A Home at the Center of Things
A Madisonian finds downtown the perfect place to live, work and play
Debby Dines relaxes at her downtown condo. SEE MORE PHOTOS OF THE HOME IN THE SLIDESHOW BELOW.
Before Debby Dines moved to Madison in 1998, she’d never lived downtown. Today, the city’s core is where her personal and professional lives mix—and she can’t imagine living any other way.
Dines is the owner of and broker at Dines Incorporated, a real estate company she founded that specializes in downtown properties. And home for the Ohio native is a 2,126-square-foot unit in the Marina Condominiums overlooking Lake Monona. She moved in five years ago partly because she was taken with the building’s sleek exterior and light-filled interiors.
“Marina was more of a modern-design opportunity,” says Dines, who’s an interior design enthusiast. “I immediately loved the bold architecture of the building, and the views were incredible.”
The condo’s clean lines and stellar views inspired Dines to chose a mix of natural and manmade materials in her décor. She painted walls varying shades of gray, opted for wide-plank mahogany floors and concrete kitchen countertops, and picked out furniture accented with glass.
Moving wall systems (which resemble large-scale pocket doors) in frosted glass throughout the condo offer privacy while minimizing visual clutter. “I’m very minimal by nature,” Dines says. “I have a busy life so when I come home I like to keep things simple.”
Dines chose only four traditional doors in the entire condo, preferring to create an open feel and sense of flow. Her kitchen, dining room and living room meld together overlooking the lake. The rooms’ southeast exposure means Dines enjoys morning sunshine but also sees sunset reflections.
However, all those windows also posed some design challenges when she first moved in. “There were so many windows!” she says. “I thought, where am I going to have a TV? How am I going to lay out my living room?”
After several rounds of designs and revisions, Dines came up with some creative solutions. She created a slight nook for her living room, which allowed room for a television and fireplace, floated her bed in the middle of the master bedroom and opted for a full wall closet instead of a walk-in. “I ended up embracing the windows,” she says.
Until she moved downtown, Dines struggled to find a life-work balance. Now, she walks to work, entertains more than ever at home and is only steps away from the city’s restaurants, markets and entertainment. She doesn’t have to work less; what she needs is simply closer.
“Everything’s right outside my door,” she says.
Katie Vaughn is managing editor of Madison Magazine.
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