Creating Your Own Holiday Home Tour - My Latest Article for Hooker Furniture Corporation

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One of the other hats I occasionally wear is that of a contributor to the Hooker Furniture Corporation blog. (HFC is an international manufacturer of home furnishings, based in Martinsville, Virginia and with facilities in North Carolina.) I was excited when they asked me to share some of the work we’ve done in a lake front property - especially our holiday decorating adventure!

Here’s one of their stunning pieces - the Curiosity Credenza fits well in a dining room, entry or living space. That blue! (It’s a hint of what you’ll see in our latest post.)

Here’s one of their stunning pieces - the Curiosity Credenza fits well in a dining room, entry or living space. That blue! (It’s a hint of what you’ll see in our latest post.)

By the way, we love repurposing pieces to better fit a new design scheme. This is actually an older credenza from Hooker Furniture that belonged to another client’s mother. It was gifted to her and, though she loved the lines, she didn’t so much love the color. We had it custom-finished and now she can enjoy using it in her entry foyer.

By the way, we love repurposing pieces to better fit a new design scheme. This is actually an older credenza from Hooker Furniture that belonged to another client’s mother. It was gifted to her and, though she loved the lines, she didn’t so much love the color. We had it custom-finished and now she can enjoy using it in her entry foyer.

Now, on to writing . . . I have been on a little hiatus so I am excited to be back creating articles. It’s one of my special passions that too often gets put on the back burner. It will be time to add this to my 2019 goals - Write more!

I wrote about how I enjoy a good holiday tour of homes and tied it into our project, with a few helpful tips, too! The rustically elegant residence is bathed in accents of an azure blue so it was fun to pull that in to her Christmas decor.

The fireplace in our client’s home soars to the ceiling. Look below to see how our photographer, Dustin Peck, captured it in full glory, prior to our decorations. I loved the garland and ornaments nestled in place.

The fireplace in our client’s home soars to the ceiling. Look below to see how our photographer, Dustin Peck, captured it in full glory, prior to our decorations. I loved the garland and ornaments nestled in place.

Now you can see where our holiday inspiration began.

Now you can see where our holiday inspiration began.

I’d love for you to take a few moments to enjoy an online tour of this home. Just click on the button, below, to gain entry - no tickets required!

If I don’t get back to writing before the year ends, please know how much I appreciate you stopping by to share your time. Sending all of you a very Merry Christmas with wishes for a most special New Year!

All my best ~ Wanda

Home & Garden Tours - 'Tis the Season!

Wouldn’t it be fun to put your home on tour for total strangers to walk through for a few days? Getting it in perfect order - making sure the landscaping’s well-groomed, placing fresh flowers as well as offering some neat treats? Not everyone is brave enough to do this so I appreciate it when willing homeowners allow their homes to be put on parade to support their community or organizations. Though Instagram and other social outlets share home tours, there’s nothing like being able to experience one in real time.

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This weekend, after settling down from some back-to-back days scouring the High Point Market, I was able to relax and enjoy the Elizabeth Home & Garden Tour, near the uptown area of Charlotte, NC. (Not to be confused with Charleston, which it often is.)

The Elizabeth neighborhood is a combination of picturesque bungalows and brick two-stories, nestled on tree-lined streets with sidewalks conducive for foot travel to its many neighborhood venues and restaurants. In some ways, it reminds me of where I grew up in Durham. The Watts-Hillandale area still has the park, in which we used to play, as well as the golf course where we slid down snow-covered banks. I was actually born in Watts Hospital before it became the NC School of Math and Science. Perhaps this is why I felt an air of familiar comfort as my husband and I visited these Charlotte homes and their gardens.

Though this home wasn’t on the tour, the pops of red trim caught my eye during the cloudy beginning to the day. The shake siding and simple architecture was punctuated by the happy accent.

Though this home wasn’t on the tour, the pops of red trim caught my eye during the cloudy beginning to the day. The shake siding and simple architecture was punctuated by the happy accent.

The gardens spanned from simple arrangements to the shared community space, below. Five homes have utilized this spot for many years and it tends to be the hot ticket for parties. One of the homeowners, Tom Thoune, is an artist and created a fabulous outdoor kitchen space with a pizza oven, incorporating his talents of mosaic design. (He mentioned others had helped with his guidance.) If you’re not familiar with Tom’s work, in the event you’ve traveled on the Charlotte Transit System train, it’s displayed in the gorgeous walls at the Camden Station.

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Many of the homes interiors have been adapted to today’s living needs, while retaining some of the charm and character from yesteryear. I’ll share one of my favorites as I think it incorporates all of the right elements.

Original floors of pine and oak, with their small plank size, have been preserved. I liked the paneling that appears to have been added, along with an updated fireplace. Modern art juxtaposed with antiques and traditional elements kept the view interesting and personal. I loved the blue ceiling, too!

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Across the hall, the dining room also showcased modern art against the dramatic, black wall backdrop. The white trim, cream leather chairs, and the pale rug reflected the light and prevented it from becoming too heavy. I enjoyed the use of the vintage, brass light fixture.

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Having previously visited several homes in this area, I recall many having either a butlery or a built-in nook for enjoying breakfast by a window. Though a large family might not fit, I am so glad they kept this area intact. A cozy spot for reading or taking in the day.

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Around the corner we found a den with a coal-burning fireplace. Again, a nice meshing of modern with traditional. The deep chocolate/bordeaux walls were an invitation to nesting in for a good read, conversation, or catching a lazy Saturday nap. I must still be recovering from a busy week as I keep mentioning words related to napping or nesting! Seriously, this is my favorite time of year to slow down a bit and to enjoy the season and shorter days. I’ll be over it by January, though.

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I noticed, even in homes where the furnishings might have benefitted from an extra “boost”, original art seemed to be very important to the homeowners. (Yes, I do like a finely tailored piece of upholstered furniture.) The kitchens were updated with professional appliances, either meeting a need for the chef in the house or for anticipated resale. These homes have appreciated greatly, over the years, so the accoutrements are a big consideration.

An antique sleigh bed and flanking tables had artfully placed layers of bedding and wall decor to keep them from being stuffy. Modern, marble lamps brought in the extra light in a sculptural way. I enjoyed the side table styling, too.

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As an aside, I’m always looking at floors. I thought I had captured a few more photos; however, I must have been in a hurry not to block traffic. I still love a good marble combo of black and white. It’s a classic!

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Typical for the lots, they tend to be more narrow but go deeper than might be imagined. The houses follow that pattern, as well. You can see this from my photos, below. I particularly enjoyed that the tour included garden and outdoor spaces. Fall is a great season, in the south, for getting in some landscaping work. It’s been one long, hot summer and the cooler breezes make the work very pleasant.

Fences make for good neighbors, especially when a nice design and include lovely landscaping.

Fences make for good neighbors, especially when a nice design and include lovely landscaping.

Shake siding and cottage-style windows make this simple home exterior outstanding. You can see, from the side view, how far back the space extends.

Shake siding and cottage-style windows make this simple home exterior outstanding. You can see, from the side view, how far back the space extends.

This garden spot meandered into different areas - some for evergreens, some for vegetables and others for enjoying the flowers. Guess who will be in their garden, after this post goes live?

This garden spot meandered into different areas - some for evergreens, some for vegetables and others for enjoying the flowers. Guess who will be in their garden, after this post goes live?

I love the use of the black, smooth pebbles for creating beds. This inspired me to reconsider some areas we’ve mulched. Sometimes the smallest thing can nudge us towards making a change in our homes for the better. Less maintenance is where we’re heading in our lives.

I love the use of the black, smooth pebbles for creating beds. This inspired me to reconsider some areas we’ve mulched. Sometimes the smallest thing can nudge us towards making a change in our homes for the better. Less maintenance is where we’re heading in our lives.

After the tour, the flood of memories had me searching Google for an image of the house I grew up in during my grade school years. The brick Cape Cod looks very much the same, though I imagine it’s been expanded as I see the side porch has been enclosed and a cheerful red door is new. The photo must have been taken in winter so I took an artist’s brush application to it. The flowering shrubs were always so beautiful. My mother began her gardening years, here, as well as her desire to decorate. I remember the mahogany bed and dresser she so proudly purchased for my room. It was dressed in a blue and white printed floral bedspread with crisp, white curtains. The alcove window area contained the attic door access. I’d pretend it was a secret passage via shades of C.S. Lewis and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - aka - Narnia.

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As it was once and best said, “Where we love is home, home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr

All my best ~ Wanda

This Old House - This New Kitchen

If you’ve not had a chance to visit our portfolio updates, you may have missed the latest about our kitchen project, located in a renovated 1920’s cottage in Monroe, North Carolina. We love working in our lovely historic district and we were very excited to be asked to participate in overhauling the entire kitchen, breakfast, mud entry, and powder bath spaces.

As per our caption in this portfolio: “In order to preserve a family home and its history, my clients made a cross-country relocation back to North Carolina.  Their quest began with engaging us to remodel the heart of their home - the kitchen.  Though a few of the original elements were intact, most had disappeared by the way of a late 1970s renovation.  Thankfully, the pre-existing wood valances and upper side cabinets were still in good condition, as well as some built-ins near the breakfast area.  I was delighted this couple wanted to retain them as our jumping-off point, since character and charm stood high on the list.” 

An insider’s glimpse of our project, featured in This Old House Magazine.

An insider’s glimpse of our project, featured in This Old House Magazine.

You can imagine our delight was amplified when the folks from “This Old House Magazine” came calling! We didn’t get to share a visit with Steve and Norm; however, a talented field editor, Andrea Caughey, and photographer, Brie Williams captured beautiful project images to showcase, along with our photogenic clients, Steve and Gay Clyburn. A bit later, the article came to fruition and hit the newstands in September. I’m a little late in blogging about it but you can read the full article online by clicking on the image below.

Warm and enchanting describes our successful remodel and it's also true of our clients.

I have ten extra copies of this issue and if you  sign-up for our newsletter , while also leaving a comment, below, I’ll be happy to mail one to you. Click on this image to enjoy reading the online version.

I have ten extra copies of this issue and if you sign-up for our newsletter, while also leaving a comment, below, I’ll be happy to mail one to you. Click on this image to enjoy reading the online version.

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

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. 

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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!  

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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

The Magic of Market - Inspirations from High Point

It's that time of year!  The BIG fashion event in the home furnishings industry has arrived and I'm taking a brief, rainy day break to share some of my gorgeous finds from market.  I've still got a bit of list-making to do for my return trek so photos will be plentiful and descriptions will be brief.  After all, isn't there some adage about a picture being worth a thousand words?

Photo: &nbsp;Wanda S. Horton

Photo:  Wanda S. Horton

Fresh ideas are plentiful at the High Point Furniture Market.  The Thibaut Showroom is the epitome of lush beauty!

Photo: &nbsp;Wanda S. Horton

Photo:  Wanda S. Horton

Anna French Fabrics and Wallcoverings are part of the Thibaut offering.  Decidedly soft patterns mixed with stronger elements work with intention.  This look honors the kind of design accomplishment where someone might say, "I would never have thought of mixing these patterns"!  . . .  And they'll be glad their designer did!

Photo: &nbsp;Wanda S. Horton

Photo:  Wanda S. Horton

Another view from across the showroom.  Neutral still reigns with soft colors inserted for a customized preference.  Fresh flowers always bring a room to life - from the perspective of my gardener's heart!  I have noticed geometric designs are being contrasted with organic or floral patterns.  We all could use a little 'soft' in our world.

Photo: &nbsp;Wanda S. Horton

Photo:  Wanda S. Horton

More companies seem to be embracing the idea of personalizing pieces with color and varied finishes.  While there isn't a thing wrong with showcasing beautiful wood stains, using a colorized accent piece can provide a needed relief, as well as it can draw your eye to a key color element in fabrics or art.  Theodore Alexander carefully curated a gallery of furniture for this sole purpose. 

Photo: &nbsp;Wanda S. Horton

Photo:  Wanda S. Horton

The newly remodeled showroom at Theodore Alexander also shared some amazing new collections!  Steve Leung debuted his line with great reception.  An architect and native of Hong Kong, the shapes and motifs hearken his structural and yet organic aesthetic.  His company's motto is:  "Bringing space to life/ Creating space for life."  I think this dining room, above, has applied these principles very well..  On a side note, the chairs are incredibly comfortable!

Photo: &nbsp;Wanda S. Horton

Photo:  Wanda S. Horton

A line with many color options, along with the ability for designers to add their own fabric choices, is Woodbridge Furniture.  Included in their bevy of stained and customized painted finishes, I found the growing segment of textured wood.  Oak, with lightly washed or limed effects, as well as cerused/grayed tones add depth to modern spaces.  I'm dying to use the tufted cocktail ottoman in the right project!  A future beach house, perhaps?

Photo: &nbsp;Wanda S. Horton

Photo:  Wanda S. Horton

On occasion, some of the showrooms have so many people, it's difficult to capture a shot without them filling the background.  Ambella Home had lots of attendees, but lucky me, I get to slip back in before closing on Wednesday!  I promise to share some of their amazing pieces in larger detail.  Sometimes, though, I need to work in smaller-sized items to complete a design.  Even though the scale of the above tub chair is more petite, she's got some killer curves!   Perfect for a bedroom, a reading corner, or to slip in beside of a fireplace in a pied-à-terre. 

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Did I mention how beautiful the flowers are at market?!!  Peonies are always one of my favorites . . . which reminds me, before the rain washes them away, it's time to snip a few from my garden.  

Thanks for sharing the visit and be sure to watch for more posts, as well as my Instagram updates!

All my best and I'll see you after the show! ~ Wanda