Provo home gives the Old West some elegance
By Briana Stewart
Photos by Dave Blackhurst
When Arlene Olsen wanted to give her living room an updated look, she chose a slipcover to get the job done right. “I’m a huge fan of our tailored slipcovers,” says Stephanie Holdaway, owner of GateHouse no. 1 in Orem and the decorator behind the Olsens’ Provo home. “By looking at them, it’s hard to believe they’re not fully upholstered to the frame.”
Arlene and Kelly Olsen’s Provo home is a little bit country, a little bit modern.
“I’d call the style ‘feminine cowboy’ — how’s that for a technical design term?” says Arlene, whose husband is one of the founders of Provo-based Tahitian Noni International.
Arlene may not technically be a designer, but she’s certainly a natural. When it came time to decorate her Riverbottoms home with the help of GateHouse no. 1 owner Stephanie Holdaway, her effortless eye for elegance was abundantly clear.
“Arlene is my soul sister when it comes to furniture and accessories,” Stephanie says. “She can always walk into my store and immediately choose my favorite new things, whether it’s a new fabric that just came in, or a new favorite line of lamps and pillows. We always seem to be on the same page.”
And that page includes three crucial factors: family, comfort and elegance — in a very particular order.
The family factor
Arlene is a mother of four and grandmother of eight, so in decorating her home it was family first.
“I knew I needed a home where my grandkids could feel free to run around and play,” she says. “I didn’t want them to walk around on eggshells afraid to break something.”
Stephanie knew of this family focus from the get-go.
“Family is very important to Arlene. She thinks about comfort and livability while still emphasizing the importance of quality and design,” Stephanie says. “That philosophy goes hand-in-hand with what we specialize in, so it makes for an easy and fun partnership.”
As a result, pictures of Arlene’s kids and grandkids dot the walls, family heirlooms line the shelves and a gorgeous blue crib sits in a buttercream guest room for the visiting little ones.
And when the home is “in use,” it’s picture perfect to Arlene.
“You should see my house on a Sunday night — it certainly doesn’t look like this!” she says. “But that’s all part of the fun.”
The comfort factor
When you design with family in mind, comfort can’t be too far behind. And that comfort is most apparent in the living room — Arlene’s favorite space in the house.
“It’s just so open,” Arlene says. “It’s easy to feel relaxed.”
The furniture is a major factor. After living in her home for a couple years, Arlene decided to incorporate a fresh palette of neutrals in organic fabrics and textures. But the challenge came in complementing her existing furniture with the new style.
Stephanie and Arlene solved the issue with a slipcover.
“She already had a wonderful rich brown leather sofa and a great comfy sectional, so by simply adding a custom-fitted slipcover to her existing sectional, we instantly transformed her room to have a whole new look,” Stephanie says.
And before you think, “Slipcover? Really?” Yes, really.
“The slipcover is manufactured by the same company that made the sectional, so it is perfectly fitted and gives a tailored appearance,” Stephanie says. “It gave Arlene an instant update by adding a lot of style with fresh fabrics and textures, plus it is very livable in that the slipcover is fully machine washable. It’s a perfect solution for a room you want to be relaxed in and not worry about kids, food spills and pets.”
And they didn’t stop at the slipcover. By adding a plush new chair, head-turning bird pillows, new accessories, and an area rug of rich, warm chocolate and linen tones with pops of color, the brand new room perfectly flows with the rest of the home.
The elegant cowboy factor
When it came to style, two components were important to Arlene: country and elegance.
“However, my elegant is probably a lot different from other people’s elegant!” Arlene laughs.
(Editor’s Note: We respectfully beg to differ.)
But if cowboy elegance was the goal, she certainly achieved it. From the Alaska fishing paintings to the hand-knitted mementos to the beautiful horse statue given to her by her grandfather, Arlene has masterfully captured the “Old West” without it feeling overwhelming or cliché.
“Arlene has such a flair for knowing what she likes and how to display it beautifully,” Stephanie says.
And not only is she good at it, she loves it, too.
“I’d redecorate my house every two years just for the fun of it,” Arlene says. “But my husband would just die!”