IN THE FAST LANE

It’s been hopelessly dreary in Raleigh these past two days. It was perfect for a lazy Sunday spent curled up on the couch indulging in a Suits marathon (speculating about whether Rachel aka Meghan Markle might be the next addition to the royal family, naturally) but now it’s time to be productive and I’m ready for brighter days ahead.

To resist the urge to crawl back into bed with a good book (I’m in need of recs, btw), let’s jump start the week with a colorful home recently featured in Garden & Gun and designed by the wildly talented–and fellow North CarolinianBarrie Benson.

If, like me, you’re uninitiated into the world of stock-car racing, it may surprise you to learn that this stunning residence is home to NASCAR superstar, Jimmie Johnson and his model, turned gallery owner wife, Chandra. Not exactly, Talladega Nights, right?

The project proved to be the perfect collaboration between designer and client. Chandra’s collector’s eye paired with Barrie’s design knowledge and talent resulted in a completely original home studded with pieces from some of biggest names in midcentury design.

The dining room might be my favorite room in the home, and I find myself returning to this photo often for inspiration. Sorbet colored walls, silk drapes, and a stylized brass dogwood sconce add notes of levity to the more formal cognac leather chairs, dining table, and crystal chandelier.

The real standout, however, is the ceiling installation painted by Durham, North Carolina artist, Damien Stamer. It’d be hard for me to keep my eyes on my plate as a dinner guest!

Moving into the living room, a peach velvet sofa mixes with Gio Ponti wingbacks and a Serge Mouille light fixture. The carved stone mantle against the antiqued mirrored fireplace breast is also an inspiring moment.

Can’t we all agree (and hopefully convince our husbands) that a fantastic piece of art above the mantle is such a better choice than a flat screen? I’m curious if they might have a TV hidden in the wardrobe at left.

The bar is another bright spot in the home. The turquoise slab front drawers with their brushed brass pulls offset the traditional de Gournay hand painted paper perfectly. Personally, I find that mixing styles–traditional/modern, masculine/feminine–enhances my appreciation of the individual components. The contrast allows each to shine without blending in or falling flat.

Be sure to visit Chandra’s gallery, SOCO Gallery. I haven’t made it out to Charlotte yet, but a visit is definitely on my to-do list!

10 GORGEOUS VINTAGE RUGS

Earlier this week, I was on the hunt for the perfect vintage oushak rug for a client, and found so many amazing options during my search a weekend PSA felt entirely appropriate.

Vintage rugs have certainly been having a moment, but the color combinations in each of these are so unusual and really something special. Snap them up before I do and am forced to turn my living room into a souk!

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If you do buy one of these beauties I’d love to see a photo of where it ends up. Pro tip: the sizing of vintage rugs is always kind of wonky, so don’t be afraid to layer one over a larger natural fiber rug.

BEFORE & AFTER: A GEORGETOWN KITCHEN

While I’m on a roll sharing updates (can’t stop, won’t stop), how about a before and after? A few weeks ago I went back to DC to photograph this kitchen, and though I should have probably waited to reveal on my refreshed website, patience is not one of my virtues.

This project is near and dear to my heart for a number of reasons, first, because the clients are really wonderful people who not only undertook the renovation of this Georgetown kitchen while living in NYC, but also remained cool as a cucumber when I learned we were relocating to Raleigh and trusted me to manage the project from afar. And, lest I forget, all while pregnant with their first child!

So, not only are they the epitome of patience and grace, they also had vision. Let me paint the picture. This kitchen is on the lower level of a historic Georgetown row house and was in need of some TLC.

The floor plan was choppy, broken into three rooms–a breakfast room, the kitchen, and dining room which leads out to a beautiful walk out garden–but, with a dropped ceiling and narrow passages between rooms it felt dark and dated.

Yesterday I railed against the over use of open floor plans, but if ever there was a space that benefitted from taking down some walls, this was it.

before: standing in the kitchen looking into the new breakfast room

 We removed the wall between the kitchen and breakfast room and on the opposite side of the kitchen moved a fireplace stack to allow for an enlarged opening between the kitchen and dining room. Instantly the light poured through and the space felt twice as large!

In the breakfast room we added a built-in banquette with under seat storage. I had the black and white ticking stripe on the upholstered cushions laminated with easy clean up in mind for my clients’ little one.

Giving a nod to the original herringbone brick, I selected a faux wood tile to avoid potential moisture issues hardwoods could have posed laid in the same pattern.

before: the breakfast room

Much more inviting than where we started, right?

In the kitchen, my client knew she wanted dark cabinetry and we landed on a black shaker style with un-lacquered brass hardware which ground the otherwise neutral space. The perimeter countertops are quartz, and the island countertop is walnut.

As in many city homes, space for laundry is a challenge, so we tucked these smaller units on the opposite side of the kitchen. The long run of countertop above offers ample space for folding.

One of my favorite elements in the kitchen are the blackened steel and walnut open shelves I designed and had fabricated by Brooklyn based, Coil & Drift.

 After we had done so much work to lighten and open up the space, I felt it was important not to weigh it down with heavy uppers. One shelf is five feet long and the second four feet so there’s still plenty of space for storage.

One last pretty shot of the banquette.  I can’t wait for my clients to be able to enjoy mornings here with their little one (they’re still NYC based and rent the home). 

Photos by Laura Metzler

LITTLE ANIMALS

Jungle Wallpaper | Chandelier | Changing Table | Pajamas | Zebra | Frames

Continuing with Monday’s theme of things I keep meaning to blog about, let’s chat about this jungle wallpaper. My love for scenic wallpapers has been well documented, and the soft palette of this one is especially beautiful. Feeling inspired, I decided to pull together a quick nursery design for a little explorer.

When ceiling heights allow, I love to use statement fixtures in spaces other than the dining room. This boho chic chandelier (on sale!) picks up the soft pink of the wallpaper perfectly. A changing table with linen drawer fronts adds another layer of texture. Top it with bone inlay frames to display your special new photos to finish off the look.

The oversized plush giraffe seems to be a popular choice for nursery decor as of late, but I’m also partial to the zebra. If this were my own nursery, I might print out some black and white photos from the South African safari we took for our honeymoon, but you can get the same look (actually, even cuter!) with this “peekaboo animals” photography collection.

P.S if you want your animals to have a little more function, don’t miss this adorable laundry hamper!

MCGRATH II IN MANHATTAN

I wanted to leave you with something beautiful before I jet off on Sunday and this McGrath II project shared by Architectural Digest certainly fits the bill.

I’ve posted about the mother daughter design duo before–and may even be venturing close to fan girl territory–but there are certain designers that inspire me to be better (writing that all I can think of is this scene): Tom Scheerer, Markham Roberts, Ashley Whittaker, Mark Sikes, etc. and McGrath II is solidly among that group.

What I admire most about their work is the attention to detail. Those details–note the strapping on the chairs and box banded pillows above–are what take a project to the next level, making it completely unique. The details (in my opinion) are why you hire an interior designer.

Chatting with some of my designer friends, we’ve been lamenting the increasing homogeneity of interior design, but McGrath II’s projects always feel fresh and unbeholden to trends. Incorporating antiques and modern art gives each of their projects so much life.

Let’s all agree to push back against the pull of instant gratification and wait to find those perfect pieces. The end result is so worth it.

 The gut-renovated kitchen is a masterful mix of traditional and modern. Inset shaker door fronts pair with more contemporary slab style drawers with sleek pulls.

This space may be my favorite moment in the entire apartment. I love how McGrath II was able to create a sense of coziness in the shotgun style living space by bookending it with seating areas. The silk grasscloth wall and matching silk grasscloth lampshades are next level–again, it’s the details, people!

I love the contrast of the mint Farrow & Ball wallpaper with the chocolate toile Quadrille arm chairs in the master bedroom. A clean lined bench adds a touch of modernity to an otherwise traditional space and subtly echoes the apartment’s steel windows.

The master bath was inspired by bathrooms the clients had admired in European hotels. The custom millwork on the vanity mirror is yet another thoughtful detail that elevates the space.

I’m such a fan of sophisticated children’s rooms and this one is no exception. Lavender and cranberry pulled from the custom Roman shade in a Raoul fabric is an unexpected color combination. The ultimate baller move? A soft pink Christopher Spitzmiller lamp on the shared nightstand. Start ’em young!

Visit Architectural Digest to read more about the project and I hope you have a wonderful week! If you’d like to follow my Parisian adventures, I’ll be oversharing on Insta.