Vinyl record cabinet

Beauty sets the tone for your home; function lets you live fully within it.



Vinyl is back and it’s not going anywhere soon! To display your record collection, you’ll need to pay careful attention to the dimensions of your furniture so that it all fits. Vinyl requires a 12”h x 12”d clear space at minimum, and should be stored vertically, not stacked horizontally. Whether your records are out in the open or behind a cabinet door, they should be treated and stored like the treasure they are. This cabinet that we carry at Dwell is one of our favorites for storing a decent sized collection with 56 linear inches of storage!

Vinyl record cabinet

Wine and Spirits

Now is a great time to transform your entertaining from basic to extra. We are seeing so many cute and stylish bar cabinets to give your libations a proper home. Set up your home bar strategically, with perfectly sized cabinets for liquor and wine, components for hanging barware, shelves and drawers for mixers and garnishes, and even some open shelving below for game storage.

Artisan Accessories and Memorabilia

The key to spring organization is not simply to purge, but also to edit. Your decor that is meaningful to you can find its place on specialized shelves that are made just for this purpose. Look for units with asymmetrical shelving heights and various sized openings. This will allow you to create different ways to personalize your displays. While arranging, consider design elements like balance, variety, alignment, hierarchy, rhythm, contrast, and color to suit your style.

Artisan accessories and memorabilia display shelf


Your photos are so close to your heart–they should be accessible to your eyes as well! Using a thoughtfully designed art ledge, your photos and artwork can be displayed elegantly without looking like clutter scattered all over the wall.

Our expertise is helping you design and arrange a space that both meets your needs and expresses your personal aesthetic. At Dwell Home Furnishings and Interior Design, we offer the newest trends in specialized storage, and our expert designers can help you artfully display the pieces you love to see and use. 

If you would like to speak to the Dwell Home Furnishings showroom staff about what we do and what we have to offer, don’t hesitate to contact us.

pantone classic blue color of the year

Classic Blue evokes feelings of calmness, clarity, and confidence in a space.

Scale Down with Artisan Accessories

Introducing pottery, vases, table-top sculptures, and lamps are a smart and simple way to tie color trends into the color strategy of your home. We saw a lot of blue accents brightening up the neutral color palettes at market. Have a look at some of these accessories that we saw:


Scale Up in Upholstered Pieces

By choosing large pieces like your sofa or a pair of arm chairs to be in this color, you can create a bold focal point and anchor for the color story of a room. We’re still seeing a lot of this color in velvet which is a client favorite around here.


On the Floors

Using an area rug to introduce this color into your space is a great way to start tying different colors together. Blue pairs really well with other recent popular colors such as blush, coral, and green. We saw a lot of these pairings at market as well. And depending on your style, you can look for different patterns to go in the room from geometric, to softer neutrals, or even florals.


On the Walls

While the accent wall trend has had a major moment in the last decade, we’re starting to see a movement toward whole rooms painted in deep, vibrant hues, as well as the incorporation of bold wallpaper choices. If Classic Blue speaks to you on a deep level, don’t hesitate to go all in!


Adding Layers of Texture

Ditch the standard, drab fabrics and opt for something that shows your personality! Layering different patterns with pillows, throw blankets, and artwork add texture and visual interest to your rooms. Fabric artwork is having a major moment right now and we love the dimension and softness these pieces introduce into a space.


Dwell Home Furnishings and Interior Design is a store. It’s not a house. But our goal is to make it feel as much like a part of your home as possible. When we talk to customers who walk into our showroom, we often hear, “I’m here to be inspired.” That inspiration begins in our showroom.

What does “a lotta neat ain’t that neat” mean?

At Dwell Home Furnishings and Interior Design, it’s our goal to define focal points and offer pieces of interest without creating a space that’s overwhelming. When we go to market to purchase pieces for the showroom, this is on the forefront of our minds. We aim to create a balance between background pieces, functional pieces with good bones but a more neutral appearance, and pieces of interest, the accent pieces that really bring the wow factor.

Our goal in incorporating background pieces is not for customers to overlook them, but to support the accents and strengthen the design as a whole. By striking a balance within each vignette on our floor and evenly distributing bold design, customers can move through our showroom and get a visual representation of how each piece will work in their home.

How do we fight the temptation to put a lot of neat all in the same place?

The urge to surround yourself with your favorite things is a very natural tendency. There’s a good chance if you fall in love with something, you’ll want more of it in your home. It’s our job as professionals to help you elevate those favorite pieces of furniture or artwork instead of losing them in the noise.

The best way to do this is by providing a visual representation. Most of the time, as consumers, we don’t know what we want until we see it.

If you’re having trouble making something work in your space, we’re happy to sit down and talk you through it, but things just make more sense once you see them. With the help of our showroom, we can take the piece in question and move it to a different vignette or borrow an additional piece from somewhere on the floor and bring it into the space where it belongs. This way, we can address any questions or concerns you may have in a way that makes sense to everyone.

In what area of interior design is it easiest to forget the importance of “a lotta neat ain’t that neat?”

We see it most commonly with lighting, artwork, and rugs.

Lighting is an invaluable tool when it comes to elevating accent pieces in your home and establishing a mood. Because of this, accent lighting must be used in just as much moderation as those pieces you wish to highlight. It must be balanced between the light that serves an overall functional purpose and task lighting, the light that illuminates the spaces where we read, cook, get dressed, or do our work.

Rugs and art go together because, in many ways, rugs are art. Great rugs are often a rich combination of colors and textures. They make excellent accent pieces for this reason, but they should be thoughtfully considered when setting the design for a room.

Artwork is a favorite when it comes to accent pieces. It’s what our eyes land on when we come into a space, whether it’s the first time or the hundredth time. A lot of people tend to choose many small pieces of artwork as opposed to going with fewer big pieces, so it’s easy to get carried away.

But what if I want to fill my home with pieces I love. Can I do that without sacrificing tact?

Of course—everything is relative.

If you love rugs and it’s your dream to fill your home with gorgeous, hand-knotted silk rugs from all over the world, then it’s our number one goal to help you achieve that look. The same goes for artwork. “A lotta neat ain’t that neat” doesn’t mean that you can’t have a lot of what you love. We simply adjust and move the spotlight. We scale everything else back with a focus on functional pieces that hold the look together and create a space that not only works; it boasts your personal style.

If you would like to speak to the Dwell Home Furnishings showroom staff about what we do and what we have to offer, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Winter in Iowa is famously—at times, painfully—long. But along with the snow and ice, fond memories are carried in on blustery winds. Crackling fireplaces, heavy blankets, snow days, and time away from work remind us of cherished moments with friends and loved ones. It’s during this time of year we look to the home as a place offering some much-needed rest and relaxation. Even if you don’t normally spend much time at home, when you are there, it’s important to have a comfortable place to decompress.

Home is where the peace is

Interior design is the visual representation of our individual needs and what makes us happy, contained within the walls of a practical living space. With so many modern professions that put employees between plane, train, and automobile, many people look to home to offer relief from the road and from stark and unforgiving hotel rooms, especially over the holidays.

Something many homeowners don’t realize is that style can be relaxing. Some people feel at ease and rejuvenated by clean lines, others need throw pillows and other accessories to feel cozy. Understanding what is relaxing, not stressful or easily cluttered, is an important first step in creating your sanctuary.

Keep it practical

While style can help us relax, function has an important role as well.

One key feature of a sanctuary is a space that’s conversational. The need to communicate is ingrained deep in human nature and we gravitate towards places that invite us to be comfortable and spend time with one another. These spaces are both reflective your personal style and inviting to guests. You should be able to recognize it as your own, and your guests should be able to recognize it as the main gathering place of your home.


Durability is also a constant feature. Even if you plan to update in a few years, the furniture in your sanctuary needs to be durable because it will be the place you and your guests most often gather. It gives both homeowner and guest a feeling of safety, security and confidence.

Applying winter trends

Red and green were very strong colors at fashion week, calling up a classic look, which obviously plays beautifully into the holidays. Regardless of what holidays you celebrate, red and green play out during the holiday season as well as the winter months beyond.

The strongest drip of influence was a re-emergence of the art deco theme in lighting, metals, and even upholstery. It’s trendy but it will last because it’s reminiscent of a classic look with which we are familiar. If you use those bold elements during the winter—the gold metals, reds, and greens—it’s a very easy way to dress up current style. Farmhouse chic is going out, while bolder elements begin to shine through.

Natural materials are also a major player. Wool, Tibetan furs, these materials are prevalent in the fashion industry as well as home décor and furnishings. With that durability concept in mind, using these materials in appropriate applications is what you work on with your designer. Looking for more durable organic elements such as bamboo silk, which is used in rugs and carpets, is one way to incorporate durability into current trends.

Implement transitional design

Along with those natural textures, live edge furniture is very trendy right now. Whether it’s a root system converted into a console table or a slab taken from a tree trunk and lacquered. Much of it will still be in the showroom for a while. Because these features are unique, it allows you the freedom to choose bolder light fixtures or a channeled leather sofa. It brings another texture, another material into the space, but it doesn’t compete. It has the potential to compliment any space when applied appropriately.

Brass. It’s going to stay for a while because we’re using it in greater moderation than we did in the nineties. It’s strong and bold and a great transitional tool. Whether it’s your lighting, your coffee table, or art, you’re going to find plenty of brass in our showroom.

People tend to be afraid of trends but we say if you like trends, have fun with them. It’s important to remember that style is a spectrum. You can update a space without throwing everything out and starting over. Think through trends and apply them appropriately. Most importantly, don’t go over the top.

If you would like to speak to the Dwell Home Furnishings Interior Design staff about applying trends and creating a sanctuary in your home, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Happy Holidays from Dwell Home Furnishings!

If you’ve never worked with an interior designer, you may not know what the client-designer relationship should look like. Here at Dwell Home Furnishings, we know the unique strengths of our interior designers and we can help guide you to someone that’s going to best fit your needs.

  1. Style Exploration: When you walk into the store, a designer will greet you and walk the floor with you and evaluate what stands out—what you do or don’t like. If you bring in a Pinterest board or Houzz examples, it may help show us style, but we’ll still walk the floor together. As a customer, you don’t have to come with anything. It’s our designers task and talent to reveal your desired style.We pay close attention to the connection between the different pieces you’re drawn to—asking what you like about any perceived outliers—and use that information to generate your own unique style. Then we will begin to talk about the area the furniture will occupy.We really try to learn the extent of what you need and this requires some investigation on our part. Even if you are just talking about your family or your dog, those details can reveal your needs better than information we request from you. A lot of people that come to us just want a project done and they want it to look nice. They may not have time to put a lot of thought and time into it. Other clients may take a very active role. We serve a diverse community of customers and at the end of the day, our designers take great pride in their ability to determine exactly what you need.
  2. Home Visit: At this point in the process, we’ll determine if your project requires a house call. If we decide that it does, we will schedule a time together to go out and take measurements on location. We will come out to your house, measure the space, draw a to-scale floor plan, create design boards, and prepare a presentation for the areas you’re working on.
  3. In-Store Presentation: The presentation gives our designers an opportunity to display their work. We use Design Studio software to integrate a to-scale floor plan and design boards.We encourage you to investigate and interact with our models in person to help you visualize the layout of the room.
  4. Post-Presentation: After the presentation, we will discuss what you did or didn’t like. We will take your favorite parts of the presentation and use that input to make any necessary adjustments to the plan. There are so many factors that go into a final design, it’s often as easy as swapping out colors or fabrics.We know that the process evolves and people change their minds. There are countless opportunities to discuss and change the design at any point in the process. We take every length to make sure that we’re getting the information we need from you in order to provide you with the best possible result.
  5. Happy Clients & Beautiful Spaces: We train everyone at Dwell Home Furnishings to be sure they are working at the level that they need to be. We want to get it right the first time and we want people to have great spaces.Maintaining a high level of trust between client and designer is very important to us and that’s why our system at Dwell Home Furnishings works so well. All our designers are qualified to listen closely, pay attention to detail, and make informed decisions that leave you satisfied. For us, it’s all about somebody coming back and saying, “Hey this designer did a wonderful job with my space.”

Interested in working with an interior designer? Contact us for a quote today.

Furnishing a space is one of the most exciting parts of upgrading an apartment, remodeling a room, or moving into a new house, but how do you do it without breaking the bank?

We spoke with Cheri Hochstetler, President, and Jeff Draker, Vice President, of Dwell Home Furnishings about finding the best value among high quality furniture makers.

The Dwell Mission

For many years, Dwell Home Furnishings’ goal has been to be the place that someone could come straight out of college, grow with us over the years, and also have options for when they’re ready to buy and furnish their first or second home. And we do this by making quality our priority. With high quality items, you may spend more up front, but you’ll save money in the long run because it will last longer and it will be easier to keep up. Those characteristics add a lot of value—especially for young families.

What are some brands that you carry that fit this description?

For upholstered furniture, we offer primarily U.S. made brands, but when you get into tables, chairs and other case goods, a large majority of that is made outside the U.S., mostly for affordability reasons.

Younger is one vendor that we use. It’s a small, family-owned business that offers low starting price points and it’s based in North Carolina. Given their size, they have quite a few options and they’re introducing new frames and customizations that other companies don’t yet have available. Rowe Furniture, based in Virginia, is another example.

How would you help a customer without a lot to spend?

First, we would establish a budget with that customer and together, land on an amount they’re comfortable spending. Then we realistically establish a plan to move forward. Many times, especially if someone is looking for a partial or complete design update, we will try to come up with an interior design plan that they can complete as they are able. That way, it can be done in phases and they can still furnish their home with quality furniture. Our salespeople and interior designers can also notify those customers of upcoming sales and promotions on furniture they’ve expressed an interest in.

How do you compete with online stores?

The biggest thing is the visual experience that you can’t get outside our store. Any interested customer can come in here and see the furniture, feel it, sit in it, and smell the leather. They can talk to someone about not only how to make the right purchase decision, but how to take care of their furniture and make sure it lasts a lifetime. We walk them through how to buy effectively and efficiently in a way that fits their budget—whether it’s one piece at a time or several—to get them to where they want to be. You’re not going to get that from any online furniture store anywhere.

The Relationship Factor

We care so much about our customers and we are confident in our products. In our buying and merchandising we make sure that everything we’re selling in the store, we would have in our own home. We pay attention to environmentally-focused companies that use recycled materials, foams and sustainable wood and that’s especially important to our younger customers.

When someone orders furniture through us or buys something in the store, we bring it to our warehouse, unpack it, go over it, and then a white glove delivery service brings it to them. If anything’s wrong, it’s our responsibility. Our complimentary interior design service ensures that the piece fits in the room and works with the space. We hear so many times, “Oh I bought this online and it’s WAY too big for the space.”

We have the expertise to make sure the decisions you’re making are correct and well thought-out. Our customers leave satisfied and full of new ideas for their home.

Interior design and art have much in common—color schemes, patterns, shapes and filling space—but how do you know when to take artistic liberties and when to keep it familiar?

We spoke with Susanna Sosa, Interior Designer at Dwell Home Furnishings, to hear her story and learn the value of creativity and communicating with customers.

How did you get started at Dwell?

What might be a little different from the other designers at Dwell is, I didn’t have an immediate interest in interior design. I’ve always had a creative focus in life. I’ve done a lot of art; sculpture, art history, and I spent my childhood drawing and rearranging my bedroom, but I struggled to find a career that gave me that creative outlet and could support my family financially. I went through a period in my life when I had kids, I had a job, but I wasn’t satisfied. So in my mid-twenties, I went back to school. At that point, I just wanted to be creative on a daily basis and that’s how interior design came into my life.

I’ve found that interior design is an exciting field to be in. It’s doing something different every single day. No project is the same and no client is the same. We have over 200 vendors and tons of selection. There are always new and beautiful products being produced, following the newest design trends. Bringing those trends to the Midwest is something that Dwell excels at. There are fun challenges and obstacles that we face with every design.

You said you have experience with art in other mediums. How does what you learned in those classes carry over to what you’re doing now?

When you’re drawing, you’ve got a big empty space and you have to fill it up and do so appropriately. A lot of times, whatever it is you’re creating is balanced with void space and shapes and colors and lines in a way that is interesting but structured. You have to do the same thing when designing a room. It’s a lot of the same play, visually.

We use a floor plan that depicts furnishings to scale, which is designed to help customers visualize how their selections will fit in a space. We also use a presentation page where we showcase all the selections, whether they’re online or from the store, so the customer can see how the finishes work together. The floor plan is more for scale and the presentation page helps clients see how the different styles and furnishings work together in the room. These are extremely helpful tools that we’re happy to offer to clients. We also have textiles for fabrics, leathers, and carpeting so they can experience the selections we’re making for specific pieces. It’s our goal to make sure the customer knows exactly what they’re getting!

With some forms of art, you’re either doing it for yourself or you’re simply putting something out there that people get to experience temporarily. With design, you’re creating a space in which someone lives and shares with other people as a reflection of themselves.

Yes, exactly. Often when you are working with clients you have a vision, for them, based on their needs and the way they have envisioned using their living space. It is my responsibility to communicate that vision to them. I have learned, over time, how to explain both the process and end result.

Between all of us designers, our personalities tend to attract the people that we mesh with the best. I always get the people that are a little bit funky; they want something different and they’re typically laid back like I am. It’s interesting!

That is interesting, but it makes sense. If I came in here searching for something, I’d look for a professional who knows my tastes.

Yes, a lot of it is communication. You find someone you can communicate your ideas with openly, somebody who’s willing to listen. We all kind of need different things from people, it’s just funny how it ends up working out that way. My people find me here [chuckles].

I heard you recently worked on a Parade of Homes project. What is that like?

The exciting challenge for parade homes is the timeline that they’re working with. Typically, they need things pretty quickly, so often times we’re finding pieces that work together in the show room, things they have access to immediately.

I really enjoy Parade of Home projects. In the most recent one I worked on, there was an indoor pool and a guest suite. There were a lot of layers to that project because we were working with such a large space. Everything from furniture to bedding to artwork. The typical client spaces things out in phases whereas this project is completed pretty much all at once. I worked for about a month straight on this project nearly every day.

I often hear the phrase, “Design never sleeps.” What’s one way you stay up to date?

I try to do a lot of personal investigation on my own time. I’m always on Pinterest and Houzz when I’m not at work. There are many industry magazines that we have on hand at Dwell to look through. I’m looking forward to visiting the showrooms at the furniture markets. There are enormous showcases from vendors all around the world. Dwell goes on buying trips to market four times a year. There are beautiful one of a kind finds there and it stimulates creativity. If I’m only looking at what I do, I’m not growing. You constantly have to challenge yourself to work outside your comfort zone and expose yourself to new design, otherwise your design can get stale.

What’s one of your favorite parts about what you do?

My favorite part is really nailing a design! I get to be a detective and really ask the questions about their interests, needs and wants in order to put together a good design for them. I can design all day long according to my personal tastes but that’s not what makes a good designer. A good designer designs according to their clients’ tastes and needs.  I understand that and keep that in mind as I’m gathering information from the customer. As a result, I don’t have to go back and change a lot of my designs for clients.  There is no better feeling than to have done a good job of communicating the design with the client so they can visualize the final product from the very beginning. If they are excited and happy with their design, I’m happy!

Contact Susanna for a quote or to schedule a consult.

You may believe that an interior designer’s responsibility is to tell you what to do with a given space, and if you’re seeking advice, this is certainly a part of their job. However, many customers know what they’re looking for, but have a difficult time expressing it with words and pictures.

We spoke with Abby Craighton, Interior Designer at Dwell Home Furnishings to hear her story and learn the unobtrusive approach she uses to make clients’ dreams a reality.

How did you get started doing design?

It goes way back to college. I was majoring in theater and I was into the whole scene but mostly interested in costumes and sets—the creative side of it. My brother suggested I try something in the design world. As my older brother, he could see my talent and where I could grow. I took an interior design class and I was immediately hooked. I switched my major the day after the first class and joined the design program, which I loved. It was fantastic. After graduation, I got an internship at a design firm, was there for a little over five years and then came to Dwell Home Furnishings and I’ve been here a little over two months.

One thing I like about Dwell is the size of the showroom, the ability to have lots product on the floor that our customers can look at and see. In a very online world, being able to show them samples and colors, and exactly how something sits, and comfort level they will get, is extremely valuable. Even if they special order something, you can show them what it’s going to sit like and what the fabric will be like. A lot of people have a hard time visualizing a design and anything we can do to help with that definitely benefits the whole process.

What else sets Dwell apart from other design firms?

Dwell is a fairly large company in our industry for being a locally owned small business. There’s a big group of designers and we have more of a team-mindset here. Yes, we each have our own projects, but we ask opinions of the other designers. This leads to our customers receiving a nice well-rounded design because there’s input from several designers as opposed to just one.

What is your favorite thing about what you do?

Obviously, the finished product is the fun part. But I also really enjoy when a client has lived in a space I’ve designed for a while and grows into the choices we’ve made together. That’s the point at which I get see our hard work exemplified and they are able to truly appreciate the vision we had all along. The very best part is when they say, “This is the first time the space has felt like our home and not just a house.”

That’s the true test, because sometimes there’s that shock factor with the initial reveal.

Yes, everything looks great at the final install, but now after they’ve lived in it a while, it not only still looks great, but it’s passed the functionality test and it turns out to be exactly what they were looking for.

You say you work here more as a team, so you get to know the other designers pretty well. Is there anything that is unique about your approach?

Definitely. We all have our own approach. Mine is very detailed-focused, but I have my own short hand, so while the process might look messy to someone else, in my brain it all makes sense. It’s how I figure it all out down to the smallest detail; leg finish, welt color, pillows, etc. I have a very creative process, but it’s functional to me.

As for how I work with clients, I always try to let them talk as much as possible. I want to get their voice, get what they’re looking for before I give any input. I don’t want to insert an idea that could lead them in the wrong direction. I let them describe what they’re looking for, any problem areas, and their sense of style, so I can go back, interpret and fill in the blanks.

So instead of guiding them, you’re more focused on listening and interpreting.

Yes, if you ask a client if they like something specific, and they say yes because they want to be polite, you could end up building an entire design around one piece they don’t even like. What you’re left with then, is a design that isn’t for them at all.

It can be intimidating walking into a store like this with so much available.

We have so much to see and everything here is gorgeous, but one specific look may not be your style and it may not be something you’d like to live with for 20 years. That is why having interior designers on hand is so beneficial. We are able to help dig deep and find the pieces that speak to each of our clients. We definitely have something for everyone!

What do you spend most your time doing at Dwell?

A lot of it is background or behind the scenes work and searching for product. I think that’s what I spend the most time doing. Especially when it’s something specific and you have to really search all your vendors to find that perfect piece. I really enjoy this part of my job because it’s a hunt and the hardest items to find are so much more satisfying when you finally do find them. It’s not just something that could work, it’s the “nail on the head” piece.

What’s something you’re fascinated with right now?

Right now, it’s style mixing. There’s tons of different design styles, but what I’ve been drawn to lately is mixing different styles together and creating a layered design including an element of traditional and an element of something modern. I like to make a more curated look as opposed to something that has to fit into a rigid style. A little more cohesive than an eclectic look, it has hints of other styles but everything ties together as a style of its own.

What are the benefits of this technique?

It lasts longer over time because it has pieces that you can emphasize one way or the other. So maybe you start with a very traditional design but as you grow, your style becomes more modern. The layered design allows you to ease your way into that without locking you out. It doesn’t limit you to a trend that could be dead in a year. You have the ability to evolve within your design.

What’s the most important skill you have and what’s something you’d like to learn?

One thing I have learned is how to interpret what customers haven’t said. A lot of people can tell you what they don’t like and they can show you pictures, but it’s difficult for them to pin down exactly what they want. Taking in all the information and interpreting their dream from that has been my biggest learning curve. In school, you learn all the elements of design, and the technical background but you don’t really get a sense of how to talk to clients and ask the right questions.  That’s probably 85% of this job and you really learn those things from experience.

Lighting is something I’d love to experiment more with. I know what will look good and I know how to mix different lights, but I’m interested in the more technical side of it. Different light fixtures have certain wattage and lumens and knowing what’s going to be just enough, too much, or too little for a given space is a valuable skill. I know there are specific lighting designers that focus on this alone and that’s something I’d love to learn more about to give me that advantage when helping clients.

Are there any design myths you can bust?

You definitely don’t have to spend a ton of money in order to achieve good design. What a lot of people might not know is you can hire us for design advice and then use that to pick out items that are within your budget. Or we can break things down into stages. We can start with a dream plan and execute it room by room or piece by piece. Having a plan from the beginning helps the entire space flow and feel like it was done all at once.

Another myth people get stuck in is the odd numbers rule and I would say it’s not as strict as people think. Sometimes it works out that way and odd numbers do work better, but it’s more of an overall balance and symmetry that’s the priority.

In general, a lot of myths come from people who get a rule in their head and they think they have to follow it. The fun part about design and being a designer is breaking out of the box and being innovative and unique to create something that speaks.

Contact Abby for a quote or to schedule a consult.

Pleasant pallets of colors, textures and symmetrical arrangements are naturally attractive, but a more difficult balancing act is making a space beautiful while adhering to the technical details.

We spoke with Heather Dewaard, Senior Interior Designer and Sales Training Manager at Dwell, to hear her story and learn the role of balance in a well-designed space.

Tell me about how you came to be senior designer at Dwell. What’s your story?

I became interested in interior design my senior year of high school. I was trying to figure out what I was going to do since I was graduating soon. A teacher—whom I never even had a class with—said to me, “Heather, I see you as one of those people that designs movie sets.”

That got my wheels turning and I decided to take the interior design class offered at West High School. From there, I decided that interior design is what I wanted to do.

I went to Kirkwood and received a two-year interior design degree that was very specialized. I took a lot of design classes and a few selling-type classes. At the end of that, however, I decided I wanted my bachelor’s degree as well and so I went to UNI. I finished their program in three years instead of four, taking extra credits and summer classes. At the time I wanted to be done with school but in the end, I’m glad I participated in both programs because each made up for what the other lacked. Kirkwood gave me the basics of design and I learned the more technological side of things at UNI.

So after I graduated from UNI, I went looking for an internship and I actually ran into Dwell a couple of times. I went to the Parade of Homes and saw a home that they had furnished. I dismissed it at first, because I didn’t know much about Dwell. I didn’t want to just be a furniture salesperson so I never contacted them. I was chasing after architecture firms but I never got any calls back. In the end it comes down to who you know, and my husband and his family were good friends with the man who did Dwell’s banking. I called Cheri, had an interview and it wasn’t until I started working here that I realized the amount of interior design we really do.

I completed my internship and on my last day Cheri asked me what my plans were. I told her I hadn’t figured it out yet and she said that if I wanted to stay on for a while until I figure it out, that I was welcome to. So I did, and I just hoped she wouldn’t notice that I never left.

What has changed in the time that you’ve been working at Dwell?

Since I started here only seven years ago, things have completely changed. When I started, we were small enough that we didn’t really have to write down what people ordered. It was all in Cheri’s head—I don’t know how she did it. I couldn’t work that way and so I created this tracking program by customer name and vendor. We also used to draw floor plans and furniture templates by hand. Little by little, our technology grew. We implemented a new computer program that tracks our product and creates invoices, and now we use AutoCAD to draw floor plans and furniture templates on the computer. I think that’s played a huge part in how much we are able to do now.

What are some of the strengths you have developed as a designer?

Design is the perfect combination of technical and creative. Normally it’s a fight between those, but this occupation allows me to do both of those things. You have to be very technical; to make sure that the space planning is correct, to make sure that you’re going to have 36-inch traffic paths, make sure to get your window treatments down to 1/8 of an inch, that sort of thing. But there’s that creative side of mixing textures and finishes, gradating color, and so on.

You also have to be able to recognize what people want. Clients don’t always know the terminology or how to express what they want. They can show us pictures, but even those fall short and usually come with a modifier like, “well, not exactly like this.” That’s where we have to be able to understand people’s needs and forecast how the room needs to function according to their lifestyle and create a design based on that.

Decorating a room is embellishing it, making it look pretty, but design takes it to the next level. Design isn’t decorating; we have to create a space that someone can use as well as enjoy.

What contributes to your style of design?

There are a few factors. I am the oldest of six and so I am your “type-A this is how it’s gonna go” personality. I like things to be balanced. I like symmetry. That’s what feels good to me.

I have also gleaned things from the people I work with. I’ve seen things that other people have done and that inspires me. I do this via social media as well and this helps to push me outside my box.

What’s the most difficult thing you do?

Probably the stuff that comes with every job; just dealing with the things that don’t go right. Something gets backordered, maybe something gets discontinued or delayed and you didn’t know until you already placed the order. Then you have to inform the client and find something to replace a piece you were really excited about. It’s that initial moment when you find out after planning it out with everything ready to go. It’s all in the air again and dealing with that can be difficult.

As far as the design side of things, the biggest difficulty—but also kind of a fun challenge—is working with a couple that has two completely different styles. Working to get a couple or family to come together when making those decisions is a little bit difficult, but also more worthwhile in the end. 

What do you love about your job?

I was just thinking about this recently and I realized that it’s changed over time. When I first started here, I loved drawing the floor plans, but I don’t have time to draw my own floor plans anymore. Now, I turn that task over to someone else who can whip it up quickly and then I can spend a majority of my time on what has become my new joy, which is specking product. Our vendors are always changing up what they have available, so I like discovering new pieces and using them for a customer’s home.

I also really enjoy space planning. I like arranging a room in such a way that it’s going to elevate the appearance of the room. Going over the layout with a client and moveable furniture templates make it very easy to alter things should they change their mind about something, and it also gives us both an opportunity to visualize it. [Chuckles] Our customers always say that our templates look like little dollhouses.

We have so many people who come in saying they purchased something online or at a different store, and it’s usually too big. In a large store, big pieces look small until you get them into your home. That’s what’s so great about being able to offer floor plans and design services to our clientele. They can have confidence when they’re buying the pieces and we can have confidence when assisting them as well.

The best part about my job is at the end of a presentation, when the client is speechless because they’re just so excited. They can’t stop saying, “I love it,” and that makes it all worth it to me. I’m excited about what I do and I’m excited about their project and when I’m working on something, I’m looking from every angle, but when all of that comes together and they recognize that and love it, that puts me over the moon.

Contact Heather for a quote or to schedule a consult.

The smallest change can make the greatest difference when it comes to bringing a space together, but it’s difficult to know what’s required without the help of a well-trained eye.

Krystal Loes is the Senior Designer and Design Studio Manager at Dwell. We asked her to tell us about herself and describe what she does every day to send her clients back to a beautiful home.

When did you know you wanted to be a designer?

My dad was a general contractor my whole life. As young as I could remember, I would go to the job site and checked things out. That’s when I started to have a lot of interest. Once I got older, he would build a lot of spec houses and would allow me to help out picking finishes, flooring, paint colors, so then in high school I did a couple job shadows with interior designers because I felt that I was debating architecture or interior design. After doing the job shadow I really felt like interior design was more the direction I wanted to focus on. For me, it was kind of a family thing, which was cool. I still collaborate with my dad. When I have a renovation I’m working on, I’ll show him the floor plans and talk to him about things and get his perspective.

I understand you studied interior design as well as psychology at ISU. Does psychology play a role in your career as an interior designer?

It’s really just an interest of mine, but it has really contributed to my understanding of how a home represents who people are—it’s where they spend most of their time—and it helped me to understand the kind of comfort that needs to come with owning a home. You have to be able to grasp what people want to feel when they walk into their front door, or into their bedroom and you have to make that happen based on what they’re trying to explain to you. Sometimes a client lacks the confidence or knowledge to explain to you what they really want, so it’s my job to put those pieces together and make that connection, but those things don’t happen overnight. I have to read between the lines and connect with people. There are different reasons people want a well-furnished house; there’s always more to it and unlike picking out an outfit, the style of a home has to have more longevity. Learning what is important to people is what makes a successful designer.

So what can a customer expect from you?

The major difference between being an independent designer and working as a designer for Dwell, is that we keep things moving forward. I’m usually juggling 10-12 projects at any given time, which means I have to be confident in my own decisions. I have to be able to manage multiple projects and multiple clients in order to be successful here, so honesty is number one. I have to gain my clients’ trust. They have to know that I’m looking out for their best interests and that I want to achieve the goals we make together. If they’re really struggling to make a decision, it’s up to me to find something that works. I work hard to make sure that the clients know that I prioritize them, I prioritize what they want to achieve, and I prioritize how they see the space, regardless of the size of the project. My client will never feel as though their home or room is getting any less attention than a bigger project I’m working on simultaneously. They are all equally as important.

What is your personal style?

Classic Modern with a touch of Mid-Century

What is your dream job?

Renovations. If we had specialists for every project, mine would be renovations. I love taking an old space and turning it into something new and fresh to suit the client. There’s the added challenge of keeping with the integrity of the house, tying in functionality and style and that is what makes it for me. If I could do that every day, I would love it.

What is hot right now? How do you keep yourself fresh?

I try to stay current by reading blogs and by following the work of other designers around the world, especially on Instagram. I’m also on the Dwell buying team and that really helps me follow trends because I get to see what the manufacturers putting out and that filters down. Trendiness is okay here and there, but a very “this-season” house gets tiring next spring.

Do you have a pretty good idea of how long a new trend will last?

I try to, but some people come to us and they just love what they love and at that point, it’s our job to make it work for them. In those kinds of situations, I like to take it on as a challenge and make sure that I still keeps the integrity of the home to the best of my ability. People come to us because they know they need a professional. We are the experts and we have to take some ownership. We have to remember that the clients come to us for a reason, so we make a point to stay up-to-date.

You’ve talked about the relationship between the functionality and design of a home. What role does that play in your work?

That is one of the first things I try to uncover. I have to know whether the space is intended to be really stylish or really comfortable, and even after that, it still always falls somewhere in the middle. Someone that wants to sit on something really stylish and contemporary still wants to be comfortable. People that come to Dwell are already quite design-minded and so it’s safe to assume a certain level of style, but every client is unique and it takes a while to find out where those priorities land for their home.

What are some things you love about your career as an interior designer at Dwell?

Number one is design. Number two is my clients. I really just love design; it’s that simple. I love great spaces and that would be true whether or not I worked at Dwell. When you’re in a comfortable space, everyone is happier. I am always thinking of design. I can’t shut it off, whether it’s my own space or my family’s spaces and I’m not the type of person to leave my work at my desk. I take my job with me everywhere. My little brother just bought a house and I’m so geeked out about it. That’s just who I am: design makes me tick.

When it comes to the people, my clients and the relationships we create make my job so much fun. People are so different and interesting and I love bringing that out in their homes. Design isn’t their thing; it’s mine and so I like to think that designing a space for them is my contribution to their life. I get a creative outlet that turns into my gift to them. If they have a high-impact stressful job, they can come home to be comfortable and relax and enjoy where they are.

Contact Krystal for a quote or to schedule a consult.