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30 Day Challenge

Gregory Vaughan - 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

Gregory Vaughan - 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.

Finishing Touches

Gregory Vaughan - Friday, April 01, 2016

"They’ve set the date, so now I'm panicked!" my client texted me a few weeks ago regarding her daughter's upcoming wedding. "Don't worry, I'm sure the ceremony will be lovely," I replied. "I'm not nervous about the ceremony, we need to finish this house!" she exclaimed. I understood exactly what she meant.

My clients have been enjoying their newly built home in Colleton River for about a year. Since it is a part-time home for now we had not completely accessorized each and every nook and cranny.

The basics are there. We spent a year during construction developing the furniture arrangements and fine-tuning the fabric selections for each of the rooms. Hard finishes (tile, granite, cabinet stains, paint colors) were carefully coordinated with sofas, chairs, and other "soft" finishes including gorgeous area rugs under the furniture groupings. Natural textured draperies frame the windows and original art adorns many prominent walls throughout the home. In the sleeping quarters, luxurious linens dress the beds while subtly patterned wallpapers cover the adjoining bathroom walls.

This home needs some finishing touches. So now it’s time to add some layers, if you will. We need a little decorating. Bookshelves need to be fluffed, tabletops need to be accessorized, glass cabinets need to be filled. Most importantly, it needs some personal items so it looks like a home and not a sales model.

I am going to suggest adding some personal photos in frames grouped here and there. It is easy to over-do this, so I will err on the side of restraint. However, some carefully chosen family photos, arranged in well curated frames, will go a long way in adding a personal touch to a few consoles and tables.

Books are another way to add visual interest, whether placed on a bookshelf or atop a coffee table. In our modern world of Kindles and skimming headlines, books are becoming a rarity. That is a shame to me, I find a room with books to be both comforting and seductive. When using books to decorate it is perfectly find to choose them because of the color of their spines or the graphic quality of their covers. My coffee table at home is covered with books on architecture, photography, and travel.

Keeping in mind that not all of us have green thumbs, nothing adds to the decor of a room like a live plant placed in a really good-looking container. While I am not a fan of fake plants and arrangements, they do have their place. There are some rather convincing ones out there so be prepared to invest in a good quality one.

An interesting sculpture, a hand-blown glass vase, delicately fragranced candles, even an unusual set of drink coasters are all items that can jazz up a plain table top. You can always group a few items on large decorative tray for emphasis on a larger table. Remember, it is all about composition.

Do not shy away from adding that extra layer of detail that gives your home personality and uniqueness. You want your home to look like something out of a magazine, not a mail-order catalog.

I am not worried about getting the finishing touches done for my clients' home in time for the wedding ceremony in a few months. I am happy to help alleviate the stress and take that off her plate. But I am going to text her and see if she has found that perfect mother-of-the-bride dress yet. No anxiety there!

Holiday Decorations

Gregory Vaughan - Sunday, December 27, 2015

So, when, exactly, is the proper date to take down the holiday decorations? The day after Christmas? New Year's Day? Even later than that? Listen, I am all about stretching out the holiday cheer but when do I cross the line from being fun and fabulously festive to sad and psychotically slacker?

My colleague's husband, much to her dismay, can't wait to snatch down the tree and all its accoutrements on December 26th. Her hours upon hours of meticulous handiwork assembling the various components gets disassembled in a matter of minutes. Poof. Gone. Finito. The holiday is over. This is a bit too soon for me.

I want to enjoy the fruits of all that hard labor. I am, in fact, sitting by the tree right now writing this column. I have lit a fire in the fireplace (it is one of the two cold days this month) and the dog is at my side. I am still enjoying the glittering shimmer of lights and ornaments twinkling on the towering fire hazard erected in my living room. But there is no doubt, this room truly shines at the holidays and I am soaking up every bit of that magical light.

How long will it stay up this year? This remains to be seen. My household typically hosts a small gathering on New Year's Eve, so we like to have all the ornamentation still intact to ring in the New Year. And, I know I am not alone. I have clients in Sea Pines who have hired me every year for the past 10 years to deck their beach house out for Christmas even though they rarely arrive from before the 28th of December. They still want the tree by the fireplace, the wreaths on the doors, the mantels decorated, and the reindeer on the front porch for their annual family gathering to celebrate the New Year.

Since I do indulge in some New Year's Eve cheer, taking down the tree and its glitterati the next morning is usually not high on the priority list. However, New Year's Day is on a Friday this year, so chances are the stuff will start coming down on Saturday; start being the operative word. If you read my column regularly, you know the holiday decorating process is quite a production around here. This is no easy feat, going up or coming down.

Don't get me wrong, as much as I love the way my home looks decorated for the holidays, I do give a big sigh of relief when the decorations do finally come back down and packed away. My house is small in and already full of decorative objects, so the tree and its supporting embellishments take up what little extra square footage there is. Putting the decorations back up in the attic for another year really makes my life feel much less cluttered. It is almost like starting that New Year's diet and seeing instant results.

So, we usually start with dismantling the tree as it is the biggest task to conquer. The ornaments get organized and packed away, the tree gets placed in the alley for mulching. Once that process is completed, the other stuff seems like a cake walk. The wreaths come off the door, the mantles get stripped of their greenery, the poinsettias get composted. I swear I can sometimes hear the whole house thanking me for giving it some room to breathe.

This year I plan to keep decluttering even after I take down the holiday decorations. I want to take a good look at all the stuff that has accumulated on bookshelves and table tops over the past few years and really streamline things. At least this is what I am thinking. It could be a liberating way to start fresh and bring in the New Year. I will let you know.

Happy New Year everyone!

“HOLIDAY DECORATING FROM SCRATCH”

Gregory Vaughan - Tuesday, December 01, 2015

“Shiny or matte-finish balls?”
“Definitely shiny! Well, no. Maybe matte?”
“OK, what about this, too whimsical?”
“No, that fits the theme of the house, so let’s use it.”
This was the banter recently between my co-workers and me in the office. I was working overtime this particular weekend to get all the details just right, putting together holiday decorating schemes for two different clients.

One project is in Hampton Lake (for a sales model my firm designed and installed earlier this year) and the other for a part-time resident from Canada who will be spending the holidays with family and friends in his new home in Wexford. With a variety of seasonal gatherings planned at both houses, my goal is to have each reflect the décor of each home and be a natural extension of the finishes, fabrics, and accessories found inside. One is contemporary and brightly colored, the other one more traditional and subdued. The homes are polar opposites in style but one thing they both have in common is the need for each to be welcoming and warm, to capture that festive holiday spirit.

In order to accomplish this, I had to start from scratch. Obviously, the sales model does not have a real family inhabiting it, so there are no boxes of treasured family heirloom decorations stored in the attic to use. Nothing to start with, add to, throw out, or send back to the attic. Zilch. The same is true of the Wexford client, whose primary residence is in Toronto and who has not yet spent much time in the house, much less ever decorated it for the holidays. In fact, my firm has been asked by the daughter of the Wexford client to decorate the home as a surprise gift for her father. Talk about a thoughtful present! This is a great inspiration for me to make it special.

For an interior designer, holiday decorations are yet another layer in the interiors scheme. I approach the challenge in the same way I address other décor issues – determine a design direction and target the areas that need attention. Prioritize these areas and go from there. Your decorations can be as simple or as elaborate as you tastes or budget and timeframe will allow.

Usually a tree takes center stage and will be featured in a prominent location in the home so it may be viewed and enjoyed by all. Then consider the front door and entry, a stair banister if there is one, and the dining room table and other surfaces where people will gather for entertainment and meals. Outdoor spaces, which are such a part of our lifestyle here in the Lowcountry need attention as well. And, even powder rooms can benefit from the display of a few greens and a holiday scented candle or two.

So, how did I differentiate the two projects? Dusty gold and bronze feathered pheasant ornaments for the Lowcountry themed tree at the Wexford project and watery-blue and green blown-glass balls for the tree at the contemporary Hampton Lake sales model. I employed a gold velvet, diamond-quilted, round tree skirt trimmed in faux leopard fur at Wexford and chose an unusual, square-shaped, Granny Smith apple green ultra-suede one for Hampton Lake. A whimsical Santa, dressed in a burgundy suit, pops out of a bronze velvet stocking on the traditional wood mantle at Wexford while a trio of icy, cool, mercury glass Christmas trees adorn one corner of the sleek cast-stone mantle at Hampton Lake. Christmas china sets the formal dining room table for a holiday feast in Wexford while a few morning coffee motif ornaments hang from a gold nugget-encrusted, cone shaped tree as the centerpiece on the casual breakfast room table at Hampton Lake.

As for the question of shiny or matte-finish? In the end I decided a mix of both would work quite well for each home.

Trends from the Fall 2015 High Point Furniture Market

Gregory Vaughan - Sunday, November 15, 2015

Fall is in the air, can you feel it? No? Well, to be honest, me neither.

But I do know the fall season is well upon us. The kids are back in school, the ghosts and goblins have trick-or-treated, local oysters are popping up on restaurant menus and we have just turned back the clocks. Do you know how else I know it is actually fall? I recently returned from the High Point Market, my industry’s bi-annual tradeshow.

For me, Market exciting because for me it is a time of inspiration and discovery. It is my chance to re-visit favorite showrooms and seek out some new ones. I love to see what the big name designers have been creating in their studios and scoping out the up-and-coming trends. High Point Market is like the Fashion Week of the furniture and design world. With 11.5 million square feet of showrooms and event space to meander through, there is no lack of visual stimulation – and no way to see it all!

As with each season, there are trends and fads to be found. Which ones will endure for a while and which ones will quickly fade away? Only time will tell.

HEAVY METAL

Shiny or matte, polished or brushed, hammered or smooth, all things metallic were haute, haute, haute this season. Gold and brass tones were still dominate the market but chrome is reappearing here and there. A comeback? We will see. Interestingly, mixing different metal finishes on the same piece is even more on point, so look for more of these combinations in the future.

SCULPTURAL SILHOUETTE

Not all furniture is created equally. For example, many pieces are not designed to “float” in a space or be viewed from multiple angles. With the proliferation of open concept plans and free-flowing rooms, furniture is more often being placed away from walls and visible from all sides. This provides opportunities for manufacturers to create interesting sculptural pieces - whether it be an intriguing back on a lounge chair or an unexpected flourish on a console table.

NATURAL ELEMENTS

Leather, hemp, limestone, and agate are among the materials being used in new and interesting ways. I found beautiful table lamps in the John Richard showroom that showcased clusters of real geodes, quartz crystals, and seashells artfully attached to the base and crowned by simple and elegant silk shades. In the Cyan Design showroom I bought a gorgeous small side table for a client that features a polished, silver travertine stone top that rests effortlessly over a nickel-colored metal base in the shape of a cluster of twigs.

HANDCRAFTED

Highlighting the artist’s hand was evident this market, especially in textiles. Phillip Jeffries, a manufacturer of exquisite wallcoverings, introduced a new series aptly named Fade. These painterly panels feature a graduated saturation of color printed on grounds of silk, paper weave, or hemp. The stunning visual punch of an entire wall covered in this product is similar to the “ombre” effect of graduated dye we have see on fabrics, and what we have seen in hair salons and runway shows the past few seasons.

DIMENSIONAL FABRIC APPLICATION

Tufted upholstery application is nothing new and a classic tufted Chesterfield leather sofa will certainly always be in style. However, sleek linear channel tufting, and slightly gathered and sewn fabric (a.k.a. ruching) are techniques popping up everywhere, adding visual interest to upholstered pieces and dressing up plain fabrics. Channel quilting gives a retro nod to Art Deco or can be totally modern. Ruching adds a softer, handcrafted touch.

So, that’s my two cents on the High Point Market show for this fall. Trends will come and go. Interior designers can help you sort through these emerging styles and fads to help you determined the right ones for you. I think the whole point is to have some fun and keep it fresh. You will always want some timeless classics accented with something new and exciting.

Outdoor Living Space

Gregory Vaughan - Wednesday, July 01, 2015

“Wow, that’s a gorgeous fabric Vicky!” I exclaimed as I helped my friend distribute cushions for the built-in benches on her rooftop deck. We had just been out with our other halves to try a new restaurant venue in town and had come back to their loft for a nightcap under the stars. “Thanks,” she replied, “I brought back yards and yards of it from Kazakhstan when I traveled there on a rug buying trip years ago. I thought it was a fun pattern but I admit I did not know what I would use it for when I bought it, I just had to have it.”

Vicky, who deals in fine rugs, has an eye for the exotic. The loft she shares with her husband Denny in a converted bakery in downtown Savannah is filled with unusual treasures gathered from their many travels. And the rooftop deck that crowns their jewel of a home is no different. It is the perfect exterior extension of the interior space below, offering an outdoor entertainment space for family and friends not usually associated with a converted loft in an urban setting.

A ring of built-in benches surrounds a pair of marbled-topped bistro tables, providing places to eat, drink, or spread-out the New York Times on a Sunday lazy morning. A gas grill and small counter with a sink serve as a simple prep kitchen for Denny’s barbeque creations. Potted plants of all sizes and shapes provide punches of color and shade from the mid-day sun. In the evening the aforementioned cushions make the perfect spot to lie down and catch a cool breeze while gazing at the stars. It is an exotic oasis in the middle of a southern downtown.

Vicky and Denny’s rooftop retreat is fabulously chic and highly personal but the concept is not so uncommon these days. It seems that almost overnight outdoor living spaces have become all the rage. We have gone from the traditional ground-level patio or wood deck or small balcony as almost an afterthought to the point of creating state-of-the-art luxury living spaces right in the backyard.

Here in the Lowcountry, our wonderfully mild climate means there are plenty of days to use and enjoy outdoor spaces. And, I am happy to report, our local architects, builders, and homeowners have embraced this fact and are taking full advantage of it. Outdoor space is being incorporated into the design concept of our homes like never before. The inside has gone outside, literally.

Fireplaces, water features, full kitchens, and electronics are being incorporated outside with comfortable furniture and accessories to create al fresco rooms. Whether it is all about outdoor opulence, backyard entertainment, or simply a daily escape to reflect and enjoy tranquil moments away from it all, these spaces are becoming our favorite areas of the home.

Creating an outdoor living area that serves as a personal retreat or functional entertainment room will not only change your lifestyle but might just change your life. Outdoor living areas provide space to entertain, spend time with family and friends, and to simply enjoy ones natural surroundings.

Linda and Larry’s courtyard

Every imaginable indoor luxury is outside – comfy furniture, rugs, accessories, a full kitchen and bar, fireplace, spa and pool! A true oasis! Ultimate space to entertain family and friends or to just escape from the day-to-day.

1960’s Style is Swinging Again

Gregory Vaughan - Wednesday, May 13, 2015

I think I may be feeling a bit depressed. Tonight one of my favorite television shows, Mad Men, is coming to an end. After 7 seasons, the stylish series is wrapping up just as the decade in which it is set, the swingin’ 60’s, also comes to a close.

There are a lot of things I enjoy about this period drama. I appreciate the slow pace of the action, multitude of colorful characters, the exciting time period of Madison Avenue advertising, and the moody tone (which may have gone hand-in-hand with the full bar in every advertising executive’s office). But I think what really drew me first and foremost was the way the set designers and costumers captured the decade so brilliantly.

 My fascination of mid-century modern design and pop culture is never ending. Perhaps it is because I was born then. Most likely it is my fixation - or should I say appreciation - for the clean, modern, efficient and optimistic design ethos of that period. This is why I feel so many of the elements of mid-century modern design can work with our lifestyles right here in the Lowcountry.

 Dare I say, super groovy.

 So while I may be sad to see Don Draper and his cohorts fade into television history, I am very excited to see the ideas, themes, and characteristics of mid-century modern have been rediscovered in the world of home furnishings and décor. My trip last month up to High Point, NC, for the semi-annual International Furnishing Market confirmed it!

Vanguard Furniture was one highlight. I felt like I was in the same cocktail lounge with Angie, Frank, Dean and Sammy! All tweaked-out in colors and patterns like the Las Vegas vibe we remember, the showroom played classic movies on big television screens atop sleek entertainment consoles. Those bulky, old school TV armoires are so square, man.

Next door at the Hickory White showroom, acid-hued colors exploded on the walls in the Lillian August Collection. Like the joke wall from Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, audacious aubergine, pumped-up puce, and shocking chartreuse all mingled comfortably together like the bold patterns you would find on a Pucci dress or a Merimekko shower curtain. Chunky, stylized, gilt hardware dressed drawer fronts and doors like a piece of Henry Moore sculpture. The showroom just dazzled.

Across town, typically traditional Hickory Chair had embraced the trend too. Here consoles with tapered legs, low-slung sectionals, and exotically patterned textiles graced the showroom and recalled the work of decorating guru David Hicks.

Don’t get me wrong, the Mad Men aesthetic is not for everyone.  But I like the way it has added a renewed nostalgic dimension to design and glamour. Think of the classic Lincoln Continentals of the 1960’s, minimal, elegant, effortlessly stylish. Maybe a welcome alternative to all the large scaled and ornamented faux-chateaux interiors or those pining for a change from the “Pottery Barn/Restoration Hardware” rustic chic salvage look. And as much as I am drawn to our nature-inspired palette of earthy browns and mossy greens, sometimes I just crave a punch of psychedelic saffron or outrageous orange thrown in to spice it up a bit.

I am excited at the new opportunities to employ some of my favorite mid-century modern motifs in upcoming projects for my clients. It will be a chance to look toward the future while giving a nod to the past.

 I hope tonight’s martini will help me get over my Mad Men is ending funk. By the way, how long until the next season of Downton Abbey begins?

Sweating the Details

Gregory Vaughan - Sunday, March 01, 2015

I had several of those “what were they thinking?” moments last weekend during an open house tour.  One came while I was standing in a hallway leading to a master bedroom just off the entrance foyer.  As if on cue a woman behind me exclaimed, “why on earth did they put those there?” I turned and said “you took the words right out of my mouth,” while we shook our heads a grimaced. She continued, “and this is a million dollar house!”

We were staring at the double electrical panel for the home that were inexplicably visible in this vestibule area separating the master bedroom suite from the laundry room - all within view of the foyer. I suppose you could attempt to camouflage them with a piece of art. Unfortunately the panels’ awkward position in this recess would dictate that anything large enough to cover them would appear to be shoehorned into the space without any “breathing room.” Not an ideal look - but perhaps the lesser of two evils. Evils!? Always remember, the devil is in the details!

The placement seemed completely avoidable to me; careful planning during the design process should have presented different solutions. For example, why not located them in the adjacent laundry room, also off this vestibule? A better spot for the panels could have easily been located across from the washer and dryer above the built-in bench and storage cubbies. Here a large piece of art could have easily screened the panels from view and added a little finishing touch to what was already a rather nice space.

These electrical panels were not the only offenders during my tour. In another home, the transom windows of the commodious master bath shower offered unobstructed views directly to the second floor of the house next door. Howdy, neighbor! While I assume the home I was touring had been built first, didn’t anyone think, gee, somebody may someday build a house on that lot next door?

In another home the “great room” was anything but. Here the placement of the chandelier dictated a table would leave little room for any seating near the fireplace. Furthermore the adjacent “media room” was so small that a single lounge chair and ottoman would fill it up. I wondered why there was a wall, for without it there was an opportunity for this room to be great.

Another “miss” presented during the tour were examples of poorly placed light fixtures in several bathrooms. This is a pet peeve that can make my head spin. If you are going to have two light fixtures over two sinks on a double vanity, they need to be centered. Period.  If you are going to use decorative framed mirrors, center the lights. Please. Not even the most expensive wallpapers can diminish this mistake.

I don’t want to sound harshly critical.  Interior designers are trained to look beyond the pretty paint colors, polished granites and hand-scraped walnut floors.  In addition to the aesthetics, I focus my attention on form and function – working to ensure the devilish details are not missed. An additional set of professional eyes are crucial when planning a new house or remodeling an existing home. These are reasons to consult an interior designer during the planning phase. A successful designer will take a good, long, look at floor plans to make sure furniture groupings will work, electrical switches are where they should be, floor outlets are well positioned, lighting is placed correctly and electrical panels are inconspicuous. You need to pay attention to these details so your home can look like a million bucks.

Making a Dreamy Master Bedroom

Gregory Vaughan - Thursday, January 01, 2015

I did some shopping for beds over the weekend for my absolute most difficult client. Myself.

You see, I decided it was time to take a good look at my house and make a list of the things that needed attention and freshening. My list was rather long and included all sorts of issues ranging from a new faucet for the kitchen sink to a complete remodel of the laundry room. Some of the tasks to be addressed were relatively easy and inexpensive, some much more involved and costly. But none, I felt, would be more greatly appreciated than an overhaul of the master bedroom. As I have said before, it is where you begin and end your day. It needs to be special.

The master bedroom in my old house is actually the largest room in the house. Located on the second floor, it boasts several interesting features including twelve-foot high ceilings, 125 year-old heart of pine floors, a bay window and a fireplace. So, architecturally, it is not lacking any charm or detail. As the saying goes, it has good bones.

However, having lived there for thirteen years now, I’ve grown tired of the wall color, window treatments, the rug, and, especially, the bed. The décor needs a re-vamp to freshen it up a bit and make me fall in love with the space again. I am simply bored with it. And, I am not alone.

I recently completed a master suite renovation for my clients Linda and Joe. You may remember I wrote about their wonderful master bath transformation in this column at Thanksgiving. Well, that extensive bath remodel included a complete redo of the adjoining master bedroom too.

Linda was feeling the same way about her bedroom as I now do about mine. She and Joe had lived in the house for quite some time and she was sick of the golden-yellow walls - remember our Tuscan fascination of the 1990’s? The triple window overlooked a very private and park-like back yard but was obscured by utilitarian venetian blinds. The carpet, a typical builder-spec, contributed wall-to-wall blah-ness. Her red mahogany bedroom furniture was a matchy-matchy suit of very dark, traditionally styled pieces that moved with them from their former home up north. The bedding was a heavy and formal looking damask-patterned coverlet hovered over an ill-fitting bedskirt. “I can’t stand bedskirts! That thing has got to go,” Linda declared.

Except for one piece of art, we got rid of everything within the four walls and started from scratch. The art, a fabulously vibrant watercolor, served as the inspiration for the color palette and I knew I would prominently feature it over the headboard of the new bed. And since the bed is truly the key piece in a bedroom, we began there. Linda wanted something soft and light, which lead to our selection of a fully upholstered king bed in a textured, off-white woven fabric. Upholstered side rails and a low-profile footboard keep it tidy and eliminated the need for a bedskirt. Topped with a crisp matelasse coverlet and slightly decadent accent pillows, the bed sets the tone for luxury and comfort.

A warm blue hue, borrowed from the watercolor over the bed, became our choice for the walls. Nightstands painted in a distressed ivory keep the mood relaxed and were paired with a non-matching fruitwood dresser. A comfy reading chair, stolen from Joe’s office where it was never used, beckons you to bring a book. Gauzy, semi-sheer drapery panels hang from grommets on a satin nickel rod and fold back to let the light and view in. A linear textured wall-to-wall carpet now anchors the space and is about as far away from boring beige as you can get.

Linda and Joe love the new space. You can just tell by the way she lights up when asked about it. Will I do the same? I'll let you know. Sweet dreams!


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