HOME TOUR: Eclectic high-rise apartment at Ironworks with a contemporary, upbeat and trendy style

What kind of a home would a Hoosier native and a Swedish transplant have?

P.A. Nilhagen is from Stockholm Sweden. He came to the U.S. on a full four-year scholarship to play college tennis at Western Kentucky University. He was offered a tennis coaching job in Indy and thought he would give it a try.

That was 45 years ago. Nilhagen is currently with the PATC Tennis Center in Zionsville.

He has had a fulfilling career teaching world class players, high school and college students who now have careers as doctors, lawyers, and executives of major corporations among others.

His students give him all the credit, saying, “With P.A. it is not just a tennis lesson, it is a life lesson."

Deborah Dorman has lived in Indiana her entire life. She went to IPS School 80, graduated from Broad Ripple High School and went on to study fashion and design at Mount Ida in Boston.

Her dream was to move to New York City to continue her education, but her father felt differently in those days. She came back to Indiana and continued her education, married and raised three children.

She decided to reenter the workforce, which many women weren’t doing at the time, to pursue a career in travel business where she owned a travel company.

Dorman realized she wanted to be the best in the business, so she decided to go into real estate. She worked with F.C. Tucker and has now been with Encore Sothebys for over 23 years.

She said her lifestyle has allowed her to give back to her community by becoming a human rights advocate. Dorman is also involved with the Fashion Arts Society.

It has afforded her the opportunity to be who she is today.

It was a perfect fit for Nilhagen and Dorman.

He was a world traveler and she was a dreamer of dreams. The magic happened as they have now been to over 100 countries in the world.

Special pieces

They have lived in over seven homes, each expressing a different personality and lifestyle from suburban to lakeside to downtown to ultra-modern.

All of the pieces you’ll find in Nilhagen and Dorman’s home were selected for their current residence at Ironworks at Keystone. 

Special pieces that they admire and respect the most are family heirlooms.

One of their prized possessions is a large tapestry from the 1700s that hung so stately in a two-story living room inside the home of Dorman’s grandparents.

The Kessler Boulevard home also displayed a golden eagle and faux marble table from 1950s that sat proudly in the entry hall. Dorman used to place her books on it as a youngster coming home from school. 


Dorman said her inspirations come from a variety of places that bring visions of trendy city living and cottages in Palm Springs to mind.

Both Nilhagen and Dorman believe they are city people who love the city life, yet are in love with the old-world glamour that came out of Hollywood.

Favorite design element

Any guest in the Ironworks home will notice Dorman’s favorite design element - continuity. Each room seems to flow seamlessly into the next, but a mood change will slowly become apparent.

One side of their home features contemporary white leather and mirrored furniture, but the journey through the rest of the space gives off a more traditional, old world feel.

Dorman said she enjoys monochromatic furniture with a splash of color for accents.

“It’s very calming for us and our guests,” she said.

Shopping staples

“There is always a story with each piece we have ever bought,” said Dorman. “The pieces we have now are mostly recycled from one home to another. It seems no matter where we go, they always fit in to each new place we call home.”

She enjoys shopping at a wide variety of places, from boutiques to high-end furniture stores to online businesses and catalogues.

You’ll catch Dorman shopping at Kittle’s Furniture, Arhaus, Form + Function, Scandinavian Designs, Restoration Hardware, West Elm, and Haus. But, she said her old standby is Houseworks. It’s a world she has called home for at least four decades.

Although she has her staples, Dorman likes to embrace the new, local places that sell artisan pieces as well. She admits she’s a “local girl” from day one and will be forever.

Biggest indulgences

Dorman said the pair’s first indulgence was purchasing their “dream home.”

She also enjoyed living at the Conrad Hotel in downtown Indianapolis. She said she felt like Eloise living at The Plaza.

At their current home, Nilhagen and Dorman merged two apartments to allow their families to visit. They enjoy looking out over the Fashion Mall at Keystone, while sipping a glass of Vino, listening to tunes and sitting on their terrace that overlooks Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.

“It’s a magical time in our lives and an indulgence. We call it the high life,” said Dorman.

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