Living Well

8 Must Read Tips When Building A Home

A past client reached out recently; we helped she and her husband build a beautiful home a few years ago and she emailed saying they are looking to build a second home.

I couldn’t help but smile knowing she enjoyed the process and wants to do it again.

They put together a great team who worked hard to build their dream home, and I thought it might be helpful to share some must-read tips when building a house.

 

Tips for making the building process successful: 

 

1. Put together a talented team 

I can’t stress enough how important it is to hire a builder, designer and architect that are known for what you are trying to achieve.  It isn’t enough to hire someone because they are a neighbor or because your friend hired them.  Look at their past work, their processes, their staff, and check their references. 

Your team should increase the value of your project while making the process enjoyable.  Again- they should make your life easier and be good stewards of your money.

 2. Make sure the aesthetic of  your designer and architect appeal to you  

Even creatives with a well-versed portfolio still have a certain look and tendencies (including me).  In the end, your home should feel like you.

Just as important, make sure you like their personality and can trust them.  They are going to be dealing with your money and you need to be okay sharing details about how you live.

3.  Wait to break ground on your home until your plans are finished 

Wait to start the building process until the plans are finished.  If you don’t, I can promise the demo will go fast but it will come to a screeching halt.  Be prepared as it takes time to draw detailed plans, but it will pay off in the end. 

Dana Wolter Interiors
A recent project as it was being built, Dana Wolter Interiors
Interior Design Ideas
Project in completion, Dana Wolter Interiors. Photography by Graham Yelton

4.  Quality takes time  

Quality takes time- there is a reason the room with custom cabinetry, draperies and millwork looks so good.   Details customize a home, but they don’t happen overnight or through the internet.   

Cabinet detail in a master bath renovation, Dana Wolter Interiors

Prepare yourself now- there will be a setback somewhere in the building process that will delay the project.  The weather won’t cooperate, you will hit rock when excavating, etc…  

5.  Talk budget early on 

No one enjoys sharing their personal business, but it is important to have a budget in mind or a realistic expectation of what your project will cost.  

Know your building budget (and furnishings’ budget) at the beginning and be realistic about what it can afford you.  

Talk to your builder about the exact finishes the allowances will buy you, and see what is realistic for what you are building.   Also, the more finishes and specifics you can finalize during the bidding process (such as knowing the exact type of countertop material, what line of plumbing fixtures, etc…), the more it will save you with add-ons at the end.

6. Details make a home  

Not all architects, builders and designers have the same experience and there is a reason everyone doesn’t charge the same.   If detail is important to you, make sure you hire a team where it is important to them.

7. Let your home building team do their job  

You hired your team for a reason, so let them do their job.  If you can’t visualize a detail, trust they can. This means trusting their judgment over your friend’s, your mom’s, etc….

8. Save enough money to furnish the home and be realistic as to how far that furnishing budget will go  

The last thing you want to do is build a beautiful, brand new home and for it to echo because you are not able to furnish it properly. 

 

Beautiful Kitchen Ideas, Dana Wolter Interiors
Dana Wolter Interiors as seen in Traditional Home

 

I hope these eight must-read tips when building a home are helpful and make the building process more enjoyable.  And fun!   

If you are interested in learning about the design services we can offer you when building, email us at here.  We want to hear more about your project.

 

Dana

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Living Well

Tips For Designing A Home On A Budget

Whether you are moving into your first home or you have an existing space that needs attention,  I’m sharing today some tips on designing a home on a budget. 

As I have written about here and here, I recently installed my daughter’s first post-college apartment in Manhattan. There was a distinct thought process I applied on where to invest and where to save as we pulled together her first home.

Tips To Follow When Designing A Home On A Budget:

1.   Buy the best upholstery you can afford

We started with a Fabricut headboard for her bedroom and sofa and chair in some of their wool fabrics for the sitting area as these are all great pieces that can grow with her over time.

A nice, weighty piece of upholstery makes such a difference – the quality is much better and I knew she would use it for years to come.  This leads me to my next point……

Dana Wolter Interiors and John Bessler Photography

 

Dana Wolter Interiors + John Bessler Photography

 

Dana Wolter Interiors + John Bessler Photography

2.  Determine your price points based upon the piece’s purpose and longevity

My daughter’s bedroom is a decent size for Manhattan standards, but it lacked a closet.  I took 2′ of the room and created a makeshift one with Fabricut’s quick ship draperies.(the roman shades are part of their quick ship program as well).

Their window treatment program is new to me and I was extremely impressed with the options. They shipped within 10 days of placing the order, too!

We incorporated an IKEA closet system behind the draperies because it only needs to last a year or two.

If she ends up using it longer than that, it’s an added bonus. To my point, this wasn’t an area that needed much financial investment but did need a functional system that worked for the space. IKEA was the solution for designing this small space within our budget and it turned out perfectly.

Dana Wolter Interiors, John Bessler Photography

There’s no doubt she will enjoy this Gabby marble lamp for years to come.

3.  Find your color palette – Think Neutral For Small Spaces

Knowing this was my daughter’s first home after college, I wanted to make it warm, functional, and inviting.  The function of these new pieces can serve her in other living spaces in the future.  

Therefore, selecting a color palette that she enjoys that will also stand the test of time was important. We went with mostly neutral tones but added pops of gray and pattern in the custom Fabricut pillows to add a little flare.

Dana Wolter Interiors – John Bessler Photography

 

Dana Wolter Interiors – John Bessler Photography

4. Buy the Best Art Your Budget Allows

Regarding art, my suggestion is simple; buy pieces you love and spend as much as you can afford.  It’s something that lasts a lifetime and can move with you from home to home.

My daughter started collecting art her senior year of high school and as a result, she’s curated a nice collection of custom pieces for her age.  

The watercolors on vellum were created by one of her friends from college, Dana Wolter Interiors and John Bessler Photography

Whether you are just starting out or looking for budget- friendly design options for your current home, I hope you find this post helpful.  Let me know what you think-

Have a great day,

Dana

 

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Living Well

Before and After: Small Space Living Ideas

If you follow me on Instagram, Facebook, or read this post, you know I recently collaborated with Gabby and Fabricut to share some small space living ideas using their product lines for my daughter’s New York City apartment.

It’s she and her roommates’ first apartment after college and like most Manhattan spaces, it is tiny.  

Trying to make a small space fit all of your needs can have its challenges.  My goal was to create a warm, functional Family Room for them and Bedroom for her while investing in pieces that will act as staples in the years to come.

Their apartment has great light that I wanted to accentuate.  I could not help but think about the cold, dreary winter months ahead in the city and decided to create a cozy feel through lighting, fabrics, rugs, and furnishings.

(Note: Like something that you see? Concluding this post, I’m sharing all of the links to the Gabby lighting and bedside tables and to Fabricut’s upholstery, fabrics, and trims used in these two rooms).

 

Small Space Living Ideas: Bedroom Design

What’s behind the draperies, you ask?

The bed frame is on risers (hidden behind the dust ruffle made from a Fabricut linen and tape) for extra storage. The Fabricut ottoman in one of their custom fabrics is perfect for sitting while putting on her makeup. Dana Wolter Interiors, John Bessler Photography

My daughter’s bedroom is a decent size for Manhattan standards, but it lacked a closet.  I took 2′ of the room and created a makeshift one with Fabricut’s quick ship draperies. The Roman Shades are part of their quick ship program as well.

We incorporated a vanity and an IKEA closet system behind the draperies.  It only needs to last a year or two, and if she ends up using the closet system for longer than that, it’s a bonus.

Here’s a drawing of the closet wall:

Dana Wolter Interiors, John Bessler Photography

I love that she can close the draperies to hide the mess, though not sure she would want to because it’s quite pretty with the Gabby lamp.

Gabby Margaret lamp, Dana Wolter Interiors, John Bessler Photography

I knew I wanted to use one on Fabricut’s upholstered headboards for her because an upholstered headboard instantly softens a room.  With this versatile style in one of their exclusive neutral velvets, I personalized her bed with custom pillows made out of Fabricut fabrics.

The chic Gabby “May” nightstand adds a little more storage, blends beautifully with the bed, and it fits like a glove in the space.

I love this Gabby bedside table paired with the Fabricut headboard and pillow fabrics. Dana Wolter Interiors, John Bessler Photography

 

Small Space Living Ideas, Dana Wolter Interiors, John Bessler Photography.   The lantern shown is the Gabby “Carly”.

 

Small Space Living Ideas: Intimately Fabulous Family Room

Their Family Room is tiny – approximately 6 x 9 (plus the niche) and with its odd shape, there isn’t room for wasted space.

Before:

 

After:

We started with a Fabricut loveseat and chair from their upholstery line as these are perfect pieces that can grow with my daughter.  They give as much seating as the space allows and I envision them moving from home to home with her over the next several years.

Fabricut’s Draper loveseat and Helga lounge chair nestled in perfectly in the family room. Dana Wolter Interiors, John Bessler Photography

 

Don’t you love this Fabricut wool on their “Helga” lounge chair? Yes – it is as soft and comfortable as it looks. Dana Wolter Interiors, John Bessler Photography

 

Dana Wolter Interiors, John Bessler Photography

It’s amazing the transformation this apartment made and I love how it came together. They have a nice start to some classic pieces that can move with them in the upcoming years.

I have listed below the furnishings, fabrics, and lighting by Gabby and Fabricut. Let me know if you implement any of my small space living ideas into your space as I enjoying hearing how my tips inspire you. And, as always, if we can help you turn your home into one you dream, please reach out here.  We would love to discuss your project.

 

Have a great day,

Dana

 

Want to recreate this look?  Click below on the direct links:

Lighting:

Fabricut’s Quick Ship Draperies + Roman Shades:

Loveseat:

Custom Family Room Pillows: 

 

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Living Well

When Back To School Means It’s Time To Assess Your Home

My mother always said that with the exception of my sister and two of her grandchildren being born in August, nothing good ever happens in this month. I am starting to think she may be right.
 
The fun of summer has worn off, it’s hot outside, and our houses are a mess from children being home all summer or from moving in and out of dorms, apartments, etc…
 
I’m not a negative person and I hate to say it…. August is kind of a yuck month.
 
But now that the kids are headed back to school,  it’s time to focus on things we’ve put off the past few months. I’m using this momentum to assess and tackle areas in my own home that need updating.  Here are a few tips if you want to do the same.
 

Survey How You Feel About Your Home

Does your home make you breathe a sigh of relief?

When you walk into your home, what feelings and emotions are evoked? Are they feelings of contentment and relaxation or anxiousness and dread?

If you answered the latter, it’s time for some change. Your home should be a restful retreat where you can make memories and host gatherings with family and friends. 

Start with a calming, neutral palette with layers of texture as we did below. 

Dana Wolter Interiors, Emily Followill Photography

 

Dana Wolter Interiors, Jean Allsopp Photography

Does your home function for you and your family?

What stage of life are you in? Life transitions usually equate to transitions needing to take place in the home.

Have your children moved out and you are a new empty nester (if so, I can relate),  or are your kids older and what worked  a few years ago no longer does?

A house once full of active children and their friends that served your lively family so well can now feel lost.  It’s time to reinvent your home so it functions for you in this new phase.

Clients who hire us for these specific needs want to re-do their bedrooms, tackle the guest bedroom, and make the famous ‘playroom’ more of a mature den for casual lounging as we’ve done here:

Bedroom, Dana Wolter Interiors, Graham Yelton Photography

 

Dana Wolter Interiors, Graham Yelton Photography

 

Dana Wolter Interiors, Graham Yelton Photography

 

Does your home reflect your personal style and lifestyle?

Whether you have more formal or casual taste in style, your home should follow suit.   Below are examples of both formal and more casual interiors – which one speaks to you?

Dana Wolter Interiors, Graham Yelton Photography

 

Dana Wolter Interiors, Graham Yelton Photography

If you feel like your home doesn’t make you happy, function well (read more on this topic here), or reflect your personal style or lifestyle, we can help. Give us a call (205.938.4848) or email us here.

 

Have a great day,

Dana

 

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Living Well

Things To Do And Where To Stay in Italy

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you know my family and I (minus one daughter- she has been studying abroad) spent an incredible two weeks traveling to different parts of Italy to celebrate a few milestones.

Not only did I have a BIG birthday, we were celebrating a high school and college graduation.  Lots of changes going on in my life right now.

Several of my social media friends asked me to share what we did and where we stayed, so here are a few highlights from our trip to Italy.

Things to Do in Rome, Italy

We began the trip in Rome, Italy for three nights and stayed at the Grand Hotel Via Veneto.  It was a nice, five star hotel with great service.  My girls wished it was in a location with more activity around, but I guess I am showing my age- I loved the quiet and the simplicity.

We took in the regular sites such as The Vatican, The Trevi Fountain, etc…., but it was the intricate stonework throughout the city that caught my eye.  

For anyone questioning using marble in their home, Rome is the perfect example to not think twice.  If it can withstand the wear and tear for thousands of years, it can withstand the abuse in your kitchen and bath.   

Thousands of years of natural stone makes for a beautiful patina

 

Gorgeous marble detail, Dana Wolter Interiors

 

 

Trevi Fountain, Dana Wolter Interiors

 

Things to do in Rome, Italy

 

One of our favorite things we did was take a cooking class.  My Italian grandmother would have been so proud as we learned how to make fresh pasta and sauce.  Why I never had her teach me her secrets before she passed, I don’t know.

Pasta Cooking Class In Rome

Armando Al Pantheon in Rome was delicious and one of our favorite restaurants when there.  It’s family owned and has been around since the 60s.  

 A trip anywhere would not be complete without a little shopping.  What can I say- I have three girls and with the two grandmothers they have, their love of shopping comes honestly.

Among the local boutiques, we found a great department store called Rinascente.  It has several clothing lines we loved including a restaurant filled with fresh juices, pastries, etc… The store was beautiful inside, too (we also visited it in Florence and while the shopping was good there, the store was a little more run down).

The Best Things To Do In Florence, Italy

 We took the train from Rome to Florence, and it was interesting handling all of our bags.   I know you are suppose to travel lightly, but with my oldest staying in Europe for work, we had all of her luggage with us.  

Travel Tip Number One: Travel Lightly

We loved staying in the two bedroom apartment in the Hotel Lungarno  in Florence, Italy and would book it again.  It was chic, comfortable, and you still had all of the amenities of a hotel (room service, housekeeping, etc…).  We stayed for three nights but all of us felt like we could have stayed a fourth (or longer!).

Hotel Lungarno, Dana Wolter Interiors

 

 

One Of The Finest Resorts In The World- Cernobbio, Lake Como, Italy

We took a train from Florence to Lake Como and stayed four nights in Cernobbio at the Villa D’este. 

Why can I say….  It was the highlight of our trip.  When their website says it is a destination, not a location, it is so true as the entire experience was incredible.  

Put it on your bucket list as a place to stay.  

Everything from the grounds, to the service, to the welcoming bottle of champagne, was on brand.  

We spent a few days at the resort lounging by the pool, exploring the grounds, and another day on the lake seeing the neighboring towns.  I highly recommend doing the same.

Villa d’Este

 

Dana Wolter Interiors travel, Lake Como by boat

 

Villa d’Este, Dana Wolter Interiors

 

Villa d’Este with two of my girls, Dana Wolter Interiors

 

View from Villa d’Este, Dana Wolter Interiors

We found a cute neighborhood place called Harry’s (it was filled with lots of locals eating which is always a good sign), and Il Gatto Nero was suggested by a few friends.  It was delicious, and I highly recommend it as well.

Delicious meal at Il Gatto Nero

And while it is back to reality for me and my family, it’s amazing what a few weeks in a new place can do for inspiration and for your soul.

I can’t help but dream of our next big excursion, and am looking for our next bucket list place to stay.  Please share with me any amazing places you have loved and experienced as I would love to know.

Cheers to dreaming and living,

Dana

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Living Well

Before and After: Home Design with a Deadline

It’s amazing what a little vision, new furnishings, fresh paint, and a great floor plan execution can do for your home and for your psyche. I thought I would share a few homes of clients where we began their home design with a deadline. 

 

Home Design with a Deadline

Each of these families wanted to update their interiors for different reasons, but all had a common goal- to be finished by the holidays.

Believe it or not, if you want to enjoy new furnishings, art and accessories by Christmas, it’s time to call us now .  It takes a few months for orders to be processed and constructed.

There is no time like the present to get started, and I hope these projects inspire you to do the same.

 

Project #1

These clients  had recently moved into their home and needed new furnishings, window treatments, art, and accessories  for several rooms.  

In their breakfast room, we incorporated their table (which they loved), refinished their cane-back chars, and added a showstopping, extra long custom banquette to the wall of windows.

Because we started working on this client’s home during the middle of the summer, and the Christmas deadline was in the forefronts of everyone’s mind, we made sure everything was finalized and ordered by the end of August.

As the holidays approached, we completed minor renovations and cosmetic updates just in time for the furniture to be installed.  What a treat for this family to enjoy their first Christmas in their new home.

Before:

After:

Dana Wolter Interiors, Graham Yelton Photography

 

Project #2

This next home had plenty of square footage, but because of the columns and off-center fireplace, a sofa would not fit in their family room.  That’s right – there was not enough space for the family to sit comfortably.

As I blogged about here, we completely reworked this room.  It transformed into a beautiful, functional space where the entire family (pets included) can enjoy together.  

Before:

 

After:

Dana Wolter Interiors, Graham Yelton Photography

 

While we were working on the home, we decided to rework the foyer as well.  

You know me-I love creating a sitting area when possible because it instantly invites guests to come in, sit and visit.  Wait until you see the ‘after’ – it is unrecognizable!

Before:

 

After:

Dana Wolter Interiors, Graham Yelton Photography

If you are ready to update your home with the goal of enjoying the redesign by Christmas, call 205-938-4848 or email us here.   We would love to discuss your project with you. 

Have a great day –

Dana

 

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Living Well

5 Things To Keep On Hand For Last-Minute Entertaining

There is nothing I love more than when friends or family stop by at a moment’s notice, and there are five things I like to keep on hand for when it happens.
 
Whether it’s catching up with a neighbor or an impromptu girls’ night, I savor these moments.   
 
It’s not about stressing over how clean your house is or the fact that you may still be in your workout clothes from the morning.  It’s about enjoying friends and family and the time you spend with them.
 
The key is to be prepared for unexpected company. 
 
Your guests will only be as relaxed as you are, so don’t fret over the things you can’t control.  But for the things that you can…..
 

5 of my tried and true tricks for last-minute entertaining:

 

1. Keep a delicious dip in your freezer and crackers in the pantry.

This way, all you have to do is pull it out and heat it in the oven. Not only will your home smell amazing, but you don’t have to fuss with any dishes or prep work.  
 
Here is my family’s favorite  dip recipe, courtesy of the Junior League of Birmingham’s Food For Thought cookbook.  FYI- it freezes wonderfully, too. 
 
Hot Bacon and Swiss Dip
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, soften
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 cup grated Swiss cheese
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled,
1/2 cup crushed Ritz crackers 
 
Soften cream cheese in a mixing bowl. Add mayonnaise, Swiss chases, and green onions; mix well. Transfer to a baking dish. Top with bacon and crackers. Bake at 350° for 15 to 20 minutes or until bubbly and serve with crackers or Fritos.
 

2. Have cloth napkins pressed and ready.

No thought or effort required – It is as simple as pulling them out and displaying with your hors d’oeuvre of choice and wine. 

Dana Wolter Interiors, Graham Yelton Photography

 

3. Light a nice candle

 I love a good candle and am constantly changing out the one in my kitchen.  Find one that speaks to you and enjoy it.  
 
 

4. Keep a selection of simple, clear vases in different sizes tucked away for entertaining.

These are great for filling with grocery store flowers or branches from your yard for a last minute arrangement.  
 
Sprawling branches make such a beautiful, effortless statement, and according to my youngest, flowers make your house look cleaner.  Who knew!
 
Dana Wolter Interiors, Photography by Graham Yelton

 

Dana Wolter Interiors, Graham Yelton Photography
 
 

5. Slow down and give your guests your undivided attention.

Put down the cell phones, send the children off to play or to do homework, and make your guests feel like you have time for them (no matter what fire you might be in the middle of putting out). Be present and enjoy your visit!
 

I hope these tips help you enjoy a spur of the moment company when the opportunity arises.   I’d love to hear your tried and true hospitality tricks.

Cheers to living (and entertaining) well,
 
Dana
 

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Living Well

Is Our One-Time 3.5 Hour Consult For You?

While my firm works mostly on full room or full home interior design projects, we will periodically offer a few spots for a one time 3.5 hour consult.  

This service is for the client who needs direction and help making decisions with their home but wants to implement the suggestions on their own as their budget and time allow.

It has gone over really well in the past, as I have had several people fly in, drive over or even Facetime with me for this consult.

Dana Wolter Interiors

 

Here’s how the 3.5 hour consult works:

We will have you send a list of what you would like to discuss and accomplish during our time together.  During our appointment, I will then spend 3.5 hours of uninterrupted time going through your list and answering questions.  

We can discuss design dilemmas, furniture arrangements, fabric direction, paint colors, to knock down a wall or not– you name it!

I’ve also had people use this service to select the all of the finishes for a new build.

The more legwork you do before our meeting in knowing what you would like to cover, the more productive our time will be together.   We will make a Pinterest board with specifics of what to look for when shopping for your home, and I will take measurements so you won’t have to worry about coming home with the wrong size sofa, ever again.

People who have invested in this consult have been surprised over the amount of detail and information that comes from it.

Matter of fact, I recently saw a client who hired me a few years ago to help her with the finishes, colors, materials, furniture layout, etc for a family lakehouse under construction.

I couldn’t help but smile as she proudly showed me pictures of the finished product.  They don’t have furniture yet, but the house turned out so pretty.  She did a great job implementing my suggestions for building their vacation home.

 

Dana Wolter Interiors
Dana Wolter Interiors

 

A beautiful kitchen project as seen in Traditional Home, Dana Wolter Interiors

 

Dana Wolter Interiors
Dana Wolter Interiors

 

If you think this service can help you transform your home, inquire about it here.  I would love to talk with you.

 

Have a great day-

dana

 

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Living Well: 5 Tips For Updating Your Home

Whether we’re meeting with one of our full-service clients or working with someone during the 3.5 hour consultations, we often meet people who are overwhelmed and not sure what to do when their home no longer works for them and their family.
And while various factors need to be considered, such as the resale value in your neighborhood versus investing into a home you will enjoy for years to come,  it’s important to think through when updating your home.  
 

5 Tips For Updating Your Home:

 

Assess What Is Working And Not Working For Your Family

Needs and desires evolve as children grow up and start their own families, so if  your home is not working for you, it is time for a change.  

Take an objective look and see what it is that you like and dislike about your home.  Is it the finishes or furnishings that are dated or do you need a full blown renovation?   

Hire A Great Team

Whether hiring an architect for a renovation/new build, a designer for new furnishings or a contractor for your project, your team should be one you can trust and will make the process enjoyable and easy easier for you.  

As far as talent and expertise go, if there is a significant difference in the fees of whom you are interviewing, I can promise they offer different levels of service and expertise.  Do your homework and ask why.

Perspective Is Everything

As we’ve mentioned before in previous blog posts, ordering new furnishings and renovations take time – but in the end, they are well worth the wait.  Custom doesn’t happen overnight, but it’s these kind of details that make a home beautiful for years to come. 

Custom cabinetry  designed for a client, Dana Wolter Interiors, Graham Yelton Photography

 

Timeless Interior Design, Dana Wolter Interiors

Does Your Home Have Architectural Features and Customization?

What makes your home special and unique?  Does it have strong enough architectural details that are in keeping with the style of the house, great light or intentional focal points to catch your eye? 

Incorporating timeless, classic architectural elements and features will up-level the look of your home while also standing the test of time.

Invest Wisely

One of the most common questions clients ask is where to focus their budget during the renovation process.

I always recommend making sure the bones of the house are right first with beautiful finishes and natural materials.  Furnishings and accessories should lightly layer in to soften and pull together each space.  

Buy the best your budget allows and think longterm.  Furnish a home with the intention that it will stay as is – or added to for a collected feel- for many years to come.  

Classic, timeless Interior design
A mix of finishes and details for a collected look, Dana Wolter Interiors

 

We hope these tips help guide you during your next project.  If we can help you update your dated home, reach out to us here or call us at 205-938-4848.

Have a great day,

Dana

 

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Living Well

Dana Wolter Interiors Featured in Aspire Design and Home’s ‘Designer Friday’

It is always exciting when a publication wants to showcase our work, and I am honored Aspire Design and Home reached out to us for their ‘Designer Friday’ spotlight. 

From sharing some of our recent projects to asking about my favorite books and thoughts, it was a fun interview.  It is a wonderful publication that shares what is new globally in design, art, culture, and travel.   

 

Learn unique facts about Dana in a Q&A with Aspire Design and Home and Andrew Joseph

Aspire Design and Home's Feature
Dana Wolter Interiors, Graham Yelton Photography

From secret talents, must-read books, and something to always have on hand for unexpected guests, click here to read along for a fun Friday feature.

Have a great day,

Dana

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Living Well

Living Well: Why Every Room Needs A Mirror

As I was going through some photos of our work on our website recently, I was reminded why every room (or almost every) needs a mirror.

Its placement is key, but it’s also important to be mindful of what it reflects. Here are my thoughts on why mirrors add interest to any space.

 

Why Every Room Needs A Mirror: 

 

1. It’s the perfect layering piece

A mirror is a great layering piece to create a collected feel in a room.  In our client’s Foyer, I layered an antique Louis Philippe mirror with a framed piece of art and other curiosities to give it interest and personalization.

Why to use a mirror in a room
Dana Wolter Interiors, Graham Yelton Photography

 

2. A mirror adds texture and dimension

This antique Louis Philippe hanging in my Living Room adds a different texture while balancing out the wood of the pecky cypress ceiling and doors.

Why to use a mirror in a room
Dana Wolter Interiors, Graham Yelton Photography

 

3. It makes a space feel larger

In this Master Bathroom, the vanities mirror each other, giving this space the illusion it is much larger.  Notice how we still paid attention to what was being reflected with the addition on a lovely nude sketch and small basket to catch everyday jewelry.  

Where to hang a mirror
Dana Wolter Interiors, Graham Yelton Photography

 

4. A mirror adds balance

Don’t over-clutter your walls with art – let the pieces breath and speak for themselves. Mirrors can help carry the weight of a wall without covering every inch with different art.

As we’ve done here, this mirror adds balance to a formal Dining Room where a piece of art would have been too much. 

Why every room needs a mirror
Dana Wolter Interiors, Graham Yelton Photography

 

Hope these tips help when you are deciding where to hang a mirror in a room.  If we can help you create a home you love, contact us here.

Have a great day,

Dana

 

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Living Well

Living Well: 5 Ways To Invest In Your Home

Your home is one of the biggest investments you will make, and you want to make sure you are investing your time and money wisely.

Our goal for any project is to create a home that adds to the quality of your life and will hopefully increase in investment if you ever decide to sell.

 

HERE ARE FIVE WAYS TO WISELY INVEST IN YOUR HOME: 

 

1. Use classic materials in the shell of your home:

By choosing classic materials and architectural elements that are in keeping with the style of your home, you will create a timeless feel that supports any style of furnishings you layer in. 

Look at the gorgeous doors, and the dogs are pretty cute, too. Dana Wolter Interiors, Graham Yelton Photography

 

2.  Be strategic with the type of fabrics you select:

Are you thinking of purchasing a new sofa or reupholstering one you already own? If so, opt for a higher quality fabric with a high double-rub count or professional treatment. Taking these factors into consideration will pay off after a few years of wear and tear.

The following pictures are projects of high-traffic spaces where we strategically selected fabrics based on how the room functions. 

Recent installation of a client’s foyer. The loveseat and chair are ready for an active family. Dana Wolter Interiors, Graham Yelton Photography

 

Dana Wolter Interiors, Graham Yelton Photography

 

 

Dana Wolter Interior Design Studio, Mountain Brook, AL

 

3. Utilize every space in your home:

From large and spacious to small and quaint, maximizing your square footage is imperative.  

As I wrote in a previous blog post here, we helped this large family transform their garage into a second family room to create some needed extra space.

Dana Wolter Interiors, Graham Yelton Photography

 

4. Neat and tidy landscaping:

Your landscaping is the first impression people see as they approach your home. Allow the appearance of your home’s exterior to catch your guests at the door with a few simple and effective ways.

For example, keep your sidewalks and porches cleanly swept so leaves and cobwebs don’t accumulate.

I also like to have the mulch in our yard freshened up twice a year (in the fall and spring). You will be shocked with how this truly makes your shrubs and trees pop.

 

Dolores Del Rio House, Arturo Jimenez Photography

 

5. Customize your kitchen and bathrooms:

Updating your kitchen or an outdated bathroom are places where you can add value to your home. Not only for re-sale purposes, but also in terms of function for you and your family. 

We designed this client’s kitchen to suit their needs in a new build.  As empty-nesters, they didn’t want a large breakfast room because they enjoy eating everyday meals around an island. With emphasis on the custom island design and function, we added counter stools and a table-like feel as a perfect solution for ‘island dining’.  

 

Dana Wolter Interiors, Graham Yelton Photography

 

 

Another great way to maximize space in a kitchen is to incorporate banquette-style seating with your breakfast room table. 

Dana Wolter Interiors, Graham Yelton Photography

 

 

I hope you find these five ways to invest helpful and that they guide you on where to spend your money on your home.  Reach out to us here if we can help you turn your home into one you love.

Have a great day,

Dana

 

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Living Well

Renovating A Client’s Childhood Home

We have recently begun working on the renovation of a client’s childhood home.

The wife and I met through one of my 3.5 hour consults as she was looking for direction for her family’s newly purchased childhood home.  During our conversation, I gave a few reasons as to why they should renovate to really make it work for their young, pet-friendly family. 

As a result, they hired us to select the interior finishes and lighting throughout.  

 

Dana Wolter Living Room
A Recently Completed Family Room, Dana Wolter Interiors, Graham Yelton Photography

 

Though the bones of the house are good- and the memories even better- we are updating the house with classic, timeless materials and details. A

Our goal is a beautiful home with a casual, comfortable feel that only looks better with time. 

 

Dana Wolter Interiors, Lighting Detail
Dana Wolter Interiors, Interior Details, Graham Yelton Photography

 

The kitchen is completely gutted and is getting the biggest makeover.  A large window is being added because bringing in light was a priority throughout the house.

We are also updating the home with hidden storage (can you ever have enough?) and finding ways to make this new home work and function for them for years to come.

 

Dana Wolter Interiors, Kitchen Renovation
Dana Wolter Interiors, Kitchen Renovation

 

Dana Wolter Interiors, Renovation
Dana Wolter Interiors, Renovation

 

Stay tuned as we share our progress over the next few months. I can’t wait to make this childhood home into a space where this family can play, relax and enjoy each other. 

Have a great day,

 

Dana

 

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Living Well

DWI Named Finalist For The Southeast Residential Designer Of The Year

2019 Southeast Designer of The Year Nominees Announced

We are thrilled to share the exciting news that DWI is a finalist in the Southeast Residential Designer Of The Year award.  

Sponsored by ADAC and Veranda magazine, this award spans a 10-state region, and we are honored to be included for the third year in a row.

 

Dana Wolter Interiors, Birmingham, AL, Graham Yelton Photography

 

Not only are we humbled to be among such a distinguished group, we are proud to be a vessel to spotlight our fabulous city of Birmingham, AL.   If you need a few recommendations of my favorite places to eat and shop in town, contact me here.

 

Dana Wolter Interior Design, Located in Birmingham, AL. Photo by Graham Yelton

 

 “The South is an epicenter for stylish design, and this year’s Southeast Designers and Architect of the Year Awards’ entrants prove the region’s influence on architecture and interior design is not to be overlooked,” said Steele Marcoux, Editor in Chief of VERANDA magazine. “I feel honored – and inspired – to have been a part of this process!” 

Our sincere thanks to the judges, Steele Marcoux, Bunny Williams, and Roger Seifter,  for noticing our work.  These esteemed judges are well-known in the design community and for their discerning eyes to highlight our work is an honor. 

Stay tuned as we will keep you posted on social media. The award ceremony is April 25th and our entire team will be together to celebrate.

 

Have a great day-

Dana

 

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Living Well

5 Ideas to Creating A Warm And Inviting Foyer

Creating An Inviting Foyer

The foyer is the first impression of your home when someone walks in, so I thought it would be fun to give you 5 ideas to create an inviting one.  After all, whether family or a visitor, you want your guests to feel welcome.

We recently began working on a new project and the entryway is one of the rooms that is part of the design.  It is a beautiful home and we are also making sure this home has the one thing I mention here.  

As I was assessing the best way to soften the entryway and make it look like the family has lived there for some time, here are some tips I incorporated. 

5 tips to making a great first impression in your foyer:

 

1.  Add some sort of seating to soften the space.

When there is room, I always try to add some sort of seating to a foyer.  It is a great way to soften a space while allowing a place to put on your shoes as you walk out the door.

 

How to create an inviting foyer
Foyer Ideas, Dana Wolter Interiors, Graham Yelton Photography

 

 

McAlpine Booth and Ferrier
A gorgeous entryway by McAlpine Booth and Ferrier

 

 

2.  Personalize the space

Add a favorite piece of artwork, a frame with a family photo- anything that makes the foyer special to you.

Artwork by my daughter (that I love) personalizes the entrance into my office, Dana Wolter Interiors, Graham Yelton Photography

 

 

 

Dana Wolter Interiors
Foyer decor personalizes the home, Dana Wolter Interiors, Graham Yelton Photography

 

3.  Make the space functional

Make the space useful with hidden storage or a tray to catch your keys.

 

Dana Wolter Interiors, Graham Yelton Photography

 

4.  Include something green such as flowers or a plant.

 

5.  Layer the space with accessories to create dimension and to make it look like it has been collected over time.

 

An inviting entrance sets the tone for your home, Dana Wolter Interiors, Graham Yelton Photography

 

So, what does your foyer say about your home?   Does it set the tone and catch your eye, or is it a “catch-all” area you want to hurry your guests through?  If we can help you create a home you love, email us HERE.

 

Have a great day, and cheers to your foyer making a great, first impression.

Dana

 

 

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Living Well

Living Well: 5 Ways To Make Overnight Guests Feel Welcome

Do you find yourself stressing and fretting before overnight company arrives?  If so, I have some ways to ease the worry and make your overnight visitors feel welcome.

Over the years, I’ve learned a few tricks for making company feel relaxed and at home. The key is to think of things that bring you comfort when you are away.  

 

5 Ways To Make Overnight Guests Feel Welcome

 

Fresh Linens

There really isn’t anything better than crawling into bed with fresh, crisp linens – make sure the sheets are newly washed and pillows nicely fluffed.

Keeping my favorite travel size linen mist in the top drawer next to the bed is also a trick I’ve done for years. Company staying longer than one night can continue to enjoy the fresh feeling of clean sheets with a simple spritz on the pillow before bed. 

Dana Wolter Interiors, Graham Yelton Photography

 

Flowers + Greenery

Having fresh flowers or greenery beside the bed and in the bathroom is such a pretty and thoughtful touch. It says ‘welcome, we’re glad you are here’.  

This little detail immediately brings life into rooms that otherwise don’t see much activity and it is the best first impression you can give your visitors. 

Dana Wolter Interiors, Graham Yelton Photography

 

Lined Window Treatments

Allow your friends and family to sleep in with ease with lined window treatments. A good night’s sleep is a great gift for your guests.

Dana Wolter Interiors, Graham Yelton Photography

 

A Welcome Basket

Just as a lovely hotel would do, put together a welcome basket with thoughtful items and a personal note sharing your excitement for their stay. Add magazines and books that your company will enjoy + a few water bottles, mints, and other treats.

Stock Your Bathroom

Just as important as having your guest bedroom filled with touches to make your company comfortable, your guest bathroom should have a few indulgences as well.  A fresh hand soap placed by the sink is not only useful, but it will also leave a lingering, clean scent.

I also like to stock the drawer with new toiletries – shampoo, facial cleanser, body lotion, razors, and toothpaste to name a few. Nothing is nicer for your company than to not have to worry about forgotten items. 

Beautiful, monogramed towels with extras placed under the vanity is a personal touch they will enjoy.  Maybe even add a plush bath robe in the closet upon their arrival. 

Dana Wolter Interiors, Graham Yelton Photography

 

I hope you have enjoyed these few tips to make your guests feel special.   If you want to read more, be sure to check out these previous blog posts on last minute entertaining and bedroom design ideas.

As always, we would love to help you create a guest room perfect for your future company.  If you would like to learn more about our services, reach out to us here.   

 

Have a great day,

Dana 

 

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Living Well

5 Things Every Empty Nester Home Needs

With two of my girls in college and my last soon to leave, I am close to being an empty nester.  My house is already feeling a little too big.    

I love my neighbors, my home, and my location in Mountain Brook, AL, but I hate the idea of unused space.  It’s probably not my last house.

My empty nester friends on Facebook shared with me how they are using their home now that their children are out of the house, and the advice and comments were insightful.  

So if you find yourself wondering what you may need from your home when your children are gone, here you go ……

 

5 Things Every Empty Nester Needs In Their Home:

 

 A Comfortable Way To Eat Meals

Many of my empty nester friends mentioned eating more casually.  Some eat by the television, on the screened porch and even in bed.

When we worked on this particular home, my empty-nester clients did not want a breakfast room because they like to eat everyday meals casually around an island.   I wanted them to really enjoy their kitchen and especially their island, so we focused on making the space comfortable and unique. 

Island customized for everyday meals. Dana Wolter Interiors, Graham Yelton Photography

 

 

Custom island with reeded doors. Dana Wolter Interiors

A Bedroom For Children And Guests To Visit  

A comfortable place for your children and guests to sleep are needed in an empty nester home.  Create a hotel feel with fresh towels, toiletries, and even a bottle of water or two.

Rooms Customized To Your Lifestyle   

Life is short and it is meant for living well.  Whether you want a more causal or elegant living, seek  intimate spaces that are specific to you.  

If you have always wanted a large storage closet for your china and silver, build it.  Surround yourself and customize your home to what brings you joy.

And while your space may be smaller, this is a great time to upgrade your finishes and details. Thought out touches add value to your home- and to your life.

 Dual Purpose Rooms  

While you may not have children and grandchildren visit every day, you want them to feel welcome when they do.  If your new home doesn’t allow for enough extra bedrooms, think dual rooms, such as an office or sitting room with a bed or pullout sofa.  

We turned this garage into a playroom because my clients needed extra space for watching tv when all of their grown children are home.   We added an extra long sofa that has a pullout sofa for family visits.

Dana Wolter Interiors, Graham Yelton Photography

Just because you give up square footage when downsizing does not mean you should ever give up entertaining or hosting overnight guests.

A Master On The Main (or an elevator for an upstairs’ bedroom) 

While you may be healthy now,  your forever home may need to transition one day to the latter stages of life.  

What will that mean for you?  It may mean a master on the main, an elevator for upstairs’ access, limited stairs where possible, or a shower and tub that are easy to get in and out.

So here’s to living well in your home and making it unique to you.  Life is about surrounding yourself with people and memories you love and enjoy.

If we can help you create the home of your dreams, email us here.  I’d love to discuss your project with you.

Dana

 

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Living Well

Living Well: 5 Accessories Every Home Should Have

It seems extreme weather makes people want to stay in and nest, and what better way to freshen up your home than with some of my go-to accessories that will add warmth to your space.  

Here are five of my go-to accessories every home should have:

1. A soft, neutral blanket  

We use a lot of throws in our interiors because they instantly create a space that calls your name to sit down and relax.  Besides, who doesn’t like a blanket when curling up with a good book or watching a tv show?

Dana Wolter Interiors, Graham Yelton Photography

 

2. Coffee table books

Books are a great way to add a collected feel to any interior.   I always enjoy looking at the books people display in their home because it usually says something about their interests.

Dana Wolter Interiors, Graham Yelton Photography

 

3. A bowl to catch keys

If I am creating a vignette near a point of entrance, a bowl to catch keys or miscellaneous items is a must. It makes a place for the ‘clutter’ of life look beautiful while serving a purpose. 

Dana Wolter Interiors, Graham Yelton Photography

 

4. Living plants

Flowers, greenery, or branches always add life to any space.  My youngest used to say that flowers around our house made the house seem a little more clean.  Need I say more??

Dana Wolter Interiors, Graham Yelton Photography

 

5. Art

Find art that speaks to you.  Art is a personal experience for everyone so finding pieces that touch and move you is important.

It’s also a great way to pull an interior together, such as how we layered this framed nude sketch against a Louis Philippe mirror. 

Dana Wolter Interiors, Graham Yelton Photography

 

Look around your home as you may have many of these accessories already.  If you’d like to discuss your home and your goals for it with us, we would love to hear from you.  Feel free to contact us here

 

Cheers to cozying up in your home while we anxiously await for the warmer days of spring.   Have a great day,

Dana

 

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Living Well

3.5 Hour Consult- Is this Service For You?

With the new year in full swing and people ready to make changes to their home, I want to remind you of the 3.5 consult service I offer periodically.

While the projects we work on are full-service,  this one-time service is for the client who needs a plan for their home but likes to do the legwork themselves.

It has gone over really well, and clients who have invested in this consult have been surprised over the amount of detail and information that comes with it.  

Matter of fact, I recently ran into a client who hired me for this service for her home a few years ago.  She said she is slowly working through her list as her budget and time allow, but she is LOVING the big changes happening to her home.

Some people have used this service to update their home, and others have used it to select the finishes and paint colors for second homes under construction. 

People have even flown in to meet with me (or driven all night when their flight was canceled) for this consult. 

Let us help you with the details and finishes for your new home, Dana Wolter Interiors

 

Whatever your needs, you have my undivided attention for 3.5 hours to help you accomplish all that we can in this timeframe.

Dana Wolter Interiors

 

Here’s How The 3.5 Hour Consult Works:

I will have you send a list of all you would like to discuss and accomplish during our time together.   We make an appointment, and I will then spend 3.5 hours of uninterrupted time answering any question you can possible think to ask me.  We can discuss design dilemmas, furniture arrangements, fabric direction, paint colors, to knock down a wall or not– you name it!

I give you specifics of what to look for when shopping for your home, and I will take detailed measurements so you won’t have to worry about coming home with the wrong size sofa, ever again.

After our meeting, you will receive a detailed synopsis of what was discussed and a list of all of the suggestions I make for your project.  

This allows you to maximize your time with me while I take notes and write down all the specifics for you to implement at a later date.

This service is a great way to invest in your home by making sure what you are changing and buying is right for the space.  It also allows you the freedom to work on your project as your time and budget allow, all while following professional advice.

If you think this service can help you make your home the place you dream, email us at info@danawolterinteriors.com.   I would love to talk with you.

Cheers to making your home one you love, one step at a time……

Dana

 

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Living Well

Eight Tips For A Fun And Successful Building Process

One of my favorite clients reach out recently; we helped she and her husband build a beautiful home a few years ago and she emailed saying they are looking to build a second home.

I couldn’t help but smile knowing she enjoyed the process and wants to do it again. They put together a great team who worked hard to build a beautiful home, and I thought it might be helpful to share a few pieces of advice so you can do the same.  

 

Tips for making the building process successful: 

1. Put together a talented team 

I can’t stress enough how important it is to hire a builder, designer and architect that are known for what you are trying to achieve.  It isn’t enough to hire who your neighbor used- look at their past work, check their references, and search them online. 

Your team should increase the value of your project while saving your sanity.  Again- they should make your life easier and be good stewards of your money.

 2. Make sure the aesthetic of  your designer and architect appeal to you  

Even creatives with a well-versed portfolio still have a certain look and tendencies (including me).  In the end, you have to feel comfortable in the home.

Just as important, make sure you like their personality and can trust them.  They are going to be dealing with your money and you need to be okay sharing details about how you live.

3.  Wait to break ground on your home until your plans are finished 

Do Not start the building process until the plans are finished.  If you don’t wait, I can promise the demo will go fast but it will come to a screeching halt.  Be prepared as it takes time to draw detailed plans. 

Dana Wolter Interiors
A recent project as it was being built, Dana Wolter Interiors

4.  Quality takes time  

Quality takes time- there is a reason the room with custom cabinetry, draperies and millwork looks so good.   Details customize a home, but they don’t happen overnight or through the internet.   

Cabinet detail in a master bath renovation, Dana Wolter Interiors

Prepare yourself now- there will be a setback somewhere in the building process that will delay the project.  The weather won’t cooperate, you will hit rock when excavating, etc…  

5.  Talk budget early on 

No one enjoys sharing their personal business, but it is important to have a budget in mind or a realistic expectation of what your project will cost.  

Know your building budget (and furnishings’ budget) at the beginning and be realistic about what it can afford you.  

Talk to your builder about the exact finishes the allowances will buy you, and see what is realistic for what you are building.   Also, the more finishes and specifics you can finalize during the bidding process (know exactly the type of countertop you want to use, what line of plumbing fixtures, etc…), the more it will save you with add-ons at the end.

6. Details make a home  

Not all architects, builders and designers are equal and there is a reason everyone doesn’t charge the same.   If detail is important to you, make sure you hire a team where it is important to them.

7. Let your home building team do their job  

You hired your team for a reason, so let them do their job.  If you can’t visualize a detail, trust that they can. This means trusting their judgment over your friend’s, your mom’s, etc….

8. Save enough money to furnish the home and be realistic as to how far that furnishing budget will go  

The last thing you want to do is build a beautiful, brand new home and for it to echo because you are not able to furnish it properly. 

 

Dana Wolter Interiors as seen in Traditional Home

 

I hope these eight tips are helpful and make the building process more enjoyable and fun.   

If you are interested in learning about the design services we can offer you when building, email us at info@danawolterinteriors.com.  We’d love to hear more about your project.

 

Dana

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