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!


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.  


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.


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.  


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:


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. 


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!


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.


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.  


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!



Color Comes To The Workplace!

Boy oh boy, have we been busy bees here at DeCocco Design!  Remember how I introduced you to Karen, my amazing assistant, back in April (click here for that post)?  She's been hard at work keeping the office humming and organized and her herculean efforts have paid off in spades.  No matter how busy we are, nothing piles up, gets forgotten or falls through the cracks. Life (and business) is just better when you have help!

I'm catching you up on some of the projects we've been working on.  Click here if you missed yesterday's post.  Today we'll visit an office project that is ongoing, but started receiving rave reviews from the employees very early on.  


Every office in this project has two of these comfy chairs for visitors.  They're designed by Eero Saarinen for Knoll.  Lovely lines and upholstered in the nubby, neutral, commercial fabric often found on mid century modern furniture.  


Nubby, neutral fabric.  Can't get much more neutral than this.  The texture is nice, but I wouldn't want to stare at these chairs across from my desk every day.  The client (Ms. D) told me that it was time for a BIG change.  She loves color and isn't afraid to use it!


Using a rug as a jumping off point, we found commercial grade fabrics that say "Hello Gorgeous!" to everyone walking by.  That makes them smile.  Smiling employees are nice to have.  Good goal.  So we started with 3 chairs.


Here I am on delivery day with the newly upholstered chairs.  It was so much fun to see how great they looked--the upholsterer I work with is absolutely the best.  I wanted to sneak them back into the elevator and haul them to my own office!  But there's no sneaking bright orange, magenta and yellow. 

Surely you want to see them close up:

workplace_ color_kravet_fabric_durham_design

Then we moved on to other offices.  Everyone had chosen colorful desk accessories from Poppin, so we used those to coordinate the colors for their chairs.

Some of the   Poppin   colors.  Aren't they great?   Such an awesome change from the typical black stuff (that most of us have--why?  why?!).

Some of the Poppin colors.  Aren't they great?   Such an awesome change from the typical black stuff (that most of us have--why?  why?!).

When we're done, 27 chairs will have been reupholstered.  Let me show you the original again--then I'll show you how fantastic they look now:

The Before.  

The Before.  



Look at me!

Look at me!

Come on in!

Come on in!

It boggles the mind (well, the Work Order did anyway)!  We've got 6 more coming.  Every office has wonderful natural light, so walking down the hall is a real treat--it's one sassy, happy combination after another.  With smiling employees, which is the real treat.

I'll show you the rest when they come.




Southwestern Design Inspiration - 11 Tips

There is no better way to get freshly inspired than to travel.  We recently spent a week in Arizona and man oh man did I bring home a whole lot of Southwestern design inspiration!   A whole new color palette has cracked my head open!

It turns out that seeing pictures of the Grand Canyon is not like seeing the real thing (not at all), but I'm going to show you a couple of my favorite photos to illustrate what I learned:

Southwestern Design Inspiration, Tip #1 - look at the Earth.

Have you been to the GC?  Please go as soon as you can.  It's unbelievable. So beautiful, so big and endlessly amazing.  Look at those colors!  I've got a whole new respect for rusty reds, sagey greens, dusty grays and BLUE!

Southwestern Design Inspiration, Tip #2 - don't shy away from the edge.

I wasn't afraid of heights when I was a kid, but as an adult, when I'm on the edge of a cliff, I have to sit down on the ground or I get dizzy.  Here I am--VERY close to the edge (and it's a very long drop), so I'm sitting on the ground. A design translation would be to create ways to be brave, but also feel safe in your surroundings!

Southwest Design Inspiration, Tip #3 - the importance of shape

You know I have a thing for trees.  Many trees in Arizona are very twisted, scrubby and kind of tortured looking.  Very sculptural and poetic.  I think I'll frame this picture. 

Southwestern Design Iinspiration, Tip #4 - use complementary colors like Mother Nature does.

Of course I seek out houses, even the 900 year old ones.  This is the Wupatki National Monument--a 100 room pueblo in the middle of the desert.  Can you imagine what this was like when a whole community of Native Americans lived in it?  LOOK at the intense rust of the rocks against that blue sky (complementary colors!) makes it a sight to behold.  It's jaw-dropping.

Southwestern Design Inspiration, Tip #5 - always include texture.

Another stop near Flagstaff was the incredible Walnut Canyon where cliff dwellers built homes after a volcanic eruption forced them to seek a new way to live.  Look it up, it's a fascinating story.  And look at all the neutral earthy colors in this dwelling--they're all mixed up together, with a ton of stony texture.  And out the "window" is an enormous canyon with incredible trees and plants.  NOTHING is smooth out there--except for the incredible sky.

Southwester Design Inspiration, Tip #6 - Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Beholder

Remnants of the volcanic lava flow that came from Sunset Crater down a huge path showed the long-term devastation that a volcanic eruption brings. It's huge, black, brittle, prickly and kind of scary looking.  Yet now trees and flowers can be seen growing in little pockets of space amidst the lava.. Mother Earth is something else.  I felt her power at every turn.  Standing in the midst of this thing felt cosmic.


Here's the love of my life, leading the way on one of our hikes.  We walked and walked and walked.  And then we walked some more. My Merrell hiking boots came through with flying colors!  


Southwest Design Inspiration, Tip #7 - include a variety of plants.

Desert vegetation is very different  than the plants in North Carolina.  I missed my lush, leafy trees, but the cacti and other plants were stunning.  I guess plants don't have to have leaves to be beautiful. 


Southwestern Design Inspiration, Tip #8 - use the chipped plate-no one cares!


Based on a NY Times recommendation, we stopped at Macy's Bakery in Flagstaff for an afternoon snack.  Here's my peach brown sugar cake and Cappuccino ala San Francisco. Shaved chocolate is sprinkled on top.  It melts, then cools to a crust.  Life will never be the same.  I never noticed the chipped plate.  Lesson learned.

Southwestern Design Inspiration, Tip #9 -  use Indian rugs.

Gorgeous!  I'm going to remember these when I next think about rugs in a project. This collection was in a shop in Sedona --  an incredible place, known for its red rocks and awesome shopping.  I'm not a big souvenir shopper, but I made an exception in Sedona.  SO much art, jewelry, pottery and clothing!  It's fun to bring back things to scatter about our North Carolina home.  Nice reminders of a special place.


Tlaquepacque is a shopping area in Sedona that is beautifully designed.  It even has a small chapel!  A nice reminder about what's really important amidst the enticing shops.


Southwestern Design Inspiration, Tip #10 - mix the masculine with the feminine.

We stayed in 5 hotels over 7 days, so I got to see a lot of hospitality design.  This leather chair caught my eye.  Don't you LOVE the floral pattern on the fabric, the leather and the nail head trim combo?   I won't be surprised if a client ends up with a similar chair in the coming months!

Southwestern Design Inspiration, Tip #11 - when you go home, create some trip reminders in  your home decor!

I brought home the red, black, ivory and caramel wool pillow in the bottom of the photo and am using it as my jumping off point to bring Southwest colors and Native American patterns into my home.  Fabrics have been ordered from Robert Allen that will adorn the pillows on our living room sofa.  An easy way to keep the vacation glow going.



We ate delicious food, saw amazing sunsets, slept through awesome sunrises (vacation, remember?) and saw some of the most incredible views that I have ever seen in my life. We'll definitely go back some day as there's lots more to explore.  

Plan your own trip today!




Pillows That Snap, Crackle And Pop!

  Every now and then the iMovie app gets my attention and I have to make a video or two.  They're not flashy nor very professional, but I have fun creating them as a way to talk to you - and isn't that the point?  Yesterday I published the one that's on the Home Page (here's another chance to watch it!).

This morning I made one about accent pillows.  Here it is:

I'd have to give up my day job to make these things smooth and flawless and we can't have that!  Hope your week is a good one.



Nursing Home Visit

Yesterday was a good day.  Ginny lives in the memory unit of a nursing home.  Her loving daughter-in-law asked me to put drapery panels on the windows in her room to make it feel warmer and more like home.  When Ginny was younger, she had a beautiful home, decorated with gorgeous furniture, rugs and custom window treatments.  

curtains on wood rod, rings, finials


This Robert Allen fabric was perfect - Ginny has very conservative taste, and recognized the type of pattern right away with great pleasure.  We chose a butterfly pleated header.  That may be a somewhat dated choice, but when working with people with memory problems, choosing recognizable details is important.


before window treatment


Here's Ginny's window before the drapery panels went up.  She has a pretty view and sweet little friends!


drapery panels over mini blinds


Now the drapes are up.  Doesn't that feel better?  The curtain fabric has a touch of pink in it that you can't see in my iPhone photo.  It coordinates beautifully with the Waverly fabric on the chair.  Ginny remembers every detail about all the furnishings in her room.  She loves decorating and color.


Like I said.  A good day.