Donna Vining: Think Different

Don’t believe the rumors, when it comes to Texas-themed designs big isn’t always better. Interior designer Donna Vininig knows that often time client don’t need BIG, just the most bang for their buck.

Thanks for joining us, Donna! Tell us a little bit about how you two got your start in interior design

When I was 8 years old my parents remodeled our home and my mother worked very closely with the architect and landscape architect and I was fascinated.  When I was 13 years old my mother opened an antiques shop and that was the final hook.

Texas is consumed with the idea of being the biggest. How do you try to incorporate the Texas lifestyle into your designs? How do you try and limit it? 

As a native Texan, I always think people’s ideas are so interesting such as “TEXAS is consumed with the idea of being the biggest” so since I don’t believe that is true this is hard a question to answer. The largest private home is Biltmore in Ashville, North Carolina. In fact of the largest 26 homes in the United States only one is in Texas, ranking in at number 17, and it was built in 2002. I listen to my clients and strive to give them everything they want while paying great attention to universal design principles, cost and the environment.

Fair enough! Describe some of your most challenging spaces?  

Let’s begin with what makes a space challenging and that is usually when the owners want something that is not feasible within their budget parameters.  It is then my job to tell them what we can do within their budget.

Would a unique layout always benefit the designer by expanding their ability to be creative? 

Not necessarily, for example if people have a long skinny room and they want a round dining table that seats 10 people, the unique layout of the long skinny room does not work.  However, if they are open to unique layouts and using the space in the best way, the design solution is usually less predictable.

So it could it limit your options?

Of course.  The creativity of a professional is not limited by square spaces or unique layouts.  I have changed many ordinary spaces into extraordinary spaces, the result is always what counts the most.

Open floor plans are more popular than ever and many clients are consumed with the idea of flow. How are your designs patterned to help the occupant feel that the space is stress-free? 

Wow, I have never thought of open floor plans as stressful. Everyone usually prefers open spaces and once again for a professional, flow is never an issue. I would never design a space that is stressful.  Making people comfortable, spaces warm and inviting are key components of all the spaces I design.  I have been told many times by attendees of show houses, that my spaces feel warm and inviting and like something they could live in — I think that is the ultimate compliment and goal.  Many people can do outlandish eye catching rooms but if no one really wants to occupy them, what is their purpose?

Area rugs, our specialty, are versatile. Texas homes and businesses have open spaces with traditional hardwood floors. Explain how you tend to incorporate the rugs into your design. 

I love all types of area rugs.  They can be the most impactful of the design elements or the least.  They can create instant harmony and bring the room together very quickly.  I have clients with summer and winter rugs so that they can have different feelings.  Rugs are very versatile.

Do you have a type of area rug that you lean on most?  

No, really depends on the client and the space.

Or is it a case-by-case basis?  


Are there price limits when it comes to rugs?  

Not that I know of.  They can be inexpensive too extremely expensive.

Do you have any final words of design advice?  

I always tell my clients to dare a little, put themselves into the hands of a professional and reap the rewards.  It is our duty to stretch the client and expose them to ides and items they may not know about and LISTEN to what makes them happy.  My design is not about pleasing me, but pleasing my client.

Thanks for your time!



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