Traditional Home Makeover


meet the Gill family

We asked customers to send us a room in desperate need of a Ballard Designs intervention. For the Gill family, it was a dream room come true. Traditional Home talks with the winners about what it was like to see their empty, unloved living room transformed into an inviting family salon.

The Gills are the lucky winners of Ballard’s Room Makeover.

The type of room that they envisioned – a “salon” – a room to sit around and enjoy each others’ conversation, listen to music and just hang out with family and friends.

TH: So you are the lucky winners of a room makeover by Ballard Designs and creative director Jill Sharp. For a couple who swears they never win anything, this must have come as a bit of a surprise. Is it what you’d imagined?

Ina: It’s wonderful! We’d envisioned the room as a salon—a place to read, entertain and just hang out. We managed to pick a paint color but were paralyzed after that. We had two leather chairs in there and that was it. We used to just sit in those chairs and stare at the empty room trying to figure out what to do.

TH: And how do you feel about the final result?

Ina: We absolutely love it. We went from a blank room with two chairs and a guitar, to a really fabulous salon. We won’t change a thing—except that we’ll have to squeeze the guitar back in somewhere!

Randy: I have to admit, I was initially a little worried that working with a designer would mean that the room wouldn’t be “us.” But Jill really let us be a part of the process. She came in and sprinkled her pixie dust and created this really cool yet kid-friendly space.

TH: Jill, we love this room! How would you describe the design style? Traditional? Transitional?

Jill: I’d say it’s a mix. As a designer, I’m very conscious that a room should look like it has evolved. And that was my goal here—a layering of patterns and accessories that feel as if they’ve been accumulated over time.

TH: What is it that pulls the mix together?

Jill: There’s a limited palette of color, pattern and textures—with some repeats. It all comes together in a way that’s very livable,inviting and still completely chic.

the planning

So how do you go from two Leather Chairs and a Guitar to a warm, comfortable, workable room filled with style and function? Listen intently to the clients…the Gills wanted a room where they could entertain both family and friends – not anything “stuffy” just a comfortable room where they could swing open the French Doors and party on the front porch – a “keg” of beer for the neighborhood – lots of fun – a place to hang out and relax.

This is not a large room – 16′ long x 13′ wide. Architecturally it’s fabulous, but not a great deal of wall space: a window wall, French doors, large foyer opening, oh my! So how do you translate what Ina & Randy wanted the room to be? A workable floor plan! It took some doing to get the floor plan right. The first plan blocked access to the French Doors leaving the front porch walled off –not a great idea for people who like to entertain! So the finalized plan – one with plenty of seating for family and friends, access to the porch (expanding the salon space) and yet cozy enough for just Ina & Randy.

So what’s next? Choosing the furniture – how do we divide the space and make it all work. Keep the two Ballard Leather Chairs, add a Sophia Settee, a few accent chairs, small tables, a rug, accessories , lighting the art of building a room! The soft curves and textural nature of the upholstered furniture makes the room approachable and inviting. The soft neutral tones compliment the feeling and yet “pops” of spicy orange keep it vibrant and alive! To accommodate guests, lots of small tables to easily move about the room. And the foyer (most of the time a dumping ground for coats & keyes) but the Gill’s foyer is now part of the salon with the addition of our Sablon Loveseat tucked under the stairs – a bit unexpected, but a thoughtful use of space and because it is opposite the salon opening, visually extending the salon.

This is a salon that is filled with interesting things wherever you look, from a stack of books and a leaning picture stacked on a chair to an eclectic arrangement on an etagere in the foyer. What a warm, interesting, stylish space. We know the Gills are pleased with their new salon and it certainly sets the tone for a house filled with warmth, panache and imagination that will withstand the test of time. Congratulations Ina & Randy!

3 Ways to style a bookcase

We gave the Gills three ways to setup their Sonoma Bookcase so that it never reads boring.

the team

Jill Sharp Brinson

Creative director, design guru and stylist extraordinaire, Jill Sharp Brinson, has been creating the cool rooms and layered style of Ballard Designs for more than 17 years. Jill literally lives for great design. Her work, including her own spectacular Atlanta home, has appeared on the cover of House Beautiful. Her commercial styling is featured regularly in Lonny Magazine, Elle Décor, Veranda and Traditional Home. You’ll also find Jill quoted and noted on many of our favorite design blogs, including “Design Sponge,” “Cote De Texas,” “Shelter,” “Apartment Therapy” and “Eye Spy.”

Jenny Bradley

Senior Design and Lifestyle Editor, Traditional Home Jenny Bradley is Senior Design and Lifestyle Editor for Traditional Home Magazine, the nation’s largest upscale shelter magazine. Since joining Traditional Home in 2000, Jenny has covered trends in home design and lifestyle influences, featuring the nation’s most innovative architects, designers and interior products.

before and after photos




  1. Reply


    October 24, 2015

    How do you pick an area rug? I bought 2 beautiful couches for my living room and for the past 2 years I can’t go further. I need help!
    Thanks for your time
    Joyce M

    • Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      November 5, 2015

      Hi Joyce,
      It really depends on your space and what you like, and it’s hard to offer suggestions without seeing what fabrics and colors you already have. We do offer a free design service where our experts will help you pick accents (like rugs and accessories) to go with your existing furnishings. Simply fill out this form and our Design Solutions team will reach out to you!
      Best of luck,
      The How to Decorate Team

  2. Reply

    Pansy Pierce

    August 27, 2013

    I would like to view then purchase but cannot get in. You have my e-mail address and send
    ads to me regularly so I must be in your system somewhere. Please help.