Electric Savvy Interior Design Tips

After completing a recent electrical walkthrough with clients on a new construction project, I thought I would share some of my favorite pro tips for anyone building or remodeling a home. Enjoy!

One of my favorite designer secrets: Knowing to specify ‘half hot’ outlets in bedrooms where you want the ability to turn lamps on/off with a wall switch. Half hot means that only one of the two outlets is wired to the switch, so the second outlet can be used for things like a cell phone charger - things you don’t want turned off when the light is switched off.

Another important electrical consideration: Floor outlet placement. If you want the ability to put lamps in the seating arrangement of a living area, you’ll need floor outlets. These will need to be placed strategically depending on the furniture placement. The floor outlet(s) should be placed under a piece of furniture, such as a sofa or lounge chair, or under a rug. 

If you have a Kitchen island: Consider outlet placement in the island. If you have a counter height island, the best option is usually placing the outlets in the side of the island, close to the underside of the countertop. Don’t forget to consider the cabinet color here - if you have darker cabinets, use a dark brown or black outlet and plate.

Disposal tip: I recommend switching the Kitchen garbage disposal on its own, rather than with another light switch. There’s nothing worse than trying to turn on a light and hearing the abrupt, loud noise of a disposal. Another great option is an 'air switch.' These round buttons are sold by the plumbing supplier, are placed in the countertop next to the sink. They come in finishes to match the faucet. 


Designer Finds from Room & Board

Room & Board is one of my favorite large retailers for home furnishings! I love the simple, architectural style of their products, and the quality and price point are great. They have furniture, lighting, throw pillows, and even a line of furniture for children. 

The closest store to Asheville is located in Atlanta. I would recommend driving there to see the pieces in person before placing a large order. Here are some great finds from Room&Board.com

A Designer's Guide to Asheville: Food & Beverage

One of my favorite things about Asheville is all of the wonderful restaurants, breweries, and chill places to kick back with friends and family. There are just. so. many. wonderful. options. Here are some of my top picks! 

1. Limones - Favorite anytime restaurant. Brunch is pure bliss, dinner never disappoints. Inventive Mexican cuisine in a setting that makes me feel like I'm transported to another country. Fresh ceviche and colorful entrees that delight. 

2. Doc Chey's - Best value for dinner. Doc Chey's serves all of my Asian favorites, flawlessly executed at around $10/entree. Where else can you feast on Szechuan beef, featuring meat from Asheville favorite, Hickory Nut Gap Farm? It's worth the wait, but I prefer to go solo and grab a seat at the bar.

3. Nine Mile - Chill spot for a date night or dinner with friends. The vibe here is Jamaica meets Appalachia and the food is so delicious. 'Natty Bread' while you wait for dinner, great wine and beer list, fresh salad with 'His Majesty's' sesame/tahini dressing, and generous portions bursting with flavor. Also a great value.

4. Posana - My pick for brunch when hosting out of town guests. The wait time is usually reasonable compared to brunch hot spots like Sunny Point. The atmosphere is fabulous. I would call it industrial glamour, and it makes me feel like I'm big city living. Simple, yet adequate brunch menu, perfectly executed, at a great price. Fun place to cozy up at the bar after a night on the town. 

5. 67 Biltmore - Shh...keep it on the down low! They serve breakfast and there is never a wait to sit! With a neighborhood feel, this upscale cafe is a great way to start the weekend or make Monday more bearable. Plus - they have a great selection of ready made dishes and make wonderful sandwiches. Eat breakfast then grab a sandwich and hit the Parkway for a long hike. I think they're closed on Sundays, so check the hours before you go.

6. Catawba Brewing Co. - Go-to meeting place for beer with friends. It's centrally located among the South Slope favorites and has a fun atmosphere. Sometimes there's live music, they have a food truck out back, ample space indoors and outside, and TV's at the bar so you won't miss 'the big game.'

7. Buxton Hall Barbecue - Melt in your mouth Barbecue. Literally. It's amazing. Cool place to nosh and feel a little hipster. The buttermilk fried chicken sandwich steals the show. Trust me, you will love it. Go early on the weekends to avoid a long wait, or sit next door at Catawba and the wait will fly by. 

8. Burial Beer - Love this brewery. Creative beer selection that actually tastes good. The recent renovation to their outdoor area makes this a great sunny day hang out, or early evening spot. Awesome place to enjoy beer and live music with your dog and/or friends and family.

9. 5 Walnut - Wine bar bliss. This place has everything I'm looking for in a wine bar. Fantastic selection of wine and small beer list for those who don't love wine (how can you not?!). There is live music every night and the bands are so stinking good. The vibe screams European artist cafe and people of all ages flock here. 

10. Imperial Life - Swanky cocktail lounge. Great intimate place to have a custom crafted beverage. The vibe is industrial swank and the bartenders are serious. If you’re lucky, DJ Zati might be spinning, turning this spot into a dance party!

A Designer's Guide to Asheville: Furniture, Soft Goods, & Home Accessories

Home decor and furniture shopping is one of my favorite hobbies, and it has been since I was a little girl. There's just something about being in a store surrounded by gorgeous new things that tugs at the senses (and the wallet). I'm happy to share some of my favorite places to hunt for that perfect piece here in Asheville! 

Four Corners Home: Located in downtown Asheville within Grove Arcade. A well-curated, local venue with upholstery, casegoods with that 'mountain modern' flair, accessories, lamps and throw pillows. The style ranges from modern to transitional.

Mobilia: Located in downtown Asheville on Haywood Street. Sister store to Four Corners, Mobilia is a little more contemporary and also has a wonderful selection of furniture, accessories, and even rugs. Mobilia and Four Corners are usually my first stops on the local furniture shopping circuit. 

Dwellings: Located in Biltmore Village. This warehouse retailer offers a wide variety of upholstery pieces, casegoods, lamps, locally made throw pillows, and accessories that are well priced and well styled. The style is generally transitional, modern, and industrial. Great place for a weekend stroll. 

Togar Rugs: Located in Arden off Long Shoals Road. Delightful warehouse full of gorgeous, quality rugs ranging from Turkish to Moroccan to Oriental. Togar has fabulous kilim ottomans, throw pillows, and other goods that add that special pop to an interior. The staff is super helpful, knowledgable, and always eager to assist. 

Porter & Prince: Located in Biltmore Village. This luxury boutique carries some of my favorite linen lines and also has wonderful bath accessories and gifts. The store offers classic and glamours style, and quality is key here. 

Divine Living: Located in South Asheville near Earth Fare. Divine Living has a decent range of affordable upholstery, casegoods, and accessories that vary from transitional to modern. They also have some unique pieces with a mountain modern feel. 

Antique Tobacco Barn: Located near Biltmore Village. Wander through aisle after aisle of well priced antiques and local pieces that can add a collected feel to any home. Great for tables, chairs, and accent pieces. 

Yesterday's Tree: Located in South Asheville near Ingles and Biltmore Forest. Yesterday's Tree carries two great upholstery lines, Lee and C.R. Laine, and they have many pieces on the floor, so you can 'sit before you commit.' They also carry Currey & Co. lighting, some luxury linen lines, and gifts.

West Elm Outlet: Located in the Asheville Outlets. Great place to find a deal on furniture for secondary spaces like the Guest Bedroom or Den. They also have a large selection of rugs and soft goods. Be ready to commit here, the return policy is harsh (aka non-existent).  

TJ Maxx/HomeGoods: Located off Tunnel Road near the Asheville Mall. Don't judge, everyone loves a great deal! The Asheville HomeGoods is huge and the prices on bedding essentials, accessories, lamps, and accent furniture are unbeatable. 



A Designer's Guide to Asheville: Design Resources Part 2

As a follow up to my first post on Asheville Design Resources, here are more of my favorite resources for making selections in the area. Once the key interior finish selections are determined, lighting is the next big selection, followed by finalizing wood flooring and carpet, then paint and window treatments.

Christie's Lighting in the Airport Design Center has a great showroom where you can usually find what you need on display. If you see a vendor you like in their showroom, they’ll have the vendor’s catalog with all the options from that vendor (beware – it could get overwhelming!). However, when it comes to personalized customer service, I like to work with Jonathan from Lux Lighting. Some of my favorite lighting manufacturers sold at either Christie’s or Lux Lighting are: Feiss, Kichler, Hudson Valley, Tech Lighting, and Hubbardton Forge.

For carpet and wood flooring, Carpet One on Charlotte Street is my favorite resource. They are extremely helpful, have a good range of product on display, and even offer a great line of commercial products. Gennett Lumber in the River Arts District is another option if you're looking for hardwood flooring that can be finished on site. This can be a good way to save on hardwood flooring.

For paint, Sherwin Williams has the best pricing for the quality and a couple of area showrooms where you can select samples and purchase paint. Sherwin Williams’ designer sampling resources are my favorite, mostly because of their secret weapon – the small ‘Concepts in Color’ fan deck. Benjamin Moore also has a couple of area showrooms. Their quality and color selection are wonderful, but I’m not convinced if the increase in price from Sherwin Williams is justified. 

Blinds & Designs in the Airport Design Center is my go-to resource for window treatments. They carry and display the full range of Hunter Douglas privacy treatments (Silhouettes, Duettes, Roller Shades, Plantation Shutters, etc.), they sell and install window films to protect your flooring and furniture from damaging UV rays, and fabricate decorative treatments as well. They’re a very well run family operation with loads of expertise. Karen is one of the owners and she is an expert on all the products they sell.

Furniture and rugs resources are next, and there are so many great options to choose from! Looking forward to sharing more with you soon. 

A Designer's Guide to Asheville: Design Resources Part 1

As the first part of my 'Designer's Guide to Asheville' series, I wanted to share my favorite local resources for all things interior design. If you're new to the area and/or building, renovating, or updating your Asheville home for the first time, this list will help you get started with the right folks. The first selections typically needed are plumbing, appliances, cabinetry and countertops. Here are my go-to's!

For plumbing, I usually start with Ferguson's, then go to Bella Hardware & Bath for the specialty items, like the Master Suite tub or that 'wow' Kitchen faucet. Ferguson's is great because they have a few large vendors, like Rohl, that manufacture lines specifically for Ferguson's at a big value. Bella Hardware & Bath is great because they have those unique pieces you may not find at Ferguson's and also carry door and cabinet hardware. Bella also has a more intimate, boutique feel. 

Ferguson's carries appliances, plumbing and lighting, so it's a one stop shop, and their sales team is super knowledgable. Lindsay at Ferguson's never ceases to amaze me with her insight and expertise. Another good option for appliances is Haywood Appliance. They're a family owned business that has the added benefit of servicing the appliances they sell. They also carry some lines that Ferguson's doesn't have. It's smart to get more than one quote on big ticket items like appliances. Also, don't forget to inquire about any rebate specials that can offer significant savings. 

Cabinetry is unique because it's important to get a quality cabinet line, a fair price that works with your budget, and a talented cabinet designer. The two cabinet companies that I've had the best experiences with are Keystone Kitchen & Bath and Advance Cabinetry. Both companies have a variety of lines to meet the needs of clients looking for budget cabinetry, semi-custom lines, as well as fully custom lines. They also have fantastic cabinet designers on staff. Schuyler is my go-to at Keystone. He's a designer by training and has a great eye. Trish is the designer I've worked with at Advance. She creates incredible drawings by hand that really give you a feel for the cabinetry layouts. I've also heard good things about Forest Millwork and Lentz Cabinets, but I haven't had a chance to work with them yet.

Crossville Tile & Stone and Horizon Tile & Stone are located in the Airport Design Center, and they're my favorite local resources for tile and stone. Crossville has a very nice showroom with their own line of product that's manufactured using sustainable principles in Crossville, Tennessee, as well as many other fantastic lines like Walker Zanger and Island Stone. For any field tiles (aka the main/background tiles) I can't find from Crossville, Horizon usually has just what I need. They have some great natural stone options and porcelain lines like Happy Floors. Horizon also has the added service of creating tile drawings at no additional charge when you purchase tile from them. 

For countertops, I usually start with Hank at Mountain Marble. He has an impressive variety of slabs on display ranging from your basic granites to exotic marble and quartzite. He usually has a good selection of remnants to chose from and the quality of their fabrication and installation team is tough to beat. Another option is Stone Gallery or Viktor's Granite & Marble. Stone Gallery usually has the lowest prices, but it may take an additional tweak on the fabrication and installation side. 

Next in this series will be Asheville resources for lighting, flooring, paint, and window treatments - stay tuned! 




Designer Paint Tips: Getting Your Paint Colors Right the First Time

So many colors to choose from, so little time! Selecting paint colors for your home or office can be overwhelming. The colors chosen for interior walls, ceilings, and trim have such an impact on the overall feel of a space, so it's understandable to be stressed about getting them right! 


1. Think about the colors you like before attacking the fan deck. Trying to look aimlessly through an entire paint deck is like finding a needle in a haystack. If you're just looking in one section of the deck, it's easier to hone in on the perfect hue. 

2. Remember the color will typically appear darker on the wall than on paper. If in doubt, go a shade lighter. 

3. Order larger samples from the paint manufacturer. Once you've narrowed down the options to three or four, order the largest sample swatches the manufacturer offers. You can usually get an 8.5x11 sheet free of charge. 

4. Tape the large paint samples up in the room and look at them at different times of day to see how the fluctuations in natural light affect the color. 

5. When you feel good about the way the paper samples look in the room, buy a sample pint or two and paint a swatch on the wall. 

6. Once you've got the wall color right, the ceiling color needs to be determined. In my opinion, a white ceiling with anything other than a white wall will stand out and draw attention to the ceiling. My advice is to paint the ceiling the same color as the walls but have the wall color cut by 25% or 50% with white, since it will appear darker on the ceiling. 

7. Last, the trim. If you have stained trim, the color of the stain will be a big factor in selecting the wall color. Often you'll want to select a paint color to balance the impact of stained trim. For example, if your wood trim has a more yellow-orange hue, green and blue tones can balance the trim stain, while yellow and orange tones would amplify it. For painted trim, you can go with a classic white, or match the wall color for a more contemporary look. 




Interior Design for New Construction: A Step by Step Guide to the Selections Process

If you're building a new home, it's important to have an understanding of when selections are needed to keep construction progressing on schedule. Working with your builder to create a project timeline early on will ensure that design selections are ready when, or before, the builder needs them. There are many factors that can delay a new construction project - don't let your design selections be one of them! 

The first selections generally required are the exterior materials and colors. Many communities have architectural review boards that require these selections prior to a project breaking ground. Your architect may be very involved in determining exterior selections, or they may leave it open for you, or your interior designer, to decide. 

Flooring materials (i.e. wood, concrete, stone) are determined early on because the flooring type and thickness can impact construction decisions. However, the flooring finishes or colors don't have to be finalized until the builder is ready to order the material or apply the finish.

The next selections to be completed are plumbing and appliances. These are needed early on for slab penetrations and rough ins. The appliance and plumbing selections will also be required to finalize cabinetry designs. 

Cabinetry design and selection is typically next. The cabinetry style and finishes chosen will be important defining factors in the interior design, and changes are often made during cabinetry design that impact framing. 

Tile, stone, and countertop selections are completed once the cabinetry design is in place. These are high impact selections, and they need to be ordered in advance of drywall completion.  

Interior doors, trim, and stairs need to be finalized early on, as they impact framing and are important factors in the design. Decisions will be needed on what materials should be painted vs. stained. 

Lighting selections are needed during framing, since wiring will be completed prior to drywall installation. Once framing is nearing completion, I like to do an electrical walkthrough to ensure the lighting will be switched as desired, the switches and outlets are located where they're needed, and to determine mounting heights for in-wall fixtures.

Paint colors can be finalized once drywall is up, since tile is typically installed before painting begins. When selecting paint, I recommend doing a walkthrough after drywall is completed to look at areas of color transition in person. 

While there are other selections to consider and schedules will vary from project to project, this is a good general framework to discuss with your builder when starting a new home. 

Tribal Design Vibes

Tribal style is trending in today's interiors! Here are a few worldly elements to give your space a  tribal feel if you're looking to mix things up with this eclectic style. 

1. Geometric Patterns in Earth Tones or Bold Colors

Nomad Jute Fabric by Mokum

Nomad Jute Fabric by Mokum

Madagascar Copper Fabric by Mokum

Madagascar Copper Fabric by Mokum

Berba Platinum Fabric by Mokum 

Berba Platinum Fabric by Mokum 

2. Carved Wood

Arteriors Kai Bookshelf

Arteriors Kai Bookshelf

Anthropologie Ridgewood Handle 

Anthropologie Ridgewood Handle 

Hand Carved African Mask from Novica.com 

Hand Carved African Mask from Novica.com 

3. Horn & Tusk Accents

Anthropologie Antler Medley Knob, Tusk

Anthropologie Antler Medley Knob, Tusk

Anthropologie Leather Latched Horn Finials

Anthropologie Leather Latched Horn Finials

4. Hammered & Sculptured metal 

Arteriors Nixon Coffee Table

Arteriors Nixon Coffee Table

Arteriors Oveo Lamp

Arteriors Oveo Lamp

Arteriors Swazi Lamp

Arteriors Swazi Lamp

5. Kilim

Nalbandian Vintage Kilim Pillow

Nalbandian Vintage Kilim Pillow

Nalbandian Vintage Kilim Rug 

Nalbandian Vintage Kilim Rug 

6. Woven Accents

Phillip Jeffries Grass Roots Wallcovering in Peridot

Phillip Jeffries Grass Roots Wallcovering in Peridot

African Binga Basket from Basketsofafrica.com 

African Binga Basket from Basketsofafrica.com