Living Room Design with Blogger Kathleen Barnes

When blogger Kathleen Barnes of Carrie Bradshaw Lied moved from an apartment in San Francisco to a family home in Athens, Georgia, she had a lot of empty space to fill and a different perspective on how to furnish her living room. With a focus on function and quality pieces, Kathleen worked with expert Robin Cauley of our Design Solutions program to make thoughtful choices for her living room design that suited her style and growing family.

Read on to learn more about our Design Solutions program, and how Kathleen used this free service to create her dream living room

Ballard Designs: Kathleen, tell us a little about your blog, Carrie Bradshaw Lied. 

KB: I started this website in 2010 as a way to stay connected with my girlfriends who I often dressed and styled in college. My first job out of college was at a magazine, a dream job!  After a magazine folded and many were laid off, I realized life after my degree wasn’t as effortlessly fabulous and sprinkled with sparkle as Carrie Bradshaw led me to believe post-grad publishing life might be. And so the blog began. 

I wanted to be the editor-in-chief of my own content while pursuing marketing and social media outside of the publishing space.

CBL shares attainable luxury in not only fashion and home, but also travel, cooking and family. It is intended to be a resource to find realistic inspiration.

New Space, New Challenges

BD: You recently moved from California to Georgia. Has it been challenging moving from a small home to a large one?

KB: Oh my goodness, it feels completely different!  Before I would decorate a space knowing it was temporary, and I’d be packing it up in a year or two. There was less desire to invest in things like sconces, art, anything breakable, beautiful upholstery and so on, as I knew it would be in a moving truck eventually.

In this home, we have really taken the time to invest in quality pieces that reflect both our style and are functional for our lives for many years to come. There are no plans to move anytime soon, so I can think less about how it’s going to fit into a box and more about how it’s going to fit into our life.

Living room with white sofa in Sunbrella performance fabric and swivel gliders in Kathleen Barnes living room

Working with a Design Expert

BD: Have you ever worked with a designer before?

KB:  I have a little bit, but not in a start-to-finish space.

BD: How did working with Design Solutions on your living room design compare to your previous experiences? 

KB:  An area I strive to be better in is mixing prints in the home. Oddly enough, I have no trouble mixing prints in my wardrobe, but when it comes to fabric, rugs, drapes, I’ve always struggled to feel confident in my choices. 

This was something that was hugely helpful about Design Solutions. We looked at swatches together, and I was able to work with Robin. It was not just guidance but an actual learning experience.

TIP FROM DESIGNER ROBIN CAULEY

“A lot of people know what inspires them but they don’t know how to get there. I like seeing the vision they have and helping them find it with the furniture.” 

Designer Robin from our Design Solutions program helped Kathleen pull the room design togetherBD: What were your goals for this room?

KB: I wanted this to be a more formal living space than our TV room. I wanted this room to be a place we lingered, had conversations, and played card games with a glass of wine, but it was important to me that it still be a space that felt casual enough that we would enjoy it regularly.

Building the Room Design

BD: Was there anything in particular that you wanted to work into the room plan?

KB:  I knew I wanted an androgynous room that pulled some moody tones – dark greens, black and gold.  When I saw the Casa Florentina Rawson Rug, I thought it could really make a statement.  I was a little nervous not to choose my go-to sisal, but I could not love it more. It is so soft on the feet, and the colors are even more gorgeous in person.

TIP FROM DESIGNER ROBIN CAULEY

“Encouraging a glass-top coffee table so that the rug still stayed a feature in the place.”

BD: Did you have a wish list when you came for your first appointment? If so, what items caught your eye?

KB:  I love all of Suzanne Kasler’s pieces for Ballard. I had the single cushion Mathes Sofa in mind for its clean lines. Paired with Sunbrella fabric, it’s both beautiful while also being durable for our growing family. I also knew I wanted to incorporate black lamp shades and solid linen drapes.

Risks that Pay Off

BD: We spoke with Robin, and she mentioned that you were apprehensive about some of her choices. For example, she said the rug was a concern for you. Are you pleased with the risks you took?

KB: I knew Robin had an incredible eye, but I have only had neutral or natural fiber rugs in the past. I didn’t want to regret not going with my typical choice. 

However once it arrived in person, I had no doubts it was the best pick for the room. I think the space is clean and androgynous – perfect for a weekend cocktail or rocking our son while watching the sunset through the shutters. We absolutely love it.

TIP FROM DESIGNER ROBIN CAULEY

The great thing about Ballard is that we have lots of different styles, so we can create a unique mix of pieces for each client. No room should ever check one box, and we can help you take risks you aren’t comfortable with on your own.

BD: Was it helpful for her to come to your home?

KB:  Very much so.  I arrived to our meeting with measurements and photos of the space, but having her in the room to get an idea for scale changed some of our choices. We added an additional console table, chose larger side tables and so on.

Pieces with Purpose

BD: What’s your favorite part of the room design?

KB:  We can’t get enough of the Larkin Swivel Gliders. Every Saturday and Sunday morning I can catch my husband reading in them.

Having a rocker downstairs has been so amazing with a newborn baby. I know we will sit in those chairs and enjoy them for years and years to come. 

Kathleen Barnes of Carrie Bradshaw Lied reveals her living room designBD: Now that it is complete, is the room functioning the way you hoped it would?

KB:  Absolutely. You see this room right when you walk in the front door, and the cased openings make it a room we are in at some point every single day. It feels elevated from our family room but still comfortable and approachable, which is exactly what I had hoped for.

BD: Thank you so much, Kathleen, for partnering with us on your living room design. We love the way it turned out, and most importantly, we hope you love it too!

Shop all of the pieces in her room. Or find more styling and decorating tips on our blog and website:

We partnered with Kathleen Barnes to sponsor this living room. In exchange for product, she agreed to use our Design Solutions program and document the process.

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Caroline McDonald

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.

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