Fort Worth husband-and-wife design and renovation team finds ways to build their business while raising 6 children

By Rebecca ChristophersonMay 31, 2024June 17th, 2024No Comments

Fort Worth husband-and-wife design and renovation team finds ways to build their business while raising 6 children

By Rachael Lindley
Photography by Jill Johnson

Modern Maison owners Jeff and Donnia Olesko at their headquarters off the Benbrook traffic circle

You can find Modern Maison off the traffic circle on Benbrook Boulevard in west Fort Worth. The old home has lived a few lives. It was first a residence, then a 1960s hair salon. Think linoleum floors, old-fashioned hair dryers, asbestos. But now the little home has been transformed into the showroom for Modern Maison, a growing renovation and design firm.

Owners Jeff and Donnia Olesko painstakingly took the building down to the studs to restore and redesign the space, reflecting a comfortable place of business.

Upon entering the little blue house with its custom yellow double doors, you’re greeted with a chic display of luxury paints, en vogue wallpapers and multitude of fabrics, all showcasing products. The end result flows together seamlessly, speaking to the Oleskos’ abilities.

Keeping it in The Family

The Oleskos have been married for 12 years and have six children, four adopted. Jeff, a retired Marine, discovered his knack for carpentry while he served in the corps.

“It’s funny because in the Marines I ended up building a lot of things myself and found that I really enjoyed it,” Jeff said. “So, after I retired in 2015, I decided to continue on that path.”

Donnia had always harbored a passion for interior design, so the couple took the leap and opened Modern Maison in 2016, intending to do small renovation projects.

Modern Maison’s offerings include luxury paints, en vogue wallpapers and various fabrics.

Fast forward, and the business has evolved to specialize in all interior finishes. The couple has satisfied clients in Rivercrest, Fairmount, Ryan Place, Mira Vista, Montserrat and as far as Dallas’ Highland Park.

“We’ve done a lot of amazing projects that push our abilities,” Jeff said. “I’ve had people tell me when they have a job they can’t get a builder to do, they call us.”

Jeff has a fondness for trim work that perfectly complements Donnia’s designs.

“I think you can put trim anywhere in a house and make it beautiful,” Jeff said. “Give me 12-inch borders around every room in my house and chunky crown molding that looks like it’s been there for 100 years. Depending on your style and your home’s overall feeling, you can still make that look modern if you have a more contemporary style.”

An example of the Modern Maison skillset is apparent in the details of their jobs. They just finished a man cave in Rivercrest that features individual copper ceiling tiles recessed into equally sized coffers in the ceiling with ornate crown molding in each one.

Modern Maison has gained such momentum by word of mouth. Their philosophy is very simple and effective.

“We approach each job with love and pride,” Donnia said. “When you call us to have something installed or designed, we always take the time to talk to you, and it’s going to be us that you work with. We don’t usually outsource anything. What you see is what you get with Modern Maison.”

Paint, Wallpaper and Fabrics, Oh My!

Modern Maison specializes in high-end paint, wallpaper, window coverings, custom upholstery, trim, ceiling work and small renovation projects.

The Oleskos’ clients sometimes shy from color, but the Modern Maison team encourages them to live how they want — and not worry about resale.

Shortly after opening, the business was approached by the artisan paint brand Farrow & Ball to carry its paints. The UK-based brand uses high-quality minerals, pigments and resin in their water-based paint.

“We didn’t know much about paint at the time, but it was a special opportunity, so we decided to learn,” Donnia said.

Modern Maison continues to be the only retailer in Fort Worth to carry the exclusive brand. When Farrow & Ball began making wallpaper, Modern Maison began carrying it as well. This was the catalyst for even more wallpapers to be brought into their portfolio.

“With wallpaper making such a huge comeback, we have a lot of resources at our disposal,” Donnia said. “And we don’t outsource the install. We do that too. We also carry a lot of fabric for window coverings or custom upholstery, and, then, of course, we carry two brands of paint. We recently began carrying Backdrop, another line of paint by Schumacher.”

Whereas a lot of designers charge an hourly rate, Donnia does not. She enjoys the selection process with her clients.

“We sit down with tea or a glass of prosecco and go through everything,” she said.

Small But Mighty

Modern Maison’s niche is one- to two-room renovation projects, but they aren’t opposed to larger jobs. They love to meet one-on-one with clients and get to know them, their homes, décor preferences and how their families live in their homes.

Modern Maison’s projects include a man cave in Rivercrest that features copper ceiling tiles recessed into coffers with ornate crown molding.
Photo courtesy of Modern Maison

Donnia is very inspired by French country and Victorian era styles, but that doesn’t mean she pigeonholes her clients into the same.

“If we don’t have something that a client is looking for, I’ll find it,” she said. “I love to embrace the style of every house we work on. We choose our inventory based on our taste, but if someone comes in with a different taste or need, we can certainly pivot.”

The Oleskos were even tapped to help the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame. They installed a glitter wallpaper on the ceiling where Mamie the diver and her horse Napoleon are bursting into the entry.

“It was about a 50 by 50 [foot] space complicated by this massive horse coming out of the ceiling,” Jeff said. “It was pretty comical at the time, but we got it done and it looks beautiful.”

A Colorful Existence

With colorful interiors coming back into style, the Oleskos are rejoicing.

“We love color and don’t shy away from it,” Donnia said. “I’m so glad gray and beige are going by the wayside. Decorating is all about giving your space personality and making it your own.”

While some of their clients struggle with making a commitment to color, Jeff and Donnia try to ease their minds.

“If they are worried about resale value, you shouldn’t think about it that way,” Jeff said. “You should live the way you want in your home. It should feel like you. A well-decorated home will always sell better. If you’ve lived in your home so minimally that you’re forced to hire a stager to sell it, you’ve done yourself a massive disservice because it could have been that cool the whole time you lived there.”

The couple practices what they preach. They just converted a linen closet to a stunning powder bathroom in their own home. From the tilework and trim to the wallpaper and paint, the Oleskos did it all.

“We strive for excellence in everything we do,” Jeff said. “We’re invited into our client’s homes to make them better. It is our job to make sure that people love the projects that we do for them. We take a lot of pride in that.”

While the Oleskos find their work incredibly rewarding, it’s no secret that raising six children is a big commitment. The business they’ve created has given them the freedom to be devoted parents.

“Between all of us, we make it work,” Donnia said. “Everyone pitches in and we’re just one big, crazy family.”