Podcast, Ep. 62: designer Kendall Simmons

Nashville interior designer Kendall Simmons joins the Ballard Designs podcast
Nashville interior designer Kendall Simmons joins the Ballard Designs podcast

Photo: Catherine Truman

Today’s guest hails from the music city! We loved chatting with interior designer Kendall Simmons, who talks the Nashville scene, her mix of fun and spunky with timeless pieces to create her own signature style, and why our home should be unique to us – no matter what our mothers may think.

Condo living room with fuchsia couch

Photo: Aimee Mazzenga

What You’ll Hear on This Episode:

  • When looking for new a new lamp, bring yours physically in to the store so you can make sure the shade fits perfectly
  • Caroline’s recent find in New Orleans, Nadine Blake, and what items she feels shouldn’t be missed
  • The super important steps to take when you have the feeling of wanting to throw everything out in your house
  • Kendall’s journey from Kentucky, to New York, to back south in Nashville
  • Kendall’s work with Campion Platt, and how it helped inspire her to blend modern elements with classic buildings
  • How Kendall developed her own aesthetic and continues to keep developing and growing her tastes and proclivities
  • Kendall’s own personal projects in Nashville, including a loft in a converted factory building, and short term rental
  • Why her beautifully designed short term rental is so popular
  • Even if you don’t have a huge budget, Kendall feels it’s very important to have as many local art pieces as you can
  • Kendall’s “no rules” rules for gallery walls and her favorite artists for you to Google right away
  • How Kendall uses spatial and verbal descriptions when working with clients to help them understand the impact their decor choices will have on the room
  • The perfect condition for having different color trims and themes throughout the house
  • The criteria for painting a room dark and what to expect when you paint it in high gloss
  • Kendall and her husband’s commitment to travel and some of the interesting life perspective they have learned along the way
  • Kendall’s advice for what to collect on your travels
  • Her top three shopping spots in the entire world
  • Kendall’s top secret insider information about flea markets in Paris
  • The weirdest things Kendall has bought throughout her travels, and what landed her to get questioned in the airport security line
  • Kendall’s high / low mix that allows for her clients to stay within their budget, yet splurge on some forever pieces

Decorating Dilemmas

How do you add more lamps to a room? My living room only has 2. A task lamp on the desk and a floor lamp in between the sofa and loveseat. I do not have side tables because of a large coffee table. Also the furniture is in between windows so a lamp would go directly in front of a window. Is this a faux pas? I do have overhead lighting with dimmers ?

You touched upon one of Kendall’s deepest loves – lamps. She recommends even though there is a large coffee table, you need a side table to anchor the sofa. She would anchor a beautiful lamp on either side of the couch, and some plug in wall sconces. We like two floor lamps on either side of the sofa, and one by the loveseat and one behind the chair, if there is a corner to have said chair.

It’s definitely not a faux pas to have a lamp in front of a window!


Hey Ladies!

I love your Podcast (I think everyone says this- but really, I DO)! My husband and I bought our home about 2.5 years ago and although we’ve been ready to gut the kitchen since day 1, we wanted to live in it for awhile in order to get a feel for how we use the space. We knew that the Kitchen would turn into a first floor reno at the same time.

SO, here is where I need your professional opinions 🙂

We have a small family room that is open to the kitchen area- it has a large fireplace on one end (opposite the kitchen), and about 36″ on either side of the fireplace.  We are trying to determine if it makes more sense to:

a. Put windows on either side of the fireplace


b. Built-ins on either side of Fireplace. (with recessed lights inset)

Some other items to note. They are only 8′ ceilings, and there is a covered porch off the back of this room causing reduced amount of natural light in the space. I desperately want the room to feel light, bright and airy… We’ll be painting the walls Benjamin Moore White Dove to help with this… ripping out the awful carpet and putting hardwood floors in, new sofa (not a sectional) and chairs etc.


I would also love to know your thoughts on floor plan- furniture layout. We don’t have tons of space- and the door to the porch opens into the room (almost right in the middle preventing furniture on that side.)

Thoughts? See pictures attached. Any/All ideas are welcome!


If you are a true blue book/pottery/collectibles fan, Kendall suggests built-in bookcases as a fantastic way to display your existing library with pride. If you aren’t a big collector, she agrees that more windows would do a great job of opening and lighting up the room. Kendall would rather see a beautiful sofa with a pair of swivel chairs facing the mantle (rather than a large sectional perpendicular to the mantle), a small footstool, and some bold art and possibly two drapes. Depending on budget, you can also change the door swing and leave the opening in place but have it swing outwards rather than inside.

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.