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.”

Curves Soften The Clean Lines Of This Contemporary Blue Ridge Mountain Home

November 3, 2016

Design is always a balancing act between different competing elements. When the right balance is struck, the results are nothing short of incredible. Today’s featured home is a superbly balanced work of art by the Asheville firm Allard & Roberts Interior Design, led by the creative duo Talli Roberts and Sharon Allard. Throughout the home, details catch the eye at first glance and invite you to linger in every room. The project was a true collaboration between the designers and their clients, who had very specific ideas and expectations. Talli recently sat down with North Carolina Design and shared the finer points of this clean, crisp and exquisitely appointed home.

Images Courtesy of Allard & Roberts Interior Design David Dietrich Photography ©

The home was a new build for a husband and wife with grown children. “This was their last home, where they planned to live out the rest of their lives,” Talli explains. “They thought of every detail, and they specifically asked that everything be customized to their tastes.” The couple wanted a contemporary mountain home and had very specific characteristics in mind.

“They wanted the whole home to have one consistent thought,” Talli reflects. “They wanted it to have a definitive contemporary feel, but they wanted to soften the clean lines and edges with curves. “The architecture prominently featured arches, and they wanted to carry that curved design element throughout the house. You see curves everywhere – in the tiles, in the countertops, in the light fixtures, and in the tops of the sofas and chairs.

“The custom built island in the kitchen has a curved top. It was not easy to add curves to a rectangular cabinet, so we raised the counter to bar height and used a wedge shape. The custom cut mosaic backsplash has glass tiles in a curved shape. The guest bath shower – originally designed as a closet – has a unique curved footprint. The tray ceiling in the master bedroom is curved.  And then, of course, there’s everyone’s favorite feature: the Ambra Carved Stone Tile above the master bath tub.”

Talli and Sharon used the color palette to walk the line between cool and warm elements. “The homeowner’s previous residence had a warm color palette, and they were looking for something new,” Talli notes. “We used gray and pale blue, which we balanced with warm wood tones. We kept the walls neutral, and painted the walls and trim in the same color to avoid creating white borders. This allowed the incredible view to take center stage. To give them flexibility, we added color in things that could easily be changed.”

A lot of great care went into choosing the home’s furnishings. “Sharon was responsible for the furnishings and the décor of the interior. It was a very thoughtful and purposeful selection throughout the house,” Talli affirms. “She really wanted to give the homeowners an all around custom, boutique experience. Sharon took them to the Furniture Market in High Point and walked them through all of the options. All of the furnishings were hand selected to work cohesively in each space and as a whole, to preserve that consistent feel and flow.”

When it came to furnishings and décor, the homeowners had definitive expectations. “They planned to spend the rest of their lives in this home, and they really wanted to be surrounded by things that were luxurious and sophisticated, but still approachable and livable. They loved finer materials, like embroidered silk. But they were also practical – the dining chairs look like they are upholstered in leather, but it’s actually a material that’s easy to clean. So they could have friends over for wine without worrying.”

Talli admits that this was quite a challenging project. “This client definitely pushed us out of our comfort zone,” she says. “But that just made us work that much harder. And, all of the time and thought that went in definitely paid off. The end result is amazing. The house is gorgeous, and it’s different and unique. We’re so glad to have been a part of this project.”

“Tips Of The Trade” From North Carolina Design Experts

November 1, 2016

Once again, several of our design professionals weigh in, sharing some great tips for the home. With years of experience creating living spaces that speak to who their clients are and how they live, these experts from North Carolina Design are definitely qualified to offer insightful “Tips Of The Trade” on a variety of subjects.

Quartz countertops are a trend that continues to rise in popularity. Its durability and the variety of color and pattern options makes this product rival other natural stones. It is more forgiving than concrete and granite and will not chip or crack as easily. Quartz is non- porous, therefore it will not harbor bacteria and resists staining more than other stone or concrete. It’s much easier to clean and maintain this product. Some quartz patterns mimic Carrara marble, which is especially popular with our clients, because it is less expensive than the marble, and has better cleanability and easier maintenance.

Homeowners are always looking for products that enhance the style of their kitchen without sacrificing practicality. Cleanability is a major concern to clients when selecting textiles for their kitchen. Products such as upholstered bar stools, and banquettes as well as rugs can really add softness and pattern to an otherwise hard kitchen. Performance fabrics have greatly enhanced the market of fabrics we use in kitchens – a place where stains and spills are probable. You will find that the fabric provides a must have contrast to your kitchen, whether in the bar stools, banquettes or underfoot!

June DeLugas
June DeLugas Interiors
Winston–Salem, NC


When it comes to trends in color…there isn’t  a color in the rainbow we haven’t seen or used. I advise homeowners not to succumb to color trends on hard to replace surfaces, like tile, countertops, floor coverings, and major fabrics. In deciding on a color direction with a client – if they haven’t already said, “I love any color, as long as it’s blue” – I begin by finding out how they might want a room, the house, to feel. From there we discuss color.

The complexities of light and shadow are left to me to investigate, after the client has expressed the color (or no color) passion. Pure white on walls situated on the north side of the house often look grey, while white in a glass-enclosed area surrounded by forest may look green. Selecting colors will be made easier if you begin with a focus, perhaps a painting, a Persian carpet, something you want to feature – maybe Grandmother’s china.

If you’re starting from scratch, consider the following: What colors are you told look best on you?  Are you a “glass half full” person or a “glass half empty”? While the “half-fulls” don’t need the warmth, they may like extending their sunny sides with warm whites or yellow-based walls. A “half empty” should be guided away from selecting grey preferences. Instead, certain blues, can work very well.

Minta Bell
Minta Bell Design Group
Durham, NC


As you begin the process of designing and building a new home, the first thing you need to do is honestly think about your lifestyle and daily routines in your existing home. Ask yourselves, what works for you in your current house and what  doesn’t? Browse through websites like North Carolina Design, Houzz and Pinterest to gather pictures of exterior elevations and interior pictures of kitchens, master bedrooms and baths so that you can show your residential designer your style.

Don’t try to piece together your dream home by searching for hours through stock plans online. It’s a frustrating and exhausting  process that doesn’t yield the desired results. When you meet with your residential designer, it is their job to take your desires and wishes, put them all together as creative plans for an inspiring custom home that speaks to who you are and how you live. As a residential designer, I find that it’s still one of the best compliments I get from a custom client when they say at the design meeting, “I absolutely love it and I can see myself living in this house for the rest of my life.”

Todd Crowe
Crow Design & Associates
Charlotte, NC


Often, the kitchen that you want can come from the kitchen that you have. Painting cabinets can create a room worth falling in love with again at a very reasonable cost. You think it’s easy… just buy some paint to do it yourself or maybe hire a professional painter. Kitchen cabinet refinishing is an entirely different process than regular painting, and your average professional painter has just enough confidence to make a real mess of it. To refresh your kitchen the way you want it to look requires a special kind of professional – a cabinet refinisher.

Painting requires 3-4 steps while refinishing typically requires 6-8 steps. A cabinet refinisher knows the essential processes to follow and the necessary material selections to create a look that is durable and lasting. Beyond proper preparation and application methods, a professional cabinet refinisher has an artistic eye needed for color matching, or accenting. In the picture above, an accent glaze that requires a bit of finesse was added to the cabinetry – which a qualified cabinet professional will have.

Nathan Wainscott
Inspire By Color
Greensboro, NC

2016 Fall High Point Furniture Market – It’s About Mixing Things Up, Making An Emotional Connection & Telling A Great Story

October 18, 2016

We are all waiting with great anticipation to see what the 2016 Fall High Point Furniture Market has in store for us. Giving us a sneak peak today at what we might possibly see this season is bona fide furniture expert Kim Shaver who has spent 30 years in the furniture industry. As the marketing liaison for such notable furniture companies as Hooker Furniture and Marge Carson, Kim has a finger firmly on the pulse of what’s new. She detailed for North Carolina Design her take on emerging industry trends. To our excitement, this new season seems to be all about mixing things up, making an emotional connection, and telling a great story.

Images Courtesy of Hooker Furniture and Marge Carson ©

Kim has seen a couple of isolated trends take root of late. “Silver has made a small resurgence, after a several seasons of absolutely dominant gold tones.” she observes. “Some great examples are the Cynthia Rowley Bowery Accent Chest, which features a beautiful striped marble front and stainless steel legs, and the Melange Zola 4-door Credenza, which has a textured silver exterior and silver legs.”

A forgotten classic furniture staple seems to be making its way back into today’s homes. “I believe that armoires are coming back,” Kim says. “When the armoire disappeared a few years ago, it left a void for a tall signature focal point. An armoire can really help designers create balance in a room’s composition. It also offers an abundance of efficient vertical storage.”

According to Kim, several larger-scale trends are on the horizon, and they all involve creating interest, telling a story, and drawing people in emotionally. “The most significant trend happening today is one I like to call Natural Inspirations,” she recounts. “This trend is rooted in casual contemporary style, and uses mixed materials, textured surfaces and organic motifs to evoke the feel of natural coastlines, remote beaches and deserts. This trend is a great way to soften contemporary style and add some emotional appeal.

“Marge Carson’s California Palms Collection is a perfect example of Natural Inspirations. This collection is California casual, with a fresh, current, organic twist. There’s a beautiful use of Philippine raffia and wire brushed white oak. Then you have the intricate twig design motif, which is used as a base for several pieces. Then there are these wonderful details, like the tabletop basket weave veneer pattern, and the wavy hardware patterns that bring to mind wind-blown sand or ripples of water. It’s a really beautiful, but approachable look.”

Another trend, which Kim calls Glam Mix, evokes the romance of Old Europe, while mixing in an industrial vibe and a touch of glamour and shimmer. “This is a new French style, with clean cases, metallics, and industrial elements.” she affirms. “It’s warm and charming, but it’s also glamorous and luxurious. It’s industrial, but it’s also soft and inviting. The Arabella collection from Hooker exemplifies the trend, with painted charcoal case finishes, heavily waxed aluminum tops and eglimose surfaces.”

Textural elements play a large part in another emerging trend, which Kim labels Material World. “This trend is all about using a wide mixture of materials to create textural, tactile and visual interest, as well as an emotional connection,” Kim tells us. “It crosses the style spectrum – it’s used in traditional, transitional and contemporary designs alike.

“The Cynthia Rowley Broome Accent Chest is a perfect example of this concept applied to a contemporary style. It has a shagreen (faux stingray) skin cover and a gold leaf base, legs, top and hardware. The Sam Moore Aurora Chairs showcase a more transitional style, and their plush, graphic chenille animal print illustrates how even upholstery can add texture and visual impact. The Hill Country Bexar Leg Huntboard is a traditional example of the Material World trend. It features a carved gamble oak motif that draws you in, and is highly textural.”

The Hill Country Collection part of another fall trend. “I call it Authentic American,” Kim reflects. “This furniture deeply represents the authentic look, feel and character of a very specific region – in this case, the rugged beauty of the low hills of Texas. It’s crafted from cracked white oak veneer with a two tone, saddle brown and anthracite black finish that mimics native sandstone. This trend is very exciting, because any American region can be the focus, and the possibilities are endless. Like the others, it really holds your interest. It tells a story.”

Home Design Expert Advice: Build a Home That Serves Your Present Lifestyle

October 12, 2016

Ok, so you’re thinking about building or remodeling – and you’d never dream of including a 1960′s vintage styled kitchen – but does your vision allow you to get the most use and enjoyment out of your home? Often times, the answer is no, which means that it may be time to let go of some elements of the past that don’t serve our present lifestyles. Kevin Holdridge, owner of premier Charlotte residential design firm KDH Residential Design, has seen a shift to a less formal lifestyle and a more transitional aesthetic, but frequently finds that homeowners are still held captive by outdated floorplans. He gave his take on the subject to North Carolina Design.

“Decades ago, our lives were very different,” Kevin observes. “Most women were not in the workplace. They spent a lot of time alone in a segregated kitchen preparing elaborate meals. Children spent a good portion of their day outdoors, so there was little need for a large play area indoors. Things were a lot more formal, and lives – and homes – were a lot more compartmentalized. Times have changed, but homes have not completely kept pace with those changes.”

According to Kevin, this failure to evolve translates into a lot of wasted space. “Today, life is a lot more fluid,” he reflects. “In many homes you have both parents working, and sharing the household chores. Families often cook together, and share casual meals right in the kitchen. Kids spend a lot of time inside the home, playing, doing homework, and using electronic devices. People tend to congregate together, doing different things in a shared space.”

“Because we are still building and renovating houses in the old way, we are ending up with entire rooms that are closed off or barely used. These rooms are cold and unwelcoming, and they make people feel isolated and disconnected. People who have mobility issues can have trouble navigating older floor plans, and may end up relegated to one section of the house. Every space in a home should have a purpose, and everyone who lives in a home should have access to and enjoy the whole home.”

Kevin points out that it’s not a matter of style preference, but of whether or not homeowners are making the best use of their space. “It’s about having a formal dining room, not because you want it or use it, but because you feel you ought to,” he explains.

Homeowners feel obligated to stick with older floor plans for several reasons. “Some people feel they should carry on tradition,” notes Kevin. “Others are afraid of damaging their home’s value. They believe that their ideas for the ideal floorplan are too unique or unusual, and that most homebuyers will want something more traditional. What they don’t understand is their ideas aren’t unusual at all. Many other people are asking for the same things they are.”

Kevin works hard to alleviate his clients’ concerns. “I point out that there are things they can do to serve both current and future purposes,” he says. “They can build flex spaces that can grow with their family and appeal to future buyers.

“I also remind them that there’s value in living in a house that’s comfortable, welcoming and functional for their family. Resale is important, but you don’t want to waste space, or waste time living in an unpleasant space, because you are worried about the future. Your home should allow you to enjoy your life, and your family, in the best possible way.”

Award Winning Classical Design By Greensboro Architect Is A Perfect Fit Within The Stately And Beautiful Neighborhood

September 29, 2016

Design professionals are commonly constrained by budgets, timelines, and their clients’ specific wants and needs. However, there are those projects in which everyone involved shares a singular vision, and everyone is willing to do what it takes to make it happen. This is when creativity and ingenuity are truly unleashed, and experts work their best magic. Such was the case when noted Greensboro architect Jim Collins, of James S. Collins Architect, was asked to design a new home that fit right into a celebrated historic neighborhood. He met that challenge with award-winning results, and he was kind enough to share the story with North Carolina Design.

The lot was located in Irving Park, a well-known Greensboro community first built in the early 1900′s. It was in a prime location within that neighborhood; it sat atop a hill, and overlooked a golf course. “For some reason, the lot sat empty for years, and my client had the good fortune of purchasing it for a very reasonable price,” Jim tells us.

“The lot was flanked on both sides by homes built by famed architect Charles Barton Keen. The homeowner’s goal was to build a home with such historical authenticity that it looked like it truly belonged. He wanted people to drive by it and say to themselves ‘why have I never noticed that house before?’ At the same time, he wanted it to stand out – to have the kind of rich detail that no other house in the neighborhood had.”

Jim’s high attention to detail, his love of history, and his long-standing passion for classical architecture made him just the right fit for the job. “I designed the exterior in a Colonial Revivalist style, which was appropriate for the area and era in which the neighborhood was built,” he affirms. “It’s a relatively straightforward, classical style, but there’s a lot you can do with it. Because of its simplicity, every detail takes on a great deal of significance.”

This home’s understated, yet masterfully designed details are what take it to an entirely new level of craftsmanship. The exterior features larger details that stand out immediately, such as slate roof, a three-flue chimney and shining copper gutters. It also features highly finessed details that add texture and interest, such as convex friezes, gracefully curved outriggers, beautiful lattice work, and an unusual use of exquisitely crafted moulding along the roofline.

The inside of the home is as richly detailed as the exterior. However, the style is a bit different. “The exterior of the home actually reflects a style borrowed from the Northeast,” Jim explains. “In the interior, we wanted to showcase the vernacular of historic North Carolina architecture.” This meant including details like the sweeping staircase, the hand-carved fireplace rosettes, and the hand-carved Flower of the Winds column detail, which was based on a historically common Southern motif.

There are also details that modern-day homeowners can appreciate, such as the artfully paneled kitchen appliances, and the gorgeous metal kitchen hood, which adds shine and a welcome touch of industrial artistry to the space.

The home has caught the industry’s attention – it was a recent winner of a prestigious American Residential Design Award from the American Institute of Building Design. While Jim is honored by the win, he insists his real reward was participating in the project.

“It was an incredible process,” he reflects. “The homeowner really wanted to do whatever it took to achieve a very high level of quality and authenticity – the right materials, the right details. I had the privilege of working with E.S. Nichols, who is just an exceptional builder, who was as committed to the vision as I was. Then we had the craftsmen, who were so highly skilled. It was just a joy have the freedom to bring this home to life in the way we wanted to.”

Charlotte Remodeler Demonstrates That Details Really Do Matter In Creating A Distinctive & Unique Space

September 15, 2016

Details really do matter: they are the parts that make up the sum of a space, and they make the difference between a good design and something truly superb. Thorough attention to detail has earned Charlotte remodeler Eddie DeRhodes, owner of DeRhodes Construction, a reputation for crafting stellar homes that go far above and beyond his clients’ expectations. Today’s featured home showcases how the right details can wow even the most exacting client. Eddie sat down with North Carolina Design to talk about this richly detailed and distinctive space, which was borne out of the homeowner’s singular vision.

The homeowners, a married couple with teenage and young adult children, were looking to renovate their existing home. “They felt it was finally time to transform their home so that it reflected their lifestyle,” Eddie tells us. “They love food, they love entertaining, and they love nice things. They really just love life. They collect fine art and exceptional, collectible furniture pieces, and they are drawn to things that that are unique, interesting and eclectic.”

Eddie really enjoyed working with the clients. He appreciated their keen eye, and the importance they placed on their home’s details. “They were ideal clients, in that they knew exactly what they wanted, and they were very committed to their vision, yet they were patient and low-key,” he says. “They didn’t micromanage. They didn’t care how something got done, or when – they only cared that it was done exactly the way they wanted it done. And they really trusted us to get it right for them.”

The homeowners brought Ohio designer Randy Basselman onto the project, and he and Eddie made a great team. ““Randy created the design, and I implemented the design and worked out the practical details. We both believe that quality, service and attention to detail are fundamental, so we worked well with each other, and with the clients.”

The project began as a kitchen remodel and grew from there. “Much of the project was about taking down walls between these two rooms to open up the space,” reflects Eddie. “The walls really divided the house into pieces. The homeowners wanted to have an open space where they could entertain more easily. They also wanted something that flowed better aesthetically, and helped showcase their art and furniture.”

The design flowed from the traditional fireplace that was previously in the family room. “Once we opened up the space, we realized that two fireplaces weren’t necessary. The homeowners wanted something more modern and eclectic instead, so we created an art wall with custom bookshelves. The art wall stands out, but it also flows with the rest of the design, and it can be seen from the kitchen.”

Everywhere you look you’ll find something beautiful and intriguing to admire, but the kitchen is especially exquisite. The unique cabinetry features alternating shades of both brown and gray, which somehow flow seamlessly together. The bold metallic lamp above the kitchen island commands attention, and draws the eye up toward the exquisite wooden ceiling detail. The hand-hammered kitchen hood, which Eddie designed specifically for the space, lends an industrial touch. Meanwhile, the puzzle piece backsplash – made from hand crafted tiles imported from Italy – adds curves, color, and modern artistry.

“We spent hours putting that puzzle together,” Eddie recalls. “We spread it out on the first floor, and the wife stood on the second floor and helped us figure out what pattern worked best.” Everything in the space is deliberate and thoughtful. Everything is a juxtaposition of structured patterns and off-kilter lines and curves. And everything is exactly as the clients wanted. “To me, attention to detail speaks to quality,” says Eddie. “We gave the clients the highly detailed, exceptional quality design they were looking for. I take a lot of pride in that.”

“Tips Of The Trade” From North Carolina Design Professionals

August 30, 2016

From interior designers to kitchen designers and landscape architects – once again, several of our North Carolina Design professionals share some great tips with our readers for all areas of the home. With years of experience creating living spaces that speak to who their clients are and how they live, these design experts are definitely qualified to offer insightful “Tips Of The Trade” on a variety of subjects.

The decision to renovate your existing home or break ground on a new one is certainly an exciting one. Whether the project is a remodel or starting with a clean slate, the value of doing research well in advance and developing a plan is the key to the success of the project. Fortunately, doing the homework has never been easier thanks to the internet and other available resources. Creating folders of home styles and materials selections that you like – as well as those you don’t like – will aid the team of professionals working with you.

Whether you do it old school or new school – have a notebook (paper bound or iPad) in which you keep notes and deadlines on a calendar. Make a directory of names and contact information that you will be needing throughout the project. A master plan can be the key to the success and time line of your project.

Anita Holland
Anita Holland Interiors
Charlotte NC


In the realm of kitchen design, things that are trending right now include soft, ethereal colors (grays, light taupes and, soft whites) as well as cabinet intelligence! Really think about how you’re going to use your cabinetry for storage now and down the road. Today, we frequently recommend deep drawers with pegs for plate storage, which eliminates having to place heavy plates above counters in upper cabinets. As we prepare to age in our homes, these things become more important.

The lighting plan of the kitchen is integral to the design, but too often it is an afterthought for homeowners. It is critical in creating warmth and interest, and in my opinion, this is the most undervalued design element. It’s important to have not only pendant lighting over an island (task lighting) but also recessed lighting in the ceiling. Under cabinet lighting and in–cabinet lights (when you have glass doors) also work to add to your kitchen’s well thought out feeling.

Kendra Tardif White
Pheasant Hill Designs
Charlotte, NC


Your goal as a homeowner, outdoors, is to select the right plant for the right place. So often, this does not happen. Here’s the scenario: In the spring you go online or to the garden center, talk to the clerk and buy the plants that will look best immediately. You then forget about them and they start to grow. Three years later, you are pruning them a little. Then 3 – 6 years later, you are pruning them a lot. At 6 years, you have the shears out, and your landscape now looks like geometric forms or pyramids!

The “right plant for the right place” requires a plan and patience. Too often, people plant for immediate gratification, without giving thought to proper plant selection and how it will look in a few year’s time. Understand your site – the solar orientation, the characteristics of your soil, the rainfall and climate. Study the characteristics of your chosen plants, placing them where they will not be too large when mature and not shading out other sun loving plants. You should also study the maintenance requirements of your planned plantings – not all have the same water requirements.

Dan Sears
Sears Design Group
Raleigh, NC


When setting up your home, remember that a home tells a story and every member of the family is a part of that story – from pets to kids to husband. When planning your home, be sure to consider all the characters and plan accordingly. Choose items that speak well to all family members – knowing for example that a white sofa does not work for a house with dogs and kids, but a soft gray in an indoor outdoor fabric, with a navy welt, will make a beautiful look. Enjoy the time you spend together as a family!

Laura Redd
Laura Redd Interiors
Greensboro, NC


Great lighting can make a humble room look gorgeous, and bad lighting can make a spectacular one look ho–hum. Consider changing out those old recessed can lights with the new LED bulbs that include a fresh, white trim kit. These make a huge difference in light quality, energy usage and appearance. It’s usually a DIY project and generally the 65 watt bulbs are plenty bright. Install dimmers while you’re at it.

Sprinkle light fixtures throughout the room. You should have at least 3 light sources in each room. For example, a floor lamp, a table lamp and a small accent lamp (or a piano lamp, etc.). Three way switches are your best friends. Consider a high gloss finish when painting your trim and door moldings. The effect is not overly shiny and gives a gorgeous glow when natural light hits it, especially in low lit areas.

Anne DeCocco
DeCocco Design
Raleigh, NC

Drawing The Dream – Charlotte Residential Designer Achieves Incredible Results By Listening To Clients’ Wants & Needs

August 16, 2016

Residential designers aren’t just artists and creators – they are also interpreters, using their specialized knowledge to translate their clients’ wants and needs into a beautiful and functional design. The more fully a designer understands his or her clients, the more personal, detailed and unique the design will be. Charlotte residential designer Kevin Holdridge, owner KDH Residential Design, is known for creating highly personal designs that answer all of his clients wishes, while deftly capturing their unique vision and style. North Carolina Design spoke with Kevin to find out how he gets inside his clients’ heads in order to achieve his incredible results.

Images Courtesy of KDH Residential Design ©

Kevin notes that trying to figure out his clients’ vision is much akin to detective work. “It really is about taking a lot of information and finding the patterns and the rhythms that connect it all together,” he tells us. “I am a big puzzle guy, so it’s a really fun challenge for me.”

It’s not always easy for homeowners to articulate their vision, and their likes and dislikes can be complex. First and foremost, Kevin stresses the importance of being a good listener. “It’s so important to get to know your clients, and to understand the project at hand,” he says. “To do any of that, you have to take the time to really listen. When clients sense that you’re really hearing them, they feel more comfortable opening up and expressing what they really want.”

For Kevin, part of listening well is digging deep with the right questions. “First, I want to know what my clients are passionate about,” he explains. “My two key words are love and hate. As I show them different options, I obviously want to know what they love and what they get really excited about. But it’s just as valuable to me to know what they hate. These are two huge pieces of the puzzle and they help the other pieces fall into place.”

It’s also extremely important for Kevin to know how his clients live. “I ask a lot of lifestyle questions,” he notes. “Are they retired? Are they a new family? A growing family? How do they entertain? Who comes over? Will most guests be there for an extended stay? What kinds of activities do the kids do? And, of course, it’s important to keep track of all of the information. I give them a questionnaire to fill out and I feverishly take notes throughout our conversations.”

Just as any good detective would, Kevin uses intuition and instinct to fill in the more nuanced aspects of each project. “I really do believe that there is a subconscious element to the process,” he affirms. “As I’m observing and talking to my clients and seeing how they interact as a family, I’m picking up on who they are in a way that goes beyond likes and dislikes and facts and figures on a page. I think that helps in terms of just ‘knowing’ whether something is going to work for them or not.”

Then, of course, Kevin must deal with the more rigid elements of each project. “I have to consider the footprint I’m working with, and the lot, and the existing structure, and the budget,” he explains. “That’s the real challenge – fitting all of the information I have gathered about who my clients are and what they want within these boundaries.”

“When I finally sit at the drawing board, I’m pulling everything together. I’m not just sketching a plan for a project. I’m seeing what my clients see. I’m envisioning how they will live, and I’m drawing out their dream. There isn’t anything better than seeing the joy on a client’s face when they realize that you heard them, you got it right and they are one huge step closer to bringing that dream to life.”

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