Yup -This is it.

 It’s a moment in time .

 I find myself at the crossroads of work and retirement. I have thought about this day, planned for this day, and even, yes even fantasized about this day! Now that it is here I have a tiny little confession:


 Okay – maybe I exaggerate.

The truth is exactly what you might expect . . . I have completely mixed emotions.

 As I look back over my shoulder I see reflections of 40 years of being someone’s employee.

 I have been quite lucky because my places of employment have been extentions of my passions. That counts!

But now I really am looking forward to the next chapter of my life.

I may continue blogging –

I may work part time for another design store –

I may sell jewelry-

I may take a graphic design class –

I may take naps – or spend hours on a floatie!

I also have visions of doing some type of artwork projects with people who are drinking wine at the same time!   Hey! Did I just invent a new career?!

Oh wait,  I think Jackson Pollock already did that.

Today, however I just want to say thank you to my readers and to my family of co-workers.

Know that you will be dearly missed.

It’s time for me to smell some yellow roses!

Dianne Ross

Interior Designer / Phelan’s Interiors


Christmas Home Tours


The joy and the beauty of the season are upon us!

I have never tried this before, but one of my friends ( and fellow blogger) and several  others  linked up to share their holiday decor. (I hope I have you linked up correctly)

These homes are really fun! They are very creative, some simple and some over-the-top. But these are women who love decorating for the season and are willing to share with all of us.  I couldn’t wait to pass this along to my readers, as well.

Grab a cup of Christmas tea ( or a bottle of holiday cheer), sit back and enjoy the tour of these Christmas homes just as I did. The tour begins with a blog called Cottage and Vine.

Enjoy the beautiful labor of love you are about to see.





I have mentioned this before but I believe it bears repeating; there is no other time, or season, or event where people decorate everything! And we do it, simply because it is beautiful.

We do it for beauty’s sake!

 LOVE that!!

Merry Christmas !

Dianne Ross

Interior Designer / Phelan’s Interiors


The beautiful child in the Christmas photo above?

 My Grandson.

If Santa had his portrait done by . . .

Ready for some holiday cheer? My goal for the day is to put a smile on your face!


Below are portraits of Santa IF they had been done by various artists that you’ll recognize!

Because I live in Iowa, the number one winner is:

American Gothic Santa, Grant Wood

Santa (however, this is my personal fave) Van Gogh

Santy Warhol

Santa at the CORNER: Hopper

Santa’s Whistling mother

And, without a doubt –  Picasso Santa

Are you smiling?  All of these images were on-line found at Circa Arts Gallery!

Fa la la la la la la la la!

Dianne Ross

Interior Designer/Phelans Interiors


Variations of a Candy Cane.


From Wikipedia: “The Candy Cane was first manufactured in the 1920’s when Bob McCormack in Albany, Georgia first started making them as Christmas treat, giving them out to children, family, friends, and co-workers.

(phot0  from room envy)

Candy Cane production was a labor intensive process, done only by hand, until the candy cane machine was invented in the 1950’s by Bob McCormack’s brother in-law, Gregory Keller, who was also a Catholic priest.

 This machine made it possible to ship candy canes and it made the production of the traditional Christmas treat a lot easier. The candy cane machine transformed Bob’s Candies Inc. into the largest producer of candy canes in the world.”

Today the Candy Cane pattern is used on very non- candy, non-typical things.

Interior designers love it!

The house of Hanna shows us this understated, but festive, candy caned colored foyer.

Or, how about investing $80.00 for your little Christmas toddler’s Candy Cane feet?!

Oh what fun it is to  –  see this playful take  on a teen bedroom.  (From ideasBest)

Packages wrapped in white never get tired when they have the energizing zing of candy cane color.

 Or, if you dare –  you could try your personal kitchen variation on the candy color scheme.

OR, for some real Christmas cheer, you could pretend that you are me . . .

Okay, maybe that’s not really me.

But the candy cane phenom is real!

Enjoy as many variations as you can think up!

Dianne Ross

Interior Designer / Phelans Interiors


Eating pumpkins – RECIPES continued

As promised I will divulge a pumpkin dessert recipe that is tried and true.  I have learned that when I bake this for a gathering I just bring printed recipes with me because it has been a proven crowd pleaser for years.

 I first ate this dessert at a holiday shower and the hostess was kind enough to share the recipe with me.

   Having only have a handful of  “everybody loves this”  recipes,  I am so delighted to share this one with you.

 First, I want to talk about the results of my first batch. Even though . . .

the dessert is so delicious that my husband and son ate the entire pan of it .  After all the praises I’ve been singing, you  are probably thinking to yourself  “not surprised“, right?

But here’s the back-story: It was only after I placed the pan in the oven I noticed the eggs were still on the counter.

Panic attack!

I grabbed that baby out of the oven, scraped off the topping, whisked up the eggs and poured them into the pumpkin filling – or tried to, anyway.  I sort of had to poke it in.  Then I replaced the topping and set the timer.


Have you ever seen scrambled eggs streaming, like olympic ribbons, through a pumpkin pie?

It’s not pretty.

The pumpkin was thick and gooey. The crust was soggy and saturated from the combination of over weight pumpkin and egg shrapnel.  However, all was not lost! T he  topping was still crunchy and pretty good. I left it on the counter while I headed back to the grocery store.

Hey – it’s not like I served it to them or forced them to eat it.

No! They just sneaked a piece now and another later – until it was gone.  They loved it!

 Now you know I speak the truth when I repeat: this is a good recipe.

Okay, no more stories. Here is the recipe. 


Seriously, you will want to smooch me for this one! 

Plus, today you get a bonus.  No – a double bonus!

Here are TWO ideas for pumpkin recipes sent to me by one of my readers, Chondra!  Thank you SO much!

This first one she says, “is the best of both worlds: pumpkin pie and pecan pie, combined!”  Tempting, indeed.


Here is the second recipe she sent and said it’s from another blog “Spoon Fork Bacon”! You just get the feeling it will be scrumptious. Thanks again , Chondra for sending these recipes to my lucky readers.

Pumpkin Butter

Makes 3½-4 cups


1 (29 ounce) can pumpkin puree

1 cup 100% apple juice (unfiltered pressed apples are best) ¾ cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup light brown sugar

¼ cup pure maple syrup

2 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground ginger

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

¼ teaspoon all-spice

1. Place all ingredients into a medium pot and place over medium heat. Stir.

2. Allow the mixture to reduce on medium to medium-low heat for 30 to 40 minute or until slightly thickened (the mixture will thicken more as it cools).

3. Transfer to sterilized jars and store until ready to use.

4. Serve over toast, muffins, scones, etc.


Dianne Ross

Interior Designer / Phelan’s Interiors


Month 2 of a love affair with pumpkins – Let’s eat!



We have now entered the second half of pumpkin madness in the USA! The illuminated version of the pumpkin – Jack o Lanterns, which I love , are gone and now we can get down to the serious business of eating pumpkins!  I think I love this tradition even more. 


We have carved out pumpkins and decorated with them, so what does November offer?  We eat them!  Today and maybe next week I am going to share delicious ways to eat pumpkins, aside from  the iconic pumpkin pie.

This is Pumpkin Bisque.  All I am going to say is, “Yum.”

Pumpkin Bisque Cooking time:25 minutes

 2 tsp (30 mL) olive oil

 1 small onion finely chopped

 3 cloves garlic, minced

 1 small sweet potato (about 6 oz / 170 g), peeled and thinly sliced

 2½ cups (625 mL) water

1 can (15 oz / 416 g) pumpkin purée

1 tbsp (15 mL) light brown sugar

1 tsp (5 mL) salt 3/4 tsp (3 mL) ground pepper

 ½ tsp (2 mL) rubbed sage

1 cup (250 mL) fat-free half-and-half

 2 tbsp (30 mL) grated Parmesan cheese

 4 pinches cracked pepper

 Directions 1.Heat oil in large nonstick saucepan over low heat. Add onion and garlic, and cook, stirring frequently, until onion is tender, about 5 minutes.

2.Add sweet potato and 1½ cups (375 mL) of the water to pan. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until sweet potato is tender, about 10 minutes.

 3.Stir in pumpkin purée, brown sugar, salt, ground pepper, sage, and remaining 1 cup (250 mL) water, and bring to a boil.

 4.Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until flavours have blended, about 5 minutes. Working in batches if necessary, transfer to food processor and purée until smooth. Return to saucepan and stir in 3/4 cup (175 mL) half-and-half. Cook until heated through, about 2 minutes.

5.Spoon into soup bowls. With a spoon, drizzle remaining half-and-half over soup. Use the tip of a knife to create a pattern.

6.Sprinkle Parmesan and cracked pepper on top. Serve with Italian breadsticks and follow with roast poultry and steamed spinach.

On a personal note, I ate a version of this in New Orleans at Emril’s and he added bourbon. Bam!

Let’s hear it for the pumpkin!

Next week I’ll share a fabulous “pumpkin pie” cake recipe. You’ll thank me.

If you have an unusal, tasty pumpkin recipe please send it to me!

Let’s spread the joy!


Dianne Ross

Interior Designer / Phelan’s Interiors


What is IKKAT? IKAT?


Right now Ikkat is the absolute “must have”  fabric/pattern in the interior design world. It is showing up everywhere and on nearly everything from shoes to sofas! The word itself means “to bind.”

This collage was on design sponge.


Wikipedia gives us this definition: Ikat, or Ikkat, is a dying technique used to pattern textiles that employs a resist dyeing process similar to tie-dye on either the warp or weft fibres.

Actually the process is really NOT like tie-dye because the fibres are dyed before they are woven into fabric.  The color variation exists in the threads first.  When something is tie-died the fabric is bundled (tied) together and then dyed. Take another look.  This collage is from

Haley on home design


What a beautiful technique!

And old – very old! Some antique patterns come from South America, India, as well as in the caucuses. If you decide that you are in love with these rare and hand-made delicacies be prepared to spend some serious cash. To make a proper Ikat fabric is labor intensive and time-consuming, hence the large price tag.

 But if you are like me and really love the look of variation in colors and geometric patterns, as shown above in the collages, many companies produce look-alike knock-offs.  And, as far as I can tell, either spelling – one K or two, is correct.

This shows a piece of original IKAT fabric.


We have several gorgeous Ikkat patterns available for sofas and chairs from vendors like Thomasville and Norwalk.  All  the fabric lines ( Kravet, Robert Allen, Fabricut, etc) offer  a tempting aray of colors and patterns. Obviously adaptable down through the centuries, the design characteristics of Ikat can be playful, loud, subtle, soft and or sophisticated.

Photo from style-files.


Once you fall in love with these patterns you will want more, more, more!

So what is Ikat?

The quiz is coming! 

But, no worries.  You know all about it now.

Ikat shoes from Zazzle

Enjoy the wonderful weekend everybody!


Dianne Ross

Interior designer / Phelans Interiors


(it’s time to) Kiss Summer Goodbye

Lots of people would argue – myself included – that autumn in Cedar Rapids can be absolute heaven on earth. This year we have had phenomenal leaf colors, moderate temperatures and glorious sun filled, whirly-twirly windy days. We all love that!

BUT – I decided to do just one more “summertime” post. These are some images that remind me of summer colors and summer energy, so I’ll just share them with you before I get ready to order up my October pumpkin flavored latte.

Enjoy the sights!

How can you tell  this is not a  photo of me?

Right – I don’t own tennis shoes, but I do have about 40 paint decks!

Below are “summer ” colored night-light tables.  Aren’t they (ahem) just a blast!?

Cupcakes are craved all year long, right? But these colors and the confetti just  sing out “summer!”



I can hear the heat of summer two-stepping!



Betcha don’t know what these are?!

Well, if you ever feel like you’d like to light it up in the bathtub, these citrus discs can be purchased from HimeyaShop to accomplish just that!  They’re from Japan and, floating in the tub they REALLY do shoot light throughout the bathroom.


I hate to say it, but it’s that time.

Time for me to let go of  all summertime thoughts and images. . .

Time to kiss summer goodbye.


Goodbye Summer. I’ll miss you.

Dianne Ross

Interior Designer / Phelan’s Interiors


Katharine Hepburn Style: Bold Simplicity

What a phenomenal photo!

Katharine Hepburn didn’t make or endorse furniture but when you hear her name, inevitably the word style comes rushing at you.

For reasons unknown to me, today she is on my mind.


So, here is a bit of Katharine and a bit of my mental wanderings.

The  photo, video, and quote below can be visited on-line . . .

“Katharine rarely granted interviews (even in her early career, she refused to sign autographs) but when she did grant interviews, she wanted them done her way. In 1973, Katharine was a guest on The Dick Cavett Show and she decided that she didn’t like the arrangement of the furniture. So what does she do? Rearranges it to her liking of course!”


She wore men’s slacks because they were “practical” and suddenly women everywhere decided they were oh-so-glamorous.

She rearranged furniture on a set to make it more functional and intimate for a personal interview.

And she gave us one of my favorite quotes:

“Trying to be fascinating is an asinine position to be in.”


Thanks, Katharine.


It leaves me wondering what kind of furniture line she would have a passion for. If you are feeling especially self-confident today, add your interpretation, Katharine Hepburn style, to your interior design life!

Keep it simple in form and keep it bold in emotion.


Dianne Ross

Interior Designer/Phelan’s Interiors


Hot Las Vegas Furniture Market says: Stay Cool.

Hey! Happy hot summer days everybody!

 I love it when the sun shines and we have wild colored zinneas in bloom under cornflower blue skies!


So, you might expect a blog about HOT colors today, but alas you would be wrong!

Today,we are going to stay cool. We are going to tone it down, keep it sleek, and admire tones almost without any color at all. The company Brownstone has introduced this collection at the Vegas market. It’s just too gorgeous to keep it under wraps. The finish is silverleaf.

 And  the details are delightful! Here a touch of zen, there a touch of French curves, and all done with an editor’s eye.

Here is what the company has to say about the collection they have named “Fairmont”.


Brownstone introduces the Fairmont Collection with this sneak preview of our first showing of the Fairmont collection, a unique collection of silver leaf case goods.

We’ll  be showing this group for the first time at the Las Vegas Furniture Market this August 1-5.  Be sure to visit us in showroom A100 if you plan on attending, and to see the craftsmanship on this group.

This group is NOT production at this time, but if we receive a good response at Vegas then we will most likely have stock around Nov-Dec.

The smouldering bling of  the silverleaf finish is perfect for cooling off on a hot summer day, wouldn’t you agree?

Dianne Ross

Interior Designer/Phelan’s Interiors


French script on fabric chairs!

Today let’s talk about  French things like:  flowing SCRIPT – perhaps Bastille Day Celebrations – bread, wine, chaise lounges and oo-la-la beauty!

 poster from Designnurd

Norwalk Furniture has done it again!

They have designed a fabulous French script fabric.

What is even more remarkable is that you can use this fabric on any piece of furniture in their line! If you prefer a French chaise, or perhaps just a comfortable, American chair, it is so easy to do.

This is the piece we selected for our show room floor!

 So, even though we don’t really celebrate Bastille Day in America, which was yesterday, by the way, we  do love a bit of the French touch in our interior design – and, well okay – in our wine cellar, as well!

All I can say is “Vive laFrance”!

Oh, and I really should say, “Thank you” to Norwalk for producing this beautiful fabric .



Dianne Ross

Interior Designer/Phelan’s Interiors


RE-POST: Turquoise – I just can’t get enough!


I posted this about a year ago, but it is one of my favorites,

 so enjoy all these uplifting images!

Better Homes and Garden photo

I loved last week’s post (COLOR) so much I couldn’t let it go. Looking for photos online of all things turquoise I stumbled upon a blog called House of Turquoise. Check it out, but before you go there, here we go again! There should be something for everybody today.


I want this kitchen.

and the York wallpaper shown below. . .

Here’s another remarkable room.

Skona Hems shares this room with us.

Peonies and a book – simple.

Pretty – from another blog called Centsational Girl.

(the seashell is a green turbot)

And here’s a lovely little bauble from my own garden taken 4 or 5 years ago.

This guy I photographed as he strutted his stuff on a Texas farm.

Now  “just for fun!”

And today’s finale:  turquoise Gibson Guitar SG Special!

 Thank you, Pantone, for Turquoise!


Dianne Ross

Interior Designer

Phelan’s Interiors




Edible, beautiful design, featuring summer berries

Because we have waited sooo long for summer to arrive this year I wanted to change the focus here a bit.  Instead of interior design I’m in the mood for another recipe and another take on design.

The delicious images you are seeing are all different takes on how to “design” a berry trifle. Inspirational flavors are always a great blend with inspirational presentation.

It’s all the same in the design world – instead of using furniture and accessories, today we are using berries, whipping cream, lemons and glass vessels. . . edible design.


Each  “designer” has her unique way to mix the ingredients and to display   them. More summer inspiration for you!


The Recipe

as published in Kravet Inspired . news magazine



1 pint blueberries

1 1/2 pint raspberries

1 pint strawberries, halved

3 TBS sugar, adjust for the sweetness of the berries

1 1/2 tsp cornstarch

1 tsp vanilla

4 TBS sugar

1 quart whipping cream

10 ounce jar of lemon curd.

Pound cake loaf sliced to your personal specifications.

Cook the berries, 3 TBS sugar and cornstarch slightly in a saute pan just until the berries start to burst. Some sauce will start to form.

Beat the vanilla and whipping cream until soft peaks form. Gently fold in the lemon curd. FYI – I lovelovelove lemon curd!

Start layering  in your  favorite glass bowl: 1/4 whipping cream mixture, 1/3 pound cake pieces, 1/3 berries. Continue to play. 



Continue to design,






Dianne Ross

Interior Designer / Phelan’s Interios


Grey and Yellow: New color buddies


No reason, really, to say that.

I just think it sounds like fun!

As my readers know, if I had to scale it down to admitting only one obsession, I would cave at color.


Desire to Inspire photo


So today you will be treated to this up and coming color trend:

Grey and yellow

Charcoal and butter,

Flint and Gold,

Fog and Sunbeams,

Well, you get it . . .

Charming, edgy, AND classic!

Jan van Eyck photo

Candice Olson has stunning new fabrics in her spring/summer collections that highlight grey and yellow pairing. and, yes we have them in our showroom!

Here is one she calls Kiley!

What do you think?

Do you like this new look?

Do you think it is trendy or here to stay?

Dianne Ross

Interior Designer/Phelan’s Interiors


Kate’s dress designer BLEW IT!


Not that look-alike nuns are necessarily unsightly, but when one is young, vibrant and drop-dead gorgeous, it makes me think the Royals are already attempting to make Kate look as rigid as a nun. Or an aged queen.

They should have done much better. Let’s start analyzing how I came to these conclusions. . . beginning with the whole Grace Kelly thing.

Does this dress look familiar?

As for looking like Grace Kelly – maybe. Except  Grace Kelly had a  keener designer.  I am NOT a fashion designer, but just look at the consideration given to Grace Kelly’s body type. The banding around her ribs and the ‘bell’ shape to her skirt were carefully executed components, that  probably should have been copied, also!   What?  It’s my rant!


Next on my list of  “how to make a beautiful woman look like a plain Jane” was the thought that maybe the castle needed the masses to see her as appropriate (plain), which could translate to humble. 

Because one question that begs to be asked is, what was up with her hair?

It wasn’t allowed to be Kate’s real hair which is free-flowing and the absolute definition of healthy hair extraordinaire.

Nope. Pin it back nice and flat, like a nun. Remember, she is not a REAL princess so she could not have  a REAL princess tiara. Next, plop  one of those snooki-bun-thingies on top of her head so the tiny, but oh so sentimental tiara, could have a resting spot. What were they thinking? 

 Me? Thanks for asking.

I would have designed a dress more body-appropriate for a beautifully shaped young woman. Not a  dress with the silhouette of an any-age nun.  I would have certainly eliminated that nun head-dress. 

Look at this dress worn by Gene Tierney in the film Razor’s Edge. Much better choice to copy for Kate, according to me.

 It’s elegant, modest, and youthful. Okay.  Let’s analyze some more.

Kate’s hair should have been less starched so it could move with her natural grace.

 But here’s where I really take issue with her entire ensemble. I would have put her in a bigger tiara, or made a bigger statement with that one by making it more visible and complimenting Kate’s God-given regal hair. Come on, it’s a Royal wedding for crying in my crumpets! 

Again, see photo above.

Perhaps, that too, was seen by the Royals as not humble enough for Kate’s image? I’m just trying to figure it out because . . .


Here’s a newsflash for the Palace:  YOUR PEOPLE WANT A STAR.


They miss HRH Diana.  During the past few weeks as many wedding programs were about Diana as were about all the other Royals combined.

Right or wrong,  the public is praying that Kate will step into Diana’s shoes.

They want it and they are eagerly awaiting  it. It’s a shame that during the world’s biggest wedding, the Royals tried to hide the most beautiful, the most engaging, and the most endearing  parts of Kate.

Well, they tried.

She was a stunning bride, after all. I am just of the mind that she wasn’t allowed to be Kate and to naturally wow the world and,

 take names . . . if you know what I mean.

 She’s got what it takes.

And, I think it scares the HRH out of them!

So that’s my wedding day rant. And, yes, I realize I went out on a limb here because I haven’t heard ONE person express anything but ooohs and ahhhs about the dress, the tiara, or her mane.

Maybe it’s just me. Opinions?


Dianne Ross

Interior Designer / Phelan’s Interiors


Tiaras, Crown Jewels and THE wedding!

 To my readers – this is a first for me – I am asking you to read someone else’s blog. The name of it is:
 “This is glamorous”
Timing is everything and today she posted the most interesting research on historical royal tiaras. Her photo selections are equally as stunning.
As the wedding countdown mania begins, educate yourselves with her          glittery documentary! 
‎* and finally, the longest it has ever taken [in {this is glamorous} history!], to compose a post . . . http://bit.ly/i2z4mD

If this doesn’t get you there, please go to {this is glamorous}



Thanks for asking.

I am taking the day off, staying in my pajamas, donning my favorite rhinestone tiara, and snuggling into my bed with cup (quart) of coffee, all the while enjoying the pageantry on T.V.


I love a parade!


 Make your weekend sparkle – where ever you are!

Kiss someone on both cheeks!

Dianne Ross

Interior Designer/Phelan’s Interiors


If you love the style of T.V.’s Mad Men . . .

Norwalk unveiled yet another flashy, and yes, sophisticated look at April’s market featuring the cosmopolitan flair of mid-century modern. Watch the video to see many of the audacious fabrics and styles.


I am absolutely MAD about a certain Benjamin Moore blue-green color called 

Wythe Blue.

And, guess what? It’s the color of the Draper foyer! See the photo above. This color is so wonderful that entire articles/blogs have been devoted to it!

Suffice it to say that Norwalk has not neglected the aqua-ish shades in the Mad Men collection.  I will post more photos of this color later – why? because I am having technical difficulties today. arrrrgghh.

But check out this perfect paint color and all the looks from Norwalk. I promise – if you are a Mad Men fan, you are going to lose your mind.



If any of you have used Wythe Blue in your home I’d love to see your photos – and I’d love to post them!

So, “girls” – slip into your stilettos, tie a happy apron around your waist, and get cooking!


Dianne Ross

Interior Designer/Phelan’s Interiors




“Boho Chic” – Finally a real trend!

I have been waiting for this trend to make it’s way into the home furnishing market! If you have a bit of gypsy color in your blood, then you will love this new collections from  Norwalk Furniture:

                                                              “BOHO CHIC” 

 Street Art, graffiti, celebrities, and even some “1960’s cop-an-attitude” come together to create this mischievous, sophisticated look.

Nothing is too cute here, thankfully. Norwalk did a great job of keeping the look just gritty enough to stay on the edgy side. 

If you like what you see here, you will love the “real deal”!  Watch this video and then come on down to the store! See you soon!




Dianne Ross

Interior Designer/Phelan’s Interiors


PS  Norwalk is an American company – made in Ohio.

Fresh Spring FLOWERS in fabric!

Spring is here! Spring is here!






Well, if you live in Iowa and think 40 degrees, without a trace of sunshine is spring, you’d be right on the money.  Hey, at least it’s April!






Everybody is SO ready for some spectacular spring weather with flowers blooming all around, so today here is a pick-me-up until our flowers really do unfold.


The fabrics are from Villa Romo and the wallpapers are from Harlequin.













Mmmmm – You can almost  smell the lilacs.


Dianne Ross

Interior Designer/Phelans Interiors


Interior Design 2011 – What’s In?!

So, if you are one of those with “IDS” , or as we say in this business,          Interior Design Sickness, you can’t help yourself – you must read on.


Is it circles or squares for 2011?


 Kravet fabrics




Is it black or espresso?


Thomasville bench 



Is it clean cut and linear or fanciful quatrefoil??                                                    Modern or traditional for 2011?



Thomasville  Metro sectional 

Kravet fabric


Is it Adrenaline or Xanax?







First dibs


Greek key bench

The answer is YES!


Dianne Ross

Interior Designer/Phelan’s Interiors


Honeysuckle – HOT HOT HOT!


Last year’s Pantone color of the year was turquoise because of its calming effect (much-needed after a tumultuous 2009). This year, they’re forecasting a way more vibrant color: Honeysuckle! According to Pantone Color Institute Executive Director Leatrice Eiseman, “In times of stress, we need something to lift our spirits. Honeysuckle is a captivating, stimulating color that gets the adrenaline going – perfect to ward off the blues.” (Ariel Kaiser)

So, what DOES the color “honeysuckle” look like? According to pantone it is a hot pinkish-coral! That works! But many people see yellow or orange when they hear the word “honeysuckle.”     

Here is a sample, a tempting snack, if you will, for your eyes. Prepare for Honeysuckle 2011!                 

interior photos by rhonna designs

I am SO ready for honeysuckle! Thank you, Pantone!


Dianne Ross

Interior Designer/Phelan’s Interiors



A Little SpringFever-Teaser!

Ah – sunshine! And seeing the earth reappear beneath the melting snow! It puts people in their happy place. We are craving  fresh air and  crazy colors!

So here we go – a little spring fever-teaser from the countries that call themselves Latinos. . . the home of Latin lovers. Enjoy the visual feast!



My gorgeous Columbian friend, Jackie.

A client told me that yesterday he was so excited about the balmy February weather that he slipped into a pair of shorts and had a cocktail on his porch.

Prepare for Spring! Enjoy the visual feast!


From Brazil

and Venezuela

and Columbia, of course!

And  fromCuba

Well – Okay – maybe NOT!


Enjoy all the colors! Enjoy your week END!

Dianne Ross

Interior Designer / Phelan’s Interiors


Beauty IN, Ugly OUT!

As Nancy Grace would say, “Bombshell tonight!”


It’s still winter!

 Okay, so it’s not exactly a bombshell in a journalistic sort of investigative report, but it does sound intriguing!




 Here’s the truth –  I really just wanted  to continue with last week’s theme:

How to BEAT The Winter Blahs




 In the past few days we have received several pieces of magnificent artwork: magnificent in size, magnificent in color and incredibly magnificent with the

WOW! Factor! 

There are also pieces of  “fun” sculpture – some whimsical, some very sophisticated and, as always, some classically romantic pieces.

If you are craving an art-fix, stop in and admire these creative works of art.


 We will help you find beautiful.

So, as it turns out, this is an invitation! 

What a great way to beat the Winter Blahs


“Bombshell tonight!”

52 more days till spring.


Dianne Ross

Interior Designer / Phelan’s Interiors












































































































































































































































































Dianne Ross

Interior Designer / Phelan’s Interiors




Winter Freeze = Cozy Home

When the weather outside is frightful what do people do for themselves?

Spruce up the house!



December’s extraordinary, fast paced days, and the glitz of Christmas are now tucked away in the memory bank.



It’s frigid January.  It’s only the beginning of winter. It’s time to complain about the weather. . . like we didn’t know it was coming.


 It’s time to do something with our energy! 

We look around the house and realize there is no better time to get creative. We want soups and stews and a cozy gathering place to be with each other.


 We want to play board games, watch movies while munching on yummy flavors of popcorn, and a snazzy sectional for hosting a Super Bowl party.

Candice Olson Sectional  


We want our very own chair and a fantastic, long winded novel.


We want our home to be congenial, comfortable, and cozy.  Most of all we want to be HOME!


It’s no wonder that January and February are the busiest months in the home furnishing world!


We’ve got you covered.


Dianne Ross

Interior Designer / Phelean’s Interiors










STILETTO: Heel? Dagger? or Table?


Brian Cummins photo

The Italian word “stiletto” comes from the Latin stilus meaning: “a stake; a pointed instrument”(from Wikipedia).

A stiletto heel is a long, thin, high heel found on some boots and shoes, usually for women first being introduced in the 1930’s… It is named after the stiletto dagger(also Wikipedia).

Interestingly, the  high heeled shoes were first introduced in Italy, as was the dagger by the same name.


Now comes Thomasville! 

Using a metal with soft undertones of both gold and silver, they have styled a collection of tables to live up to the name, Stiletto!

With its classic retro look these tables will add an edge to your casual, centemporary, great room or living room. If it’s  glamorous Hollywood and girlie that fits your definition of stiletto or if it’s more cutting edge and masculine, it doesn’t matter – the Stiletto  collection will work! 

The striking Stiletto collection of tables are on our show room floor, so come and check them out!

You see,  it doesn’t matter if your defintion is to  strut it,  to stab it, or to  add a layer of some smart bling , the very idea of Stiletto is sharp.


 Take one more step.

Add the functional and ornamental Stiletto collection to your well dressed home.  


   Dianne Ross

Interior Designer / Phelan’s Interiors


guest author – CHRISTMAS TRADTIONS – original story!

Today we have the privilege of reading (part of) an original story by a guest author, Stacey Kible, which she has called  Christmas Traditions.


Just weeks before Christmas we prayed and we wondered how Santa would be able to visit this season.

 truthtalklive photo

While preparing a cup of coffee one evening in the kitchen I heard a noise in the living room, stepped into see who was there and much to my surprise it was Santa himself!

Dianne Ross photo

“What are you doing here”, I asked?

 With his voice choked up and a tear in his eye he said, “remember the reason for this season”.  I wondered why he was telling me that, and before I could get the question out of my mouth he had already anticipated it coming and quickly reached behind my tree and grabbed a small bag. As I stood there in wonder Santa said “remember the reason for this season”.

“Remember the old meaning of Christmas.

The meaning that today has forgotten.”


Santa then reached into his bag and pulled out a FIR TREE, placed it on the mantle and said, “remember that the fir tree is a stately tree that stays alive all year round, depicting the everlasting hope of mankind, with the needles pointing upward making it a symbol of man’s thoughts turning toward heaven”.

ldgames photo

He again reached into his bag, pulled out a brilliant STAR and placed it on top of the tree.

“Remember that the star was the heavenly sign of promises from long ago. God promised a Savior for the world, and the star was the sign of fulfillment of His promise”.

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License

He then pulled from his bag an ORNAMENT  and placed it on the tree.

“Remember that I, Santa Claus, symbolize the generosity from our hearts and good will we feel during the month of December”.

Dianne Ross photo

Santa then reached into his bag and pulled out a CANDY CANE and hung it on the tree.

after tales photo

 “Remember that the candy cane represents the shepherds’ crook. The crook on the staff helps to bring back strayed sheep to the flock. The candy cane is the symbol that we are our brother’s keeper”.

Santa looked back and was pleased.

He looked back at me and I saw that the twinkle was back in his eyes.

He said, “Remember the meaning of Christmas and do not put me in the center, for I am but a humble servant of the

One that is, and I bow down to worship Him,

our LORD, our GOD”.

As Santa was leaving my family home I could hear his voice fading off in the distance saying,

 “On humility, on loving, on caring and sharing, on forgiveness, on peace, on gratitude and family.

Let the flocks return to their families abode and let forgiveness and laughter all be restored”.

Created by

Stacey Kible

THANK YOU TO OUR GUEST AUTHOR, Stacey Kible, who wrote this story for her family. There is even more but I wanted to share some of the highlights of her original writing!


Merry Christmas!

Dianne Ross

Interior Designer/Phelan’s Interiors


WHITE Christmas Decor




 “Always use white”



was last week’s advice and will be going even stronger today.  

The white Christmas mantra will be seen all through the house!

It’s classic, it’s traditional, it’s fresh, modern and funky. It’s even nostalgic, country and shabby chic.


Browse and be amazed with WHITE!

          Here, there,  . . . everywhere WHITE elegance!

 vintage WHITE delicacies


All dressed up,  fancy WHITE tulips



rather flirty, never serious,   **youthful WHITE**


unexpected snow-covered decanter and tray




WHITE piano topped with WHITE churches! Delightful!



Flocked WHITE wreath with peacock feathered poinsettia


Environmental WHITE Lodge



Smart books on WHITE shelves




Restful turquoise, silver and WHITE 


All photos are from Country Living website.

  I would, however,  love to see your holiday whites!

           Send your photos to me and I will publish them. Now get out there and deck your halls with




Fa la la la la la la la la!


Dianne Ross

Interior Designer/Phelan’s Interiors


It’s a Wrap! SIMPLE Christmas packages

Because I believe the Christmas box or package should rival what’s actually inside, many of my friends and readers ask me for help concerning how to wrap glorious gifts during this, the most gift giving time of year.

First:  consider the decor and colors in your room.  Match it up.


country living photos


Second: And then – Always use white. . . . somewhere.


What could be more beautiful or simple than an all white presentation?


                                                                                                                            Delish photo

This is SO simple you don’t even need paper!

Using white gift boxes make this type of package the easiest to wrap.         Use white satin ribbon or color coordinated ribbons, add an ornament for embellishment and you have an impressive designer look in under three minutes!


camberly photo

This designer of these packages did use white paper instead of white boxes but she kept it casual and simple by using white yarn instead of ribbon. You could also use string before adding some artificial flowers and fruits. In my yard I have evergreen trees, so I simply cut a few sprigs and tie them onto white packages.  Easy!


Third: Use white!

If you have young children and want a more fun type of simple  look,

  go for the white boxes or white paper again!

good housekeeping photo

Let the kids stamp alphabet letters or family initials onto the paper.

This is quality time and your opportunity to teach them how to wrap pretty gifts! If this project ends up with messy letters who cares?! 

 Children love simple holiday projects.

If the idea of ink and children scares you, then buy some fanciful stickers and let them go at it. Nothing gets more simple than that!


One more festive presentation that children of all ages love is done with something very simple, inexpensive, and available everywhere:

Candy Canes!

little loveables photo


Fourth: Use more white boxes!


                                                                                                             soapbox photo

I think I’ve blah, blah blogged long enough on this subject! Can you tell I love it? Maybe I should offer a gift wrap class.

 You bring the eggnog and I’ll bring the scissors! ooops. I meant to say I’ll bring the white boxes!!


Dianne Ross

Interior Designer/Phelans Interiors


CRANBERRY PARFAIT – Thanksgiving Perfect!


Parfait (pronounced [paʁfɛ]) is a French word literally meaning “perfect” that began referring to a kind of frozen dessert in 1894.


Cranberry (pronounced tart red yummy thingies) is an American word which has dominated the fruit popularity contest for the last decade.


Last year I talked about a rather unusual item that has joined our Thanksgiving table of bounty.  Pink is the heavenly color of this parfait  and even though pink is not considered  “an autumn hue”, there it is on my table. “Perfect”.

 And there it has been for the last 37 years.

This came to be one Thanksgiving when I was 8 months pregnant and unable to travel more than 3 blocks. A person who tuned out to be  a life long friend, as well as godmother to both my children, invited my husband and I to join her family for dinner.

On her table were gorgeous goblets filled with cranberry parfait!

Her French mother met and married her dad who was an American serviceman.

As time passed, a French Christmas treat soon became a Thanksgiving tradition  in Iowa. She passed it to her daughter who passed it to me.



My family has loved it ever since.

So to those of you who asked again for this recipe:




Grind 1 package fresh cranberries and 4 cored apples.


Add 1 can drained, crushed pineapple.


Add sugar to taste – it will depend on the tartness of the apples.

HINT: Remember this will get sweeter when the whipped cream is added.


Whip heavy cream and add a bit of vanilla and a bit of powdered sugar.

(No cool-whip please!)


Mix about half cranberry mixture and half whipped cream in a separate bowl. Then spoon into each goblet.  You can also invent different ways to layer the mixture! Serve immediately or refrigerate.



The fruit mixture can be made days ahead and refrigerated.Mix with the whipped cream at the last moment. My family likes this a bit on the tart side, so play with the flavors.


It is a beautiful light pink delight! Taking the que from my dear friend I always place these goblets on the table as part of the setting, even though it is very much a parfait dessert! 


Giving thanks from my heart,


Bon Appetit!


Dianne Ross

Interior Designer/Phelans Interiors


Glitter Spiders in the Kitchen!

One more Halloween blog to inspire some home decorating. . .   My kitchen table is crawling with glittering spiders!

I don’t really know what happened to me this year but suddenly I am nuts over spiders!

Like many designers I have always been nuts over glitter so I guess it just makes sense to sparkle up some creepy-crawlers fo the holiday. I even found a fuzzy leopard print spider at Pier One! 


But, I digress. . .


for the discriminating Halloween glamour puss!


The ideas for these pumpkins are a personalized version of something presented on the Country Living website called the “Great Pumpkin Challenge”.


I bought the plastic (I did say discriminating, didn’t I?) white pumpkins at Michael’s and already had tons of glitter. Spider rings also came from Michael’s. Originally, my plan was to have a play/art date with my four-year old grandson to decorate these pumpkins. You know – “ to do it for the kids!”

 Which we did.

 Here is Scotty’s work of art!

A little bit like his “nana” in that his use of glitter paint was somewhat extreme.

 It took 2 days to dry!


after Scotty completed his pumpkin and took it home I was left with some plain white pumpkins.

I had an uncontrollable urge to rush back over to Michael’s to buy the all black glitter pumpkin!

Which I did.

Next, paint glitter on the little spider rings and hot glue them. 

Ghouls and goblins, I give you  . . .

the finished project. . .


My kitchen table. 




Dianne Ross

Interior Designer/Phelans Interiors














D Ross photo


Last week was all about the real Halloween food – candy!


This week: Macabre Meatloaf!

 Mummy meatloaf:  cooked lasagna noodles wrapped, cheese and olives for eyes.

 Not only will children eat meatloaf but it is just about the easiest dish to prepare, so let’s focus on getting the kids out the door on Halloween with some real food in their bellies .  . .

Here’s the best part: Meatloaf can be patted, poked, and pushed around to make it look like a nightmare. I found these next two photos on the Food Network page.

Horribly clever, don’t you think?

Do you think that’s a layer of hashbrowns underneath?


This severed hand meatloaf calls for onion fingernails

and a spicy barbecue glaze!







Try making a dead man meatloaf. Stick a knife into his gut just before serving. You can creep out the kids even more if you serve it on top of spaghetti “snakes” or macaroni “maggots.”

Let your imagination run  wild! If you have kids between 12 and 17 they can add their own ghoulish details. Fake blood seems to be a favorite among this set – and entirely appropriate at this dinner table!

Fill them up with wholesome horror food and then let the sugar high begin!


D Ross photo (my candy!)

Dianne Ross

Interior Designer / Phelan’s Interiors


Candy Corn! Trivia, Decor and Food – really?


The origin of candy corn.


















Not Really.

This card (which I received 5 years ago) is so Halloween-gross,  it still cracks me up! 


Actually, the sweet little treat was invented in the late 1800’s, and because we were predominately a farming society then, the idea was to make candy in the form of something people would recognize. Corn!

We have been eating these tiny kernels of corn for over 200 years!  Don’t tell the First Lady but this month 20 million pounds will be sold.

So, besides scarfing them down, what else are people doing with

Candy Corn?


Okay I have touched on some Corn Candy trivia so let me show you another very simple way to decorate  with candy.








You could also use the candy instead of glass rocks under the candle.

Black bowls and Candy Corn.

Told you it is simple!


To make  an easy, crowd pleasing  Halloween treat using Candy Corn try this version of  an American staple: Rice Krispy Bars.

  • 1/2 c Butter
  • 10 c Crispy rice cereal
  • 9 c Miniature marshmallows
  • 2 c Mixture of candy corn and Indian candy corn
  • 3/4 c Miniature chocolate chips
  • Candy pumpkins
  • Yellow and red food coloring


Melt butter and marshmallows; stir until smooth. In a large bowl, mix rice cereal, candy corn and miniature chips together. To marshmallow mixture, blend in 2 drops yellow food coloring and 1 drop red food coloring, adding more coloring if necessary to reach desired shade. Add marshmallow mixture to cereal mixture; stir quickly to combine.

Spread on a large buttered pan; press with buttered hands. (Or shape the entire glob into a pumpkin, ghost, or candy corn (!) shape before refrigerating and decorate accordingly.)  While warm, press on candy pumpkins spaced 1 to 1/2-2 inches apart. Refrigerate and cut into squares.

**Most of you are aware of my total dedication to PEEPS,

 my personal favorite health food snack,**

 but this is the season to embrace that waxed little marshmallow treat – Candy Corn!


I found this photo along with a cupcake recipe from alisonchirdon.com


It is possible to honor the integrity of  PEEPS,  and to incorporate candy corn as an element of  decor.


One more time for review and/or slow learners:

The origin of Candy Corn 

mojeetcat photo

More to come next week!


Dianne Ross

Interior Designer/Phelan’s Interiors


Candice Olson here in Cedar Rapids!

Everybody loves Candice Olson, right? 

 But where can you find her products?

Right here in Cedar Rapids!

Phelan’s Interiors has been a long time partner with the Norwalk Furniture Company, and Norwalk has been a long time partner with Candice Olson!


Stacie Reid, Interior Designer at Phelan’s,  had the chance to meet Candice at High Point Furniture Market last April!  Lucky lady!



When you see Candice planning a room design on her T.V. show (Divine Design) and she is looking at fabrics and selecting sofa styles, she is working with Norwalk Furniture.  Norwalk manufactures Candice’s sofas and chairs right here in the United States!


Did you know she also offers a fabulous line of lamps and chandeliers?

And, guess where you can find those pretties?



Right again.

Right here at Phelan’s in  Cedar Rapids!

Because delivery time is approximately 8 weeks, if you want your custom made Candice Olson sofa or chair in your home for the holidays, come in soon!

Phelan’s Interior’s  is having several Candice Olson promotions between now and Christmas, so stop in and check out all of her “divine” goodies!



Dianne Ross

Interior Designer / Phelan’s Interiors


GHOST Chairs Reappear

Art Deco had its hey-day nearly 80 years ago, even though we still “borrow” ideas and style from that era. Like, all friendly spirits, these ghosts keep reappearing! Some look very old-country, and some look very out-of-this-world modern.

 Victoria Ghost Chairs

The 1960’s  really ran with the clear plastic craze  and one of the many pieces produced was a “ghost chair”. Today the manufacturers use lucite, acrylic, polycarbonate, and even glass!

La Marie Chair

Phillippe Starck’s Louis XV Ghost armchair.

 Most are clear and colorless, while some companies are stretching  the entire playful idea of ghost chairs by offering designs in assorted colors!

Lionel Dean’s Holy Ghost chair

This is one of my favorites – it’s painted to look like wood grain and then the bottom of the legs are left clear, giving it that floaty, spooky ghost feeling! It is from the Japanese company Nendo. Of course, it’s called The Fade Out.

Enjoy the sit out of these fanciful chairs! 

 Coming soon to Phelan’s Floor.

Dianne Ross

Interior Designer/Phelan’s Interiors


New Kitchens as Living Art

Trends in kitchen are about to go crazy with things that are clean, sleek and even more convenient.  The kitchen is about to launch itself as a functional piece of living art!

Countertops are being reduced!  What???

They are being replaced with floor to ceiling cabinetry. Are you ready for this?

I am thrilled!

I am really ready to see something, not only fresh in kitchen design, but logical. Right, I said logical!

Today I am sharing some very simple, state of the art kitchens –  done in black and white. Black and white isn’t a new thing, of course – except now we are seeing both colors in combination, rather than all black cabinets or all white cabinets, or some combinations of wood and black and/or white.

I am more thrilled!

Go Modern photo

The upper cabinets (white) have lift up doors. The back splash  and cabinet fronts are glass and the lower cabinets are drawers.


Here is the whole kitchen.

Go Modern photo

Talk about Bling for the home!

Is it even possible to keep getting  more thrilled? 

 Because I am!


 Modern European photo

Notice the microwave and ovens are placed in cabinets that almost resemble former entertainment centers. The color is vanilla bean.

Out with jicky-jacked (Ok, I made up that phrase, but it works) cabinets and in with linear horizon lines.

Out with having superfluous kitchen do-dahs on the countertops and in with the generous storage, accessibility and privacy of pantries.

More emphasis is on storage, which translates to order and cleanliness!

Which then translates to BEAUTY!

aka: Living Art

I can’t get much more thrilled than this!

Imagine the sheer joy of having a functional, storage galore, organised, clean, uber-artsy  kitchen?!

European Design photo


Hold on to your frying pan, friends, because it is about to happen all over the country.

Next week I’ll post some more traditional (or classic ) designs for those of us who don’t live in contemporary homes.


Dianne Ross

Interior Designer / Phelan’s Interiors


Blue COBALT Blue

Hi everybody!

Today is another COLOR day. YAY!

photo of Charleston’s Rainbow Row



Blue is struggling to make a comeback. “Spa” blue is is still a strong look but it is a pale aqua color.


I am talkin Blue!


Check it out!

Dianne Ross’s photo-art


Dianne Ross’s niece, Rachel!

Dianne Ross’s work place  in the snow . . .

Be on the look out for this electric color. It will zap high voltage energy right into any setting.

 Cobalt is coming!



Dianne Ross

Interior Designer / Phelan’s Interiors


What the Heck is WENGE? (trending now!)


 This WENGE is an old post, but because it gets so many hits I’m sending it over the waves one more time!




According to Wikipedia, the word wenge, (pronounced ‘whenj’) when referring to color means a rich brown color with copper undertones.

According to most Iowans, however it is a word pronounced  ‘wen-gay’ and refers to a piece of furniture or a wood finish color.

 Now it gets even more confusing because wenge is a wood color and it is an actual wood species. First things first: The furniture industry has identified the color as nearly black, in other words, ‘espresso’. So, now you need to know your coffee colors in order to describe the object of your desire. Remember it is the color of espresso, not latte, not cappuccino.

 Ready for more international brain teasing? Guess where it comes from.  Sounds rather French, but if you guessed that you’d be wrong. (Well, not all wrong if you are remembering the Republique d Zaire`. But you probably aren’t thinking that.)  It is indigenous to small African countries, such as Zaire. Even the name of Zaire adds to the global mystic of wenge when you consider it derives from the Portuguese. And by the way, the correct Latin name for wood species is Leguminosae.

 Meanwhile, back in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, we carry a handsome furniture line from Italy. Calligaris. This fine company has all the wenge you could ever want! Calligaris specializes in clean, uninterrupted lines. Very fresh, sleek, and modern.

 So, to continue with one more furniture trend for 2010, I give you a Calligaris contemporary bedroom setting (above photo). Best of all, I give you WENGE! 

 Now, I’m off to sign up for a geography class and get my passport renewed.


 I’m thinking I should hit Starbucks on the way.


Dianne Ross

Interior Designer / Phelan’s Interiors


Turquoise – I just can’t get over it!


I posted this about a year ago, but it is one of my favorites, so enjoy all these yummy images!

Better Homes and Garden photo


I loved last week’s post (COLOR) so much I couldn’t let it go. Looking for photos online of all things turquoise I stumbled upon a blog called House of Turquoise. Check it out, but before you go there, here we go again! There should be something for everybody today.


I want this kitchen.

and the York wallpaper shown below. . .

Here’s another remarkable room.




Skona Hems shares this room with us.



Peonies and a book – simple.

Pretty – from another blog called Centsational Girl.

(the seashell is a green turbot)



And here’s a lovely little bauble from my own garden taken 4 or 5 years ago.

This guy I photographed as he strutted his stuff on a Texas farm.

Now  “just for fun!”






And today’s finale:  turquoise Gibson Guitar SG Special!


 Thank you, Pantone, for 2010 Turquoise!


Dianne Ross

Interior Designer

Phelan’s Interiors
















 “Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2010″ Turquoise:



Lucky for me, Pantone LLC declared Pantone 15-5519 Turquoise as the Color of the Year for 2010.

Lucky, because I love the entire blue-green spectrum.

It is flattering to everybody.


Each year Pantone Color Institute®, creates standardized color palettes used in the graphics, design, cosmetics and fashion industries. As per the color experts, the color turquoise evokes a soothing feeling of a tropical paradise, and positive, relaxed energy.





I love it.  I love it.  I love it!



Dianne Ross

Interior Designer / Phelan’s Interiors


Big HAIRY Decor!

Because “hair on hide” has been a consistent hit over the past 5 – 7 years, I thought it would be fun to see how many ways designers have slipped it into everyday decor. In the furniture world this is one of my favorite chairs. It’s a small scaled, versatile accent piece from Bradington Young (available at Phelan’s) which makes a lovely, low-key WOW statement. The “fuzzy” cowhide has been printed to resemble a cheetah print and wrapped around the outside of the chair.


Next in the home decor category would also be the most obvious:

 an actual cowhide rug.

 These rugs aren’t just for cowgirls anymore! They are being used in every type of home fashion from rustic urban traditional to city loft contemporary. You might even say these rugs are being used by showgirls!



If Andy Warhol is more to your liking you could incorporate this hair on hide rug to the decor!

 Both of these rugs were sold on eBay. . . Confession:  I actually bid on this one!  What?!  I couldn’t stop myself and, sad to report, I didn’t win the auction.


Moving into fashion, perhaps a more comfortable zone, we find hair on hide handbags being flaunted everywhere.

Another gorgeous handbag with fringe from Fendi:

 FYI these hides come from COWS. They are processed and dyed and printed to look like zebra prints, or cheetah prints or whatever, so the creative design options ae really boundless!

The next category is near and dear to almost every woman’s heart:



  Lucchese, the famous boot maker, offers these fun-stomping mules in off-white hair with silver undertones!


Last on the docket for today’s insanely fun hair on hide  product-must-have is:

DRUM ROLL, please!





Hair on hide continues to make it’s artistic statement. Wether it is in home decor as rugs, chairs, ottomans, sofas, or throw pillows, it stands strong.  In the fashion world we see it everywhere – on ball caps, barrettes, handbags, belts, shoes, vests, coats – if you can think of it – somebody is producing it!


I like the playfulness of  it.  And it looks like I’m not alone!


 Do you own any hair on hide pieces? Send me a photo of your personal finds or drop me a note with your opinion.


Dianne Ross

Interior Designer/Phelan’s Interiors






EXTREME Cupcakes and LOVE!

 Cupcake girls! Cupcakes! Crazy Cupcakes! Cupcake Heaven! 

To illustrate the fact that the cupcake craze is still alive and well, today’s Valentine blog will showcase some cupcake specialties. I will include, not only the expected yummy, fancy decorated cupcakes, but.. .  

Cupcake furniture – a table that retails for about

$900.00 smackers 

 at neatorama.com



Ready for some more cupcake extreme?



These cars are really on the market and may be purchased for $25 thousand smackers!


 Here they are again: cupcakes on the beach!


Moving on. . .

Valentines Day Decor wouldn’t be complete without our heart pillows, now would it?

Conversation Hearts are just so garden variety, so past tense. . .


Here is a much more 2010 Valentine pillow

 OMG – it is covered in fabric roses and it LIGHTS up! You can buy this

from Yanko Design:  UrHeart d light

Sorry, I don’t remember how many smackers this will set you back.



 Have a happy Valentine’s weekend. . .

Eat some cupcakes (or drive some)

feel the love

toss a pillow!

Funky Love pillow available at Cafe press


Dianne Ross

Interior Designer/Phelan’s Interiors


PS. Oh, I forgot to mention that if you buy the Cupcake Car you get the cute little, matching hat FREE! Come on people, how can you pass on this deal?!

Iowa in January means MANGO!


mango lady

Right! It is almost over – January that is.   It’s been too many days without a ray of sunshine. Everyone is a little grumpy. So the word I am offering up today is “mango”! 

“Mango is my favorite color” a client said to me today, “Show me some fabrics with that color.”

That challenge made me do a happy dance. I got happier as the day progressed. Who would have guessed that simply looking at things colored mango could pull you out of the winter doldrums?!


So , here are some mango photos for your pleasure!

1970 Dodge Challenger in “Go Mango-Orange” custom paint!



The fashion brand name “Mango”


 A painting by VERONICA LAWLOR  entitled “Mango Memory”  www.veronicalawlor.com



Now, to tie all these images into a blog about interior design! Look at this dynamite kitchen!


Hello,  Mango colored wall decals! Are your feet doing the happy dance yet?


Really? Did anyone realize there is an airline named “Mango”?  Really.

Have a week filled with color!


Dianne Ross

Interior Designer/ Phelan’s Interiors


After Christmas Sad-House-Blues

 Hey!  Happy 2010 Everybody!

I actually wrote this last year, but because it has been so well received, I decided to post it again! Must have struck a nerve with many readers!

 This syndrome is defined as depression following holiday parties.

It has many names (Treatment is available) and is sometimes known as


Onset begins 4-10 days after Christmas tree removal.  You are at low risk if you have some but not all of these symptoms:

You have a family history of living in snow bound areas.

Sudden onset of snarky attitude and general melancholy.

Not remembering how dark the house is without Christmas lights.

Most, if not all of these symptoms of Winter-Dark-House Blues will be eliminated by implementing a non-specific commonsense home improvement project of any type. Do not deny the power of these Blues. Shop with an understanding friend who shares a similar experience and is good with color.  There is help. There is hope.

 However, CALL YOUR INTERIOR DESIGNER  immediately if you experience any of the following high risk symptoms:


Thoughts of hurting your sofa.

Halucinations – Seeing colorful accessories that aren’t really there.

Having an uncontrollable desire to paint everything sun flower yellow.

Thoughts of completely destroying or eliminating a wall.

These are traumatic manifestations of Post Party-um Blues. If your symptoms are severe, last longer than an Iowa winter, or if you find yourself  fixating on buying an ocean front condo in Costa Rica, then you must be treated by a professional interior designer. Therapy won’t work. Medication is useless. Googling Rosicrucian psychosensory incantations is definately out of the question, but –


 Talk with your designer.

Schedule a house-call.

Make a plan and follow through with confidence.

See the light.

At the very least, buy one lamp!


There is absolutely no need for Post Party-um, Dark -Days -of -Winter Blues to envelop you. For more information on this debilitating syndrome contact your personal interior designer or . . . or call me!

Dianne Ross

Interior Designer/Phelan’s Interiors


What’s Up HOT Color?!

Maybe because we are inundated with bad news these days, the design world is offering a “pick me up”. That lift is coming to us in the way of color!


I remember writing a hot pink blog recently, but after the National Furniture Market in High Point 2 weeks ago, I get to write another one!


Hot pink, hot orange, hot red, and even hot purple were seen all over vignettes at market. I don’t know about you, but I am totally ready to bring some hot into my life and my home. I’m not saying that you should paint the whole house Mandarin orange, but be fearless and use it for fun! 


How could anyone be in this room and be sad? It would be very difficult.

Don’t hesitate to include some of that hot color this year when you set your menu as well as the Thanksgiving table.

 Orange infused cranberry sauce belongs on this Thanksgiving table. The sage hue of the walls reminds us that a savory stuffing will scent the room as the copper-skinned turkey is carved.

And so it begins!


So, what’s up, Hot Color?

 This year go for a blast of color when you want to accent with pizzazz

It is really that simple!


When you realize how perfect everything is you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky. ~ Buddah


Dianne Ross

Interior Designer/Phelan’s Interiors



Interior Design on Halloween

Why is this woman in a straight jacket? What pushed her over the edge?

Crazy                                                       Trick or Treat photo by A. Von Ahsen


 She didn’t come to Phelan’s first for all her home furnishings and design needs!  Don’t let crazy happen to you!




Dianne Ross

Interior Designer






Iowa Rain verses Pretty Shoes

 Several pairs of my shoes have been flooded out. So far this year, over 40 inches of precipitation have graced the fair community of Cedar Rapids. That’s right – and we still have three of our “tradtionally wet months” ahead of us!


Normally, I wouldn’t go off on a rant for this blog, but sometimes the Iowa weather makes me cranky. It makes everybody I know cranky. I find myself wishing I owned stock in a flip-flop company!




 Frankly, we midwesterners are extremely weather-sensitive. The very first decision we make each and every day depends on the weather: what to wear. And this year (actually last year must be included as we remember THE flood) we  must decide what shoes we can or cannot wear based on how many inches of rain have been predicted. 

I mean,  don’t misunderstand – I am fully aware of heartland beauty. I appreciate each season with its unique spectrum of colors, and spicey or earthy scents, and comforting ambience.

But then it rains.

Every season.


    So yeah, I’d wear these to work! 


Dianne Ross

Interior Designer/Phelan’s Interiors


Stalks of Decor(n)

BLOG interruption for a Fund Raising break!

This magnificent summer weekend is (drum roll, please!). . .

corn servers 


St Jude’s Sweet Corn Festival 

That’s right…. an unbelievable FOURTEEN TONS OF CORN will be cooked!


I will be there. My plan doesn’t alter from year to year. I will fast all day before arriving at the festival. I will ignore the car raffle. I will not be tempted to network with friends. The home made pies won’t lure me in. 



The Sweet Corn Festival is, in my opinion, the best reason to live in Cedar Rapids. I am practically giddy with excitement as I visualize chomping away on as many ears of corn as I can possibly choke down!

I totally understand people who love sweet corn and love this festival, but as an interior designer, I am having a bit of trouble  understanding people who love to decorate with corn. Count yourself lucky if you were unaware of the phenomena  known as corn decor.  AKA: decorn!  It is as real as it is hideous.

These are ceramic or pottery plates – totally appropriate for serving sweet corn. I get that. Same as the ones shown above, only not-plastic, and missing the pokey things you stab into the ends of the corn. Like I said, I understand.corn plates

Both of the above items are available on eBay.  


After that  things start going crazy on me. Like corn switch plate covers.

cornswitch Disturbing.  (also on eBay)


I have the capacity to completely enjoy sweet corn and even the idea of corn.  At the risk of sounding like a spiritual braggart I also have the ability to comprehend the absolute pure essence of corn on the cob.  I do embrace my heartland-ness.

I mean I live in Iowa, it’s no big deal. 


Are you serious? A smirking, napkin-holding decorn? deorn



Back to my dilemma. Through the years, just as a joke mind you,  my sister and I have gifted each other with decorn items that fall into the category of:  “Who in their right mind would possibly pay money for that ?”


 As it turns out, each one of us does!  Anything for a laugh. The corn seahorse makes my case for me. This gift from my sister, this piece of decorn has to be the big winner. Could any decorn absurdity beat this!?!

It makes you wonder about who thought of the idea of a corn-bodied seahorse – but more intriguing than that is someone else thought the idea was good enough to manufacture!


I had to show the “piece de resistance” one more time – just in case you are having a tough time believing what is in front of your eyes. 

 I could easily continue down this corn row, but the story has been exposed.  So, enough about decorating with a corn motif –

Go out to St Jude’s Sweet Corn Festival and feast upon the world’s best corn on the cob.

If you’ve never attended before, you will thank me!


Back to business –



Dianne Ross

Interior designer/Phelan’s Interiors



PS Confession: The smirking corn thing is also from the author’s private collection.


A Touch of Heat: PINK, not Red

As promised, this week we are looking at how to add a touch of heat to a black and white palette. I’m suggesting to think pink!


fred and ginger2

 Hot pink is making inroads, again, into home decor.  Shocking to the eye at first, it soon asserts itself much like the flavor of the pink pepper – when used sparingly – it is warm with a lingering romantic after taste!

The hue is delicious.


                                              Room setting at Phelan’s


So, here is a strategy to fire up a  palette without totally burning it up. Here are two more groups of accessories available on our floor.


Think pink.



 Add a magenta pillow to your sofa.  Add a fuchsia orchid anywhere.  Add electric-pink stemware to the formal dining table.  Add a handful of pink peppercorns to your Lucite pepper grinder.  Add a touch of heat. 

Show off!




Be warned: Hot pink is dramatic. It is confidence.  It is ego. It must be controlled. In the era of Hollywood Regency design, this one color demanded a presence of front and center on the set, and yet when used with restraint, never stole the show. It simply added a touch of heat!


If the hue of  hot pink doesn’t add enough heat for your decorating style, stay with me because we will burn it up with lipstick red . . . caliente! 

If you have photos you’d like to share of your successful hot ( pink or red) decorating ideas please send them to me. I’d be pleased to post them.

If you are in a dilema, let me help.


Dianne Ross

Interior Designer / Phelan’s Interiors


Hollywood Glam – Sparkle and Mirrors

Add some drama:  Today,  three photos – one chest!

point and shoot

Here I am at work shooting a mirrored chest . . .

To continue the exploration of, and the implementation of the popular Hollywood Regency Revival style, this week I roamed through the store with my camera.

 Over the next few weeks I will show effective ways to add drama with a few simple, but utterly beautiful, accessories we have on our floor.



 The reflective panache of this  chest screams Hollywood!

Use it in a foyer, in a dining room or a bedroom. 

This is the one.

Place this piece wherever you want a flash of serendipity.


 Even though it looks rather plain-Jane, I wanted to include the manufacturer’s photo below.  The entire piece can be seen without our added Hollywood embellishments.



Next week I’ll reveal some design secrets concerning what can be done without color – i.e. black and white art. This is at the very heart of glamorous interiors.

If you have been struggling with how to accessorize, especially using a “no color palette”  please drop me a note with your dilemma.  


Dianne Ross

Interior Designer/Phelan’s Interiors





WHAT THE HECK IS WENGE?! Furniture trends continued


 This WENGE is an old post, but beause it gets so many hits I’m sending it over the waves one more time!




According to Wikipedia, the word wenge, (pronounced ‘whenj’) when referring to color means a rich brown color with copper undertones.


According to most Iowans, however it is a word pronounce ‘when-gay’ and refers to a piece of furniture or a wood finish color.


Now it gets even more confusing because wenge is a wood color and it is an actual wood species. First things first: The furniture industry has identified the color as nearly black, in other words, ‘espresso’. So, now you need to know your coffee colors in order to describe the object of your desire. Remember it is the color of espresso, not latte, not cappuccino.


 Ready for more international brain teasing? Guess where it comes from.  Sounds rather French, but if you guessed that you’d be wrong. (Well, not all wrong if you are remembering the Republique d Zaire`. But you probably aren’t thinking that.)  It is indigenous to small African countries, such as Zaire. Even the name of Zaire adds to the global mystic of wenge when you consider it derives from the Portuguese. And by the way, the correct Latin name for wood species is Leguminosae.


Meanwhile, back in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, we carry a handsome furniture line from Italy. Calligaris. This fine company has all the wenge you could ever want! Calligaris specializes in clean, uninterrupted lines. Very fresh, sleek, and modern.


So, to continue with one more furniture trend for 2008, I give you a Calligaris contemporary bedroom setting (above photo). Best of all, I give you WENGE! 


Now, I’m off to sign up for a geography class and get my passport re-newed.

 I’m thinking I should hit Starbucks on the way.





Dianne Ross / Interior Designer

Phelan’s Interiors



christmas-chokeberry-21Dianne Ross Photo

Following a Christmas-List reality check this week, I came up wanting. I was horrified to accept the fact that it may not be possible to accomplish all of my tasks. Only on Thursday did I begin shopping for gifts . . .

No cards written, addressed, or mailed, but the house is looking fairly festive.

No baking done, but I know where the cookie cutters are.

No gifts wrapped or embellished, but I did find a Tupperware container filled with 8 scotch tape dispensers and a 7 inch strand of wrinkled ribbon. The container was in the cupboard behind the cookie cutters.

Stocking stuffers? No comment. But, I digress . . . BACK TO THE LIST!

And to exterior design. Well, uh,  I don’t have any outdoor lights up yet, either. But it’s on my list.

When I shot this photo in my courtyard, the glitter of the snow was as fresh as my ambition to design my own Christmas cards this year. Talk about excited! Instead, what I did was sprinkle salt (ever so artfully) on the front step and then I scooped the sidewalk.  Exterior design. I ran out of steam and I’m running out of time.

TIME. It also occurred to me that my story might very well be your story. Our holiday lists apparently have no end! So here’s a thought, if you will, and a generous gift to give yourself. It’s the gift of awareness. . . .

To see the beauty of glitter on the snow,

To hear the somber tolling of bells,

Give yourself the gift of TIME . . .

To stop long enough to behold the spirit of the Christmas.

This year give yourself the gift of time for awareness.

(it’s on my list!)

Merry Christmas!

This is a re-post from 4 years ago but it speaks to me today.  After losing two beloved family members this year I would like to add one more thought for the gift  list. . .

This year give yourself the gift of TIME. . .

to cherish those you love.

 Give yourself the gift of awareness for a grateful heart.

Dianne Ross

Interior Designer/Phelan’s Interiors