Charlotte Landscape Architect Explains The Three Essential Elements In Creating A Landscape That Lasts

July 19, 2016

We often talk of creating a “forever home” – a place in the world that gives us roots, grows with us, and eventually becomes a part of the family. But what about a “forever landscape – one that’s thoughtfully planned and lovingly cultivated, so that it brings us joy and respite for years to come? With a great blend of passion, artistry and thoughtfulness, celebrated Charlotte landscape architect J’Nell Bryson builds every landscape with an eye toward forever. She was kind enough to share her methods for creating a timeless outdoor spaces with North Carolina Design.

Images Courtesy of J’Nell Bryson Landscape Architect ©

J’Nell tells us that there are three elements to creating a landscape that lasts, the first of which is structure. “Providing the right structure is vitally important,” she reflects. “I think of the outdoors as a giant room, with the ground as the floor and the sky as the ceiling. To create a defined space, you have to have a solid foundation, a good framework and good architectural bones – just as you would if you were building an indoor space.”

“When it comes to structure, you can’t rely on bloom colors, or lots of pretty deciduous trees. You need something that’s intentional, and has a sense of permanence. You should be able to appreciate the intent and beauty of the space, even in winter. Each outdoor space should ‘speak’ to and flow well with all of the others. And you have to take a long view of how things will grow and change – over the next 30 years.”

The next essential element in a forever landscape is scale. “Scale takes on an entirely new significance in landscapes, as outdoor spaces tend to dwarf things,” she explains. “An 8 by 10-foot space may seem like a good fit for a patio – until you see how small it looks outdoors. You might find a sizable outdoor sculpture that you love, only find that it ‘disappears’ once you add it to your landscape. You really do have to think in much larger, broader terms outdoors.”

The third, and most important element in a landscape that endures is a great plan. “Planning is everything,” J’Nell stresses. “You will have a much more successful result if you have a solid plan in place.” For J’Nell, this means considering the wants and needs of clients within the confines of their budget, measuring carefully to ensure that the scale will be right, mapping out the hardscape and choosing the plant materials that will anchor the space.

J’Nell believes that a simple, well-edited plan is best. “I like to choose 10 to 15 trees, space them out well, and give them room to grow,” she says. “I also choose hardy trees that I know will do very well in this area. Once I have created the structure, I add in texture and dimension with perennials, ornamental grasses and deciduous trees. These act as the accessories in outdoor spaces – you should be able to change them out without compromising the integrity of the space.”

J’Nell always plans with a long view in mind. “I counsel people to invest in more expensive, larger size plants, as they will make new landscapes look fuller, and they will require less care at a lower cost,” she affirms. “I also encourage them to avoid creating permanent structures based on things that are temporary. Trends fade, and children grow up. It’s important to focus on things that are timeless.”

“You can also create flex spaces that can serve current and future needs, like a playhouse that can easily be turned into a garden shed. And, you can keep your options open. I like to carve out space for things my clients want that aren’t in the budget today, but might be in 10 years. It really is all about investing time, care and money now, to have something that serves you effortlessly, well into the future.”

Asheville Interior Designer Beautifully Balances Coolness And Warmth In This Contemporary Blue Ridge Mountain Home

July 12, 2016

Nothing compares to the excitement of building your own home. Unfortunately, with the myriad of decisions that must be made at a rapid pace, stress can quickly put a damper on even the most enthusiastic homeowners’ experience. Fortunately, seasoned professionals like Laura Sullivan, owner of Asheville design firm ID.ology Interior Design, are here to help. Laura works side by side with homeowners, leading them through the entire process to ensure smooth sailing and a great result. Laura spoke with North Carolina Design about her process, and a recent project that showcases the difference her influence can make.

Images Courtesy of Id.ology Interior Design ©

“I think one of the main benefits people gain from working with us is peace of mind,” affirms Laura. “We guide them through every selection, from exterior materials to lamps and area rugs. When homeowners go it alone, they often feel stressed and overwhelmed. They have no idea where to go, who to talk to or what to get. Having us there to help them really minimizes their stress, to the point where it becomes an enjoyable process for them.”

“We really spend a lot of time getting to know the homeowners and their families. We think a lot about their life in their home, their personal style, and their future needs. We work out space planning, taking into account framing, exterior and interior doors and windows, traffic patterns and flow of the space. We also think about how we can incorporate the best possible products – healthy, high-quality products that meet the family’s lifestyle needs.”

All of this makes for a lot of moving parts, but that doesn’t faze Laura. “We have a thoughtfully developed, finely honed process in place. That makes it much easier to keep things running smoothly, and not just for clients. We offer great benefit to builders. We work hand in hand with them, acting as mediators between them and the clients. We know their timetable, and what decisions need to be made when. We keep things on track, so they can focus solely on what they need to do.”

The builder on our featured home, an incredible mountain contemporary was Living Stone Construction, which is owned by Laura’s husband, Sean Sullivan. Sean and Laura work phenomenally well as a team, and this project was no different. “They really did an incredible job,” she reflects. “We all worked toward a singular vision, and it all came together very cohesively. It helped greatly that the client was very open, and really let us use our creativity to the fullest potential. That always makes a design really exceptional.”

Thanks to Laura’s thoughtful guidance, the home is a beautiful balance of coolness and warmth and light and dark, and is replete with delightful and intriguing details. “We went with a concrete floor,” she notes. “So we really wanted to make sure that that floor was balanced with warmth and texture. The rich, warm walnut stair treads and walnut upstairs floor provided balance and added continuity. Also, the marble and stainless steel in the kitchen is balanced by the warm walnut cabinetry.”

Laura used details to continue the sense of balance, and add a true wow factor to the home. “We created this stone wall that starts on the home’s exterior, and wraps all the way around the stair wall and carries down to the master entry,” she recounts. “It adds a really cool texture, and it creates a dramatic entrance. The glass in the entranceway allows the stone to come right up to the window, so there’s no visual barrier.”

Laura admits to a few favorite selections throughout the home. On display in spaces like the living area and the master bedroom is fabulous artwork, which Laura purposefully highlighted with her choices of wall color. Other favorites are the the 17th century Moroccan doors and the living area’s asymmetric fireplace featuring a floating concrete hearth. “I wanted to add all of these great components to make the home really unique, but at the same time I wanted everything to integrate and flow well together. In the end, all of the pieces fit into place. It’s just a great example of what thoughtful planning and expert guidance can accomplish.”

Raleigh Remodelers Offer 5 Key Tips For Ensuring A Good Outcome And A Good Experience With Your Remodeler

July 5, 2016

A home is a huge emotional and financial investment, so naturally renovation projects are often daunting for homeowners. To help them feel more confident, North Carolina Design sought advice from veteran Raleigh remodelers, Peggy and Dave Mackowski, husband and wife owners of Quality Design & Construction. Peggy and Dave have been renovating homes throughout the Triangle area for 22 years, and are a trusted resource in the industry. They were kind enough to provide us with 5 key remodeling tips on how homeowners can ensure themselves both a good outcome, and a good experience.

Images Courtesy of Quality Design & Construction ©

Select The Right Professional
“First of all, make sure your contractor is licensed and insured,” stresses Peggy. “Check their background. Ask for work samples and references, and call the last references first. People always put their best references at the top. And – make sure they have experience with the type of project you want to have done,” adds Dave. “When you look at work samples, double check to make sure it really was their project. Sadly, some contractors will download photos of someone else’s work and claim it as their own.”

Finding the right professional isn’t always about credentials, credibility and know-how. “You have to be a good fit for each other,” notes Peggy. “You will be working closely with this person, possibly for six months or more. You have to make sure they are someone you’re comfortable with. Someone you trust with your kids, and your animals, and your home. Someone who you feel listens to you and understands you. If you’re not a good fit, you’re likely headed for a bad experience.”

Create A Realistic Budget
Homeowners are typically unfamiliar with homebuilding costs, and can be surprised when they’re presented with the budget. “We create a budget up front based on the homeowner’s wants and needs,” Dave tells us. “We always share costs with them, so that they can see where the money is going. When your contractor presents you with a cost estimate, it’s really important to accept that number and move on, whether that means making changes to your plans, or mentally adjusting to the amount you’ll be spending.”

Make Timely Decisions
In the building process, one decision can affect many others. Dave and Peggy emphasize that it’s very important to make decisions early on in the process – and stick to them. “The idea is not to rush homeowners or make them feel overwhelmed,” notes Peggy. “It’s to help them to understand that there is a timetable to work with, and timely decisions are essential to things running smoothly.”

“We will help them through the process,” adds Dave. “If need be, we can take more time in the planning stage. Sometimes longer planning up front can be cost saving and provide a quicker turnaround time. It’s really important to be sure about what you want. Changing your mind in the middle of a build is not a simple thing – it will cost you both time and money.”

Communicate Clearly
It’s important for both parties to have clarity – the contractor should clearly understand what the client wants and needs, and the client should clearly understand what will happen during the process. “We make sure we have a signed contract in place before any work begins.” says Dave. “Any changes to the plan translate into additional time and cost, so clients have to sign off on them.”

“Ask questions about how many people will be working in your home, how often you will be updated, how the team communicates internally, and how they will communicate with you,” advises Peggy. “If you know what to expect and can manage your expectations up front, you’ll feel much more confident with the process, and you’ll have a better experience.”

Trust Your Professional’s Guidance
“We really do want to give homeowners what they want,” says Peggy. “After all, they have to live with whatever we do to their home for years to come. That being said, we do have a great deal of experience that homeowners generally don’t have, and we have valuable solutions and ideas to offer.” Dave adds, “If you have chosen the right person, they aren’t going to steer you wrong. If you’ll trust in their guidance, you’ll end up with something far better than you imagined.”

2016 Kitchen Trends – From Clean Lines To Custom Details, Charlotte Area Designer ID’s Today’s Look & Style

June 28, 2016

Kitchens are tremendously important – not only do they “sell houses,” they serve as a multi-purpose gathering place for today’s families. A kitchen that’s up-to-date in both form and function greatly adds to a home’s value, comfort and enjoyment. So just what is new in kitchens these days? To find out the answer, North Carolina Design talked to Brandon Fitzmorris. Brandon is a designer at Walker Woodworking, a family-owned Charlotte area business that designs and crafts custom cabinetry that beckons the eye with its beauty and detail. Working closely with clients to create their dream kitchens, Brandon knows what’s “hot” right now.

Images Courtesy of Walker Woodworking ©

The overarching trend in kitchens is one that favors efficiency over showmanship, and simplicity over embellishment. “The evolution really has been toward a simpler, more practical design that makes the best use of the space,” Brandon affirms. “People used to be more focused on a kitchen that was visually impressive, and they weren’t as concerned with functionality. Now, homeowners really want to meld form and function together. They want something that’s beautiful, but really works for their lifestyle.”

Brandon attributes some of the shift in preference to the fact that homeowners are increasingly knowledgeable. “They have so much information at their fingertips,” he reflects. “They do a lot of research. They know a lot about kitchen design. They have great ideas, and they ask great questions. They put a lot of thought into their kitchens and they really participate in the process. It’s  great to collaborate with clients on that level.”

Today’s kitchen style may be more simple, but it still has a fabulous custom touch. ““You can have a clean look, and still have these great custom details,” says Brandon. “With cabinets, the trend is toward clean lines and flat panel doors. But then the panels will have chamfered edges, or beads on the inside profile. People will do a classic subway tile backsplash, but the tile will have chamfered edges or a crackle finish. Other choices are patterned or fire clay tile.”

People are also looking for ways to add an element of shine to their kitchens. “Metallics are popular, on everything from hoods to backsplashes,” notes Brandon. “A lot of people are incorporating antique mirrors into their kitchens. I especially see this in wet bars – it adds some shine, and a lot of interest. For pulls and fixtures, brass is making a comeback, but it’s a much softer, brushed brass. It’s really very pretty. And of course, you have polished chrome, which adds a really clean, really elegant look.”

When it comes to color, clean and soft seems to rule the day. “I’m seeing a lot of shades of white, and shades of gray,” Brandon observes. “They’re great colors, but you have to be very mindful of undertones. If you choose a warm white or gray for your cabinets, you should choose a backsplash and countertop with warm undertones.” It isn’t all about white and gray, however; “I’ve had several requests lately for indigo and blue. It’s a surprising choice, but it can really look amazing.”

As function has come to the forefront, kitchens have shifted accordingly. “One of the biggest changes is the addition of the beverage center,” Brandon tells us. “It can also be called a wet bar, or a butler’s pantry. Essentially it’s a tall appliance garage, where you might store your toaster and your coffee maker, along with your bread and your coffee mugs. This way you can grab a quick breakfast without making a mess out of the entire kitchen.

“Kitchens in general are now designed to be as clutter free as possible. There’s a demand for more cabinet storage. People also want a command center, where they can hang up their keys, put away their wallet, charge their phone and leave a note for their spouse, while keeping the kitchen tidy.” All of this makes Brandon pretty happy. “I love the recent focus on simplicity and efficiency. Having a clean, beautiful kitchen space that functions well can really add such peace and enjoyment to your day-to-day life.”

5 Essential Tips From Greensboro Landscape Architect Ensure Your Landscape Thrives During The Dog Days Of Summer

June 21, 2016

It’s summer – time once again to linger in outdoor living spaces at the end of a long day, unwinding and perhaps sipping a favorite beverage. We’d all like to have a beautiful view to enjoy as we relax outdoors, but the North Carolina summer heat can be harsh on our landscapes. Fortunately, as Lori Hawkins, owner of Greensboro’s Hawkins Landscape Architecture tells us, proper maintenance goes a long way toward keep our prized plants healthy and beautiful all summer. Lori has cultivated a great passion for and knowledge of plants for decades, and she was gracious enough to share her best summer landscaping tips with North Carolina Design.

Images Courtesy of Hawkins Landscape Architecture ©

Water Wisely

In summer months, Lori stresses that keeping lawns and plants healthy is mainly about keeping them adequately watered. “Container plants should be watered every day,” she advises. “Recently planted trees and shrubs should be watered every other day. Lawns should be watered every other day as well. To avoid evaporation, you should water in early morning or in the evening, after the heat of day has leveled off.”

Lori cautions homeowners that, while water is essential, it’s important not to overdo it “You have to be careful not to over water,” she says. “Too much water can be as devastating to plants as too little water. I highly recommend using an irrigation system, and outfitting it with a water sensor. The sensor ‘reads’ the amount of water present in the soil and the air, and lets you know when plants actually need water. It’s a highly effective watering solution.”

Mitigate Moisture Loss

It’s not enough to give plants water – you have to ensure that they retain as much moisture as possible. “Mulching is very important during hot summer months,” says Lori. “I like to use shredded hardwood – it retains moisture better than wood chips, and it doesn’t dry out like pine straw. To help container gardens retain moisture, move them to a shady spot in the afternoon, and use potting soil with moisture retaining additives.”

Plant Thoughtfully

Many people believe that planting in summer is a no-no. Not so, according to Lori, so long as you are very committed to giving them extra care. “Summer is particularly hard on new plantings,” she notes. “They will really struggle without diligent watering and attention. If you’re planning an extended trip, or you’re very busy this summer, either install an irrigation system, have someone you trust care for your plants, or wait until fall to plant new items.”

Mow Judiciously

We all like to keep our lawns tidy, but Lori advises against overzealous mowing. “Cutting your grass too short can expose it to too much heat, causing stress,” she tells us. “My rule of thumb is to set the mower blade on the highest setting, and take off no more than one-third of the average height of the grass. If you have a mulching mower, you should leave very fine lawn clippings in the grass, as it will enrich the soil and help preserve moisture.”

Give Plants Their Best Chance

“Weeding plant beds is very important, as weeds steal nutrients from desirable plants, notes Lori. “Deadheading perennials and annuals keeps them from going to seed and redirects the plant’s energy toward growth and creating new blossoms. And pruning can be beneficial to some plants and trees during summer – just make sure that you provide extra water to mitigate stress, and that you research the best time to prune any specific plant carefully to avoid cutting off buds or adding undue stress.

“One of the most important things you can do to promote the health of your landscape is to plan it out thoughtfully. When you have the right plants in the right spots, with the right soil and the right amount of sunlight, they’ll do well even under less-than-ideal conditions. I highly recommend hiring a landscaping expert or consulting with a nursery to create a plan. It really is the best way to set yourself up for success, in any season.”

This Exquisite Whole House Renovation By A Raleigh Remodeler Beautifully Addresses Current And Future Needs

June 14, 2016

When most people commit to a “forever” home, they imagine sitting on their front porch or deck years later, reminiscing about the life they have built there. But life can be unpredictable, and families and lifestyles can change. What happens if, somewhere along the way, the home you love doesn’t work for you anymore? Raleigh remodeler, Eddie Casanave, owner of Distinctive Remodeling, has given a second life to many a beloved forever home. Today he takes North Carolina Design inside one spectacular example – a truly exquisite Triangle home that he updated to suit his clients for life.

Images Courtesy of Distinctive Remodeling ©

The home was originally built in the 1990′s. Two decades later, the lot and the neighborhood remained ideal – Eddie’s clients, however, found the home to be lacking in functionality – both for their current lifestyle, and for their future. “They were looking to make their home a more suitable place to live out their remaining years,” Eddie tells us. “They also wanted to accommodate the wife’s mother, who would potentially be moving in with them at some point.

“The home has a basement level, a main level, a second floor level, and their master bedroom and office were on the upper level. We wanted to provide main floor, aging-in-place living for them,” Eddie says. He expanded the footprint, and created a downstairs master bedroom and bath from the existing guest bedroom. Eddie widened doorways, created zero entry thresholds, and made the home as barrier-free as possible. He also included an elevator, which goes from the basement level garage to the second floor.

In addition to the new master bedroom and the aging-in-place features, Eddie renovated the upstairs bathroom and bedroom, turned the sunroom into a stately and spacious den, relocated and enlarged the breakfast area, and added a stunning covered porch where the couple and their guests can enjoy the outdoors, rain or shine.

The couple enjoys entertaining on a grand scale, and regularly hosts parties with 75 to 100 guests. Part of Eddie’s challenge was to create a space that could accommodate large social gatherings, yet still feel comfortable and cozy enough for just two people to live day-to-day. “We bumped the living room back six feet, so that it would be spacious enough for a crowd,” he notes. “The design also encourages crowds to flow through the 12-foot sliding glass doors and on to the patio.

“We reconfigured the kitchen footprint to allow space for caterers to come in and out, without being hindered. We also moved the old appliances downstairs into the basement level, so that caterers could do most of the prep work and cooking there, without having to crowd the upstairs space.”

What started off as a practical remodel soon turned into an aesthetic redesign as well. “The project just grew in scope,” says Eddie. “Once we got the nuts and bolts of the design in place, the wife decided that she’d like to take the opportunity to essentially reinvent the look of the home.” This meant modernizing, upgrading, and adding both sweeping drama and finely finessed detail to every space.

The results are nothing short of exquisite. The home still retains all of the depth, gravitas and detail of a grand traditional house, but has fascinating contemporary touches that provide a clean and open aesthetic. Numerous large Pella windows allow in a great deal of natural light, and a wide use of lighter colors balances the darker, warmer spaces with a bright, open feel. Meanwhile, thoughtfully placed contemporary light fixtures and modern art pieces provide fresh points of interest throughout the home.

The truly wonderful aspect of this house is its wealth of layered details. From the gorgeous coffered ceiling, to the warm and richly colored walnut hardwood floors, to the exceptionally crafted wainscoting and trim found in the home’s cabinetry and woodwork, there is something to admire in every space.

Of course, we have our favorite spaces. We love the very formal, superbly elegant style of the master bath, and the richness of the carrera marble. We love the natural brick and wood vaulted ceiling of the deck. And we love the living room. There is complete symmetry from one side to the other – in the ceiling details, the fireplace built ins, the furniture – even in the accessories on the shelves. The room’s formality and clean elegance speak to the wonderful balance achieved in this home.

A sense of balance – between traditional and contemporary, current needs and future needs, space for guests and space for family, is what drove the renovation. “It was very important to the homeowners,” Eddie affirms. “The wife especially was very knowledgeable about building, and she had great ideas on how to achieve their goals. It all came together exceptionally well. A home should grow with you, through all of life’s stages. I was happy to help ensure they could stay in the home they loved – forever.”

Asheville Area Builder & Remodeler Transforms 1960′s Ranch House Into A Colorful & Contemporary Home For His Family

June 7, 2016

There’s no story we love more than that of “The Little House that Could” – a property that didn’t look like much at first, but became something spectacular in the hands of an expert. Once nondescript, dated and overlooked, today’s featured home is now an organic mountain contemporary masterpiece thanks to Sean Sullivan, owner of Asheville design build firm Living Stone Construction. While we call the project wonderfully inspired, Sean and his family call it something more – “home.”  Sean was gracious enough to let North Carolina Design peek inside his private living space, and share its fascinating story.

Images Courtesy of Living Stone Construction ©

Originally a 1960′s ranch house, the home had no central air conditioning and just 900 square feet of living space. It was a true diamond in the rough – nowhere near suitable for Sean’s family’s needs. However, Sean saw its potential – most significantly in its location. “It’s a great example of infill development, where you go into a neighborhood and make use of underutilized space,” he tells us. “This home was perfectly located in downtown Black Mountain, near a lake, a golf course, shops and restaurants.”

Sean made a number of significant changes. He removed the original roof, raised it, and created a beautiful and distinctive half-butterfly roofline. He converted the existing kitchen into a dining room, and built a new addition that houses the new kitchen and an art studio for his wife. He also turned the home’s crawlspace into a machine and TV room, and created a chic and eclectic wine room. The home now boasts 1,500 square feet of main floor living space.

Sean planned each space in the home with great thought and care. “This home is an example of ‘right size building,’” he tells us, referring to a concept in which homes are built with no wasted or extraneous space. “It has just the right amount of square footage for our needs. Everything is designed to optimize space. The house has abundant storage, lots of windows, and lots of natural light.  People come in and can’t believe it isn’t larger than it is.”

There is also little or no wasted energy in the home. “We are always very committed to green building,” Sean says. “We’re really excited about this home’s energy efficient features. It’s LEED certified platinum. It’s net zero ready, meaning it could achieve net zero energy use if we added more solar panels. All of the products we used are natural. We used geothermal heating for the home, and we use the cold air vented from the water heater to chill the wine room.”

Sean sought to create a contemporary and clean aesthetic, and used natural mountain elements like cedar and stone to tie the home back to its surroundings. The home’s interior offers abundant color and life, as well as a sense of warmth – all attributed to Sean’s wife Laura Sullivan, owner of ID.ology Interior Design. “Laura designed every room, every wall, every cabinet and pull out. I especially love how she used organic elements and darker, softer colors to balance the light colors and clean lines of the space.”

The house is rich with colorful, personal details – nearly everywhere you look there’s a story waiting to be told. The dining table is made from walnut slabs Laura’s father gave to the couple years before. The door to the wine room is a genuine door from an Asheville jail, given to Laura by her sister. Sean’s mother-in-law gave Sean and Laura a stained glass window for Christmas, without knowing he had planned to use it in one of the closets. It can be seen from the front of the house and amazingly, it fit perfectly.

Everything about this house seems to fit. As Sean had hoped and planned, it all speaks to his family’s life together, as well as their lives as individuals. “It’s really wonderful,” he reflects. “I have my man cave, and my wife has her woman cave. The kids are tickled pink – they think it’s the coolest house ever. I am just so proud of the way it turned out. It’s perfect. It’s home. I wouldn’t change a thing.”

For This Raleigh Interior Designer, Neutrals Become The Centerpiece Of The Design Project

May 31, 2016

We often think of neutrals as a blank slate, upon which are built the more significant and interesting elements of a design. Neutral colors, however, have their own inherent beauty, that can be drawn out by a skilled and thoughtful individual. Raleigh interior designer Loretta Bell, owner of Bell & Associates Interior Design made neutrals come to life in this project, creating a family room and breakfast room that exuded warmth and offered her clients a feeling of comfort. Loretta is known for her adaptability and keen eye, and she gladly shared with North Carolina Design the challenging details of making neutrals the centerpiece of this design project.

Images Courtesy of Bell & Associates Interior Design ©

“The homeowners bought the house as is, and it was pretty dated,” recounts Loretta. “It certainly didn’t fit their aesthetic. They wanted something fresh and current, but with a very comfortable, relaxing feel. They really wanted their home – particularly these two rooms – to be a true place of respite. It was also a very traditional house, and they are not really traditional people.”

“My goal was to create something that was very serene, and very enveloped. I also had to come up with a way to work a more transitional aesthetic into the existing traditional space.” Assisting Loretta in executing the details of her vision in the project was fellow designer Jacqueline Yow. Loretta chose a blend of neutrals for a tranquil, peaceful effect. To add a sense of warmth and add interest without adding traditional elements, she created a thoughtful balance of hard and soft surfaces, and clean and organic, textured lines.

There are beautiful examples of this balance throughout the space. The family room features a wrought iron cocktail table with antiqued mirror finish on the bottom shelf. The family room cabinets were painted the same color as the wall for a seamless effect, but the backs are papered with highly iridescent textured paper. In the breakfast room, the cool, light floor tiles are balanced by the warm, rustic wood table and the softened chevron pattern of the window treatments.

As evidenced by this project, a neutral palette can be both inspired and lovely. However, there is an art to using neutrals well. “A space with minimal color can look flat if you’re not careful,” notes Loretta. “In this case, I used layers of textures and interesting shapes to create interest and depth. I created a dramatic focal point by taking the tile all the way to the corner on the fireplace wall. And I added contrast by painting the ceiling a darker color than the trim.”

The palette isn’t completely neutral; there is a small, yet strategic burst of color throughout the room. “The clients liked terracotta and orange, so we invigorated the space with pops of those colors,” she tells us. It’s placed in such a way that the eye is drawn all around the space. To change the tone or mood of the room, the pieces could easily be switched out for citron yellow, green, or even blue.”

Loretta always lets clients lead her designs, and never imposes a style on them. However, part of her job is to guide her clients through hesitations. “Clients aren’t experts, and they can’t always see beyond what they know,” she reflects. “It’s really important to develop a rapport with clients, and help them be more open to options. In this case, I had the idea of panting the walls brown. The clients couldn’t see how it would ever work. But they trusted me, so they saw it through.”

Their faith was well-placed. The brown grounds the design, and adds richness, warmth and a cozy feel. In fact, the clients were delighted by the entire space. In the end, it far exceeded their expectations, which delighted Loretta greatly. “In the world we live in, it’s so important to have a home that’s personal and makes us feel good emotionally and spiritually. It’s the fuel we need to function. I was so glad to be able to give them a space they could love living in.”

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.”

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