Category Archives: How-To

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

It’s Peony Season!

Decorating, How-To | | | 4 Replies

Hurray, it’s peony season! From the looks of our Instagram feed, it’s clear we aren’t the only ones who love these luscious looking flowers (we love this shot from Sara Mueller with our Beachcomber Tray, below).


We asked one of our favorite florists, Kiana Underwood of Tulipina, to share her best tips and tricks for working with these beautiful flowers. Read on to see her suggestions for using and caring for peonies!

Q: Everyone gets so excited when it’s peony season! What are your suggestions for working with this fragile flower? 

A: I actually don’t think that peonies are very fragile in comparison to other flowers, like gardenias! However, as with most flowers, you want to make sure that they are hydrated and are not placed in direct sunlight.

When I bring peonies back from the market, I trim their stems in an angle and place them in water somewhere cool — that is where they stay until I begin working with them.


Q: What are your favorite flowers to include in peony arrangements?

A: Since peonies are such big flowers, I consider them to be statement flowers. They are sort of the star of the show and the focal point of the arrangement. So I like to use smaller flowers, such as mock orange (when in season), sweet peas, or ranunculus along with some foliage and possibly some type of fruit or berry branches for added texture and beauty.


Q: What is the best way to keep an arrangement of peonies lasting as long as possible? 

A: The best way to keep any arrangement is to use flowers when they are not quite fully opened and at the end of their life. You don’t necessarily want to use closed buds either, but somewhere about halfway is usually the best bet for having your arrangement last long and continue to flourish.

Photos by N.R. Underwood

You might also like: DIY Centerpiece Featuring Our Wire Bag Baskets

Hello, Color! How to Decorate with Sherwin-Williams Paint’s Distance

Decorating, How-To | | | 2 Replies

We love using deep, soothing blues in bedrooms. There’s something about the right shade of blue that feels comforting and refreshing all at the same time. Sherwin-Williams’ Distance, part of their color palette with Pottery Barn, is certainly one of these special hues.  Read on to see how we like using this rich but calming blue with some of our favorite bedroom decor.


In rooms with a lot of natural light, Distance can often feel more concentrated and blue than it does on a swatch. Like any paint, make sure you test it out on one of the walls in your room before you start painting.


Bedding: Look for a patterned duvet or comforter that’ll really pop against the vivid undertones of Distance. We love how the warm hues in our Maggie Floral Comforter complement blues so beautifully.


Wall art: Now that you have color and pattern covered, stick to natural and metallic tones for the rest of the room so it doesn’t feel too overwhelming. These Eleanor Frameless Mirrors add just the right amount of glitz without taking away from your statement-making wall color and duvet.


Lighting: Elements of intricate metalwork, like this Ramona Bedside Lamp, bring visual texture to the space.


Accessories: Cozy up at night with a chunky knit throw in a soft, neutral color. We love this Oversized Tassle Throw in Ivory or Taupe — it’s the perfect way to stay warm on chilly nights.

Rugs: Last but not least, make sure your feet stay cozy too with a soft, shag rug. Like the other elements in the room, the Dalton Shag Rug has a distinct texture without distracting from the bold color choices on your walls and bedding.


You might also like: Hello, Color! How to Decorate with Sherwin-Williams Paint’s Dutch Tile Blue 

3 Ways to Keep White Bedding From Becoming Boring

Decorating, How-To | | | 3 Replies

all white bedding 6

Who doesn’t love the look of all white bedding? Start browsing bedrooms on Pinterest, and you’ll find quite a few all white rooms. But don’t be fooled — using all white bedding without it looking boring requires effort. Here are three ways to keep your all white bedding from feeling bland.

all white bedding 1

Use texture. Texture keeps all white bedding visually interesting. If you really only want to have just white on your bed, consider choosing a duvet or quilt with a linen fabric, ruching, pin-tucks or other forms of texture.

Mix and match different quilts, blankets and duvets to keep things interesting. Layering different types of all white fabric will make your bed look anything but boring.

all white bedding 2

Add a pop of color. White bedding can still feel crisp and clean with a pop of color thrown in. A smooth duvet like this gets visual interest from the preppy navy border around the edges.

all white bedding 5

This coral bedding feels fresh and fun, but still hangs on to that all white feel when combined with white sheets, white walls and a light colored rug.

all white bedding 3

Mix in subtle pattern. Quilts can help keep your white bedding interesting. Intricate stitching adds understated pattern and texture without interrupting an all white palette. Still think it needs something? Add a single colorful pillow for a playful pop.


You might also like: 7 Ways to Decorate with White

Hello, Color! How to Decorate with Sherwin-Williams Dutch Tile Blue

Decorating, How-To | | | 3 Replies

A coat of paint is a powerful decorating tool. It can completely transform a space in just a few hours. All of the colors in Sherwin-Williams color palette for Pottery Barn have the ability to give your space a whole new feel. Have you fallen in love with Dutch Tile Blue? This soothing hue is perfect for bedrooms, and its neutral undertones support pops of color with ease. Take a look at our tips for decorating with this beautiful blue to get inspiration for your home.


Just enough blue and gray come together in Dutch-Tile Blue so that it adds color without feeling overwhelming. It’s great for virtually any room in your home, but we especially love it in bedrooms.

coral bed 2

Once you’ve painted your walls Dutch Tile Blue, we suggest adding a pop of warm color to contrast with the cool and neutral walls. Our Coral Embroidered Quilt and Shams offers a nice balance of bright and white.


Stick to neutrals and blues for the rest of your decor so your bedding stands out. Our Karlie Glass Bedside lamp adds some glam without taking too much attention from the bedding.


Put something soft and neutral underfoot, like a natural fiber rug. It’ll add some texture to the room and keep bare feet warm at night. Our Duncan Diamond Natural Fiber Rug will bring some subtle pattern to your room, too.

rustic paned mirror

Every room needs a little wall art! We love using mirrors, like this Rustic Paned Mirror, because they’re great for a last glance before heading out the door, and automatically make rooms feel bigger and brighter.

coral pillow

Last but not least, add one final burst of bright color to your bed. Stick to the same warm tones you’ve chosen for your bedding, like in this Coral Applique Pillow.

Voila! A room transformed by color.

Tell us: How would you decorate with Sherwin-Williams Dutch Tile Blue? 

How to Hang Your Curtains

Decorating, How-To | | | 4 Replies


Believe it or not, hanging a curtain is a lot harder than you’d think. Mounting hardware, making sure everything’s even and finding the right curtain length and width takes a lot of measuring, time and focus.


But don’t worry — we’re here to help! Our handy how-to video will show you just how to hang your curtain and drape hardware correctly the first time. Click on the video below to learn more.

PS: See more of our instructional and inspirational videos, here. 

How to Take Care of Wicker Outdoor Furniture

Decorating, How-To | | | 3 Replies

all weather wicker 1

Durability is just as important (if not more so) than beauty when it comes to outdoor furniture. Wicker in particular can be tricky to take care of, but luckily our all weather wicker stands the test of time. Woven from a highly resilient synthetic material, our all weather wicker is wrapped around a rust-proof aluminum frame and tested to withstand the elements. However, basic maintenance can help even the most durable materials last even longer. Read on to learn how to take care of your wicker outdoor furniture so that it  lasts for many summers to come.

all weather wicker 2

Always protect furniture with outdoor covers — you never know when a summer storm can hit! It’s best to make sure the furniture is as dry as possible before putting covers on or storing long term, so residual moisture doesn’t mildew. We suggest putting covers on whenever you go out of town and during the off-season, too.

 Store cushions separately — preferably indoors — where they can stay dry.

 Use a soft bristle brush to keep dust and dirt off your wicker furniture.

 Wipe any spills immediately with a clean, dry cloth.

all weather wicker 4

 For tougher stains and dried up spills, wash your wicker furniture frame gently with dish soap, water and a sponge. Rinse well with water and dry thoroughly.

 Avoid harsh and abrasive cleaners on wicker — they can rub protective finishes right off. Keep it simple — sometimes, a good rinse with water is all you’ll need.

 Don’t power wash your wicker furniture — like abrasive cleaners, they can wear finishes and coloring down.

all weather wicker 5

 Test any new cleaning solutions on a hidden area of your furniture to make sure they don’t cause damage.

 Be sure to remove cushions while cleaning your wicker — follow the instructions on the cushions for cleaning, and do so separately.

 When washing, remove any foot caps on your chairs and tables and keep the furniture upright so water drains properly.


With the proper care, you and your family will be able to enjoy your wicker furniture summer after summer — rain or shine!

How to Organize Your Pool Toys

Decorating, How-To | | | 2 Replies

Summer is just around the corner! For those lucky enough to have a pool, the hot days and heat waves demand long afternoons in the water, floating on rafts, breaking up pool noodle fights and drying off in the sun. But just like indoor play spaces, your pool can become a mess pretty quickly if the correct organizational tools aren’t in place. Avoid the sun and water damaged pool toys of last year with our top organizing tips.


PS: Don’t forget to check out our new organizing shop online for even more ideas!


Use small containers to keep like items together. Instead of jumbling everything together in one giant plastic tub, separate things out into smaller containers and organize like by like. It’s the same concept you use indoors — silverware goes together, measuring cups go together, etc. — and will help avoid a scramble when you can’t find the sunscreen.


Seek out sun protection. At the end of a long day by the pool, it’s easy to just run indoors when the mosquitos come out and leave everything outside until tomorrow. But sun can do some serious damage to pool toys, tools and accessories over the course of the summer. Instead of buying all new pool toys every year, set up an organizing system that will keep everything in the shade and out of the way. This locker system by the back door encourages everyone to drop their toys and towels here before heading in the house.


Keep things dry. Water can do just as much damage (if not more) as sun to your pool toys, tools and accessories. Take everything out of the pool and puddles on the patio at the end of the day, and put them in a bin or on a rack that allows them to dry thoroughly.


Clear the decks. Keeping things organized isn’t just about making sure your possessions are safe — it’s about making sure you and your loved ones are safe, too. Slippery pool decks and patios can be dangerous on their own, let alone when littered with noodles and wet towels. The right organizing tools will encourage your family to put things away at the end of the day, and stay safe.

How to Design a Classic Outdoor Living Space

Decorating, How-To | | | 6 Replies

Designing an outdoor living space isn’t that much different from designing one indoors — everyone has their own style and vision. If your home feels more Cape Cod than Morocco, you might want to bring the same classic, traditional style outdoors.

Read on for our top 5 tips to designing a classic, outdoor living space.

outdoor living space 1Above: PB Classic Adirondack Painted Chair

Consistent finishes. Pick a timeless, classic material and finish and keep it consistent throughout your space. Classic and traditional style doesn’t necessarily mean everything has to match, but doing so will give your outdoor living space a fresh, pulled together feel.

pottery barn outdoor living 2Above: Larkspur Teak Sectional

Crisp color palette. Pastels are perfect for spring, but in the summer, you’ll want to look towards bright, deep colors that can stand up to the wear and tear of outdoor activities. Navy blue and firehouse red combined with jute and linen will stay strong all summer and never go out of style.

pottery barn outdoor living 4Above: Larkspur Teak Steamer Chaise

Comfort is key. Classic and traditional outdoor spaces never skimp on comfort. These spaces are all about entertaining, and you want your guests to feel right at home. Stock up on soft cushions to plop down on, outdoor rugs to keep bare feet cool and plenty of pillows for mid-day naps.

pottery barn outdoor living 5Above: Larkspur Teak Bar Cart

All the right accessories. Outdoor living accessories should combine style and function seamlessly. Lanterns can add a pop of color when needed, but they also provide a soothing summer glow at night. Galvanized buckets and bins bring rustic flair, but can also hold drinks when filled with ice.

pottery barn outdoor living 3Above: Larkspur Teak Dining Table and Chair Set

Simple materials. Above all else, summer outdoor living is about simplicity — just enjoying the great outdoors with friends and family. Your furniture materials should reflect that. Choose sturdy but simple materials, like teak and wicker, which will stay in style for many summers to come.

You might also like: Bring the Indoors Out! 5 Tips to Designing Your Outdoor Living Space

How to Choose a Kitchen Table: Interview with Susan Serra

Decorating, How-To | | | 2 Replies

Today, the kitchen isn’t just about cooking — it’s where we spend the majority of our time at home. We work, eat, play games and even watch TV in our kitchens. And today’s kitchen designs reflect this lifestyle — particularly when it comes to the kitchen table. “There’s been a strong trend toward open plan living, which means that ‘real’ living room furniture, accessories, lighting and artwork are moving into the kitchen,” says Susan Serra, CKD, President of Susan Serra Associates, Inc. Bringing furniture into your kitchen allows the space to flow seamlessly with the rest of your house.


But how do you choose the right kitchen table? Do you need one if you already have an island? Read on for Serra’s professional tips to help you find the kitchen table that’s just right for your home.

Table or Island?

Even if you have a small kitchen, you can often put both an island and a table in the room if your layout allows. “Consider putting a table up against the back of an island, whether it’s a small table for two or a large table for eight,” says Serra. “It’s a custom look that saves space, looks great and functions well.”


Impossible to fit both in your space? Think about which option will be more flexible in the long run. “Which one will allow you to do more with the space, other than dining? I.e., projects, prep, etc.,” says Serra.



What will your table or island’s purpose be?  Will you be entertaining? Working? Prepping for dinner? Also, consider how many people you want to sit comfortably at the table. If you have a dining room, you can probably afford a smaller table, but if you plan on serving most dinners in the kitchen you’ll need some extra seating.



During the kitchen design process, it’s easy to overlook the amount of space needed for a proper kitchen table. “The focus is usually placed on the kitchen work area and the dining area is often an afterthought,” says Serra. “In existing kitchens, when replacing a table, it’s a great time to reassess lifestyle issues as well as how much space you want surrounding the tables and chairs.” 

Are you on the hunt for a new kitchen table?  We may have just what you need.