home decor

Renovating Your Bathroom? I've Got 5 Designer Tips That No One Else Talks About!

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I promise that I’ve never heard anyone talk about most of these tips that I want to share with you for your bathroom renovation. They make SUCH a difference to the final result! 

Our small master bathroom got a big update last year, but I haven't had a chance to show it to you until today.

Actually, we had two of the bathrooms in our sweet house completely renovated over the summer, one right after the other.  A little brave, but we wanted to bite the bullet and then be done

We learned a couple of things that form the basis of my tips.  The above picture shows the coffin, I mean, the shower.   Dark and narrow with a lowered ceiling. Who does this? Actually lots of builders in the 80’s did this. Here's another view of the room:

 

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The vanity had two sinks--a really important feature in a tiny bathroom.  There's also a toilet, but you don't need that picture.  You know what a toilet looks like.

And now - the "After:"

 

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Same space--can you believe it?  We knocked that coffin down--and discovered that the shower pan had been leaking underneath for YEARS!  Talk about good timing. Now there's light, glass, white subway tile on the walls, chrome accents and beautiful recycled glass tile on the floor.  The renovation was a journey (as all renovations are, right?).  

 

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Good lord, look how pretty this is.  I don't mean to brag, but we really do love how this looks and functions now.  White Marble, acrylic pulls, pretty mirrors and that gorgeous Sea Salt interior paint color that Sherwin Williams has blessed the world with.

Home renovations aren't easy for anyone.  Here's my short list of what I learned on this one:

 

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Bathroom Renovation Tip #1 - Pay attention; no detail is too small.  Did you notice this in the photo? The contractor put white quarter round molding between the floor and the cabinet toe kick. I understand why he did it--he was "matching" the base molding in the rest of the room.  I didn't even think about it until everything was done.  That piece of molding should have been painted to match the cabinet.  I'll get around to it. Someday.  In the meantime, it bugs me.  First world problem.

 

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Bathroom renovation tip #2 - look at the Big Box store's online selection of pulls and knobs.  These came from Home Depot.  They look very similar to ones carried by Restoration Hardware, at half the price,  I love them.

 

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Renovation tip #3 - pay attention to lighting.  Look at the "Before" above of the light fixtures.  The famous clown lights that every builder seems to adore. 

Since it's a small space and we were using LED bulbs in the new fixtures, we were able to remove the light inside the shower.  There's glossy white subway tile in there and a recessed can outside of the shower (you can see it reflected in the mirror) along with 2 lights on each side of the sink.  With all the glass, we could also taking better advantage of natural light coming through the window.  Any more lighting and it would have felt like showering during an interrogation (now that's a weird thought)!  Too much!

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Reno tip #4 (the day is long, I'm obviously conserving my characters). Choose your wall color carefully in a tiny room with light and mirrors.  I LOVE Sherwin Williams Sea Salt on walls and I swear it often feels like  everyone in the U.S. has Sea Salt in some room in their home.  It's a well loved color and rightfully so. So soothing.  But when it first went up, everything suddenly had a greenish blue cast to it.  The floor, the walls, the tile.  I gave it a couple of days and all was well.  Some of the change was because of the LED bulbs.  Incandescent bulbs give off a very warm color, so switching to the LED meant we shifted to a soft white color.  In the end, soft white is a true-er color.  True-er?  Is that a word?

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Tip #5 - don't tile anything all the way to the floor.  When a vacuum cleaner hits that tile, it will crack.  Sigh.  We'll fix that someday.

 

Soon I'll show you the results in the other renovated bathroom, which Grandboy uses.  If you have updated your bathroom in an older home lately, I'd love to hear what you learned!

Ciao,

Anne

How About Some Color On Those Interior Doors?

I've always wondered why most interior doors are painted white.  Maybe because they match the trim color, or because it's easy on the eyes (nothing going on here!), or because by the time we looked at the doors we were tired of choosing colors.  I'd like to suggest that some of your doors should be painted or stained to look different than the others.

Here's a couple:

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Benjamin Moore's Heritage Red (HC-181), high gloss paint makes sliding open the pantry door a real treat! And can you see the natural hickory door next to the white back entry door?  All the doors aren't the same, even in this tiny space!

Another great door color is gray.  Look at these:

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I recommended Sherwin Williams Tin Lizzie (SW 9163) in a semi gloss finish for these french doors.  My client painted them himself and did a fantastic job!  He kept the door moldings a bright white.

Want to see another one?

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I chose Benjamin Moore's Amherst Gray (HC167) for this client.  They painted the door molding the same color.  There are two other doors in the room that I don't have photos of.  One is this color and the other a much darker faux finish.  They all tie into the french country vibe of the space so well.  Ignore the spirit in the glass.  She's a friendly ghost.

As soon as it's warm enough (it's winter as I write this), I'm going to paint the door to our garage a  pretty color--maybe a dark green, like a pond scum green.  I always like that color in paintings, go figure.   

How about this one:

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It's called "home on the range."  How perfect is that?  Benjamin Moore #483.  I'll show you when it's done!

Do you have a fabulous color on any of the interior doors in your home?  I sure would love to hear about them if you do!

Ciao,

Anne

A Family Room Goes From Tired To Terrific!

Before - back wall.

Before - back wall.

It was time for an update in this beautiful home in Chapel Hill, NC.  The owners are well-traveled art lovers and wanted their home to provide respite in between trips and be an easy place to entertain in.

Before -  side wall.  

Before -  side wall.  

Let's cut to the chase:  here's what we did to maintain the warmth and coziness, but also give it a terrific update that will last for many happy years!

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The walls were painted in a cooler color, the ceiling got a touch of warmth and we headed to Furnitureland South near High Point, NC, to gather up a few new key pieces (the entertainment center and coffee table).  At the same time, we reupholstered sofas and 2 chairs that were lanquishing in the basement.  New window treatments and other accents finished the room off beautifully.  

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There was a lot of furniture in the basement.  The recliner above is the Mr.'s favorite chair. The Mars and Venus war about recliners wages on, but I embrace them--as long as they're not the huge, pillowy version. We decided to surprise him by using it.  But first we gave it a new upholstery.

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I kept those curvaceous arms, the lovely tufting and nailhead trim. Then polished them all up a soft, neutral fabric with leather contrasting welt.  I'm the self-proclaimed queen of contrast welt and I wear that crown with pride.  

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Before nails go into walls to install new arrangements of shelves or art, I "draw" out new arrangements on the computer, usually giving the client both symmetrical and asymmetrical options (I do love asymmetrical arrangements, but they still have to be balanced).   The arrangement shown above was the winner, but then we laid everything out on the floor and tweaked until it was just right. We also added awesome LED recessed cans to properly light what's being displayed.  You can see the resulting wall next:

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The art wall now has a great mix of favorite, meaningful pieces.  There's a pretty sofa table right behind---the sofa!

Beautiful blue paisley fabric was chosen to replace the dark plaid on this chair and it's matching ottoman.  Fabulous upgrade!

Beautiful blue paisley fabric was chosen to replace the dark plaid on this chair and it's matching ottoman.  Fabulous upgrade!

We usually hide the arm covers under the seat cushions, but somehow they were left on during the photo shoot, which is okay.   My upholstery guy makes the most beautiful fitted arm covers.  They've got contrast welt on them too!  See the nailhead trim at the base of the sofa?  Little custom details are everywhere.    Like the lamp?  That came from Home Goods!  It was a score. 

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I wish I had a good photo of the desk we put in the corner--it's a beauty.  We kept the artwork on that wall--it's all paintings of their former homes.  Karen and I love those cushy animal print pillows so much that we had some made for our own sofas!

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Here's a peek at the Ralph Lauren accent lamp in a blue and white chinoiserie pattern.  Can you make out the titles of the books?  I have fun picking those out from my collection for photo shoots.

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The blue and white color combination was so easy to work with.  We kept the window treatments simple, but not boring (never boring!).  See the little buttons on them?  And the lovely blue welt at the top?  Micropiping on the curvy bottom edges, too.  

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I love meeting the pets of every client and this one was no different.  Sweet Riley was always happy to see me and even agreed to pose for the photographer.  Good dog!

Ciao,

Anne

Advice from a design pro: Get the right lighting, ditch clutter, be happy!

I haven't posted in such a long time.  It was a whirlwind summer with lots of great projects and family time (the beach was awesome, but remind me to tell you about our visit to Chicago later).  I'm working on getting you caught up with some yummy photos by the end of the week, but for now here's a post that somehow never got published back in May!  

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It's always fun to be featured in print and digital media. The News & Observer here in Raleigh, NC, published this article in May - if you would rather see their page,  Here's the link to the article,   Most of the photos here were taken by the talented Marilyn of Style House Photography.

My design signature: I lean toward clean lines and calm interiors. I urge clients to pare down the “stuff” and focus on small details that build continued interest in the room. Contrast welt on upholstery, interesting lampshades and mixing antiques with new furnishings are always present in my work.

Biggest design mistake you see in homes: Nothing is more important than the right lighting, whether it’s for mood, safety or function, yet it’s often completely overlooked.

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Easy ways to address that mistake in three quick tips:

1. Replace the big incandescent or CFL bulbs in your recessed cans with Cree’s TW Series LED replacement bulbs for recessed cans. They’re sold at Home Depot and cost about $10. 65-watt equivalents are usually bright enough. Cree is a local company and those bulbs are fantastic (and dimmable).

The right lighting made all the difference in the use of this kitchen.

The right lighting made all the difference in the use of this kitchen.

2. If you’re lucky enough to have 9-foot ceilings or higher in your kitchen plus an island, hang some pretty pendants over it. This will bring light down closer to the surface where meals are being prepared, homework is being done and conversations are happening. A hanging height rule of thumb is for the bottom of your fixture to be 32 to 36 inches from the surface.

3. Scatter light fixtures around the room. Ceiling lights are for navigation, accent light provides a welcoming glow and task lighting lets you read comfortably in your favorite chair. All three need to be in almost every room.

Best design advice you can give: Enjoy your home. Your goal is not to impress anyone with Instagram-worthy décor. Your goal is to smile every time you walk through the door at the end of the day. Add attractive storage to hold stuff that wants to pile up on the counters, put colorful artwork on those neutral walls and display grandma’s treasured china in an old plate rack you find at the Flea Market, SuzAnna’s Antiques or Market Imports.

Gorgeous window treatments warmed this room right up.  Isn't it inviting?

Gorgeous window treatments warmed this room right up.  Isn't it inviting?

Best advice for window treatments: Big, high windows in many Triangle homes are beautiful, but they also make the room feel kind of cold and exposed. Frame your windows – and their lovely views – with drapery panels. They soften the lines, polish up the room and instantly add a note of luxury.

Go-to trim color: Sherwin Williams Alabaster is my favorite white for beautiful moldings – and use a high gloss finish. Light sneaks in from different sources and the lovely sheen of high gloss paint on your trim is a little bit of magic.

Best decorating bang for the buck: Invest in a couple of hours of time with an experienced interior designer. Designers are happy to do consultations and you will get lots of ideas to implement as time and budget allow. The average hourly rate for local designers seems to run between $100 and $175, and many offer a consultation package (2 hours plus some follow-up resources, for example) in the ballpark of $365. Designers can cover a lot of details in one or two rooms in that amount of time and it can easily save homeowners that much in avoided mistakes.

This is the photo they used in the print edition of the newspaper--one of our grand-dogs, enjoying a chair, taken with my iPhone!

This is the photo they used in the print edition of the newspaper--one of our grand-dogs, enjoying a chair, taken with my iPhone!

How to buy the right things when shopping: I always ask my clients to come up with three or four words that describe how they want their rooms to look when they’re finished decorating. The words cannot be “warm, comfortable and inviting” – too generic. Dig a little deeper to find words that are more meaningful and personal. We all like so many things that we see in magazines, in the stores and on TV, so those three words can really drive the bus when deciding what to buy. Does the item match up with your three words? If not, put it down. You can admire it without having to buy it. This works for everything from sofas to accessories.

Do you have a current design challenge in your own home? I just bought two gold candle sconces from Vintage Vault in Durham. They’ve got big faceted glass prisms hanging from every possible point. Quite fussy, fun and fabulous. However, my house is rather tailored – not fussy at all. But I promise I will soon find a place to showcase those two sparkly sconces.

UPDATE!  I hung the sconces on an accent wall in our Living Room.  New LED candles are on their way as I type.  Yes!  Projects in designer's homes can stretch on for a very long time!  LOL!

UPDATE!  I hung the sconces on an accent wall in our Living Room.  New LED candles are on their way as I type.  Yes!  Projects in designer's homes can stretch on for a very long time!  LOL!

Ciao,

Anne