30 Day Challenge

- Sunday, May 01, 2016

My cell phone rang last month, it was my contractor friend, Marc, with whom I had been consulting on a spec house in Sea Pines Plantation. “Hey, we got your furnishings proposal and it looks good, so let’s go ahead with it.”

“Great,” I said. Of course, I was thrilled, having worked on the project from the planning stage it would be fun to see it totally completed with furnishings and accessories. I already had an idea about the furniture layout. And, since I had selected the woods, cabinetry, granites, tiles, plumbing, and paint finishes, I knew the direction I wanted to take the fabrics, artwork, rugs and finishing touches to complete the overall theme of the home.

“There is just one catch,” Marc added. “We really need it in 30 days.”

This was more than a curveball.  While I had a goal in mind and a look I wanted to achieve, the need to complete the project in a month was definitely something unexpected. 

“Could I have a little more time, this is a big house. . . almost 5,000 square feet,” I said hopefully.  “Gregory, tell me something I don’t know, remember, I built it,” he joked. “It is almost spring, we have the Easter holiday and the Heritage Golf Tournament coming up, and the island will be full of perspective buyers. The real estate agent and investor really want it finished so it shows well. We want it to sparkle, so go work your magic, and please be quick about it.”  Okay, I thought, here is another interesting challenge.  Isn’t this why clients hire interior designers?  I have the vision and ideas, the ability to plan and implement, and a marvelous support team to help me. “No problem Marc, I can make this happen.”

And, I was lucky. I knew the charming Lowcountry style house in world-renowned Sea Pines Plantation would be fun to bring to life. The design has a wonderful flow and openness, a perfect setting for family gatherings and entertaining friends. My interior design needed to complement the quality of the house and also promote a comfortable vibe - a relaxing getaway. Much of my attention was focused on the generous main living, dining and kitchen space. The stunning kitchen has 2 islands and opens to a media area that features a lovely fireplace adjacent to more formal conversation and dining areas delineated with handsome moldings and columns.

So, I got busy and made a budgeted outline of items I wanted to provide and prioritized them by the lead-time needed to obtain them. I utilized the design library at the office and selected in-stock fabrics for any custom items that had to be fabricated, including the greatroom drapery panels and guest bedroom window seats. Those components were ordered right away to allow sufficient time for them to be made. Then I chose some companies I work with that have quick-ship merchandise available for immediate delivery. Some of the upholstery and casegood pieces were ordered from catalogs we keep in the design studio; others were bought from local vendors on the island.

To complete the project, I made a trip up to the Atlanta Merchandise Mart where the specialized showrooms enabled me to view and concentrate on particular products such as bedding, art, and accessories. There I placed orders for merchandise and crossed them off my list. By the time I returned to the office on Hilton Head I had already received confirmations of shipment on many of the orders.

It has been a few weeks now since my phone call from Marc asking me to work my magic. After several deliveries by my installers and many hours hanging art, dressing beds, and positioning accessories, I am happy to report that the house is now finished and looking great. A recent trip to deliver a few items coincided with a real estate agent just finishing a showing with perspective clients. “It looks wonderful,” he said. “I previewed it before, but now the house looks classy and complete. It shows so much better than it did unfurnished.” 

I thought about what he said as I looked around the greatroom, thinking how empty it looked just a few weeks ago. “Just a little magic,” I replied.

The Magic of Molding

- Sunday, May 01, 2016

What makes a beautiful room? Well, that is open to debate. If the room in question is furnished and decorated, it could really be almost anything within the space. A pretty painting, a sumptuous sofa, a fabulous fireplace, dramatic drapery, or any combination thereof could contribute to that assessment. But what about a naked room? What makes a bare room beautiful? Is it the proportions? The composition of doors and windows? A southern exposure? For me, it is beautiful moldings and trim.

I have always had an appreciation for interior molding, even as a kid. When my family moved from our late '50's-era ranch (devoid of any discernible architectural features) to our late '70's Colonial Revival, complete with 6-panel doors, plinth blocks, chair rails and wainscoting, double member crown molding, v-groove pine paneling, and solid wood beamed ceilings in the kitchen and family room, I felt like I was in heaven. Yes, I was an architecture junkie from an early age.

Correctly done, moldings can take a room from bland to beautiful. They do not have to be excessively elaborate or grandly over-scaled to make their presence known. In fact, sometimes the simplest of moldings are all that is needed to give a space that just right finish and pop. I find the moldings we favor these days tend to be much more plain than the "more, more, more!" carved and layered ones we used so much in the 1990's. In fact, I cannot tell you the last time I worked on a new construction project that featured egg-and-dart or dentil molding. And, although I typically favor a contrast from trim to wall color, a properly paneled room is stunning even when painted all one color.

And, do not think that just because a home's decor is more modern and streamlined that a trim package would not be merited or appropriate. Simple, flat, beveled, or coved moldings look just as good with contemporary designs as they do with more traditional looks. The added definition and transition from one plane to another is emphasized with good trim.

The following are some basic trim elements common in most residential architecture.

Baseboard - The base molding sits at the bottom of the wall where it meets the floor. The base trim can be a simple one-piece design or for more impact a 1x8 or 1x10 capped with a base cap trim. Since this element serves as the foundation for the room, bigger is typically better.

Casing - Casing is simply woodwork which frames an opening in walls, whether that opening is a door, a window, or a passage between rooms. Casings can be uniform on all four sides or more elaborately detailed at the top for more prominence. The key to having it look nice is to be consistent from opening to opening and not be too skimpy.

Crown - Crown moldings come in many shapes and sizes, making it easy to tailor a custom look. It can be as simple as a single cove molding or as elaborate as using a crown with a skirt and ceiling band too. The whole point of a crown molding is to soften the transition from wall to ceiling.

Chair Rail - Chair rail molding was originally used to protect plaster walls from furniture dings. As more durable sheetrock walls replaced fragile plaster, chair rails have become decorative. Although the height of a chair rail can be placed anywhere  on the wall, typically they are installed 36-42" off the floor.

Wainscot - The finishing of the wall space between the base and the chair rail can vary greatly. That space can be painted, wallpapered, or finished with yet more trim elements making it a wainscot. Paneled boxes, beadboard, or buttboard in a vertical or horizontal application are options for creating a wainscot.

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