Project Updates

An Amazing Transformation Is Underway!

How many people move into new spaces that feature a VERY neutral decor style--like this townhouse?


beige foyer with small light fixture


The Foyer.  Check. The full window storm door is a nice touch.  The homeowner probably did that.




This ceiling is quite the non-feature with that air grate and nipple lights.  I don't quite understand the placement or materials used. 




The Stairway.  Check. At least the bannister has a nice stain color and the balusters are iron, but it kind of looks like the stairs lead to a wall.




White powder room off the foyer -  very blah. There's a window opposite the sink, so it's not a dark hole, but the pedestal sink guarantees no hidden storage for tp, tissues, soap, towels.


The whole first floor continues the VERY neutral theme.  Great bones, as we say in the trade, but needing attention to create warmth and character. 


Mr. H. bought this townhome in a wonderful location in Raleigh and called me to schedule a 2 hour design consultation.  We had a great meeting,  both shared lots of ideas and I went on my merry way.

Mr. H is a good looking guy, but this is Cary Grant.  He looks a lot like George Clooney, don't you think? How is he keeping those glasses in his mouth while he smiles?  

Mr. H is a good looking guy, but this is Cary Grant.  He looks a lot like George Clooney, don't you think? How is he keeping those glasses in his mouth while he smiles?  


And then Mr. H. started sending me pictures of his progress....


warm inviting foyer Raleigh NC


I don't get to see a lot of "After" photos from 2 hour consults, so when I saw these in my email, I was tickled pink.  And blown away.  He did the trim work himself!  I think you need to see a side-by-side comparison to fully appreciate it:


New foyer light fixture, replaced the nipple lights with LED recessed cans, painted the walls a warmer shade (Greenbrier Beige by Ben Moore), a better rug and hanging favorite artwork -- all great. But the star is the gorgeous millwork that Mr. H. created with precision, skill and care.  He cut, sanded, installed and painted the whole shebang.  It looks SO GOOD!  The man is a DIY Superstar!

original artwork by homeowner


The stairs are right at the front door, so we thought a piece of art should be hung at the landing.  Mr. H. created this piece out of scrap wood and paint that was used in the Powder Room.  We're still working on finding the right light fixture to highlight his artwork.


Speaking of the Powder Room:




Remember the before?  Here's another--it's pretty darn stark.  There I am, trying to squeeze it into a shot.

Let me show you what he did to that tiny white room:


I had a LOT of fun collaborating on this space.  Mr. H. moved to Raleigh from Arizona and wanted to bring some of that vibe to his new home.  I think we succeeded nicely.  

 Installing copper trim around the stone tile and the blue paint wrapping from the wall to ceiling added the sparkle we were looking for. The continued millwork that blends traditional and southwestern style is both masculine and polished.  And he found that copper framed mirror on his own!  In a 2 hour consultation, I don't usually find specific products.  I can, but that takes more time and comes under the heading of a "full design service."  Instead, I describe exactly what to look for so you'll know it when you see it and can scoop it up.



Seemingly small things, like building up base and crown moldings, hanging meaningful art, lighting up dark corners, putting just the right color on walls, adding mirrors, rugs and furnishings in the right places--these add personality to every room. Together, it all creates a home.  Not a catalog picture, not something just like your neighbors. Your home.   


Mr. H. is now working on the Kitchen and Great Room decor.  Between my ideas and his own, he's got enough to keep busy for months to come (I've done 2 design consultations for him-- a couple of rooms at a time).  I can't wait to see what he accomplishes next! 



Launching A New Website In 6 Steps

This is what the site looked like yesterday.  

This is what the site looked like yesterday.  

Launching a new website is soooooo much easier said than done.   But we've done it, you're on it and I hope you're loving the purple vibe.  What follows is a summary of what it takes to get a new site up and running.


Launching a new website, step #1 - choose your platform.

There are so many choices!  To make the right decision for your needs, you have to do a lot of research.  This turns out to be the easiest part in the entire process. We chose SquareSpace because it's easy for me to update. "Easy" is a relative term.


Anderson, John and Anthony.  Rockin' my favorite hair color.


Launching a new website, step #2 - hire the best web designer you can find.

I don't care what anyone tells you - doing it yourself is for the birds. Web design is a profession, so hire a professional.  John Hoge has been the force behind DeCocco Design websites for a whole lot of years now.  He's an artist first and a web guru second and what a difference that makes! He looks like a cross between Anderson Cooper and Anthony Bourdain, don't you think?  Maybe it's just the fabulous hair color (I am biased).  John is patient, generous and  hilarious.  Thanks John.  I wouldn't have a business without you.


    Laura Mentler, photographer

    Marilyn Peryer, photographer


Launching a new website, step #3 - use professional photographers for the eye candy.

I take plenty of decent pictures with my iPhone.  They're great for the blog, but not the whole website. 

Let me introduce you to my photographers (you can use them, too!):

Most of the interior photos - Marilyn Peryer of Style House Photography

One lovely project in Charlotte - Wes Stearns of Artist Eye Photography 

All  photos of yours truly - Laura Mentler of Laura Ann Photography

Each of these photographers has a special talent that is very evident in their work. Thank you Marilyn, Wes and Laura, for capturing the sparkle that lives in my head.



Felicia Gressette, Editor


Launching a new website, step #4 - hire an editor.

Every website gets a few seconds to hold your attention, so the text is really important.  I like to write (well, talk) and keeping it short and sweet is not in my wheelhouse.  Felicia Gressette is an accomplished editor and publisher who graciously came on board to ensure that every page gives you solid information but doesn't bore you to death with my blather about design versus decorating or the value of hand milled soap (oh yes, I've seen that on a website).  She would never have written that previous sentence--it's way too long.

Thanks Felicia, for making all the other pages on this website short and sweet.


Wrestling with templates, coding, internet issues, etc. is like being in the midst of this lava flow - it's sharp, brittle, unforgiving, nasty stuff.

Wrestling with templates, coding, internet issues, etc. is like being in the midst of this lava flow - it's sharp, brittle, unforgiving, nasty stuff.


Launching a new website, step #5 - wrestle with the site template, the almighty internet, the search engines, etc.

I can't even describe this part.  It takes the longest and much of it is beyond anyone's control.  It's all the yucky, wonky, luck of the draw, fullness of the moon, mercury in retrograde sort of stuff.  Two words; endless and frustrating.  You (and your web designer) just have to deal with it.



Launching a new website, step #6 - life happens.

Oh yeah, this one needs to be inserted in between every step.   Truth be told, website work is very creative, complex and interesting.  Websites take a LOT of time and so does everything else.  Jobs, families, houses, travels, illness, exhaustion.... you know, life. 


I am a happy camper.  On to the next room!

I am a happy camper.  On to the next room!


And then one day, the website launches!

For us, today is that day.  It's looking beautiful.  It's not perfect.  I still find typos, photos still suddenly move out of place, Google continues to make changes and we're thrown into a temporary tizzy.  But in the end, it's all good.

And we've got a new logo!


Our old logo.  Rich, strong and classy.

Our old logo.  Rich, strong and classy.

Our new logo.  Clean, calm and modern.

Our new logo.  Clean, calm and modern.



Ok, the ribbon has been cut, the champagne bottle is empty and we all need to get back to work.  Hooray!




Behind the scenes - getting portfolio pictures!


Getting portfolio pictures is an important part of my design business.  I thought it would be fun to give you a quick behind the scenes look at how I get them.

Portfolio Pictures Before

Long before I get those portfolio pictures, we start with a problem room.  I listen to the issues, create a plan and then implement it.  There - I just summed up months and months of work!

Here's where we go behind the scenes: the camera sees things very differently than the human eye, so I have to do some staging.  This means that a few days before the photo shoot, I'm in a couple of stores, finding lamps, artwork, etc. - whatever I need to show up well in the photos or fill in a few empty spots.  The client often buys some of these pieces, but the rest I bring back.

Portfolio Picture Prep

Here's a real behind the scenes shot--ugh.  The morning  of the photo shoot I pack up the car and head out!  I'm hot and tired just looking at this picture.

behind the scenes, Chapel Hill interior designer

I spend an hour or so staging the rooms before Marilyn Peryer of Style House Photography arrives.  She often has a couple of staging ideas of her own and changes what I've done!  I know interior design, but she knows photography.  Marilyn spent about 2 hours in this house, getting all kinds of shots for me.

interior design raleigh durham chapel hill

Here's a corner of the room.

portfolio pictures, family room Bassett furniture seating

A closer shot.

Behind the scenes portfolio pictures wool accent rug

A detail shot.  I love details!

portfolio pictures C table

A custom C table, built by Metal Fred, here in North Carolina.  It's forged steel and barnboard.  Perfect!

portfolio pictures window treatments, lighting

And a pretty chest and lamp. Love the mix of pattern right there, thank you very much.   I'm not sure I like that wild fern in the background, but there it is.

design portfolio raleigh

Marilyn is standing in the Kitchen, looking toward the Family Room in this one.  She took a lot of great Kitchen pictures, too.  You can always go to my Houzz page to see more photos.  Here's the Kitchen link and here's the Family Room link.  I keep a lot of portfolio pictures in my Projects folders.

One more behind the scenes tidbit:  while the photographer is doing her thing with a serious camera, I'm roaming around taking pictures with my iPhone, usually focusing on other things.

portfolio pictures, family room design

Like the flowers.

behind the scenes, cat, interior designer chapel hill

And the cats.  Here's one.

cat, behind the scenes, portfolio pictures

And the other!  They were both supervising us every step of the way.

While I do a couple of full service design projects every year, my specialty is offering 2 hour interior design consultations.  If you like to do your own decorating, but need some help getting results like these, I can tell you how to do it in a 2 hour consult!  Shoot me a note ( to schedule yours today.