art
  • She talks to us about how she gets her inspiration for a new painting and her favorite size canvas to paint
  • We ask her about how she works with interior designers to create art for a specific room
  • She tells us about decorating her new space and how often she mixes up her decor
  • She talks about why she loves to hang other people’s artwork instead of her own
  • We talk about the pros and cons of having a separate studio space rather than a studio in her basement
  • Andrea tells us about how her music playlist impacts the look of her canvas
  • Andrea coaches us on picking out a piece of art — she suggests first choosing a budget
  • Andrea likes to start a room with her piece of art, then building a room about that piece
  • Andrea tells us about her first big art piece
  • We ask her about gallery walls and how to put one together
  • Andrea tells us how to mix different colors, styles, and sizes of art in one room
  • Karen talks about why she loves accessorizing her dining room
  • We talk about feedback, seeing her pieces in real homes, and working with expectations for a commission
  • Andrea talks to us about how long it takes her to paint a piece and why painting abstract pieces takes so much longer
  • Andrea gives us a lesson on paint mediums and why you might prefer working with one versus another
  • We talk about how she started working with Ballard and why she wanted to sell her prints through us
  • We talk about our Exclusive Artist program and why we love having this option for our customers

Decorating Dilemmas:

Hello Ladies!

I love listening to your podcast! I feel like you could be my best girlfriends that also happen to be great decorators. J So, I’m seeking some advice.

I live in a two story transistional style home built in the early 90’s. The foyer is two stories with a staircase leading to the second floor. When we moved in the home had super shiny light oak wood floors, which we’ve since replaced with a darkish hand-scraped maple floor (slightly distressed but not too much). We also replaced the narrow oak baseboards with more substantial white ones and replaced all the doors with white wood doors. I’m loving the changes. My dilemma is what to do with my stair railing. It is still the shiny light oak and looks really disconnected to the rest of the house now. It’s not in my budget to replace the railing, so I thought I’d paint it and was wondering what color to paint it. Should I paint the posts and the railing all white, or should I paint the posts white and the railing black, or should I try to stain it to match the floors? The stairs are carpeted a lovely soft beige. The rest of the first floor is decorated in cream and tan neutrals with some cranberry and navy for accents.

Thank you so much!

Nancy Olmsted

Nancy, this is a tricky question and certainly something you want to think about so you don’t have to repaint! We suggest painting the posts white to match your baseboards, then paint the railing black. We don’t mind the idea of white, but it’ll probably get smudged with fingerprints! Black will be classic and will echo the dark stain of your floors. Good luck and thanks for listening!


Hello ladies,

I’m loving your podcast! Wish it was weekly. ?

My dilemma is the first room you see when you enter the front door. This 1945 house was remodeled by the previous owners (we moved in last July) but this room’s dimensions are so unbalanced. It’s driving me crazy to figure out the furniture layout. I want to chunk all of my furniture except the leather couch and go more transitional, less country. The fireplace doesn’t work and it’s not centered on the wall or with the windows. Should I paint the stone white or at least tone down the red brick?

Thanks for any help!

Rachel, we all have differing ideas of how to address your living room. Personally, I wouldn’t paint the granite. It’s a detail that’s unique to your house and makes it stand out, plus you can easily decorate around it. For example, maybe you paint your walls a dark navy. It’d make a great balance to the stone.

Karen’s living room is very similar to yours in layout. Like yours, her fireplace isn’t centered on her wall. She’s placed a large, wide bookcase to the left of her fireplace which has a larger wall than the right. Over the bookcase is a large piece of art and an oversized lamp. To the right of the fireplace where the wall is skinnier, Karen placed a more colorful piece of artwork hanging over an x-bench. 

Embrace the asymmetrical nature of your fireplace wall by creating a balanced wall. Then, across from the fireplace, use a more symmetrical room layout, like Karen has done.

Andrea suggests pulling your sofa a little closer to the fireplace and placing a sofa table with two lamps behind it. We all also agree that your other wall with the console table – make that wall more of a statement. It’s a little too weak to complete with the other elements in the room.

To tone down the country, bring in more metallics and maybe more light pieces.

We talk about her rug situation and all disagree. Your current rug is too small. I think maybe you could get one rug that covers both your entry and your living room, rather than chopping it up with two separate rugs. Taryn likes the idea of having two separate rugs, so it’s really up to you. There are lots of way to make the space work.

Karen suggests maybe replacing the pots that your plants are in. The terra cotta is making the room feel a little more country, and since you’d like to pull back on that, consider swapping to something more modern and sculptural.

Andrea suggests painting the white moulding over the fireplace the same color as the wall. The thick moulding accentuates how off the proportions of the wall are.

Show Notes:

Shop Andrea’s exclusive prints for Ballard Designs, tour her studio space, or tour her condo in Atlanta.

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.


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    August 9, 2017

    The “mother in law tongue” plants are also called snake plants, but their formal name is Sansevieria trifasciata.