Decorating a great room for a family with designer Whitney Durham and Ballard DesignsWhen Atlanta interior designer Whitney Durham appeared on the podcast last Spring, we loved getting to hear how she used our pieces in her clients’ homes. With a cheery color palette and smart choices for a busy family, we’re excited to share how Whitney decorated this great room for a family.

Living room with orange and blue floral fabric, designed by Whitney Durham with Ballard Designs piecesBallard Designs: Whitney, thank you for sitting down with us! We loved having you as a guest on our podcast, and were thrilled to learn that you used so many of our pieces in your client’s home. Thanks for letting us photograph it!

First off, give us a little context about your client. What were her expectations for the room in how it would function and the aesthetic she was looking for?

Whitney Durham: Thank you for having me!  Always a joy to connect and chat décor and design with you!

My client wanted her kitchen, breakfast room and family room to serve as their primary entertaining space with friends and guests, as well as, when it was just their immediate family. She wanted the room to have pops of color and was drawn to blues and oranges against a good neutral backdrop. She knew as a growing family with two young boys and a dog that the rooms needed to have durable fabrics, furniture, and stain treated rugs. This would help alleviate the stress of inevitable spills, dirt, and nature of everyday life.  

Durable Fabrics for a Busy Family

BD: When decorating this great room, how did the pieces you chose in the room help accomplish these goals?

WD:  We selected stain treated fabrics for the kitchen banquette, sofa and rugs, and the barstool seat cushions were recovered in a faux leather, perfect to wipe down after children finish eating. A sofa fabric with a textured blend and a subtle pattern camouflage spills and dirt more easily.

The Durham coffee table is a classic piece because of its straight lines, and the weather wood top is resilient to dings and scratches. In family friendly areas, I like to use a rounded side table with glass tops because they easily wipe down. Garden stools serve the same purpose — they don’t tip over and are also easy to clean.

Adding Color in a Great Room

WD: Because my client entertains in this space, we wanted to bring in extra seating, so we chose custom Ballard Designs ottomans upholstered in the same floral pillow fabric. The floral fabric hides stains, and I added a navy blue contrast welt to the floral ottomans for that perfect customized finishing touch!

BD: Tell us about the color palette of the room. Where did the inspiration come from and why did you turn to fabrics to bring in color?

WD:  When decorating a great room for a family, it can be challenging to balance beauty and functionality. Color adds so much life and personality to a space but it also hides wear and tear!  My client wanted pops of color throughout her home, so I opted for classic and neutral colors for the walls and primary furniture. I incorporated color through the pillows, stools, and window treatments in the kitchen and breakfast room. Colorful textiles are not as big of a commitment and easier to swap out when you are ready for change. My client gravitated towards blues and orange, so I obviously kept that in mind when making those selections.

8 Reasons to Use Pattern in Your Room

Decorating a great room with durable rugs, upholstery, and patterned fabricDesigner Choices

BD: As a designer, we know you have an extensive list of resources and vendors who help you execute your vision. Why did you choose our COM program to help you pull off this space?

WD:  Ballard’s COM program is very user-friendly, efficient and is filled with great textile options at reasonable price points.

BD: We know that you often use Trade Only sources in your design process. Is there a reason you sometimes choose Ballard pieces instead of a Trade Only source?

WD:  When designing a space, I aim to create a very curated aesthetic. Therefore, I like to select items from an array of sources and carefully place them together.  Ballard has a great selection of unique pieces to incorporate at good price points without the lengthier lead times that can come along with items purchased solely to-the-trade.  Ballard also has a wide selection of items that appeal to most personal design styles. They also have sales, promotions and discounts available to their customers on a regular basis.  This also helps to stay within a client’s budget.

BD: In addition to pillows and custom ottomans, you’ve used a couple of other furniture pieces – our Dayna stools and Durham coffee table. What drew you to those pieces?

WD:  The Dayna Stools are classic! They are also visually open and airy, while providing comfort with back support. I customized the seat cushions with a kid-friendly faux leather.  They offer a nice contrast to my client’s darker gray kitchen island and tie in with the perimeter cabinet color, backsplash and countertop. The Durham coffee table is also another timeless piece. It is very durable and classic. I like the mix of wood and iron materials, along with the lower shelf to display favorite books, accessories, etc. It is also airy and open underneath, so not too visually heavy and cumbersome.  The wood is warm but masculine next to the floral, more feminine aspects of the room.

Decorating a great room for a family by Whitney DurhamStaying on Budget

BD: We know that every project has a budget. Did sourcing pieces from Ballard help you stay on budget?

WD:  Yes, Ballard Designs has great price points for unique and customizable pieces. They also have frequent sales and promotions, as well as, new introductions to their product lines.

BD: Are you happy with how your Ballard Designs pieces contributed to the space?

WD:  Absolutely! They have proven to be durable, reasonable, and classic every time! I would definitely recommend mixing in Ballard Designs pieces into your own home and design project.

Find more home tours on our blog, or visit our Pinterest Boards for more design inspiration.

Did you like this post and find it helpful? Rate it below and share your thoughts in the comments!

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 15, 2020

    I Love all of your designs. I have a large living room and you can see the dining and eat in kitchen. My sofa is a gold tweed and I have two chairs in big print with blue, brick red, apple green and gold that I love. However most of my furniture is all mahogony. Makes the room dark. I want it soft and comfortable, but can’t seem to get there. room 20×16

    • Reply

      Abbey Nolte

      October 9, 2020

      I have a few suggestions to help brighten up your space and make it comfier. Try adding in a mirror, like this one. Not only will it help make the space feel bigger but it will reflect light and create a brighter atmosphere. I also suggest adding in neutral textiles like linen pillows and throws to soften up the space. Adding in some drapes like these linen sheer panels will also help create a soft and airy look.
      Happy Decorating,


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