Podcast, Ep. 169 Nashville Week: Rachel Halvorson

Rachel Halvorson How to Decorate Podcast

Photo: Alaina Mullin

We are on Day 4 of Nashville Week! This episode we are thrilled to be joined by another Nashville-based designer, Rachel Halvorson, of Rachel Halvorson Designs. Rachel found big success at a young age gracing the cover of Garden & Gun and she’s also been featured in LUX, Traditional Home, Southern Living and Better Homes & Gardens. Her work is incredibly varied; from farmhouse to contemporary to mid-century modern (MCM). We talk about how her approach is unique across every project, yet she manages to keep a clean style. We also talk about her go-to elements, her love of lighting, and the highly controversial “bookcase bathtub” that we mentioned in our previous episode with Stephanie Sabbe.

What You’ll Hear on This Episode:

  • Rachel found herself on the cover of Garden & Gun for her custom-designed porch swings.
  • How Rachel makes a farmhouse, a very popular Nashville look, feel more authentic and elegant.
  • Don’t rush the process! Designing your home is a journey. Rachel shares her approach to designing her own space.
  • The highly controversial “bookcase bathtub” picture from out last episode with Stephanie Sabbe‘s was actually Rachel’s. How she came up with it and why she got hate mail on it.
  • One of the most fascinating parts of design for Rachel is interpreting what people love and how they want to live, then incorporating that into her design. She likes people to think of their home as a time capsule.
  • Bookshelves are a particular challenge for Rachel mostly because other people ask her to pick out their books!
  • Are people actually reading books anymore or just decorating with them?
  • “Tammywood” was an MCM project Rachel did for two members of the Little Big band. It was every bit as eclectic as her client; a kind of Hollywood glamour meets Bohemian.
  • More than ever with people being at home, they want their homes to reflect them and their style. 
  • Rachel’s go-to elements are anything that has patina or is aged to give a house a sense of history. In terms of window treatments, she goes for lightweight to bring the outside in.
  • Rachel likes to use texture, rather than additional pieces, to add layers and a statement to a room.
  • Rachel is a fan of mismatching and adding in small vintage pieces to give a space character and make it feel “lived in”.
  • Beds are the hardest part of her job; while room-planning and lighting are the easiest. 
  • Rachel uses things like sconces and lamps to create soft, flattering lighting; partially inspired by her grandmother.


Decorating Dilemma

Hi ladies!

I love listening to you and have especially loved listening while being at home. You and your lovely guests have inspired me to tinker with some existing pieces I have. I do have a certain style I go for: traditional, southern, rattan, ginger jars etc. We moved into our first home last summer so I’m still trying to figure out how to decorate our very small living room. Our home was built in 1940 and has a lot of charm but decorating has been hard with the space we have. Do you mind giving me suggestions on how to make this space come alive, provide more seating, throw pillow suggestions, and how to decorate the built ins? I know I need curtains but don’t know how to go about that. I don’t love the fireplace and feel like it needs to be painted white or something? I was thinking I could put a plant in the middle to cover the ugly. HELP!

I ordered these 3 panels that will be here the beginning of August for the long wall.

The floor mirror I’m thinking has to go into another room. Perhaps the office that’s to the right off the living room? As you can see, this girl is needing some help y’all.


Hi Sarah,

This is a very cute room! The first thing Rachel always does in a project is paint and lighting. We would pull the dark blue color from that rug (and push that rug under your sofa a bit!) and paint around the fireplace and even the built-ins in a semi-gloss. We would even consider painting the shutters that same color…even the trim! There is a lot of attention on the TV, so we would suggest buying a Samsung Frame. Then when it’s off, it acts as a piece of art. For the bookshelves? Go get more books! Old leather books from a used bookstore could be really nice. If there is an outlet by the bookshelves, little lamps on either side would be a great addition. How about those teeny lamps you already have on your acrylic table? Then add one single larger lamp on that table. Maybe add some floor lamps and some sconces on the panel wall. You do need more furniture. You could fit two chairs; stay away from matching chairs but two in a neutral fabric would be nice. Toss some throw pillows with maybe the same dark blue and/ or the red brick.  A small chair by the fireplace would be very cozy and help round out the room. Another side table on the side of that sofa will also work. For window coverings definitely go for some lightweight or sheer curtains. If that’s a working fireplace, put some wood in it and use it. If not, some pretty birch wood or fireballs for a nice ambience.

We all love this room!  It’s not a dilemma; it’s an opportunity!

Mentioned In This Episode:

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Happy Decorating!

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Abbey Nolte

Abbey is a homegrown Georgia peach who loves a fresh take on Southern design. When she’s not working behind the scenes of the How to Decorate blog and podcast, you can find her cheering on the Appalachian State Mountaineers and spending time with her wheaten terrier, Charlie.


  1. Reply


    February 25, 2022

    you are missing pics! can’t see whole room

    • Reply

      Abbey Nolte

      March 22, 2022

      Hi Jenn,
      Those were all the pictures the listener sent in.
      Thanks for listening!