Some may raise an eyebrow at what Teri Mulmed’s friends have started to call her. “They say I’ve become the queen of curves,” she says with a smile. Mulmed’s moniker stems from her decorating style.
The Scottsdale interior designer’s home is a colorful, contemporary setting of half-circle sofas, abstract-shape tables and long, snaking custom shelving in soft, blond woods. It’s eye-catching and comfortable at the same time, exactly what Mulmed aims to achieve.
“I love art, but I think it’s really important that homes are home,” she says. “You have to be able to live in them.”
It’s a philosophy that’s served Mulmed well. With more than two decades of design experience, the 49-year-old was thrilled to be named the Interior Design Rising Star for Arizona in 2006 by the Fashion Group International, an organization that recognizes achievements in the fashion, beauty and design industries.
“It’s always such a compliment to be recognized as doing something that deserves merit,” says Mulmed, owner of DODAZ al Fresco, a Scottsdale interior design firm.
It’s no surprise then that the designer — who loves fashion, bold colors and modern decor — would come to design her own line of outdoor furniture. With a blank piece of paper — the way Mulmed says all her creative processes begin — she began to sketch what would soon become the DODAZ al Fresco patio line.
“I know stores are touting things as inside/outside furniture now, but it’s really not,” she says. Her goal was to create thickly cushioned upholstered pieces (with the weather-resistant fabric Sunbrella) that didn’t look like typical patio furniture. Her pieces are strikingly modern and come in an almost anti-Southwestern color palette of bold purples, blues and greens. Every piece is made in a local plant (“So I can keep an eye on it!” she says) and is sold at Robb & Stucky stores in Phoenix and Chandler. In her backyard, Mulmed has several of her pieces surrounding a — what else? — curvy lagoon pool. Lime green cushions accent the chaise.
“Sometimes I throw in a surprise color like lime,” says Mulmed.
And sometimes she throws in about five surprise colors, which is the case in her 8-year-old son Max’s room. Likening the ceiling to paint splatter, it took her and husband Kevin an entire weekend to create the abstract, random design of colors and shapes that stretch from floor to ceiling.
But in the couple’s master bedroom, things are a bit more calm. The couple, married for 11 years, are big believers in meditation, and Mulmed says their home reflects that. Before even entering the bedroom, the eye goes to a nearly 6-foot-tall oil painting of a sunset over the ocean, a birthday present from her husband.
“My husband loves nature,” she says. Nature continues to make an appearance throughout the couple’s bedroom in the form of a saguaro skeleton hung on the wall as art and tall birch branches arranged artfully in pebble-filled vases. The main color here is purple, a hue that Mulmed says she chose for its calming effect.
Though contemporary throughout, Mulmed’s design isn’t influenced by trends.
“The big thing for me is timelessness,” she says. “You need to be able to live with your furniture. Good design ages well.
“I’m very much about listening to people — listening to what’s said and what’s not said,” she says. “I create a style that’s stylish, but that they can live in.”
Now, if she could only stop listening to herself.
“I have to be stopped in my own home. It’s hard to stop! This carpet was fun to do, but now I want to redo it. And there’s nothing wrong with it!”
Q&A with Teri Mulmed
Q: How did your business begin?
A: I love art. I was one of those quiet, shy kids who was always drawing. When I became a single mom (in 1985), I decided I needed to go into something and got trained in a six-month (interior design) program. I had a wonderful mentor, Judy Thompson, from the American Institute of Interior Design in Fountain Hills. She was so dynamic and would not accept from me any form of “can’t.” She took me under her wing. In ’96 I began DODAZ al Fresco. I finally just had the confidence to test the waters for myself.
Q: Do you have a design motto?
A: Design, I believe, should be something you can live comfortably in.
Q: Price range for your services?
A: I charge hourly, but I’m very user-friendly. I gauge time posts and write down all the tasks so it’s not this running train.
Q: What is your favorite type of home to design?
A: My favorite is when I accomplish the lifestyle design the clients love. The greatest compliment once was when I was all done (with a client’s house) and the homeowner looked around and said she saw no sign of me, she just saw her husband and her.
Q: Most memorable design job?
A: My business partner Tami’s house. It was one of my first projects as a designer — that’s how we met. We are almost like kindred spirts, two peas in a pod. We had so much fun. It’s a soft, contemporary and very colorful design. Eleven years later, we’re still working on it.
Q: What’s something “in” right now, in interior design?
A: Extending the exercise space into a yoga/meditative-type area, instead of just an exercise room. Also, kitchen offices. Those little kitchen desks just don’t work. Now, they’re like pantry-size areas to keep the family organized.
Q: Something that’s definitely “out”?
A: Garish lighting! Keep it softer. It quiets the space. Glaring lights are almost like they’re yelling at you.
Q: If you could design anywhere in the world, where would it be?
A: Kauai, Hawaii. I have not been there, but I’ve been wanting to go.
Q: How do you describe your own personal home style?
A: I think it’s a contemporary naturescape. The house is literally wrapped around the backyard, and it’s very interactive with the outside.
Q: What is your favorite design aspect of your own home?
A: The view! I love how this house wraps around the view. You get a whole sense of it. I just adore it when storms brew in or the sun sets. The mountains really do turn purple.
Meet the designer
Company name: DODAZ al Fresco
Owner: Teri Mulmed (along with business partner Tami Romano) Established: 1997
What she does: Full-service design firm — Mulmed can work from the ground up with architects and builders or post-construction renovating/ designing room by room. The women have also created a line of outdoor furniture that Mulmed designed, also called DODAZ al Fresco, availabl1e at Robb & Stucky stores.
Family: Mulmed has been married for 10 years to Kevin, a dentist. They have three children — Christopher, 30; Danielle, 27; and Max, 8 — and five grandchildren.
Accolades: Mulmed was named Arizona’s Interior Design Rising Star for 2006. She has won an American Society of Interior Designers award for product design for her DODAZ al Fresco outdoor furniture line.
You may not know: “I’m actually very shy,” says Mulmed. “It’s actually kind of a joke with my friends because they always see me talking to people, but it’s true.”
Online: To see Mulmed’s line of outdoor furniture, go to www.dodazalfresco.com.