A Good Residential Designer Adapts To The Style The Client Prefers – So Each Home Only Whispers Of Who They Are

February 14, 2017

Some residential designers have a passion for a particular home style, and are well known and sought after for their specific expertise. Others take a completely client driven approach. They adapt to any style their client prefers, and the homes they design only whisper of who they are. Barry Wilson, a principal designer at Houck Residential Designers in Winston-Salem has a knack for understanding exactly what his clients want, and deftly handles projects in any style. North Carolina Design asked him how he does it, and he was nice enough to tell us.

Images Courtesy of Houck Residential Designers ©

“To really create something that’s client driven, you have to get in your client’s head,” he begins. “You have to live in their world, and change your thought process to their thought process. In a sense, you have to become the client. The style, the function, and the details of the home all have to be filtered through their lens. People ask me, ‘what’s your favorite house?’ and my answer is always ‘one that works for the clients.’ After all, they’re going to live in it, not me.”

Barry believes there are two key requirements for getting into a client’s head. “First, you have to ask the right questions,” he stresses. “Sometimes this means walking through the house, space by space, asking ‘what do you need in this room?’ Then, if a client says they need an office, what does that mean? To one person an office might mean a 20 by 30 foot room, while to another person, it’s a five-foot desk tucked in somewhere.”

“Second, you have to take your client’s answers, and their wish list, and their pictures, and drill down to find the real purpose behind them. Sometimes it’s obvious, and sometimes it’s not. My clients aren’t going to know how to tell me everything I need to know. They don’t do this for a living; I do. So I do have to read between the lines and draw a lot of conclusions based on my experience.”

Barry also uses his experience and expertise to guide his clients’ decisions. “I am never going to insist that my clients make choices based on the kind of home I want them to have,” he tells us. “What I will do is educate them. They don’t always know about function. They don’t always understand what design aspects they can and can’t manipulate. Something they want may not be structurally feasible, or it might cost more. My job is to give them what they’re looking for, in a way that works.”

“There are a lot of things to consider. You have to think about the function of each space, and its purpose. You also have to think about what’s possible on the property itself, and how far the budget will stretch. If a client has is trying to meet a tight budget but would love to have dining room, I’ll ask: how often will you use a dining room? it is it really necessary, or can we find a better solution?”

Barry is driven by a fundamental desire to help his clients’ visions come alive. But part of his success lies in his inherent ability to see the beauty and value in many different architectural styles. Even his own home is an eclectic mix of traditional furniture pieces and contemporary design elements. “I don’t ever want to be pigeonholed,” he says. “It limits you, especially during a remodel. You don’t know what you’re walking into – it could be a Colonial house, or a modern house, or a complete blank slate.”

“I’ve never thought of myself as someone who’s trying to put a mark on the world. I’m just trying to give my clients what they want, and what makes them happy,” reflects Barry. “But really, it’s win-win. I have a deep curiosity about all architecture. I have every kind of architecture book in my office, and I am always reading and learning. It’s a genuine pleasure for me to work with so many different people, on so many different kinds of homes. It keeps my job fresh and exciting.”

Raleigh Custom Builder’s Exacting Detail Elevates The Level Of Craftsmanship In This Cary, NC Classical European Styled Home

January 31, 2017

Sometimes, the details that make a home special fall into place throughout the building process. Other times, details are the inspiration around which a home is built. Scott Daves, owner of Scott Daves Construction in Raleigh, is known for his thorough attention to detail and his exacting, yet highly creative craftsmanship, making him the perfect professional for today’s featured home – a custom build in which the homeowner’s unique and very personal vision became wonderfully real. Scott kindly shared his take on the project with North Carolina Design.

Images Courtesy of Scott Daves Construction ©

The home was located in an older Cary community, and was a total teardown. The owners were empty nesters who wanted the house to both fit their current lifestyle and look to their future. Scott gave them first floor main living spaces, an aging-in-place design, multiple entertaining spaces, a downstairs billiard and gaming room, and space for visiting children and grandchildren. But he also gave them something more – a home full of deeply personal touches that fit the couple perfectly and made it theirs.

An immense amount of thought and planning went into achieving the homeowners’ dreams. “We planned for 1 ½ years before we ever got started,“ affirms Scott. “We worked with plan designer Gary Murphy, of Murphy Garnow Design Group, for 6 to 8 months. He was excellent – so instrumental in shaping ideas. We created four different versions of the design before we were able to massage into something exactly right.”

One of the most important things to the homeowners was a spectacular view. “There is a 180 degree view of the water from the back of house,” notes Scott. “You can see it from the family room, the office, the kitchen, the master bedroom, and two porches.” Another essential: a classical, symmetrical, European style façade. “The entire front of house is stone, with a classical elevation and perfectly symmetrical sides. There are also great European inspired details, like swoop roof flares, a Juliet balcony, and arched dormers.”

The focus on distinctive details continues within the home. A peek through a beautiful barrel arch just to the left of the entrance reveals the formal dining room, which was designed around the homeowners’ treasured antique Chinese screen. Then there’s the cherry office –Scott’s personal favorite. “It’s very special,” he reflects. “There’s so much exceptional woodwork and attention to detail. The built ins are meticulously designed and crafted. And the room was specifically sized to fit a prized antique Persian rug in the perimeter.”

Everywhere you look in this home there’s something wonderful to appreciate, from the numerous custom built ins, to the exquisite custom fireplace mantles and surrounds, to the gracious paneled kitchen. The floor is character grade hardwood, which offers a rich and organic look. The range hood in the kitchen is crafted from wood rather than stainless steel. The wine cellar door is solid mahogany, with a wrought iron over glass inset. In the dining room, the windows resemble doors to preserve the home’s aesthetic.

Moving outward onto the screened in back porch, the perfect lake view and the impressive natural stone fireplace are the immediate attention grabbers. But, once again, details that take things to another level. “The mantle is a hand hewn, western cedar timber beam, with an axe chip in it on each side,” Scott tells us. “The ceiling is bead board pine, which really makes the space feel cozy and warm.  The homeowners love to have coffee out here and watch eagles swoop down over the lake.”

This home was a project after Scott’s own heart. “I love working with wood,” he says. “It was really great to use nice wood and create all of this rich detail, and to have a client who really wanted and appreciated that. It’s always gratifying to see clients get excited as they watch their dream come to life, especially for a home that’s so personal and specific to them. This home was exactly what they wanted and how they wanted it, and I couldn’t be happier about that.”

House In Charlotte With Great View In Ideal Location Is Remodeled – And Becomes The Perfect Home

January 17, 2017

Every homeowner has a different set of priorities when it comes to creating their dream home. Builders need to be inventive, adaptable and skilled in order to ensure that their clients’ most pressing needs are met. As operations manager of Shea Custom – a prestigious Charlotte remodeling company that is much sought after because of its quality craftsmanship and exemplary service – Charlie O’Melveny knows well how to build and renovate homes that reflect what’s most important to his clients. Today’s featured home is a perfect example. North Carolina Design spoke with Charlie about this successful renovation project.

Images Courtesy of Shea Custom ©

The owners were a young married couple with two young children. They were members of the Carmel Country Club, and they wanted to live on the golf course. They purchased a home in the perfect location, but the layout didn’t quite meet their needs. So, they turned to Shea Custom, who ended up renovating about 80 percent of the home.

The homeowners had several priorities on their wish list. They wanted to add square footage to comfortably accommodate their children. They wanted a floor plan that would make it easy to entertain, and easy to enjoy the home’s beautiful golf course views. Also important was an outdoor space they could use year round, and a mudroom that would help the outdoors stay “outdoors.” Another must was a kitchen that was both functional and beautiful.

“To give the kids their own space, we added ½ story with two bedrooms and a bathroom, just for them” recounts Charlie. “To address the homeowners’ entertainment needs, we took down the divider between the living room and the kitchen to create an open space that flowed naturally. We also added a screened-in outdoor space with a fireplace right off the living room. It flows with the entertainment area, and lets the family enjoy the outdoors – and the incredible view – all year long.”

The kitchen underwent a huge transformation. Once dated and impractical, it’s now gorgeous, luxurious, and functional. “The homeowners cook often, so we added in several nice practical features, like a large island, an island sink, and lots of storage and seating. We also installed an incredible French drawer oven. It’s built right into the cabinetry, and the doors open up individually. It really optimizes cabinet space. This oven is a relatively new option, and it’s the first one we’ve installed.”

Aesthetically, the kitchen balances rich, classic elements with clean, contemporary lines for an overall transitional look, while rustic and natural touches add a bit of earthy charm and character. “You have these very classic white Carrera marble countertops, and this gray and white glass subway tile backsplash,” notes Charlie. “But then you have the original brick we preserved around the window, the beaded wooden light fixtures, and the wooden island, which we had custom built to look like a free-standing table.”

Beautiful touches of character can be found throughout the house, from the custom bead board built ins in the new mudroom to the rough sawn cedar beam and stone fireplace in the screened in porch. The fireplace was not part of the original design,” admits Charlie. “The homeowners decided they had to have it, so we designed it from scratch during the remodel. We placed it to the side so that it’s a focal point, but doesn’t detract from the view.”

Like the home’s interior, the outdoor space is comfy, beautiful, elegant, and functional – everything the homeowners desired. “They were really happy with everything – with the selections, with our service, with the process, and with the end result.” reflects Charlie. “They have the exact home they wanted and needed. As a builder, you really can’t ask for more than that.”

How To Lessen The Stress of Home Building? Involve Your Interior Designer At The Blue Print Stage

January 3, 2017

Building a home is a naturally stressful process. Homeowners often have limited building experience. They must place a lot of trust in professionals, and rapidly make hundreds of decisions that, once done, can’t easily be undone. Having a trusted interior design professional in your corner from the initial planning stages can change the entire home building experience. As owner of The Red Rickshaw Interior Design in Oriental, NC, Scott Williams is often called upon at the very beginning of the building process – saving his clients many headaches while also creating effortlessly beautiful designs. North Carolina Design talked with Scott about being part of things from the get-go.

Images Courtesy of The Red Rickshaw ©

“It’s always nice to be involved from the very beginning,” Scott reflects. “You know the home, you know the project, and you know how the homeowners want to live. It’s easier to create a cohesive design that really fits the lifestyle of your clients when you’re there from beginning to end. It really works out better for them.”

Scott approaches every project in an in-depth, personal way. “I treat it as if it were my own home,” he says. “I listen carefully to the homeowners. I ‘live’ in the house as I’m walking through it, and think through each detail in that context. I act as a go-between – I keep the architect, builder and subcontractors informed of the homeowner’s wants and needs, and I let the homeowners know what’s possible and realistic. I help make sure everyone’s on the same page.”

Scott is also there to help guide the homeowners through their design decisions – both big and small. “We start with plumbing,” he explains. “We have to know where everything will be placed so it can be roughed in. Then we need to know what fittings and fixtures we need. Then we move to appliances, because the cabinetry depends on appliances. Countertops depend on cabinetry, so those are next. Then it’s tile, then lighting. We then sit down and start designing the furnishings.”

When it comes to selections, Scott is an invaluable resource for his clients. “There are so many options out there,” he reflects. “Often, homeowners don’t even know where to start. I will narrow things down from thousands of options to just a few, and then I will help them focus on what they really want and need. What could have been a long, stressful process becomes quick and enjoyable.”

The help Scott gives homeowners goes a long way toward making the building process positive, and even fun. “It takes a lot of pressure off,” he says. “It gives them a lot more confidence, and helps them feel more comfortable. They don’t have to worry about the details. They don’t have to worry about the walk-through. They don’t even have to live in the area. They can build a home from another state, and know that everything will be taken care of in their absence.”

Scott’s dedication to his clients and their homes comes from his deeply held principles of excellent service, commitment and honesty. “I want homeowners to feel completely comfortable with me,” he affirms. “I’m very direct, and I tell it like it is. They know they can trust what I’m saying. If something isn’t right, or it isn’t going to work, I’ll tell them so. Then we’ll revisit things to find out what will work. They know my focus will always be on what’s in their best interest.”

Scott finds great reward seeing a home come together from start to finish. “I start out with this vision for the overall house, and the homeowners can’t see it at first,” he explains. “Then, slowly, it all starts coming together. The end result is always exciting and gratifying. I have never had a homeowner who wasn’t elated. They’re speechless, they’re crying. It’s a great thing to be a part of.”

North Carolina Design Holiday Recipes ~
Kale And Brussel Sprouts Salad, J’Nell Bryson Landscape Architect

December 22, 2016

As we draw closer to the date when we’ll be eating that main holiday meal, here is a wonderful and healthy dish that I think sounds like a great addition to the table. J’Nell Bryson, of J’Nell Bryson Landscape Architect in Charlotte shares with North Carolina Design this recipe for kale and brussel sprouts salad. Not only is it healthy and easy to prepare, it is a visual delight. How pretty!

Kale And Brussel Sprouts Salad
J’Nell Bryson, J’Nell Bryson Landscape Architect

Remove kale leaves from the rib. Wash if necessary, drain to dry, put them on a board and fine
chop. Add those to a bowl with thin sliced, cleaned brussels sprouts so that you have equal parts of kale and brussels sprouts.

Make a vinaigrette by squeezing about half a lemon in a bowl and add a half tablespoon of dijon
mustard. With a whisk, incorporate a fine drizzle of olive oil until it all becomes a smooth
emulsion. Add the olive oil until the tartness is softened. Add a little kosher salt to taste. Pour the vinaigrette over the greens to taste. Keep any leftover vinaigrette in the frig.

Over the greens add just about anything you like but in a restaurant recently, we had fine
chopped dried cranberries, marcona almonds (Whole Foods in the cheese section), and goat
cheese. Stir and serve.

The greens will stand up to the rest of the ingredients and won’t get soggy. It’s delicious and

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

December 21, 2016

Our holiday recipe today is both delicious and animated. Raleigh Kitchen Designer Ruth Ann Taylor of Taylored Spaces shares with North Carolina Design her festive Turkey Cheese Ball. Turkey is my favorite part of the holiday meal, and if this was served up – I could have it twice, so to speak. It’s very creative to make the turkey feathers from pretzels and the beak from candy corn!

Turkey Cheese Ball
Ruth Ann Taylor, Taylored Spaces

2 8oz. packages of cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons minced onion
½ tablespoon minced green bell pepper
1 8oz. can crushed pineapple well drained
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
1 cup chopped pecans

pretzel sticks
whopper candy
beef jerkey stick
candy eyes
candy corn
fruit roll up
chocolate icing or melted chocolate

Mix all ingredients other than the pecans and decorations together until well combined. I used my Kitchenaid stand mixer. With damp hands roll the mixture into a ball and then roll in chopped pecans. Wrap it in wax paper and put it in the fridge to chill and firm up a bit.

To make the turkey “feathers” stick your pretzel sticks into the back 1/2 of the cheese ball. To create mr. gobblers head take a stick of beef jerkey and “glue” a whopper candy on top with icing. Then attach the nose and eyes also with icing. We made the gobbler by cutting a little strip of fruit roll up and then laying it over the candy corn.

Images Courtesy of Taylored Spaces ©

North Carolina Design Holiday Recipes ~
Pumpkin Cake, June DeLugas Interiors

December 20, 2016

North Carolina Design is adding more yummy delights to the holiday table. This one is a mouth watering pumpkin cake which is brought to us courtesy of Winston-Salem interior designer June Delugas, of June Delugas Interiors. I must confess that I have a sweet tooth, which means that I could easily start the meal with desserts like this and then head for the basics. I can almost smell this cooking in the oven!

Pumpkin Cake
June DeLugas, June DeLugas Interiors

2 cups sugar
2 cups pumpkin (1 lb. can)
4 eggs
1 cup oil
2 cups flour
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt

Mix sugar and eggs. Pour in oil and mix at moderate speed until there is no visible trace of oil. Mix 3 minutes more. Add flour, baking soda, spices, salt and mix. Add pumpkin and mix at slower speed. Pour into greased tube pan. Bake one hour at 350 degrees.

Icing (half of this is enough)

1 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese
1 stick of margarine or butter
2 tsp. vanilla
1 lb. box confectioners sugar

Blend cream cheese and butter. Add sugar and vanilla. Mix thoroughly.

Images Courtesy of June DeLugas Interiors ©

North Carolina Design Holiday Recipes ~
Cranberry Salad, Distinctive Remodeling, LLC

December 19, 2016

As North Carolina Design continues our collection of holiday recipes, I recognize that no holiday table is complete without a dish that is made from cranberries. At our house, it is not only a tradition, it’s one of the mainstays of the meal. Today, Raleigh Remodeler, Eddie Casanave, of Distinctive Remodeling, LLC shares his recipe for Cranberry Salad. It looks as festive as it does delicious!

Cranberry Salad
Eddie Casanave, Distinctive Remodeling, LLC

1 bag fresh cranberries, finely chopped
1 – 15 oz. can mandarin oranges
2 C Sugar
2 pkgs. Jello – cranberry and black cherry
½ cup chopped pecans
2 stalks celery – finely chopped
1 – 20 oz. can crushed pineapple

Mix Jello with 2 cups boiling water, until dissolved, combine all ingredients into a 13 x 9 pan and chill until firm. Serves 8+

North Carolina Design Holiday Recipes ~
Winter Lentil Soup, Pippin Home Designs

December 18, 2016

As family comes together for the holidays, why not serve up bowls of soup by the fire? Today, Charlotte residential designer Jennifer Pippin, of Pippin Home Designs, has shared with North Carolina Design her recipe for Winter Lentil Soup, and it sounds delicious! Whether you are gathering for conversation or to watch a football game, this would be a great choice to make before everyone arrives.

Winter Lentil Soup — Serves 6
Jennifer Pippin, Pippin Home Designs

I typically double this recipe because it is always a huge hit!


1 tablespoon olive oil, or coconut oil
4 leeks (white and light green parts), or a small sweet onion, chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, drained
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 bunch kale, thick stems removed and leaves cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips
1/2 cup brown lentils
6 cups of organic vegetable broth, low sodium
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
Kosher salt and black pepper, both optional
1/4 cup grated Parmesan (1 ounce; optional)

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the leeks and garlic, and sauté, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook, breaking them up with a spoon, for 5 minutes.
2. Add 6 cups vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Stir in the sweet potatoes, kale, lentils, thyme, 1 ½ teaspoons salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Simmer until the lentils are tender, 25 to 30 minutes.
3. Spoon into bowls and top with the Parmesan, if using.

Images Courtesy of Pippin Home Designs ©

North Carolina Design Holiday Recipes ~
Pine Cone Shaped Cheese Balls, Quality Design & Construction

December 16, 2016

Today North Carolina Design continues our series of delightful holiday recipes.  Sharing these festive pine cone shaped cheese balls is Peggy Mackowski, from Quality Design & Construction in Raleigh. A gathering with friends and family during the holiday season usually begins with some wonderful hors d’oeuvres. This presentation would look wonderful on your cocktail table and is undoubtedly as artful it is delicious. With your favorite crackers accompanying it, you may have trouble saving room for the main course.

Holiday Cheese Balls
Peggy Mackowski, Quality Design & Construction

2 packages cream cheese
1 8 oz package of sharp cheddar cheese
1 jar of dried beef shredded
1 bunch green onions
1/2 teaspoon paprika
dash of Worcestershire sauce
garlic salt to taste

Allow cream cheese to get to room temperature, chop green onions, shred dried beef. Mix all ingredients together except almonds and paprika. Form into pear shapes. Coat the pear shaped cheese balls with paprika. Arrange almonds around each cheese ball to resemble a pine cone. Decorate for season.

Images Courtesy of Quality Design & Construction ©

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