INTERNATIONAL EXPERTISE

by ALAENA HOSTETTER / photography by HOLGER OBENAUS

With her company Owens Interiors At Home, design veteran Barbara Owens and her staff do it all – from enormous houses and diminutive cottages in DFW to beachside condos and corporate sky-rises in foreign countries. Owens’ 30-year career has spanned continents and genres – she even does trend forecasting for fashion manufacturers. To round out her career, the design maven opened a furniture and design showroom two years ago.

The new digs are in Rockwall, just a short hop from Dallas, offering everything homeowners could need for a custom build or to simply spruce up their living space.

“We have flooring, tile, fabrics, paint samples, motorized shades and even motorized theater seats,” says Owens. “Clients can get immediate goods off the floor, too – upholstery, lighting, accessories – everything is right at our hands.”

Having so many resources at her fingertips, including a staff of designers and an architect, comes in handy with the immense, sometimes intense, projects that Owens takes on.

“We’ll sit with the homeowner and the architect and pull together everything they need for their project,” she says. “Unlike many designers, I love working on new construction. It’s great to get in from the start, to be able to shape the final aesthetic.”

Her wide-ranging expertise has landed Owens many interesting projects. One of which started with the homeowner telling her, “You know my style, just go for it.”

The clients’ “monster house” in Rockwall had a huge design budget. “She let me loose,” Owens says gleefully. “When you have someone who trusts you that much, the process becomes so creative; it was such a fun project.”

With her imagination as the only limit, Owens dreamt up a two-story theater design that harkens back to baroque theaters of yore, with dazzling crystal chandeliers, daringly colorful pilasters and ornate moldings, all of which were sourced from the Sahara Hotel in Las Vegas before it was demolished in 2011.

The 20-seat theater is truly a showstopper fit for luxe Vegas nights or Egyptian royalty. The Interior Design Society took note and awarded Owens “Best Original Design” for the project.

In fact, Owens has swept the competition with more than six awards just last year in different categories. The award she received for “Individual Impact” honors one of her most treasured projects: a complete remodel of a home donated to The Child Advocacy Center in Rockwall.

Owens completed the project pro bono for the nonprofit, which serves as a resource center for child victims of abuse. “The cause is close to my heart,” she says. “It’s important to me, and should be important to those in our industry, that we give back to the communities we work in.”

Owens imbued the project with cheerful colors, approachable wall art and cozy furnishings. “The environment had to be very upbeat and kid-friendly, which was tough with a derelict house,” she says. “It’s an extremely stressful situation for children and their families.

I reached out to a lot of manufacturers and contractors who all donated their goods and time. A lot went into making it an uplifting place.”

Owens’ travels abroad and international work, including a condo in Mexico, villa in Tuscany and an office building in China, also inform her work stateside. “I had the opportunity to work with a true feng shui master in China who directed me as to placement of doors and furnishings to bring good energy and fortune to the business,” Owens recalls. “That was a really interesting and fun project.”

And the treasures she finds along the way are often invested back into homes in the metroplex, as in the case of a pair of antique doors circa the 1800s sourced from Belgium. They became the new entry to a cozy study complete with a fireplace that Owens revamped from its former life as an unused dining room.

It seems that everything Owens touches turns into a magnificent design that gets noticed—from 16,000-square-foot mansions to a 1,600-square-foot cottage that was featured in Southern Living and The Cottage Journal. “Just because it’s small, doesn’t mean it doesn’t need to be beautiful,” she emphasizes.

That mindset sums up her dedication to each of her projects. “Every project, regardless of the size or location, gets our full attention,” says Owens. “Attention to detail and quality is paramount. We want each of our designs to surpass our clients’ expectations.” *

Alaena Hostetter is a content strategist, editor and journalist who writes about art, design, culture, music, entertainment and food.