By Kristen Miller
COKATO, MN Debra J Designs has moved out of the country and into town as owner Deb Halonen works to expand her interior design business.
Situated at the intersection of Highway 12 and Wright County Road 3 in Cokato, location was a key factor for Halonen as a way to advertise and showcase her creativity.
Halonen has always had a love for creative expression and it has taken many forms throughout the years, she explained.
With a background in nursing, Halonen decided to take a different avenue where she would have an outlet for her creativity and therefore, began attending classes for floral design in 2004, at Hennepin Technical College.
Since then, Halonen worked for six years at Chuck’s Floral in Cokato, and at the Little Red Hen in Dassel for the past five years, where she has been able to create displays and stage merchandise.
Working at the occasional store, every sale is a total re-do, allowing Halonen to work with different themes and merchandise each month, which she has enjoyed.
Little Red Hen owner Brenda Rydberg commented on Halonen’s design: “She just has it. She’s great at spacial planning, choosing colors, and I appreciate the creative edge she’s brought and the vision she has for an extraordinary store.”
Halonen was given the opportunity to witness design on a greater scale in July 2011, when she flew to Manhattan for an interior design course.
That trip inspired Halonen to start working out of her home, north of Cokato. She was hired first by acquaintances for decorating needs.
Debra J Designs offers hourly consultations to advise clients on specific home issues or problem areas they see. This could be anything from a color choice for a room, or how to decorate a mantel.
Halonen also offers a “do-it-yourself” design plan that addresses the entire scope of the room, from the paint to the windows, lighting, and flooring.
The layout is planned down to the last detail and explains the steps the client can take, including advice on where to go to purchase the recommended furnishings and accessories.
If it’s the client’s preference, Halonen also offers a design plan where she shops for them and installs and decorates as necessary. She also likes to involve other local talented artists and businesses when possible.
“My goal is that a home will express what is beautiful and meaningful to each client,” Halonen said, adding that she works with the client on what items to keep and incorporate into the design.
A common misconception people have is that decorating and hiring a designer has to cost a lot of money, Halonen noted, adding that each client has different needs and can be accommodated with a variety of services.
“Minor changes can have a major impact,” she commented.
“There are a lot of affordable options for people, without them having to make a whole-scale change,” she added.
For example, fresh paint, along with new window coverings and pillows, can give a room a whole different flavor and look without it breaking the bank, Halonen commented.
Her goal is to provide a different design perspective for her clients to where they can say, “I love it and never would’ve thought to do it myself.”
“I take that as a compliment,” she said, adding, “I want to work with them, keeping their own personal style, but from an artistic perspective, be able to enhance the outcome.”
Halonen will be working in her office/showroom during normal business hours unless she is out on an appointment. Look for the “open” sign, she said.
She also encourages people to stop in and check out her staging areas, in which many of the furnishings and accessories will be available for sale.
For an appointment, contact Halonen at (320) 266-8106. Also, follow DebraJDesigns on Facebook for design tips and examples of her work; and soon to come, her website, www.debrajdesigns.net.
Open house planned for Sat.
Debra J Designs will have an open house Saturday, Nov. 3 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Owner Deb Halonen encourages the public to stop in and sign up for a drawing to win one of her custom-designed holiday tablescapes, and a small canvas painted by a local artist.
More parking will be available across the street, at the former creamery.