Our latest Design Star is Nikki Brouillette of our San Marcos, California, Design Center. Nikki earned a certificate in Interior Design from the American Institute of Interior Design and has worked in the field since 2001. Nikki ran her own design firm before launching her career at Ethan Allen in 2013. When she’s not designing, cooking, or crocheting, Nikki manages an Instagram account for her dog, Oliver, who has 15,000 loyal followers. She recently took a break and shared her thoughts on design.
What is your favorite Ethan Allen project?
I worked with the same couple on their formal living and dining rooms, family room, a guest bedroom, and some pieces for the kitchen, along with lighting throughout their home. The wife really wanted a rustic, yet modern feeling, a stylish look that was comfortable. The husband wanted his wife to be happy. They were a delight to work with, and I was overjoyed to learn how pleased they were after everything came together. Their happiness at home is my true reward.
What Ethan Allen item is your favorite?
I have fallen in love with the Ming display cabinet! It’s perfect for displaying china in the dining room, of course. But it’s also a beautiful choice for displaying books in an office, family room, or den.
What is your favorite design tip?
I always recommend doing something unexpected to inspire conversation in a space, like pairing a tapestry fabric with a faux leather for a textural surprise. I also like to use a desk behind a sofa instead of a console table; it adds storage and function while creating visual interest.
Complete this sentence: Every room needs …
Every room needs something natural! It brings a bit of life into a room, and a layer of comfort as well. I always include a permanent botanical, or a natural fiber such as linen or sisal, or even leather.
What color can’t you live without?
I need the color plum in my life. It’s rich, romantic, and warm, and it works well with neutrals, grays, and taupes, making it the perfect pop of color for nearly every design. It’s also right on trend with the dusty purples we’re seeing in fashion and design. See blog post, PURPLE PASSION: HOW WE’RE STYLING THE COLOR OF THE YEAR.
If you could do any project, anywhere, on any budget, what would it be?
I’ve always wanted to design a New York City brownstone! I love the architectural details and built-ins that add character to a classic, urban space. I imagine French doors leading to a patio off the master bedroom. I would hang elegant, yet very tailored draperies and bring contrasting textures into a room, from statement furniture pieces and large floor mirrors to detailed carvings on picture frames. I’d pair clean whites with rich browns. My vision would include classic patterns, as well as a little chinoiserie, for that unexpected touch.
Before we let you go, can you tell us a little about Oliver and how he became so popular on Instagram?
I got Oliver as a puppy a year after my mom passed away; he was a huge help to me in my grieving process. He is a Shih Tzu, and now almost 10 years old (his birthday is March 25). I decided on his name the day I met him. I picked him up and looked at his sweet little face and said, “You look like an Oliver.” I decided to make his own account on Instagram because I was following a couple of dogs and thought, “he’s just as adorable as these other pups.” I started his account in May 2016 and he slowly began to get followers. One day I posted a video of him begging for a minute straight sitting on his back paws and he got over 30,000 views! Follow adorable Oliver on Instagram @oliver_in_charge.