Interior Design Photos on our web site

Interior Design Photos on our web site
For More Interior Design Photos: ^ Click Above ^ - Hundreds of Before & After photos

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Tile or hardwood floors, which is best for a kitchen?

To decide between tile or hardwood floors in your kitchen or bath - first learn the advantages and disadvantages of each:
1) Tile can be wet mopped without worrying about too much moisture. The new epoxy grout will not stain like the old grout did.
2) Tile can create a new texture (if you have stained wood cabinets and you're worried about having too much wood)
3) You don't have to worry about the wood clashing with the wood on the cabinets
4) You won't have to move out of your home someday while the hardwood floors are being refinished! If a child leaves ice cubes melting or if someone drops an egg on hardwood floors and doesn't clean it good enough .....yes, I'm speaking from does harm the varnish and stain.

Now for the disadvantages of tile:
1) It can be tiring (hard on your legs) to stand on it for long periods of time, so you might want to add rugs if you are an avid cook. Some indoor outdoor rugs can be rinsed off, and they're pretty!
2) It can be cold in the winter, however, if you plan in advance you can request a heated floor - just be sure to allow for this as it affects the floor height
3) If you do somehow manage to harm your tile floor, you (hopefully) had the installer leave a few excess tiles for replacing damaged ones.

kitchen with hardwood floors, since there is a big contrast between the stains, they work nicely together 

When your cabinets are white, hardwood floors can create a nice warm tone. 

The grain of these hardwoods runs across this narrow room,
to help make the room feel wider.....much like stripes do when we wear a dress! Unfortunately! 

If you go with tile, you can pick a nice dark grout that won't show stains, and go for epoxy grout - it's FAR more durable than regular grout! 
If you put hardwoods in one room and tile in the next, it's important to hold a sample of each next to each other, to make sure the color tones are complimentary.

Now that you've read the advantages and disadvantages of hardwood floors versus tile. know that it's actually personal preference! In addition, it can depend on what area of the country you live in. Tile can add a nice touch in a Florida home, or in a southern style home, it has the "sun room" type feeling. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Don't miss these 4 simple steps to a clutter free playroom and home office!

Playrooms and home offices have something in common, they can feel like a room full of clutter, or they can feel organized and clutter free. Let's face it, they both somehow accumulate a lot of STUFF!

If everything has a specific place, it's easy to keep them clutter free. Organizing an office can make you love the work space.
Home office Clutter Free 

  1. Invest in doors & drawers that close, (limit open shelving to a minimum). Even more importantly, make sure any built in units have FILE DRAWERS! If you don't have the ability to add file drawers, consider 3 hole punching paperwork and putting it into binders.
  2. Sort by color or alphabet, create a system that's easy to remember. Perhaps blue for home, green for work, red for children's info? 
Clutter free Playroom  

Before (below) 

This basement playroom was an enjoyable space once we made it clutter free!
Once we added roman shades & a nice rug, the client was motivated
to take it a step further. They allowed us to dive in and organize the playroom.
Children (and adults) need deep drawers for video games, toys, and other misc.
We found these very reasonable drawer units at Home Depot. We added custom
hardware to upgrade the look.

3)   Live by the simple rule  "a place for everything and everything in it's place". Donate? Trash? or File in it's proper place?   If you only have 3 pile options, it's easier to sort. 

4)  Get a label maker & dividers. For young children who can't read, insert PHOTOS instead of labels. 

For a clutter free playroom or office, it doesn't require a huge budget for built in shelving. The 3 cabinets above were less than $100 each, and even I was able to assemble them! Creating a clutter free environment in one room normally causes a chain reaction in which you'll want to make more rooms organized - let the challenge begin! 

Friday, February 22, 2013

What type sofa cushions are best?

When it comes to seat cushions, some people love feather and down, some prefer foam. Here we'll list the advantages of each. Some people insist 3 seat cushions are best, others prefer 2 seat cushions. We'll list the advantages to each, including one long seat cushion:

1) With three seat cushions, three people are more comfortable. No one wants to sit on a crack in the middle! 


Have you ever seen 3 people share a sofa at a party? It's rare, it normally only happens when it's either a close family, or small children, (instead of large adults). Because, let's face it, when two people are having a conversation on the sofa, it feels rude to plop down in between them!

2) If the sofa is really long, it will probably look better with 3 seat cushions.
After (In progress)
When we recovered this sofa, we changed the 3 back cushions to 2 cushions.
The pillows stay in place now, before they were always messy looking. (see photo below) 

with 3 saggy cushions on the back of the sofa

The sofa below shows a crown cushion, which is achieved not through foam, but through feather and down cushion. The advantage is that it's super comfy. The only disadvantages are the price, and it must be flipped every few weeks to retain it's shape. A select few people don't like this type, my parents are at the age they'd rather have something that's easy to stand up from. But if you're looking for a plush & comfy cushion style - this is the one for you!

6) You might want to request an upgraded "crown" seat cushion
Notice the high loft in the photo below. This curved "crown" is normally an upgrade, versus a flat seat cushion, it looks higher quality, and gives the sofa a plush overstuffed look. 

3)  If the cushions are loose (not attached), you can flip them more often.
This allows you to keep the shape nice and it gives you the option of hiding stains....(that is, if there are three alike instead of two "T shaped" cushions). If you're having a sofa recovered, ask if they will put fabric versus black lining on the underside of the cushions.

4) To decide between feather and down versus foam cushions, keep in mind that feather and down cushions will need to be "flipped" (rotated) or they'll get flat and uncomfortable. If you can do that every few weeks they are the more luxurious look (instead of foam).

5) The highest quality cushions have SPRING DOWN.
They're similar to the springs of a mattress, then encased and surrounded by feather and down. This is often possible as an upcharge.

I do have one recommendation - if there are only 2 seat cushions, it's best if there are only 2 back pillows,  See the before and after photos!

Before shopping at a furniture store, measure your space available to see how long your sofa can be, decide what arm style you like, and think about the cushions - whether you prefer loose pillows versus tight (attached) back cushions.  Now that you know how to shop for a sofa, it will be a faster and easier process! Once you find a comfortable one, know that you can use COM (customer's own material). You simply mail the bolt of fabric, and they'll apply it for you. 

The back cushions on this sofa take on a metropolitan or contemporary feeling, the single tuft in the center gives the cushion style, and the loose pillow back allows for more comfort than a tight back sofa.

7) If you think you prefer one long seat cushion instead of three cushions, be sure to test it!
The best way to "test sit" it is to have a large person plop down. Do the ends rise when you sit in the middle? If not, you're go to go! Our client below requested one seat cushion for the clean look. See photo below.

Layout for TV viewing? 
Leather versus fabric?
Before & after photos -  
Just type a word or two in the Search box TOP LEFT....such as "sofa" or "leather" or "living room". For more living room tips, click on this link:

For questions, send us an email. 

We LOVE reading your opinions, thoughts, experiences, and comments!! Just click the word "comment" below.....

 What type sofa cushion is best is strongly determined by what's comfortable to you, whether you're willing to flip and fluff cushions, and whether you have allergies to feather and down.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Cocktail ottoman versus cocktail table, why do designer's like Candice Olsen love them?

You may have noticed that the famous designer Candice Olsen uses cocktail ottomans in many of her  rooms. You might be thinking that's all about looks and not about function. Not true!

People who start with one cocktail ottoman in their home almost always end up getting two or three throughout the the den, the sun room, the master bedroom, even the living room. Why? Here are 7 reasons (they're not just my opinion, this is the feedback we've heard for years):

1) ) A cocktail ottoman allows you to get rid of all the other ottomans!! This makes the room less crowded. Why have a big bulky ottoman in front of EACH chair when you can have a one large ottoman in the middle of the sitting area?  (for everyone to share)
2) Cocktail ottomans are more COMFORTABLE! You can have one made in a lower height, so you don't hyper extend your knees, everyone on the sofa can share it, to kick back and relax! Some people tell me they just put their legs on a cocktail table, but let's face it, that's not comfortable for long periods. It's a hard surface, and it's probably too tall.
If your cocktail ottoman has exposed legs (instead of upholstery all the way down to the floor),  your room will feel much larger. And - you won't hide your beautiful rug! 

This leather cocktail ottoman
has a clean contemporary look,  with very few tufts
3) A cocktail ottoman is safer than a cocktail table! There's no need to worry about a child - or adult :) falling and hitting their head on a cocktail ottoman. The first cocktail table we ever sold was for my brother, and wouldn't you know it? My niece fell & hit the edge - she had to get stitches on her forehead. I had forewarned about the danger of a table, it was nerve wracking when she had to go to the hospital.

4) An ottoman allows you to bring another texture and color into the room. You'll notice Candice Olsen often uses Cocktail ottomans in her rooms. Designer's like them because you can bring in new shapes, (oval, round, etc) but more important, it allows you to bring in another texture and color. It has a way of "groundings" the room much like a nice area rug.
This cocktail ottoman has box tufts
This rich coral chenille ottoman added much needed color
 to this Greensboro, NC home owner's den

This Cocktail ottoman designed by Candice Olsen has traditional tufting.
The  oval shape helps soften the room.
This ottoman has a traditional tuft style, but the
fresh white linen gives it an updated look. 
5) A cocktail ottoman can actually be used just like a cocktail table - just put a large tray on top, and Wha La! You have a nice big area to set down drinks and appetizers. Speaking of which..... end tables are more comfortable anyway (for setting down a drink).

6) You don't have to dust it! With glass cocktail tables and wood tables you have to worry about scratches & dust..... not so with a durable fabric on a cocktail ottoman.

Cocktail ottoman with carved legs
This Greensboro NC homeowner requested a huge
ottoman, this one is 48 x 50

You'll never convince someone who has owned a cocktail ottoman to revert back to a cocktail table. They realize that small end tables are a better place for drinks anyway. If there's an amazing looking cocktail table you like for the style, find out if you could purchase the matching end tables instead
7) Your guests will feel welcome! With a cocktail ottoman, you never have to say the words "relax, prop your feet up". The ottoman will convey that on it's own.

Now to list a pro for cocktail tables - some of them are great looking - but where there's a great looking cocktail table there's normally a matching end table which you can get instead. 
This designer room by Candice Olsen features a cocktail ottoman.
It's hard to capture in a photograph, but the beautiful fabric
is a nice addition to the room. Notice  that it's functional for both the chairs and the sofa.  

Designer rooms by Candice Olsen often feature a cocktail ottoman, that's because a good designer is just as concerned with function as they are beauty!  Send us you comments, we love feedback!  

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

How to update a boring bedroom! Follow these 4 steps!

Is your master bedroom in need of some pizzazz? Does it feel drab & boring? Think of it this way - it's the place you & your spouse can escape. It's an important room to take it to the next level and make it the soothing oasis you both deserve!

The addition of nail head trim, custom drapes, and a chandelier take this room to an entirely different level. 

This master bedroom has chandeliers over each end table.
The custom bedding, bench, and custom drapes make the room feel more luxurious. 

Follow these steps for a fabulous room makeover:

1)Step One - find some inspiration fabrics! Yes, this should be done first, because there are millions of paint colors, but very few amazing fabrics. Think of the fabrics as a work of art!! After all, they will  make or break the room.

Pillow fabrics 
A bedroom can look harsh and stark without fabrics to soften it.
When you select timeless fabrics (not trendy), you can create window treatments & custom bedding
that you'll love for the next 15 to 20 years. Above: Drapery fabric Left, Sham fabric Right 
2) Step Two - think variety. Don't repeat the same fabric over and over. You know the "matching sets"  where the dust skirt, the shams, and the drapes are all in the same fabric?  So boring! Give your room the touches it deserves, with custom window treatments, glamorous pillows, and custom bedding that actually fits (actually covers the mattress). Various fabrics with different textures and sheen will make it unique!

In this bedroom the custom drapes draw the eye toward the amazing view. 
A bench at the foot of the bed, a comfortable chair, think about what items will be
both functional and beautiful in your master bedroom. 

Bedroom Before
This room felt unfinished without the addition of  drapes.
To find fabric options in the right style & texture, be sure
to spread out several yards of the fabric, do not trust a small swatch!! 
After (in progress) 
The window treatments give the room a finished touch. People often say they don't like window treatments, this means they haven't tried the right window treatments. As long as they don't block daylight, and as long as they're hung so they make the window look wider and the room look bigger, they'll be a vast improvement. Go with clean styles, nothing
fru fru. The room above is a work in progress, it still needs an end table, a floor lamp, & accessories for color.

3) Step Three ....Create a room that is loved by both spouses. To combine taste & styles, compromise may be necessary....If he wants a flat screen TV, try to accommodate. If she wants a big comfy chair, think compromise. Often we spend all the money on the children's areas, and we forget to take care of the king and queen of the house. 

4) Step Four, make it a place to hibernate.....on those rare occasions when you can sleep in, how nice would it be to pull the drapes and create a dark bedroom? Medical studies prove that the Melatonin needed for deep sleep is diminished when light seeps into the room, so order drapes that open and close so you'll sleep like a bear in hibernation!

If you can't afford to change all your fabrics, add a border on the drapes, 
or a throw or new shams. It will create that "custom" look. 

5) Step realistic about what will truly make a big impact. People often think new carpet or hardwoods will solve what the room needs.  In actuality, client's tell us they don't even notice the flooring once they added those things that make a big impact --custom bedding, drapes, lamps, & accessories. Check out bedrooms in magazines - notice what makes them so appealing? It's certainly not the floor!
When you follow the right steps to a room makeover, it makes the process fun & easy.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Ten fabulous options for a front porch addition!

Realtor's say first impressions are the most important, if that's the won't want to miss these front porch shapes and styles! A front porch can be a fun place for lounging with a glass or ice tea, or it can be just a small stoop to protect you from the rain & wind. Either way, when you add a front porch, your home takes on an entirely new look, it creates a welcoming touch. 

This front porch is not deep or big, but the beautiful trees in the yard already welcome guests on their own. Front porches come in all shapes and sizes, this one may be simple, yet somehow it is still an inviting touch. 

This front porch roof style is a perfect solution when dormers limit your height. Notice the iron railing, which makes  makes the curved staircase a nice entrance to this porch. 

This front porch is amazing! With  6 columns, the combination of stone with wood trim, and best of all a beautiful arched shape to the roof, which softens the angles from all the dormers above. 

This front porch becons guests to enter, with the beautiful arch, and a
stone sidewalk to guide you to the front door. 

This front Porch in Greensboro, NC has a nice hip roof, beautiful stone with gas porch lights,  and just the right amount of steps to elevate the entrance. The addition of a front porch such as this is possible even if you can't match the brick of your home, notice the house is brick, the porch is stone. 

This front porch is a basic inexpensive addition, but the balcony
with iron railing makes it impressive. 

We zoomed in for a close up of this front porch, to capture the details in the woodwork  

This front porch is long - so long that it has two distinct sitting areas. The shutters on the windows have that nice "beach home" appeal. Imagine how plain this home would be without the porch!

This porch is L shaped, it wraps around the entire front of the house. The two tone paints help draw attention to the architecture, the shape of the columns, and the details on the windows. 
Outdoor fabric drapes are great -  to keep the sun away or to make your porch feel cozy. 

If you have a limited budget for a porch, notice how welcoming it can be with the
 addition of flower boxes and nice lights.

For other tips, click on these blogs you'll enjoy....

Or, type search words in the search box above. Some examples: 

How to add color
Recovering sofas
Window Treatment styles
Paint front door
Sectional versus sofa

Any topic you can think of - we'll have an article, if not, please send a question or comment! 

Front porch styles & shapes come in all varieties, for a great addition to make your entrance more welcoming. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Granite or tile? Which should I pick first?

Are you ready to find Granite and Tile? Or, are you ready to remodel your bathroom or kitchen and you don't know where to start? Well, the answer to that depends on who you ask. 

At the local tile store, they told us to "select the granite first, then return with a sample of the granite".  I chose to ignore this, and pick the tile first. Below we'll list some things to consider for selecting tile and counter tops.  
This client had very specific goals about tile, so in this case it was best to select the tile first. Notice the granite at the top of the photo, how it blends nicely with the tile they loved. In this master bathroom, their will be lots of tile (about 500 square feet between the floor & a  huge walk in shower & tub) yet their will only be a 6' counter top. Therefore, it was smart to find a tile the client loved first, since it will be the dominant feature in the room.
1) Tile choices will make it easier to select a granite slab. 
A granite warehouse can be overwhelming, you'll walking down rows and rows of granite slabs, it could be overwhelming if you don't have tile samples with you. 
2) A unique granite 
If you pick your tile first, you can think "outside the box", meaning you might go with a more colorful & unique granite (see the paprika & cinnamon granite slab below). This was for a very large home in NC. We selected granite & tile for 2 kitchens, a massive laundry room, a mud room, &  6 bathrooms. The homeowner was daring and adventuresome, they did not want to limit themselves to granite slabs that all looked alike. The variety was a nice touch, much like you wouldn't want a closet full of camel clothes!  
3) Some tile backsplashes demand a lot of attention! 
If you fall in love with an accent tile that screams for attention, you'll know you should stay basic with the granite, meaning the granite would have less movement.
4) It's easy to carry tile with you. 
It's easy to carry tile samples with you to the granite warehouse, yet it's often impossible to talk a granite warehouse into chipping off a piece. An exotic granite can crack all the way across, so they can't chip off a sample piece from your specific quarry until they fabricate it. Each load will have a different look & colors, no two granite slabs look alike when it comes to exotic granite.  
5) Cabinet color
If your cabinets have a stain color or paint color that's hard to coordinate with, I suggest you pick the back splash first. It will be right  to the cabinets so it's important that they compliment each other. To be more specific, we've all seen those kitchens where the tile has a green or camel undertone, which makes the cabinets look more pink or "flesh tone" than they otherwise would. 
6) The "wow" factor 
The back splash can make more of a statement than any feature in the room, in some cases you want it to be the "wow" factor. For example, there are often stunning focal points behind large stoves. 
7) Budgets
The main field tile is an area where you can keep cost down. The majority of tile (for floors, shower walls & Jacuzzi surround) will be a lot of square feet. It's a great place to save money.   

So, again, it depend who you ask - the tile store doesn't want to spend a lot of hours helping you with selections only to start all over again, and the granite supplier will feel the same way. Therefore, they might both ask you to come back once you've found the other. 

Tile and Granite can be major purchases, you might decide to work with a designer. If so, do your homework. How many homes have they done in your price range? Are they able to switch gears and work on everything from a starter home to a multi million dollar home? Does their web site reflect this?  
The tile above was a favorite of my client since his goal was 
a masculine unique tile for the bathroom next to his office & den
This granite was a nice coordinate to the tile at the top. We would never
have selected this granite if we didn't find the tile he liked first.
But notice how well it compliments the tile above. 

This client had very specific goals about tile, so in this case it was best to select the tile first. Notice the granite at the top of the photo, how it blends nicely with this tile they loved. In this master bathroom, their will be lots of tile (about 500 square feet between the floor & a  huge walk in shower & tub') yet their will only be a 6' counter top. Therefore, it was smart to find a tile the client loved first, since it will be the dominant feature in the room.

The contrast border glass tiles (left) go well with the main tile (right). After finding a tile in a local tile store, it's often easy to find a  remnant granite piece for small counter tops  (see below).  Another way to save money on tile is to
remember that if the accent tile is fabulous, the main field tile can be basic. The Greensboro NC tile store for
the room above showed us an expensive main tile, we found a look alike tile that saved a great deal of money. :
This granite is nice an "simple" not too busy, so it doesn't
fight with the tile in the photo directly above. Since it's a neutral color and a subtle pattern, you this is an example of a case when you could select granite first, then tile later. 
When you select a granite and tile, it's most important to make sure it blends well with the stain of your cabinets and your hardwood floors.

For beautiful kitchen photos, with additional tips - click here:

How to update kitchen on a budget, 6 tips and photos for alternatives to a complete remodeling job.

Unique ideas for backsplash tile, photos of tile backsplash makeovers.