Quality counts: Alice Marshall was ‘born to decorate’

Photo: Melody Robbins Photo: Melody Robbins

It came as no surprise when Alice Marshall, co-owner of The Second Yard, a purveyor of decorator fabrics and home furnishings, told us that her first design memory was re-arranging dollhouse furniture. “I was born loving to decorate,” she said. “I didn’t care much about the dolls,” only about creating beautiful spaces for them to live. Speaking of spaces, Marshall also mentioned that if you find a house with good bones and “oodles of character,” it’s easy to fix it up with some simple, inexpensive touches, a few of which she mentions below.

Have you ever had a change of heart about an object or style? Many times! Styles change.

Does your home look like the one you grew up in? No, but I do live in my grandmother’s house, which has been in my family for several generations.

What is your first design memory? Arranging and re-arranging my doll house. It was my pastime, and I spent hours moving their miniature furniture around.

What’s your favorite room in your house? My living room, with some family pieces, fireplace, and books.

Your most treasured possession? A pretty little brass carriage clock, made in London.

What can’t you live without? I couldn’t live without either dogs or gardens. Both are integral parts of a comfortable home to me.

What are your preferred materials or textures? I prefer natural fibers, like linen, cotton, wool, and raw silk.

Go-to colors? In my professional work, I’m loving blues again. Navy blue was out for a while, and now it’s really back in. Contemporary navys were hard to find but we’re enjoying them again.

Favorite designer? Nancy Lancaster [a 20th-century tastemaker and the owner of Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler, a British decorating firm often credited with creating the English country-house look].

Best design-related word? Eclectic.

What’s a design rule you like to break? Rules can be broken. If it makes you happy, go with it!

Is there anything you’re afraid to DIY? Heavens, yes! That’s why I know wonderful seamstresses, upholsterers, and wallpaper hangers.

Name some things that can really transform a room. A good rug, a beautiful mirror, and, of course, gorgeous draperies.

What should a homeowner never scrimp on? First, a house with character and then quality decorating materials. This doesn’t mean you have to spend a ton of money on either.

Is there a design blog, website, TV show, or magazine that you look at all the time? House Beautiful, Architectural Digest, and Traditional Home.

Antique or modern? Antique, but I like to mix it up a little.

City or country? Country. I don’t dislike city—I live downtown—but I like views, and open space, and the casual atmosphere of the country.

If you could live in one historical figure’s house, whose would it be? Dolley Madison’s Montpelier would do just fine.

On what film set would you like to live?  It’s not a “film” set, but “Downton Abbey.”

If you were reborn as a piece of furniture or an object, what would it be? A cozy little chair by the fireplace, where the dog naps.

Want to know more? Visit The Second Yard at the secondyard.com or call 295-6054 to get in touch.

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