Artful Storytelling in Your Home

“Art is in the eye of the beholder and everyone will have their own interpretation.”

― E.A. Bucchianeri, Brushstrokes of a Gadfly

I love how the archway to this dining room creates another frame, of sort. Artist:    Vesela Baker    - Commissioned multi-media pieces for a lake home dining room. Interior Design: Wanda S. Horton Photography: Dustin Peck (Image Copyrighted)

I love how the archway to this dining room creates another frame, of sort. Artist: Vesela Baker - Commissioned multi-media pieces for a lake home dining room. Interior Design: Wanda S. Horton Photography: Dustin Peck (Image Copyrighted)

In the beginning . . .

For many years, the consideration of original art being obtainable fell along the lines of appreciating a well-designed interior . . . often out-of-touch and out-of-reach. Galleries, in major metropolitan areas, catered to seasoned collectors and with the assumption these originals would be an investment purchase, potentially increasing in value like stock. If you lived in a different world, such as a smaller city or a rural location, the concept of art probably came from a very different point of reference. Framed prints of mass production filled the void of empty walls. Sometimes, if fortunate enough, you might have been gifted or inherited a piece of art generated by a talented family member or friend. (And thank goodness, my parents didn’t give away a piece of primitive folk art from a great uncle. What a treasure it’s become!)

As a designer I noticed a trend, especially during the late 90’s and into the early 2000’s, when decoration took a turn towards larger and more elaborate European influences. There was increasing interest in owning big oil paintings as statement pieces because the expanded homes’ scale dictated it. Even in houses without the increased square footage, there was a desire to imply a certain status, via this style. “Old World” was at the top of the list. Lots of faux was to be found in everything, including the art sources. Paintings of subjects, already in existence, came via places like the shops in Dafen Village, an overseas mecca for replicating paintings by Old World masters. Almost every style from the Impressionists to abstract to contemporary can be still be found there.

Though created by hand, they were mass-produced and in not so wonderful conditions for the artists who painted them. (I do say artists because they trained in the techniques needed to produce the canvases.) If you’re so inclined, here is a more recent article written about the state of their factories and a pivot away from so much reproduction work.

An art site’s reproduction of Claude Monet’s Red Water Lilies. Monet’s works have realized prices of over 20 million dollars at auction. This is listed at under $200 in a small size. Is it really a “bargain”, though? Perhaps a placeholder? With the investment of framing; however, I would consider a local art source.

An art site’s reproduction of Claude Monet’s Red Water Lilies. Monet’s works have realized prices of over 20 million dollars at auction. This is listed at under $200 in a small size. Is it really a “bargain”, though? Perhaps a placeholder? With the investment of framing; however, I would consider a local art source.

Artists:    Michelle Rivera    - Large Floral Basket on board.    Kathy Cousart    - Little Blessings abstracts on linen. Interior Design: Wanda S. Horton Photography: Dustin Peck (Image Copyrighted)

Artists: Michelle Rivera - Large Floral Basket on board. Kathy Cousart - Little Blessings abstracts on linen. Interior Design: Wanda S. Horton Photography: Dustin Peck (Image Copyrighted)

The present . . . .

My current projects have included more original art than ever. I think it’s a pivot from the past in that I’ve developed relationships with artists and a wonderful framer who make the process so pleasant. Most importantly, my clients are open to and are seeking interiors, personalized above and beyond the norm. They’re willing to level-up from their old comfort zones, mostly born from not knowing other options.

I’ve also grown more confident in servicing this category. It’s one that I actually used to dread because art can be such a subjective selection. Art is about a feeling, an interpretation, and it speaks to something fundamental within us; from the days our early ancestors used to tell stories through their illustrations to our modern day abstracts. Finding artists, who offer the opportunity to collaborate with varied styles, also allow us to layer in pieces as our clients and their projects are ready.

Tawna Allred   , an amazing artist and interior designer, located in Wyoming, has worked with me to create custom pieces for several spaces in our lake home project. Being that she understands the interiors process makes for great communication, especially when I send fabrics and photos of the space, along with dimensions. I’ll share more about her talents in an upcoming artist series post. We’re excited about installing these in the owner’s suite.

Tawna Allred, an amazing artist and interior designer, located in Wyoming, has worked with me to create custom pieces for several spaces in our lake home project. Being that she understands the interiors process makes for great communication, especially when I send fabrics and photos of the space, along with dimensions. I’ll share more about her talents in an upcoming artist series post. We’re excited about installing these in the owner’s suite.

Sometimes art replicates life, as in a tablescape we created after installing our clients’ dining room interiors. They had an upcoming dinner party and after considering the theme with the blue and white vases and the citrus fruit, an aha moment ensued! Being observant is part of having the artist’s eye.

Artist    Kathy Cousart    took our tablescape concept and created a pair of lovely florals for framing. One is seen in the background. Interior Design: Wanda S. Horton Photography: Wanda S. Horton (Image Copyrighted)

Artist Kathy Cousart took our tablescape concept and created a pair of lovely florals for framing. One is seen in the background. Interior Design: Wanda S. Horton Photography: Wanda S. Horton (Image Copyrighted)

 

Aside from inspired subject matter, when we’re having art pieces commissioned, to frame or not to frame is an important question. Though it may seem to be a given when a medium requires protection under glass, if using oils and acrylics on canvas or boards, we want to know if the subject is to be wrapped around the edges. It’s a more casual look so it depends on the space where this treatment will be used. Depth or thickness of the canvas can also dictate the type of framing, if choosing to move in that direction. It’s a good practice to see what the artist typically uses and also check in with your framer to see what’s available before placing an order.

There are areas, other than walls, where art can be displayed. When a TV takes over the mantel space, look for opportunities to create some visual excitement nearby. Shelves are a wonderful location for making a statement.

In this bookshelf, we used a combination of framed pieces and some smaller, canvas-wrapped oils. Notice how we expanded the matting to create a larger, focal piece to the left? The small pieces have been grouped as a collection.

In this bookshelf, we used a combination of framed pieces and some smaller, canvas-wrapped oils. Notice how we expanded the matting to create a larger, focal piece to the left? The small pieces have been grouped as a collection.

Though personally meeting an artist can be meaningful, at least learn a bit more about their inspirations and their passion for what they create. Many of us do love to share stories about our homes and how we came to select certain pieces. These stories are about our experiences. Where we were, what we saw, who we were with, and how something touched us. It’s like providing a mini biographical account and connects us all as humans.

Vesela Baker and part of her family. She has a special process, born from frustration with a painting, and that has now become part of her signature look. (Hint - A spritz of water revealed a lovely texture.)

Vesela Baker and part of her family. She has a special process, born from frustration with a painting, and that has now become part of her signature look. (Hint - A spritz of water revealed a lovely texture.)

Of course, art extends beyond painting or wall elements. There are many types. I like to think of interior design as a form of it and that I create with an artful eye, in every project. Design also includes quite a bit of project management and digital detailing - which is great for clients as we handle that aspect for them. I’ll confess, I miss some of the old, hands-on aspect where I used to render my visions. There’s an expectation for the process to move a bit faster, these days. I do find myself longing for a different pace where creating can be savored and honored.

The future . . .

To fill this longing, I’m excited to share I’m taking a week to participate in one of my favorite artist’s workshops! The eternal student in me is both giddy and nervous about this challenge. Somehow I think I’ll have some great stories to share - and if my efforts aren’t too embarrassing, I’ll share some progress shots along the way. If nothing else, I’ll come away with an even greater appreciation for the process. Angela Nesbit, the artist and our instructor, has assured me all will be fine!

I’ll be participating in Angela Nesbit’s workshop, February 26th - March 1st. I’ve got my paint supplies ready! Artist:    Angela Nesbit - Marsh Interpretation

I’ll be participating in Angela Nesbit’s workshop, February 26th - March 1st. I’ve got my paint supplies ready! Artist: Angela Nesbit - Marsh Interpretation

If you’re feeling a bit perplexed about how to begin the process of curating a collection, arrangements, or have some pieces you’d like to update with new framing, this is one of my favorite consulting services to offer! I promise you it can take a beige/greige room to a wow! (Well, that and a few other artful accents.)

Contact us here for more information.

All my best! ~ Wanda

 

Five Ways to Create A Comforting Home

For the last several days, we’ve been deluged with the wind and rain of what was Hurricane Florence. Though downgraded to a Tropical Storm, many of us were cautioned to stay at home and we did just that. It’s been difficult to watch some of the news with this having such a serious impact on my state of North Carolina. During challenging times, we often want to turn to the comfort of home and the people who live there for a feeling of security. (This includes our pets, too.)

Does your home bring a comforting experience? Our lake home project does just that.

Does your home bring a comforting experience? Our lake home project does just that.

I’ve been reading posts where people commented about getting cabin fever, even a couple of days in. Give me a comfy chair and ottoman, a stack of books or design magazines, my doxie, a cozy blanket, and I’m completely content. Still, with the severity of the weather, I hoped for a real calm from this storm for our family and for others, too. Thankfully, we’re safe and have been able to stay in place.

Today I thought about one of my intentions in designing interiors. It’s for clients to feel wrapped in a type of comfort, reaching beyond the physical. It taps into a deeper place - where the tangible meets the intangible. Even if you may not have been through an event like a hurricane, life does have its share of “storms” and your home can be designed as a place of repose and support.

As I was reflecting on what makes for a comforting home, it brought to mind a particular project and five key elements to share with you:

One - Comfortable upholstery pieces, covered in soft but durable fabric, along with plump pillows, beckon you to curl up for listening to soft music or for connecting. We wrapped this grouping around a set of four ottomans on casters to allow everyone to prop up their feet to relax. The room layout also provided for an intimate feeling, even though it’s quite large and with soaring ceilings.

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Two - The warmth of wood. It’s making its way back into interiors. Yes, we’ve seen it in flooring, ceilings, and architectural accents; however, we’ve recently witnessed how almost every furniture piece has gone by the way of painted or scrubbed finishes. (You’ll notice I did add a touch of blue in some of the other end tables.) The grained inlay of this pedestal table, along with the brass edging, made for a rich accent piece. Warm and inviting, with an elegant ease, is the narrative for this.

WSHIDTable.jpg

Three - A tray, layered with some of your favorite things, can accent a focal point. A book to peruse, flowers to enjoy, a bit of sparkle, or a place to rest a beverage make the room more personal than if it was just a place to sit. We contrasted a custom tray with two different textures for even more interest.

WSHIDTraywithflowers.jpg

Four - The glow of a beautiful lamp is always a must for bringing the ambience. Have you ever driven by a home, in the evening, and noticed lamps casting their golden path of welcome, drawing you in? Layers of light prevent those recessed fixtures from giving you the hospital waiting room experience. Soft light, not harsh, comforts every time.

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Five - Something tactile, underfoot, like the hand-knotted rug we selected for our featured living area, feels good to walk across or when sitting in Sukhasana pose. (My yoga aficionados appreciate a good floorcovering, especially when it’s pretty.) The gold and blue hues, set against a warm, gray background, feel like the sun and the sky have been grounded by one, beautiful canvas. The pattern is almost mesmerizing, don’t you think?

WSHIDHandknottedRug.JPG

It seems the worst of the weather is over for my area, though it’s still impacting other parts of the Carolinas. For some, it’s been an inconvenience, and for others, it’s been a time of great loss. To offer assistance or to find help, our Charlotte paper has provided a great list of agencies and resources. You can find that article online here .

We may not know, for several days or even weeks, what the impact of Florence will be. For now, I hope each and everyone affected will find hope, help, and a respite of calm from this storm.

All my best ~ Wanda

Bring on the fireworks! Our new website is live!

New Website - Copy (2).jpg

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

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.

2-Favorite+Kitchen+Elements.jpg

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