Podcast, Ep. 190: Houston Week: designer Sherrell Neal

Photo: Cate Black Photography

Today we continue to Day 2 of Houston Week with our guest Sherrell Neal. Sherell’s work has been featured in Houston Chronicle, Modern Luxury Interiors Texas, and more. In 2019, she won a Ruby Award from the American Society of Interior Designers. Sherrell specializes in creating timeless spaces by incorporating classic elements and antiques with a modern approach. We talk about how her love of design came from an early age and her attention to detail, craftsmanship, and functionality creates a unique and thoughtful look for her clients.

What You’ll Hear on This Episode:

  • Sherrell’s thoughtful and lasting approach to design.
  • How Sherrell caught the bug early for design while working on remodels with her contractor father.
  • The importance of proper design and thinking of all the details—big and small.
  • Do fabric shades and wood finishes need to match in a room?
  • Embracing the imperfections and wear-and-tear of antiques.
  • Pattern mixing and rule-breaking in Sherrell’s work, particularly in the River Oaks house project.
  • How Sherrell recommends using and designing built-ins.
  • When is it appropriate to use a valence on drapery?
  • How Sherrell was able to add leather chairs to a room while keeping it light and airy.

Decorating Dilemma


So I have a very unique layout for my living room and I’m trying to figure out how to maximize the space? What would you recommend for this entryway area that doesn’t feel too cluttered?



Hi Ashley,

I think rugs have a magical way of defining a space. If you don’t already have a large rug (5’x7’ or 6’x9’) that you can put in front of the door that goes beyond the entry to define it, I would get one.  The entryway can always involve consoles, mirrors, artwork, and lighting. If you have a console, a round or rectangular mirror would be nice. Then on either side of the console, you could add buffet lamps — or one nice colored ceramic lamp balanced with some fresh flowers, a stack of books or other elements.

In terms of the living room layout, I would probably not float the sofa and instead move it back against the window. If you had any other chairs you could mirror the sofa. Sofa on the left, keep your fireplace in the center, and chairs on the right, and maybe some lower items like ottomans can float around in the middle. If there is no room to do that idea, you could add floor lamps on each side of the sofa. I definitely think the room needs more lighting. I’m not sure of the dimensions, but you could always use the Ballard Room Planner to map it out. I would probably move the shelving unit completely to the door wall along with the basket you have next to it. You could put some art above the basket or take it out completely and put an ottoman or leave a place for shoes. I would rearrange the shelves, so they aren’t all full, add some pretty elements, and adjust the books so some of them are horizontal.  The console I would move to the wall where the etagere bookshelf is—just swap them!

Lastly, if you are able to make the sofa fit against the windows, definitely get a neutral rug that defines that space that is separate from the entryway rug. With the entryway rug, you can definitely have a lot more fun with color and personality.

Good luck, Ashley!

Mentioned in This Episode:

Please send in your questions so we can answer them on our next episode! And of course, subscribe to the podcast in iTunes so you never miss an episode. You can always check back here to see new episodes, but if you subscribe, it’ll automatically download to your phone.

Happy Decorating!

Subscribe in iTunes | Stitcher | Google Play | Spotify

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.