Podcast, Ep. 205: designer Vicente Wolf

Vicente Wolf How to Decorate Podcast

Designer Vicente Wolf

We have a very special episode this week because we’re welcoming our new host, Liz! Plus, we’ve got celebrated designer Vicente Wolfe on the show. He’s one of the biggest talents in the design world, he’s a published author, and he’s here to chat with us about editing, color, mixing styles, and more.

What You’ll Hear on This Episode:

  • How his extensive travels inspire him and his design work
  • Why each room should include the past but always be moving forward
  • Why you need to branch out and take risks in your room
  • Why it’s the most fascinating to examine rooms that are different than what you’d normally do
  • Why not being traditionally educated in design has been an advantage in Vicente’s work
  • We talk a bit about gallery walls and how to execute them well

Decorating Dilemma

Dear Ballard Designs podcast team,

I discovered your fabulous podcast about a month ago and have listened non-stop ever since. What a difference it has made to my understanding of design! You have helped me to look at my house with fresh eyes, propelling me into a series of redecorating projects, some successful and others, not so much. I am hoping you can help me with my living room dilemma.

General House Description:

  • Built 1978
  • Surrounded by woods
  • 1650 sq. ft./ single level
  • Open floor plan
  • All the walls are light gray (Benjamin Moore “Paper White”). Ceilings are a lighter shade of wall color, so practically white.
  • All the floors are oak hardwood, walnut stain

My life history is DIY on a minimal budget. We purchased the house 11 years ago, removed walls, relocated windows, designed a new kitchen, etc. The furniture is from auctions, estate sales, hand-me downs, and travel, accumulated over many years. Everything, including the art has a history and a story. I made all the curtains – – white sheers with a band of filmy, airy, crinkly charcoal-gray polyester at the bottom. We installed them on hospital tracks so they can be pulled across the entire wall of windows which run along the dining room and living room.

Problem Area – Living Room

The living room is the pass-through to other rooms in the house, so the furniture is clustered in the middle. There is only one useable wall for furniture placement. It is 13 feet long and 24 feet tall at its peak. (the ceiling is vaulted.). There is also a fireplace on this wall, off to one side. The wall is such a big, blank monolith. It lacks architectural interest and seems to soar way above the furniture. We do not use the fireplace and it is an eye-sore. It also makes furniture placement almost impossible. One more thing, the television is in the den, so not a factor to be considered. Color scheme: white, cream, grays and sunflower yellow accents.

My Affordable Solutions

  1. Remove fireplace and surround. Close up with dry wall.
  2. Repaint the entire wall an accent color, perhaps a darker gray than the walls.
  3. Center the white couch (6 feet long) on this wall.
  4. Replace the charcoal loveseat (an unfortunate on-line purchase before I knew about Ballard) with a chair like Ballard’s Hartwell chair in white.
  5. Hang the Indonesian door (4’ x 6’) above the white couch. (see foyer photo)
  6. Get a bigger rug (12 x 9) in wool. (We have cats and need a rug that can be easily spot cleaned.)
  7. The coffee table is an old English pub table, solid mahogany. We shortened the legs. It seems very dark. Perhaps strip it to lighten it and/or top with a piece of white marble. Stripping off the dark stain might also produce a similar wood tone to the Indonesian door.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? I would so appreciate your smart advice. Also, should I paint the ceiling darker? What color should the rug be? I was thinking something like Ballard’s Marchesa Rug OW467GRY.

My goal is to bring unity, cohesiveness, balance, proper scale and warmth to the space. It is the focal point of the house and the sole gathering place for family and guests.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my email and muchas gracias for your brilliant, five-star podcast!


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

    Lisa Powers

    July 10, 2021

    Hello Ballard Design Ladies,

    Sorry that Karen is leaving the podcast. I will miss her room descriptions during the Decorating Dilemma segments. Congratulations on your new position Karen!
    Welcome Liz! From your introduction, it sounds like you will be a great addition to the podcast.
    Glad that Taryn has returned from maternity leave. I missed her design input.
    Happy to hear the news that Caroline is expecting a baby. I wish an uneventful pregnancy for her.
    I do look forward to listening to these podcasts. I have learned so much from you ladies and your guests. Thanks for making them and putting them out weekly.

    Take care,