Leaders By Design

Interior designers and their clients benefit from the ASID
professional network


Brad and Cindy Lewis had never worked with an interior designer before. When they started building a lake house outside of Waterloo — while living in another town — they quickly realized how useful a professional designer could be.

“They made the entire process seamless and relatively stress-free,” said Cindy, describing interior designers Lisa Cooper, Allied Member ASID, and Nancy Pesavento, ASID.

The two designers made frequent visits to the in-progress house, addressed key details with the contractor, and ensured the couple achieved their vision: a peaceful home poised for lake living. According to Brad, “Hiring them was the most cost-effective money we spent.”

Cooper and Pesavento are members of the American Society of Interior Designers, the oldest and largest professional organization for interior designers in the United States.

For designers, ASID membership offers continuing education opportunities and a national network for idea sharing. For consumers, hiring an ASID member offers assurance that a designer has the education, experience, and resources to make their vision a reality.

“It puts your client’s mind at ease that you have the education, you’re committed, and you have invested in a lifelong journey as a professional designer,” Cooper said.

ASID professionals must pass rigorous standards for acceptance. To be a member, designers must meet educational and work experience standards. Professional members must pass a two-day national accreditation examination.

More than mere decorators, ASID interior designers offer expertise in the practical and technical considerations that affect comfort, function, and safety, whether at home or in a commercial space. They can address the many facets of a space, including lighting, acoustics, space planning, organization and storage, accommodation of special needs, fire safety, and compliance with local building codes.

“We are professionals,” said Kris Patton, ASID and president of the Nebraska/Iowa chapter. “Members of ASID have sought out the tools needed to better themselves. They work hard and take it extremely seriously.”

The Nebraska/Iowa chapter of ASID offers an online designer directory to help clients find an interior designer that meets their needs. Other outreach activities include working with college students studying interior design to enrich their knowledge and foster networking opportunities. Community service is another focus, and the chapter donates time and merchandise to foundations like the Friendship Program of Omaha, among other programs.

The following three Omaha-area projects highlight the ability of ASID designers to work with clients to create their ideal space. From residential to commercial, ASID designers have what it takes to understand their client’s needs and elevate the art of design.


Serenity on the Lake

If designers Lisa Cooper and Nancy Pesavento could choose one word to describe the home of Brad and Cindy Lewis, it would be peaceful.

Located in the West Shores community at Highway 275 and West Dodge Road, the Lewis home was designed to invoke the serenity of the lake, while also handling the wear and tear of lake living. Cooper and Pesavento first worked with the couple to identify their style and needs. From there, they pulled together ideas to capture that style perfectly in the home, Cindy Lewis said.

The resulting feel of the home is natural and peaceful while incorporating strong architectural elements. Cooper and Pesavento selected a restrained color palate of grays and natural tones with pops of red. To give the home an architectural punch, they worked with an architectural designer to design and create a floating, see-through fireplace that greets visitors upon entry into the home. The linear fireplace incorporates asymmetrical elements that make it a statement feature. “It catches the attention, but you can also see behind it to the lake view,” Cooper said.

The main floor powder room is another favorite of Cindy’s. The standout space features three-dimensional tiles covering the wall. Together with the curved cabinet, full mirror, and pendant lighting, the room is “a piece of art,” stated Cindy.

Brad and Cindy frequently spend time on their covered deck, lounging in the outdoor furniture the designers selected. Cindy also loves the cozy kitchen bench designed to take in the lake views.

Cindy said Cooper and Pesavento brought intuitiveness and an eye for detail that eased the home-building process, especially since the couple was building the home from afar. “I felt like I didn’t have to worry about a thing, because I knew they were overlooking it all and everything would be done better than I could ever imagine,” Cindy said.


An ‘Eye’ for Design

When Eye Specialists in Bellevue was ready to open a second location, business administrator Jane Bares knew exactly what she was looking for — something modern and edgy that read more boutique than eye clinic.

Bares worked with interior designer Doris Buell, ASID, to create a hip, flexible space for the new Eye Specialists/Fixations location in Papillion. “It looks like a New York boutique,” Buell said. “It feels very cosmopolitan.”

The project challenged Buell to design a space with exam rooms and eye equipment while maintaining a boutique feel. The exposed ceiling is peppered with layered, dramatic ceiling effects to improve acoustics as well as catch the eye. Floating ceiling layers over the reception desk and exam room corridor help identify space function.

In the front reception and retail area, Buell utilized mobile furnishings with casters to allow the owners to continually reengineer the space and displays. To make merchandise sparkle, Buell selected custom cube displays with LED lights and adjustable track lighting. The durable, vinyl flooring is in a whitewashed gray tone, lending an upscale look while making cleaning a breeze.

Bares liked the idea of creating a visual feast in a place that specializes in eyes. “When customers walk in, their first word is often ‘wow’,” Bares said.

Buell credits ASID with keeping her abreast of industry changes, evolving trends, and product developments. Her expertise allowed her to focus Bares’ ideas and make them come to life. “Interior designers are fabulous because they have that ability to create,” mentioned Bares.


A Lifelong Collaboration

When an interior designer and client make a connection, the relationship can sometimes blossom into friendship.

Homeowner Jan Vrana and designer Richard White, ASID, have worked together more than 20 years. Their collaboration started with a redecorating project in her daughter’s bedroom. White later lent his expertise when Jan and husband Chip built their current home near Regency. The two continue to join forces as Vrana re-envisions different spaces in her home.

Over the years, White has come to understand Vrana’s style. And Vrana has learned to trust White’s expertise.

“He has impeccable taste, and he’s also willing to listen to my ideas,” she said.

Vrana draws much of her design inspiration from textiles. One of her favorite elements in her home is the luxurious drapery in the living and dining rooms. The drapes and bullion fringe cascade down custom-designed poles, creating a puddle of fabric on the floor. “It’s beautiful, simple, and lilts off the window,” added White.

When she is not falling in love with a new textile, Vrana is finding antiques to bring home. White helps her pull everything together. “A lot of times it is taking what she lost her heart to, pushing the envelope a bit, and showing her ideas that she might not have thought about,” he said.

The two have worked together so long they have become good friends. Part of the reason interior design can foster friendship goes back to the personal nature of the process, according to White. “What we do is so intimate,” he said. “You can’t be in someone’s dresser or closet or shower without getting intimate.”

Vrana is no stranger to design. Her blog, the French Tangerine, is an ode to home décor and design inspiration. Still, she relies on White to “bring the taste,” as he puts it.

Vrana and White’s friendly collaboration shows no sign of stopping. The two worked on the dining room this year; soon enough, a new project will come along. With White’s help, “I think I’ll be decorating this house for the rest of my life,” Vrana said.


ASID industry partners

ASID Nebraska/Iowa counts on the support of local and national sponsors, including Cambria, Consolidated Kitchens & Fireplaces, Elite Glass Services, Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery, Hardwood Services, Early to Bed, Kitchens & Baths by Briggs, RBC Tile and Stone, Vahallan, Echo Systems, and Sunderland Brothers Company.


Find an ASID interior designer

Visit the ASID Nebraska/Iowa chapter
website to search for a designer:

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