Inspiration in the Studio

A Whirlwind Week at The Southern C

To deepen our team’s curated-centric design goal in 2018, we are continuing to travel. We’re finding inspiration in what we see and who we meet, and in turn, giving each client’s design the extra “polish” – featuring unique pieces from the artists and artisans we have a pleasure in coming across. First, Paris. Now, Sea Island, Georgia.

This month, Julie attended The Southern Coterie Summit in Sea Island. We’ll let her share a bit of her experience in her own words:

It would still be an understatement to say that this conference, created to form a community of Southern creatives, left me in awe. I drove back home to North Carolina inspired and encouraged by all the makers and doers, interior designers, editors, and small business owners who all came together for a 3-day connective and collaborative experience at the Georgian coast. 

Entrance to The Cloister, location of The Southern C Summit


Day 1: The summit kicked off with a Swag Market, where I was able to meet a number of sponsors and event attendees who set up product booths – I loved meeting these small business owners who each had their own story of how they launched their business. After the market, we made our way to The Cloister ballroom, where we listened to speakers ranging from the founder of RMS Beauty to editors from House Beautiful/Elle Decor/Veranda and Garden & Gun. The day concluded with a “Summit Soiree” at The Vine’s Greenhouse at Sea Island, featuring tastes from across the South, beautiful floral arrangements, and decor fit for mixing and mingling with fellow creative souls. What an evening to remember!

Lunch location at The Sea Island Beach Club


Day 2: On day 2, I was on the go from morning until late that night. There were 6 sessions/panels, ranging in topics from branding, to website development and design, to social media – even my own mentorship session with the senior market editor for House Beautiful, Elle Decor, and Veranda. Inspiration heaven! Out of all the speakers, Elizabeth Mayhew, Brand Editor of Draper James (the clothing line created by Reese Witherspoon), stands out most in my mind for her words of practicing “yes and,” approaching challenges at work with confidence and enthusiasm, showing a willingness to go the extra mile. We also heard from talented bloggers, interior designers, and business owners – each sharing their own lesson applicable for me to bring back to the studio.

Favorite spot to catch up on work, The Cloister’s sunroom


Day 3: The final day of the conference wrapped up with a delicious Southern Brunch, featuring two of my favorites – a latte bar and Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit out of Charleston. Before we all went our separate way, this time was meaningful in making those last connections with those in attendance, collaborating just a bit further until I hit the road. Although difficult to leave such a beautiful place, I came back to the studio with new relationships with brands across the South, insightful takeaways, and an excitement for Southern Studio’s streamlined focus on making this year one of curated design.

Follow along to see where we go next!

Design Inspiration in Paris

As designers, we are always seeking new sources and inspiration to keep our designs fresh and innovative for our clients. Over the years, we have been to markets and industry shows all over the United States. This year the focus in the studio is highly curated design, so it was time to expand the reach and Design Week in Paris was the place to start. There are several components to the Paris Design Week experience, each one unique and inspiring in its own way. Below are a few highlights of the experience.

Paris Déco Off

Along the quaint streets of the Left Bank and the Right Bank, fabric houses showcased new introductions and gorgeous window displays at Paris Decor Off. Many pop-up showrooms exhibited some of the finest and most innovative textiles in the world. Strolling the lantern-lined streets was a designer’s dream come true.

Maison Objet

Maison Objet was the perfect place to find new resources for finely crafted and unique pieces. Each corner of the world has a gift for local artisans and we scouted some beautiful sources that will be on the way to the studio soon.

Paris Flea Markets

Without a doubt, the Paris flea markets have a reputation for quality antiques and one-of-a-kind curiosities. Thankfully, we have beautiful designer friends that know the terrain and shared their hidden gems. A special find from this vintage market found its way home and we’re already planning the next trip.

The Architecture

Beyond the markets, just the experience of Paris was the perfect dose of inspiration to fuel the creative soul. We spent an afternoon at the Louvre exploring the breathtaking architecture and renowned paintings and sculpture, but I stood in awe trying to comprehend the vision of King Philippe in 1190 as he began construction.

The Hospitality

We stayed at a quiet boutique hotel nestled on the secluded side street near the Palais Royal. Hotel Therese was a true Parisian experience. We stayed on the sixth floor in a cozy room under the eaves (for the record, there’s 109 steps from the lobby to the top floor and we walked them every time). The breakfast room on the ground floor was incredibly charming….oh, how I want to go back.

The Foodie Experience

If there’s one thing that we should all learn from the Parisians, it’s to take time to sit and connect over a proper cup of coffee. No more coffee to-go cups (that’s the goal)! Of all the cafes we visited, we fell in love with this little gem on the corner near our hotel.

Gathering with designer friends for cocktails at the newly renovated Hotel de Crillon was another highlight. The renovation of the iconic property is incredible and the lounge was exquisite. I was so enjoying the moment that I forgot to take any photos (all the more reason to go back).

It’s with renewed inspiration that I return to the studio with a grateful heart. I can’t wait to incorporate a new layer of detail to our projects.

Today, our wish for this beautiful city is that the rainfall subsides so the water levels can return to normal beneath the sparkling lights.

Au Revoir, Paris. Thank you for the memories.

CAD Comes to Life in a Raleigh Mud Room

Last year, we had the pleasure of designing one of the most highly-trafficked areas of a family’s Raleigh home, the mud room. The space began with a built-in desk that we relocated to an upstairs nook. The family needed a landing zone near the garage and laundry room, so we went to work designing. Balancing ample storage space with beautiful details, we wanted to blend this space seamlessly with the rest of the home’s casually sophisticated design aesthetic.

From our initial CAD drawing (see below) to our “after” photo, you can see that we wanted to enhance this space to make it both durable and streamlined, with details that hint at what you’ll discover around the corner. Nestled between the family room and breakfast nook, the mud room has elements of wainscoting and a natural cork wall covering – adding visual interest among the custom cabinetry.

We also allowed room for the mud room’s window to remain the showstopper of the space. Sit a spell on the luxurious bench seat, and this becomes a room not meant for just passing through.

Take a peek at the before and after to see how our CAD drawing came to life.

Our before…

And our after…

Cheers to 2018!

Happy to attend Western Wake Women’s Club event for Meg’s Smile Foundation – one of the fundraisers we loved supporting this past year!

Cheers to 2018!  It’s going to be an incredible year and we cannot wait to share our design adventures.  There are some pretty fabulous projects in the works and we’re working hard to bring them to life.

Before we completely say goodbye to 2017, we wanted to take a moment to notice the charities and fundraisers we had the honor of supporting this year. At the end of the day, this business is about relationships and community. We believe that it is our responsibility to do our part to make our little corner of the world a better place.

We are so thankful for our clients who trust us with their most personal spaces and our team of vendors who support us in so many ways. Long ago we made the decision to support our clients’ charitable efforts. The generosity of our clients is impressive and it’s our mission to support their efforts. We are humbled and honored when we are asked to participate. From large, national organizations to smaller ones right in our backyard, we loved giving back.

Boys & Girls Club of Wake County | It’s amazing what a talented group of designers can do!  We were honored to participate in the DJF Builders Designer Showhouse to benefit the Boys and Girls Club.

The Green Chair Project | Repurposing and reupholstering for charity is a win-win at the Green Chair auction!

Old Baldy Foundation | So enjoyed hosting an Oyster Roast this fall with our friends from Bald Head Island and supporting Old Baldy.

The Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center | Amazing things are happening at Duke and this is a charity near and dear to our hearts.

Western Wake Women’s Club | A diverse group of selfless women who understand the importance of community.

Artspace Inspiration Fund | An annual event supporting the arts!

Town of Cary Gifting Tree Project | We hope this is just the first of many opportunities to do amazing things in Downtown Cary.

As we set team intentions and goals for 2018, giving back to our community remains a priority. We are thrilled to use our new studio as a setting for community outreach and events, and we look forward to both deepening and creating new relationships with our neighbors doing incredible work to lend a hand or touch a heart.

A Designer's Take on Decorating for the Holidays

With the holiday season in full swing, we thought we would sit down with one of our Southern Studio designers to hear her thoughts on decorating for this festive and celebratory time of year. Whether you are hosting a large holiday gathering, or just opening up your home to just a few family members, we hope Julia’s insight will be helpful as you prepare your home for guests from now until you ring in the new year.

What are your go-to, favorite accessories for holiday decorating? Should you stick with a theme (i.e. traditional, glam, natural, etc.). If so, what’s your favorite theme?

Julia: I love incorporating traditional ornaments and blending them with ornaments that have more of a modern twist. To me, this makes the overall decor feel more visually interesting and introduces more personality to your decorations.  Anything that brings back happy Christmas memories is a must!

It’s easy to fall for holiday knick-knacks. What’s your advice for creating festive, yet design-focused, holiday flair for your home that feels consistent with your home’s year-round decor?

Julia: My #1 tip is not to over-decorate! Pick a color scheme that blends with the overall feel and style of your home and stick with it. Even though the timeless, traditional red and green Christmas combination is my first choice, it’s also fun to incorporate non-traditional colors, like shades of blue or silver and gold. Be creative!

For holiday guests, could you share your thoughts on how to make guest rooms feel both welcoming and full of holiday cheer?

Julia: Adding a few small, festive pieces to a guest room adds such a fun touch! Framing a favorite holiday card or adding a small wreath with candles is a simple way to decorative the space. Cinnamon candles or spruce fragrances are my favorite way to make a space feel full of holiday cheer, as well as make your guests feel appreciated and right at home!

Do you have a signature “table scape” you love? What colors, textures, centerpieces, come to mind that you are drawn to?

Julia: I’m always drawn to using natural elements on a table scape – layering different textures and colors of greenery with pops of red berries and pinecones is the ultimate in festive!  It’s also nice to space candles within the greenery.

Also, place card settings are another way to incorporate an element of of personalization to your table, whether you want a cheerful, casual aesthetic or a more elevated, sophisticated look. Try jingle bells tied on napkins, gold lettered calligraphy on beautiful cards with each guest’s name, or adorn each place setting with small ornaments. Ultimately, try anything that adds a fun holiday touch!

Any other trade secrets you can share?

Julia: Creatively wrapped presents are my absolute favorite part of Christmas. Beautifully crafted gift tags and ribbon are my weakness – the trick is to use two different size ribbons to tie a package, topped off with a small ornament or even a small sprig of spruce. I love using ribbon in the same color family, or two complimentary colors.