Sharon Flatley

All photos: Daniel S. Flatley Photography

For Dallas interior designer Sharon Flatley, a Barbie Dreamhouse began her passion. She got it as a present when she was eight years old and knew then she wanted to design.

Sharon Flatley

Sharon Flatley, ASID, RID

“I immediately set about redecorating the interior and adding cardboard porches to the exterior—I used scraps of fabric to make drapery treatments and made rugs and cardboard furniture to add to the décor,” she said. “I would spend hours looking at catalogues for furniture and cut out the pieces to create ‘roomscapes.’ I guess it was just meant to be.”

Fast forward a few decades, and she’s still creating roomscapes and great design, but on a grander scale with her firm Sharon Flatley Design. She specializes in kitchens and bathrooms, creating classic and timeless spaces.

“If I return to or repeat any design element, it would be just that,” she said. “I want my designs to stand the test of time and in ten years, still look elegant and classic, as well as functional.”

Flatley loves the process, from concept to completion.

“I love the journey along the way and designing and then adapting that design as issues arise either because of time constraints or structural limitations that come up during the project,” she said. “No matter how well planned out a design, there will always be challenges that will need to be addressed along the way.”

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Barbara Gilbert Interiors. Photo: Michael Hunter Photography

Barbara Gilbert Interiors. Photo: Michael Hunter Photography

The emergence of the open floorplan as a home design standard means more eyes than ever are on our kitchens. Design and function evolve every year, and we’ve asked some of the top Dallas interior designers to dish on 2016 kitchen trends for us.

They say the overall vibe for this year is crisp and uncluttered, with the warmth of wood floors and accents. They’ve also given us some gorgeous photos to show these trends in action. It’s going to be a beautiful year!

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Summer Riggins

Summer Riggins took an outdated cottage in East Dallas and transformed it into a contemporary, elegant haven with luxe features and a custom-build feel. Photo: MetroplexHD

Two weeks ago, an East Dallas property in Old Lake Highlands went on the market and was featured as the CandysDirt Thursday Three Hundred. It caught our eye with its custom-build features; cohesive, elegant look; and Midcentury vibe.

The response was overwhelmingly positive, and people swooned over the details of this big renovation that turned a dated cottage into a chic, welcoming home. (It also went under contract in 12 days, proving our readers have great taste!)

The woman behind the transformation of 561 Classen Dr. is Summer Riggins, a Dallas-area pharmaceutical rep who is self-taught and does this work in her free time.
561 classen exterior before

summer riggins

Photo: MetroplexHD

After you’ve picked your jaw up off the floor, take a moment to look through the before-and-after photos of this house to appreciate the scale of the reno that Riggins undertook. This was not just paint and floors: Riggins reimagined almost every area and made careful changes to reflect a California Midcentury Modern ranch aesthetic, honed over years of study and practice on multiple smaller projects. The Classen house is almost unrecognizable from its pre-renovation state.

Riggins has been on the path to “renovation virtuoso” since childhood.

“While I haven’t completed a [complete] home renovation prior to this one, I did grow up in a household where it wasn’t uncommon to come home from school and find an exterior wall knocked down, with a smile across my mom’s face and a directive we would be rebuilding it as a family,” she said.

Riggins once got sent to her room for not properly drawing layouts for the home she wanted to build one day.

“I truly wanted to be an architect and I’ve always had visions of living spaces running through my head,” she said. “I guess I thought everyone else did, too.”

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Barbara Gilbert fairview living-room-interior

A cabana living room in Fairview designed by Dallas interior designer Barbara Gilbert. All photos: Michael Hunter Photography

Dallas interior designer Barbara Gilbert is an expert in the psychology of color, creating carefully curated spaces that not only work visually, but positively impact function and use.

Her attention to detail means you’ll find every inch accounted for in her designs in ways that often surprise and delight. One exampleL LED toe kicks in the kitchen, bringing illumination to the floor.

Barbara Gilbert

Barbara Gilbert

“Details are what make a room beautiful—it’s the mixing of patterns, textures, and colors and placing them strategically in a room,” Gilbert said. “We will mix two patterns on a chair and add contrast welt for variation. We make sure that the height of an end table is the right size for the furniture it sits next to. We are very particular about scale, so when we source artwork we make sure it’s the perfect size for the wall it adorns.”

We mentioned Gilbert on CandysDirt in 5 Dallas Interior Designers to Watch in 2015 this January. We noted her work on an eco-friendly home in Highland Village that earned her two 2014 ASID Legacy of Design awards, as well as the Dallas Builders Association ARC Award for the kitchen. She’s a Best of Houzz winner from 2012-2015. Additionally, Gilbert just won five 2015 ASID Legacy of Design awards, including first place for transitional living areas and first place for a transitional singular space.

Gilbert and her team at Barbara Gilbert Interiors specialize in high-performance, sustainable new construction and full service luxury residential interior design. It’s work she loves and in which she excels.

“We interpret our clients’ needs and dreams and use all of the principles of design to create their spaces,” she said. “Excellence is the standard for us and we don’t quit until we think it’s perfect! Thinking outside of the box is normal we love challenges.”

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The living room of a Meadowood Estate designed by Mary Anne Smiley.

The living room of a Meadowood Estate designed by Mary Anne Smiley

Mary Anne Smiley had big plans for herself as a young woman. During childhood, she began drawing house plans and dreamed of a career in architecture.

Several years later, she tried to begin architecture studies at Oklahoma State University. But it was the 1960s, and the dean informed her, “Women do not enroll in architecture.”

Mary Anne Smiley

Mary Anne Smiley

That unfortunate turn of events led her to a different kind of adventure—she decided instead to study interior design and fine art. This began a successful career as an interior designer, and today, Smiley is recognized her as one of the top designers in Dallas. She received a Best of Houzz 2014 award for service, and a Best of Houzz 2015 award for design.

“I went to college with the intention of being an architect, but I am so glad the dean told me women could not enroll in architecture, as I think that would have been so limiting for me,” Smiley said. “I also wanted to be an artist so bad, but realized I did not have the raw talent required for that at that time—during the 60s, if you were not angry, and interested in phallic symbols, you did not have what it took! I think all-in-all, I landed just where I needed to be.”

Smiley’s love of bright color made her a pioneer of its use in Dallas interior design, and a signature of hers is bright spots of pure color against soft pearl-finish backgrounds. She’s also known for her ability to mix antiques and lavish textiles with cutting-edge products, from metallics to recycled plastics.

“I love to mix elements,” she said. “For instance, in the Highland Park contemporary study, for the desk, I used two contemporary chrome bases for a custom acrylic ‘tray’ top with honey onyx insert. The unique thing about this desk that you do not see, is that the onyx has a hollow space that encompasses an LED light grid that lights the onyx top without any evidence of a light source or wiring, as the wiring is concealed inside the chrome base, running directly into the floor, with the transformer for the lighting mounted beneath the floor.”

Today, she brings her talents to clients with her company, Mary Anne Smiley Interiors, creating carefully curated spaces for a range of clients. Her work is simply stunning.

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All photos: Kevin Twitty

In January, I wrote a post called 5 Dallas Interior Designers to Watch in 2015 and Kevin Twitty of Frisco’s IBB Design Fine Furnishings made that list.

Twitty creates original, inspired interiors and shows tremendous ambition and attention to detail in his work. He seems to have an intuitive nature that helps translate a client’s wants and needs into beautiful, functional spaces that serve as the stage to create their memories.

Since I published that post, I’ve wanted to talk to Twitty and find out more about his background, influences, design process, and upcoming projects. As I suspected, he’s a genuinely likable guy with a great story, incredible passion, and a general joy of living that he brings to his work.

Kevin Twitty_Headshot

All photos courtesy of Kevin Twitty

Twitty got his professional start following his first semester at Stephen F. Austin State University, where he was an accounting majoring. On winter break, he took a job at a small showroom at the Dallas Trade Mart helping with visual displays.

“Day one on the job was a 12-hour marathon of learning, creating, and refining new designs and it left me yearning for more,” he recalled. “When I returned home that evening and shared my day with my mother, tears started to run down her face as she told me, ‘You’ve found what you are meant to do. I’ve never seen you this happy.’”

Upon return to college, he changed his major to interior design and never looked back. That showroom job lasted for seven years.

“My time there was invaluable to my growth as a designer and I was able to hone my skills and better understand scale, space, and balance,” he said. “I’ve now spent the better part of a decade making spaces of all kinds beautiful and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”

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All photos courtesy Russell Ross

All photos courtesy Russell Ross

When Russell Ross took on his first interior design job, his bosses only let him make 50 percent of the design decisions and the pay was zero, but he was hooked.

Turns out it was an addition to his family’s home in Oklahoma and his parents were in charge, so getting about half his design ideas implemented was pretty great for a pre-teen.

“I’ve always had interest in design since I helped my dad build an addition on to our house,” Ross said. “I was only 10 or 11, but was fascinated by building, designing, and selecting finishes. I remember a couple of evenings sitting down with my mom and dad looking at drapery fabrics, light fixtures, wallpapers, wood stain colors, and carpet samples and my dad asked me my opinion.”

Russell Ross

Fast-forward to 2015 and you’ll find Ross bringing his calm presence and analytical mind to interior design projects all over Texas and around the United States. His West Village firm, Russell Ross Design, rebranded last year from the name Intuitive Design, and he is tackling design projects that include the revitalization of two 1980’s homes, designing a fitness center with an affluent retired football player in Southlake, and working on a new construction house in Vaquero Club in Westlake, with elements like a floating walnut staircase, a powder room with a lighted floor, and dramatic two-story fireplace.

“I think we are known best for being able to listen to each individual client, and marry their tastes and needs with our creativity and unique style, to give them the homes of their dreams,” he said. “Our intent is to create one-of-a-kind looks for each client.” Jump to read all about his designs and see pics!

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Barry Williams Interior B

All photos courtesy Barry Williams

If one could step into the imagination of interior designer Barry Williams, I imagine one would find a lavish, carefully curated place of amaranthine loveliness, as well as an endless inventory of ideas.

He brings a photographer’s eye, a perfectionist’s attention to detail, and a historian’s context to his work at Williams Design Inc., a firm he opened in the Dallas Design District in 1999.

Williams is one of the most exclusive designers in Dallas, creating exquisitely appointed interiors for a select register of clientele. His nickname is “the billionaire’s decorator” because he has worked for six. He has no website, because he’s not interested in making himself available to everyone, only those as serious about beautiful design as he is. For years, his business even had an unlisted telephone number.

Barry Williams portrait

“I love to get it right,” he said about his design philosophy. “I want to prepare for every meeting with every new client with a lot of energy and care and my desire is to be retained until the last detail clicks into place and the house looks finished and complete and feels good.”

And details are his specialty. For decades, Williams has carried a camera on him all day, every day, to capture and catalogue the elements around him. By his estimation, he has 54,000 photographs that aid his design work.

“I am hugely inquisitive and am always seeking and finding new patterns, colors, techniques, and details. I see new things everywhere all the time,” he said. “I have a nuclear-grade memory and can recall details from far and wide and bring them together in a new way.” Jump to read more!

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