Category Archives: Space Planning

Interior Design Services Donated to Charlotte’s Stiletto Sprint in the Fight Against Ovarian Cancer

It’s April 9th and there’s a whole lot of walking, jogging, running and sprinting going on in Charlotte today! Find updates on all activities in the Charlotte Observer.  I jumped at the chance to help my client, Kaye Ackermann, when she asked if I would participate in a cause near and dear to her heart that involved some major sprinting.

She and the other members of Stiletto Sprint are committed to raising awareness and funds to enhance the quality of life for all patients engaged in the fight against ovarian cancer.   At 9:00am over 300 participates participated in a 100 yard dash, in heels of course! Proceeds from the inaugural Stiletto Sprint benefit the Carolinas Ovarian Cancer Research Fund at Blumenthal Cancer Center.

PCL Interiors Interior Design Consultation

PCL Interiors was more than happy to contribute by offering a 1.5 Hour Interior Design Consultation to the winner of the silent auction they also hosted.

I personally plan to go to the home of the winner to answer any design challenges they may have.  It could be to select a color palette, create a better space plan or freshen up a room and give it a new look simply by using what they have.  Any design quandary I can address and resolve in the span of 1.5 hours is my gift.  The winner would also take away a lovely potted faux orchid from the event.


…Stelitto Sprint for surpassing your goal and raising over $50,000,!!! closer to $60,000 by the end of the day!  What a great accomplishment.  Thank you Kaye, for allowing me to contribute.

I am very interested in donating my services to more silent auctions such as this, with benefits going towards a good cause.  Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you feel that I can bring some value to your organization.

How to Organize, Prioritize and Shop for your Interior Design Projects

Happy New Year!

Okay…we are well into 2011 now, but that only means you’ve had time to ponder your resolutions and know which ones to toss and which to pursue passionately.  As you get down to the business of turning both your personal and professional dreams into reality, don’t forget about the perennial goal of making your home a unique and stylish dwelling for your family’s lifestyle.

Like many goals, I realize that when considering your home’s decor, one of our first thoughts is “how do I get there from here?”  Indeed, sometimes the thought of even small changes can be frustrating.

Trust me, there are steps you can take to simplify the process. So where do we start?

Make a list

What do you want? What upgrades or changes would you like? What would your spouse or partner like? Consider all your family’s needs as you take inventory. They will thank you later.  Assign three main categories; interior, exterior and landscape needs. Our focus will be on the interior.  Create a subcategory for each and every space including hallways and pantries. Your list would look something like this,

Master Bedroom:

  1. paint walls
  2. paint ceiling
  3. paint trim
  4. bed and bedding remain but add new throw pillows
  5. 2 new lamps

Master Bathroom:

  1. decorative wall treatment
  2. new paint color for trim
  3. ceiling color remains
  4. new draw pulls
  5. new rugs
  6. garden tub to claw foot tub
  7. upgrade tile floor

…and so on and so forth.  Whether it’s a modest redesign, a structural upgrade or a complete room remodel, make as specific a list as possible of everything to be changed.

Prioritize and Break It Up!

Your project has the potential to overwhelm and paralyze you.  Instead, break it up into smaller, more manageable pieces.  You’ll get the job done in an orderly fashion when you prioritize, and as a bonus, you’ll be motivated and gain momentum as you complete each step.  Decide how you will prioritize your projects.  It could be based on how much money you have for the first phase, how much your entire family uses a specific space or what area most people see when they first walk in.


Sit down and carefully pour over your list.  Does it include unnecessary, redundant or wasteful steps?  If so, eliminate them.  Have you included projects that are not realistic for the possible resale value of your home?  Upgrading a 150K home with an 80k kitchen is not the best use of your money if you plan to sell your home anytime soon.  A bit exaggerated, yes,  but you get my drift.  If you do want a kitchen upgrade, list each item you want upgraded and when it comes time to budget and shop, make practical assessments. Work as smartly and efficiently as possible, and that means knowing what stays on your list and what gets scratched for a later date or permanently.


Whether the investment will be primarily of time, money or elbow grease, budget wisely and realistically.  Few things are as disappointing as getting well underway, only to realize that you may run out of resources before you achieve your dream.  With that in mind, add 20% to your budget, because you are most likely to underestimate costs at the onset.  Once any project is started, we often find that we want or need to increase out investment due to unforeseen circumstances.

Use Visual Images

If you find yourself in a creative or motivational rut, look to your favorite glossy to get you back on track. Houzz is a great on-line resource to stroke your creative engine.  Magazines and many internet sources help you to review and compare products and services.  Attend your local home shows, neighborhood model homes, and local accessory boutiques for inspiration as well. Consider meeting with your interior designer for a one time consultation of design advise only.  I do a ton of design consultations where I offer suggestions and shopping advise for homeowners that prefer to tackle the shopping and the majority of the project themselves. It is money well spent. Designers offer that fresh eye and guidelines for incorporating the right scale, color and texture to a space that you may have been looking at for years.

Schedule A Date of Completion

Assign a date of competition for at least the first three projects or you’ll find yourself going over the same list of projects next year with NOTHING checked off.  If that date arrives and you have not completed it, add a new date and revisit it until it’s DONE.

And saving the best for last…

Go Shopping!!!

Armed with everything you need to make your design dreams a reality, it’s time to shop.  Because you’ll have a clear image of what you want to achieve, shopping will be much less daunting  and a lot more fun.

Small Space Tips: Living Room

A Design Driven Life – By Sam

Thanks to some of my Facebook friends, I will be starting a series of “small space” design tips. Seeing that most of my friends are young, early to mid 20’s, we haven’t hit that “big house” status yet. So some of us are still living in college style dorms, apartments or Mom’s basement. The other dilemma that 20 somethings are also facing is the lack funds! Since I too face all of these issues, I want to help with cool design suggestions that can help anyone design for their small space and not break the bank.

This week I’m going to start tackling the living room. I think that most of us can agree that this is one of the most important spaces since this is where all of our company will be hanging out. I figured the best way to explain one way of tackling a living room would be to lead by example. The picture on the far left is a great example of a well decorated small living room. So lets break it down…

For starters, this small space does not follow the traditional “furniture sets” way of thinking. So theres no sofa, love seat and matching chair, theres no way that scenario could fit in most small living rooms and if you did put it in there, it makes your space look crowded and smaller! So here we have a love seat paired with a single upholstered chair, a comfortable fit and a nice look. They have added in two bunching tables that seem like they could double as benches (extra seating bonus! Stay tuned for more ideas like this one). As for the two side tables, they have the purpose of adding more furniture, but also being functional. They chose smaller and visually lighter looking pieces, to keep with the theme of making the space appear larger. The area rug helps to ground the small living room setting and giving you a pop from the floor. By choosing neutral colored furniture this allows you to add in colorful through pillows that help to create effortless style. Texture is also something that you should strive for when trying to achieve a good design, whether its visual,through patterned fabrics or touchable in the rug. As you can see, there doesn’t seem to be much wall space, so they thoughtfully used beautifully framed mirrors that create the timeless illusion of a larger space. Another tip when arranging your furniture, you should try not to focus on all furniture on the TV, it limits your possibilities, think in good conversation arrangements and good design will follow.

As you can see, I’ve plotted out a few pieces to help you break down and achieve this look, oh and the even better part, its the same look only for less!

White Love Seat $399– Ikea

Wicker Arm Chair $219 – Pier One

Tray Top White Side Table $99- World Market

White Side Table $25- WalMart

Solid Throw Pillows $9.99- World Market

Patterned Throw Pillow $16.99- World Market

White and Gray Area Rug 6’5” X 4’4” $19.99- Ikea

Starburst Mirror $19.99- Ikea

Photos courtesy of Ikea, Pier One, World Market, WalMart & RoomU.

Get Your House Sold! Tips for Successfully Staging Your Home.

A Design Driven Life – by  Sam

I recently helped newlyweds who’s home had literally been on the market for the past two years.  They felt absolutely HOPELESS!

This couple was fortunate enough to have another home to live in while the one on the market sat empty. But that was the issue. The home was empty!

Have you ever walked into a model home and felt so excited about the possibilities of having something like this? Have you ever gone into another home that left you feeling empty – as a result of the house being empty?  It creates such a change in emotion about that home that you almost disregard the empty one for the model!   That’s exactly what was happening for this couple.  Even though the home was spotless and had even undergone a fresh coat of paint (done very well by the homeowners themselves), it was difficult to see its potential as far as furniture placement and how someone could really live there.

So as a designer, I couldn’t bear to see this bare home!  Knowing the importance of how the interior of a home can evoke different feelings, we went straight to the drawing board, and this is what the results were.

(BEFORE image lower left corner.) This space went from drab to fab by using furniture that fits, proper use of accessories and a good cleaning!

Isn’t this just FABULOUS!?!

This is what you see as soon as you walk in the front door.  As you can see in the before picture, it was a blank slate, not interesting at all.  Here is how you can achieve a transformation like this.

  • Clean like CRAZY! This couple really rolled up their sleeves and did some serious cleaning.  I can’t preach more about how a clean home is necessary to selling your home. Make sure to scrub the carpet and walls as best you can, clean base boards, ceiling fans and get cobs webs out of the corners.  Pull out the fridge and stove and get to cleaning back there too.  By doing this, potential buyers are going to feel comfortable and feel like there isn’t much work they actually have to put in to this home because the previous owners did a great job taking care of it.

A smaller accent chair, an ottoman from the owners bedroom and a table lamp create a cozy reading nook. Couldn't you just see yourself reading a book here?

  • Get creative with existing furniture.  Most of the pieces of furniture in this home were things that the couple had in storage. We decided that less is more and chose the best pieces that fit the space.  Be sure to get rid of the over sized stuff, it makes your home smaller!!  A glass table gives the illusion of more space because you can see through it.  For a living room, don’t revert back to the “furniture set” way of thinking.  If you do have a “set” and it feels crowded, remove the sofa and arrange the love seat and chair. This will open your space up!  Another thing to think about, most model homes don’t have TVs. So if you can, remove the TV or make sure it is NOT a focal point.

In this home, the TV is not the first thing you see. By placing the TV on a small wall and on top of a dark console, the TV appears to fade away.

  • Accessorize. Okay, there’s obviously a huge debate on how much or how little you should accessorize.  And I totally agree that you can over do it; however, it is so necessary.  For instance, once they were really getting into it, this client was ready to hang something on every wall!  This is a no no.  In this home, we hung art to define spaces.  One in the dining area and one in the living room, that’s it!  We added a couple of pillows that they already had and purchased a small shag rug to add a punch of color and texture.  These types of things keep the buyers eyes moving around your entire space (and that’s a good thing!).

To create and atmosphere of tranquility in this bedroom - I combined fresh linens, light and airy sheer curtains and some strategically placed accessories.

Since this couples home was empty, they sort of bypassed the basic rules of staging.

Now, if you still live in your home here is a crash course to guide you on staging your home to sell :

  1. Get rid of the clutter, throw out anything not needed and use storage baskets and bins to create a more organized look.
  2. Clear all counters and put away all small appliances for showings (even the unattached microwave!).
  3. Take down all of your family photos, nothing personal, but potential buyers can’t imagine their family there if they keep seeing yours.
  4. If you have colorful walls in your home, you should probably re paint to a neutral pallet (stay in the soft beige’s, creamy whites or even warm grays).
  5. Stay on your toes, keep your home clean and tidy at all times, you never want to turn down a showing because you don’t have enough time to straighten up.

So to wrap it up, when combining all of these tips, you will create an environment worthy of a model home, where buyers can walk right in and imagine their future. As for my clients, they just put their home back on the market and are excited to see the outcome of their new staging, so if you have a moment, check out – Charlotte Homes for Sale!

Why an Accurate Furniture Floor Plan is so Important

I discovered a new blog today, Modernica by Renee Massaro!  I read an interesting and informative interview she conducted with interior designer Kenneth Brown.  I enjoy his work.  Among other things, it’s easily recognizable for his use of clean lines and organic materials.

I could not agree with KB more when he stated that one of the biggest lessons learned is to have an accurate furniture plan.  For a strong foundation, I always start each room design with 1) understanding how the room will function, 2) taking accurate room measurements and 3) laying in any existing and new furniture.

I studied AutoCAD in college but I always gravitate back to my hand drawings.  What can I say, I’m old school all the way.  Here are three plans I recently submitted to a client. The furniture templates are magnetic and allow me to plug in different options quickly.

Option 2

Since my client had reviewed several options herself, I wanted to share all the viable ones with her so that she could see how I decided upon the final plan.

Option 3

When I email preliminary plans to a client I always include notes to review before we meet to discuss.

Option 1 with a quick sketch of 3 wall elevations

The final option, my favorite,  includes 3 rough sketches of wall elevations for the client to get a clearer visual of what the room would look like with smaller accessories.

Laying in the furniture ensures proper traffic flow, sufficient seating, correct placement of art work and budget development.  Don’t make a move without it!