Podcast, Bonus Episode: Dilemmas with Maggie Griffin

Interior designer Maggie Griffin answers all of your burning decorating dilemmas


On today’s episode, we’re answering all of your burning decorating dilemmas with one of our favorites, Maggie Griffin. She was one of our first guests on episode 25, and we loved having her so much. We also gave her the ‘Best Instagram to Follow’ award, and you can see her home tour. Suffice it to say, she’s a total pro, so there’s no better person to answer all of your questions!

Decorating Dilemmas:

Hi Ladies!

I love the show, I’ve learned SO much from all the great experts! Can you please talk about how to mix fabric textures and weaves? I hear a lot about how to mix patterns, but not how to get the right mix of types of fabrics in a room. Right now I’m decorating our living room from scratch, and for different seating pieces I know I want something leather, and other items in fabrics…Can I do chenille and velvet in the same room? Can I mix linen and plain cotton? What about jacquard, and twill, and even mudcloth? Are there tried and true “recipes” to get a good mix? I want my room to be harmonious but not flat and boring! 

Thanks, Lisa

Hi Lisa! It depends more on the feel you want to create for the room, but a leather ottoman is always a great place to start. It looks great and is easy to clean. You don’t want all bold patterns in the room, so make sure you balance out all the patterns and use different colors, shapes, and designs. There is nothing better than a velvet sofa, but a silk velvet sofa is hard to take care of and prevent stains!

Hi Friends, 

I love your podcast & listening to your trials.   My living room is a trial.   I have a scale problem too!   I tend to buy to small.  I need help finishing out my room so it feels comfortable & inviting.  I need art, lamps, small tables & a better lay out possibly. I plan to replace the TV with a slimmer model without the silver frame.  This room is off of our front entry.  Used my by family for TV watching & playing on the floor.  I have 4 kiddos. 

 If you could recommend any of these things I would be so great full.  

In Friendship ,


Kerry, you may be able to tell how excited we are about your space due to our photoshopped plan for you that was already sent back!  Next, a giant piece of art over the sofa would look great, and moving the secretary hutch will help fill the room and counterbalance the built-in and the fireplace with the TV on it. We think splitting the silhouette of your four children to flank the window will add some symmetry. A beautiful gray rug would cover the carpet and make it cozier. Maggie suggests adding a chandelier, maybe something modern or funky!


 I love your podcast so much and have the best time listening to y’all! I need some help with my formal living room if you can help!

The layout of this room is giving me some issue as to how to arrange furniture! It seems like there will be so much unused space in the middle. We want it to be a formal living room. We could also use some help getting it to feel a bit modern while playing into the classic style of the house. I’d like to use browns and greens and creams in here, thinking of botanical and nature prints etc It is 16×20. So the room all in all is 16×20. The parts that make it a bit harder are the wall by the stairs that leads into the entry which itself is 11.5 feet, and the wall that opens to the kitchen which is 15.5.


Thank you Becky, and wow, what a nice space! So, an 8 foot wide sofa would give you plenty of room to walk around, and a console table with some lamps behind the sofa would be lovely. A chair in the corner to the right of the fireplace would give another nook to sit and read, or just enjoy a cup of coffee.

Hi ladies!

First, let me say that I LOVE your podcast. I just moved into a 100 year old home in Pittsburgh and decorating has never been my thing (I am not very good at it and have never particularly enjoyed it). Listening to your podcast has given me inspiration and has made me enjoy the process of having a new home (and new projects)!

My question is what to do about our new dining room. The dining room has original wood floors, original windows, and two entrances – a larger one from the foyer/front door and a smaller one from the kitchen. The room also has shadow boxes (I think that is what these are called), which I love and would like to keep, but the inside of the shadow boxes has an Asian themed wallpaper that isn’t really my style. I also am not attached to the red walls.  I just don’t know what to do with the room… should I take down all of the wallpaper and put new wallpaper up with a different paint choice on the walls? Or should I take down all of the wallpaper and paint the room? And if I decide to do paint instead of wallpaper, should I paint the inside of the boxes the same as the walls, or should I do a different color?  I am pretty open and willing to take a little risk with the room. We also need a new chandelier, but I have been holding off because I am paralyzed by indecision! We love the dining room table (although normally it is not fully extended as it in this picture) – that is the only thing in the room that we care about keeping. I would say that my style is traditional with some modern and contemporary components.

Thank you! I hope to hear your great ideas!


PS – Ignore some of the 1st birthday and halloween decorations that are still up 🙂

Maggie loves wallpaper, but thinks it could be so fun to paint the room one color. It would give you a soothing look that would match your table and chairs. She would put a cushion and some pillows in the window, and a big area rug to give the room some texture. We also suggest a bigger and more modern  chandelier hung 32-34 inches from the table top for more romantic light. Three chairs on each side would give great seating options but also give you ample room on the sides. Check out Ballard’s acrylic shelves, and if you want plate inspiration check out Maggie’s Instagram.

Hi Ladies –

I love your podcast!  We did a large renovation to my 150 year old home about 15 years ago and it is time to refresh a few rooms. I am planning to start with my family room. The couch and chairs  definitely need to be replaced.  My quandary is how to make it feel fresh and current without necessarily following the grey trend. I also want the house to feel cohesive. I’ve attached photos of the family room as well as the kitchen and dining room since the family room and dining room can be seen from the kitchen.  Note: currently the family room and dining room are painted the same color.  All paint colors are Benjamin Moore Historic colors. Thanks for your


A sofa with a taller back and large side table with floor to ceiling drapery would give this beautiful historical home what it needs! We recommend a new rug and even going a little riskier with the accessories and colors you use! The name of the game here is chunky lamps and big side tables. Painting your built in is not a deal breaker, but can be really fun. Check out the Kenneth Pleated Drum Shade Chandelier!

Hi Ladies!

Ya’ll are my favorite podcast to listen to and I love hearing your trials and triumphs. I have been inspired to make a change to my BORING guest bedroom but I’m struck with indecision and don’t know where to start.

It’s a tiny bedroom with very little floor space. The walls next to the window are at an angle and I feel like the only kind of bedside table that works is the kind I have now. The only thing I really like in the room are the curtains(are they old lady?) and the headboard. I need advice on what kind of bed linens will look best in this room. I love monogrammed pillows and white bedding but with white walls I feel like it’s just too much white. Also, should I put mirrors above the bedside tables? I have art that I don’t necessarily love on the other walls.  I’m not sure if I should leave those walls empty or leave art there? The opposite wall facing the window is a wall with three doors…one to the hallway, one to the closet and one to the bedroom. It’s too small for even a dresser in the room. What would ya’ll do to this room if it was in your house? Help me decorate it!

 I appreciate all your advice and tips to make this sad room more stylish and inviting!


We first wanted to give some suggestions about your drapery! The rod pocket is dating it a bit, and a ring would be easier to move back and forth. Maddie mentions that adding a bamboo shade behind the bed would be easy to open and close. To find a seamstress that you love, try fabric stores, a dry cleaner, or just good old word of mouth. We do feel as though the lamps are a bit small, and a rectangular shade can look great. A mirror on either side of the window would be beautiful and reflect light. In terms of color, off white or cream would give it a clean and cozy look.

Dear Karen, Taryn, and Caroline,

Our home has a long family room in an open floor plan downstairs. I’m interested in adding more lamps (in fact I already purchased some amazing drippy glaze oversized  mid-century ceramic table lamps in a rust and cream color that picks up of of the colors in the new artwork in the room.) At the same time, I have recently removed some floating shelves in the living room that we’re holding quite a number of books in the formal living room. I’d like to place a long console along the back of the sofa to have the lamps on top and books and objects on the shelves, but I’m having a hard time finding a table or shelves that are long enough. The sofa back is 90 inches long. Most of the consoles I find are about 50-70″. Will it look wierd if the console doesn’t span the width of the sofa back? Also, the lamps are quite large and I don’t want them too close together. Should I have something custom made? Should I put two console tables together? Also, we’re inheriting a piano which will go along the wall by the art on the right and we will mount the guitars on the wall. I feel the room needs something else, but what? A rug and two chairs and a little side table between them? A settee? A single lounge chair and side table? Help, space is at a premium in my home and I want to use the space well. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.


Small open concept room from podcast listenerOpen concept kitchen and living room with sliding glass doors

First, we love the lamps and your style. It does seem like you are tight on space, so adding a piano may be somewhat of a challenge, but since music is your passion we think it can work! We like guitars on the wall, and it looks artistic and pretty. Our suggestion would be to use our room planning tool, so that way you can put everything in the room and find great ways to organize it.

Hi Ladies!

I love the podcast – thanks for sharing so much in each episode.

We are building a new house on the property that my Father-In-Law grew-up. We will have an “office” right off the entry with glass French doors. We plan to use this as a den / sitting room with our piano.  The space will also need to double as a guest room when we have visitors. Both of our sons (9 and 7 years old) play piano and we like having the piano in a space somewhat separate from main part of the house – but with comfortable seating so we can sit in there and enjoy while they are playing. The challenge is figuring out how to arrange this space as there is a window on 3 of the walls and the French doors and small closet on the remaining wall.

We’d like to consider a sleeper sofa – perhaps a small sectional like the Ballard Nora for easy transition as a guest space. We of course need to include the standard upright piano. And we need to contend with all those windows (one looks out to the creek our property is situated on). I have attached the floorplan and a few pictures. Any help you can provide on how to arrange furniture and maximize this space is most appreciated! 

  • Room dimensions – 15’ – 7.5” x 12’ – 7”
  • Windows are 6’ wide (large window) and 3’ wide for the other two.

When you ladies have solved this problem for me you can help me with the rest of the house – ha!



A shallow built-in to hold a frame or charging phone would be great. Since it’s a nice big room, as big of a rug as you can get would be great. We also recommend using the room planning tool on our website to fiddle around with the chairs and sofa to find what works best with the dimensions of the space.  You can definitely fit all the things in there, and we love the grill and outdoor kitchen!

Love, love, love the podcast. I found it a few weeks ago and have been binge listening. I have learned a lot and have been encouraged by the fact that even the professionals get stumped sometimes and it takes a team effort to get it right.

This is my keeping room which is lived in a lot by family of 5 plus our dog. We hang out here and watch tv.

 It’s adjoining to kitchen and we do entertain  a lot. I just gutted and redid kitchen completely. Huge island painted SW Naval and surrounding cabinets in SW Alabaster. Love my wood range hood.

I am stumped on wall/bookshelves color and drapery fabric in Keeping Room.

Not sure if white paint is too cool when mixed with the current fabrics I already have going on.

Couch is light beige, leather recliner is a caramel color, rug is busy mixture of navy, blues, browns, reds and even a tad of orange. Right now, walls are SW Alabaster which is same as kitchen cabinets, fireplace and built in bookshelves. should I paint bookshelves? Color?  

Can’t seem to find a fabric that is right fit for curtains. Should I go neutral or try to tie into the navy blue island and rug. I can’t seem to find a readymade curtain panel, so I may need to do custom. What am I looking for at fabric store. 

Usually I have a picture in my head, but at this point, I can’t seem to pinpoint what would help finish off the room. Just feels like it needs something to bring it all together.

Thank you!!


We are super impressed with your styling! We would love to see a layered rug, maybe an indoor/outdoor sisal to add a bit of warmth. We would remove the top shelf for more space, and replace it with a big woven platter or antique cutting board for some texture. Add in some contemporary pieces to balance the classic. We like the way you paired the rug with the blue floral. Personally, we wouldn’t do a gallery wall over the sofa.

I have been looking for some green roller shades a la Tom Scheerer and am coming up empty handed.  Do you have any sources you would recommend?

And thanks for making car pickup line and dish duty way more entertaining!!

Over the sofa, a big statement piece would be beautiful. This space gives you an opportunity to do something contemporary, and maybe check out some shades from The Shade Store if you plan on using it every day. A picture light hard wired in and a pair of matching end tables would give the space some symmetry as well!

Hi, ladies!

I adore your podcast. Your guests are always inspirational, and don’t listen to the haters who don’t love your triumphs and trials; you’re all hilarious!

Here’s my question… I’m spending a couple of weeks in Europe next summer (Budapest, Bratislava, Vienna, Prague, and Krakow), and I’d love to find some great markets and bring home as many home goods as I can fit into my luggage (or on my lap). I’m thinking linens/fabrics, small antiques, or perhaps art. Do you or your guests have any recommendations regarding wonderful markets in these cities?

Many thanks,

Thank you for loving our trials and triumphs! We would love to visit some of these cities as well, and recommend you go full force of picking up pieces that mean a lot to you and your family! You can google “European Antique Markets” and there are sites that will list when they are and what they have. You can always ship it home, pack an extra suitcase, or make your husband carry it back for you like we do!

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!

Subscribe in iTunes | Stitcher | Google Play | Spotify

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.