Behind the Design with Dana Wolter

Known for her classic interiors infused with a little edge, interior designer Dana Wolter shares a few design secrets and offers insight into just how much thought goes into each project.

Photography by Graham Yelton

Defining Neutrals
Layers and texture! In order to create depth and interest with neutrals, I like to layer in different textures of fabrics together (think velvet with linen with leather) while mixing in other finishes such as iron, glass, wood, natural stone, etc.

Interior Accents
I often will use a darker color such as a charcoal gray, chocolate brown, or black to ground a room of neutrals and then tie it all together with other accent colors in the artwork, pillows, and accessories.

Patterns and Solids
To develop a color palette for a room, I usually begin with four to six fabrics. From there, I add more fabrics as I decide where I want certain colors placed and which pieces need the more durable fabrics. I typically use solid fabrics for the upholstery and patterned ones for the drapery and pillows. By the time I have pulled all of the fabrics for a room, I may have up to 10 to 15 fabrics specified for it. The number of fabrics
also depends on the size of the space.

Practical & Pretty
I like to use quality upholstery lines that I know will last, so I often choose upholstery in solid fabrics that will not date easily. My team and I are also very strategic about where we use certain fabrics. We look at the function of the room and how much use the space will get each day. Then we add in the most durable types of fabrics on specific pieces that will take the most wear. If a fabric selected does not make the cut for durability, we commercially treat it. Visitors will never know, but it gives the client one more line of defense to enjoy the newly designed room without the worry of something being easily ruined.

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Perfect Blend
Shapes, silhouettes, balance, and finishes play key roles in the design of a room. It’s important to know how to blend different materials and when to repeat a shape or finish. We look at the room as a whole and are very strategic with choices and placement.

Striking a Balance
Furnishing a home is definitely an investment, so I strive to create interiors that will last several years. I like to use classic pieces and neutral colors for my main upholstery. That’s not to say I want the room predictable or boring—quite the opposite. I always make sure to add a little edge in each room to make it special and unique—something that is a little different and customized to both the space and the client.

Attention to Detail
My goal is for a room to look inviting yet be able to breathe. When you look closely, you will see the attention to detail we gave it. I love details and customization, and my team and I pride ourselves on the time we give to them.

Custom Design
Customizing pieces to the home, as well as to how the client lives, makes the house work even harder. It also adds softness and creates a unique space different from the neighbor’s house.

Just Starting Out
If you are on a tight budget, the best place to start is with paint. It hides a multitude of sins. I would also suggest starting to collect things such as art or antique mirrors. I especially love antique Louis Philippe mirrors for their simple, beautiful lines.

I am a big believer that if you don’t love it, give it to someone who does. Too often, I see empty nesters who feel bad about getting rid of family pieces. Let go of the piece—and the guilt—and take the memories with you.

Dana Wolter

While Dana certainly inspires others, she also likes finding inspiration in Birmingham and beyond. This is what she is loving now.

Favorite Boutique
Birmingham is home to some of the best shops in the Southeast. I love the expansion of A’mano because they carry so many unique accessories for the home. It is a place where you can find something for everyone. I also remain true to Circa Antiques and 18th Street Orientals. Those are two of my favorite stores in Birmingham because of their quality of product and excellent customer service.

IG Obsessed      
I love @thedefineddish because of their healthy and easy recipes. It’s perfect for someone like me who is not a great cook but still wants to feed their family in healthy ways. I also love following Jonathan Van Ness (@JVN) from Queer Eye. His InstaStories really make me laugh, and who doesn’t love a bit of daily laughter?

Can’t-wait-to-try color…
I want to use oxblood for a wall color, but I need to find the right client and room.

Artist to watch…
We have used artwork from Wellon Bridgers for quite some time. I have loved watching her work evolve. She is a pleasure to work with on a regular basis.

Most excited about…
2019 is going to be a big year for us as we are expanding into other facets of interior design. We are going to be traveling more across the country for some projects, but the Birmingham ones will always be special because I love working in my hometown.

Looking forward to…
I have a big birthday coming up this summer, and with the graduation of my oldest from college and my youngest from high school, we are taking a family trip to Italy. My husband and I are soon to be empty nesters, and I see more travel in my future for inspiration in my design work.

Dana Wolter Interiors[email protected]IG: @danawolterinteriors

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