Meet Darlene!

Photo by Minage Image Photography

The creative mind and soul behind Dressing Rooms

I'M AN ORIGINAL CATCHPHRASE

Born to a Dutch mother and Newfoundlander father, how lucky I am to speak three languages...English, Dutch and of course, the ever exotic,  Newfoundlander!

Growing up, mom would find me moving my bedroom furniture around on a regular basis. Being a child of six siblings and always having to share a room with my sister, perhaps I was searching for my own space solutions. 

After graduating with honours, and then finishing first in my Radio & Television Arts class in St. John's, I moved to Ontario and took on various jobs trying to figure out my 20-year-old self. But I came back to decor by doing a 15-week work placement through Georgian College with Quay Designs, a well-established interior design firm in Barrie. Quay Designs decided to keep me on after the placement where I enjoyed managing the workings of the showroom and assisted respected
interior designer, Anne Saso. She was a fabulous mentor.

A move to Ottawa found me craving a more formal education in decor, so I studied Interior Decorating with QC Design School in Ottawa as well as Residential Decor with Algonquin College. I remained involved with both schools— teaching colour and staging for QC to design professionals for over 5 years across the USA & Canada; and I presently sit on the Algonquin College Advisory Committee for the Interior Decoration program. Four years after starting Dressing Rooms in 2000, I was offered a part as a designer for a 10-week home reno challenge on Global TV called Rona Dream Home. I was nervous and freaking out a little when it was presented to me, but I took the challenge with a vengeance. To turn it down would have been crazy!

I had designed many homes before, but with this I would have to make them TV worthy designs—yikes!!! It was a whirlwind, mind-blowing experience that kept me on my toes and most certainly made me a better visualizer and decorator because I had to think on the fly and fix issues in many instances. At the 10-week mark, I waited with excited anticipation with everyone else at the grand finale reveal which was filmed live as they told us room-by-room, which team captured the most votes. Well, to realize that my designs were favoured as we won 5 out the 8 challenges...it was incredible! It meant that the Grises family I was teamed with won their newly renovated and decorated home. To hear Christine and Joel Grises say out loud to all the viewers watching that they were in awe of the win and credited the beauty of their new home to my expertise...well, I was so overwhelmed with pride. Makes me smile every time I think about the experience. Acting and decorating, two of my creative loves, came together beautifully!

I later had fun being featured on a number of design episodes of Rogers TV's Daytime. We always had a good time going over the latest design trends.

I would love to be your sorter of spaces, your curator of colour,
your fashionista of finishes, and your lavisher of luxury!

Recognition's & Awards

Voted the winning designer on a nationally televised home design challenge, Rona Dream Home. Having to use mostly products from Rona, designs were personal yet held the viewers' interests. The added fun of creating a weekly project to do for each room included a handmade tufted headboard, a personalized stained glass window and teddy bear picnic light fixture.

Dressing Rooms has been awarded Best of Houzz awards for 2015,

2017 and 2020.

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