Creating a library, sitting room AND music room: multi-function with "Wow!"

Today's families aren't interested in having rooms that get used once a year to eat a turkey. Multi-function rooms are great to have - and I don't mean a guest room that also holds unfinished projects, unused furniture and the laundry before it's put away.  In this post, multi-function means that the room can be used as a library, a sitting room and a music room.  In a guest room scenario, it could mean that the space is also used as a place to practice yoga, do a little creative writing and bunk those lovely weekend guests.  All things you would want to do on a regular basis.  

Sorry it's not all sharp and perfect, but this is a Before picture.  It's a beautiful Dining Room that I had a hand in a number of years ago. Now the family in this home needs to use the space differently.  And they want some Wow!

Sorry it's not all sharp and perfect, but this is a Before picture.  It's a beautiful Dining Room that I had a hand in a number of years ago. Now the family in this home needs to use the space differently.  And they want some Wow!

 

Decorating a room so that it's pretty to look at...as you walk by--is just not my style, and I don't think it's your style either.  It sure wasn't the style of this family of five.  They called me with a request to change the way they use their Dining Room and asked that I add some "Wow!" to the end result.  

Here's what we did:

 

This Dining Room was never used - and that's just NOT good.  So we made some big changes and now it's a favorite destination for this busy family!

 

Same room.  Now it's a multi-functional room they use every day.  Beloved books, the piano and people are the star attractions here.  It's right off the entry to the home and everyone says "Wow!" when they see it.  Mission accomplished!

 

In an open floor plan, the Foyer really sets the tone for the adjoining rooms.

 

 

Here's the foyer.  Look carefully to see a bit of the draperies way over on the left.  You can tell that it's now a dramatic, but family friendly entrance.  Did I hear you say "Wow!?"

 

Obviously the use of color was important in this transformation.  The homeowners had to have some trust in me.  Their favorite colors are beige and brown so I reassured them that my design concept of adding strong color on custom built-ins and wallpaper (for both walls and ceiling) wasn't going to make it a scary space, but a warm, inviting space that enhanced that multi-functional vibe they were after.  They trusted and here we are.

 

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This deep teal grasscloth from York Wallpaper creates a subtle texture in a not-so-subtle color (Wow! is not a subtle word).  Another fab paper is on the ceiling:

 

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Lighting was another important element.  We used classic fixtures that had some sparkle.

 

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This Hudson Valley adjustable library sconce lets us highlight those fabulous shelves that will soon be filled with books.

 

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This handsome hunk of a table lamp by Currey & Co. is a wonder.

 

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A closer shot of the Robert Abbey pendant in the center of the room.  Those brass details are just enough.

 

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Instead of painting every inch of the custom built-in bookshelves Peacock, I asked the carpenter to stain the shelves walnut to add a little dimension.  He did a great job.  And take a look at the gorgeous Robert Allen Design fabric we used on the new custom drapery panels!  The pattern is embroidered on a linen blend background.

 

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Now the kids are playing the piano...

 

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...everyone is reading and Mom has a very nice spot to relax over a bottle of wine when friends come to visit.  Don't worry about Dad--I did another room in the house where the really big kids (men) like to hang out.  I'll show you that one soon!

Ciao,

Anne

 

A kitchen update that shows personal style and looks great!

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A Kitchen update doesn't have to include tearing out cabinets and replacing appliances.  Let's look at this recent project.

Above is the "Before" of Jody's kitchen.  She wanted to make it feel fresh and a little artsy and she didn't want to rip out the wood cabinets nor take down the coppery mosaic tile backsplash.  Jody does want to replace the white formica countertop with butcher block and she would love to see a piece of stone at the end of the counter.  She saw that idea online and thought it was pretty cool.  Her designer (that would be me) was worried that adding a detail to the end of the counter in a small kitchen would stop the eye and make it appear even smaller.  Jody persisted, won me over and we got it done.

 

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Here's the "After!"  Isn't the Carrera marble at the end of the counter some kind of wonderful?  Jody was right!  It's a cool idea!

We specified White Oak counters with a clear, catalyzed conversion finish.  Signature Custom Woodworking in King, North Carolina made and installed them and they're absolutely gorgeous!  We removed the old formica backsplash, replacing it with very affordable brick tile (64 cents per piece!) and a not-so-affordable copper pencil tile on top to transition nicely with the older mosaic tile.  A very successful transition!

 

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Another photo of the "After." Jody had the painter give the white cabinets a fresh coat after everything was in.  Now this kitchen reflects her personal style which is warm, interesting and fun.

 

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We wanted to use a farmhouse sink in this project, but they weigh A LOT more than other sinks and would have required adding serious support in the existing base cabinet.  Jody didn't want to lose that much storage space, so we switched gears and chose this fabulous Blanco Granit sink.  It's a great choice.  It doesn't have a shiny white finish like porcelain.  It's faintly speckled.  

 

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We took down the heavy woven woods valance over the kitchen sink and replaced the dated track light with a pretty multi-colored glass pendant that adds some nice sparkle. A new oil rubbed bronze faucet and soap dispenser add more warm tones.  And isn't that sweet pig painting by local artist Ana Peralta an awesome addition to this kitchen?  I'm calling him Wilbur (not very original, but it fits).

 

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Sean, our super duper handyman did the demolition work on the old counter and sink.  It was his idea to router out the space for the marble piece so it could sit level with the counter.  Genius!  We were all very excited by that idea.

 

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Wanting to keep the artsy vibe going with splashes of color, we added this sassy little rug by Company C at the sink.  Isn't this kitchen SO pretty now?  Nice update, right?

 

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The kitchen table is right next to the new counters and in a lovely bay window, overlooking a spectacular back yard (think trees, flowers, fire pit, eating and grilling space).  All we needed to do here was to replace the light fixture.  

 

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The new fixture is by Dailey and blends oil rubbed bronze with mercury glass lamps brilliantly.  Sparkle and texture baby!

 

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THEN, we moved into the next space, adding two wood beams to the ceiling and updating the ceiling fan.  The world is filled with bulky old ceiling fans and I'm making it my personal duty to draw attention to them and replace them with new ones that are more modern and visually lighter!

 

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The way these rustic beams from AZ Faux Beams work with Jody's woven wood blinds is simply awesome.  I didn't get a very clear picture of the beams.  Let's try another one:

 

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The beams are stained Fall Leaf Brown.  They add so much character to a room and you would never know that they're made out of high density polystyrene!  Sean has installed beams on several projects now and he says they cut like butter.  He always does a fantastic job.  Attention to detail makes all the difference.

 

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Not every project has a huge budget - this one probably cost less than $10,000, with the biggest chunk going to the wood counters (and worth every penny).  However, every project has a homeowner with a personality and a desire to create a beautiful home that makes walking in the door at the end of the day a pleasure.  Jody didn't want a space like everyone else has.  She wanted to update her kitchen and end up with a space that looks like Jody lives there. 

Now we're moving on to the front of the house to make some changes there.  I'll show you what we do when it's done!

Ciao,

Anne

6 Design Details That Make A Difference!

Blue and white never goes out of style.

Details make the difference.

They say the devil is in the details, and nowhere is that more true than in decorating.  Paying attention to  details, big and small, makes an enormous difference!  I wrote an article about it for the Raleigh News & Observer that was published this weekend.  Discover my 6 tips by clicking here

The room above was a 2017 project that completely transformed the client's home.  It's packed with details that make a diff.  I wrote about another room in this project here.  

The art on the walls are design details.

One detail that really serves this room well is the stunning artwork by Michelle Woolley Sauter of One Coast Design--it's the piece right above the wingback chair in the left corner.  Isn't it gorgeous?  I'm crazy about how an abstract shakes up a traditional room in the best possible way.

The fabrics and trim are design details.

Using a contrasting fabric on the welt of upholstered seating is my favorite favorite design detail.  I'm the (self proclaimed) Queen of Contrast Welt! Look at the before and after photo of two club chairs in the room below--I'm so pleased with the way they turned out, thanks to an incredibly talented upholsterer.

 

 

Now there was nothing wrong with this Ethan Allen chair when it was purchased many years ago.  Good bones, quality construction and very comfortable.  The fabric just needed an update.  This new blue paisley is a showstopper from Kravet and the contrast welt outlines the chair in a pretty khaki/gold shade.  And you can't see it here, but we also took off the skirt to show off pretty legs.  That's another design detail worth it's weight in gold!

 

Getting design details right is what we do.

Do you find it difficult to add interesting details when decorating your home?  If so, call an interior designer to learn how to do it.  You might only need a two hour consultation to hear ideas that could change the way you decorate every room in your house!

Ciao,

Anne

Moving Tips From The Experts

I haven't had a chance to post on the blog lately, so when I received a request from a moving company called Bellhops to write post for me, I was all ears!  While I haven't worked with this company yet, I checked them out and was impressed.  They're a moving company with a very updated vibe, and, since moving is something that many of us have done (and sometimes many times), I thought you would all enjoy hearing what they have to say.  So here it is!

THINGS TO DO AFTER YOU’VE MOVED IN

One of the best things about moving into a new house is making it yours. Take the opportunity to flex your creative muscles and decorate in the style you’ve always wanted. Whether it’s a fixer-upper or turn-key ready, there are an endless amount of things you can do that can transform a house into a home.

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PAINT

A fresh lick of paint has the power to quickly start putting your stamp on your new space. If you just want a quick freshen, go for colours like white, creams or greys.  Neutral palettes give a clean, crisp base to build upon.

But, saying that, a bit of vibrancy is always a good thing. Colour is a powerful tool.  Colours can influence our emotions and perceptions, so this is an opportunity to try some out.  Do a bit of research into your favourite shades and see if they match the vibe you want your home to have.

If you are game to take some risks, and are thinking about bold or unusual colour combinations then you should go for it! However, before you commit to something like a fuschia kitchen, it’s always advisable to chat to an expert first. They will be able to advise you on what will suit the shape, size or style of your rooms. A professional will work with you on all the different factors that determine what will work best.  

GET COZY

Unless you are super minimalist, you’ll probably want to make your new home as cozy as possible, as quickly as possible. And when it comes to comfort, little things can make a huge difference.

Treat yourself to things like a new set of mugs and everyday glassware.  New dish towels for sure!

Candles, cushions and throws will all add to the ambiance. A gorgeous new table lamp or light shade works wonders for creating a warm atmosphere.

Maybe most important are your prized possessions. Hang your photo frames, wall art and mirrors straight away and it will really start to feel like home.

UNPACK

It’s tempting to unpack the things you need and ignore the rest. But you will never feel truly settled if you ignore stacks of boxes. Set aside time to properly sort your stuff. Find a home for everything you want to keep and sell it or donate what you don’t.

It’s always best to eliminate clutter from the start. This will help you to keep your new place clean as you go on too. Storage is essential. There are so many inexpensive solutions available these days, not just closets, but storage boxes, shelves, drawers, stackable containers. There are loads of awesome hacks out there that help to make the most of your home.     

LIGHTS OUT

They say home is where you lay your head down at night and so a bed is one of the most important things in any house. If you have brought your own, maybe it’s time to think about an upgrade and if you have moved into somewhere where your bed no longer fits, it's time to go shopping!

When decorating your home, there will always be things you will want to add to and tweak as time goes on. But tackling the bigger things and creating an inviting environment is best done at the beginning. Then you can spend your time exploring your new neighborhood!

I hope these tips are helpful and that you'll consider Bellhops for your next move!

Thanks,

Micheal Brennan

Bellhops

Making a home light, bright and inviting!

I wrote about part of this project recently, so now let's look at the whole thing.  It's quite a change:

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Above is the Before of one corner of the Family Room...

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...and here's the After!  The room was always attractive, but it was time to lighten things up.  

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I showed you this entertainment center in this previous post, but I can't get over the difference between then....

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...and how that same wall looks now.   Are you loving that accent rug?  Me too.  Meeee-yow!

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Here's another camera angle of the room.  Since these photos were taken, the coffee table has been replaced.  No pretty objects have been placed on it yet, but I want to include it:

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Pretty fandabulous!  The metallic finish on the top makes my heart beat faster!

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We took down the sheers on the back windows and replaced them with my favorite roller shades that go up and down with the touch of a finger.  When rolled completely up, they just disappear.

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Such nice nailhead detail on the Sherrill sofas!  Custom accent pillows, window treatments and that fab rug add color and pattern to an otherwise neutral room.

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The Family Room is open to the adjoining Kitchen.  Above is a Before that gives you an idea of how it looked.  I need to find a pic that shows the old light fixture....

Found it!

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Here's the After:

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Morning coffee in here will really put you in the right mood to start the day!  

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We used french returns on the metal rods for the custom cafe curtains.  Tres bien!

Then we tackled the formal dining room.  The Before will show that it was already a gracious, traditional space with lively colors, custom window treatments and a gorgeous table.  These clients were just ready for a change.  A general updating with a calm vibe was the goal.

Here's the Before:

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And here's what we did:

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The heavy top treatments came off the windows, a new custom rug was designed and the dining chairs were reupholstered.  This room is still formal, but in a lighter, brighter and more modern way.

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I always try to use 2 upholstery fabrics on dining chairs.  It's a subtle touch.  When you're in the room, I want you to find little design surprises slowly but surely.

This entire project was a treat to work on.  We were able to make big and small changes that added up to a refresh that flows from room to room and really reflects the personalities and lifestyle of the clients. 

Life is good!

Ciao,

Anne

Embrace vibrant colors!

The fact that it's January seems to make me focus on color.  I really miss my leaves. So I scrolled through my photos and look what I found:

When you see that purple, don't you want to just fall into it?  Wouldn't you like to see some of that color every single day?

When I heard that Pantone had named Ultra Violet as their Color of the Year, I was thrilled.  The world needs more purple.  I probably wouldn't paint my walls with it, but I definitely look for this kind of purple--strong, vibrant, saturated--in accent pillows,  on throws, in art and definitely in fresh flowers.  

But maybe I would paint my walls with it.  Here's some serious inspriation:

It's the prettiest kitchen I have ever stepped into and I'll never forget it.  Those walls!  Look at how they're balanced with white, light wood finishes and sparkling natural light.  Using soft neutrals: gray, taupe, cream and white gives the eye some relief when using a showstopper color.  The eye always needs some relief, otherwise it's hard to take it in for a sustained period.  At least that's how I am.  

After the flowers in the first picture were gone, I still had a reminder because...

I painted an old frame to create a vignette with art!  That pop of purple on gray walls sure does make me happy.  That's what vibrant colors do--they make us happy.  

Then there's this:

A friend is using color to put his own stamp on a beautiful old home and the above pics show two of his rooms.  is this something you could live with?  I didn't think I could when he started painting, but now I can see they would make me incredibly happy.  And creative.  Like, all the time. The picture on the left lets you peek into an adjoining space.  The moldings in that room are painted the orange you see in marigolds and they're gorgeous with the red walls.  The guest room (pic on the right) is softer, but still unexpected.

You can get vibrant colors into any room with accessories, paint or fabrics. Whatever suits you best.

The top photo in the above group shows drapery panels in a vibrant pattern on red wall - I need to tell you about that color-happy client in another post.  I wrote about those sassy office chairs in this post and the blue chair with the cute-as-a-button orange pillow was in this post.  The gorgeous blue walls showed up in this very recent post.

Look for a favorite color that gives your brain a little jolt of happiness and put it in your house!

Ciao,

Anne