Inspiration in the Studio

Sub Zero + Wolf Showroom Visit

Last week, the entire Southern Studio team had the privilege of visiting Sub Zero + Wolf‘s showroom in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Sub Zero + Wolf are purveyors of high-end, luxury appliances that are unrivaled in their market.  Their commitment to excellence, attention to detail, and hospitality was an inspiration to us.

The morning of our training, the showroom’s executive chef prepared us a breakfast spread – potatoes, banana bread, bacon, protein pancakes, fresh fruit, and strawberry-banana smoothies.  We even got to cook our own made-to-order omelettes on a Wolf griddle range top.  If we had to rate Wolf’s appliances solely based on taste, they already earned an A+ in our book.

We then got a training tour of the entire showroom.  We learned that Sub Zero + Wolf is a third-generation business that started in the twenties in Madison, Wisconsin (where their factory is still located today).  The founder needed a refrigeration device to keep his son’s insulin cold… and the rest is history.  Refrigeration was the first avenue of appliances (hence the name Sub Zero), and cooking appliances came next with the acquisition of Wolf in 2000. Finally, in 2019, Sub Zero + Wolf began manufacturing their own dishwashers, a new line called Cove.

We had a blast exploring the showroom and envisioning these appliances in our future projects.  One of the most remarkable things about Sub Zero + Wolf is the way they incorporate state-of-the-art technology into their appliances.  We learned that they use a unique air filtration system that removes ethylene gas, a gas that hastens the ripening of fruits and vegetables, from the air inside the refrigerator.  Because this is filtrated out of the air, produce lasts weeks longer than we are used to with standard appliances.  The average family produces $2,000 of food waste every year, but this cost would be radically reduced with a Sub Zero refrigerator because of their unique air purification system.

 After passing an extremely thorough testing process, each product is shipped to it’s new home where it is meant to last up to 25 years.  For context, the average run-of-the-mill appliance only lasts 6-8 years.  These pieces of equipment really do stand the test of time.

We also learned that the air in refrigerators and freezers should be different:  freezers should have dry air while refrigerators should be humid.  Therefore, Sub Zero manufactures their refrigerators with two different compressors (as opposed to just one in a typical appliance) to produce both variations of air.  The final product:  an appliance that keeps food fresher, longer.

For lunch, we got another taste of what these appliances are capable of.  The executive chef and sous chef prepared us a feast starting with soup and homemade bread.  Believe it or not, the bread was baked in their signature steam oven which utilizes both steam and heat while still allowing food to brown and crisp.  Next we had salmon with roasted vegetables (also cooked beautifully in the same steam oven for just twelve minutes), risotto cooked on an induction cooktop, and shrimp seared on a hot griddle.  Is your mouth watering yet?!  The unmatched technology found only in Wolf cooking appliances was apparent in both presentation and taste of the food.

After hands-on learning, an educational tour around the showroom, and a cooking demonstration, our team left with a wealth of knowledge about Sub Zero + Wolf.  We are convinced that their appliances are the best of the best.  We believe the kitchen is the heart of the home and deserves to be equipped excellently, and we are eager to continue designing homes to incorporate Sub Zero + Wolf kitchen equipment!  What a fun and educational team building experience. We are now big fans of taking the train from Cary to Charlotte!

A Home for the Holidays!

Last week I enjoyed a beautiful week on the Carolina coast with LOTS of food and family fun! I’m lucky enough to own a cottage (and I mean cottage) on the coast and manage to find time to work while I’m there. After the turkey was gone, I spent a gorgeous afternoon checking on a few projects. It will be a few weeks before they’re complete, but it was so exciting to see the progress and results of months of decisions and hard work. Please excuse the photo quality….only had my iPhone with me.

I absolutely love the sleek mosaic tile backsplash and leathered granite in this classic kitchen (if you knew this client, I promise you would want to be invited to dinner).

In a different house, this is what greets you as you walk in the front door. Whitney Blair is known for signature trim detail and the coffer in this foyer is a perfect example.

This classic bath with crema marfil marble countertops and coordinating tile backsplash is going to be perfect. Notice the detail on the cabinetry too!

And, a timeless kitchen with custom cabinetry by the amazing Kirk Riffel with Creative Cabinetry. I cannot say enough about Kirk’s talent!

As you can tell, I have a great appreciation for all of the craftsmen I work with every day. Tile is always one of my favorite design elements and Southeastern Tile is one of the best….and supplied all of the tile in the photos above.

In a few more short weeks, these homeowners are going to be enjoying their new homes for the holidays! So exciting….

Team Effort Produces Winning Results!

The past couple of weeks have been exciting! It started at the ASID Carolinas Fall Conference in Asheville, North Carolina. I was thrilled when I won Second Place in the 2011 ASID Excellence in Design Awards for a Singular Space.

Last night, Whitney Blair Custom Homes won the Diamond Award in the Brunswick County Parade of Homes for the same home!  A double award winning home for the homeowners, Jerry and Melodie!

It continues to amaze me how many people contribute to these projects. Jeff Sanderson and his team at Whitney Blair Custom Homes, Kirk Riffel with Creative Cabinetry and many other talented individuals. This is what happens when a team works together to combine individual elements like these….

to create a space like this….

{Photo by Chris Campbell}

Once again, it’s the details in every design that make the difference. We try every day to bring the vision of our clients to reality….and this gives us motivation to keep working on the details!

Another Project Complete. Just in time for Thanksgiving.

While working on the coast, I was able to visit some wonderful clients who recently moved in to their new home in Sunset Beach, North Carolina. The house is in the perfect location, overlooking the golf course and close to the beach. I don’t want to wish my life away, but retirement sure does sound good!

Here’s the group…..three couples who have become friends during the construction of their homes, along with the Whitney Blair team.


Another beautiful kitchen by Kirk Riffel with Creative Cabinetry….custom cabinets beyond compare.


I wanted to share a few details in the house that are personal favorites. Since this “retirement” home is relaxed and casual, the formal dining room was eliminated and replaced by an oversized dining area adjacent to the kitchen. The long banquet table is accented by two lantern-style chandeliers.


I love the crushed glass used in the mosaic tile of the backsplash (sorry for the poor photography).


Sometimes it’s the simple detail and use of color that has the greatest impact. In the adorable granddaughter’s room the walls are a beautiful raspberry color accented with wainscoting and peg details. A favorite trick is to add impact by painting the interior doors….the drama of black!


Melodie and Jerry, thank you for a wonderful start to the Thanksgiving holiday! It’s hard to believe that you hosted a beautiful cocktail party just TEN days after moving in to your home. Here’s to many years of happy retirement memories!

Parade of Homes on the Carolina Coast!

It’s that time of year again…Parade season!  Each year brings new challenges and this year was no exception. One thing that never changes is the energy that is created when a team of professionals works together to stretch the limits of design and architecture.

For many months, we’ve been working hard to push the creative limits on this fine home located in Ocean Ridge Plantation on the North Carolina coast. Whitney Blair Custom Homes is responsible for the fine craftsmanship! Jeff, Lisa, Dino and the entire team…you are the best!

I had to share a few of my favorite details. Check out the unique design of these gorgeous built-ins! We decided that black was the classic accent color of choice and used it on the backs on the bookcases and inside the coffers on the ceiling.


Gorgeous black cabinets in the master bath by Creative Cabinetry with classic marble countertops.


Gotta love the classic design of the slipper tub. The interior doors were painted black, which really pops the crystal door hardware. It reminds me of my grandmother’s home and is absolutely one of my favorite details!


The sunroom is accented with a tin ceiling, beautiful wainscotting, and (yes, again) black paint on the walls. Using black in interiors can be scary, but when well designed it can successfully add incredible drama.


The fun and creativity never ends. Back to work on more beautiful homes…enjoy!