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Kind Words

“I really can't thank you enough for how organized and responsive you all are, on top of just really "getting" and synthesizing my sort of all-over-the-place aesthetic. Both the left and right sides of my brain feel so supported! 


Meet Ellen

Owner, Architect

Ellen Whitehead is a licensed Architect and Founder of DEW Design Company. Ellen earned her Bachelor of Science and Master of Architecture degree's from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She started her career working in high-end residential construction and design mostly in Chicago's North Shore. Ellen started DEW in 2020 and loves working closely with clients to creatively craft their dream homes. Ellen is a member of the American Institute of Architects, is NCARB certified, and is a LEED Homes accredited professional.

Ellen and her husband thoughtfully restored a 1920's bungalow in Des Plaines, IL. With their two young kids, they recently moved into a new construction home in Elgin, IL, and Ellen is busy painting, gardening, and designing the interior spaces. In her free time, she loves spending time with family and friends, cooking, doing yoga, and reading a good book.

Renee Busse

Interior Design Project Manager

Renee Busse received her bachelor’s degree in Interior Design from Harrington College of Design in Chicago. She has over 10 years of professional experience in high-end residential design working with the top designers, architects, and developers throughout the Chicagoland area ranging from single family homes to luxury high rises. She specializes in custom millwork & cabinetry design and has a passion for tiny & sustainable living.


In the heart of Covid, Renee and her husband bought a school bus and converted it themselves to be their tiny home on wheels so they could travel the country with their daughter, dog and 2 cats. They recently planted their roots in Hampshire, IL and bought some property with a brick ranch and a pole barn, which will be their next renovation project while they continue adventuring in the bus.

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Marissa Berek

Architectural Project Manager

Marissa Berek earned her Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and her Master of Architecture from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Marissa built her career as a Project Manager in commercial construction, working on ground up and interior build out restaurant + retail projects nationwide. She made the switch to residential in 2023 to be more involved on the design side and to help create equally beautiful and functional spaces in clients' homes.


Marissa and her husband live in Tower Lakes with their two kids and spend their free time renovating their mid century modern ranch. She also enjoys getting outside with the kids, golfing, and watching a good show.

Warda Zaidi

Architectural Associate

Warda Zaidi earned her Bachelor of Science in Architecture from Bowling Green State University, and recently graduated from Savannah College of Art & Design with her Master of Architecture.


Warda is deeply passionate about underserved people and the story of place - these aspects of her architectural work are communicated through her abstract approach to visual representation. She does not limit the potential of a building by the physical constraints, and instead emphasizes the life that should be brought to a building, letting the constraints find their place in the overall narrative of the project.


With a focus on humanitarian architecture, Warda wants to amplify the unity and inclusion of all humankind and focalize her energy on eradicating pressing issues that divide the world today.

She is a chai enthusiast, and in her free time, you can find her making pottery, painting, or reading, usually with a bag of takis by her side.

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Emily Bollier

Interior Designer

Emily Bollier is an accredited Interior Designer currently living and working part-time in the Chicago area. Emily earned her BFA in Interior Design from Rochester Institute of Technology and Master of Architecture from The Ohio State University. 


Her passion for art and design began 25 years ago when her parents enrolled her in local painting classes. Since then, Emily has worked in multiple design offices, including Limited Brands, Louis Vuitton, and Gensler. Her work for Saks Fifth Avenue in New York City has been recognized with awards for excellence in retail design. 


Outside of work, Emily enjoys spending time at home with her husband, son, and French bulldog. When she isn’t chasing after a toddler, she loves brushing up on her French-speaking skills and watching documentaries.

Alicia Blakely


Alicia is an architect, working part-time in Logan Square, Chicago. She received her degree in Architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology and has over 10 years of experience in high-end custom residential design. She loves working out details on paper and in the field. She manages site visits for our City of Chicago projects - answering questions quickly and efficiently for Contractors and Owners. She is a fire-cracker and is excellent at communication with Owners and Contractors.

In her spare time, Alicia enjoys pilates, trying new recipes at home and exploring the outdoors. While she resides in Chicago with her husband and son, they enjoy traveling to visit family and friends from around the world.

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Work Life Balance

In the rigorous, high intensity, field of architecture - we are passionate about creating a flexible culture to keep talented humans and parents in the workforce. We are a drama-free, mostly remote collective of individuals whose passions outside of work enhance our creativity. 


Kind Words

"Ellen was absolutely amazing! She was professional, experienced, creative, detailed oriented, thorough in the entire design process, great listener/communicator, reliable and always punctual."



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