Podcast, Ep. 222: stylist & author Melissa Penfold

Stylist & author Melissa Penfold on the How to Decorate Podcast

Stylist & Author Melissa Penfold.

We are joined today by our first Australian guest ever! Melissa Penfold is Australia’s foremost authority on style and design, a bestselling author, columnist, editor, and journalist. Melissa talks about keeping design simple, functional, and uniquely you. We also discuss a lot of pointers to help you create a style that makes you happy.

What You’ll Hear on This Episode:

  • Why Melissa doesn’t think design is “hard”.
  • How to play up your home’s strengths.
  • How to differentiate your house especially in a subdivision.
  • What are Melissa’s g0-to design elements?
  • How to shop for quality no matter your budget.
  • Why having a variety of textures is so important.
  • It’s important to use every room in your house; and make them all your happy place!
  • How does design in Australia differ from design in the US?

Decorating Dilemma


I’ve been catching up on all my episodes and recently listened to Cheryl Luckett’s episode- a risky move as now I’m planning my own Project 36. On that note, I have a dilemma with what to do on the sliding glass doors and window in my kitchen and eat in area.

I moved out of an apartment and into a townhouse last summer in Boston’s Southie neighborhood. I’ll include some of the electric blue “before” listing photos to illustrate what we’ve done so far (laying hardwoods, skim coating the popcorn ceiling, and painting everything neutral). We are preparing to kick off a kitchen renovation in 2 weeks and will be putting in white cabinets with polished nickel hardware and marble subway tile backsplash.

In the eating area, we currently have a white tulip table and chairs from our old apartment as well as a tan banquette (I call it the kitchen couch) that I scored brand new on Facebook Marketplace for $50. The banquette blends very closely with the wall color, so I was thinking I may drape a small colorful blanket over the back to add some interest for cheap. I am also on the hunt for a secondhand stained wood oval or rectangular table that is larger than the white one so that we can seat 6 in this area when my sisters come over. The white Ikea cabinet is nice to have, but I am open to moving it elsewhere since the items in the cabinet will be stored in the kitchen post-renovation. We are also going to hang a cute flowery light fixture over the table where the can light is currently (I’ll attach a picture) and put crown molding around the room.

My question is how I should handle the sliding glass doors. You can see in the photos that our deck area backs up to other houses, so privacy is a concern or else I would probably have nothing on the window. There also is not enough space on the right-hand side of the door to have curtains on both sides. I was thinking about doing a faux roman over the kitchen sink and using the blind that is on there now for function. Should I have curtains on the sliders in a matching fabric pulled all the way to the left? Should they coordinate but not match? What kind of pattern or color would you suggest? Is there a better way to get some privacy on the sliders?

Also, I’d love any other ideas on how to spice up the eating area in general. Painting could be fun, but there isn’t really a natural point to stop the paint before it comes into the hallway.

Help! And thank you 🙂


Hi Emily,

What would make the biggest difference of all is to open up the entire back as one large door ceiling to floor. I’m not sure if that’s in your budget, but it would make it fabulous! However, if you want to stick with what you’ve got you can correct the window and sliding door by getting rid of the vertical blinds and hanging new curtains from the ceiling. Hang them on the left on a metal rod and use fabric the same color as the walls; it doesn’t have to be expensive but use it in abundance. Go wider than the window and do a proper Roman shade instead of faux. I like the floors and the tulip table, but I would lose the tablecloth and put the chairs around the table in a pair. I would also keep the banquet and the Ikea cabinet. If you want to change the paint just carry it through the whole space. It’s a lovely color, but you could go slightly warmer with less grey and more beige. I would also change the handle on the sliding glass door to something more modern. A very large, rectangular rug in that space would also anchor the whole area.

One thing I would do outside is get two large potted trees just outside that door; maybe orange or olive trees. You could even grow something along that fenceline–jasmine smells lovely and grows like wild!

Good luck, Emily!  You’re 90% there. Please send us photos when you’re done!

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.