window treatments

3 Tips For Fireplace Updates

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Are you ready to update your fireplace?  If so, I've got 3 tips to share with you, along with a couple of photos from a recent project.  Above is the "before" fireplace photo.  My clients wanted to put the flat screen tv above the mantel and bring a more transitional style in the room. 

Here's what we did:

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It's like someone turned on the lights!

Tip #1 - create more visual space on the fireplace wall.  We did it by pulling the new custom window treatments over to the side.  This gives a more open feeling.

Tip #2 - use a new material.  In this case, we tore the whole sheetrock, brick and wood face down and rebuilt it with stacked travertine.  The stone wraps to the wall, creating 3" sides so it doesn't look flat.  The mason had to replace the old sheetrock with Durock cement board, but that's standard when working with heavy tile.  The hearth floor got a sturdy porcelain tile.  Looks fabulous!

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Tip #3 - Consider using a nice chunky board from the lumberyard as your mantel.  This piece of poplar, stained a walnut color by our crackerjack carpenter,  is less rustic, more refined than a reclaimed beam.  He also created what I'll call a backsplash with the poplar because we made the whole shebang a little lower than the old fireplace.  With 9' ceilings, we needed more breathing space for the TV.  I think the sound bar (sitting in the center of the mantel) looks better in front of wood rather than a painted sheetrock wall.  

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Tip #4 - this isn't really a tip, it's a thought.  I understand the desire to get rid of entertainment centers, so the TV has to go somewhere--often it's above the fireplace.  But look how pretty the room is with a piece of artwork on the wall!  This is "Misty No. 1" by the talented Michelle Woolley Sauter of One Coast Design.  I photoshopped it in, with her permission.  I love the frameless style.

Take a look at where the TV used to reside in the room:

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This was a perfectly nice custom built entertainment center, about 16 years old.  Isn't it amazing how things have changed over those years?  It's hard to keep up with everything about TV's, including how to install them!

To recap - visually lighten the space, change out your hearth material and use a chunky piece of wood as a mantel.  Then light that fire and enjoy!

Ciao,

Anne

 

Keeping the French Country vibe.

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The above "before" photo shows a project I worked on this year.  You can see that it was already a lovely space in the French Country style:  nice antiques, art and meaningful family pieces.  The floor plan worked for tv watching (it's hidden in the armoire over to the right, out of view in this picture), entertaining and for grandbaby toddling.  What we did was to freshen things up and add architectural detail.  

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Est-ce fabuleux? Oui, ça l'est!  A couple of new chairs, new upholstery on some old pieces, changing out the art and painting the fireplace were just a few of the things we did.  Now it looks like the same room, only better.

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The large floral print livens up a corner and the contrasting welt gives this club chair some shape.  That custom accent pillow is just fun!

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Adding the beams to the ceiling--and the modern ceiling fan--gave this room much needed architectural detail.  Adding beams isn't hard and replacing a fan is very easy (well, not easy for me, but for the right people, both are very do-able).

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Updating this incredibly sweet bergere was such a pleasure.  Who doesn't love a houndstooth?  We added apple green contrasting welt and a simple white custom accent pillow with a black ruffled trim. 
 

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I love details like these. 

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The black fireplace was given a special paint treatment by Peggy Lee Mead of Peggy Lee Designs.  Peggy also gave a nearby door the same sort of treatment.  She's such a talented painter!  I'll link to her on my Houzz page in the project folder titled "French Country Update."   If you're in the Raleigh, NC area, call her for special painting projects!

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The window treatments in the Family Room pulled colors from the upholstery fabrics and colors in the artwork.  

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Here's a close up of the amazing upholstery job on the sofa.   The contrast welt in a soft gray coordinates with the french blue fabric and the antique brass nailhead trim is always a nice touch. 

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The custom accent pillows on the sofa have a burlap trim on the edges and a tape trim that features a hand-applied burlap accent on top.  Made with love by artisans--that trim was a lucky find.

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A nearby Powder Room got a sweet window treatment made of the prettiest french toile.  The walls were freshly painted and the ceiling color went from good ol' flat white to a deep teal.  Painting bathroom ceilings is a no-brainer!

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The Kitchen is open to this room and we continued the update a bit in there.  I'll show those off in the next post.  It's a gorgeous Sunday afternoon here and I'm headed outside for a bit!

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