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.”
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.”
For This Raleigh Interior Designer, The Creative Process Definitely Involves Thinking Outside The Box
June 23, 2015
Design is all about breathing new life into a space. Raleigh interior designer Michael Steiner, of Steiner Design Interiors, has been renovating, renewing and repurposing his client’s spaces for over 25 years, to great success. Michael is known for his dedication to his clients, and for his distinctive gift for transforming the mundane into the spectacular. North Carolina Design chatted with Michael to find out more about what makes him tick, and how he uses his unique way of looking at the world to enhance the lives of his clients.
Images Courtesy of Steiner Design Interiors ©
Michael has always been reinventing the wheel, and has had an interest in design for nearly his whole life. “From a very early age, I was thinking about how I wanted to redo our house,” he recounts. “I helped neighbors who built or remodeled. I was always in the mix, watching things happen and trying to figure it all out.”
Michael has his own design preferences, of course, but he doesn’t bring them into his projects. “When it comes to my clients, it’s not about my personal style – it’s about what they want,” he says. “I can do it all, from mid-century modern to high Victorian. And really, you always start with function, and you choose elements that make it pretty as you go along. That process holds true for any style.”
Michael’s client centered approach puts nervous homeowners at ease. “People sometimes feel worried when I come into their homes. They assume that I will judge them, but I’m not judgmental at all. People have to do what works for them, and who am I to say what that is? I am just lending my expertise to help them achieve their vision for their home.”
“My main goal is just to make my clients happy with their environment. I ask them a series of questions. How do you live? How do you want to live? How can I help you change things? They might need more organization or more storage. Or they might need someone to help them edit what they have. The end goal is always to create something that’s aesthetically comforting, and also efficient and stress-free. When they walk in they should be happy to be home – to be in the space.”
The space that makes Michael happiest? The bathroom. “I really love a bathroom with a nice spa feel,” he confides. “One where you can really relax. One that also has great storage and great organization, with everything tucked away behind doors or in drawers. I’m all about convenience and efficiency – I’ve always dreamt of having a bathroom that you can just hose down. I also like the challenge of a bathroom. You have to create a sense of luxury and add all of this function in this small space.”
Michael has sage advice for homeowners, based on his years of experience. “Hire a designer early in the process so you can think through all of the details before you start remodeling,” he counsels. “Some decisions can’t be unmade. Take your time, and listen to your designer. It’s sad when people miss really great opportunities because they rush, or get cold feet, or want to save a dollar. Plan before you actually start the process. Be open-minded, and up for the challenge of taking the space and making it be the most it can be.”
Michael’s drive to renew and reinvent are central to his design philosophy, and his success. “I’m always trying to give discarded or overlooked things a new life,” he says. “I enjoy the challenge of taking something, whether it’s space, materials, or an object and making something new out of it. I’m always thinking outside the box, and looking for another way to use something so that it can work better, look better or feel better. For my clients, I think that translates to a better home, and a better life.”
Charlotte Interior Designer Offers “Double Day Design” – Empowering Clients In The Project Implementation
June 16, 2015
The most inspired design ideas come from passionate designers looking to fulfill the needs of their clients. Charlotte interior designer, Traci Zeller, owner of Traci Zeller Designs, is known for her fresh and innovative approach to design. As the mom of twin boys, she also has a passion for offering families design solutions that are both beautiful and family-friendly. Enter Double Day Design, Traci’s “two rooms, two days” service. North Carolina Design talked to Traci about how Double Day works, and got the scoop on how a family with one daughter and triplet sons used it to make over nearly every room in their home.
Images Courtesy of Traci Zeller Designs ©
“I started offering Double Day as a way for clients who had the time and the desire to do a lot of the design implementation themselves,” Traci recounts. “I have found that it really empowers clients. They can be as hands-on as they like. They can accomplish things on their time, and within their budget. And they can work their way through their house one step at a time. They can completely finish one or two rooms, rather than spreading their money around on multiple half-finished projects.”
Traci’s two-day process is simple and straightforward. “I go to their house on day one, and we talk about the two rooms they want to change. We go over color palettes, finish and fabric options, furniture, and space planning, until we have a good idea of what’s going to happen in each room. Before I leave, I give them a plan, and a checklist. They have to try out the furniture, pull fabric samples, meet with contractors and go shopping.”
Once the clients have had time to do their research, Traci comes back for the second day. “That’s my chance to grade their homework,” she quips. “We go through everything they’ve learned and all of the decisions they’ve made, and we pull it all together. I pull up my report, which gives them clear guidance on how to put the rooms together themselves.”
Traci loved working with this mom of multiples to achieve the perfect design. “She is a mom who loves design and has great personal style all on her own,” she notes. “She just needed some help pulling everything together. She wanted to avoid mistakes, so she was looking for a designer’s guidance. She liked the hands-on process because it was really fun for her, and it was something she could work on while her kids were in preschool, or after they had gone to bed.”
The client’s first Double Day encompassed the back porch and the powder room. “That project really helped me get to know more about her life, her style, and her kids, and I was able to build on that knowledge for future projects,” Traci reflects. Next came the dining room and the living room, then finally, the daughter’s room. “The last project was just one room,” Tracy concedes. “The client used the second day to take care of odds and ends in other rooms, like changing paint colors and carpeting.”
The client wanted her house to reflect her style, yet be suited to a young family. Tracy was able to help her achieve both objectives. “She has a very, very current style, but she also loves mid-century pieces,” she says. “She also has four young kids, so she can’t have stuff in her house that can’t stand up to wear and tear. We came up with a design that’s fresh and modern, but works for her lifestyle, and had those mid-century touches she envisioned.”
Traci’s Double Day Design concept really speaks to her passion as a designer. “I love working with families, and this is a really family-friendly way to approach design,” she affirms. “It’s a great value for my clients, as it saves them money and works with their schedule. And they end up with a room that looks fantastic. It’s win-win.”
Interior Designers & Other Home Professionals Offer Insightful Tips To The Readers Of North Carolina Design
June 12, 2015
What’s better than getting free advice from seasoned experts about how to make the process of updating your home a better one? These designers and home professionals offer insightful tips that are sure to prevent a few headaches and make the road to a beautiful home a little easier!
When meeting with a kitchen designer about your upcoming project, share the budget number! This allows us to start with your big dream, and then mesh that with your budget. A good designer will be open with you about what is possible when you are open with them on what resources you are working with.
Many homeowners prefer not to share that budget number during the first meeting, waiting until they have been ‘sold’ on the designer and have seen some idea of what the designer can possibly do for them. Once that connection has been made, share your complete vision and dream for your space, including your budget – allowing the designer to determine the best way to get you what you want for what you are willing to spend. This is a relationship, and trust is important on both sides. Most professional designers will be your advocate in getting you the best value.
Ruth Ann Taylor Long
Taylored Spaces, Raleigh
An incredible selection of natural stone is available today, able to make a real statement in the design of your kitchen or bath. The selection method of your stone is very important in ensuring that your choice is one you will be satisfied with in the long run.
Normally when homeowners select stone slabs, they view the stone “face on”. It is also important that you look down the horizontal surface of the stone. Each stone has its own unique and interesting characteristics. Some stones have a lot of veining and graining, but they also have a lot of fissures. A stone could be very appealing to you when you look at it straight on, but fissures or cracking might be something that bothers you. By looking across the stone, you know what it looks like from all angles, confirming that you will be satisfied with your selection after it’s installed.
Ivey Lane, Inc., Greensboro
What is the most important thing to think about when doing a bath remodel? The tile? The fixtures? The Lighting? No… What is behind the tile makes the remodel worthwhile. Ensuring water cannot seep through your tile and grout when you are enjoying your new bath, is crucial to the success of your project.
Make sure your walls and floor are sealed. A quality wall board and a water proofing paint needs to be used to protect the walls before the tile goes up. Confirm this with your contractor. Grout is a porous product and if it is not sealed, water can seep right through and rot out your drywall and studs. Some tiles, like a natural or tumbled stone have small holes that need to be sealed and filled with grout to protect the underlying surfaces. So, ask what is going on behind the tile, not just what will it look like when completed.
Laura Redd Interiors, Greensboro
We all have a rough idea of what green products are – but consider a product made in an ecologically responsible way that is then shipped to your doorstep from halfway around the world. Does that sound like reducing your footprint? Factors that determine green status can be the life cycle of the product, production and shipping pollution, as well as natural resource use. A good rule of thumb is to seek out products designated Energy Star, WaterSense, and Design for the Environment by the EPA.
Many products are now available that allow selection from 100% recycled and renewable sources ranging from furniture and décor to construction materials, plumbing products and appliances. These products are durable, beautiful, and affordable, ultimately adding to the value of your home. We are seeing waves of products that conserve water and energy use and knock down monthly utility bills, as well as air and water filtration systems that improve the health of your entire family by simply going about your daily life.
Rosa Dest Interiors, Charlotte
Giving a bathroom an updated look does not necessarily mean renovating the entire space. Sometimes it only means looking at what is right in front of you. Many bathrooms have the large sheet mirrors on the walls – a change to them can really make a difference in how the room appears.
Consider giving large sheet mirrors a frame – which immediately creates a finished look in the bathroom and adds charm to the overall design. You can select a frame at a local frame shop, order them online or make your own out of crown molding. Another option is to remove the sheet mirror completely and replace it with a pair of mirrors mounted over the sinks below. Enjoy your new look!
DL Design, Inc., Charlotte
Outdoor living areas have become an essential space to our homes. Too often, people plant for immediate gratification, without giving thought to proper plant selection and how it will look in a few year’s time. You should begin by studying your site – understand the solar orientation, the characteristics of your soil, the rainfall and climate. Study the characteristics of your chosen plants, placing them where they will not be too large when mature and not shading out other sun loving plants in your plan. You should also study the maintenance requirements of your planned plantings – not all have the same water requirements.
It is important to consider the landscape architectural composition of your planned plan. Are you going for a formal or informal composition? Are there features of your architecture that need to be emphasized? Is shading from the sun needed somewhere? Does something needed to be screened, like views of the neighbors? Function is also integral to the design plan. Where do you wish to grill, eat and socialize? It’s not just about the plants. All of this will put you well on your way to a landscape that brings lasting pleasure.
Sears Design Group, Raleigh
June 5, 2015
If you have ever marveled at a sparkling, cascading chandelier or felt the tranquility of a softly lit room, you know the power lighting has to transform a space. However, many people don’t how complex and significant finding the right lighting fixture can be. Angie Brown, owner of Illuminations of the Triad in Kernersville, has been helping designers and homeowners add light, life and artistry to their homes for almost nine years. North Carolina Design spoke to Angie, who told us more about her unique store, her take on what’s new, and why we should never take lighting for granted.
Images Courtesy of Illuminations of the Triad ©
“We started out as a stock warehouse, doing shipping and receiving. I knew there was a demand for more decorative lighting, so we created a boutique-style lighting décor showroom.” Open to the public, Angie’s showroom offers homeowners and designers alike an array of lighting options. They can also browse other decorative items, like custom mirrors and vanity vessel sinks.
Angie’s instincts were spot on – the showroom was a hit. “Everyone loves it,” she says. “They feel good when they come in. It’s a friendly, welcoming atmosphere. We even offer a complimentary coffee bar.” Angie notes that the showroom is well-equipped to meet homeowners’ needs. “There’s a lot here. We have numerous options from a wide variety of companies. We also have design consultants on-hand who can help people find the perfect items for their home.”
Consultants do come in handy, as there is more to lighting than most homeowners imagine. “Of course, you want something that’s pretty and makes you smile,” she concedes. “But you also have to think practically. Do you have enough lighting to achieve function? There are four main types of lighting – ambient, task, accent, and decorative – and you need some combination of each in every space. Then you have about 10 or 11 lighting categories to think about. It’s a lot, but we can help you sort through it.”
Working closely with clients gives Angie an insider’s view into what’s new in lighting. “Right now more people are choosing a transitional look, with simpler, cleaner lines,” she observes. “That’s probably why drum shades and orbs are the most popular choices. Drums offer a clean and simple look. Orbs are really versatile – you have everything from huge, open-cage styles with tiers and crystals on the inside, to very simple, plain round pendants.”
While today’s homeowners are definitely looking for a more contemporary feel, Angie notes that there is more to the story. “Contemporary items like linear chandeliers and polished nickel fixtures are very popular right now,” she says. “But you also have a lot of people wanting to add a rustic or nostalgic element to their homes. So wooden fixtures are coming back in: linear wooden bars with candles, wooden orbs, chandeliers with wooden beads. We’re also seeing a lot of old schoolhouse globes, which are especially popular in farm house kitchens.”
When it comes to function, the word of the day is efficiency. “People are increasingly looking for one piece that serves two purposes, like a drum shade that provides light from both the top and the bottom,” Angie explains. “It’s to the point where we actually are encouraging manufacturers to produce more multi-purpose lighting.”
Angie notes that the biggest mistake a homeowner can make is assuming that lighting is just lighting. “It seems like a small thing, but lighting is actually so complex and so important,” she stresses. “You’re not just buying lights; you’re adding functional art or jewelry to your home. That takes thought and planning. If you’re building a home, you have to budget for it as a priority. It’s worth it, I promise. The right lighting really can make all the difference in how your home looks, feels and functions.”
For Custom Cabinetry In Western North Carolina, It’s A Three Generation Family Tradition Of Quality And Craftsmanship
June 2, 2015
The work of a true craftsman goes beyond mere beauty – it inspires, and intrigues, and evokes a sense of joy and wonder. Banner’s Cabinets in Western North Carolina has been delighting clients with their superbly detailed, exceptionally crafted handiwork for over half a century. This family business began in 1942, when Jim Banner used money from his cabbage crops to follow his dream of becoming a cabinet builder. It now spans three generations, with Jim’s son Joe and grandson Joseph proudly carrying on his legacy. North Carolina Design talked to Joseph to find out more about the company’s philosophy, its reputation for craftsmanship, and the important role family has played in its success.
Images Courtesy of Banner’s Cabinets ©
“My grandfather is now in his 90s, and he still comes in at 5 every morning and stays half a day,” Joseph tells us. “He takes care of all of the moulding blades, and enjoys giving us his input on how best to do things. My mother consults clients on color and design choices. After spending almost 40 years in the business, she has seen and learned a lot. She has a great eye, and she knows what works best.”
Located in Newland, the Banner family prides themselves on catering to a wide range of needs. “We do everything from bars, to architectural millwork, to paneling, doors and mouldings. We work with every kind of client, from families, to retired couples, to those building or renovating vacation homes. And we go everywhere – we’ve done jobs up and down the East coast, as well as in Connecticut, Manhattan and Dallas.”
Banner’s Cabinets uses a combination of hand-carving techniques and state-of-the-art machinery to achieve a beautiful and highly-detailed finished product. Much of the woodworking process is handled in-house, by artisans. Clients can pick a domestic wood that has been harvested within a 50-mile radius.
The team at Banner’s Cabinets walks clients through the process, from design to completion. “The client comes in and gives us a general idea of what they want, as well as any kind of pictures they might have,” Joseph explains. “We’ll sit down, have lunch together, and lay everything out. Sometimes we have to go back and forth 3 or 4 times before everyone is happy. Once we have a solid plan, we craft and hand-fit the pieces, and then install them in the client’s home.”
Joseph has definitely seen a shift in client preferences in recent years. “From what I see, today’s clients are looking to balance the charm of the old with the convenience of the new,” he reflects. “They’re going lighter in tone overall, and they want a cleaner look that takes a more minimalist approach. They tend to want built-in pieces to fade into the background, rather than stand out. Of course, we still have clients who want elaborate, intricate designs. It depends on the home, and the client’s vision.”
Banner’s Cabinets owes much of its success to the skill and craftsmanship of its team, and the principles Jim Banner handed down to his family. “We believe that if you do a high-quality job that exceeds expectations, you will have a client for life,” asserts Joseph. “We never want our name on an inferior product. We do adjustments and touch-ups at no charge – anything to ensure our clients are satisfied.”
Joseph himself finds a great deal of satisfaction in his work. “One of the best parts of this job is working with my family,” he says. “I also enjoy meeting new people, hearing their stories, and building relationships. Some projects can take more than two years. You really get to know people during that time. And that’s what it’s all about – for me, and for all of us. Making that connection, and offering a quality product that will add beauty and value to someone’s home, and enhance their day-to-day lives.”
“Grand Central Station” – For Today’s Kitchen, These Charlotte Custom Cabinet Experts Share What Makes It Look & Feel Grand
May 28, 2015
The kitchen serves as Grand Central Station in most homes – a place where homework is done, cookies are baked, and guests congregate. But kitchens can also be grand in an aesthetic sense, possessing a striking, yet gracious beauty befitting of the heart of the home. Eudy’s Cabinet Manufacturing of Charlotte has been helping clients create their dream kitchens for over 50 years, through the addition of beautiful and exceptionally well-crafted cabinetry. North Carolina Design sat down and talked to two well-qualified experts from Eudy’s – vice president Wesley Eudy and design consultant Brandi Kennedy – to find out more about the company and what makes a kitchen design truly look and feel grand.
Images Courtesy of Eudy’s Cabinets ©
Eudy’s Cabinet Manufacturing prides itself on being first and foremost a family business. “Our grandfather started the business as a side job in 1963,” Wesley recounts. “He set up shop behind his house, and things just grew from there. I have been helping out here in one way or another since I was big enough to sweep the floors.”
Since the beginning, Eudy’s has been known for both quality construction and a high level of service. “All of our guys have been here a long time, and they’re good at what they do,” explains Wesley. “Everything we make is completely custom built. Whatever idea a client might have, we can build it. We do most of our work here in NC, and nothing is sourced out, so working with us is a good way to support local family businesses.”
When it comes to cabinetry, Wesley maintains that it’s both the details and the quality that help add grandeur to a space. “The details are the first thing that catch your eye,” he says. “Then, when you look more closely at the cabinets you’ll see the quality of the construction. Taken together, these factors make a big impact.”
Wesley affirms that style comes first in creating a kitchen design. “It’s the style that sets the tone,” he says. “There are several options – overlay, inset, frameless – it all depends on what the client has in mind for their cabinets. You can add impact and interest with staggered depth cabinets, or cabinets of different heights.” Brandi notes, “Adding glass doors to some cabinets, or having a few pieces that go up to the ceiling can really present an element of grandeur.”
Wesley and Brandi agree that while cabinets may set the stage, layers of decorative accents really bring the design together. “First you have your larger elements, like islands and decorative hoods,” says Wesley. “The hood draws the eye up, and the island anchors the space.” Flooring, too, can create a large impact, as Brandi explains. “Continuing the flooring color up into the cabinets makes a space feel larger and grander, while using a different color gives the eye a break from floor and adds more interest.”
Next come the finer details. “Elements like hardware, lighting, plumbing fixtures, appliance panels, mouldings, and cabinetry accents all work together to add distinction to the space,” observes Wesley. Brandi agrees. “These finer details can sway a design in different directions,” she says. “You can give a classic or traditional design a cleaner, more modern appeal with a contemporary metal hood or a quartz countertop. And you can give a more contemporary design some character by adding a farmhouse sink, shaker doors, or a rustic light fixture.”
As design consultant, Brandi is all about details, and has her finger on the pulse of what’s new and what works. “Right now we are seeing a more transitional style – something that has traditional elements, but is very linear and clean,” she tells us. “White is still popular, and we do a great deal of white kitchens. But currently we’re seeing a lot washed wood with gray tones, and glazes rather than paints.”
Cabinetry may be the family business, but both Wesley and Brandi are in it because they love it – albeit for slightly different reasons. “I’m more into the nuts and bolts aspect of the company – like overseeing the quality of construction and building techniques.” For her part, Brandi says “I really love design. I am more about the colors, textures, styles and overall aesthetics. It’s great – as a family, we all work as a team and play to our strengths. And that gives our clients the best possible results.”
This Lake Norman Builder Builds Luxury Homes With A Great Lake View, Custom Details And Individualized Attention
May 21, 2015
A home is a sacred and deeply personal space. No two homeowners will ever have the same vision for their home, or the same practical needs. No one knows this better than Charlotte builder Rob Passarelli, owner of Passarelli Custom Homes in the Lake Norman area. Rob’s hard-earned knowledge, adventurous spirit, and real desire to lend a personal and thoughtful touch to each project have earned him success building perfectly tailored luxury custom homes for a wide range of clients. North Carolina Design talked to Rob to find out more about his philosophy, his approach to homebuilding, and his thoughts on what’s important to today’s homeowners.
Images Courtesy of Passarelli Custom Homes ©
Rob didn’t necessarily set out to become a homebuilder. “I came down here in 1995 from Chicago in search of a summer job,” he recounts. “I was hired by a custom home builder, and I ended up working for them for 14 years. I started out sweeping out new builds, and worked my way up to senior project manager. I got a chance to learn the business along the way, and I discovered that I really had a knack for it. I eventually decided to start my own building company.”
For Rob, success as a builder has never been about becoming the biggest and showiest. “I am not too comfortable with growth,” he admits. “I want to stay small, personable, and family oriented. I don’t ever want my clients to become a number – I want them to know that they are valued as individuals, and ensure that they get personal attention. That’s why we only take on three to four projects at a time, even if that means turning down people who don’t want to wait until we are available.”
Rob’s desire to tailor each project to his client’s needs, combined with his drive to do things in a novel, exciting way, makes every project a new adventure. “I’ve never built the same house twice,” he says. “Everything starts with a clean slate, and a unique and fresh approach. I always strive to do something no one’s done before.”
Rob has seen some significant changes in homeowners’ priorities in recent years. “Since the economic downturn, people seem to be looking for a more simplistic style,” he notes. “Multi-levels of trim and crown moulding are gone, in favor of a simple, clean approach. Homeowners are taking a long-term view, and looking for something tailored to their specific current and future needs. They’re coming at the building process with their own unique approach, and not looking to keep up with the neighbors.
“Bigger houses are coming back a bit, but not in the way we saw before the downturn. Homeowners have become more cautious and more practical. They want to create homes that are both beautiful and have an efficient use of space. They’re getting rid of hallways in favor of open areas, and building smaller showers to eliminate wasted space in the bathroom. Dining rooms are starting to fade away, as people would rather create large in-kitchen breakfast areas.”
Because of his Lake Norman area location, Rob frequently builds lakeside homes, which have a host of specific issues all their own. “There is more emphasis on the back of the home,” he explains. “The house has to be set up to accommodate any views, and it has to have a great outdoor entertainment space. People chose the property because of its access to the lake, so they’re willing to invest in screened-in porches, fireplaces – anything that capitalizes on the location.”
Rob may have fallen into the homebuilding profession, but he has embraced it fully. “I love my job,” he shares. “I love the variety and the challenge of creating new things. Each home is its own unique work of art. My hand is in it the whole way, from clearing the land to handing over the keys. It’s a great feeling to put your all into a project and deliver something that a client truly loves, that you can truly take pride in.”
May 19, 2015
There are houses whose grandeur and elegance immediately take your breath away. And then there are houses whose warmth, charm, and subtle beauty quietly draw you in. The Penelope Rose is one such a house. Raleigh Residential designer Tony Frazier, owner of Frazier Home Design, designed it as a forever home for his own family. However, it caught the attention of many as part of the Wake County Parade of Homes, where it was this past fall’s gold award winning home. North Carolina Design talked to Tony about the Penelope Rose, and his motivation for its distinctive design.
Images Courtesy of Frazier Home Design ©
Tony’s legacy is shaped by generations of people who loved being part of the building process. “My father ran a tile business, and my grandfather was a civil engineer,” he recounts. “I grew up around construction sites, and I found them inspiring,” Tony struck out on his own in the residential construction industry in 2007, and his blend of artistry, skill, and thoughtful, personal touches has brought him great success designing custom homes.
In spite of this success, Tony found being his own client quite difficult. “I learned through this project that it is far easier to for me to make decisions about someone else’s home than my own,” he says. “Because I’m in the industry, I know all the available possibilities and options. It was overwhelming to try to choose. There were so many aspects I wanted to incorporate, and it was a challenge to work them into one design.”
Even if the details took time to piece together, Tony did have a clear vision throughout that he worked hard to achieve. “My wife and I both have a real love for historic houses,” he says. “For the home’s exterior, I really wanted to recreate a classic Georgian architectural style. On the inside,we wanted to create a modern farmhouse – an airy, clean and bright space with a rustic feel.”
Tony’s overall goal was to create a cozy family home – a welcoming space that brought people together. “The house measures around 4,500 square feet, which is on the smaller side for this price point,” he notes. “For us, it was not about how much square footage you would get for the price. It was about investing in the details that gave a feeling of warmth and togetherness. I wanted people to see that you can have a million dollar home and have it be a welcoming, intimate space.”
Many details, in fact, work together to add character and life to this home. From the warm, golden hues of the hardwoods that run throughout the first floor, to the quaint farmhouse kitchen sink, to the beautifully detailed tung-and-groove ceiling in the family room, there is something to charm the eye at almost every turn. Meanwhile, cool colors, clean lines and contemporary fixtures and accents offer a clean and sophisticated element that elevates the space.
Tony purposefully created an open floor plan that would serve well as a gathering space. “The sunroom, kitchen, foyer and family room all connect and flow into one another, so even if you are entertaining lots of people, you still feel as though you are all together.”
One of Tony’s favorite spots in the house is the sunroom. With a quick close of the large sliding barn doors, it becomes a private space where he can relax alone or spend quality time with his wife and daughter. “We can enjoy the sunshine, or have dinner by the fire in the evening,” he reflects.
Tony sums up his feelings on his home beautifully. “It’s so important to have a space where you belong, and where you can slow down and share what’s best about life with the people you love. That’s what I set out to create for my family. I think I achieved my goal, and I couldn’t be happier.”
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