Homes: Designer Dawson
Laura Dawson’s parents were antiques dealers.
Story: Bridget Broihahn
Photos: Bridget Broihahn
Laura Dawson’s parents were antiques dealers. That’s more than likely where she developed her love of design. “We went to antique shows all the time,” she said from her Champaign home.
Throughout her home, there is a theme of traditional, modern and industrial. “I like to mix styles. I go with what feels good. I go with what I like. It’s kind of innate,” she said. Her Champaign home has a soft feel because of the faint blue that is used throughout the space. “Soft blues are extremely neutral,” she said.
Dawson is an accredited interior designer. She obtained her degree from the Harrington School of Design in the Loop in downtown Chicago. “I worked with Janet Shirn,” she said.
Schirn was a past president of the American Society of Interior Designers. She was a noted expert on luxury homes. It took Dawson a year and a half to get her home to its current condition.
“I replaced all of the lighting,” she said. “I worked with Glen Good of Springfield Electric Supply Company.”
She wanted to change everything to reflect her style and comfort. To her it was a necessity and it was reinvention. The kitchen was revamped, and all new built-ins were added in the kitchen and in other parts of the house.
“Paul Helmuth did an excellent job,” she said. “The former design was dark cherry cabinetry.”
Helmuth is with Helmuth Custom Kitchens LLC, where cabinets are made to order in their Arthur shop.
“I had them paint the back of the shelvings. The details like that make it special. I had a fresh coat of paint applied to the entire house,” she said.
Dawson had Tile Specialists of Champaign redo the kitchen tile and flooring in the basement and the girls’ bedrooms. She has two daughters, Taylor Salmon, 15, and Hailey Salmon, 13.
Next she changed where the family would have its formal dining area. It is on a midlevel between the ground floor and the upstairs.
“It’s very European to have a mezzanine in a home,” she said of the newer dining space.
The mezzanine has a round table sitting on a lovely rug from Eastern Rug Gallery in Champaign. Helmuth also did the built-in shelving on the mezzanine level.
“Here you can see that I collect antique Mercury glass and flow blue china,” she said.
Staffordshire potters in early 19th-century England created this white earthenware. The color motif is from the blue glaze that blurred or “flowed” during the firing process.
The home has another midlevel room that Dawson uses for her design work. It is dedicated alone and away from the basement.
“The basement wasn’t finished,” she said. “I wanted a separate space for the kids to hang out and watch TV, but also another space for dancing.”
McGuire Homes finished the basement. Along with the TV and dancing areas, the basement has a wet bar and two beauty stations.
“I got a great deal from a local beautician,” she said.
She said she frequently gets questions about design.
“I think most people just need some guidance. Be fearless and got for it,” she said. “I take a lot of risk with design. I mix metals all the time.”
She keeps up on the latest trends to stay current.
“I get inspired. I do like to do the unexpected,” she said.