Podcast, Ep. 156: designer Marshall Watson

Interior designer Marshall Watson joins the podcast to talk about his book, The Art of Elegance: Classic Interiors

New York-based designer Marshall Watson joins us this week to talk about trusting your intuition, his connection to Swedish design, and more. We also talk with Marshall about the importance of creating a floor plan and knowing a home’s architecture before going in on a big design. Marshall also talks about his new book, The Art of Elegance: Classic Interiors which pairs his personal stories of beautiful homes with photos showing their elegance and luxury.

What You’ll Hear On This Episode:

  • Why hiring a New York designer is the best – just ask Marshall how many unexpected obstacles and challenges come up when designing in small spaces that need both beauty and function.
  • Marshall believes in getting the architecture right first, then other design elements will fall into place.
  • Marshall is a native of Kansas City and graduated with three majors from Stanford University. He also has a love for theatre design and made it onto the Soap Opera As The World Turns as an actor!
  • We can interview ourselves when about to design our own homes, much like Marshall would interview a client. The first place to start is asking “how can I spoil myself in the best way possible?”
  • How to find artisans you trust and find it pleasurable to work with.
  • Marshall doesn’t believe in bad taste – there are opportunities to take a vision and make it fit.
  • Marshall shares how he got into Swedish design, and how the Swedish sensibility is practical, clean, and geared to bring more light in a home.

Daybed and slipper chairs in bright yellow color palette, designed by Marshall WatsonDecorating Dilemma:

Hello all,

Thank you so much for being a good distraction during these trying times.

I’ve listened to all of your episodes and always look forward to Tuesday with the girls.

I love our home but I do have a few areas I need your suggestions to complete.

I had these two side tables made by a local Amish skilled finish carpenter, inspired by Furlow Gatewood’s book “One Man’s Folly. I love them! What are your thoughts on lighting, artwork? Ceiling height is 11’. When we are back to entertaining, they will be used as our bar:) Next is our foyer. Our whole house is very special with all things we love. Our entry is missing the same vibe. There are many doors in this space.

Last is our all season room. What are your thoughts on adding drapes/window treatments?

Thank you so much for your opinions and suggestions!

Kind regards,


Brenda, we love that you love color and pattern. Marshall believes in pulling spaces together, and the tables along with the wallpaper as well. It would be nice to have a stack of two photos on top of it, preferably with the frames being the same color as the consoles so they are unified. He would put two frames and a pair of pictures that are a large print or have a large mat. A suggestion would be painting the wooden part of the chandelier white, along with the base of the table. You have a lot of doors, you might as well paint them the same color and celebrate them.  An indoor/outdoor carpet four inches from the wall could help accentuate and tie together the shapes while embracing what you have already done.

If you decide to paint the entry, you can’t paint the ceiling white because it will look cheap. You can use a little of the wall color, but dark walls mean a somewhat darker ceiling. If budget allows, you may want to think about new flooring for the entry-way to fit your bold and colorful vibe.

Mentioned In This Episode:

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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.