The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Around Stanly County

December 3, 2012

Dawn of Design says she is more than a decorator

Sunday, December 2, 2012 — Sometimes, a person may not know exactly what they want until they see it.

That can be especially true when decorating a home.

The owner may have it in their mind’s eye, but having a professional come in and point out some potential problems and even a better way to do things can often be a game changer as well as a way to save some change.

Enter Dawn Russell.

Russell is the owner of Dawn of Design, a company she established that, as she is quick to point out, helps to design a room and not just decorate.

It is something she has had a passion for a very long time and enjoys doing.

Russell is originally from Pennsylvania and moved to Thomasville in 1986.

She has lived in New London since 2006 when she married her husband, James.

They have three children and are involved in their church, Prospect Baptist.

She commuted to Jamestown for several years, then came the opportunity to open her own business.

“We had the building and I jumped at the chance,” Russell said.

She has a degree in interior design from Randolph Community College. She began selling about a decade ago.

“The only two things I ever wanted to do was this or fashion design,” Russell said.

“Randolph, at the time, had the best interior design program and it was for two years. So, it was the best situation for me. I’ve always wanted to do this.”

She said the reaction to an interior designer in a mostly rural county has been great.

“The lady I bought the equipment from was an interior decorator, and there is a difference, and she had her business for 30 years. I met her at church when she was retiring.

“At the time, I had this business and worked in Jamestown. I did that for six months.

“Then, in January 2009 I went solo here and have been going ever since.”

She has a person that helps with installation and fabrication, but when it comes to the creative part, that is where her talent shines.

Russell says the one thing about her in doing her job is that she listens to her clients.

“I ask them lots of questions, because a lot of times people don’t really know what they want,” Russell said.

“So, I kind of become an investigator and dig in to what they want.”

“Someone may want window treatments, but I ask them why do they want them. Is it just for looks? Is it just for heat and light control? All of that determines what I do.”

Russell uses the latest and newest technology to help with the design process.

With a computer, she takes the current design and layout of a room and transforms it into what it will look at once her ideas have been completed and taken shape.

The customer can actually see that red curtains may be a better match and fit for a room than blue ones.

Or it might even show the best way to re-do a room might be something as simple as a different configuration of the current furniture.

“A client is actually able to see the finished product before anything is ever ordered,” Russell said.

She said window treatments are what she is asked to do the most and it is her specialty.

“I have found in this area that is what’s needed most,” Russell said.

She said there has been more complicated and involved projects, but it has been mostly custom window treatments and bedding.

“I like the big projects, but I’ll take any challenge,” Russell said.

“If someone wants a pillow, I’ll make a pillow. But, I do all of my own design, custom fabrication and installation. It’s nice because when they come to me, they know the communication is between the two of us — there is no middle man. I am the direct connection with the client.”

While having an interior designer sounds pricey, Russell said she believes it’s something that can be for anyone.

“You can spend hours and hours and gas and time and the worst case scenario is spending the money and not getting what you want,” she said.

“Or, you can hire a designer to come in, give you some direction, help you work out a plan, pick your paint colors, pick your fabrics and then that ends up saving you time and money in the end.”

She said she likes to ask her clients to look at the cost per use of item.

“You can spend a couple of thousand dollars on a lawn mower, use it a couple of times a year and come up with a cost per use,” Russell said.

“Same is true with window treatments. You might spend a couple of thousand dollars on nice, custom window treatments, but my average client has them seven to 10 years. That makes the cost per use very low when you look at those in those terms.”

Russell said in this area, there is still a desire for the simplistic, traditional types of designs.

“I would like to see this business get bigger. I would like to employ people. I want to help the economy of Stanly County and be a part of the growth,” Russell said.

“That’s my goal. Whether it be having a fabric shop or teaching sewing, because it’s a dying art.”

Russell said anyone can call themselves a decorator, but the difference between that and a designer such as herself is a degree.

“I have the professional training to be able to see and know what works,” Russell said.

“I’m good at my job. I love what I do. And, I love my clients and working with people.”

Russell, who is a member of the Association of Interior Design Professionals, can be reached at (704) 794-2507 or (704) 982-0685.

Her website is


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