Podcast, Ep. 138: Skye Kirby Westcott, our SVP of Merchandising and Product Design

Ballard Designs SVP of merchandising and design Skye Westcott

We’ve been waiting to get her on for a while, and this week we sit down with Skye Kirby Westcott, Ballard’s Senior VP of Merchandising and Design. She talks with us about her impressive tenure in design industry and how she seamlessly blends different styles. Skye also shares where she finds inspiration for new products and what trends she is excited to see come (and go) in the future and at Ballard.

What You’ll Hear On This Episode

  • Skye is responsible for much of the vision of Ballard, and she pulls her inspiration from many things including her travels around the world. She has an extensive background in design and merchandising and a love of interior design.
  • Yes, it is possible to blend the eclectic and colorful with the modern and contemporary. Skye talks about the different styles within her homes in Atlanta, Connecticut, and even her “tree house” in LA.
  • Skye’s time as an exchange student in Sweden introduced her to how the culture took time and thought to decorate their home, and she soon fell in love with their design style and IKEA. She talks about working for IKEA and how it still inspires her today.
  • Skye gained a ton of experience from working on the team that developed the first Anthropologie store, and developed more skills while at Lillian August in New York.
  • We can learn a lot from asking customers about what they don’t like.
  • Tips for creating a card catalog of inspiration while traveling, and to have an eye out for art and design elements that you will forever appreciate from your travels.
  • What product design trends Skye is looking forward to going away.
  • Why Skye believes we should finish one room at a time to build our confidence and sense of accomplishment.
  • Skye discusses where Ballard is headed visually, including the influence of Scandavidian design.
  • Get excited for some color in upcoming Ballard bedding collections!

Decorating Dilemmas:

I was gardening and listening to your 12/31/19 podcast with Vern Yip.  After he took us all through the mental exercise of imagining  walking into the most nurturing, warm environment for each of us and at the end said, “if your overall impression of your home isn’t what you pictured, I say it’s time to do something about it”.  That was an awakening moment for me and I’ll tell you why. 

I live in a 1956 mid-century modern-ish home.  Looks mid-century on the outside but more modern craftsman on the inside.  In the Pacific Northwest, the dark grey days outnumber sunny days 3 to 1.  When we moved into this home 13 years ago, we put in a dark cherry kitchen  , which goes with the mahogany wood trim.  What I really wanted was a white and light wood kitchen but couldn’t figure out how to do it.  I’ve gone back and forth for years about painting the cabinets white (and maybe some of the window and door case moldings) and darkening the floors a bit.

The real clincher for me is that I (along with my husband and boys) have spent the last two years undergoing 7 surgeries as well as chemo and radiation to beat colorectal cancer.  After weeks at a time in a hospital, coming home to a “dark” home is not very uplifting.  I love my home and believe my current kitchen/dining area beautiful, it does not give me the light/airy and zen like feeling I’d love to have.  When I heard Vern’s comment on your podcast, I felt both sad and hopeful, all at the same time. 

I have not gone through with painting the cabinets for a couple of reasons: 1) A couple of designers and lots of friends have said “don’t touch it!  It goes with the house” and 2) I am not sure if I need to paint ALL the reddish-brown wood.  Can I get away with painting the upper’s?  Or the perimeter cabinets?  My husband is opposed to changing out the expensive granite.  Also, the mahogany extends into the living room (see pic), which I’m ok with, so it would be nice to leave some mahogany in the dining portion of the space (base molding?). 

Anyway, would love to get your opinion.  And if you can suggest a good white, that would be great.

Thank you!



Skye is a huge advocate for making things light and bright in the house, and she (along with all of us) think you should go for it and paint! Maybe start with the kitchen cabinets so you can tackle those first, and then you can move on to the molding, door, windows, etc. We would recommend having a professional coming inand doing it for you. We know your husband may not want you to paint over the wood, but think that afterhe sees how good the kitchen looks he will be more on board. Good luck and be sure to send us an afterpicture!

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.


  1. Reply


    April 22, 2020

    I love this podcast! Thank you for continually recording. This podcast is saving my life during quarantine. I love listening to you girls and your wonderful guests. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!