Written by Kelly Roberson
Photos by Duane Tinkey
Before the sleek, beautiful couches, before the elegant window treatments, before the carefully curated prints on the walls, there was this: Prints. Florals. Overstuffed upholstery. Heavy woodwork. Carpet.
Which is not to say that Dan Garrett’s main living space, encompassing both gathering and dining areas, in his South of Grand home lacked style. Open to one another with a soaring two-story ceiling, the rooms would have fit in the pages of a traditional home magazine from the 1990s. It was as though Garrett—whose personal sense of style is decidedly contemporary—had let his possessions, and his past, weigh him down. “I liked my stuff but I was trapped by it, and I hadn’t kept up with myself,” says Garrett, executive director of the Iowa Chiropractic Society.
Enter interior designer Daniel Hyland. An impresario in his own right, Hyland does many things well, but perhaps what he does best is absorb all our things and competing design impulses (the traditional coffee table we can’t bear to let go, the sleekly lined chairs we’re lusting after), put them in a creative blender, and land on a mix that’s contemporary and appealing.
“I appreciated and respected the traditional pieces Dan had and how that reflected his lifestyle and personality, but I also saw him as very hip and modern,” Hyland says of his client.
Structurally, Hyland left Garrett’s space unaltered: The fireplace and windows remained, as did openings into adjacent secondary living spaces and the kitchen. But the skin of the living/dining area was fundamentally altered, beginning with a new hardwood floor and paint. Hyland gave every surface, including the massive fireplace mantel, a coat of white to lighten and brighten the room, kicking it definitively into the 21st century.
That paint also served to rejigger the focal point of the room; it is less now on the mantel and more on the artwork and accents. “People shouldn’t be afraid to paint wood; it’s not a crime,” Hyland says. “It takes bravery, but it is transformative.”
Much of Hyland’s efforts were spent culling through Garrett’s collection of furniture, art and special objects, figuring out what was best left behind and what would keep the room’s vibe contemporary and cool. New matching sofas and side chairs, upholstered in neutral tones and patterns, serve as a backdrop. Hyland kept the juxtaposition of the traditional wood dining room table and clear plastic chairs, but bridged the style gap between the two with a sculptural Big Bang chandelier by Foscarini. “We wanted something that would start to tie into the more modern elements we were doing throughout,” Hyland says.
The neutral backdrop also ensured that Garrett’s eclectic collection of artwork, displayed mostly on a large wall, took center stage. Before the renovation, the artwork, of varying sizes and in a range of frames, was scattered and displayed sporadically, in a way that neglected to bring any sort of attention to it. “It was really lost in the house before, and we calculated how we laid it out to get the right balance,” Hyland says. “He has a lot of special pieces that reflect him and his travels and history.”
In a way, the renovation has been extraordinarily freeing for Garrett. “It was a complete departure for me, but a welcomed departure,” he says. “I didn’t know how weighed down I felt by all of it and it felt nice to let it go.”