Design and Entertaining Tips with Prudence Bailey - New Canaan & Darien Moms

Now that we’re preparing for the holidays and nesting more, it’s fun to decorate and make some updates. We turned to Prudence Bailey of Prudence Home + Design for some ideas and inspiration. According to Bailey, “A room should always be approachable, have something unexpected to start conversations and feel a little gold can work magic. I love color and how it adds a smile to every room but I can make friends with any color palate that my clients love.” Find out what else she suggests to make the holidays feel special, memorable and extra stylish.


What are some simple ways to decorate our dining area for the holidays?
I always think less is more when it comes to decorating for the holidays.  Here are some ways I like to add festive flair to my dining room.

  1. Hang a small boxwood wreath with a pretty ribbon in the center of a mirror or focal window.
  2. Add sparkle, gold accents and boxwood to your flowers.
  3. Add tortoise glassware and plaid to your table scape.
  4. I like to add small gold trees as accent pieces throughout the room.
  5. Tapers are always a great and festive way to add holiday decor.

Our dining room is too dark. We have one chandelier over our dining room table and that is it. What are some ways to add light to this space?
Add light with lamps on a sideboard or sconces on either side of a piece of art if you do not have recessed lighting.

I’ll be cooking for my family this holiday season. How can I style the kitchen to look reflective of the holidays without adding more clutter?
Holiday décor can look tchotchke pretty fast so I tend to be minimal but impactful. First, I love to go to Compo Farms or Nielsen’s and buy greens and branches with berries and pop them into my kitchen flower vessel. I am all about small touches here and there. Kids love Christmas, and we spend so much time in the kitchen that it’s fun to do a little something they will enjoy. Find some pretty easy on/easy off decals and place on your cabinets strategically. Snowflakes are pretty in red or green. It’s fun to place some high on a cabinet and some lower so they look like they are falling. If you do this, keep all the other décor to a minimum so it’s sleek and impactful. I also swap my utensil holder out for a holiday one from Vietri. This is the one I have.You can also create an island centerpiece by using a tray and adding ginger jars with holiday greenery, and a candle or a grouping of candles with holly around it. There are lots of little ways to add the magic of the holidays without overdoing it!

We aren’t entertaining like we used to, of course. What should I do with all of our china and silver serving pieces we have? Store away or decorate with, or is it silly to use when it’s just us? 

Our lives are getting much more casual every year, but I still think it’s fun to pull out the china and especially silver serving pieces for holidays! I sold a lot of my china in my divorce and really regret it.  Hang on to it and even use it every day. There is something so nice about sitting at your breakfast table and using your china for a simple egg and toast. These are the times to splurge a bit in my opinion.


Our kitchen is looking less bright during these bleaker days. What are some ways to brighten up our space? 

  1. Take the screens off your windows in the kitchen and your home. This will allow so much more light in. It’s amazing how much more light will come through without them.
  2. Make sure your kitchen island lighting or other accent lighting has the highest wattage bulb for that fixture. Most people don’t put in the proper wattage bulb for their light. It’s either too low or too high. The fixture has a sticker that will tell you, or you can look it up online if you know the name of the light. I always remove the sticker since it’s an eyesore, but always check to make sure it has the right bulb.
  3. White White White. Nothing is fresher than an all-white kitchen! I love everything happening in kitchen design now from a visual standpoint, however a white kitchen is timeless and makes you want to linger longer than you need to. If you have white cabinets but a darker backsplash, change it. You can tile right over your backsplash or remove it first. Add white subway tiles or a beautiful white natural stone, and it’s a big impact for low cost.
  4. Add pops of color! I love flowers and greens in my home. I usually have two plants of some sort flanking my sink, along with some flowers cut from the yard with various bush branches with them. They make me happy and add color at the same time!
  5. Hang a mirror. It’s the oldest trick in the book for a reason. Hanging a mirror directly across from a window will bounce the light from the window into the room and instantly make the room feel brighter.
  6. Add an accent lamp. I love a small lamp in a kitchen. I have used the same one for years. I have mine grouped with some cutting boards, books and flowers. Here is an example of one I added to a client kitchen.

I’m bored of these four white walls! Is it crazy to hang art in my kitchen? What is appropriate?
Absolutely not! I have a gallery wall in my kitchen and love it. Remember, this is your home and there are no rules. If you are unsure of gallery wall placement, look at imagery online and tape it out before you nail it out! Lots of random nail holes on a wall is not chic!

How do you feel about runners in the kitchen?  What should we consider?
I love the look of an Oushak runner in a kitchen, however it’s for photoshoots only in my opinion.  Kitchens can be messy and the thought of food spilling on it, water from dishes, etc. is enough for me to take a hard pass. If you want something in your kitchen, there are some cleanable runners like Chilewich sold at Rings End locally or online. They have lots of patterns. I had mine in my kitchen for over 10 years, and it still looked brand new before my puppy chewed the corner to shreds. The Eleish Van Breems store in Westport has Pappelina rugs from Sweden that are easy to clean, stain and water resistant with a variety of colors and patterns.

We are redoing our kitchen and I don’t see our new trend of having our family meals together going away. What is a better seating option for our new space—island eating, stand-alone kitchen table or a banquette?
This is a very hard question to answer not knowing your kitchen design. Whether you have a breakfast nook or not, I think island seating is imperative since everyone wants to be a part of the immediate action in the kitchen, so go for it! When it comes to creating the breakfast nook, a table with chairs is always a great choice.  We add banquettes all the time but usually because the space dictates it, so it depends what your plans are and where the eating area with fall. For instance, we added this sweet banquette to a home in between the kitchen and family room because the space could not accommodate a table and chairs. We had to be creative.



My kids are getting tired of the formality of our dining room, which was once used on the rare evenings we’d all be together for meals. Now that has changed. How can I freshen this space up to make it less formal?

  1. Lighting is so important in a dining room. If you have a more traditional chandelier, think about swapping it out for something more modern.
  2. Change the rug. Depending on the rug you currently have in your dining room, adding a new lighter and slightly more casual option can not only freshen the space, but make it feel more welcoming.
  3. Paint the walls. We see lots of dining rooms before we get our hands on them and many have dark dated colors like navy blue, green and even red. As much as we love navy blue paint, I never go in that direction for walls unless it’s going to be in high gloss. Lighten up the paint palette, and it will breathe new life into the space. Pick something that coordinates with the new rug! Don’t paint then choose your new rug; you will make your life difficult by doing this. We pick all the elements for a space and then the paint color!
  4. Add graphic art like large black and white photographs hung gallery style.
  5. Slipcover your chairs to instantly transform the room. There are lots of places to purchase slipcovers like The Slipcover Shop.

I want to get a nicer dining room table? Any suggestions on style and shape?
Well, your room will really dictate the shape of your table. Not all rooms accommodate a rectangular table well. If your room is more square, a round table works well but if you regularly entertain 8 or more, a round table is not great. If it’s long, then a rectangular is great. Determine what is best for you and then what style you love. I always feel Pinterest is a great source to identify what you gravitate towards. Create a dining room board and pin tables and inspirational images that inspire you. After pinning, take a break for a couple of weeks, then revisit and delete any pins you look at and don’t like as much. Seeing only pins you love will tell you more about what is best for you on top of the room shape!

My in-laws have downsized during COVID and have given us their antique furniture for our dining space. I don’t love the look of dark wood, but my husband loves it, help! When is it okay to paint furniture?
That is a dilemma. He probably loves it because it reminds him of his childhood. But, that is not a reason not to breathe new life into these pieces. There is a key distinction between antique and vintage that’s important to understand. Antiques are at least 100 years old and verified. Vintage is 10 years and older.  I think it’s okay to paint vintage pieces but never antiques. The only time you may not want to paint vintage is if they are just south of the 100-year mark, super sentimental or if the craftsmanship is exquisite. But this is often not the case, so paint away but have it done professionally!

You can follow Prudence on Instagram Facebook and Pinterest.








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