Podcast, Ep. 216: designer Ashley Whittaker

Designer Ashley Whittaker How to Decorate podcast

Designer and Author Ashley Whittaker

We loved our first episode with Designer Ashley Whittaker so much that we are thrilled to have her back this week to talk about her new book, The Well-Love House: Creating Homes with Color, Comfort, and Drama. Ashley talks about her love of natural and durable materials and how we can have an indestructible yet elegant home. She shares tips on adding some beautiful pieces to keep things fresh and happy, how to tell if your furniture is talking to each other and what’s going to make a room feel inviting vs. off-limits. Ashley also shares some stories behind the photos in her beautiful book and a few client success stories that we can learn from in undertaking our own design adventures.

What You’ll Hear on This Episode:

  • Ashley’s goal of “set it and forget it” when it comes to designing well-loved homes.
  • The ingredients of a comfortable family room and how to still add elegance and beauty.
  • Examples of natural fabric and textures that can take some wear and tear but still hold up beautifully.
  • How to know when you have the right furniture plan.
  • Why Ashley recommends starting the design process with the walls.
  • If your walls aren’t finished, your house does not feel finished.
  • A few of the homes featured in Ashley’s book include a Connecticut estate, a chic Manhattan home and a beach home, along with a fun special story about each client.
  • How to make rooms not feel so seasonal so they can flow from season to season.
  • When it comes to styles like midcentury, a little goes a long way.
  • Ashley’s imaginative use of lampshades, and how we can use lamps and lighting to create beauty in our well-loved home.

Decorating Dilemma

Hi ladies!

Thanks for helping me with my exterior colors (the advice of using Charleston green with black and white on my red brick home). We followed the advice and love our home. I have another dilemma that I’d love your help with.

Our dining room is in the middle of our home, it’s a room we pass through to get to other rooms. So, deciding what “walls” make up the dining room has been a bit tricky. I want to lighten up and elevate the space with some texture wallpaper. I am considering Ballard Designs Harlow Textured Wallpaper in blue. 

This angle I am standing from the front door so this is what you would see walking through the house.

Questions –

  1. Following the “”flow of the room from the front door”” rule, this means the wallpaper should wrap under the arches, correct?
  2. The arches are different because we expanded, and it would be labor and cost intensive to make them match (the non-arched way used to have patio doors). I also think adding any molding will draw more attention to the differences. Is there a way to make them look better or is this not a big deal?
  3. Standing from the other side of the dining room, you can see the hallway (that is currently white). I don’t want to wallpaper the hallway, is it ok to leave this white?

Open to other ideas and thoughts. I just really don’t know where to start and stop. A friend mentioned painting all the walls white to match and doing an accent wall, but I am not fond of accent walls since 2010. 🙂

Thank you for your time!




We admit this is a little bit of a challenge to wallpaper a room like this. If you were to paper, it may be more than just this one room and you will have to figure out where your wallpaper ends. Also, there’s not a ton of walls in this room so you may not get the biggest bang for your buck. How can you get an even bigger and better wow factor? Well, maybe you could paper the ceiling or even add textured grasscloth. Painting the ceiling a sky blue may be able to work in a beautiful reflective way. As for the wall color, I would get a more creamy or modern white. That would be a great contrast with the sky blue.

Thank you for writing, and good luck!

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.