Five Mistakes First Time Home Buyers Make

Buying your first house is exciting. Having a place that is all your own where you have free reign and a blank canvas to design and furnish however you want is both thrilling and overwhelming. There could be renovations on the horizon or simply paint colors to select or furnishings to buy. Regardless of what your next steps for your new home are, there are common mistakes that many first-time home buyers make shortly after purchasing their home.


We’ve identified several things you should avoid when moving into your new home.

  • Filling rooms too quickly. Typically, a first home is larger than your previous apartment or rental, meaning you will likely need more furniture to fill it. Instead of hurrying to the first furniture store you see and buying like crazy, spend some time researching and shopping for pieces that you truly love. Enjoy the process of making your house a home and work on one room at a time.



  •  Not determining form versus functionality. Homes can and should look as beautiful as they are functional. First-time home buyers have a tendency to gravitate to the pretty things without giving thought to how they might be used or the quality of the item. For example, do you really want a white sofa if you have small children or dogs? Live in your house for a bit before making large furnishing purchases to really know what will functionally work for your home.


  • Not prioritizing or being realistic when creating a budget. Whether defining a construction or a furnishings budget, almost all of us suffer from wanting more than we can afford {be it more square footage or higher priced finishes and/or furnishings}. Be understanding and willing to accept that some things may have to wait for a future phase. Focus on those areas and components that will have the most impact and would be harder to change later {i.e. finishes and furnishings in living/public spaces, flooring, getting the footprint of the home right, appropriately lighting the home, etc.}. Upgrades to tile, plumbing, lighting, furnishings in secondary rooms, etc. can be made when financially feasible.




  • Making trendy design decisions. Don’t base all of your design decisions – particularly fundamental decisions – for your new home on current trends. Choose paint colors, furnishings and artwork based on what you love and your personal taste. Going with trends can leave your home feeling dated once that trend has passed and will leave you regretting certain purchases a few years down the road.


  • Not hiring a professional. Professionals can help you cull through all that you like and pull it together seamlessly. Whether you are looking to renovate before moving in or just need to select furnishings or various design elements, architects and designers are good at visualizing components together and guiding you through this process. Search for a good designer and once you’ve found one, share your likes/dislikes/ideas with them. Find a starting point for a room that you love and trust your designer to build your vision around that.




If you are looking for unique furnishings and beautiful accessories for your new home,  be sure to browse our online boutique.


Five Easy Ways to Update Your Space Without Spending a lot of Money

A lot of us get the itch to re-decorate our home or re-design a space every now and then. Maybe you’ve lived in your house several years and certain things need updating. Or maybe you are just tired of looking at the same furnishings and accessories that you’ve had for decades. Choosing to completely overhaul your home or a space can be expensive though.


But, without a lot of time or money, you can make a few small changes that can make a big impact in your home. Here are five easy ways to update your space without spending a lot of money.

Refresh With a New Coat of Paint

A coat of paint can do wonders for a space. Whether it’s a slightly different color than what’s currently on your walls or a different color entirely, paint is an inexpensive way to make a space feel fresh and new. When deciding to re-paint, be sure to use the right paint finish and choose the right paint color that is appropriate for the space. Neutral paint colors, especially, can make a space feel bright and fresh.


Hang New Wall Art

Another option is to give your walls a fresh look with new wall art. Artwork doesn’t have to be an expensive painting. Blow up and frame your favorite photographs or family pictures, hang unique antique accessories like beautiful ironstone dishware, or make your own abstract piece of art with paint colors that tie into the space. Search your attic, a local flea market or antique store, or an affordable retail store for unique and beautiful items to give your walls a new look.


Re-Arrange Furnishings

If you aren’t looking to spend any money but still want to give your home a new look, consider re-arranging your existing furnishings. Whether you just re-arrange furnishings in one space or swap out pieces of furniture in different rooms of your home, new pieces or a new arrangement can make a space feel totally different. Through this process you might also discover that a piece works much better in a different space and can create more room or storage in needed areas.


Replace One Item

Replacing just one thing in your home can make a huge difference. What you choose to replace can be dependent on your budget. Maybe you get a new kitchen faucet or replace your coffee table that you’ve had for 10 years. Or it could be as simple as swapping out the throw pillows on your couch. The cost of these items can vary, but they don’t have to cost a great deal and can make a huge impact in a space.


Install Curtains

Many of you may have spent the last several years intending to install window treatments in your home but have yet to get any hung. Curtains are a great way to update a space’s overall look and feel. Bring in a new color or pattern with your curtains to add a fun design detail to a room. The way you hang your curtains can also impact a space. For rooms that are smaller with lower ceilings, hanging your curtains higher can make a room feel large and make your ceilings feel taller.

You don’t have to completely re-decorate your home to make a space feel updated and new. Simple, affordable changes to your home such as new paint, curtains or new artwork can make just as much of an impact.

What one room in your home would you like to update?

Today’s Interior Design Inspiration:: Open Floor Plans

When looking to design or build your home, there are different options for your floor plan. One option is a more compartmentalized floor plan where walls separate each room. Another option is an open floor plan.

Open floor plans allow each room to seamlessly blend into the next. It can make a home feel larger and really showcase the home’s style and design. With the right home and lifestyle, open floor plans are a wonderful choice. Here are a few examples of inspiring homes with beautiful open floor plans.

This gorgeous home located in the coastal low-country of South Carolina features an open floor plan. The dining area, living room, and kitchen are all one big open space that is perfect for entertaining guests. The open floor plan also allows the interior colors and furnishings to take center stage.


In this rustic mountain home, the open floor plan with all the main living spaces is the perfect choice for viewing the beautiful surrounding scenery. With numerous windows and easy access to outdoor spaces, the open floor plan allows for plenty of natural light to flow through the home and pretty views at every turn.


An open floor plan is also a good choice for basements or recreational areas of your home. These particular spaces tend to be used for entertaining so keeping the space open and designating different areas for various purposes {i.e. eating, watching tv, playing games} gives the space the most functionality.


If you like the idea of an open floor plan but still wish to divide the space somehow, creating varying ceiling heights is one way to do so. Having a vaulted ceiling in the main living space and lowering the ceiling in an adjacent part of the room creates a designated space separate from the rest, yet still allows one room to flow seamlessly into the other.


Using an open floor plan also allows the opportunity to create a focal point. In this case, the gorgeous kitchen of this transitional home becomes the center of attention and the focal point of the main space of the home. The gorgeous zinc hood and backsplash stand out and create a beautiful moment in this space.


Like the look of this transitional home? Find out how you can get the look yourself in our designers’ corner of our online boutique.

Do you prefer an open floor plan or a more distinct compartmentalized floor plan?

Five Mistakes to Avoid When Designing Outdoor Spaces


As the weather heats up, it’s time to get outside again. Outdoor spaces can be a fun place to flex your design muscles this spring and add value to your home. To make the most of it, here are five common mistakes to avoid when designing your outdoor spaces.


1. Waterproof fabric does not equal outdoor cushions


A common mistake made by some is believing that cushions made with waterproof fabrics and traditional stuffing will function in the same way as outdoor cushions. Where outdoor cushions are designed to let the water run through them without staying wet or wearing out, waterproof fabric holds water at its surface until it is wiped off or evaporates. When used on cushions left outdoors, waterproof fabrics keep rain water or dew in one place – atop the cushions – often leading to mold and seriously detracting from your outdoor furniture’s appeal. Additionally, this barrier is not always perfect over a long period of time, so the cushion’s stuffing can sometimes get wet and hold this moisture like a sponge.It’s best to get cushions intended to deal with water or, if you are serious about your DIY, be sure to use fabric and stuffing material specified for outdoor use not just noted as waterproof.

2. Avoid being matchy

You don’t have the same fabric on every item inside your home so why would you do that outside? Many homeowners decide to design their outdoor spaces with a single fabric on every surface. This can look flat and uninspired. Instead, mix and match fabrics and patterns. Your pool chair cushions don’t need to be done in the same fabric as the stools at your barbecue station or the benches on your screen porch. Different fabrics can be a great way to designate spaces for different functions or highlight a feature in your backyard. Emphasize the beautiful fire pit with a brighter but complementary color. Using a range of fabrics that work together as a whole can add serious class to your outdoor space.

3. Tie back your outdoor drapes


A new trend for outdoor spaces is outdoor drapes. Using durable, all-weather fabric, you can add more color and style to your porches and seating areas. But you should be sure to include a way to tie these drapes back when the weather gets tough. Even outdoor spaces that you’re sure have no wind at all can find themselves suddenly breezy after you’ve hung an outdoor drapery. In these situations, you must be careful not to have the fabric catching or rubbing on wood and tearing. You also run the risk of smaller plants or delicate decor on nearby tables being knocked off and broken by windblown drapes. Some drapes come with weights in the bottom to help with these issues, but these are often not enough. Simply include a tie back in your design to save yourself a lot of heartache when bad weather rolls in.

4. Your outdoor lighting needs to be designed for the outdoors

Even if you are choosing a floor lamp for a sheltered spot under a deck or on a screen porch, you need to ensure the piece is meant for the outdoors. Lighting designed to be inside a home is not prepared to withstand the rapidly changing temperatures, humidity, and moisture of the outdoors. Often indoor pieces left out in these conditions will simply stop working and need to be replaced. In more serious situations, you run the risk of fire or being shocked. As much as you think that table lamp would look great on the patio, stick to lamps meant to withstand outdoor conditions and stay safe.

5. It doesn’t have to be from the same place


While many outdoor furniture suppliers technically offer all of the pieces you could need to fill your space, mixing and matching from multiple lines can help you avoid a cookie-cutter looking space. You don’t need to buy all the furniture from the same store to keep the “style” of your furniture the same. Different brands or different lines can actually complement each other where using one brand can make the space one-note. If you love the stools and tables from one store and the lawn chairs of another, careful design decisions can combine the best of both brands. Multiple lines mixed together, when chosen carefully, can personalize the space for you and add to the design.

The outdoors can be a great space to express your style. Keep these simple ideas in mind when redesigning and your outdoor spaces will shine.

What questions do you have about decorating your outdoor space?

Designer Tips:: Crown Molding

Crown molding is a wonderful architectural element that enhances nearly every space. Sometimes understanding how to use crown molding in your space, what materials to use, and what color schemes would look best in your space can take some research. Here is a collection of tips to help you the next time you are considering adding crown molding to your home’s design.


Crown molding is the ornamental mill work that is typically added to the top edge of the room covering the seam between the wall and the ceiling. It can come in a variety of sizes and shapes and is a timeless way to add style to your home.


Crown molding can be painted wood, stained wood, or made of MDF (medium density fiberboard). The choice to use wood or MDF is complex. Crown molding is traditionally made of wood, which typically has a higher price and is sometimes easier to install. However, MDF crown molding is less likely to warp than wood molding and typically has a lower price point associated with it. Rest assured, adding crown molding to your space can be a major enhancement, regardless of the crown molding’s material.


Some homeowners worry about which spaces are right for crown molding because of the room’s size or shape. So when is a room too small for crown molding? We don’t think any space is necessarily too small to handle the addition of crown molding. You may feel the urge to avoid adding elements like crown molding in an attempt to trick the eye into thinking a space looks bigger, but it’s important to weigh the visual benefit of adding textural treatments to a room against the possibility of potentially making a small room look slightly larger. In any case, crown molding’s ability to make a room feel more luxurious works consistently, regardless of the size. A room with an unusual shape can be harder to add the treatment to, but curved crown molding is available – using continuous lines around the border of an oddly shaped room can pull it together. The stairwell below is a great example of a curved crown molding adding visual detail to a space that might not always be highlighted in a design, pulling the eye up to the airy, high ceilings.


Once you know where you want to include crown in your design, you must decide how you want it to complement your space. Following are a few looks we love that you can create with crown molding.


Traditional Crown molding that is lighter than the walls, especially in colorful rooms, can produce a clean, fresh sense in your home. This style is a classic look and can cover any potentially uneven paint seams between the wall and the ceiling. This gorgeous living room used several architectural details, including crown molding, in a bright, crisp white to frame the room’s beautiful paint color. The walls, painted Benjamin Moore Berkshire Beige with a flat finish, are set off beautifully by the trim, which has been painted Sherwin Williams Pure White with a satin finish.


Dramatic Another look you could try with your crown molding is to paint or stain it dramatically darker than the walls. This look works especially well in rooms that are black and white or feature a neutral color palette. Doing so creates a dramatic contrast with light colored walls. Living rooms like this one, with soothing cream walls, look amazing framed by a dark crown molding. The crown in this room is painted with Benjamin Moore Night Horizon to offset the walls, which are done in Sherwin Williams Downing Sand.
Airy Lastly, you can choose to paint your crown molding, walls, and ceiling the same light color. This style allows you to highlight the beautiful architectural details in your room with different paint finishes. The use of glossier finishes on crown molding or cabinets can subtly draw the eye to featured elements of the room. The all-white look in this kitchen, painted Benjamin Moore Winter White, develops elegant textural elements with the use of a flat finish on the ceiling, semi-gloss on the cabinets and trim, and an eggshell finish on the walls.



Do you have more questions about crown molding? Ask us in the comments below.

5 Things You Need to Know Before Renovating Your Kitchen


When it comes to a renovation, the kitchen is probably one of the most challenging spaces to work with. It’s the space that gets the most use, so having it out of commission for a period of time can mean a lot of take out and washing dishes in your bathroom sink.B37-01

While the end result will be worth it, there are a few things you need to know and do before you dive into the project.

Create a Realistic Budget

Creating a budget is extremely important before you begin a renovation project. It will help guide your decisions and avoid extra stress. But when you set out to create your budget, be sure to create a realistic one. Take into consideration any added expenses you can foresee – and expenses you may not foresee. How do you do the latter? A good rule of thumb is to budget an additional 20% to allow for unforeseen circumstances or issues that might arise along the way


Know Lead Times

Before you start ripping things out and plowing ahead, do your research and figure out estimated lead times for all of the various items you will be installing. For example, custom cabinetry can easily take three to four weeks to manufacture. Granite fabricators and appliance stores will also have a timeline for when your final product will be ready for delivery and installation. Having these timelines ahead of time will allow you to make timely decisions and plan your entire renovation project appropriately.B37-03

Hire Reputable Team Members

Before you hire any contractors, be sure you take the time to get good recommendations or referrals for anyone you plan to hire to help with your renovation. Ask friends or neighbors, check out their reviews online or interview them in person before you ever sign on the dotted line or hire them for the job. Hiring reputable team members will save you time and money in the long run and will give you the peace of mind knowing your project is in good hands.


Factor In Delays

Many times things don’t go according to plan, and that can apply to any renovation project as well. Because you are working with existing wiring, plumbing and other existing structural factors in your kitchen, issues can arise and things might come up that need to be addressed that you couldn’t have planned on when you started. When coming up with an estimated timeline for your project, be sure to factor in delays and cushion your timeline by a few weeks or months.


Get Professional Design Expertise

Because your kitchen is the center and life of your home, it’s important that this space not only be functional but also elegant. Consider hiring a professional interior designer who can advise you on the best layout and design for your cabinetry, suggest beautiful paint colors that will complement the rest of your home, and help you select new appliances, countertops and any tile you might need. An interior designer can also recommend reputable vendors for things like cabinetry and will guide you throughout the entire process.

If you are in the process of pulling your team together for an upcoming renovation, be sure to contact us to work with one of our interior designers. We would love to help ensure your renovation project goes as smoothly as possible. See our Web site for additional information about our full-service interior design firm and the services we provide.

Photos by: Rachael Boling

What Every Elegant Bathroom Needs

Your bathroom is an important part of your home. It’s one of the first rooms {besides your bedroom} that you see soon after waking and one of the last ones you see before going to bed. It should feel relaxing and refreshing. A place where you can go to get pampered and rejuvenated.


Because of its importance, this space should feel like an elegant, soothing retreat. If you are looking to transform your bathroom into a space you can enjoy instead of a space you dread spending time in, here are just a few things that every elegant bathroom needs.


Appropriate Lighting

Using the appropriate lighting in any space can make a huge difference but nowhere more than in a bathroom. Many tasks are performed in a bathroom like makeup application, hair styling, etc. so it’s important to choose the right task lighting that will provide ample light. Stick to sconces for your bathroom, as they not only add visual interest but are also ideal for makeup application and shaving. The style and size of sconce you choose can add a very regal and classic look to the overall space as well.


Functional Storage

There are many things you need to keep stored in your bathroom, including hygiene products, bath towels, washcloths, hair dryers, etc. With all the little odds and ends you need to keep tucked away, it’s important to create functional storage areas in your bathroom. Whether it’s a linen closet, armoire or baskets under the sink, create functional storage areas where bathroom essentials can be kept out of sight.


Soothing Color Palette

Choosing the right color palette can have a huge impact on how a space feels. We’ve talked before about how to choose the right bathroom paint colors. How you want the space to feel will largely affect your choice of colors, but for a spa/sanctuary feel, choose lighter more neutral colors that have a calming effect. Neutral colors tend to be more soothing and also allow the perfect backdrop for colorful and elegant accessories.


Beautiful Accessories

Speaking of accessories, the right accessories can really transform a space. Not only are they a great way to incorporate your own personal style and a wonderful way to infuse your personality into a room, but they can also really transform the look and feel of any room. Choosing accessories with clean lines, beautiful detailing and stylish finishes can turn a boring, lifeless room into a truly spectacular space full of life and color.



And last but not least, adding a floral touch to your bathroom can make it feel fresh and inviting. Whether it’s your favorite flower or a beautiful botanical reproduction, adding a floral arrangement not only gives a pop of color but also some needed greenery. Flowers also add a personal touch that can make guests feel welcome or liven up your own personal bathroom space.

For additional ways to create an elegant bathroom, be sure to check out these tips for how to choose the best bathroom paint colors and download these tips from our design team on how to select the proper lighting.

Photos by: Rachael Boling

Topics: tips, interior design


Today’s Interior Design Inspiration:: Soothing Patterns

The right mixture of patterns can turn a room from fine to fabulous. Including patterns in a room requires a delicate touch, conveying calm and peacefulness. The following shows how selecting the right pieces for your design can transform your bedroom into a relaxing, elegant retreat.

Patterns with subtle contrasts in color provide a soothing ambiance to a space. The patterns on this pillow and throw make the space ideal for rest and relaxation. Where brightly colored, polarized patterns would make a space lively, low-contrast patterns in subdued tones are perfect for making your home feel soothing. These barely-there patterns break up the space without drawing inordinate amounts of attention.B47-01

As is the rule with most design work, classic patterns are less likely to become dated over time, where more modern patterns could need to be replaced to keep up with the trending style. This room’s antique, one-of-a-kind rug has a classic, timeless pattern that won’t need to be changed out when the design world’s tastes change. Don’t shy away from including a few modern or trendy styles in your design – just remember to use them on easily replaced items like throws and pillows. Mixing a few modern patterns in with the classic can be a great way to add interest to a space.B47-02

Another aspect to remember is that organic patterns, like those seen on the room’s decorative pillows, further the calming effect created by low contrast colors. Curved edges don’t trap the eye in any one place and give the room flow. Organic patterns don’t have to mean strictly floral prints; use patterns that flow and have soft, rounded edges.B47-03

When choosing patterns, it helps to determine the size of your patterns relative to the space they will inhabit. If a piece is small, like a throw pillow, a similarly small pattern will give your design a feeling of effortlessness. Larger pieces of furniture or walls will appear more natural with similarly large patterns.

Keeping in mind the texture of your pattern can elevate your design to another level. Texture can become the focal point of a room, adding warmth and contrast to any space. Patterns can be a subtle, elegant way to provide a room’s texture. In this bedroom, the combination of silky and matte fabrics that form the pattern of the drapes provides visible texture to the room without being overpowering. This textural detail serves as a unique, stunning feature in the room and draws the eye to the large windows where ordinary curtains might not.B47-04

Mixing a combination of patterns in one space is an easy way to show your design skill. The combined patterns of the drapes, pillows, throw, and rug make this space shine. Don’t be afraid to use many different patterns in a space, as long as you find ones that form a cohesive whole. When you are trying to find harmonious combinations for a soothing design, it is best to use patterns with similar contrast levels, ages, or textures. While you may fear making a room busy by using several different patterns in this space, this room stands as an example that a multi-patterned space can still be inviting and relaxing.B47-05

In the end, the right pattern combinations are the ones that make you love the space. Go out and make your home match your style.



What patterns do you incorporate into your designs? Do you prefer modern or classic styles?