Podcast, Ep. 41 with Jennifer Boles of The Peak of Chic

The Peak of Chic's Jennifer Boles

Atlanta native Jennifer Boles of The Peak of Chic stops by the podcast to give us a decorating history lesson, her favorite decor books, and much more. We talk about the origins of her book In with the Old: Classic Decor from A to Z and the concept for her next book coming out Fall 2018.

What You’ll Hear on This Episode:

  • Jennifer tells us about her book obsession and how she started The Peak of Chic
  • Jennifer shares the five big names in decorating that you need to have in your design education — Elsie de Wolfe, Dorothy Draper, Billy Baldwin, Albert Hadley, and Nancy Lancaster and John Fowler
  • Jennifer tells us about how Dorothy Draper’s Decorating is Fun was the impetus for her study and obsession with decorating history
  • We talk about how Jennifer almost worked at Ballard
  • We talk about decorating books and which ones Jennifer says we have to have in our libraries
  • Jennifer talks about one of her favorite new decor books — Ardrossan
  • We talk about working old things into your home so it doesn’t feel outdated
  • Jennifer talks about how her first book In with the Old: Classic Decor from A to Z came about 
  • The one thing that immediately dates a room
  • We talk about classic pieces and how they come in and out of fashion
  • We talk about where you should spend your decorating dollars

Decorating Dilemmas:

Hi Ladies,

I never really did anything with our kitchen because I thought it wasn’t a long term home, but of course, it ended up being longer term than planned. I then thought we only had a year or two left, and just couldn’t stand the kitchen as it was. I had been coveting this Hygge and West Oh Joy! Wallpaper (taupe and creamy white) for a long time, and after seeing a “tip” about what to do when you don’t want to paint ugly cupboards (distract with wallpaper), I decided to buy the wallpaper. I only needed one roll, which was $120.00 on sale, plus my husband’s labor. I figured it was only a year longer before we would move, and once again, our plans are on hold

I really want to paint the cupboards because (a) it will help resale in a couple years anyway and (b) just to see what it would finally look like in a nicer color! (Plus I found a really good painter who is entirely reasonable!) I like light colors, but here is my problem: if I paint the cupboards white, then I will have light/white cupboards, light counter, and light walls (wainscoting and wallpaper). It’s a bit too much light, but I am not entirely opposed…it’s what I am leaning towards. I think my favorite look is contrast, where everything isn’t light or dark. On the other hand, if I match the cupboards to the taupe in the wallpaper, I think I have to paint the cupboards AND wainscoting both, and (a) it might be a bit dark plus (b) I have Ben Moore Revere Pewter in the dining room just outside the kitchen, and I think they will clash. Any thoughts?

Also, I need to change the window treatments and need a plan for that, too. (I was going to get white plantation shutters, but that would be a ton of white if I do white cupboards. If I do white cupboards, I was thinking natural wood woven roman blinds. And, if I do a color on the cupboards, I could then do white plantation shutters or something white, anyway. A fabric roman shade? I don’t know!)

Generally, here is what I am aiming for and I am completely open:

1. Refresh this kitchen at a reasonable-ish price (I am okay to spend some money for resale but don’t want to go so overboard that it won’t make much difference.)
2. At a minimum, I want to paint the cupboards. I am open to suggestions…colors?
3. My issue is I fall in love with something, get it, then realize I have to make 100 other changes I can’t afford! I am aiming for cohesiveness, would like to save the wallpaper if I can, but don’t have to.(Mostly b/c I don’t want to hear my husband when I tell him it’s going now!)
4.  Should the cupboards and wainscoting be the same color? Obviously they aren’t and we’ve lived with it, but I’m thinking that would help.
5. A possible option — replace the wainscoting with subway tiles, which we have on our backsplash. I have a reasonable guy for that too!! And good! (If I do that, should I do the entire wall and forget worrying about this area that has to be painted or wallpapered? Or is that look on its way out? As you can see from the old fan, this is an old kitchen and subway tiles do suit the look and style of the house, which was built in the early 1900s.)

Oh goodness, this is long! Thanks!
PS Please don’t mind the dishes, I know they should have been cleaned up, but I mean to take pictures to send you every day and finally ran through the kitchen at 6:30 am this morning before I left for work so another day wouldn’t go buy!


We all agree that you should paint your cabinets white. We hear your concerns about it being too much white and the cabinets matching the wainscoting, but we all think it’ll look great. White kitchens are classic and will never go out of style. We also think it’ll work perfectly with the fabulous wallpaper you’ve chosen. The white cabinets will help the wallpaper stand out.

We also all agree that you’re way further along than you think. It’s a super cute kitchen, and we think white cabinets will make a world of difference. Great job!


Hi ladies,

I’m an interior designer but ya know…that whole shoe cobbler has not shoes kinda thing…

My husband, two babies and myself love our cozy rambler built in 1985.  However, therein lies the issue.  1985.  BOR-ING.  

The orange peel texture, the vinyl windows, the pergo floors…I’m stuck on affordable and effective ways to add LIFE to my home.  I can decide in an instant on a paying clients home but my home…well that’s a big commitment I have to live with.  Likely this will be a rental home in the next few years, all the more reason I’m weary of bigger investments.  

My husband, bless him for his somewhat handy nature, has replaced ALL base trim and door casings in the home.  It made a great difference.  

If you have an idea, great.  If you’re gonna say STACY GET YOUR BIG GIRL PANTIES ON then well, great on that, too.

You’ve been talking drapery a ton (like, episodes 1-5 🙂 so yes, I’m planning those.

Indecisive Interior Designer


Why are you so afraid? Trust your instincts and go for it! We all have a heated discussion about investing in rentals and have differing perspectives. We definitely think you should put some elbow grease into making this a space you really love, even though it’ll be a rental. You need to decide what’s best for you — whether that’s making updates to the windows or floors or decorating around the imperfections.

Good luck! You’re a designer, so you already know all of the answers. You just have to trust yourself.

Show Notes:

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!

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


    January 5, 2018

    I meant that the show notes’ links enhance the podcast.

  2. Reply


    January 5, 2018

    I loved this episode and Jennifer. She inspired me to get Dorothy Draper’s Decorating is Fun! from the library. And I’m on a waiting list for her book, In with the Old, which I may need to buy after I’ve had time to look at it. The show notes’ links really enhance the blog. Thanks!

    • Reply

      Caroline McDonald

      January 8, 2018

      So glad you’ve found them helpful! Yes, we loved sitting down with Jennifer. She’s such a wealth of information, and we’ll need to have her back. She’s just that smart and charming.
      Thanks for listening. Happy decorating!