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!

Spa Bath.jpg

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.

Sedgefield Project Bath 1.jpg

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.

Sedgefield Project Bath 2.jpg

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 showerhead, a handheld spray on a slidebar, and a standard showerhead 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.

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 handshower added a vintage feel to this traditional home setting. The handshower 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.

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!

Luscious roses to pamper the senses.

Luscious roses to pamper the senses.

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 blogpost, 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.

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

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

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 taken from one of the Houzz co-founders.)

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.

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

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

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?

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

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

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. 

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.  

From Wanda's Desk: It's Business, It's Not Personal. It's ALSO Personal.

In the fall of 2017, I decided to do something unprecedented for my interior design firm.  I scheduled a month off.  Though it took a little juggling to make it happen, I sat down with the calendar and began blocking off the days.  I was at a carry-over point of a large project and had just stepped into a long-distance remodel, where both clients agreed to wait for my return, among a few other project inquiries.  It was both liberating and anxiety-ridden.  You see, it’s been a very long span since I’ve taken off any real length of time, much less a whole four weeks!  Though we’ve had the typical holiday closings, there was always a place to be or I used it as time to play catch-up on projects when they had begun to overlap.  I came back not at all rested or enthusiastic about diving back into creative mode.  It began to feel more like production mode.  Not my happy place!

This is one of my happy place images.  An event where we were charged to create a uniquely individual setting.  One of my favorite collaborators and decorative artists, Whitney Preslar, brought my vision to light by hand-painting the mirrored chargers and the table cloth.  My vintage china was a starting point.  The love of flowers and gardening was infused in the setting with arrangements by David Wynn of Elizabeth House Flowers.  Photography by Chanda Pope.

This is one of my happy place images.  An event where we were charged to create a uniquely individual setting.  One of my favorite collaborators and decorative artists, Whitney Preslar, brought my vision to light by hand-painting the mirrored chargers and the table cloth.  My vintage china was a starting point.  The love of flowers and gardening was infused in the setting with arrangements by David Wynn of Elizabeth House Flowers.  Photography by Chanda Pope.

I had read about how burn-out impacts many creatives and/or small business owners.   Some colleagues shared their personal stories of hitting the wall.  Being determined not to become a statistic, I knew this break would bring a vital advantage for my company, moving into 2018. (Okay, mainly for the head chef and bottle washer, who has been at this for over twenty years.)   Still, I wondered if clients or potential clients would understand and be supportive.

Another happy image!  A long-time client helped her daughter update her first home, a quaint townhouse in Charlotte.  We totally gutted and remodeled the kitchen, among other areas.  The inspiration began with her collection of Fiestaware in all of her favorite colors.  We had to be smart about storage.  On photoshoot day, my client's granddaughter happened to be present and as you can see, she became a darling part of the feature.  I ended 2017 helping my client move into a new home, closer to this now much taller young lady and her sister, as well as her daughter who has since gotten married and had her own wee one.  Yes, we did eat the cupcakes, afterwards!  Deb's Sweet Cakes makes the best and many of my clients now go to her.  (Photography by Whitney Gray) 

Another happy image!  A long-time client helped her daughter update her first home, a quaint townhouse in Charlotte.  We totally gutted and remodeled the kitchen, among other areas.  The inspiration began with her collection of Fiestaware in all of her favorite colors.  We had to be smart about storage.  On photoshoot day, my client's granddaughter happened to be present and as you can see, she became a darling part of the feature.  I ended 2017 helping my client move into a new home, closer to this now much taller young lady and her sister, as well as her daughter who has since gotten married and had her own wee one.  Yes, we did eat the cupcakes, afterwards!  Deb's Sweet Cakes makes the best and many of my clients now go to her.  (Photography by Whitney Gray) 

Interior designers, unbeknownst to what may be portrayed in perfect worlds of Instagram, TV shows, or from general perception, do way more than produce “pretty”.  I’m as guilty as the next of wanting to showcase everything beautiful, because it is my intention to make a positive impact in how people can live in their homes.  Let me tell you, though, just as in life, it rarely begins in picture-perfect mode.  That’s why I’m called in - The interior fixer, counselor, organizer, solution-finder, make-it-happen, renovator of homes and of life/spaces.  Depending on what is needed, I wear a lot of hats.  It was time to put some of them away and to decide the ones to keep - the ones I’ve enjoyed wearing more often.  Of course, there's always a new style or two to try.  As we evolve into different life stages, so does our work and the meaning it holds as we seek the best fit.

More happy photos?  But of course!  When clients are open to pushing beyond a comfort zone with statement pieces, like this chandelier from Currey & Company, knowing it will elevate their design to a new level, my heart dances!  This one almost didn't make the cut, not because of the style, but exposed bulbs would have given one of them migraines.  We rose to the challenge with silk-wrapped, candle bulbs and by adding a dimmer switch.  One of my favorite dining rooms, ever!  We were also honored to have this room published in Charlotte Home + Garden Magazine, March 2017.  (Photography by Dustin Peck)

More happy photos?  But of course!  When clients are open to pushing beyond a comfort zone with statement pieces, like this chandelier from Currey & Company, knowing it will elevate their design to a new level, my heart dances!  This one almost didn't make the cut, not because of the style, but exposed bulbs would have given one of them migraines.  We rose to the challenge with silk-wrapped, candle bulbs and by adding a dimmer switch.  One of my favorite dining rooms, ever!  We were also honored to have this room published in Charlotte Home + Garden Magazine, March 2017.  (Photography by Dustin Peck)

Today, as I’m getting ready for reentry into my new year, albeit a few weeks later than others,  I don’t know that I have all of the answers, but I’ve come to some epiphanies , both small and large.  I’ll be writing about a few, in between some design posts, because I realize writing for this blog can be both about business and personal.  

Which brings me to:

Interior design is a business.  Money is a big topic, sometimes even over and above a design.  Project management and organization are key elements.  Design tools are necessary.  Results are expected to be delivered.  Overhead and business expenses are not an afterthought.  Profitability keeps us sustainable.   We have a plan.

Interior design is also personal.  It may sound lofty but lives are impacted daily by it.  How one lives and works in their spaces.  How they function.  If it’s healthy.  If it invigorates.  If it soothes.  If it’s productive.  And that’s totally subjective to each and every individual.  Design is about relationships.  We work in your homes, amongst you and your families, and sometimes friends.  We work with a team.  We form loyalties.   We believe in human connection. 

I love pieces with a history.  And I love having a history with whom I work.  Before these clients relocated, we finished a guest bedroom by marrying some vintage and new pieces.  This chair is one of a pair I found in one of my special "no-tell" spots.  (Yes, it's sacred time for designers to curate and develop trades sources.)  These happened to come from a well-known family estate and were covered in a faded and torn apricot silk.  They had a modern edge and the carved wood insert - OMG so perfect!  Our upholsterers, brothers, were used to handling antiques so I scooped them up.  We had a long history together.  Sadly, in late 2017, one of them lost their battle with cancer and the shop is now closed.  We've had to move on to address our client's needs, but I'm thinking of his family with a heavy heart as we began working with his father, at the start-up of our firm, and know how much they're missing him.  Business IS personal.

I love pieces with a history.  And I love having a history with whom I work.  Before these clients relocated, we finished a guest bedroom by marrying some vintage and new pieces.  This chair is one of a pair I found in one of my special "no-tell" spots.  (Yes, it's sacred time for designers to curate and develop trades sources.)  These happened to come from a well-known family estate and were covered in a faded and torn apricot silk.  They had a modern edge and the carved wood insert - OMG so perfect!  Our upholsterers, brothers, were used to handling antiques so I scooped them up.  We had a long history together.  Sadly, in late 2017, one of them lost their battle with cancer and the shop is now closed.  We've had to move on to address our client's needs, but I'm thinking of his family with a heavy heart as we began working with his father, at the start-up of our firm, and know how much they're missing him.  Business IS personal.

There are stories created because of all of the above.  More of those stories will be shared in the coming weeks and months.

In the end, this is what I know for sure:  (Sorry Oprah, I just had to say it.)  For me, design is both business and personal.  Balancing it requires emotional intelligence, respect - for self and for others, realistic expectations, agility, handkerchiefs, humor, and daily planking. 

I also know this:  I’m ever appreciative of my best clients/vendors/partners.  Thank you for being you and I’ll see everyone, soon!  

All my best! - Wanda

Bedroom Design Ideas - Visiting with the Twins

A few housekeeping items before I get back to posting.  Yes, it's been a while!  I've had two blog locations and it's time to make sure we get readers over here!  I've missed all of you!  We've been super engaged with projects, the summer months, then into the high season of design, High Point Market . . . well, you get the picture.  Meanwhile, it occurred to me we've had some pretty amazing posts to bring back over to this page, along with some updates.  

One of our most read articles happens to be about using twin beds in guest areas so I thought, why not share an updated version?  Just in time for the holiday entertaining and guest season, no less!  Yes, there's still time to refresh that less than inviting room for friends and family.

Here's our updated post version:

While stopping by various showrooms, during my recent High Point Market jaunt, I made a note to myself to be sure to reconsider twin beds as a solution for guest rooms.  There were so many lovely upholstered headboards, as well as wood frames being prominently featured.  The more I saw, the more I felt as if I was on to something . . . a new interpretation of the 1950’s flashbacks to “I Love Lucy” and “The Dick Van Dyke Show”, where TV land had married couples sleeping in separate beds.  (What a difference fifty years has made!)

twin beds for adults 

I spotted the pretty, upholstered pair of headboards, above,  in a blush and lavender setting at Highland House Furniture during the Fall 2017 show.

Meanwhile, after thinking of the multiple, beautiful, and practical reasons for offering this as a design concept . . . and for adult rooms, no less . . .  I went searching the net for design inspiration to share.  We’re in the process of installing our lake home project, where a guestroom, design with nieces in mind, will be a beautiful blend of “boho/modern” with a touch of Lilly Pulitzer.  Look for a future post to come but here’s a sneak peek of our design board:

bedroom with twin beds drawing 

We’re tweaking the wall treatment as it will go more towards a tone-on-tone hand-stenciled pattern to really allow the other elements to pop.  This will give you an idea of our direction, though.

Here are some of the images we had in our blog archives, with some helpful interior design tips:

red and white bedroom with twin beds

Gooorrrrgeous!  The art to the fabulousness in this room is the bold patterning.  Love the combo of wood and fabric in the headboards and the cute little feet peeking out from the corners.

Double twin beds

The perfect solution to one of those oddly shaped rooms.  This is a clever and creative way to control light and privacy with the wrap-around rods.  Each guest still has a sconce tucked within for nighttime reading.  (Veranda – Interior Design – Willis and Marsden – NC Mountain Cottage – Jane Marsden Antiques & Interiors.)

yellow and white bedroom with twin beds

Even with odd window placement, there is no fast ruling that a bed can’t be placed in front.  The sheer panels keep it light and airy.  (Thibaut Fabrics - Imperial Dragon)

Forgo the headboards and use fabric and a cornice to add height and interest, along with pattern.  Again, furnishings are simple and allow the over-scale paisley to rock the room with design.  It would be so simple to make this happen in your home!  (Myhomeideas.com)

oversized twin beds

A designer’s trick to beefing up the scale of a twin bed would be to enlarge the visual space.  The horizontal lines of the headboards, along with the placement of the connecting wall art, spread the visual field.  The large-scale, patterned duvets, at the ends of the beds, help to balance it all out. (Apartment Therapy)

colorful twin bedroom aqua and red

Can’t you just picture these at a vacation get-a-way?  Happy times!  (Pinterest)

white twin beds

Flexible design at its best!  Take away the quilts, pillows, and a few accents, and you’re left with an all-white, summery room.  For seasonal design, the slipcovered headboards could be recovered in a heavier texture and different textiles could be brought in to transition you towards fall and winter.  (Full House Blog)

blue and beige twin bedroom

I’ll have to admit . . . I’m a restless sleeper.  The placement of these upholstered-base beds gives me comfort in knowing a wall is there to keep me intact.  No rolling out of bed in the middle of the night!  (Full House Blog)

 

using twin headboards to make a king bed

Let’s just say you aren’t hosting two unrelated visitors and the only extra room is housing the twin beds.  Rather than being stumped for a solution, there are great mattress fillers which allow you to push the beds together to fashion a king size.  Bed, Bath & Beyond offers an Instant King Twin Bed Bridge to assist with the task.  Of course, some headboards are easier to pair than others.  I loved the clever vintage headboard design, offered by Ellen Ward Antiques on 1st Dibbs.  It’s from the 1950’s!  (Those cheeky folks!)

twin beds made into a king bed

Even if you have full-scaled, wood frames, depending on the shaping, they still may be pushed together to make a snuggly sleeping space.

I hope this post has you thinking of those headboards or beds, tucked away in the attic or storage.  Get them out and have fun with them!  Even yet, consider some custom options to plan for a special, personalized space, via a design consultation.  We love creating bedroom retreats and have great resources in our design bag!

All my best - Wanda.JPG

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!  

Charlotte Home + Garden Magazine cover

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. 

transitional dining room with modern art

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!   

transitional living room with mirrored armoire

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!  

wanda Horton design icon

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