Podcast, Episode 95: designer Matthew Carter

Interior designer Matthew Carter, photo by Linzay Marks

Photo: Linzay Marks

We cover so much today with our guest, interior designer Matthew Carter, that it’s an episode you don’t want to miss! From brown furniture to bookshelves to investing in great pieces and so much more, Matthew offers us down-to-earth advice about decorating your home and how the laidback horse farms of Kentucky inform his style.

What You’ll Hear on This Episode:

  • Why a collected and beautiful house feels more evolved than everything matching
  • Matthew’s design process which starts with fabrics and furniture layout
  • Matthew’s background and how it has evolved 
  • Why it’s okay to mix and match colors, finishes and fabrics.
  • How to break up a room seamlessly, and why hosting a party can help you plan your furniture layout
  • Great ways to bring down the formality and humanize the room using a formulas for curtains, sofas and rugs
  • Built ins are a great way to add architecture to a space — just make sure you have books!
  • Painted chairs are always beautiful and a new coat of paint is a great way to freshen up a room
  • Every room needs a mix of high and low, and Matthew reminds us we can’t be too intimidated by decorating in general
  • If you have to move a pillow to sit down — it’s flat out wrong!
  • Matthew’s take on curtain length

Decorating Dilemmas:

Hey ladies,

I hope it’s ok if I ask another question. Y’all were so helpful with my bedroom, I just need a little advice in my dining room. I just painted the walls farrow and ball Hague blue and we are in the process of putting picture molding across the bottom. The goal of painting it blue was to convince my husband we needed navy grasscloth (and it worked!) so that’s coming soon.

Anyway, I don’t know what to do about window treatments and a rug. I feel like some drapes would be nice but I don’t know if I should do a print or solid, light or dark. I have a ballard banquette in red with dotty fabric and dotty on all the dayna chairs. Obviously I’m a big color fan! Should the rug be neutral? I have the diamond sisal in my family room but sisal probably isn’t a great idea in the dining room.

Thanks in advance!


It always comes down to budget, and what the rest of the house looks like. Matthew can possibly see a flat weave or something with contrasting colors like corals, oranges, blues and creams. He would also go pretty simple with the curtains such as a ticking stripe and linen, or simple on the rug and bold on the curtains with a print you really love. If you don’t need a lot of privacy, maybe take the curtains up to the crown molding to give the room more height and natural lighting.

Show Notes:

Folding cover around edge of magazines

Matthew’s client folded the covers around magazines to make her bookshelf more interesting

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


    August 12, 2019

    Hi ladies!
    I love your podcast! You interviewed my dear old friend/co-worker Fran Keenan… That’s how I found you! I listen to you as I walk my dog every morning. You’re all so fun & inspiring.
    I’m intrigued today listening to Matthew Carter. I really want to see what he meant about his clients magazine display. I have several bookshelves in my home that are empty now. I have books on a few but mostly “dustables”!
    I do collect several types of magazines. I’m trying to understand what he meant by folding the cover/ displays color?
    Hope you can help!

    • Reply

      Caroline McDonald

      August 12, 2019

      I’m so happy to hear the you like the show and find it inspiring. Also, Fran is fabulous. I’m such a huge fan of hers.
      Matthew actually just sent me a photo of his client’s bookshelf, so I’ve added it to this episode’s notes. See above!