Celebrate the day with a spooky sweet Red Velvet Skull Cake!

After our recent Halloween nook post was published, we got an enthusiastic response—and one question was asked over and over: How do you make that scrumptious Red Velvet Skull Cake?

Shawn has generously shared the recipe with us, and you’ll find it below. Happy Halloween!

Red Velvet Skull Cake

Recipe adapted from Pretty. Simple. Sweet.

Cake pan used: Nordic Ware’s Haunted Skull Cake Pan #88448

  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup corn starch
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 plus 2 teaspoons cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1¼ teaspoons distilled wine vinegar
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons red food coloring
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray the cake pan generously with cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, corn starch, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy (3 to 4 minutes). Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as necessary.
  4. Beat in the oil.
  5. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well between each addition.
  6. Add the vanilla and vinegar and beat until combined.
  7. Add red food coloring until the desired color is reached.
  8. With the mixer on low speed, add half of the dry ingredients and beat just until combined. Add the buttermilk, followed by the rest of the dry ingredients. Do not overmix.
  9. Divide the batter evenly, filling each half of the pan no more than 3/4 full. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  10. Cool the cakes in the pan on a wire rack until they’re ready to detach easily from the cake pan. Then, remove the cakes and place them on a wire rack to cool completely.
  11. Trim the connecting sides of each skull piece to ensure an even fit. To prevent sliding, join the pieces together with wooden skewers, or use a layer of icing to help them adhere together. Garnish skull with powdered sugar.


With these Halloween decorating tricks and a delicious treat—check out our Red Velvet Skull Cake—you can easily create the perfect Halloween nook in any corner of your home.

The weeks leading up to Halloween are full of fun rituals, like bringing up the Halloween decorations from the basement (or getting them down from the attic) and deciding where everything should go. It’s so much fun to bake creepy cookies and cupcakes, choose the perfect costume, and carve jack-o-lanterns for Halloween night.

We humbly suggest a new Halloween ritual for you: decorating a Halloween nook. Use it as a corner station for any Halloween party, serving kids and adults alike, or as a great spot for serving up snacks and spirits to grown-ups while the kids are trick-or-treating.

1. Select Your Table

After some consideration, we chose our Joelle Console Table, shown here in a Vintage Black finish. It’s slightly distressed, with gorgeous hand-carved details that remind us of a brilliant antique shop find—or a treasure you’d discover as you tiptoe through an old, creepy, haunted mansion.

2. Bring the Outdoors In

Our social media consultant, Shawn Lang of The Farmhouse Project, popped by the NYC Flower Market and snagged some glorious fall branches. You can easily find gorgeous branches outdoors around your home, so don’t hesitate to get out and explore. We arranged the branches in our Extra Large Black and White Ginger Jar and scattered some of the leaves on the floor.

Our social media creative director, also picked up—a parade? A pride? A pack? We’re not sure what you call a giant group of pumpkins, but you can find these beauties in a range of colors, and you can complement them with an array of colorful, wonderfully shaped gourds.

3. Add Some Flair

There’s no need to go all out on pricey decorations. We kept it simple: faux cobwebs, dried Spanish moss, and a plaster skull that we lovingly named Uncle Harry.

Our photographer, Darryl, created the awesome orange light in our window by placing orange filter gels over spotlights that we’d hidden behind the wall. You can purchase orange light bulbs, creepy blacklight bulbs, or strands of lights to create your own spooky lighting effects.

4. Set Out Some Snacks

Put out some punch or sangria on your corner station, and let people at your party help themselves. Make sure to provide a ladle and glasses—we love how our Colette Tray keeps everything nice and organized.

Everyone’s favorite thing on our table, by far, was Shawn’s Red Velvet Skull Cake. He used Nordic Ware’s Haunted Skull Cake Pan to get the shape just right—he says to spray it with a generous layer of cooking spray and cool the cake completely to make sure it releases perfectly. He used skewers to hold the pieces together and dusted the cake with powdered sugar. The result is delicious—and deliciously creepy!

5. Invite Some Guests

You’ll probably want some human guests for your Halloween event, but we were feeling a little catty, so we only invited two of our favorite feline friends: Zoey and Zuki.

We had so much fun with this photo shoot! We’ll be sharing some additional images on Instagram @ethanallen, including a second version of our Halloween nook—featuring our beloved late Uncle Harry, of course! Be sure to check them out.

We’d also love to see what you come up with for your Halloween nook, so be sure to share your images! Mention @ethanallen for the chance to be featured (we admit it: we’re partial to nooks that include Ethan Allen furnishings and décor!), and tag them #EthanAllenDesign.


The shorter days of fall are here—time to hit the lights! Our lamps and chandeliers do more than just brighten up your rooms. From gorgeous glazed ceramic to striking iron, these spectacular accents are crafted from a mix of materials, and each deliver a unique ambience and style.



From glazed ceramic to textural earthenware, table lamps, crafted from clay, are spectacular in craftsmanship and style. Get the most from these handcrafted works of art: Make a style statement in the entryway or add captivating color, texture, and shine in the living room and bedroom.

The Hadlee table lamp has a dazzling earthenware base that’s been scored, carved, and painted with a reactive glaze that produces a metallic bronze finish. This lustrous, textured style, crafted entirely by hand, works with range of looks, from glamorous and luxurious to earthy and modern.

From crisp classic to coastal looks, the New Lucca table lamp brings a unique look to your rooms. Its ceramic base is molded from clay, the worked by hand create its unique texture and ridges. Its then finished with blue and white reactive glazes for a beautiful variegated effect.

The Lala Ombre table lamp is down to earth yet dazzling, with a unique drip pattern that artisans create using three layers of reactive glaze. If you look closely, you’ll find subtle metallic hints. Its classic form and captivating color adds a simple stroke of glamour to casual settings.



Nothing quite matches the light-reflecting power and lucid grace of glass fixtures. Use them to balance the visual weight of wood and metal furnishings, or in open floor plans and small spaces to maintain a light, airy feel.

The Lalita glass pendant is clearly captivating! Mouth-blown from recycled glass, its available in a variety of sizes and shapes, in gray, yellow, and purple. Imagine the possibilities: Hang a single pendant for a simple retro-modern twist, or mix and match them in a group to create a cool, modern-rustic lighting design.

The Valdis table lamp is a bold beauty: It looks like it’s crafted from brass, steel, and stone, but it’s actually made from reactive vapor glass with a gray and silver finish and a pretty opalescent patina.

Crafted from translucent gray glass with a dimpled texture, the Tino table lamp has versatile style with a bit of a retro vibe. Set a pair on bedside tables to add a light touch of texture and depth to the bedroom.



Whether your style leans modern, industrial, traditional, eclectic, or global, lighting crafted from metals like iron, aluminum, and steel complement practically any aesthetic. Available in a range of finishes, they can be graceful or strong, sleek or architectural, textural or lustrous. Don’t be afraid to mix metal lighting fixtures with your furnishings; they work harmoniously with wood, glass, acrylic—you name it!

The Karone wire pendant is all the buzz! Made from handcrafted mesh and finished in antique brass, its unique beehive-shaped iron “shade” can be scrunched up or straightened to take on the look you want. Hung in a group of three, at different heights, Karone really shines.

The Elsa chandelier dazzles with simple elegance. Its exquisite, airy design, crafted from iron with a galvanized matte black finish, adds an eye-catching element to casual and formal dining rooms alike.

The Macie table lamp updates to the classic pharmacy lamp with a decidedly modern, sculptural vibe. Its versatility is endlessly appealing, making it a go-to for guest rooms, home office spaces, bedrooms, and entryways.




Home trends with interior designer Drew McGukin at “New York Now,” the international home, lifestyle, and gift market at the Javits Center in Manhattan.

Drew McGukin is known for his easygoing manner as much as his love of bold patterns and beautiful textures. As head of his New York-based firm, Drew McGukin Interiors, for nearly ten years, Drew has worked on a wide array of projects on both coasts. We walked the “New York Now” trade show with him recently, and he shared his thoughts on the trends he’s seeing in home design.

If I had to take this show’s trend down to one word, it would be “natural.” I’m seeing a lot of natural elements, in pattern, texture, everywhere. Some references are subtle while some are very literal—like florals and leafy patterns. I feel like there’s a genuine desire to add natural materials and texture to a space. It’s all very organic. There’s an authenticity and artisanal quality to all of it. I’m sure on one level it is an extension of the movement to be greener and take better care of our world.

As part of an overarching trend toward rooms that are light, bright and fresh, there are lots of softer shades and pastels. With so much noise coming at us all the time, people are just looking for calming palettes, and lots of natural light. That said, we’re having a real yellow moment, in fashion as well as interiors. It’s massive right now. I had someone ask if it’s because of the outfit Amal Clooney wore to Harry and Meghan’s royal wedding. While I wish we could give her all the credit, I think she got the dress because it was yellow. Since it usually takes two to three years for a color to make it into the mainstream, I predict we’ll soon be seeing a red that’s not just red, but maybe a little burnt orange; it may sway a little rustic red or a little crimson.

Going back to the noise, I’m finding that people are becoming exhausted with stuff. For too long, clients have come to us with vast places to fill—and yet they want their homes to feel designed, tailored, warm, like everything belongs. Now I’m hearing more of: “Stop overwhelming me with stuff!” We did a beautiful loft space recently, with a library that had to be filled. We were spending thousands a week on books—and trying to make it look like we didn’t just buy them yesterday. I had to buy seventeen picture frames in one afternoon—and they had to feel “collected.” By the time we were done with the library and had moved onto the study, we seriously simplified. We mirrored the backs of some shelves and displayed pieces of pottery that we commissioned from a ceramic artist in Brooklyn. It was beautiful, clean, orchestrated, organic, and textural—with a real backstory.

Because we’ve been leaning toward more clean-lined, modern spaces, some people are wondering, “Where are all the antiques?” The fact is, quality vintage pieces are becoming harder to find in the U.S.; our flea markets have more junktiques than antiques. You can still buy beautiful old things, but you have to get out there to find them. The Paris flea market is still incomparably awesome! But here, I see more designers repurposing antiques. If they’re well made with good bones, we’re refinishing them to make them look unexpectedly modern.

I’ve delivered the trend report for the KBA (Kitchen and Bath Association) for the last two years, and I’m here to say that white and gray still rule. There’s still an overwhelming preference for quality cabinetry and natural stone surfaces. I recommend you choose timelessness over trends: either something highly stylized, like an iconic Poliform kitchen—or classic cabinetry with a simple panel detail that can be transformed by paint and accessories. I’ve been asked if it’s possible for kitchen islands to get any bigger—I doubt it! I recommend scaling down and letting functionality rule. For example, we took a super-duper-long island for one client and broke it in two, creating a T, and a workspace that works without being over the top.

Whether you like to follow trends or just be inspired by them, subscribe to The Art of Making Home and check us out on Instagram @ethanallen.

Hill Harper, his vision and commitment to social change through art.

In June, The History Channel aired “Detroit: Comeback City,” a documentary that chronicled the rise and fall and rise of a city “on the cusp of an exciting rebirth.” Optimism abounds in Detroit today; private sector investments are up, unemployment is down, and forward-thinking entrepreneurs are rebuilding the city from the inside out. Few could have predicted such vibrant revitalization when the city filed for bankruptcy back in 2013. Detroit’s remarkable recovery is far from complete, and most would agree it will take a village—as well as the confidence of outsiders like Hill Harper.

Harper is an actor (CSI: NY, The Good Doctor, Homeland), author, graduate of Brown University, Barack Obama’s classmate at Harvard Law School, art lover (and incidentally, one of People magazine’s “Sexiest Men Alive”). The Iowa native is a philanthropist, too; he founded the Manifest Your Destiny Foundation, dedicated to empowering underserved young people. And he’s a visionary who in 2017 bought the Fisher Mansion, a run-down landmark building in the heart of Detroit, with the goal of restoring it, living in it, and opening it up to the community. He recently partnered with the Junior League of Detroit to host its 22nd biennial Designers’ Show House, an event that helped jumpstart Harper’s personal urban renewal project.

Ethan Allen designers collaborated on a project in the 18,000-square-foot show house (which ran from September 15 to October 7). They designed the expansive living room suite on the second floor—a space that will eventually serve as Harper’s private residence when he’s in town.

While we were in Detroit for the show house opening, Harper graciously offered to give us a tour and discuss his labor of love.

Photo by: Jeff Garland


Why this house? Why Detroit?
I was introduced to the city when I worked on some film projects here. I was impressed by the creative, entrepreneurial spirit of the people, and I saw so much potential in this beautiful, historic home. I knew it was a place where I could make a difference.

What’s your vision for the building?

It’s been wonderful for me to see the rooms come together in more of a finished way for the show house. It’s so different when you’re looking at a raw space—but I have always thought of this as a long-term project.

I plan to open the house to members of the community, to students, artists, and educators. It will be a house that’s accessible to everyone. We’re bringing its technology up to speed and modernizing the building in every way. I know it will happen over time, but this is going to be a living, breathing place.

Break it down for us.

I believe people should be inspired by art, so that is what drives me. It bothers me that the über-wealthy buy up so much art and then put it storage or places where people can’t see it. I’m bringing my contemporary art collection here and the first floor will be an art gallery. To me, art should be seen, so we’re going to open the doors and keep them open.

The second level will be my family floor. I see this great open space, with rooms off of it. A room for me, my son, my mother when she comes to visit. It will be a private floor, separate from the public spaces. But you will still be able to circumnavigate the entire house.

The third floor is where we’ll host artists in residence. We’ll provide studio space and living quarters—give them everything they need so they can work on their art. I have a couple of artists lined up already; we’re very excited about it. I’ll ask only two things of them: to give back to the foundation something they make (a painting, sculpture, whatever it may be) and teach local kids about their technique to expose them to art.

In addition, all the public spaces will be open for weddings, charity events. Eventually, we’ll even have a nice pool, so kids can come for the art, and go for a swim and have a great time in their own backyard.

How important is the historic aspect?
I believe the whole idea here is a nod to the past; it’s important to take inspiration from that, to capture the essence of the house. But I’m not a literalist in terms of preservation; I’m not trying to be completely historically accurate. We’ll take the best parts of history and celebrate them, amplify them. For example, there is a small chapel that was used by the original homeowner, Sarah Fisher. She was very devout and would often go to the chapel to light candles and pray. We want to restore the space and open it up to visitors, make it something special. We want to honor what was important to her. Connecting to the heart is just another way of connecting to art.

You keep coming back to art; why is that?
To me, art is a creative endeavor, whether it’s acting, interior design, singing, painting, sculpture. Art is powerful; it affects attitude. I want a more positive, more just world, and believe that art is a conduit to that. That’s the direct pathway to positive social change. If you infuse a mindset with art, with creativity, it opens you up to all kinds of possibilities.

See what inspires other creative people. Subscribe to The Art of Making Home and check us out on Instagram @ethanallen.

Meet Shawn Lang, artist, product designer, blogger—and all-around nice guy.

Shawn Lang found his calling—bringing well-designed objects to market—years ago. He’s put his stamp on everything from eyewear and jewelry for some of the chicest brands in the fashion industry, to embellished giclées and handcrafted dimensional art for Ethan Allen. Now, completely in his element, he’s silk screening original designs onto canvas bags and kitchen towels and selling them on his website, thefarmhouseproject.com. His audience may have changed over the years, but his passion for beautiful things hasn’t.

Shawn was always interested in art. He grew up on the Jersey shore, the youngest of five kids, and was always drawing, sketching houses, and building things. “I loved playing with Legos so much, my mother thought I was going to be an architect,” he says. “My passion initially was for fine art, but she convinced me that being an artist wouldn’t pay the bills.”

Shawn is soft-spoken and deliberate, relaxed and agreeable (a quality he says helped him navigate some stressful situations, especially in the fashion world). We sat down with him recently and asked him to tell us how he went from high-end product designer to down-home entrepreneur. (Fun fact: Shawn was also a professional figure skater for 20 years!)

You’re a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology and you were at the top of your game in New York City when you decided to take a product design and merchandising job at Ethan Allen. Walk us through that decision.

Soon after I earned my degree in product design, I had a series of unique opportunities that allowed me to work with some very talented people in the fashion and home furnishings industries. For ten years, I managed and designed leading fashion and home collections for such brands as Tory Burch, Coach, Ralph Lauren, and Michael Kors. I loved my work.

In 2012, my husband, Kris, and I decided we wanted to move to the country. We found a historic farmhouse in upstate New York that needed a lot of love—and we embarked on a renovation of literally historic proportions. I started documenting progress on our 218-year-old home, sharing mostly bad iPhone photos and unedited copy with friends and family. I was still working in the city and wasn’t really looking to leave my position when I saw the posting for director of wall décor for Ethan Allen. I knew I wanted to move into the home design field, and with my design, merchandising, art, and printmaking background, it turned out to be a perfect fit. That was spring of 2014.

Enter The Farmhouse Project?

Yes! The time was right for The Farmhouse Project, a  lifestyle blog about two gents restoring a farmhouse in upstate New York! So, it quickly grew into something more. We started writing about the local area, the restaurants, the farmer’s market—and realized we had something of interest, that there was an audience that wanted to engage with us. So, we engaged back. We developed projects with some well-known partners, like Bed, Bath, & Beyond, Houzz, Design Sponge and Pendleton.  After four years, we decided to focus on branding. A lot of our followers were saying, “We want to buy something from you.” And being a product person, I was like, “We should sell stuff!” I knew if we didn’t do it then we never would. I also knew I couldn’t develop the brand and hold down a full-time job, so I made the decision to leave EA.

And did you?

Not really, no. Just as I was preparing to take a leap of faith to work on our blog, I found out that EA was relaunching its blog, The Art of Making Home. I’d already given notice, but knew I had to consult or freelance anyway, so I put myself out there.

What are you doing for EA now?

I’m a part-time consultant on our social media team; I develop content and edit and publish blog posts. Social media director Miller Opie and I work to make EA social media relaxed and cool. There’s beautiful photography available to us, and we’re able to break our content down in a different direction. We do decorating tips, craft ideas, cocktail recipes. It’s about how people really live, which is what I think social media should be about. It’s nice because I live and breathe social media at home and now I do it at EA, too.

Tell us about your design style.

I’ve always been a big fan of interiors. My style throughout years of living in the city was always more modern, but when we bought our house in the country … well, we knew we couldn’t make a 218-year-old house modern. I’ve definitely changed things up; I’m now very interested in historic style.

What did you learn from working at Ethan Allen?

A knowledge of the home industry, and I have to say it’s been invaluable. I learned a lot about working with vendors and developing products that people want. My experience at EA proved to be a foundation for much of what I do in my business.

What’s next for the Farmhouse Project?

We’ve been focused on partnering with online publications, but we’ve been talking with iconic magazines like Country Living, too. Our small product line is getting some attention, so we’re doing a lot with e-commerce. At some point we’d like to buy a space, create a destination, maybe a bar or a store—and see where it takes us.

About that figure skating?

I usually don’t tell anyone, but I was seriously into it. I started skating when I was four. I went to nationals a few times, traveled around the world, and my goal was to go to the Olympics. But I got burnt out in my early 20s. By the time I decided to quit, I had four coaches, so I disappointed a lot of people. I had just had enough. I wanted to be in Manhattan, I wanted a college life, I wanted to pursue my art. It was a difficult decision, but the best one I ever made. I grew up fast as a figure skater. It taught me to be responsible, mature, and how to make business decisions at a very young age. It’s experience that I use in my career to this day.

Rest easy—our new introductions include some pretty and petite bedroom pieces.

Many living spaces, especially bedrooms, are tighter today than they were a generation (or even a few seasons) ago—but they can still look airy and stylish. If your bedroom isn’t quite as spacious as you’d like, we recommend you dream big and furnish small.

Here are a few ways to fool your eye into thinking your room is roomier than it is:

  • Paint your walls a light color.
  • Choose pieces with visually lighter profiles (pieces with legs and open frames; no dark, boxy upholstery).
  • Streamline accents and artwork (no heavy frames or crowded gallery walls).
  • Keep furniture low to the ground.
  • Opt for metal and glass when possible; they consume less visual space.
  • Minimize clutter on all surfaces.

And here are some of our newer, slimmer pieces for bedrooms:

A streamlined steel frame transforms a traditional slatted bed into a modern, minimalist statement piece. Emmett’s clean-cut silhouette suits a retreat of any size.

Our Danish-inspired slipper chair sits gracefully low to the ground. River features a freshly interpreted design, modern lines, and a relaxed vibe suitable for any space.

It’s perfect for a lamp, a book, and an alarm clock, but the Montclaire night table (finished on all sides) invites you to think outside the bedroom, too.

Well grounded, yet sleek and airy, the Rosemoor glass-top end table is a living room darling that brings casual, contemporary, sculptural appeal to the bedroom, too.

A petite piece with a big presence, Rinna is a versatile pedestal table inspired by antique candlestands. Its flawless detail adds high style to rooms with low ceilings.

We took a classic sawhorse design for a modern spin and called it Verena. It’s chic and minimalist, a barely-there desk for a tight corner in a snug space.

See what’s new in Small Space Living Rooms and Small Space Dining Rooms. Never miss a new introduction: Subscribe to The Art of Making Home and check us out on Instagram @ethanallen.

Everything small is big again—especially in today’s condensed dining spaces.

It’s official: The banquet-sized dining room is a thing of the past. Today’s dining room is smaller, more intimate—and no longer used for only two or three holidays a year. Today’s dining area still invites family gatherings, but it’s often simply an extension of the living room or kitchen. Naturally, smaller furniture had to follow. Scaled down with a modern vibe, our fall dining introductions are just the thing.

Check out some of our lighter menu options:

Smart, simple proportions give Jewel high marks in both function and form. An airy, understated feel makes it a new transitional classic. Also available as a counter stool.

Hoyt mixes materials in the most stylish way, pairing a walnut veneered top with a free-form metal base that looks substantive without making a small dining space feel crowded.

Table for two? Our Hazelton with its 36-inch top is ready when you are. With a starburst beauty of a base, this sculptural piece fits anywhere and elevates dining at home.

Sweet and understated, Vera’s petite silhouette, rounded back, and generously cushioned seat bring comfort and style to any dining area (super-sized spaces not required).

The modern Montclaire has a pleasing minimalist profile. Two spacious drawers (think table linens, flatware) atop a steel base form simple geometry that’s simply exquisite.

Scale it down, clip its silhouette, minimize its twists and turns, and make it out of bronze-finished aluminum. Voilà! You have a modern Windsor chair updated for today.

See what’s new in Small Space Living Rooms. Never miss a new introduction: Subscribe to The Art of Making Home and check us out on Instagram @ethanallen.


How a stately old mansion in a historic neighborhood got its groove back.

In the early part of the last century, Detroit was the place to be. Its population was booming, the automobile industry was revving up, and entrepreneurs with great wealth were building grand homes in the city, some of the grandest within a 36-block enclave known as Boston Edison. In 1922, Charles T. Fisher, founder of the Fisher Body Company (the world’s largest manufacturer of automobile bodies) and his wife, Sarah, commissioned an 18,000-square-foot estate in the upscale neighborhood. It was designed in the English Tudor style and featured fourteen bedrooms, a pub, a private chapel, a gym, and a carriage house.

Fisher Mansion stayed in the family for more than 50 years, until Sarah’s death in 1974. By that time, it had fallen into decline, much like the city itself. It was donated to a church, and then changed hands several times—seriously in need of some love—until Michael Fisher, a distant cousin, purchased it in 2008. A series of restoration projects brought the residence up to code, but there was still much work to be done.

Enter actor and philanthropist Hill Harper. After purchasing the residence in 2017, Harper, who is known for his work on such TV shows as CSI: NY and The Good Doctor, promptly set out to restore its architectural splendor while bringing it squarely into the 21st century. He worked with a Detroit-based design-build firm and contractors to bring the building back to life, and he partnered with the Junior League of Detroit to host its 22nd biennial Designers’ Show House in his new home. Thirty-nine talented designers (including three of our own) signed on to transform 44 distinct spaces.

Since its inception in 1976, the JLD’s Designers’ Show House has raised more than $4.5 million for community programs in Detroit, so we were thrilled to take part! Michigan-based EA designers—Tamara Stone of our Birmingham Design Center, Colleen Gahry of Auburn Hills, and Gabriella Andersen of Sterling Heights—collaborated on the living room suite on the second floor. They call it “Uptown,” a modern and sophisticated loft designed for elegant entertaining. The space is richly layered with well-chosen pieces; it’s graceful, glamorous, and gorgeous—with a hint of glitz.

The Junior League of Detroit Designers’ Show House runs through October 7. For hours, information, and tickets, visit the JLD website: jldetroit.org

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

*Photo credit of exterior Fisher House by: Jeff Garland

He eats, sleeps, and breathes design. No wonder he finds inspiration everywhere he goes!

It’s safe to say that everything we sell at Ethan Allen has spent at least some time in Jimmy DeBernardo’s head.

That’s every stick of furniture, fabric swatch, rug, quilt, basket, bowl, and box. Every drapery panel, roll of wallpaper, giclée print, and chandelier. As the company’s Vice President of Style, it’s Jimmy’s job to work collaboratively with our in-house merchants to establish a look for every new introduction, to review the designs they bring to the table, and to take their collective vision from mind’s eye to reality.

Jimmy is a 29-year EA veteran who started out as an intern. Today, in addition to his role as the company’s style guru, he’s also responsible for setting up our Design Centers, from the ground up. He’s adept at juggling his many roles, but it’s the design process that drives him 24/7. When we interviewed him on a recent afternoon, he’d been up since 2 a.m., trying to finesse a concept he’d been working on. The lack of sleep didn’t faze him; if anything, he was more animated than usual. Here’s what he had to say about his job:

I started out at Miami Florida International University as a psychology major, then switched over to marketing. But I knew I wanted to do something creative, so I added commercial interior design to my major. I later transferred to Youngstown State University in Ohio, where I graduated with bachelor’s degrees in marketing, psychology, and design—with an art minor. I’m one of the few people who is actually doing what they went to school for!

As a young child, I used to draw houses and “decorate” them; I was always interested in dwellings. I wasn’t sure what I’d be—maybe an architect or a designer—but I always thought it would have something to do with houses. While I was in college, I freelanced as an interior designer, doing friends’ apartments, working with very tight budgets. I enjoyed the challenge, and it was then I decided what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. The first time I walked into Ethan Allen, back when I was hired as an intern, I knew it was where I wanted to be.

There really is no typical day . . .  it depends on where I am in the process, and where I am in the building. In the morning I might be focusing on the next Design Center, and in the afternoon my focus is will be on product for the upcoming season. I never feel like I’ve done enough in a given day, so I never shut down. I check email all the time, day and night. The process never sleeps!

When you’re involved in the design process you’re constantly finding inspiration in the most unexpected places. You use that inspiration to create a space for a particular person. When you’re doing it in the abstract—that is to say, not for a particular client, but for a type of client—you have to imagine who that person is, where they live, how they live, what they eat and drink, what kind of music they listen to, how they dress. Whether they’re real or imaginary, you’re creating a set for a person’s story.

We usually work a year ahead, but it can vary depending on the category. After we come up with a concept, we create mood boards, or collages that convey the concept and take us on a journey. They’re an important part of storytelling. Every concept includes a palette to help establish parameters.

Next, we meet with merchants and discuss what we’ll need in terms of case goods, upholstery, decorative accessories, etc. Then they go off to apply the concept to their categories, in keeping with their business plans. When they bring back their ideas, we sift through everything to see what works, what doesn’t, and what we still need. Is there a tall piece, a short piece, an in-between piece, a one-of-a-kind piece, a utilitarian piece? When it’s time to put all the products together, we fast forward to end use and decide if a piece is relatable. If it’s not, then we haven’t succeeded—no matter how great a job we think we’ve done. At the end of the day, it’s about bringing joy to the customer.

Research, research, and more research.  We’re not a trend-oriented company; we’re more about real life. Relevance. So, we take basic facts and data and think about how we can make something ours. How can we give it an EA point of view? I go for longevity. I like to take something that’s classic and make it new.

I’m a traditionalist at heart with a modern perspective. When you’re around color and pattern all day, you tend to go more toward neutral. I do love anything that’s Dynasty. I love ancient forms that can be interpreted as modern. Every time I go to change things up in my townhouse, I decide it looks better as it was.

It’s always something to do with art. My partner is in the design field also, and we’re both artists, so we paint and draw, we go to galleries. Our idea of recreation is looking at what’s new in the design world, in fashion, and pop culture.

Seeing dreams become reality. It’s very exciting and gratifying to me to see everything come together.

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