Living Well

Living Well: 4 Problems With Your Home And How To Solve Them

With as many homes I am in and out of, I see recurring problems that come from everyday life and living.

I love seeing a home transform from one that’s cluttered, dark, and doesn’t work for a family to one that allows them to Live Well in their home.

And while your definition of Living Well may be different than mine or your neighbors’, I’m giving a few tips to solve some common problem areas.

  1. Clutter:  Organize your home so everything has a place.  Incorporate hidden storage where you can create a visual calm and remember to store alike things together.

If organizing overwhelms you, start by cleaning out a small space, such as the towel drawer in your kitchen.


The hidden door under my stairs allows for all kinds of hidden storage for my family, Dana Wolter Interiors


2.  A room that is a catch-all for stuff because it isn’t being used

 Find a Purpose for every room in your home.  No room should serve as  a “walk-through” or a one that is used once or twice a year.  Once you give the room a function, take a step back and assess the items in it.  Do they bring you joy or are they useful?  If neither, it is time to give them away or throw them out.

This may also mean switching rooms around, or changing how the furniture is arranged in a room.

Take this home below that we worked on recently.   The living room was never used, the family room wasn’t working for the family, so we flipped the two.

Dana Wolter Interiors | Luxury Interior Design
Looking Into The New Family Room, Dana Wolter Interiors, Graham Yelton Photography

Because of where these two rooms are placed in the house, the family now finds themselves using both spaces on a regular basis.


3. Dark, cramped spaces that don’t function well.  

Find a Balance with how your home flows and functions.  To Live Well in your home, it should work hard for everyday living  while easily transitioning to host a party when needed. 

Does the kitchen allow for quality work space?  Is there a place for guests to sit and linger?  If not, it may be time to renovate your kitchen.

We took this outdated, dark, cramped kitchen and made it accommodate today’s living.  By raising the ceiling, taking the sunroom into the kitchen space and adding a wall of hidden storage, we created a kitchen that is functional, bright and works hard for this family.







Dana Wolter Interiors. Photography by Graham Yelton


I also love adding a banquette when I can in a kitchen.  It allows for more seating AND it adds a layer of softness to a room filled with many hard surfaces.

Recent Breakfast Room completed, Dana Wolter Interiors. Graham Yelton Photography


4.  Spaces in your house that don’t feel like home

What makes you smile and brings you joy?  Whether it is a sparse room, layered objects, bright colors, or a wall filled with books, use discernment in adding these touches to your space.   Find ways to add what makes you smile to bring you Warmth and Joy in your house.

Sentimental family photos are added into this new, casual space, Dana Wolter Interiors, Graham Yelton Photography


I hope these tips help you make an honest assessment about your home so you can find ways to add to your quality of life.

If you need help turning your house into one you love, reach out to us here.   We would love to hear from you!

Here’s to Living Well in your home, whatever your definition may be.





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Living Well

A Few Favorite Pins Off Pinterest

Who doesn’t need some inspiration from time to time?


I am always looking for a new color palette or a subtle detail to add into my interiors, and Pinterest has become one of my favorite tools lately.


Not only does it inspire me, but it is a great way to share photos back and forth with my clients.


I encourage all of my clients to join Pinterest so we can collaborate on a board and pin together.  This is a great way to kick off a project and help me find the look that is best for their home.


Here are a few of my favorite pins of late….


This first interior speaks to me.   It could be a room that was installed yesterday, yet it looks like it has evolved over time.   What a great balance between old and new, shiny and matte, smooth and textural.


Eleanor Cummings
Love the mix of elements here. Wood, stone, and mirror against lush fabrics and old, crusty pieces. Beautiful!


The objects in the room below look like they could be pieces from the homeowner’s collection (instead of off a showroom floor), pulled together to form a seating area.  Again, notice the mixture of elements- stained wood, marble, metal, and painted wood.   Very little duplication of pieces of furniture, but enough to allow your eyes to rest.

This seating area blends beautifully together.  I also love how the fabric panels soften that big, gorgeous window without obstructing the view.


Feminine Alabama Home - Susan Ferrier Design - Veranda
Interiors by Susan Ferrier



Are you familiar with Ruard Veltman?  If not, look at his work here.  He is extremely creative and I bet you will find his work as inspiring as I do.   The kitchen below is from one of the homes he designed.

Ruard Veltman Architecture ~ Dutch Colonial ~ sleek


{ knits }
Casual yet chic


Kathleen Clements Design


If you aren’t using Pinterest to organize and collect your thoughts, sign up here. Follow our boards, create your own boards, and discover great things.  After all, can’t we all appreciate a little “eye candy” every once in a while?!


Happy pinning,



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Photo creds:

Pic One: Eleanor Cummings Interior Design

Pic Two: Design by Susan Ferrier

Pic Three: Ruard Veltman Architecture

Pic Four: Emerson Fry

Pic Five: Kathleen Clements Design


Living Well

StyleBlueprint’s June Finds

styelblueprint_danawolterbanquette_may-2013-620x412What an honor to have my custom banquettes featured in StyleBlueprint’s June finds! Custom banquettes,  sofas, and built-ins are a specialty of mine, as they are a great way to create a unique and functional sitting area in a home.  Designed to fit the homeowner’s space and needs, these custom pieces come in an array of fabric options, styles, and sizes.  I would love to work with you to create the perfect real and functional home by adding one of these beautiful custom pieces.

Below are a few of the custom pieces I have designed for clients.  Enjoy!

Perfect way to add extra seating in a bay window! Image Credit: Jean Allshop
Perfect way to add extra seating in a bay window!
Image Credit: Jean Allshop
Dining Room Banquette
Dining Room Banquette
Kitchen Banquette for Family with 2 Boys and 2 Dogs Image Credit: Graham Yelton
Kitchen Banquette for Family with 2 Boys and 2 Dogs
Image Credit: Graham Yelton
Custom Loveseat  Image Credit: Graham Yelton
Custom Loveseat
Image Credit: Graham Yelton


Have a good one!

– Dana


Living Well

Real Homes for Real Life

It’s been a while since I last blogged (September, but who is counting?!).   By the time I work,  take care of my family, complete my volunteer commitments, keep up with social media, and other things that pop up with everyday living,  blogging just seems to fall the wayside.   No excuse, I know, as I am really going to try and do better.

My business has grown quite rapidly over the past few years, and to be honest, I am experiencing a few growing pains.   As I am setting new goals and looking toward the future, I am trying to be honest with myself as to where my strengths- and weaknesses- lie.  Maybe it is because I have a dog and a revolving door with three active, busy children who constantly have friends coming and going, or maybe it is because I grew up one of five children so I am pretty practical, but I think one of the ways my work stands apart is I design for real living.  Yes, that’s right….you can actually live in the pretty homes I design.  Real homes for real life.

Take this home in the Liberty Park section of Vestavia that was recently featured in B-Metro magazine.   With two boys and a dog (a second pup just joined this family btw), the mother was adamant for a home they could entertain AND live in.

Come on in and see for yourself how we gave them just that:

 What began as a builder spec home quickly became their own through new paint and new furnishings.  Custom upholstery, done in lush but forgiving fabrics, can be wiped up with a dishrag.   No worries about spilled milk in this home.

With the exception of the foyer loveseat and the kitchen banquette, notice how all of the fabrics are light?  I tell my clients all the time the durability of a fabric is so much more important than the color of a fabric.  Even with active children and  K9 friends, you can live in a beautiful home with light upholstery.   The key is to choose durable fabrics and finishes, and with today’s options, they are not hard to find.

For more on this home, you can read the article here.   Have a good day, everyone.




Note: Photography courtesy of Graham Yelton

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Living Well

Kitchen Must-Haves

Who doesn’t love a beautiful kitchen?   Throw a little — or a lot — of function in there, and you may possibly end up with your favorite room.

I am working on a kitchen remodel right now, and there are a few must-haves I always try to incorporate.

1. Natural Stone Countertops: To me, there is nothing prettier than an aged piece of marble or limestone.   I love the texture it provides and the fact it has endured many years of the elements.

looks clean but still has texture thanks to the gorgeous marble! (Image from...)

2. Warming Drawer: Okay, not a must have, but I sure do like them.  For a family on the go, it is a wonderful luxury.

3.  Function: Yes, a kitchen can be beautiful, but if it is not functional, what’s the point?   Make sure the flow works well and that there is plenty of good workspace. After all, this may be the most lived-in room in the house, and cooking is so much more enjoyable when everything has its place and is within reach for your next great meal.

beauty + function = perfection (image from...)



4. Soften the hard surfaces: With so many hard surfaces found in a kitchen, try to incorporate ways to soften the room.  Many of you know I love adding banquettes whenever possible, as they are a great way to make a kitchen more functional and unique.

banquette design by Dana Wolter, photographed by Jean Allsopp

Also, wood is a great texture to incorporate against shiny surfaces found in kitchens. Whether on your island, on the ceiling, or as an accent, it whispers “nature” and takes the edge off all those kitchen appliances.

5.  Good lighting: Natural lighting is ideal, but a good kitchen also needs task lighting in all of the right places.  Again, think functional!

6. Make your kitchen a reflection of you: Yes, you can create a beautiful kitchen many different ways, but if it does not look like you or fit your lifestyle, what good is it?   Your home should be your haven, and your kitchen is no exception!

a little piece of heaven! copyright kalamazoo


Living Well

Portfolio Peek!

Below is the home of my client and dear friend.    I am pleased to announce some of these photos recently appeared, much to my delight, in the March 2011 issue of  Birmingham Home and Garden.  A big thanks to Jean Allsopp Photography for allowing me to post!

I had so much fun designing this house, and I think it shows — enjoy the peek!

functional and sleek kitchen
breakfast nook
child-friendly family room


close up look


master bedroom
does it get any cozier than this?

Living Well

How Layering Takes a Room From Drab to Fab

In my previous blog, “From Blah to Beautiful in a Few Easy Steps,” I mentioned the importance of layering a space and softening the hard surfaces in a home.   The last thing you want is for your home to look like it was bought off of a showroom floor, and layering prevents this by creating a sophisticated, collected look.

Windows are everywhere in our homes, and for good reason — they let in natural light! When windows need to be softened,  curtains are a beautiful and easy fix.

Take a peek at this design from one of my favorites, Susan Ferrier:

brilliant use of fabric (from

She actually uses the curtain as a “wall” and wow!  These panels soften the room’s hard corners while providing depth, dimension, and character.  Notice the layered cowhide on top of the rug as well.

I will always sing the praises of  banquettes and built-ins, as I cannot help it.  I just love them!  The high back on this custom seating I designed for a client’s foyer is an eye catcher and sets the tone for the rest of the home.

come in and stay for a bit!
another client's kitchen. photo courtesy of jean allsopp and puppy courtesy of homeowner.
great balance here! (from pinterest — materialgirlsblog)

Notice how this banquette softens the stairwell and hardwood floor?  They also receive bonus points for their practicality by allowing for more people to sit around a table.

Here’s a nice example of layering with custom seating AND drapes.  Accessorizing with pillows is also a must!

Mixing the old with the new is a great way to create a room that looks like it has evolved over time, even if it was installed in one day.  In this TV segment from Daytime Alabama, I provide ways to mix the two.

Look what the talented Vincente Wolf created in this room.  He pulled up uber-modern chairs to a table made to look old, and it’s amazing!

old and new = divine

To sum up, here is a picture of where old and new, soft and hard, come into interior design harmony bliss:

the home of designer Fiona Weeks

Living Well

Top Five Faves Of My Home

What do you love about your home?   Is it your large closet, your heirloom pieces, or even your garage? I posted this question on my Facebook page, and it was interesting to see all of the diverse answers from my friends.

When I began planning the layout of my new home six years ago, I had a very clear idea of what I wanted…..Tall ceilings, character and personality so my home did not look so “new,” gathering spaces for friends and family, and easy transitions from room to room.

Working as a designer, I see some pretty incredible spaces.   Yet, when I think of my own home,  there are simple features I have grown to not only appreciate but to absolutely love!

Here are my TOP FIVE FAVORITE things about my own home:

1.  Built – Ins. Whether you choose to build in a banquette, a bookshelf, or window seating, built-ins give a space weight, texture, and above all, personality.  Whenever possible, I love incorporating custom sofas and banquettes into my clients’ homes.  Here are some examples from my own.

the banquette in my kitchen


this built-in bench adds so much to this bedroom
a serene space for those times when I need it!
a built-in sofa in my foyer is a great use of space


2.  Hidden Storage. My mother laughs when she comes to our house and finds several pairs of flip flops on the stair landing.  Yes, we do live in our house.  I wanted to incorporate a few places in my home where we “hide” our everydayness by creating spaces that we are able to close off.  Everything has a place, and it’s out of eyesight so tidiness comes easily (most of the time).  A desk area behind a closed door in each of my children’s bedrooms serves this purpose perfectly.  This way, their papers and schoolwork stay out of the way, and their rooms tend to remain neater and more organized.

shut the doors, bye-bye desk!

Here is a picture of my foyer where there is hidden storage under the stairs.  If you look closely, you will see that the paneled wall has a built-in jib door.

surprise! there is hidden storage under the staircase



camouflaged door beneath the stairs

3.  Light. Big windows mean big light.  I love the feel of sunlight flooding into a space.  When designing a room, it is important to look at its function as well as the type of light it receives.  For daytime, there is no better lighting than natural.

Large windows also “let the outside in” and give a feeling of spaciousness in the right setting.   See how this window allows light into the space and accentuates it?

4.  My Warming Drawer.  I know, I know – it’s odd to love a warming drawer, but with a family-on-the-go, it has become the appliance we cannot live without.  While I try to have all of us sitting down and eating together, it is not always conducive with everyone’s schedule.  It has saved time, energy, meals, and well, my sanity, as a result.

5.  My Family. Design and decorating go a long way, as a pretty home is a wonderful place to lay one’s head at night.  Yet, as I look around mine, it would mean nothing without the people that inhabit it – my husband, three daughters, and my Yorkie-Poo.   It’s the fun times we have using and enjoying the built-ins, hidden storage and yes, warming drawers, that put these items on my list of favorites.  After all, as the author, Lois McMaster Bujold, once said, “My home is not a place, it is people.”

The Wolters!