Home Decorating BLING!

by Lisa Stewart 15 Mar 2014

Innovative interior designers are looking for BLING in everything. And bejeweled home furnishings can be found everywhere. I’m seeing radiant light-reflecting crystals embedded in lighting, flooring, appliances, furniture, dinnerware, accessories and even artwork. Why should jewelry and fashion have all the fun? When visiting the Michigan Design Center, I found these bedazzled broadloom samples. Now you can bring the brilliant midnight stars overhead home and underfoot in this carpeting. 

Capturing light and reflecting color is bound to add some glamour to your home décor. The multi-faceted interplay of light may just spark your creativity too. Imagine the possibilities! Can you go overboard with these flashy options? Maybe! Ostentatious? Never. Bring on the BLING! 

Lisa Stewart is an Interior designer in Raleigh, NC.

The Perfect Pendant Light

by Lisa Stewart 14 Feb 2014

Call it traditional, vintage, retro or industrial, but I’ve found the perfect classic contemporary pendant light fixtures. They can be hung solo or in clusters to create enchanting light effects. Inspired by the delicate craftsmanship of hand cut crystal, they can illuminate any room of the house. Repurposing this antiquated art form into functional, fresh and hip light fixtures is brilliant! This is not grandma’s old decanter.

Shown here are the Decanterlight and Crystal Bulb, signature designs of Lee Broom. Each one is individually hand blown with English full lead crystal in classic patterns. 

Lisa Stewart is an Interior designer in Raleigh, NC.

Pantone Color of the Year for 2014

by Lisa Stewart 11 Jan 2014

A captivating, magical, enigmatic purple is the color of the year for 2014.  PANTONE® 18-3224 Radiant Orchid, an enchanting harmony of fuchsia, purple and pink undertones inspires confidence and sparks the imagination. Orchid encourages expanded creativity, joy, love and health.

Intriguing the eye, this vibrant color is sure to liven up neutrals including gray, beige and taupe. Uplifting and bold without being overpowering, Radiant Orchid reenergizes almost any color palette and provides a unifying element for diverse spaces. One of my clients used this color in her master closet. It created a comfortable chic feel when paired with neutral colors, mirrors, silver and gold finishes. Perfect!

Lisa Stewart is an Interior Designer in Raleigh, NC.

Homes of Comfort

by Lisa Stewart 15 Dec 2013

I love watching HGTV shows that help people decorate, renovate or completely redesign their homes. Having a COMFORTABLE new place is always at the forefront of the lucky homeowner’s mind. Their wish list for the project includes words like comfy, cozy, cushy, easy, soft and snug as if their home was a bathrobe. They want a stress free environment that will give them contentment and security.

That's why in show after show we hear homeowners utter the same words, "We want it to be comfortable". And that's when I start yelling at the TV, “Do you really think the designer would purposely create an uncomfortable place? Duh, we all want our homes to wrap us up in comfort like it is a big bathrobe!” 

The problem is most people don’t know what will make them comfortable. And comfort is different for everyone. What makes one person at ease will cause another to go into anaphylactic shock. So before you say you want something comfortable, take some time to define what COMFORT means to YOU! Then when you start to decorate, purchase only what fits your definition. If this sounds too difficult, find a good designer who will listen to you and help you answer the question, “What makes you comfortable?”  

Lisa Stewart is an Interior Designer in Raleigh, NC.

Painting Tips from a Pro

by Lisa Stewart 25 Nov 2013

I had a vision for dramatically transforming a room through a bold and unconventional use of wall color.  But applying the color would be challenging and I knew it could only be done by an experienced professional painter.

Thinking of painting your walls? Here’s some advice straight from painter Keith Williams of Southpoint Painting in Greensboro, NC:

“First do the prep work.  
- Prepare the walls by patching holes and sanding rough spots. 
- Protect the floors and furnishings from dust and paint splatters. Use plastic to minimize cleanup.  
- Prepare the ceiling and trim to paint perfect edges, especially when you have dramatic colors changes. I use 3M Clean Edge blue tape. Take your time and be patient. It takes practice, skill and the right tools to create clean, hand-cut edges.

“Next choose the right paint.  
- For this project, Lisa wanted the black color to have some shine so we used semi gloss paint. Semi and high gloss paints are difficult to apply, show roller lines and any wall imperfections in the wall. However, once dry they are more durable and easier to clean. Flat paints do not clean well and would not have been a good choice for the fireplace wall.
- Select good quality paint because you get what you pay for. Without getting into chemical properties, the more expensive paints are easier to apply.  They do not sag or run as they’re applied.  Their finish is harder and more durable. Primer is usually not necessary if using two coats of quality paint.  And good paint doesn’t smell."

Thanks to Keith my vision for a dramatic transformation is complete using a bold color choice shown below. 

If you’re having trouble choosing wall color, go to my earlier blog post. Prepared?  Paint selected?  Then you’re ready to start painting!

Lisa Stewart is an Interior Designer in Raleigh, NC.

Fall 2013 High Point Market - Mad for Modern

by Lisa Stewart 25 Oct 2013

This living room in Shenzhen, China has modern sofas that contrast the classic Chinese fretwork. Accentuated by the use of light and dark colors, the furnishings seem somewhat understated compared to the commanding views. The sofa designer, Kelvin Giormani, lives in Hong Kong and manages the daily operations of his family’s manufacturing business. I enjoyed reminiscing with him in High Point.

The modern desk below reminds me of classic Coco Chanel with its captivating curves, wonderful warm wood and golden metal. The stunning oversized dining table with its X shaped legs was more intriguing in person than in the photograph. I'm not usually a fan of modern furnishings but these fantastic new pieces made me want to redecorate! That’s why "Best in Show" at the Fall 2013 High Point Furniture Market goes to the Planum showroom with its modern sofa, desk and dining table pictured here.

Lisa Stewart is an Interior Designer in Raleigh, NC

Choosing Wall Color

by Lisa Stewart 28 Sep 2013

If choosing a wall color gives you heart palpitations then here's my prescription. Relax!  Take it slow and easy. Then consider a few basic things.

Consider the function of the room. What are you going to do in it? Work, play, sleep, rest, relax, cook, or eat? Whatever you do in this room will direct the wall color production.

Think about the feel of the room. Emotions play a big role when it comes to wall color. What do you want this room to feel like when you enter? Or when others enter? Remember, color is reflected light waves that physically touch us and affect our emotions. It's hard to be neutral when color is involved because we feel it.  

Consider the lighting in the room, because without light there is no color. What is lighting your room: natural light from windows, light fixtures, or both? With natural light the color will change depending on the time of day. With light fixtures the color will also change just by using different bulbs. Proper lighting will help the room function well and set the stage for the right wall color choice.

Take into account the architecture of the room. Is this a traditional room with crown and base moldings? Does the room have wainscoting or built-ins that match the moldings? Or is this a modern room with no moldings? Some rooms can have interesting features like fireplaces, recessed or angled walls and bulkheads. These architectural features will help tell you where to start and stop painting and if accent color is needed, so you can best express the character you want.

Consider your furnishings.  Rarely can we start from scratch and buy all-new furnishings, so the style and color of your existing furniture, artwork and accessories are important to study. Be sure to include these into your overall color plan. And sometimes the best color is NO color.

Finally, consider hiring a professional. If these few tips haven't helped to relieve your palpitations a little then that might be a sign you need help.  You might just save yourself time and money (and grief!) by avoiding wrong color choices. I've created a simple wall color questionnaire that clients fill out before I consult with them. Maybe this is what you need to unfold the story of your home and add some color to your life.

Lisa Stewart is an Interior Designer in Raleigh, NC.

Universal Design for All

by Lisa Stewart 14 Aug 2013

Universal Design really means ‘design for all.’  The buzz in the industry is just amazing, as Universal Design goes mainstream and effectively becomes the new Green. Baby boomers caught in the middle caring for their parents and grandchildren are realizing it’s just better design for everyone. 

U.D. is becoming cutting edge, even trendy. This is NOT your grandmother’s institutional-looking nursing home anymore! Manufacturers have introduced luxury lines all geared for the baby boomers' tastes.

Industry experts say the best time to age-proof a house is during building or remodeling — before disabilities require it. Here are a few steps you can take in that direction.
 - You should be able to easily push wheelchair and baby stroller through entries that are step-less and covered. All doorways should be least 36 inches wide. 
 - Reduce reaching by having outlets 18 inches above the finished floor and all switches placed 36 to 44 inches high.
 - Reduce bending with waist-level access and pull-out storage and appliances in specially designed kitchen and bath cabinets.
 - Avoid falling risks with grab bars and raised toilets that glow in the dark.
 - Avoid having to use stairs with an elevator accessing all floors.

According to a recent AARP study about 80 percent of Americans age 45 and older prefer to “age in place” — that is, to remain in their current homes and communities. To get started, make accessibility a priority by remodeling the bathroom first. You will end up with a gorgeous, light-filled room that will keep you and your family safe in the home you love for years. Here’s a photo highlighting a few Universal Design ideas for the bathroom.  

Lisa Stewart is an Interior Designer in Raleigh, NC.