Style tips and more from TV host and lifestyle maven
The delightful Parker Kelley (writer, producer and award-winning host of “Home, Life & Style”) recently partnered with Ethan Allen to produce “Design Tips” segments for her TV show. Aired on NESN, a Boston-area network, the spots were culled from conversations Parker had with designers in seven of our Northeast Design Centers, from Connecticut and Cape Cod to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and Vermont. The collaborative project was spearheaded by Ethan Allen’s New England regional teams, who say the experience was “organic, not scripted, and simply awesome.” Parker says she learned a lot about Ethan Allen – from our rich American heritage to how our 3D room planner works – in the process. We caught up with her recently and asked her to share her thoughts on design in general, and our offerings in particular. Here is what she had to say:
What is your overarching design philosophy?
PK: Pleasure. Every design, whether it be in the form of a coffee mug, a chair, or a room, should give you pleasure. It’s a feeling all good designs share.
What is your favorite design tip?
PK: Mix it up! But be very intentional in how you do it. It’s not just about heaping random things together. It’s about finding the commonality, the thread, or the meaning they share. I like coordinating seemingly different things to see how they influence one another and our perception of them. I recently admired the décor in a boutique in Nantucket, where a huge and delicate crystal chandelier played against a hard, stacked-stone wall backdrop. Both are beautiful, but very different. Together, they’re beyond beautiful!
What is the color you can’t live without, and why?
PK: Blue! Any shade. To me, it’s the ocean, the sky, and the color of both of my sons’ eyes. As someone who grew up on Cape Cod, I’m naturally comforted by blue; a color like red is beautiful, but it makes me too excited. I bring a lot of my own energy into every situation, so I use most colors in moderation. Small pops here and there. Blue has just the right amount of energy for me.
Complete this sentence: Every room needs …
PK: Balance. Balance is key. In art and design, balance is about the elements (shape, color, light, value, saturation, texture, scale). How we assemble these elements is what gives a space visual equilibrium. The same applies to fashion. The longer the skirt, the lower the heel; the shorter the skirt, the higher the heel. It’s a balancing act. In music, storytelling, and the visual arts, there’s an ebb and flow, a push and pull, tension and slack, movement and stillness. In design, you can show balance symmetrically, asymmetrically, or radially. You can feel it when you walk into a room or see a tablescape that just isn’t “right.” When something is balanced, it sings.
If you could take on any project, anywhere, on any budget, what would it be?
PK: I am a lifelong boater, so my initial thought is a yacht set to cruise the globe; my design would echo and pay homage to the colors, cultures, and scenery found all over the world. But even this seems too limiting, somehow. Truly, my dream project is always my next project, no matter the budget or location, because I thrive on potential!
You’ve had an up-close-and-personal look at our Design Centers; what do you think?
PK: I have to say I used to think Ethan Allen was one style – kind of old-fashioned and dated – but how wrong was I? I admit I hadn’t been in an Ethan Allen Design Center since I was eight years old, so it was a wonderful eye-opening experience to witness the variety, quality, and craftsmanship that Ethan Allen offers. The Design Centers are up to date with the latest technology, and it’s been an incredible learning experience for me. And the designers? Unbelievable! They are such passionate, dedicated, welcoming, and knowledgeable people. I am so thankful to have met so many of them. I enjoyed making tip videos and commercial spots with all of them.
Do you have a favorite Ethan Allen look?
PK: I guess it depends on the day. I really like the globally inspired living room displays and the cozy cottage displays. If I had to choose, I’d choose a little of each.
What are your three favorite Ethan Allen pieces?
PK: Right now, I am obsessed with the Capiz chandelier. I love the look and the champagne gold tones, and how the natural beauty inherent in the shell is honored and elevated. I also am in love with the Elise bed in vintage linen, with the hand-painted lattice. This French-inspired piece is just gorgeous. The beading is so fine, and the fluted legs are stunning and romantic! I also love the round Florentine mirror, with its antiqued patina, texture, and varying shades of gold. Mirrors add light and depth to a space, and this piece does it with a Tuscan touch that I would definitely put into my own home.
Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about you?
PK: I live by the philosophy that if you want a glass of milk, you don’t park a stool in a field and hope a cow walks by. I am a big believer in dreams, vision boards, gratitude, and manifesting. We are here to live, so I say live as fully as you can. I absolutely adore design, and believe that designers are artists and healers. They don’t just make things pretty. They help create spaces that are safe and comfortable, stimulating and calm. They help create order and functionality. The world outside is often a chaotic and stressful place, and designers have a role in making things calmer for their clients. It is important work.