Infusing a Home with Personality

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Interior design for the home is more than just what it looks and feels like; it is also about how it functions for the homeowners.

Story by Ann Butenas    |    Photography by Matthew Anderson

When building a new home, it can be overwhelming to select the perfect interior design elements. If you have moved from a smaller home to a larger one, your current accessories and furniture might not complement the newer, more expansive space. Collaborating with interior design experts is a smart choice to make, as they can help you navigate all of the available choices and help you decorate the home in the manner you desire. Designers can assist you in selecting items for your home that set the overall tone. It is truly a team effort, blending your voice with their expertise to provide an exclusive look that is all your own.

Sandy Vandenhaak and Meredith Malancuk, Design Consultants with Ethan Allen Retail, Inc., helped Mukesh and Sangeeta Goel of southern Johnson County transform their new home into a warm and inviting place. While the builder incorporated numerous beautiful details to give the home a luxurious and modern feeling, the finishing touches inspired by the design team helped to complete the overall look and feel of the place.

“We needed some design advice and what kind of upholstery and fabrics to use,” noted Sangeeta, who, along with Mukesh, had some very firm ideas of what they wanted but were also quite open to the design expressions of Sandy and Meredith.

“The owners wanted help with the entire first floor,” indicated Sandy. “We basically had a blank slate from which to work, but they did provide guidelines in terms of the jewel tone colors they wanted, as well as a desire for a modern, clean line approach.”

Sandy and Meredith outfitted this home with all of it design elements from top to bottom, including windows, rugs, case goods, accessories and furniture. They also focused on high-durability performance fabrics that offer function and lasting quality. While the homeowners did bring several items from their former home, the design team had to provide a more expansive toolkit from which to work.

“The scale of the accessories the owners had from their previous house were not the right size for this home,” said Meredith. “The owners also went from a more traditional home to a transitional home with modern-looking components and lots of color.”

Sandy and Meredith remained highly mindful of the clients in terms of their personal desires, tastes and lifestyle, fully taking all requests into consideration and appropriately outfitting each room to create a seamless, comfortable and welcoming essence. For example, Mukesh wanted a recliner while Sangeeta requested a massive dining room table that would easily accommodate the large family gatherings they host throughout the year.

“We started playing off what they relayed to us and it just started rolling from there,” stated Sandy, who, along with Meredith, worked primarily in the dining room, living room, family room, eat-in kitchen and part of the master bedroom.

Perhaps the pièce de résistance in this home is the dining room, as its overall personality certainly sets a purposeful tone. The 110-inch table and the elegant layer of cerulean color and accompanying glitz breathe excitement into the space.

“Usually dining rooms are not a ‘wow’ for me, but this one really stands out,” indicated Meredith. “The two-toned jewel raspberry chairs with paisley on the front provide that added sparkle and richness when you walk into the room.”

The idea for the glass wall that shows the rest of the home was initiated by Sangeeta and has become a strong focal point in the room.

“I love the way all the windows open up the room,” emphasized Meredith.

The kitchen and the accompanying eat-in area are appropriately outfitted with versatile pieces that bring the look together. The faux-leather bar stools in the kitchen match the drapes covering the windows. The hearth room is anchored with a curved, heavy-use leather sectional, one of Sangeeta’s favorite pieces.

“We use this the most,” noted Sangeeta. “It is very comfortable and not too deep.” The Braemore coffee table with its pearled alabaster finish stands as the perfect complement to the sectional. The window treatments frame and complete the overall look of the space.

The eat-in area is also another favorite of the owners. The shape of the space could not accommodate a square or rectangular piece, so a round table provides a perfect vantage point. Its wire-brushed oak surface does not scratch easily and will not distract from the view.

The nearby living room effortlessly grabs your attention. This is where copious amounts of color have been introduced, never overwhelming and comfortably inviting. Because the Goels have a large extended family, seating was important in this room. The 98-inch sofa definitely serves its purpose, as do the Fairfax chairs, each of which are comfortable but not too wide.

“These chairs have a dual fabric – a charcoal fabric with birds and a floral design on the back partnered with a solid cranberry tweed on the front, which is then accented with velvet-striped pillows,” noted Sandy. “The sofa is of the same fabric as the back of the chairs.”

White ottomans that can be moved freely about the room offer additional seating. Another stand-out in the room is the 49” x 49” caramel leather ottoman with tufting and a tray on top to display accessories.

Little vignettes throughout the main floor provide places to showcase various accessories, both from the homeowners’ previous collection and those installed by the design team. Custom Hunter Douglas plantation shutters outfit the front windows of the home and the same brand of roller blinds were installed on the sides and on the back windows. Of course, the color palette of the interior of the home truly provides a personal peek into the homeowners’ tastes.

“We tell clients not to be afraid of color,” stated Meredith. “It can be so impactful and makes a huge statement.”


  • Interior Designers: Ethan Allen Retail, Inc.
  • Furniture and Furnishings: Ethan Allen Retail, Inc.
  • Development: The Farm at Garnet Hill
  • Developer: Quinn Real Estate
  • Home Builder: Koehler Building Co.

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