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.
Finding a gifted and discerning interior designer who “gets” you can be one of the most satisfying aspects of decorating your home. It can give you the confidence you need to push your creative envelope. It can make the difference between a good experience and a great one. Just ask Jennifer Coleman, who lives with her husband, Sean, and their children outside of Raleigh, North Carolina. A while back, Jennifer decided it was time to refresh her home—starting with a new sofa. “We’d put decorating on the back burner for a long time,” she says. “It was time to love our space.” By the time Jennifer walked into our Design Center in Cary, North Carolina, she’d already fallen for the Mansfield sofa. “Jennifer had done her homework,” remembers design associate Daniel Sawyer. “She brought sketches and dimensions, and had her eye on certain pieces.” “I knew the look I wanted,” says Jennifer. “I just had no idea how to piece it together.” Her first meeting with Daniel lasted more than three hours. “I embrace the ‘first date’ philosophy with a client,” he says. “I like to learn about them in a very genuine way. What colors they like—and hate. What they like about their space—and what needs improvement.” Once Daniel visited the Colemans’ home, Jennifer started thinking beyond the Mansfield. Her list grew to include accent chairs, ottomans, a rug, lighting, and a (mandatory) leather recliner for her husband. When the conversation turned to accessories, Jennifer wanted to hold off. Daniel knew the difference those little pieces would make, so he showed up on installation day with his car loaded with artwork and accents. Jennifer was surprised—and pleased. “I’m good at the big picture, but not accessories,” she says. In the end, she kept everything but a single piece. With complete confidence in her designer by then, Jennifer asked Daniel to help decorate the master bedroom. “The room was a joy to create,” says Daniel. “Our full design plan included custom bedding, new Hunter Douglas shades, and custom window treatments. Jennifer and Sean now describe it as their sanctuary.” And the decorating’s not over yet, laughs Jennifer: “Remember, we really didn’t plan to get more than a piece or two … but I think we’ll do the dining room next!”    
Our furniture speaks for itself. Every piece of furniture we make has a personality of its own—from the Robyn bed’s country casual vibe to the Vivica chest’s go-glam-or-go-home attitude. There isn’t a chair, chest, ottoman, or etagère that doesn’t make a statement; we designed them that way! Recently we imagined what our furniture would say—how it might introduce itself, for example—if only it had the chance. We featured some table talk in our October magazine, but the conversation didn’t stop there. Meet some of our favorites: ROBYN: I'm a sleigh bed infused with a cottage vibe—contemporary yet rustic, as cozy in a city loft as I am in a summer beach house. KINGSTON: I'm tropically inspired, with a reeded headboard and footboard design; I'll instantly transform your bedroom into an island getaway. LINCOLN: I may look casual, but I have great fashion sense. My upholstered headboard can be dressed in your choice of dozens of fabrics so I can show off your unique style. FAIRFAX: I'm proof that traditional doesn't have to be old-fashioned. I'm neoclassical with a modern twist—and I steal the show in any space. GRAYSON: I have a generous seat for roomy relaxation—and with my Chippendale-inspired design, I look fabulous anywhere, especially in the middle of a room. VERSAILLES: I’m inspired by Louis XV and generously proportioned for comfort. My hand-carved details are subtle—but stunning. VIVICA: I’m all about the glamour; my silver leaf wood frame is dressed head-to-toe in antiqued mirror panels. Va va voom! ADELAIDE: I’m Gustavian (that’s part Swedish, part French); my breakfront effect and delicate ring pulls make me one-of-a kind. BOWEN: I’m a petite beauty with a big personality, dressed in a faux snakeskin-embossed leather in white or silver, and detailed with antiqued silver nail head trim.
It's one of the first things you notice when you enter a room. It evokes memories: a grandmother's cooking, a mother's embrace, a day at the beach. It’s powerful enough to stir emotions and yet often overlooked when designing a room. Fragrance. A pleasing fragrance can soothe or energize; it can even suggest a completely different atmosphere (e.g., a candle with the fragrance of a mountain forest burning on a kitchen table in Manhattan). Because everyone experiences scent differently, it's a good idea to choose more complex scents so each person can detect their favorite note. The best fragrances achieve a perfect balance of top, middle, and bottom notes.
  • The top note is the first thing you detect when taking the lid off a candle or opening a jar of essential oils. Good top notes suggest freshness: citrus, herbs, a touch of ginger.
  • The middle note usually emerges about fifteen minutes after a candle is lit. The middle notes give a fragrance its personality, whether it's a fruity, floral, or spicy note.
  • The base note is the scent remaining in the room long after the candle has been extinguished. Woodsy, musky aromas add elegance and depth and often work well in this layer.
When we design fragrances at Ethan Allen, we draw from five categories of scents and present them in varying sizes of candles, each with a minimum burn time of 40 hours. We also create diffusers, in which reeds are immersed in scented oil to soak up fragrance and disperse it throughout the room. Diffusers last until all the oil has evaporated and are easily refreshed by adding more oil.
  • Floral. Morning Blossom blends an initial top note of citrus with a heart of jasmine and violet over base notes of patchouli and vanilla.
  • Ozonic or spa. The freshness of coconut, the sweetness of honey, jasmine, and vanilla, and a hint of sandalwood make our Cashmere Petals fragrance unforgettable.
  • Citrus. With Sparkling Citrus, we blend strong top notes of tangerine and citrus zest with jasmine middle tones and a base of white woods.
  • Woodsy or smoky. In Hearthwood, a top note of orange blends with a heart of clove and heliotrope; the base note of warm spice lingers long after the candle has been blown out.
  • Fruit. To keep a fragrance like Enchanted Apple from being too overpowering, we add notes of lilac, peach nectar, tonka bean, and oak moss.
Whatever your reason for selecting a home fragrance—setting a mood, creating an atmosphere—don't forget to include your favorite fragrance in your final room design. It's an invisible touch that makes all the difference.
Take a peek at True Blue, our October magazine (download it here), and we promise you won’t feel blue in the least. Our designers captured some pretty cool blue moments—from the natty Baldwin settee on the cover (love the Greek key nailhead trim) to our sumptuous Monikka bedding (p. 22—be still our hearts!). Blue is widely considered the world’s favorite color (go on, Google it), and we know that in home décor, blues of every stripe just never seem to go out of style. Join the navy? We’re in. Reach for the sky? We’re up for it. Take a powder? We love all the baby blues. In fairness to fall, we can appreciate its fiery reds and glorious golds, but give us any hue of blue—in any season—and we’re down. Here are some of our favorite looks!
The couple walked into the West Des Moines Design Center on a whim. They weren’t at all sure they were in the right place. They told design associate Paige Mongar they had a statement room to furnish, with a very particular look in mind: modern, with midcentury and Scandinavian notes. “They thought Ethan Allen was only associated with traditional and classic design,” says Paige, our latest Design Star, but they knew our quality was unparalleled, so they were curious to see our product line.”  Without hesitation, she reassured them that Ethan Allen offered the chic, minimalist styles they were after. “They needed to furnish the vaulted living room of their 1988 contemporary,” she explains. “There’s a balcony above, and the living room is open to a well-defined dining area. They wanted to improve the flow and make the space more conducive to entertaining.” The couple “favored a monochromatic palette with minimal pops of color,” says Paige. “They were looking for furniture that would reflect their love of Scandinavian and midcentury design. They wanted to highlight their artwork—and a beloved midcentury dining set and bookcase they’ve had since the 1960s.” Paige confidently pointed them in the direction of modern, streamlined pieces, such as the delicately curved Apollo sofa, the Elgin chair, and Rowan buffet. She followed up with a house call and a detailed proposal—and the end result is this stylish and sophisticated space.   Facing Apollo sofas provide pleasing symmetry; their subtle curves invite conversation.   The scale of the room allows for generous seating—and good flow. The Elgin chair is a midcentury-style icon; a variety of textures adds warmth to the room. The Rowan buffet provides storage, a serving surface, and a base for showcasing art. The vintage midcentury dining set is complemented by a Woven Symmetry Rug. Corinne chairs create a lovely vignette—and an appealing corner reading nook.   Ethan Allen Design Star, Paige Mongar