A New Twist on Tradition

Discovering Your Evolving Sense of Design

Barb and I have enjoyed both a professional relationship and a personal friendship spanning 20 years. Her house in Urbandale is a total by Design house. We always have such fun collaborating on her projects.

Our challenge – and our opportunity – was to blend in the items from previous projects that we still love with a judicious amount of updating. How do we combine existing and new to arrive at Barb’s vision today?

For the living and dining rooms, we wanted to calm the strong use of color and go to more neutral walls and large pieces of furniture. Increasing scale while cutting the sheer amount of stuff in a room is worth considering. The floors went from carpet to wood – adding a sense of spaciousness and light.


In our conversations, the word we kept landing on was “nest”. A nest would be a space you feel comfortable in and want to spend time in. We felt that it should be organic in nature. Everything fell into place when we found the whimsical bird fabric for her two chairs. It was obvious that these Zoe chairs would be the focal point of the room and everything else we chose just had to support that powerful design statement.


I think Barb’s dining room set and occasional tables are timeless. The flowing lines of the solid maple dining room set and the natural finish contribute to our organic theme. We merely selected new fabric on the chairs to add a more transitional look. And her iron and glass occasional tables are still favorites. I love them.


Texture plays a big role in this room from the leather Parker sofa to the tweed Parker loveseat with accents of colorful pillows. The lush Celecot Ivory shag area rug gives you the feeling of walking barefoot through a beautiful lawn. The draperies are softened by a simpler, more sheer style with the rod woven through grommets at the top. The custom art over the sofa is even echoed in the dining room sheers. I think this will easily become a favorite room in the house.


One of the benefits to building a personal relationship within a professional one is the confidence we develop in each other. That allows us to make bold choices. Not every client would risk different covers on sofa and loveseat. Not everyone could fearlessly discuss what should stay and what should go. But with that relationship comes the trust we need to do the work.