Are You Ready For Christmas?

Me neither.  Although I think all the really necessary shopping is done.  Also, there are enough decorations up, inside and out, to look festive.  Cookies have already been packaged for the mailman as well as the lawn, trash and recycling guys, along with tips in cards.   More cookies will be made tomorrow.  Wrapping tomorrow, too.  So I'm getting there.  Wouldn't it be great to finish early?  That's not going to happen.

Saw this in front of Driftwood Southern Kitchen in Raleigh. Made me laugh right out loud!

Saw this in front of Driftwood Southern Kitchen in Raleigh. Made me laugh right out loud!

I went to a Christmas Home Tour 2 weekends ago.  Here are a couple of pics from that fun afternoon:

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What a welcoming back porch this is!  It's not very wide, but they did a great job with the scale of the furniture, so it seats plenty and still looks restful.  That fireplace is spectacular.

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I love an interior door with style and this one has it!  The siding/shiplap craze is driving me a little crazy, but this looks SO great.  Notice the shelves over there on the left side.  They're holding all kinds of artwork.  This house on the tour was loaded with great details.

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How about these drop dead gorgeous bookshelves?  I had to laugh when I saw them because I'm currently doing something similar in a design project and my client is a little worried about having blue bookshelves.  I took this picture to prove to her that I'm not crazy and they're going to look great.  We're going to use stained wood on the shelves themselves though.  Can't wait to show you when they're done!

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Now we're over at my house.  A precious friend made this wreath and I hung it on my black shelves in the Music Room.

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Here's a close-up of the wreath.  I wanted you to see how sparkly it is.  I just love it!

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These are my new velvet party flats with big bows.  They're as pretty as any decoration!  

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No Christmas decorating would be complete without putting the choir boys on the mantel, flanking the white feather wreath that I made many years ago out of a styrofoam wreath form and a white boa.  Took about 5 minutes.  It's a dreamy combination, isn't it?

For those who celebrate Christmas, I wish you a merry one.  For absolutely everyone, I hope you find peaceful moments in the coming days.  May we all resolve to be kinder to each other and gentle on our planet.

Ciao,

Anne

Sometimes things don't go as planned.

I started working with a fantastic young family this summer.  They had just purchased a gorgeous home inside the beltline in Raleigh and were ready to furnish and decorate it.  We had an exciting start--and then a job offer whisked them away.  Just like that, the project is over.  

Raleigh realtor Wilson Crow generously shared his listing photos of the rooms we were working on.  He's done an excellent job of getting this home under contract quickly.

Here's the Dining Room:

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The walls have been painted (Salty Dog) and that beauty of a rug came from Robert Fritz Oriental & Fine Rugs.  We selected the awesome light fixture and the dining table is new. Left undone--window treatments, new chairs and artwork on the walls.  Oh well.

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A large leather sofa was immediately installed into the Family Room, another fabulous rug from Robert Fritz's shop added warmth and that big club chair is a recliner from Bassett.  A console table behind the sofa and window treatments were planned.  

 

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The leather sofa is bigger than it looks in the photo.  It's from Restoration Hardware and the whole family could fit on it for movie night.  Do you like the sleek fan up there amidst the coffered ceiling?  You can't really see the barstools, but their stainless steel backs are cool.  I love mixing modern with traditional (and a bit of rustic and some industrial.. .).

 

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In the back of the house, a Sitting Room looks out on a lush back yard. We furnished that room with the pieces you see in the photo, including the sisal rug (it's a faux sisal--soft on the toes and super easy to keep clean).  I love the chair in the foreground.  We purchased it from Dexter Furniture.  They've got an extensive fabric library, making it easy to customize.  This is a swivel, so visitors can look out the windows at the view or turn to face the fireplace on the opposite side of the room.  The prettiest drapery panels you have ever seen were going to frame those windows.  Alas, not to be.

 

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One more photo - obviously not the realtor's, just taken quickly with my phone. We chose this gorgeous LED light fixture for the foyer.  The owners said it reminded them of fireworks on a summer night!

I wish this family all the best.  Maybe the new owners will give me a call!

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

New Construction Design Details That Make A Big Difference!

Investing in a design consultation during new construction provides ideas that can make a big difference to the end result.  I want to show you a couple of pics I took last week of a new construction project I consulted on.  The homeowners, John and Diane, were wonderful to work with and the builder, John Dunning of Dunning Custom Homes, did a spectacular job.  When Diane invited me to come see the finished results, I was happy to accept!

Totally worth the wait.

Totally worth the wait.

I've been crushing on stainless cable wire for a long time now, but it still gives me a thrill.  When I mentioned this idea to John and Diane, they jumped right on it.  Diane said waiting for it to be installed was like waiting for Christmas morning!  

What a wonderful hallway.

What a wonderful hallway.

Another idea they ran with was to paint the barn door leading to the pantry a true red.  This is Sherwin's Heritage Red, which is gorgeous, gorgeous. Most of the other doors in the house are hickory with a protective coat of polyurethane.  The door to the garage, as you ca see, is white.  I LOVE it when doors DON'T match!  And look at that hickory floor.  Again, just a clear coat of poly.  Amazing.

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Here's a better view of a hickory door in the house.

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We talked a lot about using beams in the house.  Final decisions can't be made until sheet rock goes up and everyone can really see the room taking shape.  These are in the Kitchen and look great!

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John and Diane are big fans of wood.  They put this yummy walnut on the island counter.  Love it, love it, love it.

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The light was really mucking around with my trusty iPhone camera, the art isn't up over the mantel yet and decorating isn't complete, but I wanted to show you that built in shelving doesn't have to symmetrically flank the fireplace.  My suggestion was to have the cabinetry and shelving on one side to display and store what they wanted, but to leave the other side open to create a cozy nook to curl up with a book.  It's going to be a sweet spot in a beautiful room.  I also convinced them to skip putting a soffit at the top of each niche.  Bring the eye up!

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I take no credit for this brilliant bit of great design in the Kitchen.  It's built under the stairs and is out of the way from everything else in the room.  Microwave, wine fridge, glassware, etc. - you can be pouring wine, heating things up, pulling out tableware, napkins, small plates, etc. and still be completely out of the way of the master chef.  Like I said, brilliant!

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That's soapstone on the counters.  Lovely handcrafted shelving with puck lights make everything sparkle.  A Wolf cooktop looks right at home in the center of it all!

The house, upstairs and down, is filled with great ideas, successfully executed.  It's a wonderful example of attention to detail, creative thinking and pride in workmanship. 

Ciao,

Anne

My chairs are too short for the table!

I've heard from several clients over the years that their Kitchen chairs are a little too short to be comfortable at the table.  They feel like little kids sitting at the grown-up table.  We had the same problem at our house!

Before - you can't tell from the picture, but the fabric is old and dirty and they sit too low at the table.

Before - you can't tell from the picture, but the fabric is old and dirty and they sit too low at the table.

The answer is to reupholster your chairs using thicker foam on the seat.  We like our Kitchen chairs, above.  They're by Amisco and made of white metal. The cheery floral fabric on the seats wore well for a number of years, but then just looked dirty, so I decided to reupholster the pads myself and finally raise them up with thicker foam to get a better height.  Big mistake.

Lumpy DIY job.

Lumpy DIY job.

The mistake was thinking that I could do the job myself.  I didn't take a picture of the messy side of my work, you'll just have to believe me when I say they looked like a child had done the job.  If you look closely, you'll see some lumpy stuff going on because I made every mistake in the book.  After wrestling with 3 out of the 4 chairs, I didn't have the heart to go on, so left the 4th in it's original state, dirty fabric and all, and stepped away from the project.  For about 2 years.  What can I say?  Time flies.

They're finally fixed and looking great.  

After - we love them again!

After - we love them again!

A short time ago I discovered Revolution Performance Fabrics, made right here in the USA.  This fabric is bleach cleanable, well priced and comes in all sorts of nice patterns and colors.  I used their Ombre pattern in the Flannel colorway.  Off the chairs went to my oh-so-awesome upholsterer and they returned looking as you see above.  Fantabulous.  Tailored. Bleach cleanable (that bears repeating).

And with 5" foam on these seats, we sit high and proud at our table.  Very comfy!

Ciao,

Anne