Behind the Scenes with Ballard Designs

By Kate Riley December 9, 2012

I’ve been receiving the Ballard Designs catalog for a decade and shopping their online store for the same amount of time.  The new catalog comes in the mail five times a year and I savor the new and the classic furnishings and accessories inside the pages. 

I really love their style, European inspired but always fresh, not too stodgy or too grandma.  Just about every room in my house has something  from their collection.  Their mirrored Savon Tray Table sits in my master bathroom and I use it daily! 

kate master bathroom


I absolutely adore the Bellasol Mirror in our powder room.

kates powder bathroom after


And just recently we hung their Grand Claire chandelier in our bedroom.

master bedroom centsational girl


Their Mariestad chandy (no longer available) and Couture chairs sit in my dining room, and a painted a trio of their Grand Palais mirrors are hung in our family room to mimic a window.  So it goes without saying, I’m a big fan! 

I was invited to attend a behind-the-scenes glimpse at their company last week and a peek into the process of creating the products and photographing the catalog, and I was very excited!  I spent a day learning about the products that start as a “twinkle in the eye” of their team and end photographed in the final rooms depicted inside the lovely spreads inside the catalog.

ballard cover


The event started with a tour of the corporate facility and a peek at the upcoming Jan/Feb and Spring catalogs.  Forgive the mediocre pictures, I brought my fancy camera but not a memory card (doh) so I had to rely on my iPhone for images.

The main headquarters is in Atlanta and there all the decisions for the company are made.  Headquarters has less than 80 employees, not including fulfillment centers and the phone and online order center.   For having such a national presence, I was  surprised by the small amount of employees they rely on to make the Ballard magic happen and so impressed at their willingness to open their doors to the bloggers they invited inside.  

We spent the morning touring the main office, meeting the employees, and seeing how they pull together inspiration for upcoming collections.  They use mood boards and pin inspiration all around the office!

ballard memo


ballard mood board 2


ballard mood board 1


ballard pin board


The catalogs are all mapped out on huge walls with Post-Its and notes so the team can move ideas all around before it goes to print.

making the catalog


Dying over this deep teal blue velvet tufted headboard! 

spring catalog


Their merchants travel the world (and the markets outside Paris, hello dream job!) for unique finds to inspire their upcoming collections.

paris antique at ballard


We spent the afternoon on the scene of a photo shoot in a gorgeous estate home in a suburb of Atlanta.  This centuries old antique mirror was the inspiration for a similar version that will be available in Spring 2013.   

centuries old mirror 

Here is a twin set of the reproduction mirrors styled below in the house we visited where the photo shoot was taking place.  We all swooned over the Tiffany blue walls and the medley of fresh furnishings.  I was especially fond of the Greek key wingback chair and striped lamp shade!

ballard staging

greek key chair


Here’s a photo shoot in progress of an office painted an orchid color… so pretty!

photo shoot in progress


Who wants an on site prop set up like this?  Me!  And this is maybe 30% of what Creative Director Jill Sharp and her team of stylists are working with.  

props for photo shoot


The last few minutes before I left for the airport I was able to browse the local store.  I love the soft snow leopard print blanket and already bought one as a Christmas gift for my daughter – she’s a big cheetah and leopard print fan so the gray version is perfect for her room.

ballard store


Thank you so much Ballard Designs for the amazing day touring your company and the opportunity to learn so much!  I’m now acutely aware of the thousands of hours spent creating your products and inspiring catalog.  It really is absolutely fascinating how much thought goes into the choice to make a product, where it will appear in a photo shoot, how it will be staged, where that product will go on the printed page, and on and on and on. 

Rhoda and Melissa both have some beautiful images to share too (much better than mine, ha!) so check them out! 

The company is a great success story that began with the creativity of one woman, Helen Ballard, and now brings beautiful furnishings and accessories to all.  I’m so grateful to the entire Ballard team for including me on the list of attendees, it was a fabulous experience and I have such respect for all that they accomplish together. 

Bravo Ballard Designs !




  1. I adore Ballard as well… what a fun look behind the scenes. I am absolutely jealous!! Thank you for sharing!! I love the chandelier in your room!! ~ Lori

  2. What a fun time! How exciting. I too love that Greek key chair. Although you used your phone, they are beautiful pictures as usual Kate! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Love, love, love Ballard! I also have the Bellasol mirror hanging in my powder room!! I am lucky enough to have a Ballard/Frontgate outlet center 15 min from where I live, so I am there often. :)

  4. I am Emerald Green with envy that you were able to take a tour. What a treat to see behind the scenes. I love both Ballard Designs and their catalogs. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Jealous!! I was introduced to Ballard last year and cannot believe it took me so long to hear about it! Their prices are decent, and their newest Southern Living collections are to die for!

  6. What a great opportunity! I also am a fan of their design. I have 2 of their lighting fixtures over my dining table and 2 of their mirrors for my masterbath. They are a definate go to catalog! Thanks for sharing your experience! I am a little EMERALD with envy! Take Care!

  7. How awesome is that???? I love your home and the items you chose from Ballards. I love the last shot from the store. Beautiful!

  8. I wish I’d had the insight to chase my design dreams in college. Such amazing careers out there; I would love to work in that industry!

  9. Oh congratulations for your wonderful opportunity to know the behind the scene and your expression
    “they pull together inspiration for upcoming collections” describe the world that is behind the escene. Great, Julia from BsAs, Argentina

  10. I love Ballard Design too. Only discovered them about 3 years ago, thank you for taking us into this wonderful process, I am sure there’s so much more stuff you’d wanna take home in one of these!

  11. OMG! I spy a table that I want! The cocktail table version!!!! I have the two other versions of the metal/mirror table. I wanted the larger one for a cocktail table (as the showed in the catalog), but it was way too big and tall. I see the cocktail version in that room! It is not in catalogs yet! I can hardly wait. Kate, check out their button garland (that is on sale). It is to die for!

  12. I have been anxiously awaiting posts recapping the Ballard event as I saw on Twitter and Instagram last week that several of my most admired bloggers had the opportunity to visit. Thank you for sharing the behind the scenes details! So exciting to be afforded the sneak peek as well. My dream job would definitely involve traveling to Paris markets, estate sales, and shops looking for inspiration. Too cool!

  13. Hi! I was wondering where you got the beautiful duvet and shams in the bedroom picture you posted above highlighting the Ballard Design chandelier.

    • Hi Kate, those are the ‘Poetical’ linens by Barbara Barry, avail at Bed Bath and Beyond. The coverlet in white is Restoration Hardware, the Zebra pillows are Z gallerie.

  14. What a wonderful opportunity for you and thanks for sharing the details. What a great idea by Ballard to invite bloggers on a tour like this – smart move!

  15. Thanks for sharing this visit with us, I find it fascinating, and they use the same exact mood boards that we use for our projects.

    Best always


  16. Lovely post Kate! I love the color in your bedrooms wall I’m trying to find a color in btw grey/ fresh for my daughter’s room, would you tell me where did you find it and what code or color # is? I would appreciated. Thank you =)

  17. I am so jealous!!!! I’m a huge fan of Ballard. I have their light fixtures, rugs, cabinets, and more. But to get a chance to see their behind the scenes work, that’s amazing! Thanks so much for the preview. I can’t wait to get my hands on a striped lampshade.


    • Hi Tiffany, all the colors in my home are featured in the “Paint Colors” button in the sidebar.

  18. Hi there, I LOVE the bedding you used in your bedroom. It looks familiar, too. Where is your duvet set from?

    • Hi Ashley, the set is Barbara Barry’s Poetical, available at Bed, Bath & Beyond.

  19. I was wondering what color were your bedroom walls? Very pretty and calm. I have 4 boys so I am looking for a calm atmosphere to escape! Thanks

    • Hi Candice, you’ll find all the paint colors in my home on the button in the sidebar!

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