Monday, November 23, 2009

The Holiday Table...

Tis the season to set the holiday table and it's always inspiring to learn what other folks are doing.  My Mother-in- Love, Dorothy Maxwell, always sets the most beautiful table during any event, but, especially during the holidays.  Her attention to detail is exquisite.  Dot always uses placemats that underscore the season with color, uses her good china, chrystal and silver without fail and adds lots of personal touches that make it intimate and charming.  You will always find napkins adorned with a napkin ring or a bookmark that she has made and personalized for each guest.  There are always delightfully unique placecard holders and each person always receives a special favor.  Favors have included a hand painted china ornament, a little favor box of candies, a little booklet she has found and thought was special, the list is endless.  Her centerpieces include flowers, candles, and decorative items that celebrate the season.  Over the years, I have never seen a tablescape duplicated!  She is a marvel.  I wish that I had pictures of her tables to share with you.  Since I do not, I will share a few tables that I think she would find pretty.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Using the things we love...

If we are honest, there are things in our homes that might not fit everyone’s idea of the ultimate in interior design. In Alexandra Stoddard’s book Creating a Beautiful Home, she talks about surrounding yourself with the things you love to truly create a home. She gives us “permission” to break the “rules” and include personally revealing items. Here are a few examples of the challenges we face when we do just that.


Recently, a Charlotte, NC client had a dilemma that we had to solve. Her husband collects autographed sports memorabilia and lots of it. The question that we faced was how to create a gallery style installation on the wall of her husband’s home office. The question wasn’t how to create a beautiful display, the question was how to select from such an abundance of beloved options. I recently found a photographer that photographs and compiles hard bound books for homeowners. I am going to share this with this client as a way to document this amazing collection.

My daughter recently asked me why we have a baby carriage in our foyer! The reason, I explained, is that it is from the 1800’s and has carried 5 generations of Maxwell babies. It is a lovely old piece with iron wheels and a rattan carriage. It fits perfectly in my foyer and there is no other option in my home. Is it appropriate to have an item like this in the foyer? Maybe not, but we love it and enjoy it every day.

Another client’s husband brings home treasures from his travels around the world. He is very sentimental about these items and wants them displayed. We chose two display cabinets in which to show these pieces and make them work. Do we love all the items? No. Do they make an impact as a collection in a showcase? Absolutley. Is the client enjoying the fruit of his travel? You bet, and isn’t that the point?

Keep the following in mind for the key to displaying one or more special items:

Focus  -  Create a prominent spot for one of a kind items.  Spotlighting, framing or otherwising highlighting these items gives them importance and impact.

Balance—objects placed in relation to one another in order to create visual stability using symmetry or asymmetry.  A rule of thumb; if you think that the physical weight of each side would balance on an actual scale, you have likely acheived the balance you neeed.

Proportion—objects grouped according to size and distribution of forms.

Visual focus/hierarchy—objects arranged in order to create focal points which attract the eye, utilizing shapes, sizes and colours.

Repetition—objects repeated in a grouping to create visual interest and unity by considering spatial relationships, colours, shapes or textures.  Grouping like items creates impact.

Contrast & dynamics—objects placed in opposition or tension in order to create visual interest, involving elements such as colour (contrasting colours like red/green, blue/orange, yellow/purple), lightness and darkness, size or visual suggestion of movement (rhythmic, arrhythmic, random or directional).

I have always admired Alexandra Stoddard’s philosophy that your home should reflect you and the things you love, not a trend or what anyone else says. It is only by using personal items that we create the unique environment that we call home. So find a way to use those items that you are not sure you should. Display them with purpose and you will enjoy your home all the more for it!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Government Has Mandated Residential Sprinkler Systems - We Have to Get the State to Say NO!

On Tuesday evening my husband, Scott, and I attended the Rock Hill, SC, Home Builders Association meeting. Much of the evening was spent discussing the impact of the International Residential Code that was just passed in Washington. Unless state legislation is passed to opt out, every new house built in each state, after July 2011, will be mandated to have a fire sprinkler. Currently statistics show that the chances of surviving a home fire where working fire alarms are present is 99.45%. Smoke detectors save lives. The addition of sprinklers in the home is unnecessary and detrimental in two ways. First, it will add to the cost of ANY home, large or small. Secondly, most municipalities are not set up to handle the kind of water flow it would take to operate residential sprinkler systems. That means that if this regulation is passed by the states, individual water tanks would have to be buried in each yard to provide the water needed to run the system. The cost of this could run anywhere from $7 to $10 per square foot. In a 1,000 square foot starter home, the total cost of installing a sprinkler system and required water infrastructure would be $7,000+. Research shows that for every $1,000 increase in the cost of a house, 200,000+ young first time SC home buyers will be forced to give up the dream of owning a home.

Mandatory fire sprinklers will keep low income citizens at risk. In raising the cost of a house, the government is forcing the economically disadvantaged to stay in older, marginal housing, with little fire protection instead of moving into a safer modern home. Statistics show that most home fires are in older or mobile homes without hard-wired fire alarms. Mandatory sprinkler systems are no answer in this case.

My blog posts are normally about interior design and how to make your home beautiful. This subject, however, affects all of us and our children. I felt the need to post this so that we can all realize what is at stake and do something about it. Please call, write or email your state reps and let them know that mandatory sprinkler systems for private residence are just another government invasion of our homes and that this regulation MUST be thrown out! Thanks.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Prinicples of Staging for the Homeowner that is NOT Selling

I am often asked to stage homes in the Charlotte NC metro area and I have been thinking about the differences between staging and design. I have decided that we all need to apply staging principles from time to time to keep our homes fresh. When I stage homes, I go in with a completely different approach to the home than I do when I am going in on a design consultation. In designing a home, it’s often about what we want to add to a space. In staging it’s all about ommiting, or taking away from the design. When a home is for sale, buyers are looking at whether or not the home feels spacious and if they can imagine themselves living there. My job is two fold. First, to make the home look as large as possible. This is accomplished through the editing process. Second, to remove enough of the homeowner’s personality that the buyer can envision themselves in the space. As homeowners not selling our homes, it is good to walk through occassionally, and look at our space through the eyes of a buyer. We will see things that we might not realize until we notice them on purpose.


When I am trying to show off a home’s floor plan, several things are taken into consideration. Often, we re-arrange the seating area to create better traffic flow and show off the space. How we live, positioning the chair to watch t.v. or pushing the couch up against the wall so the floor is open for the kids to play, doesn’t always work in selling the home. I often have to prepare clients for a few months of discomfort in order for them to get top dollar for their house. Once the furniture is placed properly, we get stuff up off the floor. Baskets, magazine holders, stereo speakers, and the like, fill up the visual square footage. The more floor you can see, the larger the space appears. We even replace solid coffee tables for glass ones from time to time, so that the visual impact is lessened. In staging a home, removing clutter is paramount to success! Often, when we live in a space, we get used to the pile of junk on the corner of the kitchen counter or the stack of magazines on the floor by the reading chair. From time to time, check you floor space and make sure that your home isn’t getting too crowded. The same holds true for kitchen counters, crowded bookcases and home office areas.

When it comes to de-personalizing a home, we take away some, not all, personal photo’s and things of a more personal nature. I have toned down collections of all kinds from NASCAR to Pez dispensers, religious icons to heavy metal posters! This principle can apply to our own homes. Are our collections tastefully displayed, with impact, but not over the top? Are we sporting so many photo’s of the kids that folks don’t know where to look first? It is smart to edit your personal items every now and again because we become comfortable with things until we don’t realize our home is under a blanket of our “stuff”!

Very few folks live in a “model” home. I, for one, would love to, but, sadly with three kids and four critters, it’s just not happening. However, from time to time, I walk through the house to really look for what could be edited. Try it, you’ll be surprised at what you see and the changes that it will cause you to make. You might not want to sell your home, but sometimes the extra breathing room we create by editing our belongings, makes all the difference.

Calgon Take Me Away...

Calgon Take Me Away...
soak your troubles away in this stone beauty

Bathtub becomes fountain... fabulous!

cottage charm!

perfect for your mountain retreat!

Where I belong...

The AIDP Charlotte Chapter Board Members

The AIDP Charlotte Chapter Board Members
Seated from left, Davetta Moore, National Board Member, Wanda Horton, Vice President of Communication, Jane Ann Maxwell, President, standing from left to right, Nancy Martin, Vice President of Membership, Mary Santini, Secretary/Treasurer, and Marianne Parker, National Board Member

Emily's New Room

Emily's New Room

This desk was the inspiration for the room

Decorating for Christmas in Adult and Kid Zones...

Decorating for Christmas in Adult and Kid Zones...
Adults will love the beauty of the luxe mantle

This bright, bold mantle is kid friendly

This lovely arrangement is sophisicated and elegant

Kids tables need centerpieces too and these serve as favors to take home afterwards!

The Holiday Table...

The Holiday Table...
This table setting would make a beautiful Thanksgiving breakfast table

Greenery - simple and elegant

These pictures illustrate the idea of using what you love...

These pictures illustrate the idea of using what you love...
One home owner loves classic traditional decore, the other mid century modern. Look at what they created using the things they both loved!!!

Grouping beloved collections create impact

Two collections united by color

Pictures from the Coastal Vibe Project

Pictures from the Coastal Vibe Project
The chair fabric was designed just for this client and then made into yardage just for these chairs!

The living room seating area. The client wanted it elegant and yet relaxed, with the idea of being at a house on the beach.

We added the built-ins and had the paint changed before the homeowner moved in. A cozy seating arrangement and momentos from world travels warm the space.

another view

These pictures illustrate "staging" principles

These pictures illustrate "staging" principles
This beautiful room was designed to be cozy and full. This room is an example of NOT staging to maximize the square footage. Thanks to House Beautiful for the image

This serene room is designed for maximum spaciousness! Notice that you see lots of floor through the legs of the coffee table. Lots of breathing room in this space. Thanks to House Beautiful for the image.

This is an example of Benjamin Moore Aura paints to go with the About Paint post

This is an example of Benjamin Moore Aura paints to go with the About Paint post
One of the many beautiful colors in the Aura collection

Aura paints have low VOC's which means it's healthier for everybody!

To illustrate the post "Art For Your Walls"

The following pictures are artwork from some of my favorite local artists. The fabulous thing about these folks is that they will do commissioned pieces especially for you! Enjoy...

Local Artists...

Local Artists...
Richard Anderson

Celia Flock

Sany Seipert, an older work, her newer stuff is better, this was the only image I had...

The following pictures are from the October High Point Furniture Market.

These are some of the showrooms and displays that I thought were terrific.

Bella Luna was one of my favorite showrooms!

Bella Luna was one of my favorite showrooms!
everything on display was quirky and elegant

One of my favorite finds, this mirror is a piece of art!

These sassy stools help tell the Bella Luna story

Cyan design always has unusual and neat things

Hot Color Trend shown at the Spring Market in Highpoint!

Hot Color Trend shown at the Spring Market in Highpoint!
black and white and malachite!

Luxury Lighting!

Luxury Lighting!

Favorite New Accessoires...

Favorite New Accessoires...
Contact us for more information or to place an order...

love this!

simply elegant!

fabulous silver platters that are even better in person

These make such a great centerpiece for a dining room table

FALL MARKET 2008 - GORGEOUS COLOR, FOCUS ON "GREEN" DESIGN, FUN WITH LAQUER...

FALL MARKET 2008 - GORGEOUS COLOR, FOCUS ON "GREEN" DESIGN, FUN WITH LAQUER...
New color combo that was everywhere, butter and pewter, so pretty, soft and fresh!

Gorgeous Global Views - always my favorite venue

Gorgeous Global Views - always my favorite venue
soft butter and pewter

"GREEN" in both color and sustainablity is a beautiful choice...

"GREEN" in both color and sustainablity is a beautiful choice...
These pillows made from abaca leaves and coconut beads are eco-friendly and good for the workers of the developing country in which they are made.

Old favorites are still in play...

Old favorites are still in play...
aqua, teal, peacock are still popular-- note the laquered mirror!

Before and After pictures are always fun!

Before and After pictures are always fun!
This is a "before" picture of a recent project.

After #2!

After #2!

Before #2

Before #2
same room, different view

AFTER!

AFTER!
new carpet, upholstery, paint, window treatments...

More from the High Point Spring Market My Favorite Overall Venue - Global Views

More from the High Point Spring Market My Favorite Overall Venue - Global Views
terrific accessories, uniquely displayed

black, white, red, silver punch!

note the male figures at the bottom of the ropes climbing out of the vases!

Favorite Find at the High Point Spring Market

Favorite Find at the High Point Spring Market
Pablo Mekis Artisan Pillows

the hand stiching is fabulous!

more Pablo Mekis

A designer is as good as her team...

Every designer relies on a team of people to help execute her design vision. I have worked very hard to assemble a top notch team of craftsmen and professionals to rely on for excellence in execution and customer service. I have nick named them "The "A" Team". This name is so appropriate because this group brings their best effort to each task. There are many folks out there that will give you adequate, we strive for exceptional.

The following pictures will introduce you to some of the work done by these guys...

Introducing...

Introducing...
Marilyn Croteau - the BEST window treatment workroom on the East Coast

Introducing...

Introducing...
Heavin Woodworks - beautiful trims and built-ins

Introducing...

Introducing...
G.Richard Anderson Faux Finisher. He does fabulous work!

Oeco Textiles

Oeco Textiles
all natural and all green

A staged breakfast room

A staged breakfast room
We recovered the chairs to co-ordinate with the area rug and added a fresh bunch of flower from the grocery store!

This week...

This week, I am working on two interiors that are either on or are near Lake Wylie, SC. Both homeowners are interested in incorporating a coastal "vibe" into the design for their homes. Working on two homes with the same design direction has never happened in my business before. It will be fun to see just how differently we approach each home. They will be as different and unique as their homeowners and we will be sure to include some after pictures in about 3 or 4 months!

Something's Gotta Give

Something's Gotta Give
from the movie "Something's Gotta Give" the set design for the Nantucket living room is inspiration for a coastal interior that I'm working on right now...

Coastal Inspiration

Coastal Inspiration
another coastal inspiration

this rug from Aspen Carpet Designs is very close to the one in the movie!

BVI's Virgin Gorda - beautiful!

great garden bench