February 17, 2014
It’s interesting how the most challenging projects also turn out to also be the most rewarding. That was the case with today’s featured home renovation. This two-year labor of love presented Asheville builder Sean Sullivan with numerous challenges, but ultimately Sean’s company, Living Stone Construction, achieved spectacular and award-winning results.
Images Courtesy of Living Stone Construction ©
Just two weeks ago, it was announced in Las Vegas that this home won the National Association of Home Builders Gold BALA Award (Best in American Living) for Whole House Renovation. The accolades don’t end there. It also won a North Carolina Home Builders Association STARS award for Best Whole House Renovation in the state. Sean was kind enough to take the time to talk to give North Carolina Design his perspective on the project’s unique challenges and what it took to bring new life to the home.
The homeowners, MJ Bertsch and Melanie Furimsky, wanted to transform their existing Lake Lure house into a cozy lakeside retreat, and they came to Sean. “The house was really dated and in pretty bad shape,” he said. “We ended up tearing the structure down and building a new house from the existing foundation.”
Sean faced obstacles from the word go. “The home is on a steep slope that leads down to the lake, he explained. “Steep slopes are always a challenge. It’s also very difficult to build in the town of Lake Lure. There are a lot of stringent regulations from county and town municipalities. It took about 6 months just to get approvals.” The next challenge was replacing the sea wall. “We had to time the replacement to coincide with the lowering of the lake’s water level, which the town does periodically during the winter.”
Once the new sea wall was up, Sean and his team developed a plan to renovate from the bottom up. “We started by renovating the boathouse, then worked our way up the hill. As we went up the hill, we had to find a way to control storm water. Erosion control is a prime concern – you don’t want lakefront banks washing into the lake. We had to cut into the landscape to create drainage.”
The challenge within the house was to accommodate all of the homeowners’ wishes. “They wanted a cozy Craftsman that was also spacious. We gave them high ceilings and open rooms, but stayed true to a traditional Craftsman aesthetic. They also wanted to capitalize on their view, so we came up with a huge wall of windows overlooking the lake.”
A universal design was also important to the homeowners. The home features an elevator, lowered light switches, widened doorways, and an open kitchen, bar space and living area. The open concept idea serves a dual purpose of being wheelchair friendly and providing ample entertainment space for the homeowners.
In spite of the challenges – or perhaps because of them — Sean looks back on the renovation fondly. “To be honest, the whole project was really a lot of fun,” he noted. “As a team, it was probably our most popular project yet. We worked our way up the hill to the house, then we backed down that steep driveway and left, knowing that we made the homeowners happy, and that it was a truly a job well done.”
Publisher’s Note: As evidence of the outstanding interior design in this project, Allard & Roberts Interior Design of Asheville was awarded “Best Interior Merchandising” by the North Carolina Home Builders Association.
February 6, 2014
Renovations are a wonderful way to enhance your home’s beauty, live more comfortably and build equity. However, renovating is no easy task, and knowledge and guidance are crucial for ensuring a good outcome. To gain some insight, we talked to Kevin Jones, of Kevin Jones Design-Build LLC in Greensboro. As the #1 rated full-service Piedmont Triad remodeler, Kevin knows a little something about what goes into a really great reno. He kindly shared with North Carolina Design some of the key factors that help minimize stress and ensure success.
Images Courtesy of Kevin Jones Design-Build LLC ©
Creating A Contract
“Contracts spell everything out as much as possible so that there are no inconsistencies and no ambiguity,” Kevin notes. “The contract should include the scope of the work – what’s going to be done, what’s going to be provided – things like all of the cabinetry, tile, and plumbing selections. The pay schedule should also be included, so that the homeowner knows what amount needs to be paid, and when.”
Knowing What To Expect
“Once begun, a project takes on a life of its own,” Kevin explains. “We try to be as considerate and unobtrusive as possible. However, there will be a bunch of people in your house doing a variety of things and asking a lot of questions. You will need to consult on a lot of things. There will be a lot of noise, and some inevitable disruption – maybe more than you think.”
Developing A Project Plan
“Any really big project that’s going to cost a lot of money should be approached with some planning and forethought,” Kevin notes. “Everything possible should be done to keep the ball moving forward. Everything should be scheduled and ordered ahead of time so that everyone knows what’s coming next. The last thing you ever want to have happen is for a project to sit idle with no one working on it.”
Agreeing On How You Will Communicate
Communication between homeowners and builders is crucial, and you should let your builder know ahead of time what type of communication makes you most comfortable. “For some less tech-oriented people, a telephone call might be best. However, we are all teched up on our end, and we’re happy to use email, text and face time with our tech-savvy clients. We can take even take job site photos with our iPads and use an app to draw on them.”
Addressing The Unforeseen
It’s important to understand what your responsibilities will be if unforeseen problems are uncovered during a renovation. Kevin’s approach to handling the unexpected has earned him kudos from his clients. “There are occasions when unforseen things can occur, but we are very mindful with our due diligence on the front end,” he explains. “Before we even start the project, we’ve been in, under and on top of the house. We’ve seen everything, and we know what we’re dealing with, so we can give the homeowner a fixed project cost.”
Kevin’s constant mindfulness of his clients’ comfort and needs are part of his overall philosophy. “We choose to partner with our clients, and be honest, flexible and open,” he explains. It’s just the way we do business. And I know that our clients really appreciate it.”
Click here to view the North Carolina Design Directory of quality professionals, artisans and retailers for all areas of the home.
January 21, 2014
Anyone who’s ever built a home from the ground up knows the special blend of excitement and hand-wringing that goes along with the process. When it comes to new construction, Eddie Rider of Eddie Rider Designs in Raleigh is there from conception until the last finishing touches are in place, offering support and expert advice to his clients. From homes displaying traditional interior design in Raleigh or a more contemporary style in Wilmington, his involvement from the design/build stage is integral to a beautiful and cohesive design. Eddie was kind enough to share with North Carolina Design some of his expertise, offering five tips for ensuring the smoothest possible construction process.
Images Courtesy of Eddie Rider Designs ©
Have A Realistic Idea Of Costs
Eddie notes that homeowners are often in the dark about the true cost of materials and products. “They may want a gourmet kitchen with warming drawers, custom coffee machines and high end granite counters, without realizing they are hitting $80,000, just in the kitchen,” he explains. He suggests that homeowners establish a budget, narrow down the style of home and features they want, then find out what those features will cost.
Assess Your Priorities
To stay within budget, homeowners really must prioritize. “You have to know what’s important to you and what your needs are,” Eddie asserts. “I ask my clients to assign numbers to different features they want, with 10 being really, really important, and 1 being not too important. I consider everything below a 5 or a 6 a wash.” Homeowners also have to be ready to make sacrifices. “A stone exterior costs thousands more than a stucco exterior,” Eddie notes. “If you have your heart set on stone, you may have to cut back on something else.”
Choose A Good Designer
Eddie advises homeowners to choose a designer who fits their needs and your style, and who is really invested in the success of their project. “I help my clients decide on a builder who is right for them,” he notes. “I work closely with them to help them make choices in materials selections and features that respect their budget, but still give them what they want. And I act as a go-between, helping them communicate with the architect and builder”
Good communication is crucial to a successful build. Eddie advises homeowners to have drawings, pictures and photographs ready, and to consistently meet with the builder and architect for progress reports and walk-throughs. “Try to be onsite as often as possible,” he notes. “Being present on the job site makes it much easier to ask questions.”
Make Timely Decisions
Eddie suggests that homeowners make decisions very early in the building process. “During construction, there are about a million moving parts that all have to mesh together,” he notes. “The builder usually works on a schedule that’s based on the homeowner’s selection of materials. Decisions should be made in a timely manner at the very, very beginning to ensure timely project completion.”
Eddie truly goes to bat for his clients, and prides himself on being their advocate. His inbox is flooded daily with questions, photos and ideas from homeowners in the home building trenches, but he wouldn’t have it any other way.
Click here to view the North Carolina Design Directory of quality professionals, artisans and retailers for all areas of the home.
January 9, 2014
Growing up, I recall the kitchen as the room where I spent most of my time after school. Once home, I would spread out my books to start my homework and share a few details about my day with my Mother. The kitchen is still the room where my family gathers when we’re together. It’s warm, inviting and encourages long conversations. Today, Raleigh interior designer Vicky Serany of Southern Studio Interior Design details for North Carolina Design the classic staples of a well designed kitchen. Vicky explains what’s necessary for your kitchen to continue to function well and bring enjoyment for years to come.
Images Courtesy of Southern Studio Interior Design ©
1. Focus on Function
“First and foremost, the kitchen has to work for your family and the way you live,” Vicky notes. “The more tailored your space is to your needs, the more comfortable, organic, and timeless it will look and feel.” Vicky also suggests limiting add-ons and extras for your kitchen. “I advise my clients to forgo the bells and whistles, and only incorporate the features they know they will need and use,” she explains. “This eliminates clutter, and creates a clean design that’s free of trendy, yet unnecessary items.”
2. Use Lighting Thoughtfully
According to Vicky, having a well thought-out lighting plan is another essential component of a timeless kitchen design. “A layered lighting plan that incorporates multiple ambient, task and accent lighting sources gives you a solid base to work with, with options to change the mood or look of the kitchen quickly.”
3. Select Timeless Materials
“Natural materials like wood, stone, metal and glass are always timeless,” notes Vicky. “The great thing about natural materials is that they are inherently unique. No two granite slabs or slate tiles are the same. They have different patterns and different markings. So you have this enduring appeal, yet this great touch of character.”
4. Choose Colors Carefully
“I recommend beginning with a base palette of beautiful, soft neutrals. I personally love using warm grays,” Vicky notes. She suggests adding in bolder colors in small ways, with items that can easily be changed out as your style or tastes change. “Have some fun with a unique backsplash. Use a pop of color on the ceiling for an added surprise, or choose bar stools in an unexpected color for a dramatic effect.”
5. Consider Your Home’s Architecture
“The architecture of your home is a permanent feature, and to keep your kitchen design timeless, you have to be true it,” Vicky notes. “You want to make sure that the mouldings, the flooring, all of the trim details, and especially the cabinetry style reflect the overall home design, and integrate seamlessly.”
Following these tips, you are well on your way to establishing a kitchen that will bring you lasting enjoyment and stand the test of time.
January 5, 2014
Every now and then North Carolina Design likes to chat with our favorite designers about what inspires them, what challenges them, and how they work their particular brand of magic. Recently, we caught up with Wilmington and Raleigh interior designer, Angela Crittenden, owner of Teal Interior Design, to find out more about her design preferences and her process.
Images Courtesy of Teal Interior Design ©
While Angela once focused primarily in the Raleigh area, she has recently expanded the focus of her firm to also include designing beach homes in the coastal area of Wilmington, where she currently lives. “It’s been an interesting change,” she notes. “The design aesthetic along the coast is different. Things are less traditional. When it comes to Wilmington interior design, the fabrics and colors are lighter. The look is softer and more coastal.”
The change suits Angela’s personal aesthetic very well. “I like a mix of traditional and coastal elements,” she explains. “I like to use simple neutrals, with a punch of pattern or color in a room, whether through wallpaper, window treatments, or pillow fabric. Beach houses tend to have a lot of windows, which means less wall space. That makes it easy to add artwork or a bold accent wall without overwhelming the space.”
Wallpaper is one of Angela’s favorite ways of adding life to a room. “There are so many different amazing scales and patterns and colors to choose from. I sometimes have to educate clients and help them understand that the wallpaper available today is not the old-timey style of wallpaper. It’s artwork.”
Helping clients see her vision is one of the bigger challenges Angela faces in her design work. “Many people have trouble visualizing how a concept will come together,” she notes. “They also have trouble understanding that they have to be patient to get the best results. It doesn’t all come together right away like it does on TV design shows, where they have hundreds of people working behind the scenes to get things done.”
Angela’s strategy is to build a design from one inspiration piece, whether it’s wallpaper, upholstery fabric or a window treatment. Her favorite part of the process is seeing the vision in her head come to life. “I love the before and after aspect of design,” she notes. “It’s so exciting and gratifying.”
One of Angela’s favorite “afters” is near and dear to her heart, and showcases her design intuition. “I’m almost nine months pregnant,” she notes. “I chose a lavender orchid color for the nursery, which turned out to be the Pantone color of the year!”
We wish Angela’s family and their and her soon to be bundle of of joy all the best in the new year! As you can tell by the nursery images, a few four legged family members are also anxiously awaiting the new arrival, and were integral in the design of the nursery! It’s a bit difficult for me to separate the pooches that are real from those that accent the room.
December 16, 2013
Once again, North Carolina Design is fortunate to hear from one of our favorites – Winston-Salem interior designer, June DeLugas, of June DeLugas Interiors. She shares with us her insights on a home that received top honors during the recent 2013 Fall Parade of Homes sponsored by The Home Builders Association of Winston-Salem. A long time participant, June was also a co-chair for the event this year.
Images Courtesy of June DeLugas Interiors ©
It is always exciting being involved in The Fall Parade of Homes – this year as both a participant and a co-chair. I very much enjoy participating in an event that showcases the talent of our local builders, designers, artisans, and trades. Builder Don Hamrick, of Custom Homes by Hamrick and I have collaborated on projects for the past seven years. The challenge concluded with the second-annual presentation of the Platinum award. We were indeed honored by this award; the home received 499 points out of a possible 500.
This home is located in Buena Vista, a Winston-Salem neighborhood that boasts the spirit of traditional Southern architecture. New construction is rare in Buena Vista, so the homeowners wanted to juxtapose the old with the new, beginning with the exterior of the home. The facade of the house was adapted from a June 2012 Southern Living idea house with a long, inviting front porch.
The interior of the home is decidedly nontraditional and reflects the homeowners’ tastes for clean lines and an open floor plan, well-suited for their day-to-day living as well as entertaining family and friends. I best describe this home as “classic meets contemporary”.
In keeping with the homeowners’ personal philosophy that “separate bathrooms are the key to a successful marriage,” there are two master baths, each having a distinctive feel and design. Here, in particular, we embraced the visions of both homeowners – design diplomacy at its best.
Other venues, especially the open great room, reflect both the homeowners’ wishes, combined with the help of my design team. The dining island is intended for weekday dining and was fabricated from a 36mm piece of textured glass supported by locally salvaged I-beams.
The adjoining great room incorporates design features which were reinforced by the fall furniture market in High Point. The market trends confirmed that blues and oranges endure, and a hint of the Orient is never a bad idea. The inspiration for this room is a pair of cobalt blue antique vase lamps, and the room is anchored by the blues in a large piece of art, both of which are incorporated into the architectural plans.
In addition to the American flag, the homeowners are known to also proudly fly the flag of their alma mater, The University of Virginia, from their front porch. In the world of happy accidents, exceeding all manner of planning, the UVA logo sports the timeless combination of blue and orange that is seen within the home. They trust that the Tar Heel and Demon Deacon fans in the neighborhood will certainly understand.
Click here to view the North Carolina Design Directory of quality professionals, artisans and retailers for all areas of the home.
November 27, 2013
It’s that time of year again . . . a time for wonderful gatherings of family and friends, centered around beautiful tablescapes that bring the season to life. It was a delight to recently connect with Debbie Huffman, both friend and fine linen expert, for her insight on what’s new in holiday table décor. As the owner of Dolce Dimora, located in Greensboro, Debbie has regularly provided Readers of North Carolina Design with up to date ideas for beautifully dressing tables and beds with fine linens from across the globe.
Images Courtesy of Dolce Dimora ©
Debbie notes that while classic table settings are always popular, there is a fresh new holiday look that even those who tend toward the traditional seem to be embracing. “We’re seeing a lot of glam this year,” she explains. “People are looking for a vintage Old Hollywood style, straight out of the recent Great Gatsby movie. A lot of subtle opulence, with gold and silver accents for just a bit of shine.”
Color is another fresh element in the mix this season. “People are favoring non-traditional colors like turquoise, teal, plums, and grays. These colors are very versatile and functional, as they transition well from Thanksgiving through Christmas and New Year’s.” Debbie feels that plums in particular are a beautiful complement to traditional Thanksgiving décor, as they work wonderfully to offset the browns, golds, yellows and oranges that grace many tables each year.
For Christmas and New Year’s, Debbie favors balancing pops of color with white, while adding some gold and silver touches for a refined touch of elegance. She notes that there are many options for adding metallic accents this season, from table linens trimmed in gold and silver to dinnerware marbleized with genuine gold, silver and pewter.
Debbie also suggests a fresh take on the classic centerpiece. “Amaryllis and cyclamens are the traditional choices,” she affirms. “But I find that orchids add an exotic touch that’s really eye-catching, and fits into the glamorous theme.”
While the newer options are certainly lovely, there’s something to be said for the classics. “I just love a traditional red, green and white Christmas table,” Debbie notes. “And there are some really wonderful traditional pieces available right now.”
Whether you choose a traditional table or try something new this year, we wish you a very happy Thanksgiving and a wonderful holiday season.
November 25, 2013
Without a doubt, every great house starts with a great set of plans. I previously reported my excitement in being asked earlier this year to be a judge for the 2013 North Carolina’s Finest In Residential Design Competition. The “big reveal” of winners occurred during the recent quarterly meeting of the North Carolina Society of the American Institute of Building Design – and it was my pleasure to be invited. From traditional to contemporary styling and from urban destinations to mountain retreats as well as coastal and lakeside getaways, the entries covered the gamut.
The meeting was held at Smith Millworks in Lexington, NC. Everyone in attendance took an inspiring tour of their facility. The company is known for their custom mouldings and custom door jams and can create or match virtually anything. Oh, and they make some pretty nice doors also. No trip to Lexington would be complete without mouth watering barbecue. Much thanks to our hosts from Smith Millworks for delighting everyone’s taste buds.
As residential designer Kevin Holdridge handed out awards, he remarked about how outstanding the quality of the entries was – and I would definitely agree. The criteria by which each was judged included: objective difficulty, design solution, overall flow of design and curb appeal. Each project possessed challenging site conditions and a lengthy client wish list. If it was on water, the requisite for every room in the house was a view. No small feat.
I was pleased to meet many entrants in the competition. Both Pippin Home Designs from Mooresville and Mountainworks from Cashiers were multiple award winners. Pippin Home Designs also received the Best In Show Award from the judges. A few weeks ago I offered the readers of North Carolina Design a glimpse of many of these entries. It seems only right that I now share the identities of the firms responsible for designing these incredible homes. I must say congratulations to the winners and job well done to all the entrants. The work of each is exceptional.
November 4, 2013
In late October, the Fall 2013 High Point Furniture Market came alive with an energy and excitement that interior designers and The Trade hadn’t seen in a long time. Charlotte interior designer, Anita Holland of Anita Holland Interiors checks in with us today, confirming the enthusiasm she saw and felt in the showrooms she visited. As she has for the past several Markets, Anita shares with North Carolina Design her impressions of the High Point Market, as only a designer can do.
Two full days and beautiful weather allowed us to take our time to absorb the vibrant and contagious energy, while exploring showrooms old and new. Highlights for this year’s Market were Hickory Chair, Visual Comfort, and Sherrill Furniture. All three destinations reinforced the design trend that I love at the moment – classic, timeless, and elegant traditional designs with beautiful detailing and finishes.
A visit to Hickory Chair is always a staple in my trip to the High Point Market. Two of my favorite designers, Alexa Hampton and Suzanne Kasler have outstanding collections for the company. Both take a fresh interpretation of classic shapes and antique reproductions.
The living room above by Alexa Hampton confirms how the designer is a master of mixing bold patterns and bright colors. I find that the geometric wall covering is the perfect unifying element and background in this room. The symmetry of the framed prints allows them to work well without being overbearing.
In the above dining room, also by Alexa Hampton, I really love how the designer juxtaposed the geometric print with floral chintz by Lee Jofa. Chintz is predicted to be making a comeback (words that I never thought I’d hear myself say). I used this exact same Lee Jofa chintz back in the late 1980’s. This revival of chintz works so well here because it is used selectively and mixed with the classic and colorful geometric pattern.
I find that every design element in Suzanne Kasler’s dining room speaks of understated elegance and grace. The brass details of the table are truly exquisite. The chair was inspired by a vintage modern chair and it is my favorite in the line. It is ultra comfortable and is suitable for dining or as an occasional chair. Detailed with nail heads, this chair looks good from every angle.
Design trends follow apparel trends, therefore it is only natural for us to see a return to classic, sophisticated design. (Fortunate for everyone, the saturated, abundant mix of patterns and overly scaled furniture was short lived.) Suzanne’s calm but playful bedroom has a tranquil and soothing atmosphere. It is an oasis for relaxing by the fire or settling into at the end of the day.
It’s said that lighting is the jewelry of design and I believe that Visual Comfort is the trend setter in the lighting industry today for chandeliers, lamps, and sconces. Wall sconces are extremely popular today, having moved out of the powder room and into formal and casual décor. From traditional to selections that are more contemporary in styling, I very much liked the presentation throughout the showroom.
While we saw the Spring Market trending with warm grays, the Fall Market was alive with the return of blue. The Mr. & Mrs. Howard Collection, which is brought to us by Sherrill Furniture is evidence of that. The blue, taupe and white of this sophisticated living room work well together – a space that easily seats six people around the beautiful carved mantle. Phoebe Howard has done well in creating an intimate and cozy atmosphere.
Who wouldn’t like this peaceful bedroom? The chamfered poster bed is striking and is available in different finishes. I very much like the size and scale of the posters, which fit the scale of the bed as well as the room. Blue once again makes an appearance in a handsome shade of navy in the decorative pillows and the bedding. The warm fruit tone of the bedside stands is a good choice in completing the inviting atmosphere, where the creamy white of the poster bed would not have achieved the same result.
I look forward to sharing details from the next Market about what is new and alive in the realm of design and home décor.
October 30, 2013
Last week, so much in North Carolina was abuzz with the Fall 2013 High Point Furniture Market. I know it was an exciting and busy week for my friends over at Hooker Furniture. I was delighted prior to the Market when Hooker Furniture asked for a guest blog from North Carolina Design. No problem, I said! I am thrilled to be posting today over on the Hooker Furniture Blog. Just click the link to them and check it out! Kitchens are my favorite room of the home, so it was a no brainer deciding what room the article would be about.
Images Courtesy of Southern Studio Interior Design, LLC ©
For design expertise, I turned to one of my favorite Raleigh interior designers – Vicky Serany, of Southern Studio Interior Design, LLC. Vicky wonderfully detailed her tips for designing a kitchen that will stay beautiful, elegant and functional for many years to come. Great advice and great images. It’s a must see (and read) for anyone who is inspired by kitchens the way I am, or is thinking about updating theirs any time soon.
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