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.

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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.

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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?

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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!

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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

My Favorites - Please have a seat

Hardly more welcoming words can be heard, after walking miles and miles of the High Point Furniture Market, than “Please, have a seat.”  This market I made sure to visit more of the side buildings to source some special vendor wares and I could certainly feel those extra steps!   Of course, the showrooms were more than happy to seat us during our visits.  There’s nothing better than taking the sit test to assist us in sharing their comfort stories.

Though petite in size, I love the Claude Chair from Ambella Home.  It feels modern and fresh, while the design is based on an English parlor chair, from back in the day.  Great for floating as an extra seat or paired at the foot of a bed.  It supports the lumbar area in a lovely way. 

Though petite in size, I love the Claude Chair from Ambella Home.  It feels modern and fresh, while the design is based on an English parlor chair, from back in the day.  Great for floating as an extra seat or paired at the foot of a bed.  It supports the lumbar area in a lovely way. 

I must admit, I have a thing for chairs.  I think it’s hereditary because I tease my mother about being able to play musical chairs in her home.  She’s a petite one, less than five feet, so I think it’s partly a comfort item as well as she loves the option of mixing styles.  A great chair, (or two), can be akin to bringing a piece of art or architecture into your space.  It can make it frillier, more tailored, more modern, more traditional . . .  and so on.

One of my favorite showrooms, Thibaut and Anna French, offers a stunning array of side chairs and dining room seating.  I like to think we find selections which extend an invitation to linger around the table.  I'm in the process of letting go of some French antique chairs and I think their Stirling Chair is in the finals.  Very comfortable and I love the Dorothy Draper-esque leaning.  Dressy-casual is so me!

One of my favorite showrooms, Thibaut and Anna French, offers a stunning array of side chairs and dining room seating.  I like to think we find selections which extend an invitation to linger around the table.  I'm in the process of letting go of some French antique chairs and I think their Stirling Chair is in the finals.  Very comfortable and I love the Dorothy Draper-esque leaning.  Dressy-casual is so me!

One of my favorite showrooms, Thibaut and Anna French, offers a stunning array of side chairs and dining room seating.  I like to think we find selections which extend an invitation to linger around the table.  I'm in the process of letting go of some French antique chairs and I think their Stirling Chair is in the finals.  Very comfortable and I love the Dorothy Draper-esque leaning.  Dressy-casual is so me!

One of my favorite showrooms, Thibaut and Anna French, offers a stunning array of side chairs and dining room seating.  I like to think we find selections which extend an invitation to linger around the table.  I'm in the process of letting go of some French antique chairs and I think their Stirling Chair is in the finals.  Very comfortable and I love the Dorothy Draper-esque leaning.  Dressy-casual is so me!

Chairs can also be like shoes.  They’ll have us oohing over their gorgeous style and then sighing with regret when misery sets in, especially when ill-fitted, in a short time.  If you’re making selections for the long term, comfort comes first.  It’s fine to have that one museum piece.  We all have one, on occasion, but know the reason it will stay almost immaculate is that no one will want to sit in it, including you!  (Like that pair of Valentino spike heels in the top of your closet.) 

Gilding may not be for everyone but if you love it, this pairing of Theodore Alexander Gothic Library Settees would have had you at "hello".  The marbled pattern covering and the restrained elegance, in blush, paired with the coffee-colored walls and the ebony and gilt bookcase . . . No, these are not meant for slouching.  They are meant to be adored!  

Gilding may not be for everyone but if you love it, this pairing of Theodore Alexander Gothic Library Settees would have had you at "hello".  The marbled pattern covering and the restrained elegance, in blush, paired with the coffee-colored walls and the ebony and gilt bookcase . . . No, these are not meant for slouching.  They are meant to be adored!  

Conversely, there’s more to being cozily outfitted than having that old, baseball mitt-styled/security blanket chair commanding the wrong kind of attention just because someone in the house can’t let go of it.  We know who they are and it's why there should be handsome options. 

Sometimes you'll be totally surprised by appearances.  This Lee chair might look to be a bit more rigid, because of the frame, but I can tell you it was super comfortable.  Over 700 people on Instagram thought so, too.  

Sometimes you'll be totally surprised by appearances.  This Lee chair might look to be a bit more rigid, because of the frame, but I can tell you it was super comfortable.  Over 700 people on Instagram thought so, too.  

This is the perfect example of upholstery morphing into sculpture.  The new Atelier Chair, from Ambella, was a huge hit at the market.  Art Deco is slipping back into design and I'll be sharing more in a future post.  Notice how the back has become the support, without feet?  It takes a skilled manufacturer to carry off this construction. 

This is the perfect example of upholstery morphing into sculpture.  The new Atelier Chair, from Ambella, was a huge hit at the market.  Art Deco is slipping back into design and I'll be sharing more in a future post.  Notice how the back has become the support, without feet?  It takes a skilled manufacturer to carry off this construction. 

Of course we can't forget bar and counter seating.  This new introduction, from Woodbridge Furniture, was also another surprise in the looks and comfy category.  We can order this in a wide array of paint colors, too.  Super sleek and fun!

Of course we can't forget bar and counter seating.  This new introduction, from Woodbridge Furniture, was also another surprise in the looks and comfy category.  We can order this in a wide array of paint colors, too.  Super sleek and fun!

There were so many options to be discovered and I think the lights may have been turned off on me, had I gotten to sit in everything or photograph it all.  I have my tried-and-true, preselected lines to take away the guess work for my clients.  In fact, I'm excited to share I'll be bringing in some pieces for their own sit tests.  It will make the design studio pretty, too!  

Who said style and comfort have to be mutually exclusive?  Not I!

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