Podcast, Ep. 312: Blending Old and New with Hattie Sparks

Get ready to go antique shopping this week as we are joined by Hattie Sparks Collins, a New Orleans-based interior designer. Hattie’s unique path from boutique owner to art history student to professional decorator has greatly shaped her ability to craft stunning spaces that foster genuine connections and authentic living.

We dive into her expertise in finding exquisite and affordable treasured antiques, as she shares helpful tips for choosing the perfect vintage sofa. Discover Hattie’s favorite antique hunting spots in New Orleans and gain insights on infusing color, pattern, and texture into your home, as she unravels the secrets to creating truly captivating and playful living spaces, which are also glitter proof!

What You’ll Hear On This Episode:

  • Hattie talks about going to school and graduating during the recession, and how that navigated her towards retail.
  • What is it like working as a designer in New Orleans?
  • Hattie shares her love of mixing the unexpected and how New Orleans reflects that in the antique mixed with the gritty while making things “glitter proof”.
  • How working at Anthropologie influenced her desire to open a store that focused on local and southern designers.
  • How she scaled her store and expanded her product line, and dove into home and decor.
  • Ways that her background in art and understanding composition weaves their way into her work now.
  • Mixing colors and patterns can bring about playfulness and a sense of elegance.
  • What is it like being a designer in New Orleans?
  • The city’s heavy use of antiques.
  • Tips for finding that unicorn piece when you go out antiquing.
  • How to get the smell out of a pre-owned piece!? Is it possible?

Decorating Dilemma 


I am a big fan of the podcast and recently was able to move all of my kids’ toys out of my front living room and reclaim the space. I recently got these chairs, which were smaller than I expected (my fault for not paying attention to the height), and was hoping to add more interest to this room.

I was thinking of adding curtains, but wasn’t sure how it would work with the trim over the window. I also thought maybe I should add an area rug. I’d like to replace the side table and bookshelf as well but am wondering about scale.

Thanks so much!


Hey Karah,

Looks to us like you are doing a great job already! First, Hattie suggests addressing the chairs and believes there isn’t anything wrong with them given the size of the room. To add more interest to the chairs, you can recover them in a patterned fabric, preferably a durable performance fabric. Moving on to the side table, Hattie suggests that although there isn’t much wiggle room between the chairs.

Moving on to the side table, Hattie suggests that although there isn’t much wiggle room between the chairs, replacing it to create more breathing space for the lamp and the framed photo is an option. She recommends selecting a rectangular table. Hattie appreciates the current table’s two layers, as the second layer can be styled with coffee table books to enhance visual interest. A rectangular table placed horizontally under the window between the chairs would be a suitable replacement choice.

For window treatments, consider running crown molding along the top of the wall and hanging curtains right beneath it. The curtain rod (maybe a French return) should be positioned just below the molding, and the curtains should barely touch the ground. To enhance the room, you could incorporate a pattern into the curtains that complement the chairs if they are recovered – and good news – Ballard offers excellent prefab panel curtain options in solid blue!

Consider also looking at Ballard’s bookshelf options to maximize space, such as the Delano and the Avis. Or, you can go fully custom with a built-in bookshelf to add more storage and shelving options.

Lastly, regarding the rug, Hattie recommends incorporating a patterned rug and ensuring it is appropriately sized. She advises that the rug should fill the majority of the room, as using a rug that is too small can make the space feel smaller.

Good luck and thank you for writing in!

Also 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 Apple Podcasts 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!

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Kelley Bostian

Kelley enjoys a light and livable home and is always searching for that perfect "finishing touch" antique piece. Here on How to Decorate, it's his goal to help you bring your own unique design vision to life.


  1. Reply

    Jackie Weedon

    June 12, 2023

    Hi there! Love the podcast and you all! For Liz’s friend that found the armoire with the “scent”: Have her try charcoal bags. I purchased some from Amazon and they eliminate most odors. To recharge them, you just place them out in the sun for an hour or two. Here is the link to some:https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charcoal+bags+odor+absorber&crid=1TC2R9LMQWHQZ&sprefix=charcoal+bags%2Caps%2C410&ref=nb_sb_ss_ts-doa-p_2_13. Worth a true and not too expensive or damaging. Take care! XO