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.
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.
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.
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.
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.