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Publication Date: 2017-12-08

Behind the Design

"Design for Living Well" with The Refined Group

Known for combining styles to create simple, sophisticated, and timeless interiors, Dana Lyon of The Refined Group has always believed in “design for living well.” To celebrate 15 years as principal of her firm, Lyon has released a limited edition monograph called “Refined: Design for Living Well.” We sat down with Lyon to talk about the new book, some of her favorite projects, and her wishlist for future designs.

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The cover of "Refined: Design for Living Well"

Q: How did you decide to write and publish a book?

A: I have always been a design book junkie. I’ve collected them for years and have admired so many designers’ work. I wanted to create something that was top quality and put a stake in the ground for refined interiors that are well thought out but also simple and edited. The silver and gold packaging for the book looks timeless on a coffee table as well! As designers, we’re all out there sharing our ideas one home at a time.

Josh Wells, Sun Valley Photography. Custom sofa and cowhide ottomans by The Refined Group. Mongolian fur throws. Vintage pots from Relics AZ.

Q: After your years in the business, what are the most memorable moments you experience on a project? 

A: I love having clients come in after an install, when they walk through for the first time with furniture. We do this mostly on out-of-town projects and the gratitude we receive is always so fulfilling.

Josh Wells, Sun Valley Photography. Floor lamps by Holly Hunt. Rose Tarlow chairs. Coffee table by Peter Thomas Designs. Kathryn McCoy crystal votives.

Q: Your signature look is a mix of historic and more modern designs, which can be a challenge. How do you make that seem effortless?

A: My team and I try to stay authentic to a given style of architecture. If it is very modern, I study what materials are new and try to incorporate them. If a client wants a more historic-looking home, we scour for the very best antiques that also have a leaning toward clean lines that are the right scale.

Dino Tonn Photography. Conde Nast Print. Ralph Lauren lamps. Custom French script fabric designed by The Refined Group with Opuzen Los Angeles. Custom decorative bedding by the The Refined Group. Matouk Sheets. Custom nightstands, bedframe, and bench by The Refined Group.

Q: Your firm is also known for making sure that clients are “living well.” What does this mean to you?

A: We look to clients for what inspires their daily lives and try to incorporate that into the home in a meaningful way. We also take into account the natural surroundings, space, and light and accentuate all the positives. Additionally, we try to incorporate technology in a seamless way to make our clients’ homes more comfortable. Our homes should be sanctuaries that allow us to enjoy life.

Josh Wells, Sun Valley Photography. Custom made chairs and sectional by The Refined Group. All textiles by Holly Hunt. Peter Thomas Designs for side and coffee tables. Bolivian antique mirror: owner’s collection. Custom armoire by The Refined Group. Kathryn McCoy crystal votives.

Q: You’ve created spaces in some gorgeous places around the country, particularly in the Southwest and on the West Coast. How do geography and physical location influence your work?

A: Our starting point with clients is to ask what they love about a locale and the special interests they have. We have many mountain homes in the book and have had fun doing large entertaining spaces with unique fireplaces and luxurious yet cozy furs. These mountain homes have expansive mudrooms that can house outdoor wear and gear and must have bulletproof flooring. Additionally, we like to marry outdoor and indoor living by incorporating comfortable indoor/outdoor fabric. This makes areas larger and capitalizes on the stunning outdoor views.

Gibeon Photography. Waterworks Henry sconces and white resin bathroom accessories. Custom vanity by The Refined Group. Facings of American porcelain tile. Victoria and Albert bathtub.

Q: Are there any types of projects you have yet to work on that are on your wishlist, or any places where you’re dying to design?

A: We just completed a commercial project and really enjoyed it. We would love to do a boutique hotel—that’d probably be at the top of our wishlist. I’ve always looked to hotels for a fabulous experience and I research the best ones before traveling. It would be a dream to make a special one.

Werner Segarra Photography. Custom designed lantern pendants by The Refined Group in collaboration with Hinkley’s Lighting Arizona. Sub-Zero/Wolf appliances. Builder Brett Brimley. Cabinets by Shawn Stole.

Q: What is the one design lesson you would like readers to take away from the book and from your work in general?  

A: That timeless luxury is attainable and can make your life better. Here’s to living well!

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