Iowa Rain verses Pretty Shoes

 Several pairs of my shoes have been flooded out. So far this year, over 40 inches of precipitation have graced the fair community of Cedar Rapids. That’s right – and we still have three of our “tradtionally wet months” ahead of us!


Normally, I wouldn’t go off on a rant for this blog, but sometimes the Iowa weather makes me cranky. It makes everybody I know cranky. I find myself wishing I owned stock in a flip-flop company!




 Frankly, we midwesterners are extremely weather-sensitive. The very first decision we make each and every day depends on the weather: what to wear. And this year (actually last year must be included as we remember THE flood) we  must decide what shoes we can or cannot wear based on how many inches of rain have been predicted. 

I mean,  don’t misunderstand – I am fully aware of heartland beauty. I appreciate each season with its unique spectrum of colors, and spicey or earthy scents, and comforting ambience.

But then it rains.

Every season.


    So yeah, I’d wear these to work! 


Dianne Ross

Interior Designer/Phelan’s Interiors



What does the Price of Tulips in Iowa have to do with an Eco-friendly house?



Eco-friendly home products are being marketed like there’s no tomorrow!

 Clever, indeed.

  But that doesn’t alter the fact that more and more rational people are interested in doing their part. Little tiny baby (carbon) footprints are quite desirable. Awwww!

babyIf you find yourself wanting more information and less smoke and mirrors, tune into HGTV’s Green Home 2009 Special. It premiers Sunday, April 19 at 8 o’clock and looks to be informative, fun, and very down to earth.

If incentives sound attractive, don’t overlook the fact that the government is at the ready with rewards! Many green home improvements come with tax breaks. That puts more green in your pocket! Check out all the possibilities!


This magnificent tulip variety is called angelique.

Naturally,  my personal favorite green home, eco-friendly, make your neighbors green with envy, green idea is older than the hills.

Simply stated: Plant a garden.

Flowers are cheap. Mother Nature is generous. If perennials are selected you get the added bonus of blooms (for free!) year after year after year.

If you haven’t started some type of garden you are missing one of life’s deepest blessings! It’s eco friendly, leaves a lovely oxygen footprint, and gives you bragging rights about having a green thumb.


Dianne Ross

Interior Designer / Phelans Interiors


PS For your reading pleasure, all cliches have been italicized.

GREEN Smoke and Mirrors!?!



Does it seem to you like suddenly everything is organic, recylced,  and/or eco-friendly? So, can anyone acurately say what GREEN really is?

Smoke and mirrors. 


                                                                                  Lolita Ginoski photo

Green smoke, that is, maybe green mirrors. You pick.

Let’s talk just a little bit about what that means in the furniture and design world. There are all kinds of variations on a theme available to the consumer, but I’ve come across one that I like. It’s simple  – not too smokey or too much glare. Believe it or not the words come to us from J.C. Penney through their “Simply Green” campaign.

1  Organic products must be made from 70% raw materials such as organic cotton or linen, grow without chemical pesticides or fertilizers.

2  Renewable products are made from at least 25% renewable materials such as bamboo, sorona, ingeo, soy, capiz shells, or wood that comes from managed forests.

3  Recycled products contain a mix of at least 25% previously used materials such as cotton, glass, or polyester made from soda bottles.

I am thinking , “Good for Penney’s” – at least they put their thoughts into words. They gave themselves, as well as their customers, guidelines and expectations.

Kermit should be proud because green is here to stay. I’ll continue this variation on a green-theme next time when we look at trends verses realities.

I remember back in my college  (hippy) days we were told to eat greens. But that was long ago. Long before we could imagine sitting on  them!










Dianne Ross

Interior Designer / Phelans Interiors


Travertine: one type of stone tile


casual, relaxing, and inviting





 “Commonly found in Southern Europe, travertine is a stone that is earthy, rich and warm – a classic beauty in colors ranging from subtle creams to dark browns, reds and golds.




Travertine is a perfect choice for any setting – warm, cool, or neutral. Find it in tumbled, chiseled, honed, or straight-edge styles. Use it on floors, walls, or backsplash.”  

travertine w sink

Quoted from: Tile –  Design in Style ’08 Ultimate Resource Guide


Find more photos on line  by visiting

Find the real deal in Phelan’s show room.


Next week we will continue with LIMESTONE and SLATE.


Dianne Ross

Interior Designer/Phelan’s Interiors


Post-flood thunderheads

Dianne Ross photo


As my post from last week looked at the partnership of beauty and chaos, and as the flood waters recede, the people of Iowa find ourselves seeing more and more of these exact images.  2000 homes have been condemed. 20,000 volunteers have been diligent in their efforts.                 

                     Devastation and recovery.  Darkness and light. Yin and Yang.

The clouds put on quite a performance as I was driving back into Cedar Rapids last Friday.   As sunset approached I shot the schizophrenic thunderheads in their confused glory. One side was sugar white, fluffy, fairytale clouds full of hope and the other was as black as a betrayed heart, fearful, saturated with doom and gloom.  Once again nature was showing all sides of the argument simultaneously like a couple of innocent children in the backseat punching each other. And if the enormous size of the visual battle wasn’t enough, Mother Earth wasn’t quite satsified with her bedazzled sunset. She added a Bobby Flay Throw-down sunbeam! 

            What does any of this have to do with interior design, you ask?

Well . . .  nothing.  Almost nothing.  But, whenever something grabs your attention because of the seeming paradox, pay attention. It’s all there: color, proportion, texture, continuity, beauty, catastrophe, drama, awe, contrast and balance. Odd bedfellows indeed, but a visual and emotional Throw-down, a real feast. You might even shoot a photo out the car window while driving down Interstate 380!

To be continued . . .


Dianne Ross / Interior Designer

Phelan’s Interiors