How To Lessen The Stress of Home Building? Involve Your Interior Designer At The Blue Print Stage

January 3, 2017

Building a home is a naturally stressful process. Homeowners often have limited building experience. They must place a lot of trust in professionals, and rapidly make hundreds of decisions that, once done, can’t easily be undone. Having a trusted interior design professional in your corner from the initial planning stages can change the entire home building experience. As owner of The Red Rickshaw Interior Design in Oriental, NC, Scott Williams is often called upon at the very beginning of the building process – saving his clients many headaches while also creating effortlessly beautiful designs. North Carolina Design talked with Scott about being part of things from the get-go.

Images Courtesy of The Red Rickshaw ©

“It’s always nice to be involved from the very beginning,” Scott reflects. “You know the home, you know the project, and you know how the homeowners want to live. It’s easier to create a cohesive design that really fits the lifestyle of your clients when you’re there from beginning to end. It really works out better for them.”

Scott approaches every project in an in-depth, personal way. “I treat it as if it were my own home,” he says. “I listen carefully to the homeowners. I ‘live’ in the house as I’m walking through it, and think through each detail in that context. I act as a go-between – I keep the architect, builder and subcontractors informed of the homeowner’s wants and needs, and I let the homeowners know what’s possible and realistic. I help make sure everyone’s on the same page.”

Scott is also there to help guide the homeowners through their design decisions – both big and small. “We start with plumbing,” he explains. “We have to know where everything will be placed so it can be roughed in. Then we need to know what fittings and fixtures we need. Then we move to appliances, because the cabinetry depends on appliances. Countertops depend on cabinetry, so those are next. Then it’s tile, then lighting. We then sit down and start designing the furnishings.”

When it comes to selections, Scott is an invaluable resource for his clients. “There are so many options out there,” he reflects. “Often, homeowners don’t even know where to start. I will narrow things down from thousands of options to just a few, and then I will help them focus on what they really want and need. What could have been a long, stressful process becomes quick and enjoyable.”

The help Scott gives homeowners goes a long way toward making the building process positive, and even fun. “It takes a lot of pressure off,” he says. “It gives them a lot more confidence, and helps them feel more comfortable. They don’t have to worry about the details. They don’t have to worry about the walk-through. They don’t even have to live in the area. They can build a home from another state, and know that everything will be taken care of in their absence.”

Scott’s dedication to his clients and their homes comes from his deeply held principles of excellent service, commitment and honesty. “I want homeowners to feel completely comfortable with me,” he affirms. “I’m very direct, and I tell it like it is. They know they can trust what I’m saying. If something isn’t right, or it isn’t going to work, I’ll tell them so. Then we’ll revisit things to find out what will work. They know my focus will always be on what’s in their best interest.”

Scott finds great reward seeing a home come together from start to finish. “I start out with this vision for the overall house, and the homeowners can’t see it at first,” he explains. “Then, slowly, it all starts coming together. The end result is always exciting and gratifying. I have never had a homeowner who wasn’t elated. They’re speechless, they’re crying. It’s a great thing to be a part of.”

North Carolina Design Holiday Recipes ~
Kale And Brussel Sprouts Salad, J’Nell Bryson Landscape Architect

December 22, 2016

As we draw closer to the date when we’ll be eating that main holiday meal, here is a wonderful and healthy dish that I think sounds like a great addition to the table. J’Nell Bryson, of J’Nell Bryson Landscape Architect in Charlotte shares with North Carolina Design this recipe for kale and brussel sprouts salad. Not only is it healthy and easy to prepare, it is a visual delight. How pretty!

Kale And Brussel Sprouts Salad
J’Nell Bryson, J’Nell Bryson Landscape Architect

Remove kale leaves from the rib. Wash if necessary, drain to dry, put them on a board and fine
chop. Add those to a bowl with thin sliced, cleaned brussels sprouts so that you have equal parts of kale and brussels sprouts.

Make a vinaigrette by squeezing about half a lemon in a bowl and add a half tablespoon of dijon
mustard. With a whisk, incorporate a fine drizzle of olive oil until it all becomes a smooth
emulsion. Add the olive oil until the tartness is softened. Add a little kosher salt to taste. Pour the vinaigrette over the greens to taste. Keep any leftover vinaigrette in the frig.

Over the greens add just about anything you like but in a restaurant recently, we had fine
chopped dried cranberries, marcona almonds (Whole Foods in the cheese section), and goat
cheese. Stir and serve.

The greens will stand up to the rest of the ingredients and won’t get soggy. It’s delicious and

North Carolina Design Holiday Recipes ~
Turkey Cheese Ball, Taylored Spaces

December 21, 2016

Our holiday recipe today is both delicious and animated. Raleigh Kitchen Designer Ruth Ann Taylor of Taylored Spaces shares with North Carolina Design her festive Turkey Cheese Ball. Turkey is my favorite part of the holiday meal, and if this was served up – I could have it twice, so to speak. It’s very creative to make the turkey feathers from pretzels and the beak from candy corn!

Turkey Cheese Ball
Ruth Ann Taylor, Taylored Spaces

2 8oz. packages of cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons minced onion
½ tablespoon minced green bell pepper
1 8oz. can crushed pineapple well drained
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
1 cup chopped pecans

pretzel sticks
whopper candy
beef jerkey stick
candy eyes
candy corn
fruit roll up
chocolate icing or melted chocolate

Mix all ingredients other than the pecans and decorations together until well combined. I used my Kitchenaid stand mixer. With damp hands roll the mixture into a ball and then roll in chopped pecans. Wrap it in wax paper and put it in the fridge to chill and firm up a bit.

To make the turkey “feathers” stick your pretzel sticks into the back 1/2 of the cheese ball. To create mr. gobblers head take a stick of beef jerkey and “glue” a whopper candy on top with icing. Then attach the nose and eyes also with icing. We made the gobbler by cutting a little strip of fruit roll up and then laying it over the candy corn.

Images Courtesy of Taylored Spaces ©

North Carolina Design Holiday Recipes ~
Pumpkin Cake, June DeLugas Interiors

December 20, 2016

North Carolina Design is adding more yummy delights to the holiday table. This one is a mouth watering pumpkin cake which is brought to us courtesy of Winston-Salem interior designer June Delugas, of June Delugas Interiors. I must confess that I have a sweet tooth, which means that I could easily start the meal with desserts like this and then head for the basics. I can almost smell this cooking in the oven!

Pumpkin Cake
June DeLugas, June DeLugas Interiors

2 cups sugar
2 cups pumpkin (1 lb. can)
4 eggs
1 cup oil
2 cups flour
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt

Mix sugar and eggs. Pour in oil and mix at moderate speed until there is no visible trace of oil. Mix 3 minutes more. Add flour, baking soda, spices, salt and mix. Add pumpkin and mix at slower speed. Pour into greased tube pan. Bake one hour at 350 degrees.

Icing (half of this is enough)

1 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese
1 stick of margarine or butter
2 tsp. vanilla
1 lb. box confectioners sugar

Blend cream cheese and butter. Add sugar and vanilla. Mix thoroughly.

Images Courtesy of June DeLugas Interiors ©

North Carolina Design Holiday Recipes ~
Cranberry Salad, Distinctive Remodeling, LLC

December 19, 2016

As North Carolina Design continues our collection of holiday recipes, I recognize that no holiday table is complete without a dish that is made from cranberries. At our house, it is not only a tradition, it’s one of the mainstays of the meal. Today, Raleigh Remodeler, Eddie Casanave, of Distinctive Remodeling, LLC shares his recipe for Cranberry Salad. It looks as festive as it does delicious!

Cranberry Salad
Eddie Casanave, Distinctive Remodeling, LLC

1 bag fresh cranberries, finely chopped
1 – 15 oz. can mandarin oranges
2 C Sugar
2 pkgs. Jello – cranberry and black cherry
½ cup chopped pecans
2 stalks celery – finely chopped
1 – 20 oz. can crushed pineapple

Mix Jello with 2 cups boiling water, until dissolved, combine all ingredients into a 13 x 9 pan and chill until firm. Serves 8+

North Carolina Design Holiday Recipes ~
Winter Lentil Soup, Pippin Home Designs

December 18, 2016

As family comes together for the holidays, why not serve up bowls of soup by the fire? Today, Charlotte residential designer Jennifer Pippin, of Pippin Home Designs, has shared with North Carolina Design her recipe for Winter Lentil Soup, and it sounds delicious! Whether you are gathering for conversation or to watch a football game, this would be a great choice to make before everyone arrives.

Winter Lentil Soup — Serves 6
Jennifer Pippin, Pippin Home Designs

I typically double this recipe because it is always a huge hit!


1 tablespoon olive oil, or coconut oil
4 leeks (white and light green parts), or a small sweet onion, chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, drained
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 bunch kale, thick stems removed and leaves cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips
1/2 cup brown lentils
6 cups of organic vegetable broth, low sodium
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
Kosher salt and black pepper, both optional
1/4 cup grated Parmesan (1 ounce; optional)

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the leeks and garlic, and sauté, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook, breaking them up with a spoon, for 5 minutes.
2. Add 6 cups vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Stir in the sweet potatoes, kale, lentils, thyme, 1 ½ teaspoons salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Simmer until the lentils are tender, 25 to 30 minutes.
3. Spoon into bowls and top with the Parmesan, if using.

Images Courtesy of Pippin Home Designs ©

North Carolina Design Holiday Recipes ~
Pine Cone Shaped Cheese Balls, Quality Design & Construction

December 16, 2016

Today North Carolina Design continues our series of delightful holiday recipes.  Sharing these festive pine cone shaped cheese balls is Peggy Mackowski, from Quality Design & Construction in Raleigh. A gathering with friends and family during the holiday season usually begins with some wonderful hors d’oeuvres. This presentation would look wonderful on your cocktail table and is undoubtedly as artful it is delicious. With your favorite crackers accompanying it, you may have trouble saving room for the main course.

Holiday Cheese Balls
Peggy Mackowski, Quality Design & Construction

2 packages cream cheese
1 8 oz package of sharp cheddar cheese
1 jar of dried beef shredded
1 bunch green onions
1/2 teaspoon paprika
dash of Worcestershire sauce
garlic salt to taste

Allow cream cheese to get to room temperature, chop green onions, shred dried beef. Mix all ingredients together except almonds and paprika. Form into pear shapes. Coat the pear shaped cheese balls with paprika. Arrange almonds around each cheese ball to resemble a pine cone. Decorate for season.

Images Courtesy of Quality Design & Construction ©

Holiday Recipes From North Carolina Design
“Granny’s Squash Casserole” ~ Anita Holland Interiors

December 15, 2016

For the next week, I’d like to once again add a little holiday flavor to the North Carolina Design blog. These recipes are from people you normally recognize for their creative genius throughout the home. Instead, they are going to serve up inspiring ideas that delight your taste buds. Yum!

Granny’s Squash Casserole
Submitted by Anita Holland, Anita Holland Interiors

4 lbs. squash – washed and cut up
1 large or 3 small onions – chopped
1 small jar pimentos, drained
1 can cream of chicken soup – un-diluted
8 oz. sour cream
1 small can water chestnuts – sliced and drained
½ stick margarine
½ small package Pepperidge Farm corn bread stuffing mix

Cook squash in boiling water. Drain well. Sauté onion in butter. Combine squash, sautéd onion, soup, sour cream, pimentos and water chestnuts. Put in a casserole.

Top with margarine and stuffing mix. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Freezes well.

Images Courtesy of Anita Holland Interiors ©

For Award-Winning Raleigh Designer, Art Is Essential To The Design Process

November 28, 2016

Recently, the North Carolina Home Builders Association honored Raleigh interior designer Sally Williams of Colorful Concepts Interior Design with the prestigious 2016 award, “Best Website For An Associate.” Sally’s work demonstrates that the selection and placement of artistic elements are integral to the design process. Since art is a key feature on Sally’s award–winning website – North Carolina Design is reprising this article published earlier on incorporating art into the story of design.

Every selection in a space serves to add beauty and help tell a story. However, there is something truly transcendent about art. The right piece of art pulls a room together, helps sets a tone and a mood and takes the overall design to an entirely new level. Raleigh interior designer Sally Williams, owner of Colorful Concepts Interior Design, is known for her bold and distinctive use of art in her designs. North Carolina Design sat down with Sally to talk about the power art has in a space and how she goes about making the perfect selections for each project.

Images Courtesy of Colorful Concepts Interior Design ©

Sally has always had a passion for art and she works hard to provide ground level support to local artists, artisans and art communities. With each selection she makes, she hopes to teach her clients to appreciate art and how to use it to make their home a reflection of who they are as individuals.

“Art certainly makes a statement,” reflects Sally. “It helps to provide an engaging focal point. It adds personality and it creates a space that’s much more unique to the client. It also adds so much richness and depth to a design. Choosing art is not an easy process and it takes a lot of time. But when you can’t imagine the space without the piece, you know it was worth it.”

Sally begins thinking about artwork from the very beginning of each project. “I keep a map of where pieces will go and what sizes I will need and I keep an eye out for things that might work for each space,” she explains. “But I don’t finalize the selections until the end, when I’ve had the chance to get to know the clients better. It’s important that the art works in the room, but it’s much more important that it’s something the client likes.”

Sally asserts that finding pieces that speak to the client is her only hard and fast rule for choosing art. “Art doesn’t have to fall in line with the style of the house,” she explains. “You can mix up different styles, different mediums and different color palettes. You can fit traditional art in contemporary spaces, and you can use abstract art in very traditional spaces. The right art can even override a color palette.”

Sally’s sharp design instincts are a main driving force in deciding what artwork should be used for which space. For example, in the pictured master bedroom she “needed something large that would bring the ceiling down. I needed something without any dimension, so that it wouldn’t detract from the beautiful bed. We went to a number of galleries and looked at a number of different pieces. In the end we chose a calm and soothing piece of framed art. I can’t imagine the room without it.”

Art is so much more than paintings. Sally is an expert at thinking outside the box, using metal, glass, crystals, and other creative elements to add texture and movement to a space. In the pictured silver and cream tone living room, bowls and crystals accent the wall, as opposed to framed art. “Because of the wall’s curve I chose to use a group of small things and arranged them in a way that suggested swirling movement and added a contemporary feel and a sense of playfulness.”

Many of Sally’s clients feel hesitant about choosing artwork – a fact she is working hard to address. “People are afraid to buy art,” she concedes. “They don’t know what to look for. I help guide clients in their selections, but I also I help them learn to love art and I encourage them to grow their own collections. It’s not about putting paintings up on walls to match the décor – it’s about finding items that add beauty, meaning and a deeply personal touch to a living space.”

Fall Tips For Caring For Your Landscape From A Charlotte Expert

November 15, 2016

There’s almost nothing we love more than having a cup of coffee on a crisp fall morning, while admiring the colorful transformation of our outdoor spaces. Keeping landscapes beautiful and healthy is a year long endeavor and fall brings a new set of landscape maintenance recommendations. To find out what we should be doing for our outdoor spaces at this time of year, North Carolina Design spoke with Deborah Barringer of Barringer & Barringer, Inc. Landscape Services.

Images Courtesy of Barringer & Barringer, Inc. ©

According to Deborah, fall is prime time for aeration and seeding. “Fescue – the grass of choice here in NC – is a cool weather grass and it germinates and grows better in the fall,” Deborah notes. “Aeration opens up the soil and breaks up thatch, allowing moisture, warmth, oxygen and light to reach the seed.”

“We’ve had a very unseasonably warm fall this year,” Deborah  explains. “I spoke to many people during the month of October who commented that their fall seeding was challenging in terms of success. It wasn’t that the seed didn’t ‘take’ – instead it’s that the seed germinates best at a ground temperature between 55 and 65 degrees. For quite some time this fall, we were twenty degrees over that. Once the ground temperature fell, we saw the seed begin to grow.” (Pictured on the left, below, the lawn was seeded. The right shows the same lawn in October after temperatures fell and the seed began to germinate.)

Once the lawn is seeded, Deborah suggests putting away the lawnmower for a while. “You want to wait three to four weeks for the grass to really take hold before you mow,” she advises. “When you do mow, only cut it to three or four inches in height. You don’t want to scalp your grass, you want to blend the new grass in with the old grass, and you want to cultivate and thicken the new grass as it grows.”

To give your lawn its best chance, Deborah notes the importance of keeping things tidy. “You don’t want leaves blocking sunlight and moisture to your lawn,” Deborah affirms. “That said, you really don’t want to risk damaging or uprooting new grass with a rake. I recommend using a blower to remove leaves.”

Fall is also an important season for plants, shrubs and trees. “Fall is a really great time for planting,” says Deborah. “You want to wait to plant until the leaves really start to fall from the trees.” When it comes to fertilizing and trimming, it’s all about the individual plant. “Some trees and shrubs need fertilizing, while others don’t. Some plants and get leggy and unkempt in the fall, and need to be trimmed. Others don’t. It’s very important to research the needs of each individual plant.”

Deborah stresses that there is much more to caring for a landscape than following a set of guidelines or performing routine tasks. “It’s a relationship,” she says. “Like any relationship, you get out what you put in. You have to know your landscape really well and understand all of its specific needs. You have to be familiar with the climate of your specific region, as it affects what kinds of plants can grow and how and when they need to be cared for.”

“You also have to thoughtfully assess the current environment, as well as future forecasts. It’s a lot to keep track of, but the investment of time and work is worth it. Learn all you can about the plants you have in your yard. Consult with experts for any questions you have about your plants and trees. You will be rewarded with a truly beautiful landscape that thrives in any season.”

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