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

December 21, 2014

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 19, 2014

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, 2014

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 17, 2014

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 15, 2014

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 ©

Yummy Holiday Recipes For 2014
Irish Potato Casserole ~ DeCocco Drapes

December 11, 2014

Continuing with our presentation of holiday recipes, today Gail Healy of DeCocco Drapes shares one of her family favorites with North Carolina Design. Potatoes are a mainstay of the holiday meal and this recipe sounds delicious. Give it a try and report back to us how wonderfully it complemented the other dishes in your holiday meal.

Irish Potato Casserole
Gail Healy, DeCocco Drapes

8 -10 medium potatoes, peeled
8 oz. pkg. cream cheese
8 oz. carton sour cream, softened
½ cup butter or margarine, melted
¼ cup chopped chives
½ tsp. salt
garlic salt to taste

Cook potatoes in boiling water about 30 minutes or until tender. Drain potatoes, and mash. Beat cream cheese with electric mixer until smooth. Add potatoes and remaining ingredients except paprika, beat just until combined. Spoon mixture into a lightly buttered 2 qt. casserole, sprinkle with paprika. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Remove from refrigerator 15 min. before baking. Uncover and bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Serves 8-10.

Images Courtesy of DeCocco Drapes ©

The Stylish And Timeless Beauty Of Tile

December 10, 2014

As an essential element of design throughout the home, tile is timeless, stylishly elegant and very versatile. Appropriately selected, the texture and color are wonderful complements to the features in your kitchen, bath, entry and other living spaces. No one knows this more so that Shaun Niemann, owner of Crew Tile & Stone – a Charlotte tile installation company. North Carolina Design recently took a few moments out of Shaun’s day to find out what is trending right now in tile as homeowners personalize the various areas of their homes.

Images Courtesy of Crew Tile & Stone ©

When it comes to the kitchen, Shaun says that earth tones have been the preferred choice for a number of years and continue to be that way today. “There are edgier color palettes out there that I see some people opt for. Typically, however, people tend to stay middle of the road, selecting earth tones. If they are fixing their home up, this works well in case they may be thinking of selling, since this color palette is universal when someone opts to change the paint on the wall.”

Kitchen floors are able to make a beautiful statement, in terms of the selection of tiles available, the varied sizes as well as the layout of the tile. “Wood plank tile is a beautiful choice today, which is available in 12 by 24 and 18 by 30,” Shaun explains. “Some designers still default back to a grid pattern, just changing the size, putting in an 18 by 18, or doing a diamond pattern. You can also go with a bit of a twist, selecting a pinwheel pattern which is choosing one size tile in the middle, like a 12 by 12, and then surrounding it with four 18 by 18’s, or larger tiles. This breaks the grid lines, and it looks nice, giving it just a higher end feel and getting everything off the straight line pattern.”

As for backsplashes, stone and travertine continue to be popular selections, according to Shaun. “For the size of tile in a backsplash, we are often looking at 3 by 6 or 4 by 8,” he offers. “If people want to go really edgy, they are putting in a 4 by 12 in whatever color they want – grays and blues, blacks and whites. We are still putting a lot of glass into backsplashes in ½ inch by 8 and 1 inch by 12. There are also a lot of multi-sized tiles used in back splashes – like 5 by 8 along with ½ inch by 6. The size just depends on the pattern. “

When tiling the floor of the kitchen, the entry or any living space in the home Shaun believes that it is important to make decisions that work well and blend with the overall environment. “The last thing I want the homeowner to do is put something in that immediately has the viewer’s eye drawn to the floor,” he affirms. “I want us to make smart decisions so that the overall space pops.”

The color palette for the bathroom is similar to that of the kitchen in terms of earth tones. “When it comes to tile and stone for the bathroom, homeowners gravitate toward beige family of colors,” Shaun notes. “We also find rectangular tile as the hot trend in tile selections in this area of the home. We are putting in 12 by 24, 8 by 12 and 8 by 16, with squared up edges rather than rounded edges. Gloss tile with glass ceramic insets continue to be popular.”

The ultimate indulgence in the bathroom is often the shower. Rather than the traditional 3 foot by 3 foot traditional shower environment, Shaun is seeing homeowners installing showers that are 4 feet by 4 feet on up to 8 feet by 4 feet. “The tile in the shower wall is often 12 by 24 and is accented with decorative tile, stone or glass – whatever the homeowner’s personal taste dictates. We also find that as people are getting older, they are putting curbless showers – a feature of universal design.”

“Linear drains are becoming very popular in showers right now. They basically run the width of the shower. You can also see mosaics on shower floors, but they aren’t what everyone is putting in. 12 by 24 tile on show floor is popular. My personal favorite is 20 by 20. It really is whatever speaks to you.”

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

December 9, 2014

For the next few weeks, I’d like to 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 ©

Classic And Coastal Interior Design

December 8, 2014

A good coastal interior design echoes what’s best about life by the sea — it’s breezy, relaxed and timelessly beautiful. Scott Williams, owner of the premier design firm, The Red Rickshaw, in Oriental, knows exactly how to bring the beauty and serenity of the coast indoors. Scott is well-known for his ability to seamlessly blend fresh and light elements with traditional warmth, for a look that’s classic, clean, and reflective of coastal life. North Carolina Design asked Scott how he puts together his distinctive designs.

Images Courtesy of The Red Rickshaw ©

“To me, coastal style is more of a feel than anything else,” Scott explains. “The coast is where everyone comes to relax, so coastal design should be something warm and inviting — something that makes you want to pull up a chair and have a seat. Something that’s comfortable and no-fuss, but has traditional charm and a classic feel.”

For Scott, color plays a large part in creating an inviting coastal design. Beyond the blue and white nautical theme, Scott uses soft, more muted tones, which provide a fresh and breezy feel. “I particularly like using soft blues, greens and yellows,” he affirms. “They give the design richness, depth, and interest.”

Scott lets his designs flow organically, which contributes to their livable, comfortable look. “Every project has a starting point, whether it be color, a painting or a piece of fabric,” Scott notes. “After that it just takes on a life of its own.”

To make the space personal, Scott pays careful attention to his clients’ wants and needs. “Every client has their own likes and dislikes,” he notes. “It’s so important to really listen to what clients want and find out what their interests are. Their home is their oasis – their nest – and the design should be a collection of what’s important in their lives. My challenge as a designer is to bring in their preferences in a way that’s cohesive, and fits in with the overall design.”

“If a client’s mind is set on a color I don’t like, I will find the shade of that color that will give them that coastal look. For example, if a client is fond of purple, I will choose a lilac shade, and accent it with some different shades of green. If a client loves Oriental style, I can incorporate it way that’s not overpowering or overwhelming.”

Scott uses antiques and reclaimed items to give designs personality and traditional warmth. “A nice old chest, an antique chair — these things give a room character and let it speak to you,” he notes. “They also make it feel lived-in and comfortable.”

Scott’s appreciation for traditional design elements goes all the way back to his childhood. “I grew up in a very traditional home,” he explains. “The idea of investing in your home was instilled in me early on. If you’re going to buy something, it should be something that will last forever. That’s what we create – designs for a lifetime. You may add to it, but you’re not going to change it.”

Scott’s designs may have a classic feel, but they are always fresh and inspired – a fact that his clients appreciate. “I love giving clients the unexpected – something they never could have envisioned, but they absolutely love,” he reflects. “I also enjoy the personal relationships that develop. We come into people’s homes, and become part of their lives. Nine times out of ten, we become friends. It’s a rewarding career, in so many different ways.”

Stark Carpet – Unique And Trendsetting Designs That Perfectly Complete the Decor Of Any Space

December 1, 2014

No feeling compares to sinking your toes into a decadently soft rug, and a beautiful finely crafted carpet instantly adds texture, character and subtle artistry to a space. No one knows better how the right rug can enhance a design than Drew Olsen, manager of the Stark Carpet Charlotte location. Founded in 1940, Stark Carpet is known across the country for its carpets, the quality and beauty of which have even made them a design choice for the White House. Drew filled North Carolina Design in on Stark’s bespoke, trade and overstock options, and shared with us his take on what’s current in terms of carpet styles.

Images Courtesy of Stark Carpet ©

Those in the design trade know they can expect outstanding quality and a wide range of custom options from Stark. “We use the finest materials and the highest quality dyes,” Drew explains. “Designers can choose the color, content and construction of their carpet, and essentially create whatever item their design calls for.”

Stark’s trade program provides designers with an exceptional array of one-of-a-kind options. “We have 190 exclusive patterns that are only available to The Trade, and each pattern comes in 3 to 5 colors,” notes Drew. “These are products that won’t be found anywhere else in the world. What’s more, that product line is expected to triple in size within the next two years.”

Stark also has a 30,000 square foot outlet in Charlotte, which is open to the public. “Our outlet carries overstocks and discontinued items – fine handmade pieces, in both modern and classic styles,” Drew affirms. “We have 4,400 rugs in stock, which adds up to well over a million square feet of designer merchandise, just in this space.”

Drew is passionate about design, and he is well-versed in current carpet trends. “Currently, designers are using a broad mixture of styles,” he notes. “While traditional styles have always been and, I think, always will be popular in North Carolina, demand for them has definitely decreased. People are now focused on a simpler, cleaner lifestyle, and homeowners’ tastes are evolving into a more transitional look. Designers are now trending toward much stronger contemporary pieces with sharper edges, and choosing geometric patterns as opposed to florals.”

While transitional carpet colors tend to be more muted, Drew maintains that there is plenty of room for bolder color in today’s designs. “Overall, transitional carpets tend to feature grays and taupes, and have tone-on-tone designs,” he explains. “However, today’s homeowners do also like to have fun in a given space by adding a little color. There is a strong demand for vibrant area rugs with saturated colors like blue, orange and chartreuse.”

When it comes to fine carpets and rugs, texture is as important as color and design. “Texture has always been in demand,” Drew affirms. “People love carpets with a smooth texture, especially in a very soft-handed content like silk. They’re looking for that soft, plush, decadent feeling. That being said, coarser natural fibers like jute and sisal are also very popular. They may not be as soft, but they are pleasant to walk on. There’s something very sensory about the texture.”

One of Drew’s favorite aspects of his job is his involvement with designers and their projects. “The talent level of the designers I work with is so high,” he says. “They have some of the best design minds in the business. It’s a privilege to watch them create beautiful spaces, and to be a part of the process.”

Drew concedes that the most important aspect of a fine carpet or rug is client satisfaction. “Buying a quality rug isn’t just an investment in a home’s design. It’s a feel-good purchase that brings a lifetime of pleasure to the user.”

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