Raleigh Kitchen Designer Blends Aesthetics And Functionality To Create The Kitchen Of Her Clients’ Dreams

July 30, 2015

There are two essential elements to every design – a good aesthetic and thoughtful function. The two must be carefully balanced and tailored to the people who will live in the space. This is an especially tall order for kitchens, where function is critical to a successful design. Fortunately, homeowners in North Carolina have experts like Ruth Ann Taylor Long of Taylored Spaces to call on. As owner of the notable Raleigh kitchen and bath design firm, she helps homeowners consistently realize their dream kitchens. Today, North Carolina Design is showcasing a beautiful recently completed project and hearing how Ruth Ann was able to blend aesthetics and functionality with her client’s specific tastes.

Images Courtesy of Taylored Spaces . Photography by Stuart Jones, Jr. ©

“The home belongs to a commercial architect, who had decided to redo the kitchen as a gift to his wife,” Ruth Ann explains. “These are homeowners who like to be on the cutting edge of things, and they’ve always preferred a sleek, contemporary look. They actually redid the kitchen in the 80’s, and at that time it was an amazing, forward-thinking space. It was even in the papers. But, after so many years, of course it was in need of an overhaul.”

“The homeowners have a good eye and a great feel for what’s new,” says Ruth Ann. “They really love shiny, modern, monochromatic elements, so we went with something sleek and glossy and clean. We gave them Cambria quartz counters and high-gloss Italian laminate cabinets with beautiful striations. The backsplash is a glass and stone mosaic that matches the countertops and creates some visual and physical texture. The light fixtures are really striking – they were inspired by fixtures they had seen in upscale restaurants.”

The homeowners are soon-to-be empty nesters who love the outdoors, and spend most of their time outside. “The wife really enjoys gardening and canning fruits and vegetables, so they were most interested in adding prep space and food storage,” notes Ruth Ann. “They also needed everything to be in good working order. If you can believe it, their oven had actually been broken for two years.”

The couple had gone back and forth about whether to add on to their kitchen, and Ruth Ann found a final winning solution. “When we considered the layout we noted that only about 70 percent of the space was being used,” she recounts. “Most of the kitchen was crammed into one corner, and there was a whole wasted area in front of the doorway to the family room. We thought, why not keep the same footprint and just flip the whole kitchen around?

“By flipping the kitchen, we were able to give the homeowners two or three really good workspaces, as well as the storage they needed. There’s also no wasted space – they’re able to use 100 percent of the kitchen. And, by moving the sink beneath the windows, we were able to give the wife the view to the outdoors she always wanted.”

Ruth Ann also added a number of other details that helped improve the function of the space. “We upgraded all of their appliances – I am happy to say that they now have a fully functioning oven,” she affirms. “We gave them really tall pantry units and a big freezer for food storage. We also gave them these really chic upper cabinets that feature a state-of-the-art liftup mechanism. To keep the space sleek and uncluttered, we added pull-out trash bins, a microwave set in a drawer, and extra base pantry pullouts.”

Project renovation by Stuart Jones Custom Homes

For Ruth Ann, the best part of the project was the creative freedom she was given by the homeowners. “Even though the husband was an architect, he let us do our job and didn’t get overly involved. He left things in our hands, and trusted us to come up with something amazing. And I think we succeeded. He was thrilled with the outcome, which, I think, says a lot.”

Winston-Salem Residential Designer Dispels The 6 Key Myths Of Designing And Building A Custom Home

July 28, 2015

Building a custom home can certainly be a daunting process for homeowners. Sometimes, however, their concerns are rooted more in myth than reality. Today, Barry Wilson of Houck Residential Design dispels the six of the most pervasive myths surrounding custom home building. Since 1986, the Winston-Salem residential design firm has been expertly designing custom homes of all types and sizes, for both remodels and new builds, across the Piedmont Triad and beyond. Barry has worked with a wide variety of homeowners, and when it comes to misgivings and misinformation, he has heard it all. Barry summed up for North Carolina Design the key myths about designing and building a custom home.

Images Courtesy of Houck Residential Designers ©

I have a great design team. I don’t have to be involved in the design process.
Some people say, “This is your job, I’ll come back and see it when you’re done.” They don’t make the building process a priority, so they’re not as invested as they should be. A good home design is based around your desires. If you don’t get involved and voice those desires, there’s no guarantee that you will get what you want, or need. You don’t have to design it yourself, but you do have to give us your ideas and let us know your preferences.

Not much has changed since the last time I built a home. I should just go with what I know.
The fact that you have built before doesn’t mean you know everything that’s possible today. New products and new construction methods come out every day. Beyond that, people get older, and their lives and needs and preferences change. We can address those changes and give you something that’s suited to your life today, with new options to choose from.

Building a house will inevitably end up costing more than I want to spend.
You really can stay on budget, if you make a plan, stay flexible, and design within your boundaries. People will see a kitchen in a multi million dollar home, then get discouraged because they can’t put in a half million dollar house. You have to be realistic. A good team will drive you toward your budget and help you find lower cost solutions, but you have to listen to them and trust them. You also have to assume there will be unexpected expenses, and plan for them.

An energy efficient home would be out of my price bracket.
Some things, like geothermal energy or solar paneling, might only be available for the upper echelon. But there are many levels of energy efficiency. It can be as simple as using good construction practices – good weather stripping, good insulation and solid building. Appliances are not that expensive, and you have to make an effort to buy energy inefficient models. Spending more on appliances that suck a lot of energy, like washers, HVACs and water heaters will get you a quicker return on your investment, and you’ll save more in the long run.

I can’t find what I’m looking for, so it must not be possible.
If you could find everything you were looking for, there would be no need for custom, and I would be out of a job! Just tell us what you want. Bring us your napkin sketch. Our whole purpose is to listen to your specific needs and create something new that addresses them. We have the expertise and the knowledge to find solutions beyond what you might imagine.

I see a lot of people in particular who like the layout of a house but not the exterior, so they dismiss the whole plan. They don’t understand that what’s on the outside doesn’t necessarily relate to what’s on the inside. You can do whatever you want on the outside, no matter what the layout looks like. You can even have a completely different style on the inside and the outside.

Custom design is not worth the trouble /expense.
Well, if this is a temporary or investment home, it may not be! But if this is your forever home, and you really care about how you live and want to live, it may definitely be worth it, as it will determine how comfortable and functional your home is for the long haul. There are different levels of custom design, and a custom plan is much more affordable than people think. Do the research – custom design can make all the difference, and it’s not always beyond your reach.

Charlotte Designer Continues To Live Out A Lifelong Dream

July 23, 2015

Few of us can say we have truly had a lifelong passion for our vocation. Charlotte interior designer Kevin Carpenter of Kevin Carpenter Interiors has literally wanted to be an interior designer for as long as he can remember. Kevin’s long-term love for design, combined with his exceptional skill, versatility and sharp intuition, have made him one of Charlotte’s premier designers for over 20 years. North Carolina Design met up with Kevin to find out more about his style, his process, and what makes him tick, design-wise.

Images Courtesy of Kevin Carpenter Interiors ©

Kevin can work with any client’s style preferences, but he does have preferences of his own. “When you spend over 20 years in this business, I don’t know if you can’t help but to develop a style,” he says. “I would say my style is ‘new traditional.’ I like to use traditional pieces with cleaner or bolder lines and a combination of colors and textures that’s more ‘today.’ This style seems to work well with my clients’ needs.”

Kevin’s style speaks to his design philosophy. “When I was younger, I thought everything should be modern, but as you work and you age, you realize that longevity and a sense of history are important,” he reflects. “Traditional doesn’t have to feel old. It can be fresh, and clean, and ‘now.’ It all depends on how you pull it all together.”

“To me, traditional design is more about choosing things that will endure, rather than trendy things that will look dated ten years from now. Interior design is an investment, and it’s expensive. It should stand the test of time. A classic piece will always work – a quality sofa with good lines can last you 30 years. You can reupholster it to update it and give it new life when you need to.”

While Kevin knows his craft inside and out, he does run into his fair share of challenges. “Clients don’t always have a realistic budget,” he explains. “They don’t realize what things cost, and I often have to help them work through sticker shock. Some clients develop a bit of an adversarial relationship with their designer because they have trouble visualizing his or her ideas for their space. If you’ve asked a designer to provide their expertise, you have to be open to what they suggest. You can trust that they have your best interests at heart.”

To give his clients the perfect space, Kevin first has to identify their wants and needs. “I ask a lot of questions, and I look around to see what they have,” he says. “I ask them to show me what they like, so I can get a feel for their taste level. – Do they want casual, formal, rustic, etc. Sometimes an accessory or a piece of art will open up a conversation.”

“Sometimes it’s just as helpful to hear what a client doesn’t like, and why, as it is to hear what they do like. If they say they want something bright, but that they don’t like yellow – that helps me understand their preferences in a more nuanced way, and raises the chances of me getting things exactly right.”

Just as he imagined he would as a small boy, Kevin enjoys every aspect of his job as a designer. “Every project is different, and there’s something to love about each one,” he affirms. “I even enjoy the challenge of project management. If the project runs smoothly and is in good order, the client gets a beautiful room at the end. I have always loved colors, fabrics and textures – what a great thing to get to work with them every day!“

Raleigh Remodeler Affirms The Continued Popularity Of White Kitchens

July 21, 2015

White kitchens are much beloved in North Carolina and across the South – and not just because of their nostalgic appeal or clean fresh look. White can truly serve as a blank canvas, upon which a dream kitchen can easily be created. Sigmon Construction, in Raleigh, is known for its fine craftsmanship and for its ability to meet the individual desires of clients. As one of Raleigh’s premier building and remodeling companies, it has certainly crafted its share of white kitchens. To hear more about the possibilities that white kitchens possess, North Carolina Design talked to Bailey Anthony and Victoria Dively from Sigmon Construction.

Images Courtesy of Sigmon Construction ©

“White has always been a staple color, and it will always be a staple color,” explains Victoria. Bailey agrees, saying “While the demand for other colors and styles has changed, the demand for white kitchens has stayed fairly consistent.”

Bailey and Victoria attribute much of the popularity of white in kitchens to the color’s versatility. “White is a great neutral that works with everything,” offers Victoria. “White can be modern, traditional, or contemporary. It works well for custom kitchens, because it is so easy to add personality to the space and really make it your own.” Bailey adds “White is often synonymous with clean. With all of the colors, textures and activities that go on in a kitchen, it’s nice to have a clean backdrop to work against.”

While homeowners haven’t completely forgone color, neutrals win the day in today’s white kitchens. “People will sometimes use utensils, artwork and accessories to add in splashes of color,” Bailey notes. “But what we’re often seeing is white paired with a lot of neutrals, like white, black, gray and tan or taupe. We’re especially seeing a lot of creamy white paired with gray.”

Having a white kitchen doesn’t necessarily mean that your options are limited. “Carrera marble is very popular for white kitchen counters,” Victoria tells us. “But you also have quartz. People love quartz because it’s stain resistant – which helps the white stays white. White isn’t just all one shade, either – you can have everything from a crisp white, to a creamy white, to white that’s glazed with a hint of color.”

White can go in just about any style direction, and Bailey notes that cabinetry is one of the biggest factors when it comes to achieving the look that you want. “Cabinet style definitely dictates the character of a kitchen,” Bailey explains. “Inset raised panel cabinets are more traditional, while slab doors with hidden hardware are more contemporary. The cabinets you choose can take white one way or the other.”

Victoria notes that even the smaller details can make a big impact in a kitchen’s style. “Pulls, backsplashes, fixtures and moulding can all pull your kitchen in a distinct style direction,” she says. “The style of light you choose can change the feel of the whole room. Also, one really great thing about white kitchens is that you can use mixed metals – white, black, brown, polished metal all go with white, and you can use hardware, sinks to add in a little texture and color.”

“White allows you to mix and match without things getting out of hand,” says Victoria. “You can be really creative with it.” Bailey agrees, adding “White is appealing because it’s crisp and simple and clean,” says Bailey. “But it also offers a lot of really great potential.”

Home Experts Share Valuable “Tips Of The Trade” On Interior Design, Kitchen Design, Landscaping, Remodeling, & Lighting

July 16, 2015

Who’s more qualified to give expert advice than the home professionals at North Carolina Design? From interior design, kitchen design and lighting to home remodeling and landscape architecture, these pros definitely know a thing or two about what it takes to create a home that speaks uniquely of you – and how to overcome obstacles along the way.

When beginning to create a planting plan for a new or renovated space, I recommend starting out with fewer plants, but in larger sizes. Leave more space between those plants when arranging them. Mulch, fertilize and water regularly, pruning off any crazy wild shoots, allowing the plants to grow as Mother Nature intended.

We live in the South where plants tend to grow prolifically. It’s not uncommon that in a few years time, the plants will have grown much larger than expected, especially with adequate air flow and room for root growth. There are instances where a crowded planting or “thicket” can accomplish an intention in a design. More often, however, spacing plants out results in a beautiful natural planting without creating a need to grab the pruning shears. As I work on a new planting plan and employ the “less is more” adage, I find that I am not disappointed.

J’Nell Bryson
W. J’Nell Bryson Landscape Architect, Charlotte


Always make certain your kitchen designer’s floor plan depicts the proper dimensions of the appliances you are planning to use. CAD programs have catalogs of generic sized refrigerators, often much smaller than the popular ones on the market. A skewed reality on the depth of your refrigerator may result in quite a dysfunctional kitchen design – and once installed, can affect your clearances between it and an island by as much as 12” – leaving traffic pathways cramped and access to the refrigerator compromised.

The laundry room is also frequently affected. Make certain the design not only reflects the correct dimensions of your selected washer and dryer, but also the distance off the wall that they are required to be pulled out in order to function properly. The average distance is 4” and that can be a real headache if there is not enough room.

Gina Arledge
The Kitchen Studio, Greensboro


Now is the time to be thinking about any interior design projects that you want to have completed before the holidays. The interior design industry is at full throttle with the current state of the economy after experiencing a lull post recession. Back orders for many products continue to be a problem, which is a surprise, given the economic revival we have witnessed. Perhaps the manufacturers are still skeptical about the rebound, but nonetheless, there is no better way to avoid dealing with deadlines than starting the design process now. There are occasions where I can find a substitute for an item, but generally the first choice remains the best choice and I advise the client to be patient and wait it out.

A common scenario – a family comes to me at the beginning of the school year with grand ambitions to redo certain things in their house before Thanksgiving and Christmas. Unfortunately, for most of those occasions I have to inform the client that their project can’t be completed before the holidays. If you want to have your home looking a certain way before then, now is the time to start the thinking about it and contact your designer.

Anita Holland
Anita Holland Interiors, Charlotte


So, the time has come to finally update and remodel a certain area of your home. Now you are ready to select the contractor you believe is ideally suited to handle the project and get going, right? Not so fast. Are you really ready? Have you determined what the full scope of your project is? Have you done your homework?

Take the time upfront to look through magazines, take home tours and spend time on the internet researching projects that are similar to what you are envisioning. Not only will this give you ideas, it will also aide you in determining the full scope of your project. Adding to the scope of a project after it has begun usually requires returning to the selection process, which often means added time waiting for materials – and added cost. Once you are well into the process, you will be anxious to have the project completed on schedule. A project that drags on tends to sour your enthusiasm.

Kevin Jones
Kevin Jones Design-Build LLC., Greensboro


Growing up, incandescent light bulbs were the norm for all of us. These have now been replaced by CFL bulbs. As a designer, I have been installing more and more LED light bulbs into the homes of my clients in recent years. While these bulbs have a higher initial cost, they last 10 – 13 years. Many people do not realize that if broken, CFL bulbs contain mercury, which can be an issue. LED bulbs do not contain mercury and are also cool to the touch.

LED’s are available for virtually every area of the home – from under mounted cabinet lights to bulbs for indoor flood lights, chandeliers, and lamps of all sizes. When selecting LED bulbs, color is an issue. LED bulbs are capable of displaying a color range. You have the option of selecting a warm white, which is 2700k or a bright white which is 3000k. The 2700k more closely resembles the warm, incandescent light we are accustomed to and is the choice I select in the lighting for my clients’ homes. Consider the change. Ultimately, our next transition will be from CFL to LED.

June DeLugas
June DeLugas Interiors, Winston-Salem

2015 Furniture Styles Balance The Beauty of The Past & Present, Along With An Edgy, Fashion Forward Look Of Luxury

July 14, 2015

Today’s homeowners often want to honor the past while keeping one eye on the future, and furniture offers a perfect way to balance these two desires within a living space. As the marketing liaison for such notable furniture companies as Hooker Furniture and Marge Carson, Kim Shaver knows what today’s homeowners are looking for and how furniture companies are responding to their desires. Kim sat down with North Carolina Design to talk about three incredible new furniture styles which offers a perfect marriage of tradition and cutting edge design, each in its own very unique way.

Images Courtesy of Hooker Furniture and Marge Carson ©

One of today’s most popular new styles is one that Kim calls “Farm Fresh.” This style deftly brings the iconic vintage farmhouse into the modern era, whether by mixing distressed farmhouse inspired pieces into a contemporary space, or by giving classic farmhouse pieces a fresh, updated look – perhaps with a bold color or cleaner, more contemporary lines. This style can take inspiration from American farmhouses, where it takes on a simpler look, or from European farmhouses, where it has a more romantic flair.

“The Farm Fresh style is inspired by the whole farm to table movement,” says Kim. “I can’t overstate how immensely popular it is. I think people love it because it calls to mind a simpler way of life. It mixes very well with industrial and contemporary styles, so it brings nostalgia, warmth and emotional engagement to the space, while still remaining very hip and chic.”

Another style, which Kim terms “Edgy Elegance,” is just now emerging, and already proving very popular. “This is a fashion inspired, cosmopolitan furniture style that blends a classic European pedigree with edgy modern elements,” she tells us. The look juxtaposes the opulent curves, rich woods and soft metallics associated with classic European luxury with the stark graphic lines, cool metallics and raw, unrefined qualities of industrial style, and features rustic, punk and heavy metal influences.

“Marge Carson’s Cross Channel collection is a great example of Edgy Elegance,” Kim notes. “It’s fitting, because this is a look inspired by the world’s runways, and Marge Carson is considered by many to be the haute couture of furniture. The Cross Channel collection brings together luxurious influences from all over Europe and gives them an edgy industrial vibe. You’ll have a very French table with cabriole legs that features an industrial grill top, or a classic table with a chain link bracelet accent.”

Kim has also seen a rise in a third, and equally fascinating style, which draws influence from both European luxury and European farmhouses. Alternately called “Feminine Vintage” and “New Feminine,” this style’s inspiration comes not from an edgy future, but from a romantic vision of the past. It encompasses everything from rustic European storybook charm to full-on, fairy tale opulence fit for a princess. It also features the ruffles and embellishments that represent classic feminine style, subdued with clean lines and industrial elements.

“This is a very romantic style that has really resonated with people,” reflects Kim. “I think it has partly been influenced by popular culture, with fantastical shows like Game of Thrones. I also think has been influenced by an improving economy. People are more upbeat, and they want to pamper themselves with something a little more luxurious. The style has really taken off in popularity. Hooker’s Chatalet collection – one of the best examples of this style – has only been out for a year, and it has performed amazingly well.”

Kim believes there is a deep-seated reason for the popularity of these emergent new-yet-old styles. “I think people today are immersed in a complicated virtual world, and they have a longing for things that are more natural, or things that bring them back to the warmth of a simpler bygone era. At the same time, they really do want something that’s clean, chic and new. These styles reflects this duality and balance these needs in really new and exciting ways.”

Asheville Builder & Interior Designer Duo Create Beautiful Green Homes, Allowing Clients To Live Happier, Healthier Lives

July 9, 2015

To live in the Asheville area is to love the beauty of nature and to be taken in by quiet strength of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains. In our previous feature, we talked to Asheville builder Sean Sullivan, owner of Living Stone Construction, and his wife, Laura Sullivan of ID.ology Interior Design about the couple’s unique “design green, build green, live green” concept. The concept has earned them success and a reputation as one of Asheville’s leading green building teams. Today, we’re focusing on the products and techniques that help them give their clients the homes they’ve always dreamed of, while encouraging them to live greener, fuller, and happier lives in their new spaces.

Images Courtesy of Living Stone Construction ©

Product selection for a green home requires careful thought and a commitment to green principles. “Everything you choose has a consequence and a benefit,” observes Sean. “You have to weigh every single decision carefully, because you want your clients to have the best possible products.”

“You have three main types of green products: recycled, natural and recyclable,” notes Laura. “From a green standpoint, it’s most important to focus on recycled and natural products. You also have different levels of healthy and green. For example, the greenest area rugs have water-based backing and no dyes. Then you have options with the healthiest, most natural dyes, and so on and so forth. There are a wide variety of different colors and finishes available – it all depends on the extent you’re willing to go with the green concept.”

Those who want to live green don’t have to settle in any way. There are a wealth of great products currently available, with new ones cropping up all the time. “You have low VOC paints and formaldehyde-free finishes,” says Laura. “You have rugs from made from corn sugar, or even recycled Pepsi bottles. You have plumbing options that have been redesigned to work well with low water usage, and you have prefinished floors that are left to offgass in a warehouse, rather than add toxins to your home.”

Sean uses several innovative green products and techniques during the building process. “Our guys are now using dustless sanders to finish floors,” he notes. “We also us advanced framing techniques, which cut down on wasted wood and allow for improved insulation. Better insulation makes it easier and more affordable for people to heat and cool their homes, with less wasted energy.

“As a builder, our most recent green building product, and the one that I’m most excited about, is a type of drywall that actually absorbs VOCs from the air, traps them and turns them harmless inert gasses. It literally cleans the air for you. It’s incredible.”

Sean and Laura’s green building process has proven a success, and not just with homeowners. Last year one of their homes, the Strittmatter house (pictured immediately above and two pictures below), won the Asheville Parade of Homes both for craftsmanship, and for greenest home.

“It was the icing on the cake,” affirms Sean. “This is a concept we came up with ourselves – to take homeowners full cycle, from concept to move-in and beyond, as they learn to actually live green. It’s so great to see the whole thing come to fruition.” Laura agrees. “It’s very gratifying,” she says. “I feel like we’re not just handing the client a finished product and walking away. We’re educating them, and improving and enriching their lives. It’s a great feeling.”

Beautiful Homes By Asheville Builder & Design Team Embody A “Design Green, Build Green, Live Green” Concept

July 7, 2015

Asheville’s lush, green forests and stunning mountain landscapes have long been a draw for nature lovers seeking to build a home in an unspoiled natural paradise. Sean Sullivan, owner of Living Stone Construction and his wife, Laura Sullivan, owner of ID.ology Interior Design team up to not only help their clients build their dream home, but to ensure that Asheville stays unspoiled for future generations through their green building and design process. North Carolina Design talked to them to hear more about what true green building really entails, and the surprising ways it enriches and enhances the lives of their clients.

Images Courtesy of Living Stone Construction ©

Sean and Laura have quickly become the go-to experts for green building in the Asheville area. Sean notes that, while many people associate green building with energy conservation, there is much more to it than that. “Being Energy Star compliant alone doesn’t make you green,” he explains. “Energy Star is just one subset of green building. There are nine categories to the green checklist, including local sourcing, indoor air quality, water conservation, landscape and draining, and energy conservation. We are fully Energy Star and NC Greenbuild compliant.”

Images Courtesy of Living Stone Construction ©

Laura tells us that building green also goes far beyond construction. “There are a lot of interior design elements and selections that play a part in creating a green home,” she says. “We consider the materials that go into the cabinetry and the furnishings, the type of paints and finishes used, and the lighting selections. We also focus on the healthy value of the fabrics and fillings in the rugs, pillows, drapes and cushions.”

Sean and Laura are committed to sourcing products locally, from vendors they can trust. “We focus on building relationships with local craftsmen who provide green, healthy products,” Laura offers. Sean adds “We strive to find people who are directly in our area. Green standards require that products are sourced from within 500 miles, but we try to keep it within 200 miles.”

Laura and Sean are also dedicated to educating homeowners about the benefits of green building. “When you ask people what green means to them, they don’t always have a clear answer,” says Sean. “They do understand lower energy consumption and how it can help them get a return on their investment. But they aren’t always aware of all the ways a green home can impact their lives. When we explain to them that statistically people are happier, healthier and more productive in green homes, they really love the concept.”

Homeowners often don’t realize that building green is as much about individual health as it is about the environment. “Indoor air quality is the primary reason that we build green,” notes Sean. “A lot of homes don’t ‘breathe’ the way they should. Then homeowners make poor product selections, which give off toxic elements. Those elements get trapped in the air, and are continuously breathed in. We make sure that our clients’ homes are properly ventilated, and that they choose products that promote air quality.”

Homeowners sometimes struggle to fully trust Sean and Laura’s green building process. “It’s really important for our clients have faith in the value that building green will add to their homes, and their lives,” stresses Laura. “The more they embrace the process, the more benefits they will receive. Those clients who have let us lead them have seen that they got the exact house they wanted – plus they feel healthier and happier. They tell us they wouldn’t change a thing.”

“We go so much further than just using a few eco-friendly materials,” affirms Sean. “We design green, build green, and teach our clients to live green, so they can have healthier, happier lives. It’s rewarding to know that we go above and beyond to help them meet this underlying, important, and often unfulfilled need.”

Insight Into The Direction Of Interior Design In North Carolina

July 2, 2015

Design is an ever changing industry, and it can be a challenge to keep up with what’s new. That is, unless, you’re Vicki Stone, owner of the Village Design Group in Southern Pines. With a team of designers at the ready and a showroom stocked with the latest in design products and innovations, Village Design Group works with both residential customers and The Trade – interior designers across the state – to achieve designs that are beautiful, enduring, and just right for achieving distinctive interiors. North Carolina Design caught up with Vicki to get her insights into what’s new in the realm of design and how people create a space that’s perfectly suited to them.

Images Courtesy of Village Design Group ©

“Today’s homeowners are looking to create a less formal space,” Vicki offers. “Living and entertainment areas have become more casual – some people are even doing away with a formal dining room in favor of a custom space that meets their individual needs.”

“For the longest time, our area has been very traditional,” Vicki concedes. “However, in the last five or six years, those very traditional clients have shifted toward more transitional tastes. Some of them may be tired of having the same look. Some of them may be retiring to a new place or working on a second home, and want to go in a different direction from their first home. Whatever the reason, transitional has become the new standard in this area. It’s surprising, but it’s really fun.”

Vicki notes that while older generations do tend to be more traditional than younger ones, there is no hard and fast rule. “My mother grew up in a traditional home with a lot of antiques,” she recounts. “She didn’t like it, so her house was very contemporary. I didn’t find it very cozy and comfortable to be surrounded by chrome and glass, so I tend more toward a warmer, traditional look. It’s really less about a specific generation and more about doing things in a different way and making a space your own.”

Today’s homeowners are especially focused on personalizing their space. “People like to have things in their home that are unique to them,” explains Vicki. “Homeowners can use everything from lighting fixtures to Asian artifacts to items collected from their travels to create a design that really speaks to who they are.”

Homeowners have recently rediscovered wallpaper as a tool for adding personality to their homes. “Several years ago we were paring down our wallpaper gallery for lack of interest,” Vicki recounts. “In the past year and a half, we’ve seen a huge increase in requests for wallpaper. People are using it to add drama – putting it on just one wall, or on a ceiling for a cool effect. People are looking for something clean, bold, and geometric. Textured wallpaper is also really popular, as it adds a whole new dimension.”

When it comes to colors, Vicki tells us that neutrals still rule the day. “People like neutrals because they have longevity, and they’re versatile,” she explains. “You can add in bold pops of color, change out the accessories and create a whole different look, without having to reinvest in large furniture pieces. Plus, neutrals don’t take attention away from the artwork, fabrics, or furniture that you want to showcase.”

For her part, Vickie really enjoys the direction design is headed these days. “What I love the most is the mixture of traditional and contemporary that we’re seeing,” she affirms. “It’s not all just standard stock furniture pieces. You can pair an old farm table with contemporary chairs and a cool pattern. People are more open to creative solutions. That makes things fun and interesting, and gives you room to play with the design. And that’s really exciting.”

Greensboro Remodelers Bring Beauty And New Life To The Homes They Remodel

June 30, 2015

There is something deeply satisfying about seeing a worn out space reach its full potential. David and Leslie Millsaps, owners of DLM Builders, Inc. in Greensboro, have spent more than 20 years doing their dream job – renovating homes and giving them a beautiful new life. Together, they handle everything from contemporary living spaces to historic restorations, with great acclaim from their loyal client base. North Carolina Design talked to David and Leslie to find out how they have managed being both business partners and husband and wife, and to get their take on what’s new in this ever-evolving industry.

Images Courtesy of DLM Builders, Inc. ©

David and Leslie’s careers began with a personal project. “In the 1980′s we bought an old house and rehabbed it ourselves,” David recounts. “We enjoyed the results so much that we wanted to help other people renovate their homes. That’s how our business got started.”

Leslie credits the couple’s long term personal and professional success to several factors. “We made a conscious decision that we were more important than any conflict that came up,” she explains. “We also complement each other well. I’m all about the numbers, and David is a people person. We each have our forte and we stick to it.”

David and Leslie have seen numerous changes in client preferences over the years, and they know first-hand what’s in-demand now. “Due to the recession, we’re seeing more people remodeling homes with the intention to live in them long term, rather than resell,” notes David. “More and more often, they’re coming to us to help them create a home that allows them to age in place. This means using unobtrusive design elements, like an open floor plan, and a barrier-free shower with enough space for a caregiver.”

“These days homeowners tend to want a more open floor plan, with rooms that flow into one another,” notes Leslie. “They want materials that are lower maintenance, and a look that’s lighter, brighter and cleaner, with more modern fixtures and accents.” David adds “In kitchens they are looking for an airier, more spacious feel. In bathrooms they are looking for added space and a real spa experience, with frameless showers, or even doorless showers.”

Homeowners are even adding a fresh element to historic homes. “North Carolina is always going to be a place that appreciates tradition,” David notes. “Historic home rehabilitation is about marrying two elements. You want to preserve the home’s history, but you also want to bring it up to date. So people choose an exterior that’s true to the architectural period of the house, but on the inside they give it a cleaner look, and all of the design elements and creature comforts you expect in a modern home.”

While North Carolina homeowners are using contemporary elements to freshen up their living spaces, they aren’t necessarily bowing to the latest trends. “Because homeowners are staying in their homes longer, they are looking more toward the longevity of a design,” says David. “They still want to love their house ten years from now, so they make sure to incorporate elements that are timeless and classic.”

The ever-changing nature and wealth of possibilities renovations offer is what keeps David and Leslie passionate about what they do. “I love the fact that no two days are ever the same,” says Leslie. “No two homeowners want the same things, and no two homes are alike. Every project is exciting.”

David, for his part, loves it when clients embrace new ideas. “My favorite clients to work with are the ones who are open to lots of options, and willing to push the envelope a little,” he says. “Keeping things fresh and challenging is what makes this job great. Seeing it all come together – seeing the clients get the fresh start they’re looking for – that never gets old. It just gets you excited for what’s next.”

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