A Neutral Palette Creates Warmth & Personality in this Great Room


Chuck and Ruth were building a custom home in Urbandale.  They weren’t newbies, they had built several before.  But they knew they wanted an interior designer to help them pull everything together.  The goal: a custom, one-of-a-kind look for their beautiful new home.

I met with them and their daughter Katie at By Design. Together we came up with a creative, but functional, design for their great room.  They love to entertain, but this room also needed to be comfortable & inviting for day-to-day life.  This is both the challenge and the strength of great rooms: the public and private aspects of a family’s life need to come together in one space.



The Kobe sectional hides power recliners in both ends, so there is not a bad seat in the room. The Ella swivel comfort recliner allows enjoyment of both the TV and the fireplace. We used two animal-print Ivy chairs and metal accent table to add zing and personality, yet continue the sophisticated monochromatic color story. Then we chose fabric rather than leather on all the upholstered pieces.  The hard surfaces of the room (hardwood floors, windows and walls) drove this decision. I tend to think of leather as another “hard surface”, so it seemed logical to add the softness of the fabric. The payoff: the minute we put the furniture in the room – the echo disappeared.


The dining area features a beautiful, distressed heritage maple table. It will easily accommodate dinner parties for 10.  We put large, upholstered Taylor chairs on the ends of the dining table.  They repeat the nailhead trim element that is on the sectional and add extra comfort and interest.


We used a variety of wood tones in the occasional tables & dining table.  The goal was to set them apart from the beautiful Acacia wood floor. The neutral pallet used throughout the project will stand the test of time. It will also create a nice backdrop that focuses attention on their colorful art. Another advantage to this color palette: it doesn’t distract from the beautiful views and landscaping you see that are behind their home.


This is the first layer in the room, the foundation of their design. Next will come area rugs, art, lamps & accessories to reflect Chuck and Ruth’s  warmth and personality. I can’t wait to see the finished product.


Laura Beeler About the author: Laura is a Senior Designer at by Design, having worked here since 1992. She graduated from Iowa State with a degree in Interior Design: ” I’ve always felt that your home and your room should reflect your taste and lifestyle, no matter the scale of the project we work on. If I’ve done my job well, you’ll find yourself feeling “at home” in your new surroundings… and hopefully we’ve had a lot of fun along the way.” | Laura’s Page