Podcast, Ep. 170 Nashville Week: Ray Booth

Ray Booth How to Decorate


This is the last day of our Nashville Week! Our guest this episode has many layers. Ray Booth is a designer, architect, bestselling author of Evocative Interiors, partner at McALPINE Design and this year launches his inaugural furniture collection with Hickory Chair and his first accessory and lighting collection with Arteriors. We talk to him about the design of his multiple homes including a home that rose from the ashes; Travelers Ridge. We ask him about decorating the mundane spaces, his love of light and drapery,  and how to know when we have overfilled a room.  

What You’ll Hear on This Episode:

  • How Ray got his start with McALPINE and his journey from Alabama to NYC and back again.
  • The backstory on Ray’s grand hilltop home, Travelers Ridge, in Nashville. He literally built the home from the ground up on the land of charred ruins.
  • Ray shares how he makes use of the outdoor space using terraces and how he makes a 5200 sq ft home feel intimate using layers, texture, proportion, and scale.
  • Ray likes to think of a home as a story using pauses and punctuation and uses things like screens, scrims, and curtains in the home to accomplish that.
  • Ray likes to use lightweight and thin drapery in order to “activate” the windows in a room.
  • Ray created “working pantries”, complete with a sink, as landing place for dishes and other things so the kitchen can remain the gathering place without having the messy stuff front and center.
  • Round rugs get a bad wrap, but Ray thinks if you do them in a solid color it becomes a fun, graphic way to define a space.
  • In terms of embracing or ignoring the style of a home, it’s important to listen and hear what the client is asking for.
  • You want your design to have staying power, so we have to acknowledge where we are both location wise and architecturally. The design of Ray’s homes are heavily influenced by this.
  • Ray hopes that people will seek more authenticity from their homes due to spending so much time in them during the pandemic. Our homes are such an extension of our inner selves.
  • Ray considers light to be “magic elixir” and designs and builds to allow light into the home.

Decorating Dilemma

Hi all,

Well I am emailing again. Caroline I cannot thank you enough for the advice from my prior email. I have painted the entry way Wedgewood Grey as you suggested, and it looks much better. I have gone off on a painting and decorating tangent, much to my husband’s dismay (I make him help me paint) Our entire downstairs has now been repainted- powder room is Hail Navy, open concept living accessible beige and many of the rooms upstairs painted too, all that is left is our master bedroom and our youngest sons room.

My current dilemma is to do with the master. I have the Celine rug in cream in there, and a grayish slightly blue duvet and shams and two mercury glass lamp bases all that I’d like to keep in the room. The current shades on the lamps are the darker in the photo of the entry below. I heard y’all talking about Schumacher and have now done so much design research that I came across Pyne Hollyhock in charcoal and fell in love. It’s expensive, however I had a small accent pillow cover made on Etsy and was also able to snag a fabric remnant 136 inches x 18 inches wide also in Pyne Hollyhock charcoal off of Etsy. I would love to have two gathered lamp shades made from the fabric to coordinate with the accent pillow. Thought on this? My other questions are, I would prefer a different drapery in here velvet maybe, but not sure what color? Also, I was thinking of painting the walls Trade wind by SW (bluer grey than bedding) but not sure. Any and all help and opinions are much appreciated.



Ray Booth How to Decorate Podcast

Hi Amelia,

Great to hear from you again! Here’s what Ray has to say. 

Let’s start with the drapery. A lighter drapery is going to allow the light to come in. If you have to have the blackout option, I would look to a Roman shade instead of the heavy velvet. I would encourage you to not put the patterned fabric on the lampshades. Lamps are for light, so I like the crispness and the brightness of a white shade rather than a gathered fabric shade. If you are going to use that accent fabric, think of doing almost a king-sized pillow with it rather than chopping it into smaller pieces. Color wise, I think your walls are really the opportunity to bring some color into the room. This will contrast with the white lampshades and lighter drapery.

Keep decorating and sending us your questions, Amelia!

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.