Celebrate the season, farmhouse style

Think “farmhouse style” and a simple, country look comes to mind: A home filled with lovingly used and pleasingly mismatched pieces. It’s a look both humble and inviting, intentionally flawed, forgiving, and easy to love. Farmhouse style is authentic, making it perfect for this, the most wonderful time of the year. SET THE TABLE An actual farmhouse table (like our beloved Miller, with its hand-distressed, plank-effect top) is the perfect foundation for country style in the dining room. Everything about this tablescape is unfussy yet elegant, from the scalloped white plates to the striped linen hand towels that double as napkins. GO LIVE Bring a holiday tree in from the great outdoors and use natural greenery whenever possible.  Make place cards pop by tying tags to a few winterberry branches. SHOWCASE YOUR COLLECTIONS Display similar things together, tucked in amongst greenery, holiday ribbon, and other decorative elements. No collection? Start one for next season! Take advantage of post-holiday markdowns on snow globes, angel figurines, and stylized trees. THINK VINTAGE The past is great inspiration for farmhouse style, but you don’t have to go antiquing unless you want to. Our Kata bowls are true found objects, cleaned and retreated for you, perfect in their unique imperfection. CELEBRATE THE DIFFERENCES Farmhouse style resists the urge to make everything matchy-matchy. Our Windsor-style Gilbert chairs, finished in charcoal, look striking against the Miller table's rye finish. DO SOME HOME COOKING Embrace the farmhouse vibe and toss together this simple, delicious dessert. The scent of apples and cinnamon hot from the oven is almost reason enough to make it! Apple Crisp Ingredients
  • 6 to 8 medium baking apples
  • 1 pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 pinch cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 stick chilled butter, cubed
Instructions
  1. Heat the oven to 350ºF.
  2. Core the apples, then cut them into 3/4-inch pieces. Place the apples into a bowl and sprinkle them with the nutmeg, the cinnamon, and 2 tablespoons of the sugar. Mix to coat the apple pieces, then spread the mixture into a baking dish.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the remaining sugar, the flour, and the salt. Add the butter and work it into the dry ingredients until crumbs form. Sprinkle evenly over your filling.
  4. Bake for 45 minutes or until the juices are thickened, the apples are tender, and the topping has turned light golden brown. Top with a scoop of your favorite ice cream and enjoy!
  BE CRAFT-Y    Humble kraft paper is a perfect canvas for creative farmhouse-style wrappings. Add a little raffia or string and a sprig of berries for supremely simple and stylish packages. Remember, you don’t have live anywhere near a farm to style your home with rustic charm. This holiday season, we send you and yours good tidings of country comfort—and joy.

How to style a mantel for the holidays

If you have a fireplace—working or not—and it has a mantel, you’ve hit the holiday decorating jackpot. A mantel, or mantelpiece (or chimneypiece in England), is by definition a shelf—but it really is so much more. It’s prime real estate in any room: an instant focal point, an opportunity not to be missed. Often, the architectural style of a mantel (and surrounding millwork) dictates how you decorate it—but not now. From candles and crystal to cherished collectibles, anything goes during the holidays. Mantel decorating “rules” still apply:
  • Choose a center of attention.
  • Design with odd numbers.
  • Keep scale and balance in mind.
  • Add depth by layering.
  • Stick with your theme.
Following these principles, we styled our own holiday mantel to show you how it's done. Let us take you through it, step by step.
  • Focus! Center a large mirror or work of art on the mantel and lean it close to the wall. For our spectacular statement piece, we chose our Aged Silver Provincial mirror; it always sets an elegant mood.
  • Go green. Place natural evergreen garland along the length of the mantel, dangling some over the sides for a lush look. Drape greenery on your mirror or artwork, too—for dramatic effect.
  • Add a little color. We chose sprigs of red winterberries.
  • Go glam with a few metal accents. Our lovely Pomegranates (available in gold, brass, or nickel finishes) and ever-popular Song Birds add some shimmer.
  • See the light. Amp up the ambience with candles in hurricanes wrapped in red ribbon. DIY tutorial: A RIBBON RUNS THROUGH IT 
  • Turn on the sparkle! We finished our mantelscape with mini battery-powered LED lights.
  No mantel? No worries! Try this on any long-ish horizontal surface: a buffet, a console table, or the top of a bookcase or china cabinet.  
Great Gifts for Less Than $100 Looking for a stylish and cost-effective way to flatter your design-savvy friends and family this holiday season? We’ve got you covered. This curated gift list includes beautiful accents that run from pretty to plush and from chic to shimmery—and the best part is they’re all under $100. ARTY FACT. Our brass Patina Painted vase has a rich, variegated finish that complements any décor. ($99) PENGUIN CLASSICS. Nickel-finished Emperor Penguins are ready to waddle into a loved one’s heart. ($99) ALL CHOKED UP. Start with an aged-finish Gold Artichoke to create a stunning still life on a holiday table. ($59) WARM UP EXERCISE. Think soft, cozy, and comforting: That’s our Ivory Chunky Knit throw. ($69) IT’S A WRAP. Our jewel-toned Serene throws are available in Goldenrod, Wine, and Teal. ($99) ONE OF A KIND. Every Merryl vase is an original, mouth-blown by a master artisan in Portugal. ($79) Ready, set, save! Make your list, check it twice, and go here for more fabulous, affordable gift ideas.
Rick and Donna Devore were ready for what they call “a lifestyle change.” They’d been married for 38 years when they decided to downsize and move into a charming Victorian in the walkable city of Birmingham, Michigan. The couple wanted a new home that was casual and livable, comfortable, with coastal notes. Lucky for them, designer Michele Nestor of our Design Center in Birmingham was up to the challenge of furnishing the house from top to bottom. Michele delivered the cool look and fresh start they were after—and so much more. Take a look.  
This Thanksgiving, say goodbye to entertaining stress! These simple tips can help you plan a day that everyone can love. Make a Plan Nothing is impossible once you break it down into simple steps! So: Get your menu set and your shopping done a few days before; jot down a schedule (e.g., what's being cooked in what order, who's arriving when, how you'll pace the hors d'oeuvres, dinner, and dessert) and build in some socializing time for yourself; and make sure there's enough seating for all your guests.   Back to the Future Nothing beats a recipe that's been passed down for generations. Send happy Thanksgiving memories into the future by preparing a family favorite or two – you could even have copies of the recipes for guests to take home.   Get an Early Start Check those recipes to see what you can make in advance. Stocks for gravy, sides, and dough are all good candidates for pre-prep.   Ready…Set…Set the Table! Tablescaping game on. Check out our Harvest tabletop here.   Card Your Guests Hosting a crowd? Assign seats with place cards, mixing friends and family to create a more social experience.   The Warmest Welcome Greet your guests with a signature cocktail or a steamy mug of hot mulled cider (with or without the rum!).   Open with a Wow Feel like stretching those creative culinary muscles? Start with one over-the-top appetizer to get your party started.   Child's Play Set up games, an easy craft, or a space where the little ones can put together a simple yummy dessert, and they won't have time to ask, "Is it ready yet?"   Pass the Sanity, Please If there are lots of people or lots of dishes, simplify your hosting duties: Set up a buffet near the table and let guests serve themselves.
When design consultant Gabriella met her client, Renee, to go over ideas for her master bedroom, the women had no idea that a “wow factor” project would bloom into a fabulous friendship. Renee is now married with a baby—and she’s still happy to call Gabriella a friend.  “As my life has grown and evolved, Gabriella has grown and evolved with me,” she says. At Ethan Allen, we like to think of it as added value!
Our latest Design Star, Peggy Fortuna, has been an award-winning design consultant in our Danbury, Connecticut, Design Center since 2012. Before that, the Baltimore native owned and operated her own design and color consulting business. Peggy and her husband have three grown daughters, one grandchild, and a chocolate lab with his own Instagram account. We caught up with Peggy recently and she shared her thoughts on design. EA: What is your favorite Ethan Allen project? PF: I had complete design freedom to decorate a client’s four-bedroom home in New Milford, Connecticut—including a large outdoor space. Every room, completely furnished with Ethan Allen furniture and accessories, is both beautiful and livable. EA: What Ethan Allen item do you currently covet, and why? PF: I love all the Dynasty and Ming pieces for all their finish options. I also love the sculptural shape and versatility of the Corbin ottoman. It can be used in both traditional and transitional spaces, and it looks great in all kinds of fabrics! EA: What is your favorite design tip? PF: I always say the rule is: There are no rules. EA: Complete this sentence: Every room needs— PF: Negative space. Color, light, volume, and pattern are important—but don’t forget the space that surrounds it all. EA: Is there a color you can’t live without, and why? PF: I love rooms that are all white, but I design using a varied palette. White is needed to balance the other colors in the room. EA: If you could do any project, anywhere, on any budget, what would it be, and why? PF: To me, nothing is more beautiful and serene than the beach—so, selfishly, I’d have to say I’d love to decorate a beach house for my family. It would be awesome. And while I am dreaming, let’s say it would be on Seven Mile Beach on Grand Cayman!
When it comes to decorating, we sometimes second-guess ourselves to the point of never, ever making a change. From something as simple as introducing a color to something as complicated as replacing a family heirloom, our fears often keep us from taking action:
  • “What if I decide I don’t like it?”
  • “What if other people don’t like it?”
  • “What if I offend Aunt Jane?”
  • “What if it goes out of style?”
  • “What if it doesn’t work and I end up spending more money to make it right?”
We think it's time to say "boo!" to your decorating fears and chase them away—once and for all.

You're Not Alone

If you think you're the only person spooked by decorating choices, we have good news: you're not. “I had a client who had a real tough time parting with things,” recalls Joseph Panzer, a design consultant in our Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, Design Center. “I understand; you get attached." Joseph urged his to repurpose some pieces; they explored ways to mix them in with new Ethan Allen furniture. "Sometimes, just reupholstering a piece can make a client see it a new light and add a nice uniqueness to a space.” Julie Goss, a design consultant in our Vienna, Virginia, Design Center, had a client who needed a pair of chairs for her living room and a few things for her family room. They looked at many fabric samples together, but her client grew so anxious that became flushed, agitated, and broke out into a sweat. If you're feeling anxious about making decorating changes, we have some tips that can make it easier to take baby steps—beautiful baby steps—toward the project of your dreams:
  • Do your homework. Gather inspiration by clipping photos from magazines and tagging websites you like. If you see something that works over and over again, you'll be more inclined to give it a try.
  • Start small. A whole house redo can be terrifying even if you have all the confidence in the world. Select one room, and then make it over, one component at a time.
  • Remember less is more. Keep things simple; choose a single piece that you love and build a design around it.
  • Lead with functionality. Start with something practical, like switching out a loveseat for a sectional now that their kids are older. If it's a change you need to make (rather than just one you want to make), you're more likely to take the plunge.
  • Resist the urge to follow trends. Just because everyone is doing something is usually reason enough not to. Choose looks that will never go out of style—you won't regret it.
Eventually, Julie persuaded her client to place an order, but even when the furniture came in, it stayed in the service center for months. But when the client took a deep breath and finally accepted delivery, and the pieces were in place, she was delighted. Decorating fears are a lot like ghosts; when you turn around to face them, you see they're not real. Decorating doesn't have to be frightful with the help of an Ethan Allen designer. Treat yourself to our complimentary design service, and we'll show you our tricks for taking the fear out of decorating. HAPPY HALLOWEEN FROM ETHAN ALLEN!
If you’re looking for a good recipe to shake up your dining room style, then start mixing things up with mismatched chairs. This eclectic style has become a here-to-stay trend we love—and why not? Mingling different chairs opens up countless ways to play with color, texture, and scale. When done right, it creates a fresh, unexpected look. So how do you make it look so—well, put together? Here are a few tips from our designers to help you master the mismatch. START WITH DOUBLES You don’t have to start over to get in on this look. Ease into it by introducing one set of chairs in a completely different design at the head and foot of the table. If your current style leans toward traditional, swap out your armchairs for a pair of modern ones, or add a duo of dramatic wing chairs to make a statement. HOW IT’S DONE: Our Jayden host chairs bring a modern, dramatic  vibe to this elegant dining room with high backs, sinuous lines, and sleek tapered legs. Our designers tie the look together by dressing them in bold, blue-and-white Greek key fabric to  coordinate with the upholstered seats of the Chauncey side chairs. SET A BENCHMARK To create a relaxed feel, rethink your seating arrangement and replace a set of side chairs with a stunning upholstered bench. This look is not only fresh and fashionable—it’s also great for comfortably fitting in more friends and family on one or both sides of your table. HOW IT’S DONE: The Clinton bench, upholstered in a striking black-and-white striped fabric, cozies up this dining room with a fashionable edge and invites gathering, lingering—and tons of compliments! MIX, THEN MATCH Maybe you’ve got a host of vintage chairs you’ve been collecting, or you have an eclectic taste for all sorts of styles. If you love a cool, collected look, then go ahead—mix it up! Just keep this pro tip in mind: Dress your chairs in a similar color or pattern to tie the look together. HOW IT’S DONE: Our designers chose a pair of Drew armchairs and Mackenzie armchairs to create this eclectic dining room. While these styles are quite different, they pulled off the look with a couple of expert tricks: choosing chairs that share similar silhouettes, scales, and finishes, and dressing each pair in its own globally inspired pattern to create a collected yet cohesive look. Hungry for more inspiration? Here’s a look at a few more mismatched dining looks we love! Berkshire Armchair + Clinton Armchair Berkshire ArmchairBlake Armchair 
Designers know that pattern is a powerful decorating tool; some would argue that it has even more currency than color. Tad Donovan is someone who knows the importance of pattern—and he uses it often when he designs spaces for Ethan Allen. Tad, who is based in Fort Lauderdale, is our latest Design Star. We caught up with him recently and asked him to share his strategies for making the most of pattern in his projects. EA: What does pattern bring to the design table? TD: Pattern brings visual interest and an element of excitement to a room. It offers infinite possibilities for creating a space that really suits a client. It allows us to seamlessly integrate their personalities. EA: How did you develop such a comfortable relationship with pattern? TD: I give my parents credit; both were very talented. I was in my teens when they were building a new home, and I remember the binder my mother kept with all the samples she liked. I saw how she pulled different patterns together, making sure that each room made sense and related to the rest of the house. I think of pattern in the same way; it’s like pulling together a wardrobe—selecting ties, shirts, jackets, and accessories—with an eye toward everything working together. EA: What are your rules for designing with pattern? TD: Don’t be afraid of them!  If a client can point me in the direction of one fabric they like, I can help them conquer their fears. It not only gives us a starting point, but it also gives me a sense of who they are. From there, I can interject ideas to expand on their interests. EA: How about mixing patterns? TD: Yes, please! EA: What are some of the common pattern mistakes people make? Using too much of a similar pattern.     EA: What’s the difference between pattern and a print? Patterns are everywhere—they appear in all kinds of materials, not just fabric. A print is technically a textile that has had dye applied to it—in the form of a pattern. Informally, I think of pattern as more geometric, or a series of repetitive lines/circles/colors. When I think of prints, I think more of a floral or toile. EA: You say patterns are everywhere—where do you find them in the home? They can be in architectural details such as dentil molding; tiles (a Moroccan motif, for example); flooring (think parquet wood floors); even in brick or stone walls. EA: Do you live with patterns at home? Let me think … that would be a yes! PILLOW TALK TD: My client wanted to update a teenage girl’s room using her existing EA furniture. The daughter wanted a palette of black, white, and “Tiffany blue.” I centered the trundle bed on the papered wall and framed the custom bedcovering with grosgrain ribbon on all four sides. The pillows pull everything together: We chose a small-scale print on two pillows for a positive/negative contrast with the walls. The smaller pillow features a black-and-white geometric pattern and a fun tassel trim. We went directly to the source for the larger pillows and trims—using a box from Tiffany to get the blue just right. MASTER PLAN TD: Believe it or not, these are two views of the same room, a rather spacious master suite where my clients go to unwind. Their favorite color is blue and they already owned some pieces (which they still love) from our Swedish Home collection. We used wallpaper sparingly to separate the sleeping area from the sitting “room.”  It defined the space and gave importance to the patterns layered on the bed. We used green as an accent hue (note: the ottoman provides contrast and storage). The Adam chair in a bold windowpane fabric provides a powerful punch of color. RED ALERT TD: This dining room is open to the living room at right. The very sophisticated space was inspired by the geometric pattern on the red sofa pillows. The client loved it so much, we used the same fabric for the window treatments. We picked up the rich red hue as an accent wall in the dining room, along with the fabric on the dramatic Cassatt chairs done in a distressed black finish. BEAUTY AND THE BATH TD: Pattern plays a subtle but significant role in this children's bathroom in an antique farmhouse. Geometric sheers hung from a metal "branch" rod complement the floral pattern in the wallpaper while adding a bit of softness.  The lined, natural woven shades provide texture and contrast, plus privacy. WALL-TO-WALL WOW TD: This classic patterned wallpaper acts like artwork in a dining room full of doorways. It provides a lovely backdrop for our Hansen Indonesian mahogany dining table—the star of the room.  The blue and white porcelain lamps and bowl add a touch of color and, yes, another pleasing pattern.