Podcast, Ep. 180: designer Matthew Patrick Smyth

Today’s guest is acclaimed interior designer and photographer Matthew Patrick Smyth. He has been on ELLE Décor’s “A” List, his work has been featured in House Beautiful, Traditional Home, New York Magazine and more. He also wrote a new book “Through a Designer’s Eye: A Focus on Interiors”. We talk about his polished yet comfortable spaces, his love of artisanal pieces and antiques, his attention to detail and light, and some touching personal stories.

Sunroom designed by Matthew Patrick Smyth with woven materialsWhat You’ll Hear on This Episode:

  • Trials & Triumphs about feeling at home in a temporary rental, a pregnancy announcement (!), COVID within the family, tearing down and rebuilding a house, a nightmare new build next door, considering new drapery, and dishwasher woes.
  • Matthew explains how his process begins — starting with the floorplan.
  • Where Matthew finds his artisanal pieces and what he loves about them.
  • Matthew’s love of antiques led him to interior design and carries into all elements of his style.
  • How Matthew’s experience as a photographer impacts his design.
  • The ways Matthew was able to decorate a casual seaside home and still use antiques.
  • Why Matthew has an affinity for round dining tables and what chairs he recommends.
  • More about Matthew’s personal home and falling in love with it.
  • Matthew uses upholstery to modernize an older house with all antique interiors.
  • Matthew’s love of black(ish) paint.
  • What Matthew does to individualize the work for his clients.
  • Matthew shares about his work and friendship with Gloria Vanderbilt.
  • How is a designer’s eye different from the average person’s?

Decorating Dilemma 

Hi ladies,  

I am a weekly listener to your podcast! I love listening to you guys visit and I always appreciate your input to the decorating dilemmas. Here’s my question! I am currently designing a new home and the dining room will be sort of a sunroom style dining room – a room with windows on three sides. Because of the layout of the property, the prettiest views are on the left and the back of the sunroom, so I’m placing my sideboard on the right. The problem is that this off-centers my dining table in the room, which would make the chandelier off-center to the table if it hangs in the middle of the room.  What would you do? I’m considering off-centering the back windows so that the three windows to the back of the dining room are centered with my table and centering the chandelier on the windows instead of the center of the room. I’ve attached a screen grab of the kitchen and doing room of the house…it’s still a work in progress, but you’ll understand the room a bit with this graphic.  

Thank you,


Layout for Jenny's new home

Hi Jenny,

First of all, thank you for including the floorplan—so helpful!  This is a very generous width for a dining room so the sideboard is not going to throw off the room; there’s still plenty of room and no flow problem whatsoever. It’s not a floor to ceiling piece, so your eye will go right over it. Matthew suggests putting a big mirror over the sideboard to reflect the windows and the beautiful view. That will really open up the room. It’s really important to keep that chandelier centered with the windows so do not touch that. The table centered in the room is the way to go. It’s good that you’re thinking about it now…but don’t overthink it!  It’s actually a nicely designed floor plan and well proportioned; we wouldn’t suggest playing with that.  You’re in good shape, Jenny!

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.


  1. Reply

    Heather McElroy

    March 21, 2021

    Hello Caroline,

    I’m late to the conversation but I wanted to congratulate Taryn on her new baby! What a double blessing with the baby and the house too.

    I also thought I would mention a product that ‘might’ be of interest to Karen for her kitchen window dilemma.

    Norman Blinds has a cordless(!) top-down-bottom-up honeycomb blind in a frame. Honeycomb may not be for everyone, but this is a neat and tidy option where the frame hides all the workings. It’s called the SmartFit with Frame.

    You can’t find it by entering the name in their search bar, but it’s listed as one of the options in the Portrait Honeycomb Shades portion of the Norman-Shutters, Blinds, and Shades site.

    Best wishes,

    • Reply

      Caroline McDonald

      March 22, 2021

      Heather, what a great tip! I’ll send this to Karen and we’ll need to mention it on the show because it sounds so smart! Thank you for listening and for taking the time to comment. Happy decorating, Caroline

  2. Reply


    January 26, 2021

    Congrats Taryn! I think an episode on new builds, moving, and decorating one’s own home would be great! She’s living the dream of doing a custom build.

  3. Reply

    Karen Mastrianni

    January 23, 2021

    A wonderful conversation with Matthew! Really enjoyed it!!

    • Reply

      Caroline McDonald

      January 26, 2021

      Thank you, Karen! Glad you liked it!