Designers know that pattern is a powerful decorating tool; some would argue that it has even more currency than color. Tad Donovan is someone who knows the importance of pattern—and he uses it often when he designs spaces for Ethan Allen. Tad, who is based in Fort Lauderdale, is our latest Design Star. We caught up with him recently and asked him to share his strategies for making the most of pattern in his projects. EA: What does pattern bring to the design table? TD: Pattern brings visual interest and an element of excitement to a room. It offers infinite possibilities for creating a space that really suits a client. It allows us to seamlessly integrate their personalities. EA: How did you develop such a comfortable relationship with pattern? TD: I give my parents credit; both were very talented. I was in my teens when they were building a new home, and I remember the binder my mother kept with all the samples she liked. I saw how she pulled different patterns together, making sure that each room made sense and related to the rest of the house. I think of pattern in the same way; it’s like pulling together a wardrobe—selecting ties, shirts, jackets, and accessories—with an eye toward everything working together. EA: What are your rules for designing with pattern? TD: Don’t be afraid of them!  If a client can point me in the direction of one fabric they like, I can help them conquer their fears. It not only gives us a starting point, but it also gives me a sense of who they are. From there, I can interject ideas to expand on their interests. EA: How about mixing patterns? TD: Yes, please! EA: What are some of the common pattern mistakes people make? Using too much of a similar pattern.     EA: What’s the difference between pattern and a print? Patterns are everywhere—they appear in all kinds of materials, not just fabric. A print is technically a textile that has had dye applied to it—in the form of a pattern. Informally, I think of pattern as more geometric, or a series of repetitive lines/circles/colors. When I think of prints, I think more of a floral or toile. EA: You say patterns are everywhere—where do you find them in the home? They can be in architectural details such as dentil molding; tiles (a Moroccan motif, for example); flooring (think parquet wood floors); even in brick or stone walls. EA: Do you live with patterns at home? Let me think … that would be a yes! PILLOW TALK TD: My client wanted to update a teenage girl’s room using her existing EA furniture. The daughter wanted a palette of black, white, and “Tiffany blue.” I centered the trundle bed on the papered wall and framed the custom bedcovering with grosgrain ribbon on all four sides. The pillows pull everything together: We chose a small-scale print on two pillows for a positive/negative contrast with the walls. The smaller pillow features a black-and-white geometric pattern and a fun tassel trim. We went directly to the source for the larger pillows and trims—using a box from Tiffany to get the blue just right. MASTER PLAN TD: Believe it or not, these are two views of the same room, a rather spacious master suite where my clients go to unwind. Their favorite color is blue and they already owned some pieces (which they still love) from our Swedish Home collection. We used wallpaper sparingly to separate the sleeping area from the sitting “room.”  It defined the space and gave importance to the patterns layered on the bed. We used green as an accent hue (note: the ottoman provides contrast and storage). The Adam chair in a bold windowpane fabric provides a powerful punch of color. RED ALERT TD: This dining room is open to the living room at right. The very sophisticated space was inspired by the geometric pattern on the red sofa pillows. The client loved it so much, we used the same fabric for the window treatments. We picked up the rich red hue as an accent wall in the dining room, along with the fabric on the dramatic Cassatt chairs done in a distressed black finish. BEAUTY AND THE BATH TD: Pattern plays a subtle but significant role in this children's bathroom in an antique farmhouse. Geometric sheers hung from a metal "branch" rod complement the floral pattern in the wallpaper while adding a bit of softness.  The lined, natural woven shades provide texture and contrast, plus privacy. WALL-TO-WALL WOW TD: This classic patterned wallpaper acts like artwork in a dining room full of doorways. It provides a lovely backdrop for our Hansen Indonesian mahogany dining table—the star of the room.  The blue and white porcelain lamps and bowl add a touch of color and, yes, another pleasing pattern.
The couple walked into the West Des Moines Design Center on a whim. They weren’t at all sure they were in the right place. They told design associate Paige Mongar they had a statement room to furnish, with a very particular look in mind: modern, with midcentury and Scandinavian notes. “They thought Ethan Allen was only associated with traditional and classic design,” says Paige, our latest Design Star, but they knew our quality was unparalleled, so they were curious to see our product line.”  Without hesitation, she reassured them that Ethan Allen offered the chic, minimalist styles they were after. “They needed to furnish the vaulted living room of their 1988 contemporary,” she explains. “There’s a balcony above, and the living room is open to a well-defined dining area. They wanted to improve the flow and make the space more conducive to entertaining.” The couple “favored a monochromatic palette with minimal pops of color,” says Paige. “They were looking for furniture that would reflect their love of Scandinavian and midcentury design. They wanted to highlight their artwork—and a beloved midcentury dining set and bookcase they’ve had since the 1960s.” Paige confidently pointed them in the direction of modern, streamlined pieces, such as the delicately curved Apollo sofa, the Elgin chair, and Rowan buffet. She followed up with a house call and a detailed proposal—and the end result is this stylish and sophisticated space.   Facing Apollo sofas provide pleasing symmetry; their subtle curves invite conversation.   The scale of the room allows for generous seating—and good flow. The Elgin chair is a midcentury-style icon; a variety of textures adds warmth to the room. The Rowan buffet provides storage, a serving surface, and a base for showcasing art. The vintage midcentury dining set is complemented by a Woven Symmetry Rug. Corinne chairs create a lovely vignette—and an appealing corner reading nook.   Ethan Allen Design Star, Paige Mongar
No matter the style or scope of a project, Rose T. Bien-Aime says her goal is always to provide her clients with “a place of peace and comfort.” Rose, who is a consultant in our Rockville, MD, Design Center—and our latest Design Star—also believes we should infuse our homes with a little romance every chance we get. “My goal is to make my clients feel sophisticated and romantic every day,” she says. “As a designer, I love to create spaces that are timeless—and sexy!” Rose adds romance by layering rooms with classic pieces and curated touches of glam. She prefers pleasing palettes that lean toward neutral, with unexpected pops of color. She loves to marry clean lines and shapely silhouettes and thinks no space is finished until it shines—literally (she adores silver and gold finishes). When Rose is designing a room, every element matters. “Window treatments, carpeting, lighting, mirrors, accents, and art—they all play significant roles in raising levels of sophistication and romance,” she says. “But it’s the perfect mix of materials, finishes, and furnishings in a room that come together to lift your mood and warm your heart. For me, that’s romantic.” HONEYMOON SUITE Rose’s client wanted a room that exuded the luxury of a five-star hotel, “an environment that made her feel like a queen at night and even more glamorous in the morning.” Rose did it with Hollywood-inspired metallic wallpaper, wall-to-wall silk drapery panels in charcoal gray, and an oversized crystal Whitney chandelier over the bed. Gideon chairs complement the upholstered Charlton Bed. The finishing touch: All that reflected light! IN A MIDCENTURY MOOD This sophisticated living room has all the hallmarks of a period piece. It’s designed around a pair of Corrine chairs, which Rose describes as “sexy from every angle.” The cool gray-and-cream palette is inherently elegant. The perfect complement to Corrine: the curves on the glass Cirque coffee table and the Gracie end tables. The Vivica console and the Xanadu bench add midcentury drama. WINE AND DINE Rose’s clients wanted a timeless dining space that works as well for large parties as it does for as candlelight dinners for two. The stunning Barrymore table sets an elegant tone with its graceful saber legs and exotic wood finish. The antiqued mirror glass and circular-cut mullions of the Brandt buffet provide instant ambience. Rose mixed Verlaine side chairs with Verlaine armchairs for a whimsical touch. Glass, crystal, and nickel provided sparkle! GREAT EXPECTATIONS Just how romantic is a double staircase foyer?  “It’s ‘Gone with the Wind’ all over again,” says the designer. The balustrade is very refined, while the gorgeous millwork speaks for itself. Rose played up the room’s symmetry with two Wellesley benches in a neutral patterned fabric. She added glitz with the placement of Starburst mirrors above the benches, officially setting a romantic tone for the rest of the home. STYLE IN THE ROUND What happens when a dining room doubles as the entryway to a home? For Rose, the answer is “a quiet storm of classic elegance, romance, and undeniable flair.” The modern, sexy lines of the Ashcroft dining table paired with the curvaceous Penelope chairs deliver just the combination she was after. Everything else—from the chandelier and area rug and to the simple Cora bowl—enhance the core design. URBAN GLAM This space is all about modern drama, with the tufted Shelton sofa setting a sophisticated mood. Rose chose it to gracefully anchor the Kyle wing chairs, as well as the uniquely styled Grayson chair in the foreground. The