Podcast, Ep. 56: designer Katie Lydon

Interior designer Katie Lydon joins the How to Decorate podcast to talk about color, her own NYC loft, and much more

Photo: Tory Williams

This week we are joined by the very talented Katie Lydon. Originally from London, Katie founded her downtown New York interior design firm in 2002. Katie has been featured in House Beautiful, Elle Decor, The New York Times, and Metropolitan Home. We talk with Katie about her love of color, her recent work with longtime client, author and podcaster Gretchen Rubin, and plans for the renovation of her home. We also speak with Katie about her favorite part of the design process, and ways to inject personality whether you are going for a contemporary, modern or classic look.

Interior designer Katie Lydon designed author and podcast host Gretchen Rubin's New York apartment

James Merrell

What You’ll Hear on This Episode:

  • How Katie got into the design field
  • Katie’s work with longtime client Gretchen Rubin, featured in the April issue of House Beautiful
  • Her love for Gretchen’s design confidence and bold yet elegant choices.
  • The return of purple in editorial, and how to use the color purple to create a certain mood in the home
  • The similarities between her work in Gretchen’s home and an English countryside room in decor, molding, bookcases, and abundance of seating
  • Some practical tips and tricks of furniture arrangement, seating options and creating intimacy in a large space
  • Katie’s editing and simplicity in both contemporary and traditional spaces, and her method of letting the people bring the majority of the character and personality into the space
  • Katie’s plans to renovate her own home, including updating the loft with central AC, new kitchen area and mud room
  • How to pick fixtures and finishes in your kitchen that will stand the test of time and last through trends
  • How to cover the basics yet push the envelope when designing a home for a family
  • The importance of living in a space before renovating it
  • Katie’s design pet peeves, and why she may move tables at your home while you aren’t looking
  • The differences between English design and American design, and where Katie draws her inspiration from within each of them

Decorating Dilemmas

Hello and thank you for hosting in a way that makes it feel like chatting with friends—love the podcast.

Now for a couple of questions. On Hometown, Erin and Ben said that scored concrete floors were so 90s. We have scored concrete floors because they are practical—we have inside dogs. They were less expensive than alternatives. Do you agree that they are dated?

Question two—is it tacky to hang your own art work? I am a painter. Recently we redid a room and needed a large piece of art. So I used one of my own works. I couldn’t afford to buy a piece this big , so using one of my own seemed a logical solution. Have I committed a faux pas?

These are not design dilemmas I realize. But I’m interested to know what y’all think.

Thank you,


Thank you, Carter! Katie thinks concrete floors are fabulous, and suggests buffing and lighting them regularly to give them a deep cleaning. You also may want to look into one large rug in the living room. Secondly, yes – show off your artwork loud and proud.


Hello ladies!

I have listened to hours of your podcast while waiting in car lines for school (it’s my favorite time of day!), and perhaps I have missed the one where you may have touched on this, but what are your thoughts about when and how to display family photos? We currently have one gallery wall that is adjacent to our dining room where I made a grid of 11×14 frames – 3 rows of 3 frames. 

Don’t get me wrong- I love seeing photos of my family all over the house, but I haven’t found another solution for displaying photos without it looking cluttered or screaming “hey look at us!!!!” Large canvas family photos with decals or wood signs that say “family” situated on a large otherwise blank wall isn’t really want I am going for in terms of decor. But what about small framed photos on the entryway console or tucked into a bookshelf?

Basically, how do you guys tastefully display photos of your family throughout your own homes?

Cheers from the west coast!


We like what you have going on, but feel as though having meaningful objet throughout the house can elicit the same feelings of family and connection as a photo grid without the clutter. One suggestion is adding photo frames to a big bookcase, or creating a coffee table or nightstand photobook from the highlights of your recent year.

Show Notes

Please send in your questions so we can answer them on our next episode! And of course, subscribe to the podcast in iTunes so you never miss an episode. 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

    Lee Drummond

    September 8, 2018

    I appreciated the discussion about family photos! I am glad I am not the only one trying to figure out how to tackle this. A quick tip: A cloud-based NixPlay is a great way to display many family photos in one spot. It is a photo display screen that can be updated from anywhere. Ideal for people with loved ones (especially grandkids) far away and for people with lots of photos who don’t want to display them all in frames.

    Thanks for this wonderful podcast that always gets me thinking!!

    Lee Drummond

  2. Reply

    Nancy Lear

    August 2, 2018

    I diligently listen to your podcast. This week I enjoyed more than most. Katie Lydon was so down to earth and she shared valuable decorating advice for your listeners! thank you so much

    • Reply

      Caroline McDonald

      August 2, 2018

      Thank you! Thank you! We love hearing that, and I’m so happy that you enjoyed this episode. Thanks for listening, and please send more feedback always.