Podcast, Ep. 364: Zoe Gowen

This week we catch up with Zoe Gowen, owner of El Shoppo, former editor at Southern Living, and Caroline’s former boss! Zoe shares lessons learned during her time scouting and featuring homes across the South, from the importance of highlighting regional styles to the challenges of finding the perfect paint color.

Zoe also opens up about how the experience influenced her personal design aesthetic over the years, as well as how her career path led to starting her own decorating business and textiles shop, El Chapo. She gives some great tips for elevating your home while embracing your unique and personal style.

Zoe Gowen

Images of Zoe Gowen’s interior design projects courtesy of zoegowen.com

What You’ll Hear This Episode:

  • What Zoe’s time at Southern Living taught her about home decor.
  • Your home should feel like YOU.
  • How the inside of a cucumber serves as color inspiration for Zoe!
  • What are decorating motifs that always work?
  • There is no “one size fits all” approach.
  • Cushion Back vs. Fitted Back Chairs.
  • When it comes to mixing patterns, it’s all about balance and harmony.
  • Why Zoe has moved towards a softer color and pattern choice in her own home.
  • The room Zoe tried over 200 paint samples in to find the right color.
  • Color perception can vary greatly between individuals, similar to differences in taste of spices.
  • Sofa solutions for those of different heights and sizes.
  • What prompted Zoe to branch out on her own?


Decorating Dilemma:


I was wondering if you guys would be interested in helping me with my “library,” it’s very small and originally used as a piano room.

We purchased our house a few years ago and I would describe it as a Coastal, rambling bungalow with a federal style twist, the library is off of the dining room (the dining room has a panoramic dixie style mural on the walls so that has to stay it’s very green lol).

I originally painted the library mahogany from F&B but I chose the estate emulsion and I ended up putting tons of holes in the walls and screwed it up blah blah blah, the room is just too dark, I want to incorporate perhaps celestial yellow or maybe digital purple ( love staying ahead lol ) If you had your druthers, what would you do with this room ?

I have too much furniture to list but I will have it professionally painted, also I want to keep the trim and bookshelf’s white bc I just feel like white trim is making a comeback, anyways please let me know if you need anymore info, enclosed is a picture of the space.

P.S. there are three built in bookshelves on the entrance side of the room , if I need to add more to make it library esque then maybe it could just be a cocktail room.

– David


Hi David!

Okay, so first, we would suggest adding more bookshelves to make the space feel more like a library, but not in a way that sacrifices the windows. Zoe likes the idea of incorporating yellow to complement the mural but thinks a lighter tangerine color would work better since you are working with a coastal space. If you want to keep the burgundy furniture, consider going with purple for the walls. Otherwise, cantaloupe-colored walls could pair well with the red furniture. Adding an oriental rug and more lamps could help make the library more cozy.

To break up the space, Zoe recommends turning the mirror vertically. She also thinks removing the circles from the chandelier or changing the light fixture could help reduce busy reflections on the ceiling. Finally, we like the idea of lightly dressing down the space and adding in more variety by slip covering the furniture in different fabrics.

– How to Decorate

Also Mentioned in This Episode

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Happy Decorating!

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Kelley Bostian

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