Danielle Wallinger’s approach to creating expressive, functional spaces that make her clients feel at home is simple: Ask questions. Lots of them. At the start of any project, she seeks to uncover her clients’ favorite brands, their daily routines, the colors of their cars—all the details that will help bring their thumbprints to the space. “I see myself as the author of a biography,” she says. “The client is the subject.”

Wallinger’s own design story began about 20 years ago with a stint at the Nancy Corzine luxury showroom in New York City (where she worked with now-design-celeb clients such as Alexa Hampton and Charlotte Moss). Then she returned to her native Arizona to work in residential design before ultimately opening her own firm, Studio D Design (studioddesign.com), in New York City in 2006. All of the region-hopping, it turns out, was perfect preparation for the aesthetic blend of Colorado, where she and her family landed three years ago.

To get a feel for Wallinger’s own bold style—pulled from that expansive exposure to design ideas and sources—we turned the tables and peppered her with our own inquiries.

—A glam living room designed by Wallinger

Top Design Move: Great lighting. “The impact is twofold. It’s not only the sculptural element of the fixture itself, but also what light does for a space. You’re able to create a lot of mood and atmosphere.”

Lately Loving: Hide rugs by Dedalo Living. “Elisabeth Cook, a Colorado native who spent her formative professional years in Italy, has really elevated the whole hide-rug scene. Her designs are modern and exquisite, and they hold up to the Colorado lifestyle. There’s no material as forgiving.”

Recent Design Find: Luke Lamp Co. “I love to stay on top of new products and manufacturers, and discoveries like this are the reason why. I can’t wait to use these designs. The rope fixtures could go in a house with a nautical theme or an equestrian undertone.”

Favorite Artist: Jim Lambie. “Color! Pattern! Placement! I just love his work. It has a ’70s vibe—a little bit of Frank Stella—that I’m drawn to. Putting one of his designs in an entryway or corridor would be amazing.”

Prized Possession: Vases by WrenLab Ceramics. “A friend (turned client) of mine from Brooklyn makes these amazing white porcelain pieces—each one is unique, and they seem to fit perfectly wherever I put them. I’ve accumulated about a dozen, and they live in one large cluster in my home.”

—Photo credit (from top): Courtesy of Studio D Design, courtesy of Dedalo Living