Jun 7, 2008


Lindell Ladies designHop in the home of Aisha Sultan, home and family editor for the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, left to right: Marianne Power, Emily Tan, Mira Pazolli, Kimberly Warburton, Lisa Erekson, Stephanie Welsh, Christie Hutchins, Colleen Mitchell, Aisha Sultan and Dana King. Missing: Gina Adolphson, Marie Newman and Sarah Page.

Last month the Lindell Ladies designHop hopped on over to the home of Aisha Sultan, home and family editor for the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH newspaper.

Aisha was delightful. She made us yummy Pakistani food and treated us royally. Ten ladies came, our biggest group yet.

Aisha interviewed us and then invited the group to give her ideas on hanging her pictures. See her story -- click here or for your convenience, it is in the body of this post:

Designers hop houses
By Aisha Sultan
Saturday, Jun. 07 2008

One of the most intimidating things about hiring an interior designer is managing budget expectations. A designer, hired presumably for a superior aesthetic sense and know-how, is invited to judge our most intimate spaces.

So, when he or she asks: "How much did you have in mind?" it's a loaded question. Estimate too low, and you'll appear an unsophisticated rube. Too high, and you'll be thinking of excuses to back out of the buying presentation.

Local designer Dana King has found an intriguing way to bring intimidation-free, budget-friendly design to the masses. In fact, her approach relies on the inherent creativity of the masses. King was approached by women at her church about teaching design classes. She took their idea a step further and formed a design group along with Gina Adolphson, a fellow designer.

DESIGNHOP MEMBERS: left to right -- Gina Adolphson, Dana King, Emily Tan.

"Everyone is creative and everyone has the potential to design their home," she says.

Once a month, they gather the group at one of the participant's houses. King and Adolphson start with a short lesson, and then invite the group to tackle the
homeowner's design issue -- hands on. Women start moving furniture, searching the house for "new" accessories and suggesting paint colors.

King has dubbed the monthly get-together a "design hop" and wants to spread the ideas to form similar groups throughout the area. It's like joining a traveling band of home style stars.

For King, it's about making good design accessible. Because the ideas come from
ordinary people from diverse backgrounds, they tend to be practical. And,thankfully, there's no shame in trying to find the cheapest solution. The only possible drawback is getting your house clean enough for half a dozen women to wander through.

IN NEED OF HELP • This is a view of the mantle in Emily Tan’s dining room
before her design group did a remodeling makeover.

MANTLE MAGIC • The design group used items Tan already had to make the
fireplace area more appealing.

I offered to host a hop at my home to see how the process would work. I've worked with designers before and was curious to hear suggestions from a group of women with expertise ranging from biology to home schooling. I wanted input on arranging and hanging pictures that have been sitting in our closets for years.

Ten women showed up for the design hop. Before King and Adolphson presented their short lection on the basics of picture hanging, they asked for an update from women who had hosted previous hops. The discussion centered on money-saving decorating tips.

Emily Tan, whose house has been on the market for several months, said the group made over two fireplace mantels in her house, along with the entryway.

"I didn't have to spend any money," she said. "They used stuff we had."

Before the hop, her house had gotten low marks on decorating from potential home buyers. The feedback has improved, she said. Another woman said she was able to find fabric shower curtains to use as window treatments.

"That's a great tip," said King. She had also used shower curtains in her daughter's bedroom.

PEACEFUL PLACE • A “before” view of the entryway in Emily Tan’s foyer before
her design group did a remodeling makeover.

MASTER PEACEFUL PLACE • An “after” view of the entryway in Emily Tan’s foyer
after her design group did a remodeling makeover.

"You helped me have courage to paint," another woman volunteered. King offered tips unlikely to be heard from designers working on commission. She suggested finding accessories at craft or thrift shops that can be spray painted for a new look.

"Shop for shape," she advised. Anything can be painted to make it the right color.

Adolphson used a small dry erase board to illustrate the lesson on hanging artwork. She explained the importance of considering "negative space" (the space between a group of pictures) and talked about the ideal hanging length. The group headed upstairs to check out our bedroom and the art I'd laid all around the room.

Immediately, a few started suggesting different furniture layouts. I vetoed most of those suggestions. Then, a discussion began on paint colors, which led to ideas for window treatments and accessories. Ten fresh sets of eyes found ways of looking at the room that I had never considered. Their enthusiasm got me excited about a project I'd stalled on for months. There are many confident do-it-yourselfers, but I'm in the camp that balks at spending thousands or investing hours in a project that may turn out looking no better than it started.

The suggestions from the design hop were much more helpful than I had expected. They even found a spot for an oversized painting of irises that I'd nearly given up on. And, no one ever asked me about my budget.


If you would like to start a designHop group or join ours, email me at: dana@danasdesignstudio.com or call: 314-652-1759.


Whitney Johnson said...

Love the new look of your blog, and the concept of the designHop.... Can't wait to post about what you are doing on kirtsy.

cozy at home said...

Great Dana! I would say you hop is a success :) I hope we can start one here soon - maybe after summer schedules have settled down.
Thanks for sharing.

Laura Gunn Studio said...

This is great, Dana. Good luck!!

PAT said...

Hi Dana

Just dropping by from Rhoda's to congratulate you on the PD article! The makeover is fabulous!

I also wanted to tell you how much I like the screens you wrote about in a previous post!

I enjoy reading about Design Hop!

Leigh said...

Hi! I came by way of Rhodas Southern Hospitality Blog. I love this idea!

lindaharre said...

Hi......What a wonderful idea! I too am from St. Louis (now living in Eureka) and was an interior designer for years:D What a clever spin on the design thing!!!!! We have a work group that functions much like your group! We meet at one members house each week to work on a project they need help with. Sometimes it is outside gardening, window washing, painting of a room, rearranging, even cooking! We have so much fun just being together....and the best part is that we get projects done that we could never accomplish by ourselves! The girl the is hostess for the workday provides lunch for us and many times passes on the recipes:D Great way to go out for lunch....since we each try to have something unusual:D Thanks for sharing your idea....I love it!!!!1 Linda

Jen r. said...

Love the design hop! Jen R

Dana said...

What a great idea, design hop this I could maybe do and I would love more info. Dana

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