For this year’s Sotheby's Designer Showhouse and Auction, twelve established and up-and-coming designers are curating signature rooms with unique pieces from a range of Sotheby’s departments, including 20th Century Design, Prints, Silver, Photography and English furniture. Here, Shelley Morris, who is creating the Showhouse Dining Room, shares her design philosophy, tips for new collectors and more.

Based in Connecticut, Morris incorporated her fresh, eclectic style into a “warm, comfortable and welcoming” dining room for Sotheby’s Designer Showhouse. Her rule for creating a room that feels relaxed, comfortable and inviting? “Stay far away from a suite of matching furniture.” Morris’s projects have been featured extensively in such publications as Bedford Magazine and Colonial Homes.


What is your number one design rule?
To make sure you balance a space visually.

Finish this sentence: No room is ever complete without ______.
Proper lighting.

Do you have an idea of what you want to achieve with your dining room for Sotheby’s?
I’d like to create a dining room that can be more than just a formal room for entertaining a couple of times a year. It can be a multipurpose space where people gather, sit around a table and converse on many occasions.


Among the Sotheby’s pieces you could choose from, was there anything that especially caught your eye?
I always love Delft pottery and I have fun incorporating it into a dining room. I also adore the 17th-century console table for its wonderful character and the presence it lends to the space.

What period are you most inspired by right now?
I’m inspired by every period in design. I like to know I can tap into the best of the past, and I’m always learning from what has come before. I particularly love the Belgian aesthetic, along with Japanese design. I love continental antiques and art as well as contemporary Italian furniture. 


Which design sites do you browse for inspiration?
Pinterest, Dezeen, Remodelista, Arichilovers News, Dering Hall and Houzz.

Are there any designers whose work has inspired you?

I’m very inspired by Axel Vervoordt, Michael S. Smith, Darryl Carter and Steven Gambrel.