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A Touch of Modern Elegance
By Carol McGarvey | Photography by Tim Abramowitz
home :: home & garden :: decorating features

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A little bling here and a bit of sparkle there give a personal touch to a Waukee family’s home.

With hectic careers and a busy family life, Georgia Van Gundy and Chad Kleppe knew they might need some design help with the finishing touches they needed to turn their new house in Waukee into their home. Enter Traci Baldus, interior designer for Trieste, a furnishings, accessories, and design studio. She also is the showroom manger for the Interior Design Group, a to-the-trade showroom, a sister company to Trieste.

Georgia originally met Baldus through a recommendation. “Georgia came very well prepared when we started working together, with photos and ideas from That way, I could better gauge what she likes,” the designer says.

“I really like a clean and fresh look that will last—classic with a little sparkle,” Georgia explains. Baldus has even named the look “modern elegance.”

Design options

Designers will sometimes work with homeowners from the beginning of the home-building process. Other times, as in this situation, they come in after the home has been built and surfaces and many details have already been chosen. Georgia and Chad’s family lived in the home for a year before working with Baldus. The home was built by Denton Homes.

Baldus offered several design options and coordinated what Georgia had in mind for fabrics, case goods, accessories, and rugs. Sometimes pieces of furniture or accessories from a previous home are included. Other considerations, of course, involve the floor plan of the home and the general budget to work around.

“I simply didn’t have the time to go from store to store and website to website to find items for our home,” Georgia says. “So Traci brought samples to me, along with books of photos of lamps and tables, and we built the look from there. It worked beautifully.” Georgia and Chad picked the light fixtures, many with a little glitz. The overall feel is soft edges with some shine.

Georgia is with Principal Financial, and Chad is with the Master Builders of Iowa. Their children are Carson and Grace.

Huge windows in the main living areas, which include the living room, dining area/kitchen, and hearth room, bring the outdoors inside for a pleasing effect. Dark floors unify the areas. Baldus brought in the “new again” look of wallpaper into the home office by the front entryway and also the powder room off the entry hallway.

Georgia was sure that on the big windows she did not want full draperies. But Baldus, a designer for 19 years, assured her that even just fabric panels at each end—not to be pulled to cover the windows—would soften the overall look. Georgia became a convert once she saw the idea.

Color scheme

The color scheme throughout is a taupe/gray; accent tones of purple and blue carry through the rooms. Fireplace surrounds add interest with porcelain tiles for the living room fireplace and travertine on the hearth room one.

“I’m not a knickknack gal, so we didn’t put built-in shelving on either side of the living room fireplace,” Georgia points out. Instead, small console lamp tables flank the fireplace.

A tailored gray sofa, two purple occasional chairs, and two gray ottomans with nailhead trim provide a welcoming atmosphere.

Nearby in the kitchen, the couple chose marble on the island and granite on the countertops, plus sparkly pendant lights. Cabinetry is crisp white.

Special painting

The hearth room color scheme is based on one of Georgia’s treasures, a painting by artist Jamie Perry of California, who came to the Des Moines Arts Festival. It is based on the farm scene out Georgia’s bedroom window as she grew up near Southeast Polk High School. Chad worked by email with the artist to create a special gift for Georgia. Some soft yellow and gray are in the painting. Baldus pulled out those colors, along with soft aqua, for bench cushions and accessories for the room. A leather ottoman doubles as seating or a coffee table.

Another special touch from Georgia’s growing-up home is a stained-glass window from a porch. It now fits into the transom space over the door into the home office.

Off the hearth room is a favorite spot for the family to gather, a covered patio. Another spot the whole family uses is the half-court basketball gym in the lower level. “I use it for working out, and the kids enjoy it. It is so fun to have kids from the neighborhood down there having a good time,” Georgia says. Carpeted half-walls help muffle the sound there and also protect the walls.

Working with families to bring their homes together is a design process, Baldus says. “All the meeting and tweaking of details works out to make the homes special.”

Georgia agrees. “I knew we had made it work when Chad said he loved how the house looks.”


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