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.


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.


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.


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?


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

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.


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.


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

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.  

A Project in the Spotlight - Interior design for his and hers

When clients entrust our team with their design projects, it's always an honor.  When they also allow an editorial team into their personal domain, knowing it will be publicly featured, it means the world!  

Back at the end of 2016, I submitted a project to "Charlotte Home + Garden" magazine with fingers crossed.  I knew the clients loved the outcome of their project and hoped we could share it with the readers of this lovely publication.  In February, the editor contacted me to let me know it was a go and we coordinated a photo shoot to capture more images, as well as to plan for interviews. 


I'm happy to say our latest feature, in the Spring 2017 issue of Charlotte Home + Garden, is now on the newsstands!  A traditional, Tuscan-influenced interior was transformed into a classic/transitional design with a modern twist.  It was a melding of preferences and you can read more in the online version -  "Designing A Home That's Equal Parts His, Hers".  

While it's a desire to have each client feel as if their home will be photo ready, the bigger focus is on creating and implementing my exclusive, master design plan to provide them with a personalized home which fits their lifestyle, while also honoring the timeline and investment plan.  These clients were very engaged with work, family, and friends, so taking the burden off of their plate made the process much easier and an enjoyable experience!  


While you're reading through the magazine, there also happens to be a bonus article with a designer question and answer session featuring your's truly!  You can click on <here> to read more.  I'm glad I had my extra cup of coffee, that day!  

It's always fun to create a different aesthetic for each project.  I'm so honored to be able to showcase some of my work and to share it with a great couple, too!

Be sure to pick up your copy, available through the end of May.

All my best ~ Wanda