They say that you just know when you find the right wedding gown, the right house, even the right mate. It must be the same with interior designers, at least for Michael and Dianna Arnold. Michael once turned to Paul Sloan to help with the interior design of a home he had purchased, and some 20 years later, he and his wife Dianna sought out Paul’s expertise for their new home.
Dianna says Paul was the perfect person to join forces with to develop a design for their home, since he is well-known for his use of brilliant color. “I’m a texture/color kind of girl,” she says, “and when Paul and I got together, there was a lot of electricity.”
For Michael, working with Paul was about having someone else to rely on for expertise. “We’re subjective about our homes,” he says. “It’s about the person and not what the general public thinks, so it’s good to have someone to turn to who can help make your house attractive to the next person who may live in it. And sometimes it’s hard for a Southern male to see more than khakis, blues and greys!”
Listening is also key for Michael and Dianna. “I like to do research before jumping into a project, and Paul listens to what I like,” Michael says. That ability to listen led Paul to incorporate some of Michael’s favorite furnishings into the design scheme. Dianna concurs. “I told him what I wanted for my sofas, and the more color he added, the more I liked it,” she says.
In fact, the Arnolds have used Paul’s expertise not just for their own home, but for those of family members as well, and even business projects. “My daughter’s house was on the market when the slump first hit,” Michael recalls. “Paul knew where it was important to spend money to help make the home more intriguing to potential buyers.”
Because the Arnolds have grandchildren and pets, much thought was put into the appropriate types of fabrics to use. “You have to think about fabrics that will wear well. With children and pets, you need ones that are more durable,” Paul says. “Fortunately, Michael and Dianna are adventurous and willing to take chances with colors and fabrics.”
Because Michael and Dianna collect artwork, both locally and from their travels, Paul used their art as a starting point for many of the color schemes in the house. “We try to only buy pieces we both love,” Michael says. “We also try to provide support to the local artists.” Among their pieces are several by Columbia artists Rob Shaw and Rick Wells. “It’s really all about the feeling we get from a piece,” notes Dianna.
The living room features a sectional sofa of crocodile print embossed leather with a granite coffee table. The large built-ins surrounding the black marble fireplace hold much of their glass art collection. A wet bar with matching black marble top is built in on the opposite wall and displays whimsical and colorful bar glasses.
Light streams into the room from the arched double front doors, which are custom made of glass inset with wrought iron, and the large glass windows that overlook the patio and gardens in the back.
The dining table can seat 12 comfortably and is set with lovely Versace place settings. One of the most interesting pieces in the house is the Chihuly-style chandelier from Viz Glass. The sand and pebble finish wallpaper has textured glass beads worked into the pattern, and a faux-finish on the ceiling adds contrast to the room.
The dining table can seat 12 comfortably and is set with lovely Versace place settings.
One guest room features a silver crocodile print embossed headboard complemented by silk French knot bedding. Even the dresser blends in with its faux crocodile drawers. Since their children are grown and out of the house, Dianna and Michael converted their rooms into another guest suite, complete with private bath and sitting area.
The kitchen, which was designed by Ellen Taylor, has a large island with a granite top. The cabinetry, made of an African wood similar to mahogany called Sapele, is designed with clean lines and a contemporary feel. Glass tile on the walls provides a shimmer in the room as light bounces from the colored pieces.
A slate wall with a raised fireplace and inset monitor welcomes guests into the sitting room off the kitchen where they can chat comfortably on the ultra suede sectional and leather side chairs. “I’m just not a traditional kind of girl,” says Dianna, “and Michael likes contemporary style as well, so we were able to blend our styles.”
The master closet would be the envy of any woman who dreams of the ultimate walk-in closet. The large space has a center shoe island, and Dianna has made what is typically a boring room more inviting by placing family photos around the tops of the closet shelves.
The most important aspect of their home, according to Michael, is making it livable. “You want the punch and the wow,” he says, “and you have to be willing to keep changing it to achieve that. Once you think you’ve got it and it’s the last time you’ll do that, then it’s time to do something new.”