Parton's Designs Are 'Specially For You'

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It's not at all unusual that, on Oct. 9, a full 22 days before Halloween, Debra Parton's home is fully decorated and ready for trick-or-treaters.

Decorating, after all, is what Parton does for a living through her business, Specially for You.

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"Simplify, simplify, simplify" is the advice of interior decorator Debra Parton a lifelong lover of the abode aesthetic who has just launched a new home-based business, Specially for You, from her Payson home.

Not only that, it's what this Payson newcomer has done for as long as she can remember.

"When I was young, I'd go out into the empty horse pasture behind our house in Phoenix and draw floor plans in the dirt with a big stick," Parton recalled. "Full-sized floor plans. And even when I played with Barbie dolls, the most fun for me was setting up the houses."

Parton's first inclination was to turn her love of floor plans into a career as an architect. But just five years ago, after embarking on a cross-country road trip "to find myself and figure out what I want to be when I grow up," Parton realized two things:

"I discovered I had two loves, photography and design," she said. "I come from a very creative, artsy-craftsy family. So I just started researching interior-design schools."

The one she found was California's San Diego Mesa College, which has one of the best design programs in the country.

"I went, I graduated, and I started my own business on the side while I worked for a couple of established interior-design firms," said Parton, who by then had added the appellation "ASID Allied member" to her name.

"My specialty is what's called 'Universal Design.' I work with people who have disabilities and special needs. I cater a lot to the elderly, and I work very closely with an occupational therapist," she said.

What that collaboration allows, Parton said, is the ability to go into a home, evaluate the occupant and his or her abilities, then define their environment to work around them. This niche of the interior-design business is much bigger than Parton anticipated.

"People are getting older," she said. "Rock stars are getting older, and they don't want to go into nursing homes. If you can convince people that they can live comfortably in their own home and not have it look like an institution, it can be beautiful and functional yet more accommodating than a regular house."

The key is simplicity, she said.

"Little things like lever door handles, or widening doorways to accommodate wheelchairs. Those little things can make a home more ergonomically correct."

For as long as she can remember, Parton's family has had a Rim country cabin in Verde Glen.

"I'd always wanted to live here full time and I knew there was a large population of retired people here, which was perfect for what I do," she said. "So as soon as we could, my husband and I packed up the trailer and moved."

That was just three months ago. But since then, and the startup of her home-based business, Parton has had the opportunity to size up the interior-decorator needs of the average Paysonite.

"What I've seen so far is that people like simple designs," she said. "I haven't seen a lot of very formal rooms ... I'm finding it's a lot more casual than California; the lodge look is very popular, and people prefer functional over formal."

Those who call Parton will, for a small fee, receive an in-home consultation and with that, she said, "You can just pick my brain and ask me any questions about any room in your house. If you want me to help you with one room, or reconfigure your furniture so that it works better, we can discuss doing just that."

Beyond that meeting, "I am able to knock holes in walls, I can put in skylights, I can do complete remodels. We just have to figure out what scope the homeowner wants, then calculate a quote based on those decisions."

The most common errors of interior design that Parton encounters are twofold.

"What I see most is that they overdo things; they try to do too much," she said. "Sometimes, simpler is better. Often you'll go into someone's house, and there'll be a lot of clutter, or they'll have collections all over the house a set here, a set there. With collections, you really need to keep them all together. It creates a greater impact, more of a statement."

At other times, Parton said, "I just see things that don't go together. They may love something about this piece of furniture, and the color of that one, but together they just don't work. So I'll suggest moving a couple of the elements out of a room and replacing them, or eliminating them completely."

Much as she did all those years ago for Barbie and Ken.

For a consultation with Debra Parton of Specially for You, call 468-0848.

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