Thursday Q&A with decorator Donna Hargrove

Donna Hargrove runs dh designs while also working full-time at a job in high-tech. (Photo: Wayne Cuddington)

Donna Hargrove is a local interior decorator who started her own business, dh designs, after completing the night course in residential decorating at Algonquin. She writes a blog and contributes to a new blog by The TBB’s called Wine, Dine and Design (the TBBs are six women who met at Algonquin). Donna was instrumental in forming a networking group for local design professionals, which meets several times a year. And she accomplishes all of this while working a full time job in IT.

OCS: Who are your style icons?

DH: From an interior design perspective, there are many! In this field, you are constantly inspired by online and print content, not to mention social media — Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. I am daily discovering new rooms, indoor and out, that feed my imagination. I love the work of Vicente Wolf, Phoebe Howard and Kelly Wearstler. And as a Canadian, I love Brian Gluckstein and Maria Killam on the west coast, and here in Ottawa we have several talented designers, some of whom I am honoured to call good friends.

OCS: What’s on your bedside table?

DH:My iPad, with the latest book club read and an alarm clock … sigh …

OCS: Best home accessory?

DH: This is most definitely my new espresso machine. I love a great, strong cup of coffee.

OCS: Best recent fashion find?

DH: A friend and I shopped the Third World Bazaar a few weeks ago and I found a very unique reversible fall coat that I am going to have a hard time putting away for the winter.

OCS: Whom would you invite for dinner if you could choose anyone in the world?

DH: I should say someone famous, but really what would we talk about? Instead, I would like to invite some unknown relative that I discovered through researching my family tree.  I think it would be wonderful to share the stories of our families.

OCS: You can see the debut of any piece of music in history. What would it be?

DH: I would have loved to see Rod Stewart debut Maggie May. One of my favourite songs and artists!

OCS: What’s your earliest memory?

DH: Watching the Beatles debut on Ed Sullivan.

OCS: Your biggest fashion faux-pas, when, where and how?

DH: Oh, I’ve blocked all of those out!

OCS: Proudest moments?

DH: On the professional front, the recent launch of The TBB Wine Dine and Design blog with five dear and talented local interior decorator friends, would have to be among the proudest professional moment. The goal of our website is to share our love of all things wine, dine and design here in the Ottawa area and bring some attention to the area’s finest!

I was also instrumental in forming a networking group for Ottawa decorators and design professionals, the ODNG, which is in its third year. The group provides a forum for sharing struggles and successes with peers in the design business.

And personally, I would have to say watching our two daughters as they build their lives and families is by far the proudest I’ve ever been.

OCS: Favourite piece of furniture?

DH: This is easy. I am addicted to Kijiji, and always looking for previously loved furniture. A few years ago, I found a solid wood dresser with some minor damage but wonderful lines. I repaired the damage then primed and painted it and it sits in my bedroom today. This was my first project with a paint gun and I absolutely loved the results. I’ve since turned into a bit of a furniture junkie though and continue to hunt for new projects on Kijiji. Our garage is filled with furniture awaiting transformations.

OCS: Qualities you most admire in a person?

DH: Honesty, sincerity and great sense of humour.

OCS: For whom would you most like to decorate?

DH: No one person in particular I guess. But I do enjoy working with clients who are willing to think outside the box and look at new solutions for old problems.

OCS: Describe a perfect day off (it can be anywhere in the world).

DH: This past spring, we spent a week in Paris. The best day was the one where we enjoyed a picnic complete with wine in the park across from the Eiffel Tower. You can’t get more perfect than that.

OCS: Favourite visual artist, living or dead?

DH: Keeping on the France theme, it would have to be Pierre-Auguste Renoir.  I love the impressionists and his work just seems to come alive for me.

OCS: Favourite local artist?

DH: Currently, I am loving the work of local family photographer Danielle Lynn Bernier.  She has a very unique approach and does some amazing outdoor work. I’ve worked with her a few times and look forward to doing so again.

OCS: Best book you read in the past year?

DH: Well it wasn’t Fifty Shades of Grey. Although, that would have been a great title for a decorating book — don’t you think?

I’ve got a few books on the go at the moment.  Loving Frank, which is the true story of Frank Lloyd Wright and his mistress, and my current book club read, Rules of Civility, which takes us back to the 1930s and the lines between levels of society.
OCS: Favourite food?

DH: Just one?  Wow, that would be hard to choose. Currently I’m loving Indian but I also count Mexican as one of my favourites.

OCS: Most-oft-played song on your iPod or MP3 player?

DH: I don’t listen to music on the iPod very often. But when I do, it’s more than likely country music. Miranda Lambert’s lastest album is probably the most-often played.

OCS: Wine, beer or both?

DH: Depends on the situation. Usually red wine, which you will be able to see if you read the TBB blog, but if I’m eating pizza or pub fare a nice cold beer is called for.

OCS: Mac or PC?

DH: Both. I’d always been a PC gal until a few years back when I got my iPhone. Now I’ve got an iPhone and an iPad and I love them, but when you are running a business, a Mac doesn’t handle your number crunching, so I’ve still got my handy hp laptop too.

OCS: Fine dining or plain old diners?

DH: Fine dining is so nice as a treat, but you’ll more than likely find me in a plain old diner more often.

OCS: Best restaurant in Ottawa?

DH: Depends on the food. I live around the corner from one of the best Indian restaurants — Coconut Lagoon. The menu is a little out of the usual and the staff is amazing.

Another favourite is Navarra on Murray Street. Chef Rene Rodriguez does an amazing job in blending flavours and textures in his menu.

OCS: Person, place or thing that makes you proudest/happiest that you live in Ottawa?

DH: I have an amazing group of friends, some I’ve had for over 30 years and some more recent than that. They are a large part of why I love living here. Ottawa has a wonderful balance of urban and country. With an abundance of park land, and wonderful little communities such as Westboro, Hintonburg and the ByWard Market, Ottawa is the perfect city to live in.

OCS: Fave blog or website?

DH: Apart from contributing to the TBB Wine Dine & Design blog, I also have a blog of my own, although I’ve been a little absent lately.  So I’m reading a lot of blogs.

As inspiration I’m looking at houzz.com and Pinterest.  There are a couple of local decorators who have great blogs: my friend Kelly James has a great blog, as do several of my fellow TBBs. I also read Maria Killam’s Colour Me Happy blog for her amazing knowledge of colour and how to use it.

OCS: Twitter, Facebook or both?

DH: Both. Social media is an excellent tool when used probably. The connections are amazing. For the last few years, I’ve been involved in the extreme Makeover-Kindness, part of Ottawa’s Kindness week. The object is to makeover a space for a charity organization using donated material and services. After putting the word out on social media, we were able to achieve our goal and complete both spaces entirely on donations. Ottawa is a very generous city!

OCS: What’s your guilty pleasure?

DH: Dark Chocolate.

OCS: Favourite place to spend time?

DH: On a beach, with great friends and an ice-cold drink.

OCS: How would you like the world to remember you? What would your eulogist ideally say?

DH: Boy, this one really makes you think!  I hope that people would remember that I have made them laugh, feel important and much loved.

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