Inspiration in the Studio

CAD Comes to Life in a Bunk Room, Bathroom, and Living Room!

So often in our projects, we need to communicate the design vision through conceptual drawings. It’s always a thrill to see these CAD elevations come to life and we thought it would be fun to share. From a coastal project’s bunk room and bathroom vanities to a family room fireplace, we enjoyed reimagining these spaces and customizing for each client.

A Coastal Bunk Room

In this showstopper Bald Head Island retreat, a playful bunk room with plenty of seating to enjoy the exquisite oceanfront views was a must.

We initially drew up the plan to include recessed niches to give the walls additional character, under the bed storage, and a shared ladder for the top bunks. With two full size and two twin beds, we wanted the room to still feel fresh and airy, reminiscent of its coastal outside surroundings. Whether for late night reading or playing games, lighting was also added for each bunk – giving each bunk its own private feel. The soft blue color on the ceiling also keeps the serenity of the rest of the home alive and consistent within this fun sleeping and playing space.

We hope you enjoy the “before and after” of this project as much as we do…we’re dreaming of those ocean views!

Photo: Dustin Peck Photography

Seaside Vanity Projects

In these two coastal bathrooms, space planning was essential.

In the first drawing and photo of the guest bathroom, a towel and quartz shelf were added to maximize storage space in tight quarters. For a more direct light source, we incorporated a library light fixture and placed above the mirror – taking advantage of the ceiling height.

In the second set of images, we decided to enhance the use of a tile our client loved and pull it down to cover the floor. To showcase and not take away from the beautiful tile, we matched the cabinetry and mirror frame, while adding sconces to anchor and streamline the space.

Photo: Dustin Peck Photography

Photo: Dustin Peck Photography

An Elegant Fireplace

In this Cary, NC residence, the fireplace is the icing on the cake of an open, airy family room.

We designed the fireplace to coordinate with the room’s soothing, neutral color palette. Painted in a fresh white to contrast slightly with the creamy white walls, the fireplace has a presence that is carefully kept soft to blend with the room’s furnishings. Incorporating more creamy hues with brighter whites was a challenge, however layering these neutrals created an eye-catching pairing. Crystal and brass sconces adorn the columns, further highlighting the elegant architectural details of the fireplace.

From CAD drawing to real life, we imagined this fireplace to pair seamlessly with the construction selections of the kitchen cabinetry and countertops, as the kitchen is in direct view. The clients envisioned a relaxing space with a “peaceful sanctuary” aesthetic, yet they also wanted one that felt refined. With the fireplace design, we wanted to do just that – create a setting where family felt at ease, as well as create an element that could stand alone as the room’s sophisticated centerpiece.

Photo: Taylor Lovette of Blue Barn Photography

Meet Our Team. Welcome, Elizabeth!

Our team is growing and the energy is exciting! Over the next few weeks, we want to introduce the incredible people who make the magic happen at Southern Studio.

We are thrilled to welcome Elizabeth as an Interior Designer on our Southern Studio team!

First things first. How did you get started in the interior design world? What sparked your interest in the business?

Do you remember Trading Spaces? From a young age, I remember watching the show, and my interest in design grew from there! In high school, I took an interior design class, then focusing on only looking at colleges with an accredited interior design program. I followed the footsteps of both my aunts and my great-grandmother, attending Meredith College in Raleigh.

How would you describe your design style in three words?

Classic with a twist. I know, that’s four words!

Your go-to color palette (maybe one in your personal home)? Is there a specific color that you think withstands “trends”?

I gravitate toward cool grays and whites with dark black accents. There’s something about the combination of a cooler-toned color palette accented by dark black hues that I love.

To me, greige will remain a versatile neutral that withstands trends. Somewhere between gray and beige, greige can span many different tastes and interior styles, allowing it to work well in many spaces.

Your favorite white paint color?

“Aesthetic White” by Sherwin-Williams. It always feels fresh, yet it can go warm or cool in different light.

An interior design tip that can make all the difference?

If you love something, it will always be in style. Save and splurge on one item you absolutely love, rather than just filling a space with things you like.

What is your favorite interior design / coffee table book?

Elements of Style by Erin Gates.

What’s currently sitting on your nightstand?

My lamp, a phone charger, and a pink hair bow courtesy of my 15-month-old daughter.

What is your favorite source for inspiration?


What catches your eye first, stripes or florals?

Hands-down, stripes.

Your advice for transforming a “house” into a “home”?

Personalization. Making your space yours. Fill your space with meaning by carefully selecting personal family heirlooms, items from your travels, or pieces that tell a resonating story.

Has motherhood changed your outlook on designing spaces? If so, how?

I would say both yes and no. I believe you can still achieve highly-curated design in your home along with having young ones around. With the advances in fabrics and materials today, style and durability can go hand-in-hand.

Do you have an “essential” accessory in your home that you just can’t live without?

Oh, I love including lamps all over my home. They’re double-purpose too – lamps are practical and they can serve as conversation-starting works of art.

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…