MEET ETHAN ALLEN DESIGN STAR DIANE HILL

Our designers are among the best in the business—and we’re always on the lookout for the best among them. When we discover a gifted designer—like Diane Hill from our Sandy, Utah, Design Center—who represents the essence of Ethan Allen, we know we’ve found our latest Design Star! Meet Diane in this exclusive interior designer interview. Find out what inspires her, what projects are her favorites, and what she brings to the design table. Take a peek into the life of an interior designer who truly loves her work—and makes beautiful homes happen every day.

Tell us a little about yourself:
I grew up in Ontario near the Great Lakes, in a small town called Corunna. I now live with my husband, Jon, in West Valley City, Utah. We’ve been married for 41 years and have five children; we will have ten grandchildren in October—two girls and eight boys. I enjoy reading historical novels, gardening, sewing, and building birdhouses. I enjoy listening to a variety of music, including gospel, classical, and soft rock.

Professional experience.
I studied interior design at Brigham Young University and have worked in the design field for more than 30 years, including doing home sales and kitchen design. For many years I was an independent designer and Hunter Douglas dealer, doing space planning, full design, and window treatments. I also worked for a tile showroom before coming to EA. I am a member of ASID and BNI, a networking organization.

What has contributed to your success as an EA designer?
The sales training I’ve had over the years has definitely contributed to my success. Because I’ve held a variety of jobs, I’ve learned about a wide range of design products, including fabrics, tile, carpeting, flooring, lighting, and more.

What do you want your clients to know about you?
I want them to know that I design for them, not for a look that I want in their home. I’d like them to know about my educational and professional background, but mostly how I love to create a place they want to come home to.

How would you describe the style/décor of your home?
I have an eclectic home, with a variety of traditional and transitional pieces, along with a collection of old books and artifacts. It’s a comfortable, sophisticated cottage.

What is your favorite aspect of the job? Why?
I enjoy discovering what clients like and what makes them feel comfortable. And I love solving difficult space and color challenges.

What is your favorite Ethan Allen piece? Why?
The Arcata sofa is my favorite piece because of its versatility. It has nice, clean lines and lends itself to traditional, transitional, or contemporary styles.

What does every room need? Why?
Every room needs accessories; they’re the icing on the cake. Without them, a room looks unfinished.

Tell us about a favorite Ethan Allen project:
The client was a widow in her mid-70s who hadn’t made any changes to her condo or furniture since the 1980s. We did three rooms from top to bottom—including paint, flooring, and countertops. At delivery, it was like Christmas; she was surprised at how everything worked together. She’d wanted her home to be restful and beautiful, and to reflect her taste. In the end it was exactly the calm, pretty condo she envisioned.

What’s your all-time favorite design tip?
When choosing paint, choose three colors and paint each color on three pieces of foam board that’s at least the size of a sheet of notebook paper. Place the nine boards in different areas of a room to see how the light affects them and how they change color over the course of a day. Live with them for at least a week before you decide.

See more of Diane’s work on Houzz: houzz.com/pro/dhill64. To see more beautiful rooms by designers like Diane, subscribe to The Art of Making Home.


Meet Ethan Allen Design Star FRAN KROLL

Our designers are among the best in the business—and we’re always on the lookout for the best among them. When we discover a gifted designer—like Fran Kroll—who represents the essence of Ethan Allen, we know we’ve found our latest Design Star! Meet Fran in this exclusive interior designer interview. Find out what inspires her, what projects are her favorites, and what she brings to the design table. Take a peek into the life of an interior designer who truly loves her work—and makes beautiful homes happen every day.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I was born in Brazil. I moved to Massachusetts when I was a teenager and fell in love with the American lifestyle. I have lived in a small town a half hour outside of Boston for almost fifteen years now. I have been married for ten years and we have a three-year-old who’s my joy in life.

I love organizing! I enjoy giving away stuff and making everything neat and spacious. I love travel, architecture, and visiting art museums. My home style is classic and timeless. I try to be smart with my purchases, buying things that won’t go out of style quickly. I like clean, straight lines, soothing neutrals, and multifunctional pieces.

Professional experience:

When I first started thinking about a professional career, I had no doubt that either an architecture degree or interior design degree would take me to my happy place. I’m creative and have always found myself helping friends decorate. I started with a two-year interior design degree at a local community college and found my passion.

I understand the importance of organization, education, and commitment to my work. Because I’m from Brazil (and of German descent), I’m fluent in three languages—and I believe that has contributed to my success. My very first client didn’t speak English and I helped her furnish most of her home here.  When I travel and see interior design styles in other countries, it inspires me to be more open and creative in my design work.

What is your favorite aspect of the job? Why?

I love seeing the end result. Nothing is more rewarding than hearing that a space is everything your client dreamed of—and more.

What questions do you ask a new client?

I like to walk through the Design Center with the client and see how they react to certain styles or pieces. I usually ask about the activities that take place in a space. It’s important to me to make a room beautiful, but also functional and relevant to a client’s everyday life. A home visit is really the best way for me to understand them.

What do you want clients to know about you?

Listening to my clients is my most valuable skill. Listening ensures that we’ll create a space that that belongs to them and them alone.

What is your favorite Ethan Allen piece? Why?

I love the clean lines of our Emerson sofa and chair. They’re easy to work with and go with almost any style.

What does every room need?

Details, details, and details! Accents, lamps, pillows, rugs, artwork. Without them a space never looks complete.

Tell us about a favorite Ethan Allen project.

Last winter I had the pleasure of meeting a client who initially came in for a floral arrangement for her kitchen nook. We ended up doing seat cushions, pillows, and a Roman shade for the space.

As she got more comfortable with me and the design process, we moved onto larger, more complex spaces, including the foyer and family room. I learned that sometimes a client just needs time to get used to the process. It’s not necessarily about money; it’s about trust.

I loved the way the project came together, but mostly I loved seeing how happy it made my client. At the final delivery she told me, “You nailed it!”

What’s your all-time favorite design tip?

“Less is more.” Too many objects will make a space look cluttered, so when choosing accessories, start with just a few. Always give the eye a place to rest.

 

You can check out more of Fran’s work on social media:

https://www.instagram.com/fran.krolldesign/

https://www.houzz.com/pro/fran-kroll99/__public

And to see more beautiful rooms by designers like Fran Kroll, subscribe to The Art of Making Home.


Our designers are among the best in the business—and we’re always on the lookout for the best among them. When we discover a gifted designer—like Sherri Rossland—who represents the essence of Ethan Allen, we know we’ve found our latest Design Star! Meet Sherri in this exclusive interior designer interview. Find out what inspires her, what projects are her favorites, and what she brings to the design table. Take a peek into the life of an interior designer who truly loves her work—and makes beautiful homes happen every day.

Background

Sherri is a design consultant at the Ethan Allen Design Center in Garden City, New York; she’s been with the company for 13 years. A resident of Long Island, Sherri studied interior design at the Metropolitan Institute of Interior Design in Syosset, New York. With a lifelong interest in history and travel, she’s fortunate to have traveled extensively, giving her the opportunity to learn about different cultures.

What is the one thing you’d like our readers to know about you, the designer?

Personal connections create relationships. I strive for long-lasting relationships with my clients that begin with the design process. I’m also inspired by the bond that exists between our homes and our emotions—and the role that psychology plays in creating a meaningful space. My portfolio includes a wide variety of design styles, but my approach to interiors has an emphasis on simplicity with traditional details.

What is your favorite design tip:

Be sure you connect with your space; how your home makes you feel is as important as how it looks.

Complete this sentence: Every room needs….

Details—and by that I don’t mean the little things you do at the end as an afterthought. Details should be part of the overall concept because they truly do complete a space.

What Ethan Allen piece is your favorite:

I love a lot of our new pieces; they’re elegant with a touch of glamour.

If you could do any project, anywhere, on any budget, what would it be?

I aim for serenity, peace, and comfort in addition to aesthetics whenever I design a space. I love the calmness of water, so my dream project would be a waterfront home with a soft, monochromatic palette and a relaxed look. The simplicity of clean lines and textures would add elegance.

Tell us about your favorite Ethan Allen project:

In September 2017 I was responsible for designing three rooms in a new home in a prestigious area on the North Shore of Long Island. I wanted the interior of this home to reflect a lifestyle of luxury and elegance. I wed transitional style with a twist of modern—and added a lot of warmth. Form and function were interconnected; a beautiful, monochromatic palette provided tranquility. I defined the rooms and created contrast by introducing bold, generously scaled accents and artwork.

Find more of Sherri’s work on Instagram @sherrirossland. To see more beautiful rooms by designers like Sherri, subscribe to The Art of Making Home.


Our designers are among the best in the business—and we’re always on the lookout for the best among them. When we discover a gifted designer—like Daniel Bauer—who represents the essence of Ethan Allen, we know we’ve found our latest Design Star! Meet Dan in this exclusive interior designer interview. Find out what inspires him, what projects are his favorites, and what he brings to the design table. Take a peek into the life of an interior designer who truly loves his work—and makes beautiful homes happen every day.

Background
Dan is a senior design consultant at the Ethan Allen Design Center in Woodbury, Minnesota. He has a BFA from the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire, and a master’s degree in Textiles and Design from the University of Wisconsin at Stout. He’s earned a number of accolades during his 30+ years with Ethan Allen, including the Circle of Excellence, Gold Spirit, and Diamond Spirit awards.

Tell us a little about yourself.
I was born in Mondovi, Wisconsin, and grew up on a farm in nearby Strum, where I was one of six children. I served in the United States Air Force and was stationed in Massachusetts and Nebraska as a graphic illustrator. I met my wife, Faith, in graduate school, and we moved to St. Paul, Minnesota, eventually settling in Woodbury. We have two children and three beautiful granddaughters whom I adore. I love to travel, both in the U.S. and abroad; I’ve been to Spain, Switzerland, and Peru where I even took a zipline down a mountain! I have many hobbies, but my favorite is my weekly drawing session with a supportive group called “The Old Town Artists of St. Paul.”

What is the one thing that defines you as a designer?
I am known for not holding back, for telling it like it is with clients. I believe you need to be as honest as possible to set realistic expectations and help them understand where your vision is going.

What is your favorite design tip?
Take a photo of the room you’re furnishing and bring it with you when you meet with your designer. It’s easy to lose your objectivity when living in a space. A photo allows us to see a room with a new eye and from a different perspective. Often, we can pinpoint exactly what’s needed.

What Ethan Allen piece is your favorite?
I love our Anderson sofa. It combines the best of classic design with high style.

Complete this sentence. Every room needs …
Something, even if it is just one piece, that gives it the personality of the homeowner. It’s similar to the way in which one thing—a piece of accent jewelry, a scarf, or a tie—can define the way you dress. Find that piece of art that is meaningful, or the color inspires you, to make every room a reflection of you.

If you could do any project, anywhere, on any budget, what would it be?
I would like to do a European villa that overlooks the Mediterranean!

Tell us about your favorite Ethan Allen project.
I had one special client who gave me the privilege of designing a home here, a new home in Arizona, and a summer home in Duluth, Minnesota—all within a couple of years. To me, it’s the client that makes the project. When you have a great connection with them and you have their trust, then you love the project. It’s that simple.

Find more of Dan’s work on Houzz (https://www.houzz.com/pro/dbauer36/dan-bauer-ethan-allen-woodbury). To see more beautiful rooms by designers like Dan, subscribe to The Art of Making Home.


Meet Ethan Allen Design Star Chris Nguyen

Our designers are among the best in the business—and we’re always on the lookout for the best among them. When we discover a gifted designer—like Chris Nguyen—who represents the essence of Ethan Allen, we know we’ve found our latest Design Star! Meet Chris in this exclusive interior designer interview. He has been with our Rockville, Maryland Design Center for three years. Find out what inspires him, what projects are his favorites, and what he brings to the design table. Take a peek into the life of an interior designer who truly loves his work—and makes beautiful homes happen every day.

Tell us a little about yourself.
I grew up in Frederick, Maryland—my mother is Salvadoran and my father is Vietnamese—and moved to the Rockville area after high school. I studied studio art at the University of Maryland. I live with my fiancé, son, and pet Lacie. I like to paint in my free time, and other than my passion for art and design, I love dancing! I used to be a competitive ballroom dancer, and I still try to dance at least once a month.

What’s the one thing you’d like our readers to know about you, the designer?
It means a lot when clients put their trust in me and allow me to bring new life to their homes. I love seeing the smiles on their faces when they’re happy with the result.

What is your favorite design tip?
Be bold! No matter how small or seemingly unimportant, a room should always make a statement!

What Ethan Allen piece is your favorite?
I love the Parker chair. It has character—and clean, sharp lines that can really steal the show.

Complete this sentence: Every room needs …
An opportunity to become an enchanting space that evokes passion and creativity!

If you could do any project, anywhere, on any budget, what would it be?
After my own home, I would want to design a grand place that all the world would see and appreciate—something like Buckingham Palace or the Palace of Versailles!

Tell us about your favorite Ethan Allen project.
It was a project I worked on from the ground up. My client was downsizing and wanted a fresh start, so she allowed me to completely reinvent her space. We designed the entire home with Ethan Allen, and she was very pleased. In fact, we became great friends.

 

 

Find more of Chris’s work on Instagram ( chris_nguyen_designs ) and Houzz (https://www.houzz.com/pro/cnguyenea/chris-nguyen-of-ethan-allen-rockville). To see more beautiful rooms by designers like Chris, subscribe to The Art of Making Home.


Famous Instagram Dogs: Meet Oliver!

In February, we introduced Design Star Nikki Brouillette and mentioned that in addition to designing, cooking, and crocheting, she is the proud caretaker of one of the world’s most famous Instagram dogs: Oliver in Charge (@oliver_in_charge). With a community of over 15,600 followers, it’s fair to say he’s about the most famous shih tzu Instagram has ever seen—and even if he’s not the most famous, we definitely think he’s the most adorable!

In honor of National Pet Month, we sat down with Oliver and Nikki for this exclusive interview. We’d like to thank Oliver for being so generous with his time, and we thank Nikki for translating our questions into dog language (and translating Oliver’s answers to human!).

Tell us about when Nikki adopted you.

I was born on March 25, 2008, and lived with my breeder for three months before Nikki adopted me. She saw me running back and forth, took one look at me, and immediately said, “You look like an Oliver!” We’ve been together ever since.

How did you end up on Instagram?

My mom, Nikki (@eadesignernikki), started following some other dogs on Instagram. She decided I was just as cute as they were, so she encouraged me to create my own account in May 2016. We love interacting with my followers and meeting other pets and their people online. One time, Nikki posted a video of me sitting on my back paws, begging for a cookie (I LOVE cookies!), and the video got over 30,000 views!

Since your mom is an Ethan Allen Design Star, we have to ask: What’s your favorite piece of Ethan Allen furniture?

Visiting Nikki’s Design Center in San Marcos is so much fun. I love to check out all the new furniture. My absolute favorite piece is our Dylan slipcovered sofa. I love to roll around on it, rub my face on it, and take naps on it, too. Nikki loves it because the slipcovers are stain protected and double-stitched for extra durability, which makes it really pet friendly. Plus, a lot of Ethan Allen pillows can be made with high-performance fabrics for additional pet-proofing.

 

What do you and Nikki like doing together?

In addition to hanging out at home, making friends on Instagram, and helping out at Ethan Allen, we like to make a positive difference in our community. I was featured by ABC 7, a local TV station in Los Angeles, to help share the news when Governor Jerry Brown signed an important bill allowing people to break car windows when they spot pets in a hot car and there’s no other way to rescue them.

We’re not always serious; another thing we LOVE is spa day. I live in Southern California, so I need to look as fabulous as possible. I love to relax while I get washed and trimmed by my groomer @nikkibrillhart. There are usually cookies involved, too!

So cookies are your favorite treats? And do you have any favorite toys?

Cookies ARE my favorite treats—paws down. If you give me a cookie, I am your new best friend.

As far as toys go, I love plushies of all kinds, from stuffed animals to plush food (I have a pizza slice and a pineapple!). I love it when Nikki tosses them and I fetch them. It’s great exercise, especially when the plushy is bigger than I am—I love a challenge!

We know Nikki is a friend to you; she’s helped you become one of the world’s most famous Instagram dogs. How do you support Nikki in return?

Besides hanging out at home, spending time at Ethan Allen, and having awesome adventures to share with my fans, I do my best to be a good friend to Nikki when she’s going through tough times. When Nikki’s mom passed away, I made sure that I ran to greet her as soon as she came home, and I gave her lots of snuggles and kisses so she would know she was loved. I chased my plushies, begged for cookies, and asked her to take me on walks and car rides—anything I could to make her feel better when she was sad. She’s my best friend, forever and always. I’m so glad she’s my human.

For the Pet in Your Life

Even pets that aren’t famous Instagram dogs  are important members of the family. Subscribe to our blog this month for tips on pet-friendly design, pet-friendly products for your home—and adorable pet portraits!

COMING SOON: @Oliver_in_Charge is taking over Ethan Allen’s Instagram account (@ethanallen) on May 11! Join the fun with Oliver—and be sure to follow us for gorgeous design and inspiration images. We love to see and share what you post, so make sure to

  • Tag your pet images with #EthanAllenPets
  • Tag your design images with #EthanAllenDesign

 


Meet Ethan Allen Design Star Kate Marchesini

Background

Kate Marchesini got a job in advertising right out of college—as an art director on Madison Avenue, no less. She worked her way up to VP, but after more than a few demanding years, she veered off the ad path into the world of interior design, where she’s stayed ever since. Over the years, Kate has worked as a freelancer, an Ethan Allen designer, and a stay-at-home mom. In 1998, she started her own design firm with her husband, and in 2011, she returned to the EA family as a designer in our Somerville, New Jersey, Design Center.

Home life

Kate lives with her husband, Charles, outside of Frenchtown, New Jersey, near the Delaware River in an older home they restored themselves. Fun fact: The couple’s first design project was also one of their own homes, a 1765 Dutch farmhouse on the National Register of Historic Places. Their award-winning restoration was based on plans they found at the Library of Congress.

The couple has always been passionate about architecture and design, so Kate says they spend their free time visiting historic structures and “shopping for anything that feeds our passion.” She also enjoys drawing, painting, and gardening.

EA: You’re an artist. What part does art play both in and out of work?

KM: On the job I use my art to illustrate how a room will look. Sometimes the old cliché of a picture being worth a thousand words absolutely applies. A drawing can help distinguish details and colors, fabrics, and the scale of pieces you can’t understand from a floor plan. Even a computer-generated image doesn’t do what a drawing can do.

Outside of work, I use my art all the time to help explain things—whether it’s to show a contractor how a piece of molding joins another, or how I want the fabric to drape on a dress.

EA: What is your favorite Ethan Allen project?

KM: I’ve done a lot of fun projects, but there’s one that stands out. It was in an older home that had built-in bookcases and wonderful woodwork—and purple walls that the clients wanted to keep! There was also black and white geometric wallpaper inside the bookcases, which made quite a statement. They liked the unexpected color, but wanted to put their own spin on it.

We achieved this by choosing classic pieces: our Shelton sofa in a solid taupe fabric, and the Zachary mirrored coffee table. We replaced the wallpaper with a pearlized pattern to soften the look of the bookcases and we put lots of contemporary glass and crystal inside. The result was better than they imagined. We became friends and have since worked on other projects together. You know you’ve done a good job when a client comes back for more!

EA: Which Ethan Allen item do you covet?

KM: My favorite piece is our shapely Donatella console table. I can put that anywhere for an instant “wow” factor.

EA: What is your favorite design tip?

KM: Think of your sofa as background music. Always choose a versatile, neutral fabric that you can live with, and use accents to change up the mood or tempo of the room. You can create a fresh, new look by simply switching out your pillows!

EA: Complete this sentence: Every room needs …

KM: A single focal point—something that draws your eye in, and is more important than everything else in the room.

EA: What is the color you can’t live without, and why?

KM: Black is my go-to color whenever I need a little drama. Hang a white mirror on a black wall, or choose black pillows when you can’t (or don’t want to) match the color in a rug. I like to put black picture frames around old artwork for an instant lift.

EA: If you could do any project, anywhere, on any budget, what would it be?

KM: I would love to design an Italian villa on a canal in Venice. It would be my dream to work with ancient pigmented walls, patinaed with age—even while infusing the space with a fresh dose of contemporary design. Visiting the city wouldn’t be so bad either.

EA: Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about you?

KM: I design because I love to create with the end result in mind. I can picture a finished room down to the last candlestick. It’s very rewarding for me to see pieces being added as excitement builds and a project comes to life.

Find more of Kate Marchesini’s work on Houzz. To see more beautiful rooms by designers like Kate, subscribe to The Art of Making Home.

 


Meet Ethan Allen Design Star Paul Shaw

To say that Design Star Paul Shaw is colorful is an understatement. Paul is, first and foremost, an artist. He sketches and paints and finds inspiration everywhere—from the foothills of Appalachia, where he grew up; to France, Italy, and Ecuador, where he had the good fortune to study art. We’re fortunate to call him one of our own; Paul has been with Ethan Allen for six years.  He currently manages our Metairie Design Center in greater New Orleans, where we caught up with him for our latest interior designer interview.

Paul has come a long way since “roaming Appalachia” as a child, “anchoring tents amid the pines and seasonally taking up residence in old farmhouses.” On the bright side, he says: “My childhood instilled in me a deep reverence for nature and our interdependence. It also fostered an imagination that took me all the way to the Sorbonne, where I studied for seven months.”

Having called New Orleans home (off and on) for many years, Paul describes the city’s allure with affection: “She’s a charmer, offering up Creole cuisine, violet sunsets, and music that floats across the Mississippi,” he says. He says he feels comfortable there “because the culture is robust and provides artists like me an amp to plug into.”

Along with degrees in art history and French, Paul has ten years’ experience in the design industry, including stints in visual merchandising and floral design. He really feels as though he’s found his calling. “Whether by art or design, I believe beauty is inherent in everything and my vocation exists to reveal it,” he says. “We work every day to build the life of our dreams and sometimes we are surprised to discover we are living it!”

Paul loves to wax lyrical about his life, his work, and the importance of art in the home—and we’re happy to quote him on it!

What’s the one thing you’d like our readers to know about you?

Design should be felt as much as it is seen. My aim is to create spaces that tangibly impact the way you feel. If you want to feel vibrant, we will create energy with color and movement. Conversely, tonal solids and subtle textures inspire calm.

What is your favorite design tip?

Scale is queen! The right proportion will make or break a design. I often demonstrate this with a quick sketch. It provides a instant lesson on maximizing space, creating pleasing proportions, and investing both time and money wisely.

What Ethan Allen piece is your favorite?

The Nikita console. She has universal appeal. Dark, lacquered, and dramatic, she is always ready to anchor a large canvas or add a graceful, architectural curve to a focal wall. She and I are definitely in a long-term relationship.

Complete this sentence: Every room needs …

Art. It is completely subjective and personal. It’s a reflection of our lives and a unique way to express our point of view. When I talk to clients about art, I do so respectfully. As an artist myself, I strive to impart the many ways in which art can impact a space—from creating balance to enhancing mood.

If you could do any project, anywhere, on any budget, what would it be?

I would focus my attention on rooftops! Living in an urban environment, I am always finding ways to bring the outside in. I would love to be involved in a city project to build rooftop gardens and outdoor living spaces. Pergolas, trailing vines, Moroccan poufs, and yes, chandeliers!

Tell us about your favorite Ethan Allen project.

I have a favorite scenario in which a client says to me: “Show us what you would do.” When I get the opportunity to answer that call, I pour my heart and soul into it. I strive for design that will endure and energetically suit the people who live with it. So far, no disappointments.

 

Find more of Paul Shaw’s work on Instagram @paul.shaw_ea, and on Houzz, https://www.houzz.com/pro/paulshawart/paul-shaw-ethan-allen-nola. To see more beautiful rooms by designers like Paul, subscribe to The Art of Making Home.

 


Meet Ethan Allen Design Star Edyta Szlezak

Edyta Szlezak is being honored this month as our latest Design Star—in time for her five-year anniversary at Ethan Allen! Edyta earned a bachelor’s degree in interior design from Harrington College of Design in Chicago in 2012, and soon after went to work in our Design Center in Schaumburg, Illinois.

Edyta was born in Poland and moved with her family to Chicago when she was a teenager.  Fitting in wasn’t always easy, she says, and because she spoke no English, making new friends was a challenge. “I had to grow a backbone very quickly and adjust to a new culture and a new life,” she remembers.

Over the years Edyta adjusted quite nicely, made friends—and found her niche. She loves her work as an EA designer and today is as fluent in design as she is in English (style-savvy, too).

She makes her home in a newly renovated house on a wooded lot in Barrington, just north of Schaumburg. “I love that my daughters can catch toads and go swimming in a nearby lake,” she says. Like her, they’re creative. “They sew pillows and cushions out of discontinued fabric samples I bring from work,” she says. Edyta enjoys painting and drawing in her free time. “I have always had a good eye for color, and expressing my creativity is a perfect way for me to relax,” she says.

Edyta took some time to chat with us recently, sharing her thoughts on design and the work she does so well.

What is your favorite Ethan Allen project?
I worked on a renovation of a 12,000-square-foot house, handling everything from furniture selection and window treatments to accessories and bedding. From the beginning, I established a very close working relationship with my clients, who had just purchased the home. Because the effort was so collaborative, I was able to help them design a home that truly reflected their lifestyle and personal taste. Managing a project of this scope was a great way of challenging myself and it was a great experience from start to finish!

What Ethan Allen item is your favorite?
There are so many Ethan Allen items that I just love and it’s hard to choose only one … but I would have to say the Turner swivel chair is my favorite.  It’s my go-to spot when I’m looking for comfort, time to meditate, or get creative. It’s just perfect for everything—from working on a laptop to simply relaxing.

What is your favorite design tip?
I like to start with a favorite item and build on it. It could be a pillow with brilliant colors, a piece of art, sculpture, or an inspiration that I found online or in a magazine. If you start with one thing and go from there, most ideas will develop naturally, cohesively, with a sense of style.

What is the color you can’t live without, and why?
Some people say black is not a color, but no matter: I simply can’t live without it. Black adds instant sophistication and makes a statement, whether it’s an accent in a room or a piece in your wardrobe! It’s a bold color that can define a space. I also love the high-contrast combination of black and white, a simple and classic palette that never goes out of style.

If you could do any project, anywhere, on any budget, what would it be?
I love big changes, so I’d like to take a space from appealing to unexpectedly beautiful. I’m good at uncovering potential. I love to mix different textures with patterns and tone-on-tone colors. Starting with a neutral palette, I’d add accent colors and a lot of eclectic items for visual interest. My dream project would be to use these strategies and turn a very traditional space into a modern classic!

Find more of Edyta Szlezak’s work on Instagram @edytak45 and Houzz at houzz.com/pro/eszlezak. To see more beautiful rooms by designers like Edyta, subscribe to The Art of Making Home.


Meet Design Star Colleen Gahry-Robb

Colleen Gahry-Robb is homegrown—in the best possible way. She’s lived in Michigan nearly her whole life and she joined the Ethan Allen family fresh out of college—seventeen years ago. Colleen, who works in our Design Center in Auburn Hills, Michigan, is our latest Ethan Allen Design Star. She has been an Ethan Allen Gold or Diamond Spirit award winner for the last five years, and a Best of Houzz winner since 2015. When Colleen’s not designing, she enjoys golfing, biking, dining out, and traveling. She lives with her husband of fifteen years, Craig, and their two cats, Pete and Lucy. Recently Colleen shared some of her thoughts on design, and walked us through a whole-house project she completed for a pair of empty nesters.

What’s the one thing you’d like our readers to know about you?

I believe creating a beautiful, comfortable home shouldn’t be overwhelming, but rather fun and exciting. The most important skill any designer can bring to a project is the ability to listen, successfully transforming ideas into reality.

What is your favorite design tip?

Choose things because you love them, not because they are in style. If you stay true to who you are, then your choices will continue to reflect your personality regardless of what everyone else is doing. Keep things simple, choose a single piece that you love, and build a room around it.

What Ethan Allen piece is your favorite?

I’m currently loving the Dynasty coffee table. I love the Asian-inspired design and the variety of distressed finish options.

Complete this sentence: Every room needs …

A focal point! It’s the first thing you (should) notice you walk into a room. It could be anything: a favorite piece, a fireplace, a fabulous view.

What is the color you can’t live without, and why?

Definitely black! Black can be elegant, sophisticated and edgy—and it goes with everything.

If you could do any project, anywhere, on any budget, what would it be?

Having experienced my share of Michigan’s long and gloomy winters, I think nothing is more beautiful and serene than the beach. Decorating a beachfront home in Florida would be my dream come true! From natural elements and weathered textures like driftwood, seashells, and sunwashed finishes, I’d find it very easy to be inspired by the relaxing vibe of such a beautiful place.

Tell us about the soup-to-nuts project you completed in June.

My clients found me on Houzz; they were in the process of renovating a two-year-old home and wanted a designer to help them furnish it from top to bottom—including every accent. We talked until I had a good understanding of the styles they liked and how they wanted to live in the home. The palette and style were inspired by the newly designed kitchen, which has white cabinets, gray walls, dark floors, and gray quartz countertops. They gave me a lot of design freedom, and it really helped that they were quick decision-makers; we had everything selected—including window treatments, custom area rugs, and lighting—within a month. I paid close attention to sight lines when it came to placing art and accessories. The result is a great flow from room to room.

MASTER BEDROOM
Because “you start and end each day in the bedroom,” Colleen chose the calming and beautiful Beau bed, with its seductive French curves, as the inspiration for the clients’ serene master bedroom. A soft mineral blue, gray, cream, and taupe palette gave the space a sophisticated look.

DINING ROOM
Inspired by the entertaining potential of such a beautiful dining room, Colleen decided on the show-stopping—and oh, so, comfortable—Larkin host chairs, with their short wings and lovely architectural lines.

DEN
A soft palette of grays and ivory creates an ideal neutral and calming work environment. With its dramatic fretwork, the Dynasty desk adds modern notes to the space.

GREAT ROOM
An ideal conversation space, the great room’s casual vibe was created by layering an array of textures and natural elements. And it’s not just pretty to look at; its inviting comfort comes from plush seating, pillows, and a versatile accent table.

Find more of Colleen Gahry-Robb’s work on Instagram @colleengahry.interiordesigner and on Houzz www.houzz.com/pro/gahry. To see more beautiful rooms by designers like Colleen, subscribe to The Art of Making Home.