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

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

How to decorate my foyer on a budget?

To decorate or add a designer touch to your foyer, it's an area where you may be able to bring in things from another room, perhaps a bench, a floor lamp, a fun mirror, a table lamp set on a timer, a narrow table with a bowl for your keys.
AFTER above
This client thought they needed to invest thousands in iron balusters & tile. We updated their entrance with paint & accessories & kept them in budget so they could do other rooms too! 

BEFORE below

A Foyer with fresh white paint is very appealing! Notice
how the white paint draws attention to the light fixture & the stained front door. 
A new Chandelier - 
Notice the huge impact an updated chandelier makes, it changes the personality of the entire foyer! If your ceiling heights are low, you'll need to check the overall height. At the same time, it's best to get a nice substantial chandelier that doesn't look skimpy. Normally bigger is better, to add drama.

A Foyer with a black console & beautiful light fixtures
Perhaps you have a piece of furniture which would look nice with black paint and new hardware?

A console table 
The black painted piece above makes a statement in this foyer. Black is stunning next to the silver walls and silver leaf sconces in this foyer. If you have a piece of furniture that seems boring, perhaps you could have it professionally spray painted in black with a sheen.

A foyer with a host and hostess chair for seating, a beaitiful wood stained front
door stands out next to the white trim paint. The art is a nice size & scale for the room.
A pair of chairs!
It's nice to have somewhere to take your shoes off in a foyer. Perhaps you have a pair of chairs you could "borrow" from the dining room or den? A host and hostess chair look great n the foyer photo above, the create symmetry and make the room functional.

Abstract or contemporary art!
There's nothing that will update a foyer more in a traditional home. If you have low ceilings, be sure to use vertical art, which will make the ceilings feel taller. Notice above the combination of concrete, twigs, fabric, rocks and wood. This creates an organic natural feel to this foyer.

The front door is craftsmen style, and the walls have a cottage feel, so the colorful abstract art with traditional furniture brings an unexpected twist!

For many more before/after photos of foyers & entrance areas, see this link

A foyer or entrance area is the first impression someone has of your home, it's a great place to make people feel welcome. To decorate your foyer, look around the house, perhaps you can borrow a chair from another room? Or move art from another wall? Or perhaps all you need is fresh paint on the front door? Have fun with it!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Pros and cons of a TV over the fireplace, should my Television be above the mantle?

Clients often think they should definitely put the TV above the fireplace. There are alternatives you can consider.  In the top photo, their mantle was 5 1/2' tall (due to code requirements), so the top of the TV would have been almost 9' tall. According to ergonomic professionals & Physical Therapists, looking up to watch TV causes a strain on the neck. My own TV is above the fireplace, the builder did it before we bought the home. I must admit, we do get a sore neck after football days! 

Today there are more options than in the past, because today's TV brackets pull out & swivel for easy viewing from all angles. 

I found several photos on Houzz showing TV's beside the mantle instead of above it (one example on right) - this helped the client visualize options. They tell me they are VERY happy with the placement they went with (above). 

We feature a list of the pros and cons of below.  

The advantage to a TV over the fireplace is the room will normally be symmetrical, and symmetry may be very important to you. Look at photos you've gathered in the past - are the nightstands, bookcases, etc always symmetrical?

The disadvantages to the TV over the fireplace:  
1) The big black box is the focal point 
2) It's a strain on your neck, according to ergonomic or PT experts (see below) 
3) The heat is hard on your electronics, according to professionals, (link below), although my TV is 3 years old, and it hasn't seemed to hurt it. 
 ---- see more pros and cons and other room photos at the link at the bottom of the page

Brad Simpson has strong opinions about a TV over the mantle. He is the Clinical Director at Life’s Work PT who treats patients with musculoskeletal problems & is an expert in ergonomics. He says watching TV in an unnatural position will have lasting repercussions. “Having your head forward & up causes a shearing force within your mid-cervical spine. That’s where a lot of pain ends up coming from" 
Read more:

See Below  -Notice how much higher the top of the TV is than someone sitting on the sofa? 
Where to put the TV is personal preference, but before you drill holes & mount that TV, 
be sure to ask youself a couple of questions:

 1) What do you want the main focal point of the room to be? 
 2) Would you rather be watching TV at eye level, or at a level that requires you to look up? 

Clients often tell me they wish they didn't have to look up to a TV that is hung high. So I'd love to hear your comments! We love feedback! 

For more options re TV placement: Living room layouts for best TV viewing

For questions, be sure to email instead. Whether a Television should be above the fireplace mantle is personal preference, but keep in mind the pros and cons before you drill and hang the TV. If in doubt, perhaps you can try it in a "temporary testing location". 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

How much to budget for the dining room furniture, rug, drapes, & chandelier?

People often ask how much they should budget for their dining room furniture, we list some sample budgets below. I like to stress that it's good to shop for discounted furniture, and to make sure to allow for window treatments, art, rugs, accessories, and perhaps a new chandelier! By discounted I don't mean the typical furniture store "clearance sale".  I'm referring to showroom samples, designer warehouses, etc. where you can get very high quality furniture at substantial savings!

There are lots of bargains to be found when it comes to dining furniture. Often you can buy a table that is greatly discounted because one of the two leafs is missing, or perhaps someone canceled a custom order. Furniture warehouses are full of furniture that people return because it looked too big in their room! Which by the way is a good reason to work with an experienced interior designer, they can help you with size/scale/space planning.

They can also help you with mixing furniture from different get chairs that compliment but do not match the dining table. For example, I saw a breathtaking Henredon dining table recently marked down from $3,400 down to $300! It was not damaged, it was just a return and the store had already made it's money by charging the original buyer a huge restocking fee.

Dining Room AFTER above 
                                                                  BEFORE below
Before buying a new dining set, keep in mind that furniture is only part of what the room needs to feel "finished" or cozy & welcoming. Below are two sample budgets with before and after dining room photos to emphasize the need to plan & budget BEFORE you shop!
AFTER (above)
Dining art, lamp, custom drapes, and a new paint color on the wall add to the look
Once the chandelier is upgraded the room will be complete!
                                                                      Before (below)
Dining room BEFORE

SAMPLE dining room BUDGETS     A (outlet furniture with accessories) versus B 

Dining room rug 9 x 11 100% wool hand tufted            $     400 (nice)  to  $ 2,000 (upgraded)
Dining table & chairs discounted at a furniture outlet    $  3,400   
Chandelier                                                                       $    375 (nice)   to  $ 1,300 (high end)
Art -  very large, custom wood frame                             $    500 (nice)   to  $ 1,500 (high end)
Custom Window Treatments                                          $    495 (nice)   to  $  890    (upgraded)
Accessories                                                                     $    150 (nice)   to  $  550   
                                                                                              _____               ______
GRAND TOTAL  ROOM                                               $   4,845         to   $ 7,240  

What shape or size dining table should I get?

Comments? We love to hear from you! Click the word "comments" below.....

When it comes to budgeting for your dining room, know that even a bargain table from a consignment store or outlet can look amazing if it's in a room with beautiful paint, fabrics, & art. A big dining budget doesn't necessarily dictate whether the room will look amazing, it's more the personal touches that count!

Monday, December 8, 2014

What type bed frame for an upholstered headboard?

There are lots of types of bed frames, from the metal ones you should hide with a dust skirt, to plat form beds which don't allow the use of box springs, to wood frames, which allow you to get a nice quality look, with no need for a dust skirt!

The upholstered headboards below show the use of various style frames. We custom made these beds with nail head trim, and they are attached to the wall instead of the bed frame. This allows you to use any type bed frame, from a hidden metal frame (about $50 at a local mattress store) to a wooden frame or matching side rails that are upholstered as shown below.

See the disadvantages listed below - when you get a foot board.

Upholstered Headboard with the same fabric on side
rails and foot rails, Greensboro, NC 

Upholstered Headboard on a hidden metal frame
If your dust skirt is plain (not gathered), you rarely notice the dust skirt.
This is a great option if you want to incorporate more fabrics and textures. 

Leather Upholstered headboard with matching side rails and foot rails and nail head trim
NOTE - if you box spring is tall some bed frames may not work for you!
Some brands like the above do not allow space for a box spring.

We made this custom upholstered headboard and added wood side rails and foot board rail.
Notice the legs (far left close up), You can see underneath the bed for a nice open look, even with a box spring.

Upholstered Headboard with nail head trim, close up view

When we ask clients if they like their complete bed, (with foot boards as shown) 99.99% of the time they tell us they do not. If we talk to them before they buy a bed, we make sure we point out several disadvantages of a foot board on the bed:

1) It chops the room off - it makes the room look smaller. In those cases where we change to an upholstered headboard, the clients are amazed at how much more "open" and "spacious" it looks
2) It's harder to make the bed when you have a foot board....
3) The footboard is uncomfortable, it's something your foot hits at night, or WORSE! People often tell us they stub their toes or hit it with their shin in the middle of the night!

When we change to a headboard only, with side rails or a hidden bed frame, the bedroom instantly feels much larger.

To see many BEFORE & AFTER bedrooms, with design tips & ideas for room layouts, 
colors, bedding, privacy solutions, and decorating styles, check out this blog:

Comments? We love to hear your thoughts!

Questions ?  Be sure to email us instead, as we can only reply to emails.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

What are the 4 most important interior design tips for furnishing & decorating a home?

Are you ready to furnish and decorate your home. but you're not sure what interior design advice is helpful? We'll list the 4 most important interior design tips that can save you from expensive mistakes.

1) Don't paint the walls until you have a plan. 
Every famous designer will stress this. There are countless articles about this in famous magazines. Why? Because the wall color should compliment the sofa, or main fabrics, and the art. People think it's safe to go with a "neutral" but there are thousands of shades of taupe, or tan, or ivory, and they can actually clash with your major purchases.

It's hard to visualize until you see it with your own eyes. People grasp this easily once we hold the paint fan up to their rug, art, or fabric.

When I point to the only two taupe tones that work (out of perhaps 50 to 100 taupe choices) or the only ivory that is great (out of about 50 to 100 ivory choices), they're happy that they waited.

Or - if you have a plan first, you can even go with a more daring color - such as a soothing greenish gray, or a subtle spa blue, something you could never have done without an overall PLAN.

2) Do your homework regarding sizes. Know that a furniture store "designer" might not be advising the right size and scale for your room.
Did they ask the right questions?
1) How does the width, depth & height compare to your old sofa? Example, if the sofa you're replacing is the perfect size in the room, but the one in the store is a larger scale well, you get the picture.
2) What height are your ceilings? A qualified designer will always ask this question.  Your 9' ceilings might not be able to handle the furniture piece that the store displayed in 15' tall ceilings with NO WALLS. It's very misleading!
3) Will the new furniture piece overpower your other furniture? We often tour homes in which the chairs are a really small in scale, but the sofa is huge, or vice versa.
The homeowners realize they made a mistake, yet due to Furniture stores "restocking fees" they're stuck with it. Or, their On Line source required return freight charges plus a return fee. There's nothing worse than keeping something you dislike!

3) Less is more!
 Rather than buying lots of little "nic nacs" that tend to look like clutter......consider one large unique piece instead. 
All those little purchases add up! Example, if you spend $60 plus $75 plus $125 on small art that you don't LOVE, remember that you could wait and get one nice piece that you do love for $250!

Gray living room with one nice accessory & one piece of art
This Greensboro, NC client liked that we brought one large piece of art, instead of 3 or 4 small pieces. 

4) Create a budget!
As one example - furniture bargains found at an outlet would allow furniture to be 45% of the budget, with the remaining 55% available for rugs, floor lamps, window treatments, art, a great chandelier, or perhaps a new mantle or wall unit?

When people pay too much for their furniture, then skimp on cheap looking floor lamps, rugs, art, etc, the entire room can feel compromised.
For hundreds of before and after room photos, with solutions for lighting, window treatments & privacy, and other designer tips, check out prior blogs. In the upper LEFT CORNER SEARCH BOX
type any word "window" or "light" or "paint". There are hundreds of photos and tips on just about any subject!

To furnish and decorate a home, go over these 4 design tips about paint colors, size and scale, quantity, and a budget before you dive in, you'll be glad you did! It helps avoid impulse purchases that you may regret.

Questions? Send us an email!

Comments? We love hearing your thoughts! Click the word comment below.....

Saturday, November 8, 2014

5 best bathroom remodeling ideas for function and looks

Five bathroom remodeling ideas that can make your bathroom more functional as well as pleasing to the eye - - the feedback we hear from you homeowners every week!

Before you remodel your bathroom ... ask yourself if you're going to achieve better FUNCTION as well as a better LOOK.  Sure, it's may seem nice to have pretty tile & counter tops, but will you achieve better storage solutions? A more comfortable shower? Better lighting?

Next  - ask yourself how long will I live here? Many changes such as tile or counter tops might be your taste, but they may not be what the new buyer wants when it's time to sell. Perhaps you like wood stained cabinets but they prefer white cabinets..... perhaps you'd like a large shower, but they prefer a big garden tub....or vice-versa.

Here's 5 upgrades that are easy and effective to make.

1) Recessed niches in shower stalls and jacuzzi tub areas in the bathroom
allow you to store towels, shampoos, soap, etc. 

2) A recessed bathroom cabinet (as above, flushed with the sheet rock) will provide lots of storage 
3) Drawers may be more expensive than drawers - but it's easier  to find things in drawers! 
And if you're on a budget, never underestimate the impact that paint can achieve!!
4) A ceiling mount shower head, and/or a hand held shower head 

5) Update the vanity. Tip - a small bathroom will look best with a cabinet up on legs 
(not flushed to the floor). The shelf allows storage. 

If you're only going to be in your home a few years,  you won't recoup the expenses of a bathroom remodel. After all, many of the changes would be personal preference. 

Below we'll show some reasonable and quick options! Consider the impact that wall paint, or a custom shower curtain, or a bench, a window valance, or a couple of nice accessories can make.   
Our client was thrilled with the additions below - for very little expense

We updated the rug, accessories and added a bench for THOUSANDS less than the homeowner was going to 
spend to replace the tile. Instead of dealing with the hassles of a remodel --- like the dust in your duct work from chiseling out the old tile, she had a new bathroom look in 5 minutes!


For many more bathroom changes, including color changes, window treatments, 
vanities, and more, see this link

New bathroom paint, new light fixtures, hardware, and a custom shower curtain make 
a huge impact in the bathroom above. 
Comments? We love to hear from you. OR -- Questions? Be sure to email instead.
We all like to think our choices will be appreciated by all, but let's face it, each of us has our own personal taste, and we're all unique. Remodel if it's for your own goals, but know that it often does not increase resale value.

For hundreds more BEFORE / AFTER photos, check out

Sunday, October 19, 2014

What type blind is best for a high end designer look? See these linen shades and sheer options.

Today's roller blinds and roman shades in organic linen fabrics go well in a high end designer 
room, unlike Grandmas blinds, they add an element of beauty and function to the room.
Linen adds a nice texture as shown above

IF (big if) your windows are nice and large, you may be able to get by with blinds only.
However, most people's windows look better with fabric, to add softness and texture.
The addition of drapes or valances hung ABOVE or OUTSIDE the window frame makes
the windows look much larger & the ceiling feel taller. In the Hamptons, Alice Black features blinds, above. 

Additional things to consider - the addition of drapes with blind will "soften" the room, 
absorb sound, help with temperature or sun control, and will make the room look larger. See below.

The above roman shade is a nice alternative to roller blinds
Other options for window treatments:

A decorative fabric valance allows you to "hide" blinds (photo above)
Woven blinds add texture to the room, (photo below)  
The feedback we hear is that it's nearly impossible to raise all blinds to the exact same height, We fought with it for 30 minutes for a photo shoot! Also, when raised blinds still block about the 15" to 17" of the sky & trees.

We sell blinds, when people insist......but we hear lots of negative feedback, such as....
  • The blinds block our view, even when we open them they block about 17" right at eye level. 
  • It's almost impossible to get a room full of blinds raised to the same height!!
  • They cause a "closed in feeling" almost claustraphobic! 
  • They made the room feel dark, they block lots more light than I anticipated. 

When we provide sheers instead of blinds, this is the feedback we hear:   
  • The natural organic linens look "softened" the room.  
  • It's nice that when we open the sheers, we don't block ANY of the view
  • I like the light filtering & privacy  
  • The room feels cozy now, with more of a "finished" look

sheers go with any style              

When sheers are open they do not block any view or daylight (right photo)

For hundreds more window treatment ideas, with before and after photos:

Thursday, September 18, 2014

How to decorate above the mantle

Above the mantle, make sure your art is large enough, and unique. It's fine to use a mirror above the mantle as long as the reflection is something attractive (like the reflection of outdoor trees). The antique glass mirror shown below is nice, because you aren't fixated on the reflection.
 Or, If you don't have a mantle, create another focal point. See the abstract art below, centered between two very traditional Chippendale chairs and a mahogany table.
Below is a mirror over the mantle, since the reflection or view wasn't attractive, an antique mirror was used instead of a regular mirror.

Abstract or transitional art above the mantle will make a traditional room seem fresh and updated. Notice the colorful art (below). 

 Our custom made drapes, updated art, end table, & accessories gave the room a fresh new look.
Also notice the difference our stainless floor lamp & pillows made!

AFTER above, Before below
The mantle had numerous small accessories. With small art, did not feel as large. Our drapes also made it feel bigger. 
AFTER above, Before below
We added contemporary art, leather candlesticks, and pottery
You're now able to notice the beauty of the mantle, with 3 large accessories instead of 8 small ones.
Comments? We love to get your feedback! Just click the word comment below....
Check out our web site for hundreds more before and after photos: 

Monday, September 8, 2014

What color should I paint the trim and below the chair rail molding?

People often paint the chair rail molding and the area below it white or a contrast paint color. The problem with this is that it can tend to cut the room in half, or make the room look chopped up, and can make your ceilings feel lower.

Below is an example of what it can look like if the trim is painted the same color as the walls.

If you have a huge room and nice tall ceilings, you might not need to worry about making the ceilings feel lower, if not, know that when we've painted below the chair rail the same color as above the chair rail - every client told us they were very happy with the end result. It definitely makes ceiling look taller! BEFORE and AFTER here: 

AFTER above
By painting above the chair rail and below the chair rail the same color, the room looks bigger.
Our custom drapes, (hung just below the ceiling) make the room feel taller
We brought vertical art work makes the room feel taller

Paint below the chair rail was a darker color 
In this photo the trim paint & area below the chair rail are painted the same color 
If you want to paint the moldings & trim white perhaps you can add color through art, furniture, or fabrics

This homeowner achieved a clean cohesive look by
painting the trim
and walls the same color 
For photos & suggestions regarding paint colors, adding color, whether to paint an accent wall, etc...see this link"