For those of you who haven’t yet checked out the first episode of Design Girlfriend, Alia Ahmed-Yahia’s fresh home décor miniseries on harpersbazaar.com, please do. To find out how it all came together, what went right, what went wrong, and what really went on behind the scenes, keep reading!

Design Girlfriend is a cool collaboration between Alia and the folks at Harper’s Bazaar. They showcase her mad style skills and passion for all things home, DIY, and fashion-forward on their website.

As a former ELLE editor, she already had a relationship with Hearst, Harper’s parent company. “When the video editor saw an Instagram story I did about painting my boyfriend’s dining room chairs high-gloss black, she called me and said, ‘That’s the show,’” remembers Alia. “We did a test run on my iPhone and the editors loved the reel so much they green-lit a three-episode pilot.”

They decided on one transformation per episode—with mini craft tutorials: a living room turned into a Polo bar-inspired putting green room; a vintage armoire retrofitted to become a sophisticated bar; and a bedroom closet (sans doors) made into a cool office space. It took around three months to prep for the three-day shoot on location in Connecticut.

Alia created mood boards for each episode and then reached out for furnishings, materials, and workers. She found experts, including a master carpenter and putting green installer, who were willing to work within her tight timeframe.

“The Hearst film crew showed up each morning around 6 a.m. and left around 10 p.m. It was a whirlwind,” she says.  Every room in the house was turned upside down, as furniture was moved in and out, carpenters hammered away, assistants set up Alia’s DIY craft projects, Bazaar staffers kept tabs on the production schedule, a makeup artist kept the shine off Alia’s face, and videographers documented everything. All and all, there were some twenty people in the house every day.

Ethan Allen’s part in the living room makeover involved providing key furnishings: seven Villa bookcases that Alia envisioned lined up along the back wall. The carpenters created custom panels to fill the spaces around the bookcases and topped them with crown molding to give the appearance of built-ins. That proved glitchy. First, a measuring mix-up created gaps at both ends of the room—one of them wide enough for Alia to stand in. The pre-cut filler panels would have to be redone, so it was off to the lumberyard for more wood. Second, there wasn’t enough black paint (painstakingly matched to the Villa finish), so they had to take a cabinet door down to the paint store to mix (and match) some more. In the end, the bookcase wall looked fabulous, and Alia styled the shelves beautifully.

Sounds crazy, right? Alia was barely fazed. Her takeaway: “It was such a cool experience, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat!”

We’re delighted to be partnering with Alia in even more creative ways in the future. For starters, you can read her first guest blog here on August 3. Subscribe to The Art of Making Home and you won’t miss a thing. Check us out on Instagram, too @ethanallen.


Meet Alia Ahmed-Yahia, a longtime fashion pro and blogger who is now bringing her style expertise to the world of interior design—and to Ethan Allen! Alia has fresh ideas and an imaginative perspective on the art of making home.

At first, we were a little skeptical of the idea of lining a wall with seven of our Villa bookcases in a room that would be transformed into a putting green. It seemed just a little too far outside the box. But the proposal came to us from Alia Ahmed-Yahia, a savvy style expert with street cred: She’s worked as a fashion editor and stylist at ELLE and Vanity Fair, and for six years was style director at Ann Taylor/LOFT. Turns out Alia wanted to parlay her years of fashion expertise into the world of interior design, so we leaned in.

Turns out these days, Alia’s producing The Design Girlfriend, a home décor web series for Harper’s Bazaar. “We want to create home content that feels more engaging and less ‘how to’ than what’s currently out there,” she says. “To that end, we created a hybrid of tutorials and reality. The series has a narrative, stakes that add drama and tension, and clever design takeaways that make projects feel aspirational, attainable, and personal.”

Now live on Harper’s Bazaar YouTube Channel,  The Design Girlfriend will also be available on some of Hearst’s other websites.

But why a putting green in the living room? The series’ first three episodes were shot at the Connecticut home she shares with her boyfriend and business partner, Jamie Bosworth, who happens to be a serious golfer and golf entrepreneur. Why our bookcases? Alia told us her vision was inspired by the classic décor of The Polo Bar, a New York restaurant designed by Ralph Lauren—and when she fell in love with Villa’s architectural details, she decided they’d be perfect for the room’s long statement wall. She imagined the rest of the furnishings would be more modern and transitional, save for an elaborate gilded mirror over the mantel.

 

As the home of “classic design, modern perspective,” Ethan Allen is all about versatility, and we could see that Alia’s unique perspective on style is really in sync with ours: Anything goes if you have the confidence to step up and try something new! We invited her to join us as a guest blogger, and we look forward to sharing her insights in the coming weeks—but first, meet Alia!

EA: Tell us a little about yourself.

ALIA:  I grew up as the oldest of seven kids in a small town in Wisconsin and moved to New York City the day after college graduation. I didn’t know a soul, but I had a resume, and two feet, and I was determined to do something creative.  I pounded the pavement until I got a very lucky break and was hired as a fashion assistant at Vanity Fair magazine. I didn’t land the job because of my fashion sense (back in those days if you had asked me to articulate my style I probably would have given you a blank stare); I succeeded because I was willing to learn and work hard. I spent my early days in a windowless room with a troupe of interns cataloging all the designer clothes, shoes, and jewelry the magazine’s editors were borrowing from high-end designers for celebrity photo shoots.

EA: Where did your fashion career go from there?

ALIA: After Vanity Fair, I went to a small startup, then Glamour, where I was accessories editor. I launched my own luxury e-commerce company, helped shape a fashion blog and video series for ELLE, and then went to work at Ann Taylor, where I was style director for six years; I like to say I got my MBA in retail there! Throughout my career, my ethos has always been to empower and help people identify their sense of style, and then translate it into the way they live, as in “what does that look like in your house?” and “what does that look like in your look?”

EA: What is your fashion POV?

ALIA: Style is an evolution, not a revolution. And experimentation is essential to evolution.  You won’t always get it right, but some of the best creations in the world were happy accidents.  Allow yourself the freedom to try new things but don’t have the expectation that everything will work.

EA: Why segue into the world of interior design?

ALIA: Great personal style steps out of your closet and into your life. The way you decorate, just like the way you dress, is a reflection of your personality.  I’ve always loved home décor and design. It’s visual like fashion, and like fashion, there are design principles that inform your decisions and your look. Your home is a living canvas for your personal brand

EA: What would you say is your home design POV?

ALIA: It’s conversation starting. I like to have something in every room that flips traditional design on its head, uses a piece differently from the way it was intended, or creates a moment to talk about.  I design each space with a feature focus (the place in the room your eye lands first), then layer in quieter vignettes that may be discovered as you move throughout the space. I am a “more is more” girl, so I love an abundance of bold color, graphic silhouettes, pattern, and layering. Defining my feature focus as a starting point helps me dial everything else back to make sure the focus is the hero.  There can only be one star!

EA: What drew you to Ethan Allen?

ALIA: You offer some incredibly modern pieces that have a lot of versatility and speak to different design styles. They can be styled in a conventional way to appear traditional, but there’s a huge opportunity to inspire new looks (and new customers)! People tend to be literal, so if you don’t show them a vision, very few will come up with one on their own.  It’s why Pinterest and Instagram are so popular; they’re places to discover new ideas and opportunities. When I oversaw style direction at Ann Taylor/LOFT, my styling philosophy was “show something familiar and mix it with one new idea.”  Taking a risk is hard, but it’s easier if you push yourself to step 10 percent out of your comfort zone.

EA: Tell us more about the Harper’s Bazaar project.

ALIA: It’s a concept that marries entertainment and valuable style/design ideas. We shot three episodes/three projects from beginning to end, in just three days! There were some hiccups along the way, but that’s what made it fun. We’re thrilled with the putting green room!

EA: Can we give readers a preview of the EA episode?

ALIA: Absolutely!

Don’t miss Alia’s guest blogs! Subscribe to The Art of Making Home and check us out on Instagram, too @ethanallen.


Put the finishing touches on your outdoor décor with gorgeous outdoor accents! These outdoor accessories stand up to the elements—and they look beautiful doing it.

The garden gnomes at Ethan Allen have been very busy this spring and summer!

In May, we launched a new selection of pillows, cushion fabrics, umbrellas, and outdoor rugs. We’re also launching two new lines of patio furniture in August: Vero Dunes, an all-weather wicker wonder, and the modern teak Bridgewater Cove collection. In addition to having the durability and quality you expect from Ethan Allen, they have clean lines and deep, comfortable seats, perfect for chatting at a garden party, lounging with a good book, or relaxing and watching the fireflies.

Decorating an outdoor room is a lot like decorating an indoor room. Well-designed outdoor spaces, like their indoor counterparts, are perfected with carefully chosen finishing touches. Once you’ve settled on the perfect patio furniture, these products, from gorgeous outdoor fabrics to stunning accessories, will help you top off your patio in style.

Fabulous Fabrics

Our new fabrics are color coordinated for easy mixing and matching. We start with three choices for cushions (navy, taupe, and white) to form the base for your outdoor palette.

The next thing to consider are pillows. In most instances, you can just pick your favorites and feel confident that they’ll play well together. Even so, these hints will help you mix patterns like a seasoned design pro—and of course, if you get stuck, you can always schedule a complimentary appointment with an Ethan Allen designer!

Take a look at this pillow-palooza from our recently released digital Home and Garden brochure. Here’s how we put it together:

  • You need a hero. Start with a hero pattern that’s bold and large in scale. We chose the Falco Indigo outdoor pillow, with its large medallion design, as our starting point.
  • Give it some sidekicks. Pair your hero with partners that share the same colors but have smaller patterns. Here, the Collins Indigo outdoor pillow, with its modern ikat pattern, and the Distin Navy outdoor pillow, with its diamonds, are complementary without being overwhelming.
  • Anchor it. The Reale Turquoise outdoor pillow has the dreamy appeal of an Caribbean oceanfront—but its solid styling helps your hero and sidekick grouping stay grounded.

The best thing about our outdoor cushion and pillow fabrics is that they’re as durable as they are beautiful. They’re made from Grade-D Sunbrella fabric that’s colorfast, stain- and mildew-resistant, and very easy to clean and maintain.

Of course, you have to be practical—no pillow left out in the elements, 24/7, is going to look perfect at the end of summer. It’s always a good idea to store your cushions or pillows when they’re not in use, and protect your furniture frames with sturdy, weather-resistant covers.

Ravishing Rugs

Once you’re chill-axing on your comfy cushions and pillows, it’s time to think about what’s underfoot. A rug really brings a room together, even outdoors. You can add pattern with rugs—either make the rug the hero or make sure it knows its place as a sidekick!—or choose a solid that fits your pillow pattern play.

For a bold, summery navy-and-white striped hero, choose our LaGrange rug.

Note that subtle patterns, like herringbone, can function as a solid while adding more visual interest. Our Willow Grove and Splendor Lake rugs, both available in five gorgeous color combos, make excellent sidekicks in any pattern story. Neutrals are also good, particularly when they add a textural touch. Check out our Marilla rug; its flat weave almost gives it the look of grasscloth, but it’s made from high-performance fibers. Finally, we’ll let you in on a little secret: both our pillows and our rugs are as lovely indoors as they are outdoors.

Unbeatable Umbrellas

Our patio umbrellas are no shrinking violets. Our rectangular models are 8′ x 11′, and our round umbrellas has a 9′ diameter, which helps ensure your garden party goes forward, rain or shine. They’re also vented to help them handle wind gusts and summer storms—but again, be practical. Make sure to crank them closed when you’re not using them.

Our patio dining tables are available with and without holes for your umbrella. If you choose a patio umbrella, make sure to purchase one of our decorative stands to support it. Our umbrellas are easy to tilt, to keep you shaded at any angle.

Take a look at our Home and Garden brochure to see how these outdoor styles come together. We’ve made it easy to take the art of making home outdoors.

For more great decorating tips, indoors and out, subscribe to The Art of Making Home. You’ll get an email notice from one to three times a week letting you know it’s time to kick back with some tea or coffee and get your inspiration on.


In which we discuss unicorns, the secret society of blacksmithing, and the only definition of transitional you’ll ever need.

“Sometimes you can make a unicorn.”

This improbable statement comes from Laura Chapman, Ethan Allen’s normally quite rational senior director of product design, who sat down recently to talk about what she does and how and why she does it.

We weren’t expecting mythological creatures to play a part, but like any good designer, Laura isn’t one to let convention stand in the way of possibility. Also, it turns out, she had a solid, not-at-all loopy reason for saying it.

“I’m looking for unicorns all the time,” she explains. “That’s where design comes from, if you’re doing it right and doing a good job. You look at tear sheets [an interior design term for product information and specs] and do trend research and go to the shows [trade shows, where inspirational designs debut; kind of like Fashion Week for furniture], and you still have this thing in your head that you haven’t seen. That’s the unicorn.”

Laura started at Ethan Allen about four years ago, though she counts the time a little differently. “Nine introductions,” she laughs – nine distinct product launches of dozens of products each, to which she contributed. That’s more than two introductions a year, each requiring knowledge, inspiration, a fresh perspective, a willingness to jump into the unknown.

“For any designer, it’s hard not to repeat what you just did, maybe with a slight variation,” she says. “You have to go past what you know works, to take a bigger risk into something that’s unknown.”

Art in the Family

Furniture wasn’t always part of Laura’s plan.

She earned a degree in painting from the University of Cincinnati which, she says, “qualified me to be a starving artist.” She worked in bookstores; her boyfriend (now husband) was, and is still, an artist blacksmith. It was a paycheck-to-paycheck life, but also a flexible one.

Stop. An artist blacksmith?

“Not to be mistaken for a farrier,” she clarifies, “who might make shoes for unicorns.”

Laura’s husband, Andy, makes tools, furniture, and art, and he teaches at a local arts center and through the community youth agency, where children as young as ten can become amateur smiths, if they’re interested. “It’s always been like this underground subculture,” Laura explains. “These smiths know each other or find each other. Because of shows on the History Channel, it’s even more popular now, but also more like a cult following. People want to become weekend blacksmiths, so his classes are booked.”

Even their kids are in on the action. “Lucy will be five this month. She has a half-pound hammer and an anvil about the size of that computer mouse. Ben is eight, so his hammer weighs four pounds, and his anvil’s a little bigger. We give them things to mash –  bottle caps and copper wire. They’re both very interested!” Ben even knows how to use the vise, which he’s not supposed to do when mom’s not looking. “Of course, if I turn my back, something’s in that vise. It might be something that’s meant to be there, but it might be a Tonka truck.”

(We’d like to clarify here: Laura’s children are not in a forge! Theirs is a fire-free experience. So far.)

Time for a Change

Because they could, Laura and her husband packed everything into their car, took a month-long trip around the country, and landed in Austin, Texas. In the four years they lived in Texas, Laura volunteered in art galleries and found gigs at Whole Foods: first, managing the bakery, and then, as the beer buyer. “When you manage a department at Whole Foods, it’s like running your own business. I earned a really thick skin dealing with beer vendors every day. Some were great, but some thought they could take advantage, and I was not that person.”

OK, but how did she get from beer to product design? In Laura’s family, a lot of life-changing decisions are made over big, greasy spoon breakfasts in cafés. “It’s how we decided to move to Texas, and it’s how we decided, ‘Hey, someone has to make a living, I have these weird noodly drawings of furniture in my notebook, so why don’t I do that?”

Next stop: a tiny design school in western Michigan (once a hub of U.S. furniture manufacturing). She specialized in upholstery design because she liked the sculptural nature of the products, and she learned about manufacturing and research and development.

The first company she worked for after graduation sold furniture by the pound, as in, Buy two recliners, get the table that fits between them free! “That table was one of my first pieces,” she shares, “and that tough skin I got as a beer buyer really came in handy. These guys were the definition of old school.” From there, she networked her way to Mitchell Gold, where she eventually became the head of both upholstery design and R&D.

Form Follows Function

Rather than dreaming up something pretty, then figuring out how to make it, Laura says the process of good product design is the opposite. “You can build anything once; it’s a different ballgame to build something that will hold up to repeated use – or repeated production.”

Laura got her education in construction while designing upholstery for a firm where everything is manufactured on site. “Knowing the construction requirements and how to build for comfort – those are the pillars for everything else. I learned a lot about construction because I saw it happen and had it explained it to me. I can’t engineer a frame myself, but I can speak intelligently on how to problem solve thanks to that. I can then make the form around it whatever I want it to be. ”

Laura approaches each new design as an assignment. “An assignment might develop because we have a need in the line, or it might be that we’ve identified an emerging trend. Every once in a while, there’s a design we’ll fight for because no one else is doing it and we know should try it.” Of course, sometimes those designs turn out to be popular, which, Laura maintains, is proof that “people see the unicorns!”

She stays on top of style trends and knows what other manufacturers are doing, but for real inspiration, she has a favorite source: vintage. “I love getting abstract ideas from vintage furniture – collaging this leg with that seat with this arm. And because I’m the one sketching it up, I don’t have to explain to anybody what Frankensteining those pieces together should look like.”

Transitional might be the most common description of style in the last 20 years, even if few people can tell you exactly what it is. Laura can! In Laura’s mind, transitional style is about taking a vintage form and boiling it down to its essentials. “Picture a Queen Anne highboy: It has the big crown on top, the cabriole leg, carvings, details. To make it transitional, you’d take it down to just the shape. Maybe it still has the crown, but there’s no carving; it has the cabriole leg, but it isn’t ball-and-claw.” Taking timeless styles down to their essentials preserves the form, but delivers something more modern because the traditional elements have been eliminated. Transitional can also go the other way, relaxing a sleek modern form by giving it a new finish, for example, to make it more casual.

One of the most rewarding parts of Laura’s job is encouraging her team to chase those elusive unicorns. “When you’re pushing the whole team to do something new – the designers, the engineers, the manufacturing team – and then it happens, it’s exciting. You achieve so many different goals on the way to getting a really unique design. If we’re working on a new product and referencing something that’s truly vintage or antique – I have no problem with that. But this ephemeral it-doesn’t-exist-but-can-we-get-there? sort of thing; that’s when you know you’re really onto something.”

Laura never let go of her dream of being an artist of the non-starving variety; she just found an unexpected way to make it happen. “People love their furniture,” she says. “They love their homes. I think the idea of making functional art, art that performs a service, is ultimately how I ended up here.”


Our designers are among the best in the business—and we’re always on the lookout for the best among them. When we discover a gifted designer—like Daniel Bauer—who represents the essence of Ethan Allen, we know we’ve found our latest Design Star! Meet Dan in this exclusive interior designer interview. Find out what inspires him, what projects are his favorites, and what he brings to the design table. Take a peek into the life of an interior designer who truly loves his work—and makes beautiful homes happen every day.

Background
Dan is a senior design consultant at the Ethan Allen Design Center in Woodbury, Minnesota. He has a BFA from the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire, and a master’s degree in Textiles and Design from the University of Wisconsin at Stout. He’s earned a number of accolades during his 30+ years with Ethan Allen, including the Circle of Excellence, Gold Spirit, and Diamond Spirit awards.

Tell us a little about yourself.
I was born in Mondovi, Wisconsin, and grew up on a farm in nearby Strum, where I was one of six children. I served in the United States Air Force and was stationed in Massachusetts and Nebraska as a graphic illustrator. I met my wife, Faith, in graduate school, and we moved to St. Paul, Minnesota, eventually settling in Woodbury. We have two children and three beautiful granddaughters whom I adore. I love to travel, both in the U.S. and abroad; I’ve been to Spain, Switzerland, and Peru where I even took a zipline down a mountain! I have many hobbies, but my favorite is my weekly drawing session with a supportive group called “The Old Town Artists of St. Paul.”

What is the one thing that defines you as a designer?
I am known for not holding back, for telling it like it is with clients. I believe you need to be as honest as possible to set realistic expectations and help them understand where your vision is going.

What is your favorite design tip?
Take a photo of the room you’re furnishing and bring it with you when you meet with your designer. It’s easy to lose your objectivity when living in a space. A photo allows us to see a room with a new eye and from a different perspective. Often, we can pinpoint exactly what’s needed.

What Ethan Allen piece is your favorite?
I love our Anderson sofa. It combines the best of classic design with high style.

Complete this sentence. Every room needs …
Something, even if it is just one piece, that gives it the personality of the homeowner. It’s similar to the way in which one thing—a piece of accent jewelry, a scarf, or a tie—can define the way you dress. Find that piece of art that is meaningful, or the color inspires you, to make every room a reflection of you.

If you could do any project, anywhere, on any budget, what would it be?
I would like to do a European villa that overlooks the Mediterranean!

Tell us about your favorite Ethan Allen project.
I had one special client who gave me the privilege of designing a home here, a new home in Arizona, and a summer home in Duluth, Minnesota—all within a couple of years. To me, it’s the client that makes the project. When you have a great connection with them and you have their trust, then you love the project. It’s that simple.

Find more of Dan’s work on Houzz (https://www.houzz.com/pro/dbauer36/dan-bauer-ethan-allen-woodbury). To see more beautiful rooms by designers like Dan, subscribe to The Art of Making Home.


Get to know the man behind Ethan Allen Day. He was a pioneer and a patriot—and a bit of a troublemaker, too!

Pioneers are the first explorers of a new territory. They start with a vision, often risking life, limb, and lucre to journey into the unknown. Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys were pioneers—let’s be honest, they were rabble-rousers, too—and their pioneering spirit was an essential ingredient in the founding of both Vermont and America itself.

In 2016, to celebrate Ethan Allen, Vermont declared June 23 to be Ethan Allen Day. To celebrate this special day, we’d like to tell you a little bit about our namesake and how we work, as a company, to keep his pioneering spirit alive.

A Youth Adrift

Once upon a time, there was a little strip of land between New York and New Hampshire. It was bordered by the Connecticut River to the east, Lake Champlain to the west, Quebec to the north, and Massachusetts to the south. Both New York and New Hampshire decided they owned this disputed territory, which would come to be known as Vermont.

New York began issuing land grants to settlers—and so did New Hampshire. New York’s grants were irregularly shaped tracts given to the wealthy and well connected. New Hampshire’s land grants were town-sized, with neat borders, bestowed mostly upon middle class frontiersmen. One of those grantees was Ethan Allen, a descendent of English Puritan farmers, who’d grown up in Cornwall, Connecticut.

Ethan became a bit of a drifter after his father’s death in 1755. He joined the militia to fight the French and Indian War, but he never got into the fight. He tended the family farm for a bit and then went into business as part owner of an iron furnace. He also dabbled in philosophy and, randomly, was kicked out of Northampton, Massachusetts; no one really knows why. In 1762, Ethan married Mary Brownson—unhappily, according to biographer Charles Jellison, for she was illiterate, rigidly religious, and quick to criticize her husband—and then fathered five children, only two of whom reached adulthood.

Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys

Serendipity came, in two forms, to Ethan Allen in the 1770s. First, he was asked to defend a family member’s claim to a New Hampshire land grant after King George III—among his many ill-fated decisions—ruled that Vermont belonged to New York. After some unsuccessful amateur lawyering, Ethan traveled to Bennington, where he rustled up an entourage in the form of the Green Mountain Boys. Together, the gangsters started trying to drive New York settlers out of Vermont.

A second stroke of luck came when the American Revolution began, and Vermont declared its independence from Great Britain. Ethan Allen’s Green Mountain Boys rose in rank from hoodlums to heroes when they captured Fort Ticonderoga for the Yanks. It wasn’t too much of a stretch for Ethan—raiding New York was a thing he and his friends liked to do anyway—but the outcome had a happy result for the Americans; cutting off the fort also cut British communication lines between Quebec and points east.

After the Revolution

Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys achieved prime patriot status, but it took a while for Ethan to find his happily ever after. The Green Mountain Boys voted him out as their leader after the capture of Fort Ticonderoga. He then tried to invade Quebec and ended up a prisoner of war. Following his release, his wife Mary died in 1782.

Mary’s passing left Ethan surprisingly sad—perhaps she improved in hindsight. He launched a spotty writing career by publishing both a poem for Mary and a treatise called Reason, the latter of which was panned as “crude,” “vulgar,” and “flimsy.”

Last Years in Vermont

Maturity brought an end, as it does for so many, to Ethan Allen’s wandering ways. He wrote a sequel to Reason, remarried (more happily this time), and fathered three more children. By the time of his death in 1789, he was revered for his role in establishing the state of Vermont, which achieved official recognition in 1791.

In death as in life, Ethan Allen seemed to be one of those people about whom there was no indifferent opinion. He was described by one local reverend, according to Jellison, as “a profane deist, who died with a mind replete with horror and despair.” On his tombstone, however, inscribed by those who apparently liked him better, were these kinder words: “His spirit tried the mercies of his God, in whom he alone believed and strongly trusted.”

Of course, someone stole Ethan’s tombstone in the early 1850s. The state of Vermont kindly replaced it in 1858.

Ethan Allen, the Company

About one hundred fifty years later, When Nat Ancell and Ted Baumritter bought a Vermont sawmill and started manufacturing furniture, they named their 1939 new releases after a local hero: Ethan Allen. That line of furniture became the Baumritter Company’s most popular; eventually, Nat changed the company name to Ethan Allen.

As it has grown from a local furniture producer to an internationally renowned brand, Ethan Allen the company has drawn on the best of the pioneering spirit that characterized its namesake. In the 1960s, Ethan Allen unveiled a whole new way to shop for furniture. Instead of arranging furniture in rows—lines of chairs, lines of tables, etc.—the company asked retailers to showcase each piece as part of a room setting.

Ethan Allen expanded this practice further in its own stores, creating gallery showrooms that made it easier for clients to picture how new furniture would look in their homes. The company made that visualization even easier in the 1990s, when it started hiring designers and offering free design service to anyone who shopped at Ethan Allen.

As 2020 approaches, the company continues its pioneer journey by embracing technology both in and out of the Design Center: in, with an incredibly realistic design studio experience; and out, with the Ethan Allen inHome augmented reality app. We aim to be less troublesome than our namesake, but we try to bring a little of his fearlessness into everything we do, from the styles we create to the way we market—and to our willingness to embrace the opportunities that come our way.

Check out these images from our company’s Ethan Allen Day celebration! Then, join us in lifting a glass to Ethan Allen, a mischief-maker turned philosopher turned statesman. Here’s to those who embody the pioneer spirit, in business and in life.

P.S. Sometimes, we talk about history, but mostly we talk about design here at The Art of Making Home. If you enjoy our posts, subscribe now to get the latest and greatest in your inbox.

 


Summer brings warm days, cool drinks, and – sometimes! – vacationing visitors. With our Lora bar cart ideas for your guest room, you can be the host with the most.

They’ve traveled many weary miles, or maybe just across town. They’re staying for a week, or a weekend, or a night. You’ve opened your doors to them, and you want your overnight guests to feel like the VIPs they undoubtedly are.

Help is on the way—in the form of our Lora rattan bar.

Now, we’re not suggesting that you tie one on, although that’s one way to relax with your guests! Instead, we’re going to give you ideas for how to style a bar cart in a whole new way. Making guests in your home (or even in your Airbnb rental!) feel at home comes down to providing a few simple conveniences. Lora, as the perfect combination of organization and presentation, has you covered.

1. Luxurious Linens

In addition to providing clean sheets and pillowcases for the guest room, stock Lora with some bedding basics, like an extra blanket, pillows, or a cozy throw, so guests can make themselves as comfy as they’d like. Retailers often carry inexpensive unisex waffle-weave robes – another item your guests might appreciate. These items fold easily and tuck into Lora’s shelves.

Bonus: For cold nights, we love Naked Cashmere’s Helen hot water bottle. It’s a hot water bottle tucked into a cashmere sleeve—a gorgeous way for your guests to stay warm.

2. Spa Serenity

Provide guests with soaps, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, lotion, razors, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and other essentials. Place them in one of our Apollo apothecary jars and put the jar on one of Lora’s shelves. If there’s a tub and your guests are the soaking kind, bundle up some bath bombs or bubble bath to help them relax. Also, don’t skimp on the fluffy towels and washcloths! Lora has plenty of room for storage.

3. Everyday Electronics

Nothing is more frustrating than forgetting a hair dryer or a phone charger when you go on vacation. In addition to providing a spare hair dryer, keep an assortment of extra chargers, cords, and adapters for your guests—or even a charging pad if you’re feeling fancy! Roll the cords and secure them with hook and loop tape to keep them from getting tangled. Then, corral them in an Apollo jar, and place the jar on one of Lora’s shelves.

While you’re thinking of it, make sure there’s a visible, accessible electrical outlet or power strip, so guests don’t have to move your furniture to charge their phones or tablets. 

4. Marvelous Miscellany

As you’re coming up with ideas for your guest room cart, take a tip from Airbnb superhosts everywhere: It’s the little things that mean a lot.

  • Stock Lora with a stack of fun paperbacks or decorating lookbooks (stack heavy items on the bottom shelf to prevent tipping!);
  • light reading, like local magazines or The New Yorker, which has great fiction;
  • activities like Sudoku or crossword puzzles, a deck of cards, or a few board games; and
  • nonperishable sips and nibbles, like cookies, crackers, fruit, or nuts, plus a carafe of water.

As a finishing touch, top off your Lora guest cart with a vase of fresh flowers. And why not add a bottle of wine, a corkscrew, and some wine glasses? We’re talking about how to style your bar cart, after all!

With Lora in your corner, that little B&B down the road will have nothing on you! Whether you’re entertaining family and friends or making Airbnb guests at home, everyone will feel pampered and welcome – and you’ll earn that rep as the Best. Host. Ever.

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This Father’s Day, we’re taking a break from design to ponder why so many famous, fictional dads are either wise and wonderful—or really dumb. Think you know pop culture? Take our quiz.

Somehow, fathers have locked down the reputation for being the wise and insightful parent (if you don’t believe this is a thing, just check out the Father’s Day greeting card assortment at a store near you). Hollywood has always loved a smart and sympathetic father figure—think Mufasa, Atticus Finch. (Of course, this doesn’t explain Thanos or Darth Vader.)  But TV is overpopulated with bumbling and hapless fathers, dads who are never in on the joke—from Phil Dunphy to Homer Simpson (most of the sage, if sometimes clueless, TV dads—from sitcoms most of you won’t remember, like Father Knows Best—are long gone.

In honor of Father’s Day, we tried to wrap our heads around this dichotomy of cads vs. dear old dads, and this is what we found out:

  1. Most fictional fathers are more complex than we give credit for.
  2. The wisest dads have been known to spout stupid things.
  3. Even the dopiest dads sneak in a good line every now and again.

With that, we’d like to share some fatherly pearls of wisdom written for some (mostly) awesome characters in (mostly) recent memory—and wish a happy day to all the dads out there who like to keep us guessing!

Who said it?

1. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.

A. Han Solo, Star Wars

B. Charles Ingalls, Little House on the Prairie

C. Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird

2. That’s the main thing … the goal that every individual is shooting for … It’s kinda the prize of the game: to be happy.

A. Forrest Gump, Forrest Gump

B. Andy Taylor, The Andy Griffith Show

C. Chief Martin Brody, Jaws

 3. A wrong decision is better than indecision.

A. Walter White, Breaking Bad

B. Howard Cunningham, Happy Days

C. Tony Soprano, The Sopranos

4. The most amazing things that can happen to a human being will happen to you if you just lower your expectations.

A. Phil Dunphy, Modern Family

B. Frank Gallagher, Shameless

C. Don Draper, Mad Men

5. It’s so simple to be wise… just think of something stupid to say and then don’t say it.

A. Homer Simpson, The Simpsons

B. Dre Johnson, Black-ish

C. Jay Pritchett, Modern Family

6. A wise king never seeks out war, but he must always be ready for it.

A. King T’Challa, Black Panther

B. Odin, Thor

C. Ned Stark, Game of Thrones

 7. Well, that’s the thing about life, it’s the surprises, the little things, that sneak up on you and grab hold of you.

A. George Banks, Father of the Bride

B. George McFly, Back to the Future

C. George Bailey, It’s a Wonderful Life

8. Alone, we can only move buckets. But if we work together, we can drain rivers.

A. John Walton Sr., The Waltons

B. Mike Brady, The Brady Bunch

C. Danny Tanner, Full House

9. There’s nothing you can get from a book that you can’t get from a television faster.

A. Frank Reynolds, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

B. Harry Wormwood, Matilda

C. Archie Bunker, All in the Family

10. I’m only brave when I have to be.Being brave doesn’t mean you go looking for trouble.

A. Herman Munster, The Munsters

B. Bryan Mills, Taken

C. Mufasa, The Lion King

11. A man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man.

A.Jack Byrnes, Meet the Parents

C. Clark Griswold, National Lampoon’s Vacation

D. Vito Corleone, The Godfather

 

 

ANSWERS:

1. Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird

2. Andy Taylor, The Andy Griffith Show

3. Tony Soprano, The Sopranos

4. Phil Dunphy, Modern Family

5. Homer Simpson, The Simpsons

6. Odin, Thor

7. George Banks, Father of the Bride

8. Mike Brady, The Brady Bunch

9. Harry Wormwood, Matilda

10. Mufasa, The Lion King

11. Vito Corleone, The Godfather

For more Father’s Day conversation starters, subscribe to The Art of Making Home and check us out on Instagram @ethanallen.


Hello, sunshine! Summer is upon us and it’s time to lighten up—in lots of ways. If your home is feeling out of season, read on! These simple summer decorating ideas are a breeze!

1. SLIP INTO IT

Nothing says summer casual quite like white slipcovers. Now, before you say, “no way” to white, think again. These comfy coverings are stain-resistant, durable, and easy to remove for cleaning. Still not sold? Sandy-hued neutrals can capture that easy summer vibe too!

The Dylan slipcovered sofa epitomizes summer’s relaxed attitude with a laid-back style and easy-to-clean white cotton twill fabric.

2. GO SOFTLY

Always fun to decorate with, pillows are an instant game changer. Swap out richly colored styles for light, bright, and whimsical ones. Our designers suggest mixing it up with florals, stripes, coastal, and botanical motifs.

With its subtle shine and soft texture, the Metallic Pillow in blush adds sizzle to your summer style.

Looking for something more casual? Outdoor pillows offer chic, colorful looks that work beautifully for the indoors, too, and are super easy to clean.

3. CLAIM YOUR COAST

What’s summer style without a nod to the shore? Coastal accents make perfect summer room décor. Create beach-inspired style with pieces that reflect what you love about the sea and sand. Does sailing make you swoon? Say it with art. Fascinated by sea life? Show your appreciation with chic coral décor pieces, or a unique coastal accent!

Our fanciful Crabs in Glass Cloches are handmade replicas of Maryland blue crabs, and look like finds from a walk on the shore.

Vintage Swimsuit I paper art is a whimsical bathing beauty; the swimsuit is hand-cut from a copy of a vintage map of Montauk.

4. ACE YOUR SERVE

Trays are a must for summer soirees. They should be large enough for your needs, light enough to carry when they’re loaded up, and made with well-secured handles or comfy hand-holds. Reflective styles that catch the natural daylight will serve up your tasty thirst quenchers with dazzle. These trays also work beautifully as coffee table accents or as places to organize toiletries in summer guest rooms.

The curvy Colette Tray in clear acrylic brings a dazzling modern vibe to the party!

5. GO NATURAL

It’s garden season—make the most of it! Plant your favorite flowers and greenery in containers for beautiful, always-fresh summer room décor indoors or out. Our designers love urn-shaped planters for an unmistakably elegant statement at an entryway, on a deck or patio, in a sunroom…you get the picture!

 

 

Handcrafted in a 400-year-old atelier de poterie in the south of France and glazed in an antiqued ivory, our Anduze terra-cotta planters evoke a classical vibe that’s also bright and fresh.

6. BEFRIEND A FAUX

If you can’t have (or don’t want) fresh flowers in your home, grab a well-made arrangement of faux summer blooms to liven up your room. Keep in mind: Quality is the difference between tacky and tasteful, here. You want it to look just like the real thing.

Exquisitely handcrafted, the Tall Pink Peony Watergarden offers true-to-life summer blossoms for anywhere you need a touch of color.

7. SLEEP LIGHTLY

Switch out heavyweight bedding for lighter styles in breathable, cozy fabrics. Colorful floral print duvet covers in lustrous cotton sateen are always fashionable this time of year, as are matelassés and block-print quilts. This simple switch makes a big impact—especially when you dress your bed like a design pro! Discover our secrets on how to make your bed.

The Arcelia Printed Duvet and Giorgina Embroidered Quilt have it all: a shimmery sateen, a soft palette, and a cool, understated block print.

Looking for some outdoor decorating ideas for summer, too?  Check out these photos of real outdoor rooms shared by some of our clients, then head here to find all the outdoor rugs, pillows, and furniture you need to create your own oasis.

 

 


See how the Greek key motif has evolved from decorative border to noteworthy detail to centerpiece—and beyond.

They say everything old is new again, and that’s surely true of the Greek key. It’s a design pattern both classic and classical* that can be traced to the fifth century B.C., the Golden Age of Greece. Curiously, versions of the Greek key have been found in the artifacts of other civilizations predating (and following) this period, but the motif has always been most closely associated with Greece.

At its most fundamental, the pattern, also known as the meander motif, is made up of a long, unbroken line that repeatedly folds back on itself. It’s said to mimic the ancient Meander River of Asia Minor, notable for its many twists and turns. (It’s the same 250-mile river known as the Menderes that flows through Turkey today.) The motif was believed to symbolize infinity, or the eternal flow of life. Among many other things, it was used as a decorative border on Greek pottery, mosaic tiles, and temples.

Fast forward to the eighteenth century, by which time the motif had made its way into the design vocabulary of most of Europe. It was an ornamental favorite during the French Empire and English Regency periods. And in the nineteenth century, archaeological digs in Greece, Rome, Egypt, and Pompeii turned up Greek key-inspired styles in furniture and art on both sides of the pond.

The Greek key figured prominently in the U.S. during the Hollywood Regency period, where it appeared on everything from chair arms and table legs to cabinet hardware, and it has remained a constant in present-day neoclassical architecture. Because of its elemental simplicity, it lends itself beautifully to contemporary uses in furnishings—from textile and rug patterns to metal bases and wood inlays. The Greek key border provides contrast on draperies, pillows, and bedding. It brings a fresh, stylish sensibility to any interior; there’s a reason why it’s stood the test of time.

Here are some key interpretations from our recent introductions.

An open base with Greek key contours lends the Delos Island side table a classic look and a light and airy feel.

The bold Greek key border on the demilune Kronos chest takes the piece from petite and practical to sublime.

What happens when the Greek key is the piece? Our Zee lacquered accent table turns the motif on its head, with contemporary flair.

Full disclosure: the Greek key nailhead detail is optional. But just how fetching is the Madie square ottoman when embellished like so?

Greek key feet and a smooth marble top combine to create the Willow Key, a little goddess of a table that can live in any room.

*Classic is used to describe something traditional, enduring, serving as a standard of excellence; while classical relates to the ancient Greek and Roman world, especially to its literature, art and architecture.

For more inside design info, subscribe to The Art of Making Home and check us out on Instagram @ethanallen.