Podcast, Ep. 177: antique dealer Debbie Mathews

Antiques dealer and interior designer Debbie Mathews from Nashville

Our guest today has been in the antiques business for over 30 years. Debbie Mathews owns Nashville-based antique shop, Debbie Mathews Antiques and Design, and also created an interior design portion of the business in 2012. We talk all about Debbie’s love of antiques, why people shouldn’t be afraid to purchase them, and the best pieces to look for. Plus, Debbie weighs in on some Decorating Dilemmas about accent walls and mixing silver and gold!

What You’ll Hear on This Episode:

  • How Debbie got started in antiques and design in childhood and how it evolved.
  • Why Debbie thinks people shouldn’t be “afraid” of antiques and how every room should have one.
  • Tips for falling in love again with pieces you’ve had for a longtime.
  • Why Debbie is always on the hunt for a writing desk both for her shop and her clients.
  • Debbie’s love of a Louis Philippe chest and mirrors.
  • Which professionals to look for when restoring antiques.
  • How to know when to leave an antique “as is”.
  • Tips for feeling comfortable when buying an antiques.
  • Online sites for purchasing antiques.
  • One of Debbie’s biggest goals is to make antiques more approachable.

Decorating Dilemmas

Our home (open concept kitchen/breakfast/family room) is painted in BM Pittsfield Buff. Years ago, I painted the mantel and cubbies a rich brown. Now, I’m wondering if instead should paint an accent wall (Fireplace wall) or not.  

The rug is 9 by 12 that was handed down from my husband’s Mom and we have used it as the focal point of our family room.

Thanks for your suggestions.


Hi Cheryl,

First, I love accent walls!  Nothing can quite transform a space like paint.  Your focal point wall with the fireplace has too many different paint colors, and I definitely think you should paint the whole wall and cubbies one color.  Leave the fireplace and the mantle as they are.  I think it will make it more impactful and also more cohesive.  This will also highlight that beautiful Oriental rug you’ve inherited.  We all agree that we like the warm brown accent color so use that for the whole wall. 

We can’t wait to see it!

Hi Ladies! 

I inherited this bone china. I don’t love it by itself but I would like to juj it up by adding other pieces.. however, I’m at a loss. A lot of the prettiest china has gold whereas mine has silver. Can I use gold AND silver? I am pretty open to anything. I particularly love all the blue and white, and the hunt/horse china similar to what James Farmer uses. Florals are great, too. Also, are there rules for mixing china? Should the dinner plate be darker?

Any suggestions?

Thank you!


Jamie's silver china patternJamie,

Absolutely I think you can mix this china with gold.  One of the reasons I say this is because many of us, including myself, have china with a gold rim and we’re using silverware!  Also, so many of the kitchens we are designing now have stainless steel appliances, but I’ll still use brass hardware and plumbing fixtures.  I actually really like mixing metals, but I don’t like going beyond 2 metals.  I don’t think there are any hard and fast rules in creating a tablescape, and I like mixing silver and gold.  I think of it as creating a painting.  When you have a white plate, you could start with a colorful tablecloth or placemat and think of the other layers as accents that work with your “painting”.  I’m also okay with mixing patterns.  I’m personally a big fan, especially as we struggle for normalcy in 2020, of using a family heirloom in my tablescape.  You can also search for older pieces in antique shops or garage sales.  Karen says go ahead and stick a salad plate in your bag and carry it around with you so you can layer it up with what you find and see how it looks and feels.  She also thinks you can add some more gold accent pieces like these gold partridge salt and pepper shakers!

Thank you, Jamie! 

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.