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.
Finding a gifted and discerning interior designer who “gets” you can be one of the most satisfying aspects of decorating your home. It can give you the confidence you need to push your creative envelope. It can make the difference between a good experience and a great one. Just ask Jennifer Coleman, who lives with her husband, Sean, and their children outside of Raleigh, North Carolina. A while back, Jennifer decided it was time to refresh her home—starting with a new sofa. “We’d put decorating on the back burner for a long time,” she says. “It was time to love our space.” By the time Jennifer walked into our Design Center in Cary, North Carolina, she’d already fallen for the Mansfield sofa. “Jennifer had done her homework,” remembers design associate Daniel Sawyer. “She brought sketches and dimensions, and had her eye on certain pieces.” “I knew the look I wanted,” says Jennifer. “I just had no idea how to piece it together.” Her first meeting with Daniel lasted more than three hours. “I embrace the ‘first date’ philosophy with a client,” he says. “I like to learn about them in a very genuine way. What colors they like—and hate. What they like about their space—and what needs improvement.” Once Daniel visited the Colemans’ home, Jennifer started thinking beyond the Mansfield. Her list grew to include accent chairs, ottomans, a rug, lighting, and a (mandatory) leather recliner for her husband. When the conversation turned to accessories, Jennifer wanted to hold off. Daniel knew the difference those little pieces would make, so he showed up on installation day with his car loaded with artwork and accents. Jennifer was surprised—and pleased. “I’m good at the big picture, but not accessories,” she says. In the end, she kept everything but a single piece. With complete confidence in her designer by then, Jennifer asked Daniel to help decorate the master bedroom. “The room was a joy to create,” says Daniel. “Our full design plan included custom bedding, new Hunter Douglas shades, and custom window treatments. Jennifer and Sean now describe it as their sanctuary.” And the decorating’s not over yet, laughs Jennifer: “Remember, we really didn’t plan to get more than a piece or two … but I think we’ll do the dining room next!”    
Art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Art is personal. What moves one person may do nothing at all for someone else. Enter our custom art program, an opportunity for you to enjoy art—from landscapes, abstracts and pop art to portraits, geometrics, photographs and more—on your terms. Shawn Lang spearheaded the development and launch of our custom art program while director of wall décor for Ethan Allen (he’s now a social media consultant for us). We asked him a few questions about how he conceptualized it—and what makes it unique. How did you visualize the custom art program before you launched it? Shawn: When we decided to update the existing custom art program, we knew we wanted to design a simple, user-friendly program for both our designers and clients. We wanted it to have a fresh look and offer a wide variety of artwork to capture all lifestyles, so we included traditional landscapes, contemporary abstracts, photography, and transitional pieces that can work in any room. Did you work with artists who already have pieces in the Ethan Allen collection? Shawn: We did include artists we’ve worked with in the past. At the same time, we also added new artists to the mix—we thought they would provide the new assortment with a fresh update. All in all, we added more than 180 new images to the collection. From your perspective, what makes the new program special? Shawn: I think the best thing about it is that we can refresh the assortment quickly. We can easily add new imagery as trends evolve, so the collection is always relevant.   How does it work? Shawn: We designed the process to be easy for anyone to do in just a few quick steps:
  • First, launch the custom art creation tool.
  • Then browse our selection of works. You'll find a wide array of styles and genres.
  • Choose to have your work printed on either paper or canvas.
  • Decide on the scale that works best for your room: small, medium, or large.
  • Preview your art in dozens of frames, in a wide range of styles to match your décor.
  • Add options like mats, pen lines, bevels, fillets, or liners to really make it your own.
  • Preview your artwork so you can see exactly what the finished piece will look like. You can even view it against different wall color samples to get an idea of how it will look in your room—before you buy.
What happens once it's ordered? Shawn: Once your custom art piece is created, it's sent to our Passaic, New Jersey, workshop to be framed by hand. In the workshop, mats are cut by hand, and pen lines are drawn by hand. Our artisans have learned and honed their skills over many years, and I think the quality they produce really differentiates us from other custom art programs out there. No detail is too small for them. If you have any questions about our custom art program, visit a Design Center, or chat with a designer online. At the end of the process, you'll have a piece of art that's truly your own.  
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
It’s our anniversary!  This fall we’re celebrating 85 years of craftsmanship, innovation, style, service, and quality. We picked Labor Day to kick off the party—a day that honors the great tradition of the American worker. Appropriately, we’re celebrating 85 years of jobs well done. We’re so incredibly proud of our workers—from the craftspeople who make our wood pieces to the designers who help our customers create beautiful rooms. Throughout September we’ll be celebrating our history (look for highlights of our timeline), our favorite anniversary palette (beautiful black and gold), and the creativity of our artisans. We’ll be sharing entertaining “then and now” stories and going behind the scenes inside our photo studio and manufacturing plants. Don’t worry. We’ll still be sharing our Design Stars’ stories and serving up fresh decorating ideas, but we’ve got some serious celebrating to do this September. We may be 85, but we can party with the best of them—come along for the ride! —The Ethan Allen Design Team      
This spring, designers Kate Marchesini and Andrea Pinto from our Somerville, New Jersey, Design Center participated in the area’s prestigious Mansions in May Showhouse and Gardens to benefit the Women’s Association for Morristown Medical Center. The designer duo had the honor of transforming the Grand Foyer of the historic Alnwick Hall  - The Abbey mansion into an impressive statement of modern glamour.  Check out how they reimagined the entranceway of this spectacular estate—and steal some of their ideas! Built in 1904, Alnwick Hall is an example of Tudor Gothic design. Its interior draws from several historical periods and boasts ornate quatrefoil ceilings with gold leafing and mahogany raised paneled walls. To complement this opulent space, Kate and Andrea conceptualized a dynamic, glamourous design, choosing stylized silhouettes and a high-fashion, high-contrast color scheme of black, fuschia, and gold. As the first room in the showhouse, the Grand Foyer serves as a place for imagined guests to await reception. Kate and Andrea chose the rich and refined Ashcroft table in a mahogany finish to serve as a focal point. Then, they gave it a fashionable twist with a luxurious shag rug, a trio of Gavin bunching ottomans upholstered in a hot pink velvet, and dazzling white, gold, and glass tabletop accents. The designers also added the Brighton cabinet with interior lighting to display artifacts they envisioned to be of interest to the imagined guests of the estate. The sinuous Selby wing chair in a dual Greek key and solid fabric treatment, paired with the Madeleine Trumeau floor mirror in antique gold, echoes the rich decorative motifs of the mansion while adding a fresh glamorous vibe. To lighten up the heavy Gothic architecture in the space, the designers framed the archway leading to the rest of the home by adding overscaled panels of cream and gold wallpaper and white floor-to-ceiling drapery. The curvy Donatella console table in white and the vibrant abstract artwork add a modern, glossy pop to the traditional space.   You don’t have to have a Grand Foyer to make a grand style statement. Here three tips for making a great entrance of your own:
  • CREATE A FOCAL POINT
A focal point draws guests in the moment they arrive. A console table or cabinet with a work of art is a quintessential and powerful pairing. Give it your own twist with additional pieces that fit your space, such as accent wallpaper, a chandelier, ottomans, or chairs.
  • GO FOR “WOW”
The entryway is an opportunity to make a great first impression about your style—so don’t be afraid to be daring! Consider pieces with striking silhouettes, captivating color and finishes, and unexpected details.
  • INTRIGUE YOUR GUESTS
Take a cue from Kate and Andrea’s creative use of the Brighton cabinet and add intriguing accents that spark conversation. Just one small unique piece can have an unforgettable effect.