Podcast, Ep. 32: Rebecca McKelvey

Rebecca McKelvey joins the podcast to talk about decorating and Ballard Designs

This week, we’re talking with the ‘First Lady of Ballard’ Rebecca McKelvey. Since she’s married to our president Ryan McKelvey, we thought she needed to stop by and talk about how she owns two of every product we’ve ever made, the river cabin they’re currently building, and the wealth of Ballard insight she has to share. Plus, trials and triumphs are back for another round!

What You’ll Hear on This Episode:

  • The three of us share our trials and triumphs — including several ‘oops’ moments
  • Karen’s trial involves slipcovers and cowhide rugs
  • My trial involves several inches of water in our kitchen
  • Taryn’s trial and triumph involve a painting project
  • Rebecca explains the curious nickname she calls her husband, our president Ryan McKelvey
  • Rebecca tells us about their home’s style and how she approaches decorating her space
  • Rebecca talks about their ‘no shoes’ policy in the house
  • Rebecca tells us about how she needed a bathroom cabinet, so Ryan designed our Miranda Corner Cabinet
  • We start bribing Rebecca to help us get our product ideas made
  • We talk about Ryan’s obsession with the floor planner and how he used it to design their river cabin, new build house, and even their daughter’s dorm room
  • She shares her tips for new construction — it’s all in the builder
  • Rebecca explains why she travels with her vacuum cleaner
  • Rebecca talks about the carpet debate she and Ryan had when they were building their house
  • Rebecca tells us about how she and Ryan collected all of their oriental rugs
  • We talk antiques and how Rebecca and Ryan blend new and old in their home
  • We talk entertaining tips, how Rebecca seats Thanksgiving for 26 people, and the idea of a ‘payback party’
  • Rebecca talks about her go-to entertaining entree — standing rib roast
  • We talk about funny Southern words that we’ll define for you

Should Taryn paint the door of her room black or leave it white?

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Decorating Dilemmas

Dear Ballard Podcast,

Can you please share your thoughts on hardwood floors.  Mine are currently a clear stain that looks a lil bit on the orange side.  I want to refinish them but don’t know which way to go.  A few people told me that my clear color is on the way back. What do you think?  Also, my posts and spindles are currently white and my rail is the same color as the floor.  Should I paint the rail and stair risers white to look a little more current?  I would appreciate your advice.  


K. Lee


We think that while your hardwoods are a little orange and might feel a little dated, it’s not the end of the world. If you have the budget to restain them, then go for it, but otherwise, you’re in good shape. Maybe get some rugs and potentially paint the risers and hand rail of your stairs dark, and move on.

If you do want to refinish, we suggest a medium stained wood. Super dark and clear coat are both trendy, so if you love that look go for it, but a medium stained walnut will always look good. It’s timeless.

Best of luck!


Hello from Oklahoma!

I just recently found your podcast via Maria Killam (who I think SO highly of and hope you all feature soon!), and I am adoring both you girls and your work.

My design dilemma is – I have significant exposed space above my kitchen cabinets – ~ 2′ in height on one wall & ~4′ on the next – and I have no idea how to make that dead space feel finished. Do I put “permanent” florals up there? Giant signs with writing? Pictures/paintings propped against the wall? Nothing at all? I’m at a total loss and would so appreciate y’all’s help! Upon googling, I often find that closing that exposed space by raising or extending the cabinets upward is the preferred solution, but that does not work for my situation since the ceilings slant/vault.

A few pictures are attached. Thanks so much for considering my question.

All the best,

Kristen Wang


We think you’re in good shape! There’s really no need to do anything. If you put stuff up there, you’ll just draw attention to the empty space. Rebecca has a great idea — add some uplighting (in the form of rope lights) above the cabinets. It’ll add more ambiance but you won’t need to worry about dusting.

Show Notes

Standing Rib Roast with Sour Cream Sauce
  • For the roast:
  • 1 (7-8 lb) 4-rib standing rib roast, trimmed
  • 1 jar (about ¾ cup) drained horseradish (I push the juice out through a sieve)
  • ¼ cup Dijon mustard
  • 4 teaspoons of dried thyme,
  • 4 teaspoons of dried rosemary
  • 4 teaspoons of coarse sea salt
  • 4 teaspoons of coarse ground pepper
  • For the sour cream sauce:
  • ⅓ cup sour cream
  • ⅓ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 TBS finely chopped scallions
  • 1½ TBS apple cider vinegar
  • 1 TBS dry mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Place the roast rib side down in a roasting pan and pat dry with a paper towel. Combine the ingredients and spread the mixture over the roast, covering the three exposed sides. Place in a 450 degree oven for 25 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 300 degrees and continue to cook for between 2¼-2¾ hours longer or to 130-135 degrees for medium-rare (err to the rarer side as the roast will continue to cook as it rests). Remove from the oven and let it rest for about 20 minutes and then carve. The roast can also be cooked on a grill or Green Egg.
  2. For the sour cream sauce:
  3. Combine the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Chill for at least 2 hours.


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

Happy Decorating!

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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 ladies! Love the podcast. These last couple weeks though have been so so quiet. I can hardly hear and then when my next podcast in my list plays my eardrums are blown out. Just a heads up!