Podcast, Ep. 33: How to Layout a Room with Miriam Leuthold

How to layout a room podcast episode

Our in house design expert, Miriam Leuthold, joins us to talk about the most common decorating question we get in our stores, on our blog, and in our reader emails. How do I layout my room? Miriam is a trained interior designer, so she’s answering all of your questions, including traffic flow, focal points, spacing, and much more.

What You’ll Hear on This Episode:

  • Before we get started, we talk about the ‘life’ of a Ballard product — how it gets made, where our inspiration comes from, and how long it takes
  • We talk about building your room about a focal point, including what that focal point can be
  • Miriam suggests starting with a rug and keeping all of your furniture pieces on the rug
  • We talk about focusing your seating around your TV versus a fireplace
  • What to do when you walk right into the living room through the front door
  • Karen tells us how she’s solved this problem in her own 1920″s bungalow
  • What to do if you have a really, really large living room
  • What to do when you don’t have an architectural feature that creates a focal point
  • The TV dilemma — how to address it? Hide it in plain sight? Or hide it completely?
  • We discuss traffic flow, including proper distance for a walkway and distance between coffee table and seating
  • Why we all love occasional chairs so much
  • We talk about laying out your bedroom, and why keeping it simple works
  • How do we approach a home office?
  • Karen calls out her cousin who has a really depressing home office situation
  • We talk about drapery panels and best practices
  • We ask Miriam whether she’s constantly redecorating and rearranging
  • We talk about using our floor planner to arrange spaces or just moving things around in your space

Decorating Dilemmas:

Hello Ladies!

I’ve been living in my little house for 15 years and unfortunately I’m not a Vanderbilt and I can’t completely update my spaces by replacing everything and starting from scratch.  I thought the best way to get current (but not too trendy) at this point would be to replace my chandeliers.

My living room is small but has 12 foot ceilings.  I have a crystal chandelier but as I approach 50 I’m just not able to climb a ladder to clean it. So it’s just a dust collector! And again, it looks a little outdated and tired to me.  Any suggestions for a replacement?? 

Also, I’ve just received a commissioned piece of art for my bedroom!  I’m totally in love with it and it has inspired me to switch things up in that room as well.  But again, my chandelier screams 90s and it does nothing to complement my new piece of art.  I love some sparkle and this room is only 8′ high, so cleaning this fixture would be no problem.

Also, my last request is, how do I choose lighting fixtures that flow throughout the house without looking too matchy-matchy?  I want that visual consistency and not have a fixture in one room that looks completely different from the rest of the fixtures, if that makes any sense?? But also complements the style and feel of that individual room.

Thanks from the Famously Hot town of Columbia SC!



First of all, don’t worry about your light fixtures matching. The rooms aren’t adjacent to each other, and most likely if you pick both of them out, your taste alone will unite them. I personally don’t mind the chandelier and would spend my money elsewhere if it were my room, but since you asked about a light fixture, our Casa Florentina Viareggion Chandelier would coordinate perfectly with your color palette. Karen recommends our Bamboo Chandelier because it has a more modern vibe, and the size is big enough to balance your large vaulted ceiling. Also, both of these light fixtures have a traditional 

Another suggestion I have is to stack both of the art prints on either side of your mantel on top of each other to one side. Then, find another art piece, probably an abstract print for that more modern edge, and place it on the other side of the mantel.

Miriam suggests bringing in a few more bold patterns to the pillows on your sofa. Our Rayna fabric would work great in here.

Karen suggests moving your crystal chandelier into the bedroom. It’ll make a dramatic statement! Make sure to measure. It’s hard for us to tell the size of the chandelier, but if it’ll fit, use that in your bedroom.

I suggest adding a rug into your bedroom to layer on top of your carpeting. Our Malvern Rug looks like the color palette would work perfectly back to your new art print. 

Ok, those are a lot of options. Hopefully one of them will peak your interest. Good luck!



About 10 years ago, I was gifted some beautiful vintage (almost antique) china that belonged to my husband’s grandmother. It’s Gray’s Pottery from Stoke on Trent and I believe that it was hand-painted and one of a kind. Amazingly, though it’s depression-era, I have a setting for 10, including soup bowls with saucers, and several serving pieces! I have always loved it but have never figured out how to use it in a modern way that also honors its history. I’ve recently relocated to Decatur GA from Tampa FL and, in the process, upgraded my table (Andrews Double Pedestal), purchased Meyers Drapery Panels in Sky and finished with the Lewis hand-hooked rug. Lo and behold, the colors of that vintage china are the same colors in the rug! What types of textiles and accessories do you suggest to tie this whole room together and make my vintage china stand out?

Thanks so much,



Thank you so much for your question, and welcome to Atlanta! It looks like you’ve done an amazing job of getting settled. Your dining room looks fantastic. We don’t think you need our help πŸ™‚

We love the combination you’ve got so far and actually don’t think you need to add anymore textiles. What you’ve pulled together coordinates really well and has a gorgeous color palette that complements your family china. Our only suggestion is to come up with a way to display this pretty china. We have two ideas for you. The first is to start a small gallery wall above the wainscoting. We have a fun new collection of small art pieces in grouped color palettes called our Petite Wall Gallery, and our Autumn collection would work beautifully with your china. Or you could pull together 4-5 pieces of your own in a color palette that echoes the reds and blues of your rug and dinnerware. Then hang maybe a couple small plates or platters of your china with those art pieces. 

Another option would be to bring a glass front cabinet into your dining room to display your pretty wares. It’s hard to tell from your photos if you have room for another furniture piece, but if you do have the space, our Salerno Cabinet in Cream or our Delano Cabinet would be a perfect option.

Great job pulling all of these pieces together. Thanks for listening!

Show Notes:

Please send in your questions so we can answer them on our next episode! And of course, pleasesubscribe 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

    Amy Attridge

    June 22, 2018

    Love your podcast! Just found it today πŸ™‚

    Did you ever figure out what chair book you were talking about it? Sounds interesting. Is it this one or a different one? Thanks
    The Chair: Rethinking Culture, Body, and Design
    Book by Galen Cranz

    Also, we just got planning to do an extension on our family built 1930s home in Ireland…which is actually basically a new build…and I feel overwhelmed sometimes with all the choices! I’ve been reading and researching and pinning to see what timeless things I like for each area of the house. I found a lot of Help in your poscast with Maria Killam and found it so interesting and helpful! Really helped me with the confidence to go with my gut feeling and liking of mainly white kitchen and still undecided exactly but was so encouraged with the tips about timeless colours!

    Loved the tips here with layout tips and how to find focal points and thinking about the function of the room. I was also struggling with should I hide he TV or not? We are a family that loves movies and uses our TV to relax so I love the idea of compromise to make sort of a focal point with art pieces around the TV and make sort of a glery wall of it. (If you said it that way not sure)
    Anyway I’m rambling! Have learned so much today! Totally need more information about lighting but..I will research that next!
    Love your podcast! πŸ™‚
    West Cork, Ireland

    • Reply

      Caroline McDonald

      June 25, 2018


      Thank you so much for listening, and I’m delighted you found the show! I’m not sure what chair book you’re talking about? What episode did we mention it? If I know the episode, I can go back through and try to figure out what book.

      In several episodes we’ve asked designers about hiding the tv, and generally they say that you can but it’s not necessary. Just give yourself something else pretty to look at on that same wall and call it a day. Your gallery wall idea sounds like the perfect solution.

      Let me know if you have any other questions. So glad you’re learning a lot!

  2. Reply

    Sarah O.

    September 23, 2017

    Hi! I discovered your podcast last Saturday, and I LOVE it. I think I’ve listened to half of all of your episodes in the last week, and I’ve learned so much. This episode was really helpful and so practical.

    In the future, I would love to see an episode on how to do lighting well. It seems like lighting done poorly is frequently mentioned as a pet peeve of designers, and inquiring minds want to know how to do it well! πŸ™‚ My husband and I are beginning the restoration of a 1940 cottage and lots of lighting decisions are approaching!

    • Reply

      Caroline McDonald

      September 25, 2017

      I’m so glad you found us! Thank you for listening and for leaving us a comment. We love hearing from you!
      We actually have an episode scheduled to record about lighting, so stay tuned for that, although it may not publish until early next year. But we’ll get to it, we promise!
      Sounds like you have a great project going on with your home. Best of luck with your renovation!

  3. Reply

    Lauren M

    September 18, 2017

    I love love love this podcast! But the sound with episode 32 and 33 were off! I kept having to turn it all the way up to hear, but then when you all would laugh it would almost blow out my speakers. I have never experienced this before with your podcasts but I had to stop both of these before finishing them because there was so much variance in the volume. Don’t wanna be Debbie Downer, but thought you should know. Still love the podcast!

    • Reply

      Caroline McDonald

      September 19, 2017

      Thank you for letting me know. I’ll check it out and if the problem!

  4. Reply


    September 13, 2017

    I really enjoyed listening to the podcast and hearing Miriam’s expertise. I particularly appreciated the information about furniture spacing and providing ample room for traffic flow. It seems I’ll be reworking some of my spaces. In the process, I think I’ll get that “breathing room” that has been eluding me. After hearing Miriam outline her approach for laying out a room, I’m even more excited to hear back on the design dilemma I submitted!!

    • Reply

      Caroline McDonald

      September 13, 2017

      Yay, so happy to hear you enjoyed this episode so much! We’re planning to do more themed/subject matter episodes like this one!

  5. Reply


    September 12, 2017

    Love your podcast! I look forward to listening to every one. This was an especially great episode–I appreciate the Ballard process of creating products, and Miriam’s advice was so helpful. Thank you and keep up the great work!