Donna Rosenthal of Bella Casa
Inspired by fashion and captivated by people
Photo by Ryan Young
Dressed in skinny jeans by Chloé, a silk shirt by Vince Camuto, Prada shoes and Chanel glasses, Donna Rosenthal is elegantly clothed and strikingly accessorized.
The same can be said for her interiors. This award-winning designer goes well beyond simply picking paint colors as she collaborates with a team of carpenters, painters, craftsmen and artists to create one-of-a-kind interiors with classic foundation pieces and distinctive adornments.
Consider one Tudor home’s renovated kitchen with cabinets featuring an 11-layer finish. Imagine another country lodge’s glazed interior walls embellished with leaves from the property. Or envision a lake home’s palatial bedroom with a triple-sized headboard custom designed for its oversized bed.
Always on the lookout for design gems, Rosenthal turns to fashion for inspiration. She says this spring’s fashions are making their way into interior design with modern incarnations of ’60s and ’70s styles.
Besides the runway, Rosenthal also checks out commercial establishments for further inspiration. “I always have an eye out whether I’m at a hotel, a restaurant or even a ladies room.
“I don’t know anything else,” says this 30-year design veteran who explains how she got an early start experimenting with design ideas as a child growing up in Boston. Her mother would return from grocery shopping to find Rosenthal pulling sheets from the closets and arranging make-shift furniture covers and drapery tie-backs.
Early in her career, she worked at design and furniture showrooms in Scottsdale, Arizona. When she moved with her husband to Columbus in the late ’80s, she opened an antiques store in Upper Arlington, figuring a retail business would help connect her with prospective design customers. She eventually opened her own design business, Bella Casa, and celebrates her 23rd anniversary this year.
Over time, she’s developed an expertise for sourcing and commissioning art that she says can be the focal point of many rooms. “Even in a neutrally colored room, it can be the personality of the room.”
The key to her art consulting success is the relationships she’s developed with Ohio artists to connect with clients. Those relationships, she says, are the most rewarding part of her work.
Teresa Woodard is a freelance writer.
Rosenthal’s tips for decorating with art:
- Buy what you love, not what matches a room.
- Try out pieces. Most galleries will allow buyers to take home art for trial. “Take it home and see if you wake up the next morning and still love it,” she says.
- Invest in quality art—“as much as you can comfortably afford.”
- Consider scale. Many people err on too small of a piece for a space. “It’s better to have a few large statement pieces than lots of little busy pieces,” she says.
- Work with a designer to custom frame and display the art to best suit the room.