Spring 2016 High Point Furniture Market Recap –
Varied Colors & Styles Allow For Individualized Design

May 24, 2016

What does the arrival of spring mean to you? Certainly it means a time for enjoying comfortable temperatures and flourishing outdoor scenery. For those of us who love all things related to interior design, the month of April means a figurative rolling out of the red carpet for the most important event of the season – the Spring High Point Furniture Market!

Images Courtesy of Laura Redd Interiors ©

North Carolina Design, once again allows you to peek inside the Market and find out what new looks, trends and colors made their appearance just a few weeks ago. We have the scoop, brought to us today by Greensboro interior designer Laura Redd, of Laura Redd Interiors. For nearly two decades, Laura has provided her clients with exceptional design, hand-tailored to their individual needs. Throughout the years, she has closely followed the shifting design styles, and as a seasoned expert, Laura is in the know about what’s worth noting at the latest Market.

This Market was certainly distinctive, and left a lasting impression on Laura. “It was like no other time I have ever seen,” she remarks. “It was very individualized, and very eclectic. You really could find absolutely anything you wanted, no matter what your tastes are. It was all about individual expression – about mixing and matching elements from different styles to create something unique, and using bold accents to make a statement.”

“There is currently a great style divide between generations. Older generations tend to prefer red, green and gold colors, and furniture with a more traditional flair. Younger generations prefer blue, gray and taupe, and they like simple furniture with clean lines and solid colors. Both preferences were very well represented. There were whole showrooms with blue, gray and taupe, and whole showrooms with red, green and gold. There really was something there for everyone.”

Color abounded at this spring’s Market. “A while back the showrooms were all tan, gray and taupe,” observes Laura. “This time they were full of color. And it wasn’t just one color, it was all kinds of colors, including pops of really bold colors. I saw a lot of fuchsia, a lot of navy, and a lot of bright pops of teal. Teal is going to be the next big color. As far as metallics, it was all about soft, muted, almost molten gold, which I absolutely loved.”

Laura found the accessories to be bolder, more dramatic, and more eclectic this spring. “There were a lot of big statement pieces, as opposed to a collection of smaller items,” Laura recalls. “Everything was more abstract, and geared toward mixing and matching. For example, you might add interest to a wall by using a bunch of different mirrors, as opposed to a single large mirror.

“Rugs have become more abstract – I saw a lot of paint splash styles, and fewer geometric styles. Lighting is more abstract as well, and more dramatic. In light fixtures, I saw a lot of groupings, and a lot of eclectic statement pieces. There were lots of floor lamps of every variety. And I saw a lot of bar lighting above night tables instead of lamps.”

While furniture tended toward clean lines and a simple style, it, too had an eclectic, mix-and-match flair. “Larger pieces tended to have neutral or solid colors or smaller prints,” notes Laura. “Case goods tended to be simple and plain, but they were accented with dramatic hardware, like teardrop earrings or fishtails. Or they had an assortment of doors and drawers, giving them an urban industrial feel. There was also some elegance and sparkle mixed in – I saw a lot of lucite, and a lot of soft gold on case goods and furniture.”

Laura was both excited and inspired by this spring’s Market. “I love that there are so many options for showing individuality,” she says. “You don’t have to commit to a single style. You can mix treasured family pieces with abstract statement pieces. You can find a traditional chair with a geometric print. Rather than just doing something that’s “pretty” and “matches,” you can so easily find something that speaks to who you are, and makes your home a more joyful place to live.”

Charlotte Interior Designer Details Beauty In A Classic And Timeless Manner, Reflecting A Love Of Tradition & History

May 17, 2016

There are two sides to the design process. There’s the creative, intuitive side, in which designers run with their inspirations and play with texture, color and light to achieve the right look and feel. Then there’s the nuts-and-bolts side, where they assess the homeowners’ needs, create a budget, coordinate selections, maintain a schedule, and ensure the whole process stays firmly on track. A good designer artfully balances these two different sides of the process as they create welcoming living spaces that are a seamless fusion of beauty and function.

Images Courtesy of Anne Buresh Interior Design ©

Charlotte designer Anne Buresh of Anne Buresh Interior Design is known for her beautiful, thoughtfully appointed interiors. While each of her spaces deftly reflects the individual tastes and desires of her clients, they all have a common thread – a classic, timeless appeal, with just a touch of romantic flair, and a fresh and inviting feel.

Anne discovered her passion for design at a very early age. “As far back as I can remember, I have always been very aware of my surroundings,” she reflects. “Even as a young child, I was always rearranging things, trying to create a sense of calmness and comfort. I always led the charge with the holiday decorations.”

Anne’s clean and classic sensibilities have deep roots. “My grandmother lived in a historic house in Halifax,” she recounts. “She was an interior decorator. She had wonderful taste. She was very classic, and very particular. Some of my very best memories are of leafing through her fabric book. I was actually named for her, so it feels like fate in some way. I just have it in my blood.”

The classic elements in Anne’s designs reflect her love of tradition and history and her desire to give her clients a design with longevity. The fuel, however, that drives each design is her desire to infuse every space with a sense of personality and life. “You want your larger elements – the ones you can’t easily change – to be timeless,” she observes. “But you don’t want to end up with a collection of beautiful stuff that has no personality.”

“I like to have fun with art and accessories. That’s where you can really be bold, where you can embrace trends, and reflect the homeowner’s individuality. Of course, to do that you have to listen, listen, listen, and you have to observe. So, I’m looking at their artwork. I’m looking at their shoes. I’m poking around in their closets. Because if you meet Becky at the bank on Thursday and then come to her house on Saturday, you should be able to say ‘yes, this makes complete sense.’”

Creating a deeply client-oriented design is where Anne’s finely-honed intuition and sense of aesthetics meets her driven, no-nonsense project management system. “I ask a ton of questions,” she admits. “How many around the dining table? Do you linger in the dining room? Who do you entertain? How do you work, live, eat, play? Once I assess their needs, I come up with a budget on the spot. Then I set meetings and pull selections. It’s a very orderly, very determined process.”

A process that gets results, it seems. “It’s amazing to see the big reveal,” she says. “The kids twirl around. Some of the husbands have tears. They say ‘You really listened and you did what you said you would do.’ Or, ‘I never used this room, but now I’ll sit here and have a glass of wine every day.’ It’s emotional for me, too – I feel like I have this talent – this passion – and I use it to help people live comfortably and beautifully and peacefully.”

Newlywed Charlotte Interior Designer Creates A Dream Kitchen To Accommodate Her Instant Blended Family Of Seven

May 10, 2016

Marriage always brings about challenges in design, as two people meld their separate likes, dislikes and needs into a single, shared vision for their home. When a marriage results in a blended family whose members have a wide variety of opinions and needs, those challenges increase exponentially. A skilled and creative talent like Charlotte interior designer,  Kendra White of Pheasant Hill Designs is known for finding beautiful and practical solutions that feel like home for everyone – even when she is both the designer and the client – or in this case, the bride.

Images Courtesy of Pheasant Hill Designs. Photography by Marie Walker ©

Just last spring, wedding bells rang for Kendra and her new husband, who have five children between them. She moved into her husband’s existing home – and one of her first priorities was to make the kitchen both comfortable and functional for the now blended family of seven. Kendra put all of her experience, expertise and skills to good work, and was gracious enough to share the stunning results with North Carolina Design.

Kendra concedes that she found it difficult to be her own client. “As a designer, you know all of the possibilities and options available to you,” she explains. “It can become very hard to make a decision, and very easy to constantly second-guess yourself. With this project, I decided to treat myself like I would a client. I went with the first option that really felt right, and trusted my gut on the selections. It worked out very well.”

One of Kendra’s primary goals was to address her now-large family’s practical needs. One of the most significant changes she made was the installation of a 10-foot island, which provided everything from added counter space, to added storage, to a spot where several people could do homework or have a snack at once. “Structural changes were necessary in order to accommodate the island,” she recalls. “We had to relocate the plumbing, rearrange the appliances and remove a structural beam.

“We were merging two households, so storage was really important. Because it’s an open concept kitchen, there weren’t really a lot of walls to hang cabinets on. So the island has full-depth cabinets, hidden behind what look like fixed panels.”

The kitchen also features an extra-large built-in refrigerator, extra-large garbage pullouts, two spice pullouts, and two dishwashers – one of which is artfully concealed within a hutch. For added dining space, Kendra converted the sunroom into an extension of the kitchen and created an eat-in area perfect for casual family meals.

Kendra also worked to improve the kitchen’s aesthetics. “I wanted a transitional look – something soft and ethereal that was upscale, yet casual,” she tells us. “The color is predominantly earthy gray, blended with white, taupe and beiges. The home has an open concept floor plan, so the design had to blend in with the rest of the house. I painted the existing bookcases to match the island. For contrast, the wood floor has a very, very dark Jacobian stain.”

One benefit of being her own client is that Kendra truly gets to test out her design. “We’re 10 months in now, and I’m very  gratified that everything has worked out so well,” she affirms. “The kids love how functional and comfortable the space is. My husband was very accommodating throughout the process. The only thing he asked for was a nice wine cooler, so I added a Subzero 149-bottle model, which makes us both happy. I love that the kitchen satisfies everyone’s needs now, and reflects us as a family.“

Lake Norman Builder Customizes 7,500 Square Foot Home With Classically Detailed Exterior & Open Floor Plan Interior

May 3, 2016

When you have a home built, you are literally placing your biggest investment in someone else’s hands. Today’s featured home, a gorgeous, 7,500 square foot Lake Norman new build, exemplifies what can be accomplished when homeowners put their faith in the right builder. Lake Norman custom home builder and remodeler Rob Passarelli, owner of Passarelli Custom Homes, is known for his expert craftsmanship, and for going above and beyond to make every home an ideal fit for his clients – no matter how challenging that might be. He was gracious enough to tell North Carolina Design this home’s unique story.

Images Courtesy of Passarelli Custom Homes ©

The homeowners were a couple from New York who decided to partially retire in North Carolina. “They were invited to visit the area by friends,” recounts Rob. “They fell in love with it. They purchased a lot, but they didn’t know where to turn for a builder. Their lender recommended us, yet the clients didn’t know us personally – and they weren’t familiar with our work. The project was even more of a leap of faith because they lived in another state and wouldn’t be there during the build.”

The homeowners had embraced the North Carolina style, but wanted to take a traditional plan and put a modern feel to it. They purchased a template that had the historic look, flow and general design that they wanted. However, it did fall a little short when it came to both form and function. Fortunately, Rob was able to help the couple tweak the template into something that was absolutely perfect for them.

“Templates can be great, especially if you work with a good custom builder who can adjust them to fit your needs,” Rob notes. “A custom builder can see issues and problems in plans that you might not, and they can find creative solutions that are perfect for you. In this case, the template was perhaps a little too historic for my clients. It had fluted columns, dental moulding – lots of embellishments that didn’t quite suit their tastes. The rooms were also a bit too closed off.”

“We took out walls and created an open floor plan with a great flow from room to room. We simplified the design to create a more streamlined and clean look. We created a big, sweeping archway in the kitchen area, and we enlarged the sunroom, the master bedroom and the garage. We also gave them a spot for entertaining right off the kitchen, complete with a full bar and a pool table in place of a dining table.”

Rob also gave the homeowners an incredible pool, which presented its own challenges. “The topography of the land didn’t easily support a pool,” he affirms. “We had to use steps to create different levels. And the fireplace actually doubles as a retaining wall.”

The homeowners only made a handful of visits to the property during the build, leaving Rob to handle a great deal of the day-to-day decisions. “So much of it was out of their hands,” he reflects. “They couldn’t investigate the vendors who were doing the painting or the stone work. They couldn’t look over every selection as it came in. It was hard for them to visualize everything. They really had to rely on my judgment and my understanding of what they wanted.”

While the added responsibility might have weighed a bit on Rob, having long-distance clients made the final ‘reveal’ of the home that much more exciting and rewarding. “They really were seeing the house, as a whole, for the first time,” he says. “It was a pretty significant moment. I felt anxious, hoping it was all exactly what they wanted, but at the same time I was excited and couldn’t wait for them to see how it all turned out.”

Rob needn’t have worried at all. “They were like kids in a candy store,” he recounts. “At every turn, they were saying ‘Wow, look at this!’ They loved everything – it all went above and beyond anything they had expected. It was so gratifying. Their faith in us was justified. We understood their vision, we used our best judgement and it all came together in a really amazing way.”

6 Easy Tips To A Healthy And Beautiful Lawn & Landscape From A Raleigh Landscape Designer

April 26, 2016

Spring is here, and if you’re like me, you have been thrilled to see North Carolina beautifully in bloom once again! Spring means warmer weather and a return to enjoying our lawns and gardens. We all want the exteriors of our homes to look their best, so North Carolina Design turned to Raleigh landscaping and lawn expert Kevin Fontaine, owner of Fontaine Landscaping, for some tips on what will bring out the best in our lawns and outdoor living spaces this spring.

Images Courtesy of Fontaine Landscaping ©

Clean Up Your Lawn
Kevin suggests raking leftover leaves and clearing out any debris that might be cluttering your lawn. “Removing debris from your lawn allows sunlight and water to reach the grass, which promotes optimum growth, ” Kevin offers.

In The Spring – Teach Your Grass To Grow
Spring is the ideal time to condition your grass to become more tolerant. “Realistically, in the spring, we’re still getting rain and you don’t want to supplement that too much,” Kevin explains. “Less watering means the root will stretch in search of water, and in the long run, you end up with healthier grass. You’ll see someone that is watering their lawn now several times a week and it looks really lush. The problem is that later in the season these roots have not been conditioned to survive. Right now, let mother nature do her thing. In the end, you’ll have a healthier lawn.”

The War On Weeds
When it comes to dealing with weeds, Kevin advises clients to apply a pre-emergent herbicide to lawns in early spring, since it keeps weed seeds from germinating as the weather warms up. For those of us who missed that window and now have patches of weeds dotting our lawns, he notes that all is not lost. “You can still apply a half rate of the pre-emergent which will protect your lawn from future weed seed,” Kevin says. “The half rate leaves enough time for it to break down before it’s time for fall grass seeding. This won’t kill your existing weeds – you’ll need to use a post-emergent liquid type of weed killer.”

Fill In Those Unsightly Bare Spots
Springtime is not the time of year for planting grass, so does that mean that you must put up with bare spots on your lawn for the next 6 months? Kevin offers a resounding, “No.” Following a specific regime, these eyesores will quickly disappear. “Rough up the bare spot with a rake to break up the soil,” he explains. “You’ll then want to bring in some composted soil. Lastly, add seed and water the area.”

Insect Patrol
Kevin recommends that you regularly inspect trees and bushes for the presence of any insects. If you see evince of an insect – “Don’t spray just to spray,” Kevin advises. “That’s bad for the environment. Just because you see one or two of something does not necessarily mean you have a problem. It takes quite a few of something to do damage. You want to first identify what you are dealing with. Take a leaf to your local garden center. Ask them what it is. Make sure it is populated enough to warrant spraying, and if necessary, spray accordingly.”

According to Kevin, mulching your trees now will help keep their roots moist and protect them from warmer weather. “Avoid ‘volcano mulching’,” he advises. “Mulch should have a depth of two to three total inches. You should still be able to see some fibrous roots.”

Fontaine Landscaping has designed, installed and maintained residential and commercial landscapes throughout the Triangle area since 1996.

Lighting Selections… Triad Lighting Designer Explains Why These Selections Should Always Be Made Early In The Process

April 19, 2016

Lighting certainly does add an irreplaceable sparkle and shine to a design. It also illuminates our homes’ best features. But, as Priscilla Olinick of Butler Lighting explains, lighting is so much more than just a pretty accent. It’s a powerful transformative element that can set the tone for an entire home. Butler Lighting is a family-owned company that has shared its passion for lighting with customers for over 50 years. As a longtime Butler Lighting design and sales consultant, Priscilla was kind enough to share with North Carolina Design some of her lighting expertise.

Images Courtesy of Butler Lighting ©

“If you’ve ever lived in a dark house, as I have, you know how important lighting is,” Priscilla reflects. “Lighting transforms the feel, the mood, and even the scale of a space. It also enhances the overall design. A beautiful room that’s under lit doesn’t have nearly the impact it could or should have. When lighting is done correctly, the entire room comes alive.”

When it comes to proper lighting, Priscilla emphasizes that form follows function. “The ultimate goal is to have the correct amount of lighting in every room,” she notes. “To accomplish this, you have to think in general terms first. Decorative fixtures will only offer so much light. Ambient lighting is foundational. It’s the key to a well-lit space. So you want to make sure you have enough recessed and general lighting. You can work out the task lighting and accent lighting afterward.”

Because lighting is so important, Priscilla advises that homeowners make it a priority early on in the building or remodeling process. “So many people focus on paint colors and cabinetry, and put lighting on the back burner. They don’t realize that some of their lighting needs have to be addressed early on so that the electrician and builder can rough everything in. If you wait until everything’s in place and then find out the lighting can’t work for you, there may not be a quick or affordable solution.”

Priscilla maintains that it’s also important to be up-to-date on the latest lighting advancements and trends. “Lighting fixtures have become much more transitional, which I love,” she offers. “Things are not so stuffy, and fixtures are not so heavy, dark or ornate. We’re seeing a lot of gold, a lot of silver, and a lot of lighter wood tones and whitewashes. There are a lot of fun, casual options out there that really add some personality, and I think that’s great.”

As far as the latest lighting technology goes, Priscilla tells us that LED lighting is the wave of the future. “It’s advancing so rapidly – the options available now are far superior to those produced just two years ago,” she affirms. “The color temperature is warmer and much more natural, and the color quality has greatly improved. LED’s still cost more, but people can justify the expense because they will literally pay for themselves over time in terms of energy consumption.”

With so many factors to consider, homeowners can find lighting to be much more complex and more overwhelming than they imagined. But thankfully, places like Butler Lighting can help put clients at ease, streamline the process and assist with decision-making. “This is a one-stop-shop,” says Priscilla. “We have multiple locations and a 10,000 foot showroom. But most importantly, there are consultants in every location who offer a very high level of service.

“Homeowners don’t always realize how important things like scale and proportion are, or what their builders and electricians’ needs might be. When they buy fixtures on their own online, they can make mistakes. But here, they can come in for a one-on-one consultation with people who have a great deal expertise, and will walk them through the whole process. That makes all the difference in the world. Lighting is just too important to go it alone. We love helping our customers get it right.”

Asheville Architect Designs A Blue Ridge Mountain Getaway With Every Comfort Of “Home Sweet Home”

April 5, 2016

Are you a mountain or a beach person? For this mountain house renovation designed by Asheville architect Amy Conner–Murphy, of ACM Design, I have no doubt that each of our seasons serve as a gorgeous backdrop, beautifully bringing out its best. Right now, as the Blue Ridge Mountains awaken with the lush colors of spring, I thought it would be a great time to again share the beauty of this home.

When Marcus Katz and his wife, Pearl Baker Katz, decided to create their dream home in Western North Carolina, they initially set their sights on a small renovation. As they worked with Amy Conner-Murphy, owner of ACM Design, the vision they had for their dream home began to take shape – and transformed from a small project into a major renovation. The end result? An exquisitely appointed, luxurious property that has all of the amenities of a high-end retreat, but with every comfort of “home sweet home.” Amy was kind enough to share with North Carolina Design how she and her team added some of the finer details to the home.

Images Courtesy of ACM Design ©

The Katz’s wanted to build a second home in the Asheville area. “Marcus grew up coming to summer camp in the area, and he loved it,” Amy explained. “They both wanted to create a spectacular retreat where friends and family could be treated to luxury while they were visiting, but still feel very much at home.”

To accomplish the homeowners’ vision, drastic changes had to be made. “The main residence was taken back to the studs and completely revamped with a new floor plan. While we kept the rustic feel of the exterior, the interior doesn’t at all resemble what was there originally.”

The new layout gives the homeowners the exact function and aesthetic they need. “It’s an open, casual, inviting kind of space,” Amy said. “People can linger and enjoy the view while they have a cup of coffee or a glass of wine from the bar.”

The property’s spectacular view is one of its best features, and Amy and her team found a brilliant way to capitalize on it. “We used expanses of glass bi-folding doors that open almost the whole width of the room. This allows the indoor and outdoor spaces to flow into one another. When the weather permits, which could be 9 or 10 months out of the year, they can actually live both indoors and outdoors.”

When it comes to guest accommodations in the home, visitors are spoiled for choice. “The main home’s guest suites were designed to give visitors a high level of privacy and luxury,” Amy said. “The homeowners truly had in mind a space where their guests could relax and feel comfortable. Everything is provided – guests can check emails, or have a hot bath after a day of hiking – all the creature comforts that could make someone feel at home have been thought of.”

The couple’s guests can also stay in the spacious and luxurious dual-level guest house. “The top level of the guest house is like a very posh hotel suite,” Amy noted. “It has everything — a well-appointed kitchen, a master suite and a gathering space. The lower level is more like a den and game room space – somewhere where family and friends who have children can feel comfortable and follow their own routines.”

The home’s outdoor space is a veritable paradise for the Katz’s and their guests, featuring a fully outfitted summer kitchen, an infinity pool that faces the mountain view, a poolside waterfall, gardens, a tennis pavilion and hiking trails. “You can hike in the mountains and see hundreds of native species, without ever leaving the property,” Amy said. “The whole place really is an Eden, just as the homeowners imagined.”

Click here to view the North Carolina Design Directory of quality professionals, artisans and retailers for all areas of the home.

Readying Your Outdoor Living Space For The Warmer Months? Greensboro Landscape Architect Shares What’s “Hot” In 2016

March 29, 2016

As we delight in the warmer temperatures that spring has greeted us with, our thoughts at North Carolina Design inevitably turn to our outdoor living spaces and all of the wonderful possibilities they will soon offer us. But first we must know – what is new and exciting in backyard getaways these days? To find out, we turned to Greensboro landscape architect Lori Hawkins of Hawkins Landscape Architecture. As an exceptionally talented professional and a born people person, Lori thoroughly enjoys collaborating closely with her clients to help them achieve their goals and she is well in tune with their desires and preferences.

Images Courtesy of Hawkins Landscape Architecture ©

Lori notes that when it comes to landscaping, the word of the day is custom. “It’s not about keeping up with the neighbors,” she reflects. “And, we’re even seeing a shift toward the modern. It’s not about a specific style,” she reflects. “It’s about creating an ideal outdoor space for your family – something that provides a sense of comfort and beauty, that feels like home, and answers all of your functional needs.”

One area in which function and comfort are key is the outdoor kitchen. “For the past five years or so, homeowners have really focused on making their outdoor kitchens a superbly functional extension of their living space,” she tells us. “They are incorporating all kinds of great features, like high-end grills, wood or gas pizza ovens, and smokers. I’ve had several requests for The Big Green Egg. I build a special platform for it so that it blends right in with the design.”

According to Lori, today’s homeowners use custom fire and water features to make their outdoor spaces feel like a relaxing and luxurious getaway. “There’s a demand for pools and spas with vanishing edges,” she says. “Homeowners are also asking for pools with beach entrances, where the water starts out flush with the ground and gradually deepens, just as it does at the beach. They can place chairs at the water’s edge and sit right with their kids as they wade or swim.”

“There’s also a demand for tanning ledges. These are elevated platforms within the pool where you can set up a beach chair and an umbrella and read, relax, or soak up some sun. As far as fire features go, people are really interested in a wide range of selections, from coffee table styles, to fireplaces, to fire pits, and they all run the gamut when it comes to style. People are very focused on custom fire features that meet their needs and fit the design, rather than pre-fabricated selections.”

People are fine-tuning their outdoor spaces through technology, as well. “High-definition outdoor TVs are very popular, but very expensive,” she notes. “I’ll often take a regular TV and placed it in a custom built all-weather encasement. People are also very interested in the idea of automation. You can automate just about everything in your space. If you’d like to surprise your sweetie with a romantic evening outdoors you can warm up warm up the spa, turn on the fire feature and adjust the lights – from your car.”

While people are going high-tech with some aspects of landscaping, they are returning to simpler concepts for others. “People are very concerned about sustainability,” offers Lori. “They want products that are good for the environment. They want native plants, less pesticide and less water waste. They want to incorporate recycled materials and install rain collection systems. They’re willing to swap out sections of their lawn for gravel, which can withstand foot traffic and requires no water and no fertilizer or pesticides.”

Some people are taking the sustainable idea to new levels and creating landscapes that “give back.” “Edible landscapes are increasing in popularity,” notes Lori. “With these, it’s so much more than a box garden – we have to come up with unique ways to incorporate vegetables and fruits into the landscape itself so that they add structure, color and interest.”

What Lori likes most about the direction landscaping has taken is the knowledge today’s homeowners bring to the table. “They’re so savvy, and so passionate,” she says. “They know about sustainability. They know about fire features. They understand design concepts. They’re not just asking me to come create a design for them. They’re collaborating with me in a really meaningful way. I love it – It makes the process more fun, and the design turns out so much better.”

Greensboro Remodeler & Builder Seamlessly Blends Old And New With The Renovation of A 1930′s Sunset Hills Home

March 22, 2016

Our homes are reflective of what matters most to us, and Kevin Jones of Kevin Jones Design-Build in Greensboro is adept at translating the unique priorities and desires of his clients into beautiful and functional living spaces. Recently, the Greensboro remodeler and builder applied his considerable skills toward the renovation of a 1930′s home, located in the historic Sunset Hills neighborhood. Recently, Kevin shared with North Carolina Design how the home, while beautiful and charming, lacked some of the function, size and storage that a modern lifestyle requires. In addition, the homeowners had a very specific aesthetic in mind for their home.

Images Courtesy of Kevin Jones Design-Build LLC. ©

Kevin had worked with the homeowners before, renovating their master bedroom and their existing sunroom. “Those projects really turned out well,” he recalls. “We were able to work within the style of the home, and within the tight space constraints. We added in some really high-concept elements to address their storage needs. Eventually they approached us with a new idea for a renovation. They really felt confident that we could give them exactly what they were looking for.”

What the homeowners wanted this time was an additional living space that would work well for guests, or for older in laws who might move in in the future. “The house was been small, but the lot was really large,” he explains. “We were able to build out the back and create a master suite with really beautiful garden views.” Kevin also gave them a spectacular master bath, a cozy master sitting room and a large walk-in closet, complete with custom built-ins and a laundry area.

The new master is a standalone, which makes it private and comfortable. However, it’s still connected to the main house, so anyone staying or living there can still feel part of things. “The master sitting room connects the new and old entry points of the house, and creates a buffer between the two. It’s a very cozy and den-like space, with really comfortable furniture. There’s no TV – it’s just a great place to hang out and build a puzzle, or relax with a book.”

To accommodate anyone who might have mobility issues, the master, bath and sitting room are all on one level. However, the addition does have a second floor. “We had planned to use that space for storage until we realized that it would make a great den,” notes Kevin. “It turned out really well – it’s secluded, and it has a triple window and a skylight that overlook the backyard. It feels like a tree house. The homeowners’ 13-year-old son loves to hang out there with his friends.”

Light and space were of premium importance in this addition. “The homeowners didn’t want anything that felt dark or small,” Kevin affirms. “The master suite has 22 foot ceilings, and it feels so spacious. There are large windows, transom windows, and skylights everywhere, so the whole space is just flooded with light.”

When it comes to style, Kevin achieved a balance between adding a fresh, contemporary feel and classic, rustic charm. “The homeowners had incredible taste,” he tells us. “I just made sure what we did was an extension of what they had already done. The addition was a play off of the existing house, with the brick, the copper gutters, and the large, European-style windows. Then you have these great charming touches, like the bedroom floor color, which looks original, and those amazing sliding barn doors.”

Kevin’s favorite part of the addition was the master bath. “It was unlike any we’ve ever done,” he reflects. “You have the huge, zero entry roll in shower with floor to ceiling windows, so that you feel like you’re showering outside (there’s an identical outdoor shower as well). You have these fun, funky plank tiles that resemble distressed wood, and this exquisite reclaimed wood, which was custom finished by Nathan Wainscott – an incredible artisan. I think the bathroom is really a good reflection of the homeowners’ overall desire to be surrounded by beauty, nature, and light.”

Selecting The Right Rug Elevates The Décor, Taking The Interior Design Of A Room To A Wonderful New Level

March 16, 2016

When well-chosen, a rug can do so much more than fill up a blank space or complement a décor. It can light up a room and elevate a design to a wonderful new level. So how does one choose the right rug? To find out, North Carolina Design turned to Nelda Lay and Cynthia McLaren of The Persian Carpet in Durham. An exceptional source for fine handmade rugs, The Persian Carpet features over 6,000 selections in virtually every style. Cynthia and Nelda are experts at helping homeowners find pieces that are perfect for their homes.

Images Courtesy of The Persian Carpet ©

Rather than just a piece of an overall puzzle, Nelda and Cynthia believe that a rug is one of the most important factors in a design. “It sets the tone for the entire room,” observes Nelda. “So we believe that it should be a priority. It’s much easier to pull artwork and fabrics that go with a rug than to come in and find the right rug when everything else is settled on.”

Cynthia agrees. “A rug can be a large part of a design budget,” she notes. “But customers will often leave it for last. They’ll bring in all of their fabrics and paint chips, then realize there are only two options that will work with the room and they don’t like either of them. Or they’ll find that the only rug that works is out of their price range. If they start with the rug, they can make sure they’reinvesting in something they love and move from there.”

Even if you come in at the beginning of the design process, choosing the right rug is not easy. Cynthia and Nelda are happy to walk homeowners through the process. “We first ask what room and what size,” offers Cynthia. “Then, we discuss style – do they want traditional, or contemporary? Then we take them to a stack and start turning. If they don’t like any in the first stack we move to another.”

“We observe what they like and what they don’t, and we make suggestions,” adds Nelda. “Little by little, we help them narrow it down. If a customer is serious about choosing something perfect, they might take 5 or 6 rugs home with them so they can compare them it in their light, in their space. That really is the best way to be sure.”

Along with style and size, quality is an important consideration for a rug. Cynthia and Nelda tell us that the main misconception out there is that high knot count equals the best quality rug. “The number of knots per square inch is actually a function of design,” explains Cynthia. “To achieve a very detailed pattern with curvilinear designs, a rug requires a higher knot count. For a bold open pattern, larger knots will suffice. As long as you are considering rugs that are well-constructed using high-quality wool, you should find that your rug choice very durable. ”

“Wool rugs are surprisingly easy to care for. They have a natural lanolin oil that acts as a protectant. I have small children and I have rugs all over the house. As long as you get spills up right away, they are extremely easy to clean,” affirms Cynthia.

“One kind of rug that takes special care is a silk rug,” observes Nelda. “So with a wool rug, your main consideration should be color, pattern and texture. If you have babies crawling around you’ll want a comfy, soft rug. If you have an active family, a darker color makes more sense than a lighter color. You’ll also want to go for something with a pattern and color that will hide spills.”

Both Nelda and Cynthia strive to help homeowners see rugs for what they are – works of art that bring life and beauty to a home. “We’ve had customers cry when they downsize and have to part with a rug,” reflects Nelda. “They get attached to them in the same way they become attached to a beloved sculpture or painting. It’s really such a joy to help people find the right rug. It’s something that makes their homes – and their lives – more beautiful.”

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