Interior designer Donna Vallone, ASID, Allied, has transitioned from owning Berkley House to ten years of designing interiors for Anne Gale of Wiseman and Gale, the “grand dame” of Southwest luxury design, and back again to owning her own business since 2001 as the president and lead designer of Vallone Design.
Leveraging over three decades of design business expertise, Donna Vallone has partnered with the Valley’s most influential architects, trade professionals, and builders including Desert Star Construction to elevate Arizona’s custom luxury residential and commercial markets.
Team DSC® asked her to share the five ways her process and philosophy enable her to champion top quality interior design for her numerous projects including Zona Verde (pictured below on the July 2016 cover of Phoenix Home & Garden Magazine), El Chorro Lodge, and A Welcome Home.
PHILOSOPHY OF A CHAMPION
IN THE BEGINNING
We always start the design process by asking our clients how they want to live, what styles they like, and what they envision the inside of their home to look and feel like. Then I bring in an interior designer from the Vallone Design team who I believe would make a good fit for the client’s vision both stylistically and in terms of their personality.
The team comes together to support the designer as they guide the client through the wonderful process of defining their interior style. To enhance the client experience, we utilize our collective years of professional expertise, our experiences being on the road, the research we’ve done on the Internet, the materials and goods we’ve discovered in showrooms across the country, and through our collection of catalogues.
A GENUINE FEELING
Even though most of my staff is younger and they like to search online websites for ideas, I often encourage them to venture out into the real world. I’m old school about that. I love to visit the showrooms, the stores, and the design center to pull fabrics and really get my hands on the materials and finishes. If I’m in another city, I’ll source antique shops. I think it’s inspirational to go to these places. The experiences, excite me and allow me to gather a genuine feeling for the products, so I can best convey to my client what they should consider for their home.
In today’s world, so much is accomplished online. Before e-mails and the internet, we’d go to the drapery workrooms, put the fabric out on the table, and work with them, in person, to determine how we wanted a particular trim or pleat to be sewn. I’ve been in the interior design business for 35 years and those special moments have honed my skills to be extremely detail-oriented, especially when it comes to installations and being in the field.
The current technology enables us to send images and share information via computer or smartphone devices. Our younger clients typically come in and say, “Oh, we have an account on Pinterest or Houzz. We’ll share our account with you so you can see our ideas.” PERFECT!! What a time saver!!
This is a convenient tool because websites are current and updated frequently. Plus, we can print the concepts directly from the website. However, even though there are thousands of pictures, and I agree, so many pluses for technology, I sincerely hope it’s not a lost art to have hands-on experiences in all phases of the design process.
DESIGNING WITH THE BUILDER
Most of the homes we do require a minimum build time of 18 months. Our design phase, prior to a builder like Desert Star Construction breaking ground, is typically, about one year. During this time, we work with the team of contractor and architect to gather all of the necessary information we need in order to produce the interior document set of drawings. This consists of all finishes, millwork, decorative lighting, specialty electric, etc. The builder doesn’t need these docs to get permits to start building, but they have to have the information to get bids from the various trades. Once the building starts to come out of the ground, our role becomes more about site management, and answering requests for information from the builder.
THE CHANCE TO DO OUR VERY BEST
What I so appreciate about working with a builder like Desert Star Construction is that they have an experienced eye to recognize when something doesn’t look 100% correct on our drawings. Team DSC® will immediately call us and either suggest a solution and/or, ask us to re-look at the drawing in question. This prevents a small detail from turning into a huge problem.
When you’re building and creating interiors for a new custom home, the whole team is responsible for that project’s success. It’s important to have a good understanding of the other team member’s needs, how they work, and how we can best serve the client. In our business it’s important to respect everyone and to give people every chance to do their very best.
Donna Vallone and the team at Vallone Design
Vallone Design and Team DSC®
“My favorite part about renovating El Chorro Lodge was the way the team agreed to save and refurbish the Old Classroom Bar, which was the location of the original Judson School for Girls.
During that project we worked together to create the best version of what we wanted El Chorro to become while capturing its spirit and enhancing it to meet today’s standards. Today, because of Jacquie Dorrance, Team DSC®, Candelaria Design Associates, the Vallone Design team, Berghoff Design Group, Creative Designs in Lighting, and the numerous trades, vendors, partners, and friends, El Chorro Lodge is thriving as one of Arizona’s most remarkable landmarks and the first LEED Gold certified restaurant in the state.
There’s just no better setting, especially for people from out of town, to sit outside and look at Camelback Mountain. It feels like a part of Paradise Valley, AZ that maintains an atmosphere of refinement and quality. It elevates the entire experience of being in Arizona.”