Podcast, Ep. 89: designer Traci Zeller

Traci Zeller joins us in Charlotte to share her unique background and super interesting story of being a former lawyer turned interior designer. She talks with us about switching careers, her commitment to creating a rendering for each project, the inspiration behind her polished and put together style,  and how it all practically plays out in her house with twin boys and a puppy.

What You’ll Hear on This Episode:

  • Traci’s path into interior design, and how she knew it was time to leave her career as a lawyer to shift more into her career into interior design.
  • Dressing for our audience, and why Traci loves it much more now.
  • Why Taryn believes so much in renderings, and won’t do a project without them.
  • Organizational practices and systems that help Traci’s home remain polished yet practical with two twin boys and a puppy.
  • How her lines, although very different, carry a through line of Traci’s voice and style to sit well together.
  • Creating cohesion with different pieces and why we don’t need to matchy match everything.
  • How Traci mixed a traditional pattern with lavender trim to take a well received and beautiful bold room.
  • How Traci describes Southern style and how she applies it to practical living family homes. 
  • The showroom inspired by French Couture and the Christian Dior exhibit.
  • Traci’s process when taking on a new client, and how she digs in to get a feel for how they live and what they love.
  • Materials that are best for families and hold up through a lot of wear and tear, and the two products she swears by for ink and stain disasters.
  • More about her adorable puppy Chloe and the plans for making her crate beautiful, fancy, and stylish using Ballard products.

Decorating Dilemmas:

Hi All!

I am a new listener, but a huge fan of your podcast. I love my 1960s ranch in Brookhaven, GA, but have one room that drives me nuts.

This room was originally a tiny dining room, but after living with it for a while, we swapped it with the living room and it became what I affectionately called, “My Ladies Lounge.” Five years and three children later, they took over my chic room. I am trying to compromise since our home is on the smaller side (a little over 1600 square feet), and my darling children do love plastic junk, preferably in tiny pieces. This room is at the front of our home, and I cringe knowing this is one of the first rooms you see.

I want to remove the center bookcase (a cult favorite from Ikea), and put a sofa there. Around the sofa, we would like to put built-ins around. (I have attached an inspiration photo for reference.) I would like to add doors to the bottom to store toys. The problem is that this room is right off the kitchen, so I am not sure how to do built-ins with the ceiling header, flooring, and kitchen cabinetry next to it. Any ideas on how to work around this issue would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you for your help and for your insight and inspiration. (One last thing, please don’t judge the giant “Repent” artwork. We started collecting Jamie Hayes artwork in college during formals in New Orleans. At some point it just seemed fitting to hang in here due to the daily debauchery.)


Traci would recommend going as deep as you can for extra storage, and recess the shelving back if you wanted. You can absolutely do the type of build where the casing goes into the bookshelf,  you will just have to work around the casing. Traci would also like to encourage you that the plastic junk won’t last forever, and there will be a time that you get your ladies’ lounge back! Be sure to think about how it will function when that day comes, so it will be beautiful to you but practical now in this time period. This can be done, and you are super smart to capture some closed storage!

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.