Category Archives: How-To

How to Do Coastal Style Right: Q&A with Designer Tim Clarke

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Seabrook_14845Few people understand coastal style better than designer Tim Clarke. His Santa Monica, California-based office creates work that defines coastal living today. Whether it’s a small beach house on the California coast, or a celebrity mansion in the Mediterranean, Clarke understands that what makes a home look coastal is less about the aesthetic and more about the vibe.

Read on for this amazing designer’s top tips to bringing a coastal look into your home.

Photography: Noah Webb 


Q: A lot of people are under the impression that coastal style has to involve a lot of rope, coral and nautical motifs. But does it always have to? How would you define coastal style?
A: I think coastal style is more about a feeling than actual objects and motifs. There is this feeling that’s created when you live at the beach, and it doesn’t have anything to do with shells, anchors, or red, white, and blue. It’s more about easiness, comfort and a laid back casual style.

Morton Residence Georgina SM-5

Q: What are some easy ways someone can bring a coastal feel into their home, even if they don’t necessarily live on the coast?
A: • Stripes: Whether large scale cabana or smaller scale multicolored stripes, nothing says coastal more.
• Bohemian flair: Add a little boho with Indian printed fabric or indigo batik fabric in pillows and curtains. Sometimes I even use it on the wrong side so it feels more faded and hippy.
• Natural fabrics: Solid, textured, natural fiber fabrics like chunky linen for upholstery.
• Barefoot friendly floors: Whether wide plank unfinished wood or slightly antiqued chalky limestone, the floors should make you want to take your shoes off.
• Gallons of white paint: Both matte and glossy. Maybe it’s a reference to boats or just that it looks clean and fresh with the blue ocean, but it always works.


Q: What do you think the 5 most important elements of coastal style are?
A: 1. Easy: Nothing should be too precious, or fussy. No one should be ever be worried they are going to mess something up or that they can’t touch it.
2. Communal living: One giant room with multiple areas for gathering and activities that includes cooking, eating, playing games, and watching TV. Beach houses should encourage togetherness, not solitude.
3. Light: Natural light is a must and plenty of it. Coastal style should embrace nature, not keep it out.
4. Durability: Use outdoor fabrics, natural brass or stainless steel, and wood surfaces that look good as they age. The ocean climate is very abusive and you don’t want to be constantly doing maintenance.
5. Sense of place: Coastal style should come from the coast you are on, not one you visited on vacation. The light, landscape, and views out of the windows are completely different in Hawaii than California and color looks completely different because of that. A house should feel as though it grew from the earth it is on, not plopped on the lot by a helicopter.

In the Spotlight: Erin Gates from Elements of Style

Decorating, Decorating Inspiration, How-To, Inspiration | | | 6 Replies

ErinGatesHeadshot This season, we asked interior designer, stylist and blogger Erin Gates to share her expert tips and tricks for bringing bright colors, bold patterns and rich textures into our homes. Erin Gates is the founder and principal designer of Boston-based Erin Gates Design, and the author and editor behind the popular design blog, Elements of Style. From large homes in the suburbs to small condos in the city, she knows what it takes to design gorgeous spaces that blend new and old, high and low, and modern and traditional.

Be sure to check out her first book, due out October 7, 2014. Read on for some of our favorite bits from Erin’s interview, and snaps from her design portfolio. ErinGates2 Q: What’s your favorite new hue for this fall? A: After a long, long love affair with grey, I feel like tans and taupes will be back. I’m doing my new master bedroom in tan and white instead of grey and white and it feels revolutionary for me!

Q: What’s one of your favorite ways to use texture? A: I absolutely love using grasscloth on walls — it works perfectly with traditional or modern style.

Q: What are your tips for mixing patterns? A: You need to consider the pattern type and make sure you aren’t combining too many of the same- a good balance is to mix a geometric with an organic pattern (florals, for example) and then a very small scale print or a solid. Putting two geometrics together looks too busy and harsh in my book. ErinGates1Photo by Michael Partenio

This month I can’t wait to … Complete the addition on our house — it’s been a long time coming!

The item at the top of my current wishlist is … A huge, pale, faded Oushak style rug for my bedroom.

Favorite fellow blogger … Emily Henderson is both funny and fantastically talented.

Interior design icon … I think Steven Gambrel is a genius. He can decorate my house anytime.

Most prized possession … My dogs. I’d do just about anything for them.

Signature cocktail … A nice cold glass of Pinot Grigio in summer or Cabernet Sauvignon every other season! ErinGates4

Mix & Match: Upholstered Chairs

Decorating, How-To | | | 3 Replies


You know that feeling when something’s missing? That happens in design all the time — a room just feels off until the right accessory, lamp or piece of furniture finds its place.


Above: Radcliffe, Bristol, Lincoln

That’s why we love our upholstered chairs (including four brand new designs from our Fall collection!) — they’re designed to complement each other and the rest of our furniture collections, despite their distinct styles.


Each of these chairs can mix and match with each other for a complementary seating set-up, or can thrown into virtually any room, in any style, to stand as a statement piece.


Above: Cardiff, Thatcher, Salinger

Our favorite part? Each and every one of these chairs can be upholstered in a multitude of our beautiful fabrics for long lasting, custom style.

See all of our upholstered chairs here.  

How to Style a Console Table: Part 1

Decorating, How-To | | | 2 Replies

LivingRm1This post was written exclusively for Inside & Out by Jana Bek of Jana Bek Design

Styling is my jam! From consoles to bookshelves, I love creating vignettes in my home and clients’ homes. But it’s more difficult than it looks — and I’ve found that a lot of my clients find it daunting. My first tip is to relax and have fun with it! Start by gathering up things you already own, then practice, be patient and play!


A console table is a great place to start, since it serves multitude of functions. Here’s one of my favorite ways to style a console table — stay tuned for parts 2 and 3, soon!


Sofa console tables are a great way to hide a sofa back or provide a perch for a book or beverage. When styling sofa tables I make sure items aren’t too high — I don’t want to obstruct the view looking into a space.

In this Salt Lake City client’s home, I used a beautiful grapewood branch to add interest. Its light visual weight doesn’t distract from the view to the living room. In any piece with shelves, like this Tanner Media Console, you’ll want to vary the shapes and textures of pieces.


Here, you have the organic wood, bone box and ceramic bowl. The light colors contrast with the dark iron table beautifully. Also, by staggering items, the vignette feels airy instead of cramped. The glass shelves allow light to disperse through the piece, too.

Items: Tanner TableBone BoxInteresting Bowl

Photos by Jylare Smith

Stay tuned for more of Jana’s tips to styling consoles, soon!

Hello, Color! Sherwin-Williams’ Top Paint Picks for Fall

Decorating, How-To | | | 3 Replies


Even though some of us have been stuck in a serious heat wave this week (80 degrees in San Francisco? Unheard of!), we’re still thinking about Fall here at PBHQ. Our new color palette of soft grays, lush neutrals and pops of warm and cool jewel tones is an easy transition from the heat of summer to cooler weather.

We spoke to Jackie Jordan, director of color marketing at Sherwin-Williams, to learn more about what colors she loves for fall, what color trends she’s spotting right now and her favorite new painting technique. Read on for the full Q&A!


What are some of your favorite colors in the new Sherwin-Williams palette for Pottery Barn?

My personal favorite is Mink (SW 6004, seen above), which I recently used on a pair of chairs in my master bedroom. Its purple undertones compliment the palette’s grays and whites. It also pairs well with sage green tones.


I also love Naval (SW 6244, seen above). This classic color can be nautical, traditional or Americana. Its richness can create an understated mood in a library or masculine bedroom. Paired with crisp white, it can feel refreshing in any space.

See the full palette here.


What sort of color trends are you seeing this year?

We are seeing monochromatic whites, black and white, as well as gray and white, paired with natural materials, from rope and woven baskets to large green leaf prints and plants.

Do any of these trends translate well into fall?

These looks are new, classic combinations that have staying power and can accommodate many design sensibilities. You can add fall colored accessories such as pillows and throws to change with the season.


What colors are you tired of seeing?

Although beige is still popular and a great neutral, I think people have come to realize that there are other neutrals, such as gray, black and green, that can create the perfect backdrop for interiors.

What are some unexpected colors/uses of color you’ve seen lately?

I love the dip-dye trend. You take an object, such as a woven basket, and dip the lower third in paint. This works well with wooden candlesticks, wooden spoon handles or legs of a chair.

PS: Save $15 on your purchase of $75 or more at Sherwin-Williams!

Sneak Peek: Sarah Dorsey’s Entryway Design

Decorating, How-To | | | 6 Replies

Focusing on her entryway design was Sarah Dorsey‘s first task when moving into her new home. An entryway sets the tone for the rest of the house, and she knew that she wanted to make a great first impression.

Today we’re showing a sneak peek of Sarah’s new entryway, with glimpses of some of our favorite Pottery Barn organizational picks and her top tips for designing your entryway. Keep reading to see her new space and get inspired to decorate your home!


Sarah’s Top Tips for Designing Your Entryway:

Think about how you want to feel right when you open your front door. “I wanted it to be bright and airy, with pops of pattern and color.” A white walls and ceiling contrast with a darker herringbone floor help to achieve this feel.


Set the tone for the rest of your house. “Painting the wood in the entry was a huge decision — it would impact how the entire rest of the house would be painted. After several months of considering different combinations of paint and natural wood, I decided that the walls and ceiling should be painted white for continuity and consistency. The entry feels 100% brighter and I can’t wait to see what the entire house looks like after it’s painted!”


Storage is key. Make sure you have the room to store keys, coats, bags, etc., close to the door in a tidy manner. Dorsey was careful to include hooks, shelves, drawers and open shelving so that everything is organized and easy to access.


Understand how you plan to use the space. “I tried dozens of different layouts: more storage vs. less storage, seating vs. no seating, shelf vs. large organizational system. Ultimately, I thought about how we would use the space and tailored it around that. Now, we have a space that works for our family and how we use it!”

Our Top Tips for Choosing White Dinnerware (Plus, a Giveaway!)

Decorating, How-To | | | 32 Replies


Our New, Expanded Collection of Great White Dinnerware
There are a lot of good reasons why we love our Great White Dinnerware collection: it’s beautiful, classic and quality dinnerware that will stand the test of time.

This season, we’ve expanded the collection to include anything and everything your tabletop might be missing. Designed and developed by our in-house design team, the new Great White additions acknowledge that different people eat different ways — and that means we all want something different out of our dinnerware. Our new additions complement every style of cooking, eating and living.

Our Favorite New Additions
We don’t know what it’s like at your house, but coffee is a staple here at PB HQ, so our designers added a brand new set of coffee mugs, cups, creamers and sugar bowls into this collection.

We’ve also made serving food easier — whether you’re having dinner for two or twelve — with additional platters and bowls, a soup terrine, pitcher and small bowls and plates for appetizers and sauces.

Why We Love White Dinnerware
When it comes to dinnerware, there’s something special about simple and classic white dishes. White dishes give you a clean slate when decorating — whether it’s for a dinner party or deciding on a new wall color behind your open kitchen shelves. Plus, serving food on white dishes highlights your meal beautifully — perfect for the Instagram-loving foodie.


Great White Dinnerware Styles
Coupe: Slim in shape, but with a heavy and sturdy feel, the large size and high edges of Coupe make it great for serving.

Traditional: The original Great White — this classic shape never goes out of style.

Square: This style feels super modern and sleek, much like dinnerware in high-end restaurants.

Rim: The dainty flip on this style of Great White has a slightly old-fashioned feel, similar to antique, all-American dinnerware.

We’re so excited to offer you a beautiful collection with so much thought, time and care put into it by our design team. Whether you like to stick to one style, or mix and match, Great White has something for everyone. 

PS: Enter for a chance to win a set of Great White Dinnerware in the style of your choice! Fill out the form below for a chance to win. Good luck!

Official rules here.

This contest is now closed, thank you!


Pillow Fight!

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1. Mercer Ikat Applique Pillow Cover, Ikat Embroidered Lumbar Pillow, Washed Velvet Pillow Covers, Kantha Embroidered Pillow Cover/ 2. Camden Blue Stripe Pillow Cover, Washed Velvet Pillow Covers, Cropped Suzani Pillow Cover/ 3. Ikat Embroidered Lumbar Pillow, Diamond Tile Phulkari Pillow Cover, Alana Printed Pillow Cover/ 4. Alana Printed Pillow Cover, Washed Velvet Pillow Covers, Cropped Suzani Pillow Cover/ 5. Cropped Suzani Pillow Cover/ 6. Mini Suzani Pillow Cover/ 7. Cropped Suzani Pillow Cover, Camden Blue Stripe Pillow Cover, Washed Velvet Pillow Covers/ 8. Washed Velvet Pillow Covers, Kantha Embroidered Pillow Cover, Mercer Ikat Applique Pillow Cover

See more of our Fall collection here. 

5 Ways with Wall Shelves

Decorating, How-To | | | 2 Replies

When you’re living in a small home, floor space is at a premium. You can only fit so many chairs, tables and accessories into a tiny room before it starts to feel like it’s going to burst at the seams.

That’s why we love wall shelves — they’re one of our favorite space-saving solutions. Instead of taking up valuable room on your floor, they take advantage of a home’s often underestimated vertical space

Take a look at our top 5 ways we like to use wall shelves, and get inspired to decorate your home!


Living. Tired of crowding your coffee table with all sorts of odds and ends? Clear the decks and put your favorite collectibles on display with wall shelves.

wallshelf_ bedroom

Bedroom. This decorative ledge almost looks like a mantel, but it’s much more versatile. Use this for an arrangement of your favorite pictures, or install over a desk or vanity to hold perfume and jewelry.


Office. Clutter piles up quickly in home offices. Use a wall shelf to get it up and off your desk and into organized compartments.


Kitchen. When you love to cook, it’s easy for your kitchen counters to start filling up with all sorts of stuff. Clear some room for serving and prep with a few well placed wall shelves. This is a great solution for small kitchens that don’t have very many cabinets, too!


Hallway. There’s no need to cram your entry console with framed pictures of your loved ones — give your hallway some breathing room and use a few wall shelves to open up floor space and draw the eye down your hallway.

You might also like: Small Space Styling Tips from Erin Gates of Elements of Style

Small Space Styling Tips from Erin Gates of Elements of Style

Decorating, How-To | | | 2 Replies

Small spaces present their own unique set of decorating challenges. Everything from furniture layout, to color palette, to accessorizing has an important impact on the way the room feels — much more so than more spacious rooms. Erin Gates of Elements of Style is certainly familiar with the issues that come with small spaces, and embraces those problems as decorating opportunities with beautiful solutions. Read on to get her top tips for styling small spaces!


Gates’ first book, Elements of Style: Designing a Home and a Life, comes out October 7th and is available for pre-order.

Q: Sometimes styling a small space can be intimidating because people don’t want to just add more things to their home. What are your favorite ways to add style to a space without using too many items?

A: My number one piece of advice is to not fill a small space with small furniture and a bevy of small accessories! Think about maximizing your space with fewer, larger items that are functional but also grand: A rug that fills the space fully, regular scale chairs and sofas and BIG art — one big, fabulous work of art on a wall adds drama and makes a space look larger than a bunch of smaller pieces! Also consider painting your smaller spaces darker colors — it seems counter-intuitive but dark colors make walls recede and trick the eye into thinking they’re bigger.


Q: What are some easy ways to add function and style to a small home?

A: Before you plan your room or buy anything be honest about how the space needs to function for you —not how it would function in an ideal world, but it YOUR real world! This is especially vital in a small home.  If you know your kids won’t put their stuff in a bunch of cute baskets, then it’s a waste to buy them even if they look cute on Pinterest — invest in a bunch of fun, awesome wall hooks instead! The most stylish home is one that serves you best AND reflects who you are as a family. When you have limited space it’s so important that everything not only serve a purpose, but also that it’s something you absolutely LOVE —the real estate in your living room is too valuable for it to be filled with a coffee table you are only so-so on. Wait for something you can’t pass up!


Q: Do you have any suggestions for people who live in studios? How can you make it feel like a living room and a bedroom at the same time? 

A: Studios are one the trickiest spaces to decorate because you want to be able to entertain a friend or two without it feeling like you’ve invited them to a cocktail party in your bedroom.  I love the use of bookcases and screens to divide a studio space into dedicated areas. Also it’s possible to use ceiling mounted tracks (like those in hospitals) to hang drapery panels into functional room dividers (even when sheer they do delineate “sleeping space” from “watching Scandal” space).


Q: We love color, but too much of it can feel overwhelming in small homes. What are a few simple ways to make a small space feel bigger without going all white?

A: DO NOT FEAR COLOR IN SMALL SPACES! As I mentioned earlier, dark colors can be your friend in small spaces- but color can be a great way to define one space from another. Just don’t paint every room in your home a different shade — it feels too choppy and scattered.  You want to unify your spaces with an overall theme — say it’s grey — do a light grey in living areas and then a darker grey in the bedroom and maybe a blue-grey in the bath! I find guest rooms and powder rooms to be a great space to go a little crazy and experiment — either with wallpaper or bright color!

Photography courtesy of Erin Gates