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A New Durham Design…

For those of you that know me well, you’ve heard me say, “The best thing about design is that it’s subjective.” Now, of course everyone views a space differently and may not design a space the same way the next person would. That being said, most houses we come across speak a “vintage modern” design to me. Most of these houses are built in the early 1900s or even earlier. Restoring original floors, doorknobs/hardware, exterior elements, and even keeping the choppy floor plan are some of the things that we typically see ourselves doing to the older homes we work on.

We recently came across a project that is going to be completely different than what we are used to. I’m telling myself challenges like these are how we grow, because boy this project is a big one! This house, after renovations, will be 4,000 sq. ft. with a mid-century style from head to toe. These are both a footprint and a design style we haven’t executed yet. Are we stoked? Oh my god, we couldn’t be happier! From a designers perspective, am I full of excitement and anxiety? YES, I am. You may be asking why I’m picking mid-century if it’s a challenge for me design-wise. I’m a firm believer that the space determines the design, not me. Mid-century homes are known for bringing the outside elements inside and this house is close to downtown but still on 1.3 acres of land with very tall trees. Now, picture tall wood arched ceilings, big windows, some abstract features with an open floor plan. Then, envision walking out onto a vast deck that leads you down to a large patio and looking up to see that you’re surrounded by huge trees in the middle of the woods. It sounds magical, right?!

Since we are working on our scope of work and putting together our schedule with our sub-contractors, I figured I’d take some time to fill you guys in as to where we are design-wise right now. We have some major projects going into this house and I’m going to highlight a few of them to give you a concept of how the house will look.

Front Exterior

First, lets talk exterior. The exterior is made up of some gorgeous cedar planking that lays in a vertical style around the house (perfect for a modern vibe). We will be doing some major repairs to the siding and painting it a dark brown. We’ll also be painting the wood frame windows black (so sexy!). Next, we will be adding some veneer stones to the front stoop area to give the space some texture. We’ll also be installing a small overhang over the front stoop area to give the front of the house a little more dimension. After that, we’d like to instal a black metal roof for a more modern feel rather than the ordinary asphalt shingle look. Lastly, we will be redoing some sidewalk, and landscaping work out front. Now, my favorite part of designing the front exterior: the front door! Right now, I’m feeling an avocado green front door, but if you know me, you know the front door is always subject to change (maybe even a simple black to go with the window trim, who knows). Now, please forgive me as I am no artist and my watercolor concept drawing below is the quality of a toddler.

  • Before Photo
  • Design concept

Back Yard/Exterior

Now that we touched on the front of the house and you have seen my quality artist work, lets talk backyard/entertainment area. Like I said before, the house is on 1.36 acres and backs up to Duke Forest. If you’re a local to Durham, you are starting to piece together why I am thinking a mid-century vibe. Quickly before I get off topic, think Palm Springs trendy mid-century homes with a mountain backdrop. Same concept here when you’re near Duke Forest, except you are in the woods instead of in the Coachella Valley. That being said, if we are admiring the nature around us, we need a good entertaining spot to do that, right?! We will be taking down the current deck as it’s in rough shape and definitely not to code. We will be recreating a deck that is accessible through two bifold accordion doors off of the kitchen and living room. The new deck will then have steps that lead to a modern paver style patio.

  • Before photos
  • Design concepts
Photo Source: Mid Century Home
Photo Source: Unknown

Now, let’s move on to the interior. Whether it be moving the kitchen to a big open space, creating a media room/hangout area or moving the master to a different floor, we have a lot of big projects going on inside to make better use of the space.

The Foyer

Right now when you walk inside the home, all you see is carpet and popcorn ceiling (YUCK). Are you surprised? I’m not. The 70s were a weird era for a few reasons (like carpet and popcorn ceilings just to name a few). When you walk into the foyer, we will be redoing the railings with cables and wrought iron, hanging a beautiful retro chandelier, retiling the floor and redoing the stairs to match the new hardwood floors. Personally, I am obsessed with the millwork we want to add to the half wall! As soon as you walk in the front door, the half wall that the railing sits on is straight ahead. I’m thinking of adding some millwork to the wall for some fun texture.

  • Before photos
  • Design concepts

The Kitchen

Okay, you’re still in the foyer and now you’re walking up the stairs. Half way up the open staircase, your eyes see a huge open kitchen off to the right with a bold waterfall island, big windows and a open dining room nearby. When you have a potential client walk into the house, you have seconds to “wow” them. The kitchen is going to do just that. For the open kitchen, we are going to go with oak cabinets with finger channels, a simple vertical stacked white subway tile, a vagil Marble or Quartz countertop with a chrome faucet/pot filler and finally some subtle but funky pendant lighting hanging from the wood paneled vaulted ceilings.

  • Before photos
  • Design concepts

The Dining Room

While you are cooking in this show stopper kitchen, you can easily set the table for a dinner party as your dining room will be within steps of your kitchen. The original plan was to remove all the walls, which wasn’t possible. One of the walls running down the middle of the house is holding up the roof line (a load bearing wall). If we were to take the wall out, we would have about two support posts probably 7 ft apart to support the roof properly. To me that is creating dead space. So instead of using exposed posts, we are going to be creating a stone feature wall used with the same stone on the exterior facade. This dining room is going to be such a fun place to entertain!

  • Before photo
  • Design concept
Photo Source: Mid Century Home

The Master Bedroom

This project is similar to the kitchen in the fact that we are moving the master bedroom into a different room than where it currently resides. We are converting an existing hangout room/second living space into the Master bedroom with a private sunroom (off the suite). For the most part this room will be down to the studs. We will be doing new drywall, new floors, updating the wood burning fireplace, putting up a wall between the bedroom and bathroom, turning an entire room into a master walk-in closet, along with a new ceiling and new lighting. The bathroom will have a zero entry shower with a floor to ceiling window looking outside (hopefully – plumber is still verifying it’s possible), and a single glass panel for the shower door, a double floating vanity that runs into a make up counter/area and toilet separate from the rest of the bathroom. Since we decided to go with a bigger grand shower, we don’t have the adequate space for a master bathtub at this time.

  • Before photos
  • Design concepts

The Living Room

In the living room, we will be adding a fireplace and some bifold doors that will lead to the deck outside (like we talked about before). This room will be in the center of the house, so it should be a very welcoming and comfortable space. The fireplace and doors should accomplish just that.

  • Before photo
  • Design concept
Modern Porch design by San Francisco Architect Lorin Hill, Architect
Photo Source: Design Within Reach

Bathrooms

The fun part of this particular project is the amount of bathroom renovations we get to do. Now instead of picking a trendy mid-century tile for each space, I’m really feeling more of a color blocking design. In my head, I feel that the era we’re recreating is inarguably colorful. To make the house feel both timeless and true to its time, the color blocking bathrooms will really stand out but also fit in! The bathrooms will have a simple white quartz countertop with no veins, a light stain floating vanity, a light stone tile flooring and chrome finishes. We also will be doing some work in these bathrooms like moving a few walls, putting in a shower rather than a tub, etc. As far as color pallet goes, I’m feeling a pastel olive green, a pastel yellow, white and don’t forget the blue for the master!

Bathroom 1

  • Before photo
  • Design concept
Photo Source: onecoastdesigns.com, homes.nine.com, pinterest.com/shabychicbathrooms, lumens.com, us.kohler.com, unknown

Bathroom 2

  • Before photo


  • Design concept
Photo Source: archdaily.com, lumens.com, us.kohler.com, unknown

Bathroom 4

  • Before photo


  • Design Concept

Laundry Room and Media Room.

The bottom level towards the front corner of the house (near the driveway) is currently a workshop area. Looking at the drawing below, you’lll see that we are breaking the workshop space into a media room and a laundry room. Both of the spaces will actually be large in size, even though they are “sharing” an existing room. From the existing hallway, you will walk directly into the media room. Around the corner from the media room will be an entrance to the laundry room.

  • Before Photo
  • Future floor plan

Media Room

The media room will have a wet bar (same color as the kitchen cabinets) with a wine fridge and tons of storage space. The rest of the media room will be open for the most part besides a handful of shelves for organizing/decorating along one of the exterior walls.

  • Design concept
Photo Source Luxe daily
Photo Source: Delightfull.eu

Laundry Room

As far as the laundry room goes we will be installing cabinets around the washer, dryer and sink.

  • Design concept
Photo Source: Unknown

For the most part, these are the bigger projects happening throughout the home. We still have a handful of projects that we are finalizing designs on. For example, some serious landscaping upgrades both in the front and in the back yard, the driveway, the roof, and the sunroom (both on the main level and in the master) are just some of the project areas still in the works. I can’t wait for you all to see these ideas come to life over the next few months.

Don’t forget to comment and tell me your thoughts.

Cheers.

Top Design Trends You Will See in 2019

While 2019 is in full swing, let’s talk about the hot trends that we will be seeing lots of this year. It’s easy to tell that 2019 is going to be a beautiful year with lots of new ideas based on what we saw in 2018. I love so many of the design ideas that are trending this year, but I decided to narrow down my favorites to five core concepts that can really transform/define a space. Let’s break down the trends.

1. Exposed Shower Plumbing

Making bathrooms a fun and inviting place to get ready has been a trend for a while now (which I’m so thankful for). However, having some exposed plumbing really gives the shower some texture and dimension. Whether it’s trying to tone down a modern space, or give life to a more traditional design, this is a simple way to bring some character into your bathroom.


Photo Source Stephen Busken

2. Bold Marble

Marble is a great way to add a statement to a room. If done correctly, a piece of veiny marble can be a a perfect addition to a simple/modern space. Whether it be a kitchen backsplash, a countertop, or even your bathroom vanity, quirky/unique marble will bring timeless style to a space (and will have your guests talking about it just as long!)

Photo Source Cup of Joe
Photo Source habitually chic

3. Statement Appliances

Although a kitchen with white cabinets, white countertops, white subway tile and stainless steel appliances can be clean & safe, they can also be boring. Color is back and boy am I excited about it! Using a pop of color for an appliance is the perfect touch to richen up and add some personality to the space. We recently decided to install a 36 inch ILVE range in a midnight blue with antique brass hardware in our Northgate project (pictured below) and boy are we glad we did. We received wonderful feedback on this design choice. Are you ready for a statement appliance in your kitchen?!


Photo Source Elizabeth Roberts

4. Bathroom Pendant Lighting

Sometimes vanity lighting doesn’t spice up a bathroom vanity area enough. Often in the bathroom, the focus tends to be on the tile and the countertops (which are very important). However, bathroom lighting can a fun focus area, even though it usually takes the back seat to other design components. Hanging some pendant lights in your powder room is a great way to add some flare to a small space. We definitely saw some of this in 2018 and expect to see even more of it in 2019.

5. Black is Back

Black kitchens, black tile, even black exteriors are very popular right now! Dark colors always have a bad reputation for “making a space feel too dark” or “making a room feel small”. I’m here to change your mind on this matter. I recently finished a bathroom in our Northgate project that was a small bathroom and trust me, the black tile actually made the space feel warm and inviting (and a lot less sterile)!

Photo Source Decus

Cheers!

Let’s Gossip About Wall Mounted Faucets and Backsplashes

Since installing the vanity design in the downstairs bathroom raised eyebrows to some of our contractors and followers, I thought it would be a great topic for one of my first posts. It was a heated debate I wasn’t willing to lose and in the end everyone was thankful for it.


When it comes to design, it’s extremely important to keep functionality in mind at all times. Some prefer more functionality than others, but I think we can agree that functionality doesn’t always look “beautiful “. When I was designing the downstairs bathroom, I had a lot of ideas going through my head. First, I wanted the bathroom to kind of set the tone and be the statement for the first floor since it was the only bath on the main floor (the last thing you want when hosting a dinner party is for your guest to use a bland bathroom). Next, I wanted to make sure the bathroom was as functional, yet as minimalist as possible due to the limited space we were working with.


The house was built in 1939, and back then “grand” bathrooms just weren’t a thing. I looked into expanding the bathroom in any direction possible. We had bedrooms on either side of the walls and plumbing running through the floor and ceiling just outside the bathroom door. With a heavy heart, we had to accept that the bathroom just wasn’t getting any bigger. We were stuck with the footprint we had. To paint a better picture, when I say small, I really mean an average-size second bathroom with a shower/tub, but more in a square shape rather than your typical rectangular shape full bath off the hallway.


In the beginning design phases of the space, the first item for everyone to agree on was the vanity. It was pretty obvious that the space would benefit from a floating vanity. However, when it came to having a wall mounted faucet and no counter backsplash or tile backsplash, everyone thought I was nuts. This took a lot of convincing on my end. For those who don’t know, the point of any type of backsplash around the sink area is to protect the drywall from moisture/water. Bathrooms have to have moisture resistant drywall, but that usually doesn’t satisfy most people in itself. Most people immediately start envisioning what type of backsplash to add. However, I wasn’t giving into the contractors that easily. So I turned to some serious research.


Of course, some of the feedback wasn’t in my favor. Wall mounted faucets with a under mounted sink typically cause the most splash. I told myself I was going to find a way around this and wasn’t going to be sold on the idea of having a backsplash installed, especially after seeing some content like the vanity below (sexy, right?!).

Some of you are probably asking why we didn’t install tile to avoid the chunky counter top backsplash. Remember, with a small bathroom, I wanted the space to be minimalistic yet sophisticated. Tile would add another texture/dimension to the space (which I normally am all for), however, this space just really spoke to me as a “less is more” type of vibe.


After FINALLY selling the team on the idea, I had to make sure that this idea was bulletproof. Just a small design idea ended up having so many people involved to make sure our clients were going to be getting the best product we could deliver. Whether it was product selection or the height of the vanity and faucet, we were going to make this perfect. Turns out we did just that! After lots of doubt (and a few setbacks), we were able to pull together a product that checked both of my boxes from day one: sophisticated & minimalistic. I could not have a been any happier with how the vanity area turned out.

Is this is a risk you would be willing to take in your own home- weighing that option of design vs. functionality? How much functionality would you be willing to compromise on in order to have the design be at the forefront? I’d love to hear from you regarding what design idea you like better. I really can’t say I love one idea over the other, but I can say that each space can benefit in it’s own way from one of the design decisions. Deciding on the wall mounted faucet and having a small space coupled with the black tile, I personally think the right decision was to go minimalist! Before you comment below, check out some of these beautiful bathrooms with similar design ideas!

Cheers.

Photo Source http://www.simodesign.com/green-oak-residence/
Photo Source http://www.laurejoliet.com
Photo Source https://www.tilemountain.co.uk
Photo Source http://www.jeanstofferdesign.com/
Photo Source
https://www.architecturaldigest.com/gallery/richard-hallberg-barbara-wiseley-mailbu-california-home-slideshow?slide=1
Photo Source
Photo Source https://www.elizabethroberts.com/