Podcast, Ep. 145: designer Dana Wolter


Interior designer Dana Wolter joins the Ballard Designs podcast to talk drama, neutrals, and the magic of drapery

Photo: Graham Yelton

In today’s episode, Birmingham, Alabama interior designer Dana Wolter joins the podcast to about how to create drama and edge in design, ways to use texture and layers to create softness, and the magic of drapery panels.

What You’ll Hear On This Episode:

  • Trials and triumphs about the most traumatic power outage, new house plans, digital picture frames, adjusting to a longer working from home schedule, paint color testing, rose tips, and some fun basement renovation.
  • Dana’s goal is to give her clients something custom, unique, long-lasting, and special to them. When using trendy pieces, she tends to pick items that are a lower price point so it’s not a huge loss to move along from them every few years.
  • Dana gives some advice on creating drama and edge using different layers and textures.
  • Just because a space is neutral, doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of depth and layering.
  • When the architecture is strong, we need less drama in our design.
  • Coming from a large family, Dana understands first hand how important it is to create a space that is comfortable and able to expand with any family needs.
  • Dana’s take on how high up the wall art should go up to create balance and work with the scale of a room.
  • Why we just love sconces so much not only to fill the room with light but add an element of drama and art.
  • A pair of chaise lounge chairs in the living room can be a comfortable and inviting solution for more seating.

Decorating Dilemma:

Hi Taryn, Caroline, and Karen!

I hope you all are staying safe and doing well! I love the podcast and have learned so much from you all. For instance, I took your advice and left the space above my kitchen cabinets blank. And one time Karen told me (and everyone listening – not just me specifically 😀) that I could mix and match drapery hardware – and I did it! I’ve got the Ballard brass ring clips on a pewter rod. It looks layered, and I like it.😁

I have another challenge and would really appreciate your input. My husband and I built our home last year, and we love it. We moved from a one bedroom apartment to a beautiful home, and I have so enjoyed designing and decorating our home. That being said, the rooms don’t sing yet; we are almost there – just not yet. So, I’m hoping that your sage advice can help us cross the finish line. Attached I have included pictures of our living room/ dining room. As you can see from the photos, we have one massive wall – where I placed a large mid-century credenza and an oversize piece of art. I like the art and the credenza – but I’m not styling it right. What would you do? What am I missing? Then, I have nothing on the walls of the dining room – What would you do in there? Do you have any other suggestions to make the room pop?

In general, I would describe my style as traditional – but with some modern , eclectic, and maybe a touch of playful or irreverence (note my husband’s massive Lego ship in our built in). 

Thanks in advance for your help! I really appreciate it.


Congrats on your new home and you are so close! We need to find a way to ground the space in the dining area, and a banquette would add some weight. Check out the Coventry one that we have at Ballard. Add some sconces! We love the art on the credenza, placing a beautiful bowl with some books could add layers to your already wonderful foundation. We have an acrylic bar cart that would vibe with your modern yet traditional look, and this would bring in another fun texture.

Mentioned In This Episode:

Please send in your questions so we can answer them on our next episode! And of course, subscribe to the podcast in iTunes so you never miss an episode. You can always check back here to see new episodes, but if you subscribe, it’ll automatically download to your phone.

Happy Decorating!

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Caroline McDonald

Caroline lives for pairing together patterns, mixing furniture styles, and oogling over our newest furniture pieces. As you can imagine, her little 1920's craftsman is in a constant state of flux. Here on How to Decorate, it's her goal to help you turn your home into your own little slice of paradise.