Just this morning I noticed the colors changing on the trees! It’s definitely Fall! In the design world, it means the Autumn edition of the High Point Furniture Market is almost here. Held twice per year in October and April, the next “market” will take place October 13-18th in High Point, North Carolina. Held since 1909, the market is a one stop destination for interior designers and furniture store buyers looking at the latest offerings from home decor companies. In fact, it’s the largest furniture industry trade show in the entire world, drawing about 75,000 visitors to town that week alone. There are 180 buildings chock full of wonderful lighting, accessories, art, rugs, and furniture of all kinds. (more…)View Post
The Devil’s in the Details
We’ve all seen it. Two very similar homes – perhaps even side by side on the same street. Walk inside them and what a striking difference. One is ordinary. The other spectacular and special. One makes you yawn. The other is so gorgeous it makes you envious! What accounts for that huge disparity? Trust us – it’s all in the details!
We recently worked with clients purchasing a newly constructed “Spec” home – helping them add details to make the home their own. To clarify, a spec home is built to the “specifications” that a typical buyer might want. There are usually popular “big” features that buyers desire such as walk-in closets, a kitchen island, a fireplace, mudroom or second floor laundry. But these homes usually are “plain vanilla” in the style, materials and finishes categories. A builder isn’t going to go all out upgrading and customizing a home like this since they want to appeal to the widest possible audience. And, of course, they want to keep their costs down for maximum profit. (more…)View Post
The Devil Is In The Details
We’ve all seen it. Two very similar homes – perhaps even side by side on the same street. Walk inside them and what a striking difference. One is ordinary. The other spectacular and special. One makes you yawn. The other is so gorgeous it makes you envious! What accounts for that huge disparity? Trust us - it’s all in the details!
We recently worked with clients purchasing a newly constructed “Spec” home – helping them add details to make the home their own. To clarify, a spec home is built to the “specifications” that a typical buyer might want. There are usually popular “big” features that buyers desire such as walk-in closets, a kitchen island, a fireplace, mudroom or second floor laundry. But these homes usually are “plain vanilla” in the style, materials and finishes categories. A builder isn’t going to go all out upgrading and customizing a home like this since they want to appeal to the widest possible audience. And, of course, they want to keep their costs down for maximum profit.
Here’s an example of a common “Spec home” mentality – the builder of our client’s home told us he spent just “ten minutes” selecting light fixtures for the 3000 square foot house because he “always uses the same ones.” Needless to say, it takes more than ten minutes to pick appropriate, high quality, beautiful items that you’ll want to live with for years.
If you want to make your home a “Wow” rather than a “Snooze”….we recommend really focusing on those details. Every single item in your home should be viewed as an opportunity! The key to getting details right is to first figure out the big picture – your overall design goals – and make choices that consistently reflect and support that style. It’s simple!
What kinds of details can make a huge impact? For permanent structural items in the home, be sure to carefully consider material details such as wood stains, woods, trim styles, stone and tiles, edging details, railing shapes, door knobs, cabinet doors, hardware, light fixtures, plumbing fixtures, etc… The choices are endless. Be sure the choice you make works with your overall style and you won’t go wrong. And once in a while, be daring! Push your boundaries a little! Trust your instinct! You won’t regret it.
Once the major structural elements are in place, the next choices are the furnishings, accessories and window treatments. These have their own set of small details that can punch up the wow factor. Designers use things like contrast welting, nail head trim, faux finishes, textural variation, shiny surfaces, tufting, mirrors, paint, complementary colors, custom uph0lstery, trims, wallpapers and more to make each furnished room unique, personal and interesting.
Need an example? This living room photo is chock full of great details……
Interior designer Phoebe Howard made lots of detail choices… dark stain on floors, light painted walls, two fabrics on the sofa body plus contrast welting, an accent color and organic print for throw pillows, a decorative nail head detail on the ottoman, a shiny silver tray, a geometric patterned carpet, uniformly dark picture frames, an oil rubbed bronze finish on the chandelier and custom shaped railings. Every item here was carefully considered and it shows!
Need help punching up your home’s details? It’s a fun and creative process – but can also be overwhelming and time consuming given our busy lives. That’s what interior designers are for! This is our specialty and we love doing it! Give us a shout and let us help you make your home a Wow!
Just this morning I noticed the colors changing on the trees! It’s definitely Fall! In the design world, it means the Autumn edition of the High Point Furniture Market is almost here. Held twice per year in October and April, the next “market” will take place October 13-18th in High Point, North Carolina. Held since 1909, the market is a one stop destination for interior designers and furniture store buyers looking at the latest offerings from home decor companies. In fact, it’s the largest furniture industry trade show in the entire world, drawing about 75,000 visitors to town that week alone. There are 180 buildings chock full of wonderful lighting, accessories, art, rugs, and furniture of all kinds.
Heading to market is both stimulating and exhausting. There is so much to see! For us, it’s a fantastic way to find new sources and manufacturers, guaranteeing that we always order the best for our clients. Market is also a way to see new product designs and trends. Some of our favorite decor items come from vendors we learned about in High Point! Now we do business regularly with Visual Comfort for lighting, Arteriors for accessories, or Phillip Jeffries wallcoverings – just to name a few great High Point finds.
Before you get too excited and try to hop a plane down South, know that the market is open only to the trade. But you will get your chance to reap the benefits as designers and showrooms will soon have access to the latest wares. Another way to stay current is to read design magazines as they also send their staff to High Point to cover what’s hot.
This October’s market theme is “Fashion Focus” showing everyone how the fashion industry greatly influences trends in home design. One trend analyst who attended the Spring 2013 fashion shows in New York, says that looks that appear on the runways trickle down directly to what’s happening in our homes! Katharine and I avidly follow fashion, and we couldn’t agree more! The word is our homes will see more stripes, florals, denim, the color orange, and “garden party” color and decorating schemes in the coming months. Just as we express our personalities by how we dress, we do the same through our homes’ decor. Fashion and interior design share a foundation of color, fabric, construction and shapes that all combine to show our unique sense of self. I guess that’s why we are so drawn to both fashion and interior design. And can’t wait for our next trip down to High Point!View Post
Bunk House Beauties
School is almost out and many of us will soon be sending our kids off to summer camp. Almost everyone has fond memories a camp’s musty wooden bunk house as a haven for fun, giggles, a few mosquitoes and very little sleep. Simple cabins do have their rustic charm. But did you ever wonder how they might look if an interior designer was brought into the mix? The answer is simple – the group sleeping situation gets kicked up a notch! Not only is the fun factor increased with creative bed design, but functionality and space planning are also professionally addressed. If you’ve got children, or summer house guests on the way, a bunk room is a wonderful way to create special accommodations that can comfortably fit the most people in the least amount of space. Vacation homes, lake side retreats, ski or beach houses and even a bonus room in your primary residence can benefit from the bunk house concept.
Built-in beds are a designer’s secret way of maximizing floor space in a bedroom. Stacking the beds and going vertical clearly gets a couple extra mattresses into the room. If you take it a step further and build the bunks right into the space, you can get all sort of added benefits – like bookcases, dressers, little storage nooks, and shallow drawers underneath for bedding. Plus, built-in bunks just look cool! Depending on the home’s location, you might want to add distinctive features like rope ladders, or suspended beds, portholes or individual bedside lighting that reflects the woodsy or seaside locale.
To give everyone a bit of privacy, you can outfit each bed space with its own curtain to be drawn whenever someone needs a bit of space. While bunk rooms aren’t necessarily a grown-up’s idea of luxury accommodations, these cozy nooks will still satisfy the child in us all. There’s something about having an dedicated “sleepover” space that makes time together with family and friends even more special.
Take a look at these amazing bunk rooms. Makes you want to sign up for summer camp again, doesn’t it?! Well, an interior designer’s version of summer camp anyway.
Life is full of stuff. You want or need these things in your home for their utility, but you don’t necessarily want to look at them all the time. Designers are people too – and we certainly understand that innate desire to have – and to hide! And so many creative design solutions exist for ways to hide stuff around the house while keeping it readily accessible. Sometimes this means camouflaged storage areas built right into the home’s structure. And sometimes it means furnishings that mask storage capabilities while still looking great. Either way, hidden storage is a win-win.
One of the classic hidden design solutions dates all the way back to 1900 when William Murphy patented his Murphy bed design. Hide a bed? Quite a challenge, right? But for the uninitiated, a Murphy bed smoothly flips up vertically into a recess in the wall or into a dedicated wardrobe piece. When it’s tucked away, no one knows the bed is there and the room’s got plenty of floor space. When you need a place to sleep, the bed folds down and the room is transformed. What’s handy is that the mattress stays fully made, complete with sheets, blankets and pillows. Just pull it down and you’re ready to snooze.
If you think a Murphy bed would solve a space problem in your home, check out the Murphy Bed Company that sells a variety of styles. We particularly love stylish, modern style Murphy beds that are cool and contemporary.
If the things you’ve got to store are smaller than a bed – and most things are - there are plenty of other spots in your home where storage can be discretely carved out. Architects and interior designers are masters at identifying empty cavities behind hollow walls or other underutilized areas. We’ve all seen the underside of a staircase made functional by built-in bookcases and coat closets. Cover this same area with flat panels or doors with touch latches, and the wall magically houses the same stuff out of sight.
One other staircase storage idea you probably never considered is storage inside the steps themselves. It takes some smart planning and a talented carpenter, but stair risers can actually become drawer fronts that pull out to reveal storage drawers under each individual step. In a tiny home, those drawers could make all the difference between a cluttered or tidy home.
Virtually any space behind a wall can mask storage space hidden from sight. Imagine linen closets, medicine cabinets, spice racks, pantries, toiletries all there behind your walls, hidden yet accessible. Below are some photos of clever storage ideas that we found irresistible. There’s a kitchen plan that cleverly conceals a whole pantry. Designers tricked the eye with a chalkboard and cabinet face that appear unmoving rather than hanging yet another standard issue door.
Or what about the kitchen with a secret spice alcove right behind the tile back splash? Wonderful! And, there’s a bathroom with a wall of pull-out storage tucked behind the tub. Most unique is this innovative design we saw for a built-in bath tub with paneled surround. Pull each panel forward and you’re rewarded with all your bath necessities neatly contained in a handy location.
If your home is short on storage space, we challenge you to look around your house and see where you might be able to add it, without flaunting it!
Will someone please tell us why walls and floors are the only surfaces that seem to get anyone’s attention? Our homes have another surface – up above – that doesn’t get its fair share of the design action. Say hello to the ceiling! There are many wonderfully interesting ways to adorn this surface and add tons of interest to your room. If you’re lying on the bed or sofa looking up at a plain flat white overhead view, you just might want to think about some of the following fantastic ideas.
The ways to embellish a ceiling are actually quite varied. There are classic structural elements such as coffers, paneling, beams, strapping, wood planks, tin tiles or shaped soffits. These all are powerful additions because they are three dimensional. Some, such as exposed beams, are in fact load bearing. But they can also be added retroactively as a purely decorative element.
If these hard treatments are painted white like the surrounding ceiling they will subtly bring depth and dimension to your room. If they are made of wood – and are stained or left natural – they will provide contrast and texture. Both of which make for a unique space. Painted in colors, these 3D elements can be boldly dramatic against the surrounding white ceiling. Shimmer and pattern from tin tiles are also a welcome addition to the right space.
The other ways of enlivening your ceiling require less expense and commitment but can be no less stunning. The materials primarily involve either paint or wallpaper. A ceiling painted a color other than white is unexpected and interesting. Your color choice will dictate how much impact it has. Go with a soft shade in a bedroom and the effect is soothing. A pop of bright color in the right room is whimsical and fun. You can even go one step further – stripes anyone? Choosing decorative paint finishes is another route to personality. Trompe l’oeil is a paint technique giving the illusion of three dimension. A fresco mural on the ceiling, alla Michelangelo, will catch the attention of anyone who enters – as long as it’s tastefully done and appropriate for the space. Faux paint finishes are other possibilities that add visual depth and texture to an otherwise flat and mundane surface.
Finally, you’d be amazed at the transformation wallpaper can make to a room’s overhead view. This is not a project we recommend tackling on your own. A professional wallpaper installer is best suited to handle this tricky application. But the results are WOW!
We hope we’ve encouraged you to consider upgrading at least one of your plain vanilla ceilings to something with more flavor. As with most things in design, if you’re creative the possibilities are absolutely endless!View Post
T.v. or not t.v.?
That is the question! We admit it, we have a love-hate relationship with our television. Sometimes there’s nothing better than cuddling with the family indoors and watching a movie or our favorite show. A t.v. in the kitchen is handy for catching the news or cooking along with Giada. Having one in the bath is a luxury to most – and a vital necessity for others. There are certainly many reasons to love television. Yet…..do we want to look at it all the time? Do we want that black screen always present in our beautiful decors? Do we want our children to have access at all times? Nope.
Luckily, we are not alone. As media technology has steadily advanced to flatter and flatter televisions, the design world has simultaneously invented numerous ways to camouflage the black panel. There really is no need to look at your television unless you really want to. So, what are your options?
The simple low tech route requires that you’re just clever with your design. Hang the t.v. on a wall and surround it by artwork or mirrors in frames. The t.v. blends away. This works wonderfully in living rooms and bedrooms. In the kitchen, treat your t.v. as just another appliance and create a recessed nook to sleekly accommodate it. Stacked on top of double ovens or the microwave and voila! The t.v. disappears until you hit the remote. Sometimes even just creating custom recessed niche in your wall is enough to keep the t.v. from taking center stage.
Other ways to go undercover mostly involve discreetly hiding the television behind other (prettier) things. Artwork, mirrors, raised panels and shutters all are fabulous coverups for an LCD. Visit a specialized home media/electronics store and they will amaze you with the various mounting bracket and cover-up options. Your contractor can even tuck it right into your ceiling with the help of special hardware! Cabinet makers who do custom pieces can work wonders as well. Built-ins are obvious ways to hide televisions and hinges, touch latches and sliding panels can all aid in keeping your t.v. out of slight yet easily accessible.
Finally, there’s the furniture route. Innovative options are available from many high end furniture lines (and the price tags often reflect the level of ingenuity.) Many media cabinets now appear as simple consoles – but inside they hide a sleek lift system that elevates the television for use by remote control. The foot board at the end of your bed or the dresser across the room can also house the t.v. – again aided by a lift system. You’re no longer limited by the bulky t.v. armoire of the 90s and that helps televisions fit in the most unlikely of furniture pieces.
Of course, it takes research and planning to find the best solution for your space, but the results are well worth it. No one will be the wiser. And your elegant living room can do double duty as the venue of your annual Oscars party!View Post
Just back from an incredible April school vacation down in Placencia, Belize. Suffice it to say, I highly recommend it! The snorkeling and marine life in the barrier reef was truly spectacular. As always, I also picked up a few local crafts that caught my eye. Southern Belize is home to Mayan villages and there are many traditional handicrafts made by locals. In particular, I took to the baskets woven by local women.
The baskets are appealing for many reasons. Most importantly, a purchase supports the local economy - in particular this is a business that allows women to contribute financially to their household. Initially woven just as practical household items, baskets are proving to be a legitimate income source.
Producing a basket is a time consuming process. Baskets are primarily made from the jipijapa – a palm-like plant that grows wild in the region. Women pick young green jipijapa fronds and boil them for about thirty minutes. Boiling does two things – softens the leaves and lightens their color. (Darker details on the baskets are from fronds that have not been boiled.) The fronds are then left in the sun for a few days and their color transforms from green to brown. Actual weaving then takes anywhere from a few days for a small basket and to a couple weeks for a large one. Women typically work on a basket throughout their regular day, often while running their household. Once completed baskets once again spend some time in the sun before they’re ready for use.
I love these baskets because each one is uniquely handcrafted. They are organic looking and their natural color and simple shapes look great in most decors. They are also light and easy to transport – so an ideal souvenir or gift to take home to family. If you aren’t headed to Belize any time soon, Art Box Belize is an online resource for the baskets and many other forms of Mayan crafts including wooden items, pottery and dolls.
While I’m happy to gaze at my three baskets and remember our wonderful trip, I also can’t get images of that reef out of my head. Just have to share this aerial view with you. Such incredible shades of blue! Hoping it inspires you to explore Belize one day on your own!