Podcast, Ep. 227: designer Emily C. Butler

Designer Emily C. Butler on the How to Decorate Podcast

Designer Emily C. Butler

Our guest today Emily C. Butler is a New York City-based interior designer. Her work has been featured in House Beautiful as well as multiple design books such as Elements Of Family Style written by one of our favorite podcast guests, Erin Gates. Emily’s signature style is beautifully grounded in tradition with a modern lightness. We talk about her flair for doing big designs in small spaces by bringing her big “Texas vibes”, her use of color, her love of fabrics, and more!

What You’ll Hear on This Episode:

  • How did Emily get started in design?
  • Emily describes her style and how her use of color stands out in NYC.
  • How Emily manages to fit a lot of style into a small space.
  • What are some tips for setting up a small space?
  • Tips for the “drop zone” for keys, mail, etc.
  • Emily loves to use wallpaper and fabrics in her designs.
  • How Emily uses fun lighting like lamps and sconces in her design.
  • Details of the Upper East Side Apartment designed for a family.
  • What is Emily working on now?
  • How we use vintage finds in design.

Decorating Dilemma

Hello, ladies.

Your podcast has really changed the way I look at my home and has helped me implement some design ideas that have made my whole family happy. I enjoy listening and learning from you and your fantastic guests each week. Based on that success, my sister has asked me to apply what I have learned to her new home. We have completely different styles, so I am trying to really stretch my thinking here. She lives near the beach likes a coastal/island style.

 We are working on her living room first which is the first room you see as you walk in the front door. The room is used for reading, watching television and entertaining guests. We are keeping the sofa and the lamps. We would like to replace the armchairs with more attractive ones, replace the rug and move the white cabinet to another room.

My questions:

  1. We are thinking of moving the wall unit/tv to the larger wall where the artwork is currently. However, where would the sofa go? If it is parallel to and facing the tv it will block the flow of traffic to the kitchen. Maybe have two armchairs facing the television and move the sofa to one side perpendicular to the tv? Then, adding another sofa perpendicular to the tv on the opposite side and getting a round coffee table instead of a rectangular one. Your thoughts?
  2. As always suggested, the rug needs to be bigger…correct?
  3. What style of chair would you suggest replacing the armchairs?
  4. Suggestions for a replacement chandelier in the entryway would also be appreciated.

Thank you so much for your help.


Hi  Tara,

This is definitely an open space and we see some beautiful marble-type floors. The two cabinets you are referring to seem to be competing with one another because one is for the TV and the other is a China cabinet. We would maybe move the media cabinet against the long wall even though it’s in the pathway. There is a lot of circulation to consider in this apartment and this room is a pathway to multiple spaces. We agree the rug is a little small for the space and it’s also contrasting too much with the floor color so we would go with something more neutral. There is definitely room for more seating in the space; maybe even a pair of ergonomic chairs placed together. You could probably get an L-shaped configuration of seating going if you also add a loveseat and move the China cabinet out. Neutrals can be a little tricky and we see multiple whites in the space so adding some textures could help and add to the beachy theme. Something like a seagrass rug could be great. Where the dark chandelier is, we would suggest sticking with the theme of having a nod to the beach and adding texture with natural material. Once you remove the China cabinet it might not feel as formal in there and this would be a good space for something more natural and casual.

Good luck, Tara! This is a gorgeous space and please send us the after photos.

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.