A Brush with Color

Remember when elegant rooms were full of reds and golds, and ornate antiques ruled? And it looked so great…10 plus years ago, that is. Tastes change, and now that style feels a little too heavy and dark for most of us. We long for a lighter attitude and more generous and comfortable furnishings.

When interior decorator Dana Wolter faced that dated style and palette in Suzie and Jim Link’s Tuscaloosa home, she gave heavy the “heave ho” with paler shades and brushes of color while still incorporating some of her clients’ choice antiques throughout.

ABOVE “The goal was to lighten up the space from the ornate, heavy furniture they had. I wanted to make it beautiful with a little edge, but still practical and durable, ” says Dana. Instead of replacing the cabinets on either side of the fireplace, she added a panel to one side and mounted a flat screen TV on the front.

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“We wanted to give the house a fresher and more simplified look that is elegant and inviting to family and guests, ” says Dana. Whites and grays replaced the tired palette, but more subtle color is still evident in the art, accessories, and fabrics. “Making a drastic change was really scary for me because I wanted to use several of the antiques and other pieces I already had, ” says Suzie. “I was fearful that the more modern look I desired would not work well with my existing furniture. Dana was able to use many of my pieces in different ways, and I really appreciated that.” 

Dana also reworked the rooms so that the largest one is where the family of seven and friends now gather. “I noticed that no one used this gorgeous room filled with natural light and an incredible view because it was full of furniture that was simply not comfortable, ” says Dana. “Instead, they were all crowding in a small room off the kitchen to watch TV and hang out.” She filled the room with comfortable upholstery, huge ottomans, and lots of occasional tables pulled together by a seagrass rug and topped with an Oushak that Suzie already owned. “We pulled colors for the room from that rug, so you see shades of blue, soft grays, greens, and even some yellows, ” says Dana. “We feel as though we’ve added on to the house now that we have so much more usable space, ” says Suzie. “Dana took a room we never used and made it a room we never want to leave.”

Dana’s deft hand extended to the master bedroom as well where gold had reigned supreme. “I wanted to create a serene space with just a touch of glamour. The bedroom used to appear darker due to the heavier style furniture, ” says Dana. “We lightened the space through fabrics, furniture, and bedding to make it feel more cozy and intimate.” 


ABOVE LEFT The new dining room table, upholstered in faux leather and topped with glass, adds a glamorous note. The existing buffet and wooden chairs were refinished to soften strong orange tones in the original finish. The ceiling is painted gray to add dimension.

ABOVE RIGHT Skirted parsons chairs soften the dining space and were added in the redesign. Framed agate prints from Table Matters carry blue touches into the space. “I try to incorporate a mirror in every room whenever possible. Just be sure it reflects something worth seeing, ” advises Dana.

ABOVE The kitchen’s update is purely cosmetic. Dana simply resurfaced and repainted, adding furniture and accessories in complementary hues.


ABOVE LEFT “When you choose a color scheme for a room, keep your colors cohesive throughout the home (with the exception of children’s rooms), so each room flows from one to the next, ” Dana says. “What may be a dominant color in one room can be used as an accent in another.” In this bedroom, a Greek key trim adds an extra pretty detail to this window wall. Club chairs in gray velvet enhance the quiet but luxurious atmosphere.

ABOVE RIGHT “The old bedroom was a tired shade of gold with many dark wood furniture pieces. The new master is exactly what I wanted. It’s light and white, comfortable, and beautiful, ” says Suzie. “I wanted a bedroom that made me happy when I walked in, and this one does.”

Interior design: Dana Wolter • 205.907.7758 danawolterinteriors.com Master bedroom: mirrors: Richard Tubb Interiors in Pepper Place • 205.324.7613; chairs: Lee Industries; floor lamp: Visual Comfort visualcomfort.com Dining room: custom table, framed agate prints: Table Matters, Mountain Brook • 205.879.0125 Living/family room: Lee Industries sofa and matching chairs; curtain fabric: Clarence House; citron pillows: Circa Interiors & Antiques Mountain Brook • 205.868.9199; other pillows and curtains: custom made by Dana Wolter Interiors Sitting room: chaise lounges: Lee Industries; Regina Andrew white table lamp,  floor lamp: Visual Comfort; custom ottoman in fabric from Schumacher; art: Laura Beers laurabeersart.com.

Text by Alice Welsh DoylE • Photography by Graham Yelton

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