Fall Entertaining - Let the Parties Begin!

Living in the southeastern part of the United States means we are still transitioning from summer to fall, no matter what the calendar indicates. We’re going to have some warm days, ahead, but with the hopeful promise of cooler evenings. I’m a fall baby so this feels like it’s my season! Outdoor parties can certainly be fun and casual; however, given the opportunity to “play dress-up” with a tabletop, I’m all in! As we move closer to the holidays and special events, it’s time to polish up the silver and bring the sparkle back to the china and crystal.

 Photo: Wanda S. Horton

Photo: Wanda S. Horton

A few months ago, our design team began a project to refresh a lovely, historic home in Union County, North Carolina. This was our second home in a historic district and we were excited to be included in the update. To give the condensed version, the home needed some interior work of a different kind, as most older homes do. After getting behind the walls and ceilings, we put it back together so we could move on to the interior design portion.

Back to the party planning . . . We began in the more public areas of the dining and living spaces. Our clients had purchased a large table and multiple chairs, along with a new buffet, since they often entertain both family and friends and needed the expanded capacity. They had a favorite sofa they wanted to incorporate, along with some antiques and a favorite crystal chandelier. We identified some negotiables for new furniture or recovering existing pieces, along with new art, accessories, and lighting.

 Photo: Wanda S. Horton

Photo: Wanda S. Horton

My client brought out her grandmother’s china for me to see and it helped us to determine the overall room color and elements. We added some silvered glass chargers, by Monique Lhuillier, to accentuate the platinum rimming and to provide a transitional look. Aren’t they simply timeless and beautiful?

 Photo: Wanda S. Horton

Photo: Wanda S. Horton

 Photo: Wanda S. Horton

Photo: Wanda S. Horton

It’s difficult to choose a favorite angle as each one has something beautiful to behold. The commissioned art from Kathy Cousart may have had a little something to do with our table setting inspiration. You can get lost in her pieces!

I had in mind I wanted to find some blue and white vases or jars, but the new ones tend to go a bit more purple in the blue. I was so pleased to happen upon six of them at a recently-opened shop in Charlotte, H and S Antiques. They’re just the right size and my friend, Kim Rushing, from August Lily Florist, also had some beautiful votive/vases in smokey blue, gold, and clear glass. We discussed flowers and fruit and voilà, she brought in beautiful Fuji mums, orchids and white roses, graced with textural greens. Since it was the first official day of fall, we added a different twist to pumpkins by using oranges and tangerines as a nod to a russet accent.

The vases are able to stand on their own, after the fresh flowers go away. They’re also flexible enough to work with all of the seasons to come.

 Photo: Wanda S. Horton

Photo: Wanda S. Horton

We’ll be capturing this space through a professional’s lens, as I know my limitations behind a phone camera. Still, I wanted to share some behind-the-scenes images. My client is a wonderful cook and host. It was so much fun to collaborate on this project. She had the most creative invitations and found lovely napkins and silver chopsticks to finish off her tableau.

Happy Fall, Y’all! I hope this has inspired you to think of some ways to enjoy entertaining for the season, be it for an intimate group or a feast for many.

All my best ~ Wanda

Bring on the fireworks! Our new website is live!

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According to the late Lucille Ball, "If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it. The more things you do, the more you can do."  Lucy is one of my all-time favorite comedic actors and from what I understand, she was also a brilliant business woman.  Still, I have to think there were times she must have delegated some of her brilliant ideas to a team to facilitate.

What on earth does this have to do with the excitement in sharing our website "remodel" and launch . . .  especially on the Fourth of July?  First, there's a sense of celebration that we made it to the finish line with everything else on our plates.  It's a handful when you're in the midst of collaborating on the design, while desiring language to convey both your process and passion for your work - and - while also switching gears back and forth between projects and everyday obligations.  Just cue the scene at the chocolate factory where Lucy and Ethel hilariously attempt to keep ahead of the finish line.  Yes, chocolate was indeed consumed!

Though we have some gorgeous, new shots for our portfolio, (soon to be uploaded), this is one of the projects I've been most proud to have accomplished.  It's been an enlightening experience as we move through another revolution of working in the interior design industry and with the clients I have loved the most.   

It's a much longer story but suffice it to say, it's taken a team to get here.  I'm immensely grateful to them and have appreciated their responsiveness to the final tweaks.      

Over time, we'll be adding more features.  There will be storytelling, as it's part of my DNA.  I think of it as extending an invitation for you to visit with us more often and I hope you will.      

My passion for interior design still burns.

"Walking into a home should make you feel uplifted. Living in one should bring a familiar comfort; confidently guiding you towards experiencing something different – something imaginative." ~ Wanda S. Horton

Have a safe and happy July 4th weekend!

All my best ~ Wanda

House Love Series - Tips for the bathroom

February is a great month for taking a good look around and to begin making lists for any interior updates. (Don't forget, spring remodeling season is just around the corner!) This can be anything from considering a fresh color scheme to changing out some dated light fixtures to making plans for a kitchen or bath remodel. It can include reupholstering a favorite chair or redecorating your bedroom suite.

No matter what you decide, showing your home love is like wrapping yourself in a big hug. Each month when Roger and I've accomplished something on our to-do list, it's been so uplifting. In these winter months, we've found a renewed love of the great indoors!

You'll find some beautiful and practical tips for romantic bathroom updates, below. We'll be adding more areas in our blog posts during this month of House Love.  Actually, I think we may need to keep this as an ongoing topic.  When it comes to home TLC, one month is never enough!

Of course, we love bringing creative and organized interior solutions to you. We're just a phone call or email away!

Ahhh The Spa Bath!!!

There's nothing like an invigorating shower, to begin your day, or a soak in the tub to relax tired muscles at the end of it. How can you update your bath to create a spa experience? We'll share a few helpful tips from one of our projects, below.

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If you have extra room, a freestanding tub is an elegant addition and can become a beautiful focal point for your bath. Because they don't have the typical tile or stone top surround, I always suggest considering one with a larger edge, or deck, to provide support for getting in and out of the tub. If you like the durability and heat retaining qualities of a cast iron tub, keep in mind extra floor support will be required to hold the weight. Acrylic tubs are lighter; therefore, not requiring this support. This makes them great for upper level bathrooms, are less costly, and if scratched, are easily repaired. Something to keep in mind during your selection process.

  Rohl Country Bath

Rohl Country Bath

Plumbing fixtures are also like the jewelry for the bath as they can impart a certain style. In this case, the Rohl Country Bath tub filler and hand-shower added a vintage feel to this traditional home setting. The hand-shower is always something I recommend, if it's in the budget, as it allows for easy cleaning of the tub and it rinses off any soapy residue when you're finished with your bath.

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In this project, our clients had a specially designed shower to allow for an entry and an exit on both sides. They also had various methods of delivering water. Body sprays, a rain shower head, a handheld spray on a slidebar, and a standard shower head required some additional plumbing. It was easy to do because it was a new-build project. When considering a remodel, it's always a good idea to have the contractor and plumber check for the size of pipes and the valve system as they may need to be replaced in an older home. Small pipes = low pressure and you may not be able to install multiple heads to function at once.

  Luscious roses to pamper the senses.

Luscious roses to pamper the senses.

Of course, every spa bathroom should be filled with special treats. Who wouldn't enjoy a weekly, large bouquet of roses? The next best thing would be specially scented soaps, aromatherapy oils, plush towels and robes, lovely slippers, and some soft music. Taking care of our physical being puts us out into the world in a pleasant mood!

 New construction project completed in Waxhaw, NC - the Charlotte, NC metro area.  Interior Design:  Wanda S. Horton - Builder:  Arcadia Custom Homes

New construction project completed in Waxhaw, NC - the Charlotte, NC metro area.  Interior Design:  Wanda S. Horton - Builder:  Arcadia Custom Homes

Is your bathroom sharing the love or does it need some refreshing of its own?  

All my best! - Wanda

My Kitchen Favorites - Including the sink!

Being a residential interior designer, who happens to work with clients on kitchen remodels as well as new home construction, I'm often asked to share some of my favorite kitchen features.  It would make for a long read as I've got so many; however, I thought I might share some items I consider in creating beautiful kitchen transformations.  These go beyond some of the larger items - like cabinets, appliances, and knocking out walls.  

One of my favorite remodels still looks current with classic lines and beautiful elements.  It's chock-full of examples on my list!  

 (Kitchen Design and Interior Design:  Wanda S. Horton)

(Kitchen Design and Interior Design:  Wanda S. Horton)

  • A "wow" glass tile backsplash transforms the all-white cabinetry into a space with major personality.  The client was such a delight and this fits her to a 'T' for her tile! 
  • Having a window over the sink fills the room with sunlight and being able to gaze out to experience a bit of nature does wonderful things for the soul when clean-up is the task at hand.
  • The hidden beauty, in this picture, is the LED tape lighting.  It showcases that stunning backsplash while also providing super illumination for the work surfaces.  When needed, it dims for a soft ending to the day.  It fits into the tightest of spaces, too.  Getting rid of the undercabinet box lights is so liberating from dark corners.

Meaningful kitchen design is all in the details.  I know you probably hear this a lot but it bears repeating, especially when we're speaking about a space where some of the decisions become part of what we often refer to as the "permanent selections".  Of course, you can always make changes, after the fact, but swapping out a paint color isn't nearly as costly as taking out a counter selection gone awry or reworking a layout for better function.  

Even the smaller items, such as cabinet hardware or light fixtures, can make a big impact on how you may appreciate the finished project.  Basic cabinets can really sing with the right accents.  Making access easier with some pull-outs or smart storage adds an ease to your day.  Instant hot water dispensers are necessities for those who not only love to have a quick cup of tea but want to have piping hot water at the ready for different recipes. 

The kitchen sink is another place I love to add color for the client who knows their palette preferences will remain true.  'Safe' isn't a word they embrace for design decisions and they want their kitchens to reflect their adventurous side.  Potted herbs and plants are an absolute must for me!  Not only do they add the most beautiful green to a space, (one of my favorites), but they add a freshness and fragrance to fulfill the senses.  Herbs enhance so many dishes, too.

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So there you have it, almost everything including the kitchen sink!  If the world could be your oyster, what do you think some of your favorite kitchen elements might be?  I'd love to hear from you!

All my best! ~ Wanda

Caring for Our Clients - The sacred agreement →

In the spirit of penning a Valentine’s Day blog post, I had planned to share how I really care about the projects and the clients, with whom I work. I’m passionate about giving clients a gorgeous home, customized for their families, in which to welcome guests and to help them reflect who they are.  I consider being invited into their homes, and to be included in their personal lives, as a sacred thing.  With some recent industry events, I decided to edit this post.

One of the definitions of sacred is:  "secured against violation, infringement, etc., as by reverence or sense of right:  sacred oaths; sacred rights."  This means I come to clients with the understanding I will respect their privacy and the data we create from their projects and will do my very best to protect it.  It means we want to carefully vet people and processes that will be part of their projects, too.   

We want our clients to know one of the key values we bring, other than our creative collateral, is how we take on the role of advocacy, on their behalf, whether it’s tracking a shipment of furniture, making sure the workroom understands their specs and drawings or measuring twice for a picture to be properly placed in proportion to its location.  We are their last point of project resolution. 

Some changes occurred for the interior design community, this week.  There were a few big announcements which created a conundrum as to where designers can place their trust.  It’s a long story but one of the news flashes was regarding an interior design project management and financial platform and that it was sold to a large industry entity, leaving many feeling vulnerable.  (To read about it, click <here>. “Houzz acquires IvyMark to expand into services for designers.”)  More than 2,400 designers had invested in IvyMark and there are over 200,000 designers on Houzz, globally.  (Figures are taken from one of the Houzz co-founders.)

   Ballantyne Living Room - Wanda S. Horton - Photo: Dustin Peck

Ballantyne Living Room - Wanda S. Horton - Photo: Dustin Peck

It has created quite a stir, to say the least.  If you’re an interior designer reading this, you’ve probably been part of this big discussion.  If you're a consumer, the shift in our industry is also important to you, as you consider addressing your home's design.  

After many exchanges and reading Terms of Use and Privacy Policies, I pondered why consumers might actually care about this, too?  After all, haven’t these kind of companies been around for a while and made it clear there’s an expected exchange for anything being “free”?  It also depends on what is regarded as privacy or ownership of information.  It’s important to note, these Terms and Conditions can be changed at any time, meaning when you first subscribed to a service or platform, it may not still be applicable to the original proposition.  (By the way, interior designers had to pay to use the IvyMark program, which Houzz purchased.)  Essentially, though still being debated, it's becoming more clear there's a different price being paid in this information age.  And we have a choice in it.  Or I at least think we should.

The fine print can be a long and boring read and because it seems everyone else has given a thumb’s up, why not join in, right?  That’s until it becomes like a Facebook post, going viral, that has been proven to be false, and your friends begin pointing you to the Snopes or news articles refuting it.  One of those egg-on-the-face moments.  I don’t want to make light of this.  Trust is tough to gain back, once it’s been broken.  Think of some of the corporations who’ve had to take responsibility for breaching their customers’ good faith.

In the beginning, some of these platforms were to provide inspirational and aspirational design and as a means to connect the public with professionals.  They were to provide a method for the consumer to be able to collect images, communicate preferences when technical terms might not be part of their everyday vocabulary.  (In the “old days”, designers asked clients to bookmark magazines or hardback publications to help express their style or to point to a specific element.)  Today, all you have to do is search for something on your computer or phone, and suddenly that object appears in an advertisement on a social media site or when a website allows Google ads to run.  It begins to filter what you see as it makes choices for you.  Feels a little invasive, doesn’t it?

Time will tell how all of this flushes out.  In examining between the legalese lines, it reads as if the door has been left wide open for the collection of information, designers' work being shared for sourcing, as well as the policy for images being the property of that big entity to do with them as they wish.  Photographers may have a say in this for use in advertising and I hope they will. 

   Ballantyne Dining Room - Wanda S. Horton - Photo:&nbsp; Whitney Gray

Ballantyne Dining Room - Wanda S. Horton - Photo:  Whitney Gray

   Sedgefield Owner's Bath - Wanda S. Horton - Photo:&nbsp; Whitney Gray

Sedgefield Owner's Bath - Wanda S. Horton - Photo:  Whitney Gray

I work hard for my clients.  I am a high touch designer.  My focus is to make the design process more calming, more organized, and to protect clients' interests while also getting the job done.  The less I jump into subscribe to the “next big thing”, which ultimately may become disruptive and/or falls short on application, the more consistent I’ll be at focusing on doing my best job. 

I hope designers will consider this to be a positive catalyst, though it’s not my place to advise on how to handle their own business practices.  Some will continue to embrace these platforms and others will steer clear.  I would suggest taking time to read, read, read and investigate before investing in another program or system.  Find out from others if they've seen a return on their investment, both time-wise and financially.  In times of upheaval, take care with those who might take advantage.  

What I do know is my firm will continue to use systems we’ve customized for our own client management, (in-house), and for billings and financial documentation.  Having owned my firm for 20+ years, I’ve tried many different things and the bottom line is it’s all about having a process in place - to keep it simple for the client even if we have to go the extra mile to develop it.  That's our sacred agreement.  

All my best! ~ Wanda

*Note:  All of the beautiful floral arrangements, above, were created by my friend, Kim Rushing, the owner and fabulous floral designer of August Lily Florist.