Archive for the ‘Home Stylist’ Category

Transforming Treasures

Friday, June 6th, 2014

_DSC2239 Chalk Paint® & Milk Paint: Transforming Treasures
While the idea of upcycling furniture and accessories can be part of a green lifestyle, is usually budget friendly, and often can even incorporate items with sentimental value into your living space, sometimes used pieces need a little refresh to better suit your personal style. The most common way to update is with a fresh coat of paint – bringing new life, character and color to an otherwise lackluster piece. While traditional latex paint has been used to transform many pieces of furniture over the years, recently two other paint products have been getting a lot of attention in the home furnishings scene: Chalk Paint and Milk Paint. Both of these products have gained a lot of popularity and are changing the way many of us transform our treasures. To learn more about each of these products, I spent some time talking with experienced furniture refinisher Jeff Lee at The Vintage Nest in Mt. Holly.

No Prep
The huge advantage of both of these products is neither requires any prep or pre-painting drama. In other words, rarely any sanding or priming is needed, regardless of the material or surface quality (untreated wood requires a clear shellac prior to applying). Jeff suggests simply cleaning the surface with a damp cloth before applying the first coat of paint, eliminating a huge amount of time and effort from the traditional prime and paint process.
Chalk Paint comes premixed in a can and is ready to use. Milk Paint requires a little more prep because it is a powder that you add to water, which allows some control over the consistency of the paint.

Easy, Quick Application
Since I had never used these products myself and I wanted the opinion of a true DIY-er, I reached out to a friend of mine, Dee Kimble, who recently tackled her first project using Chalk Paint. Dee painted her family’s much-used dinette table and four chairs and attested to the product’s marketing materials, claiming how simple and easy the product is to use. She said she spent a total of four hours – maybe less – completely transforming all five pieces of furniture and has been very happy with the durability, as her busy family of four uses the table for daily meals, homework, crafting, etc.

_DSC2259The drying times for these paints are unbelievable. Chalk Paint dries in approximately 45 minutes, meaning you could apply two coats to most pieces of furniture in less than two hours. Milk Paint dries even faster in approximately 15-20 minutes! Both require the application of a wax product and some buffing (the most time consuming and labor intensive part of the process, it seems) to enhance the colors and add a slight sheen to the finish.

Adds Character and Color
Jeff gave a wonderful description of each paint’s transforming value. He said, “Chalk Paint is a great way to achieve a European Estate, vintage finish while Milk Paint can offer a more farmhouse, weathered, chippy look.” Both offer a wide range of vibrant colors that can be mixed to create the perfect custom color needed to coordinate with your space. Also, both products can be lightly (or heavily if you so desire) sanded prior to waxing to achieve an even more distressed look.

Possibilities are Endless
There really doesn’t seem to be any surface or material that isn’t ideal for these products. They can be used on wood, metal, plastic, glass, walls and floors – even outdoors. The versatility of these paints is truly remarkable, making them ideal for transforming any treasure into the perfect new focal point or accent piece in your space. Jeff from The Vintage Nest even painted a sofa & chair, and not just the frame, but the upholstery, too. The finished product may not suit everyone’s taste, but it’s a fabulous conversation piece and incredibly unique.

These paint products may seem pricey when compared to their latex counterparts, but they go a long way. Dee commented that she used less than half a quart to put three full coats on her table and four chairs. Plus, you eliminate the need for primer products. Not to mention, when done correctly, both products can elevate the sophistication of a multitude of pieces, giving you a quality, professional-looking finish with handmade character.

The Vintage Nest carries Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint and Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint, as well as many examples of each of these paints applied to a variety of materials. Happy Painting!

Hunt For Your Style

Thursday, May 8th, 2014

If you are at all familiar with my design aesthetic or personal taste, then you know how much I love design with a story! I love items that are interesting or have a past and enjoy incorporating them into new spaces. I am also always on the hunt for a good deal! I believe finding great quality items at extremely reasonable prices is smart design. These passions often collide when I find myself joyfully scanning the aisles and piles of antique, thrift and junk shops. The older, dirtier, and junkier items are, the better – at least for my personal taste. I love digging and hunting for treasures, and then watching them come to life. Some are perfect with just a little cleaning, while others require a complete overhaul and refinish. Here are a few tips for doing a little treasure hunting of your own…

antique-barnPlan ahead.
While spur-of-the-moment stops at fabulous side-of-the-road spots can be lots of fun, it usually pays to plan ahead. A lot of antique, thrift and junk shops keep limited and often odd hours, so be sure your destination is actually open. You will also likely need to ensure you have plenty of time for browsing. I like to go through the entire place fairly quickly, taking photos of items of interest with my smart phone, but not spending too much time in any one place. Once I have been through the whole place, I feel like it’s easier to narrow down what I may be genuinely interested in purchasing on that particular shopping trip. This method takes time, though, so plan accordingly.

Dress appropriately.
Consider your destination when planning your attire for the day. Flat, comfortable shoes are ideal, and on some occasions boots are the most practical. Comfortable clothes that you aren’t afraid to get a little dusty or dirty are also a good idea. A lot of this depends on where you are shopping, though. Stores that are set up more as antique malls will often be indoors, fairly clean and have a controlled climate, whereas some junk stores and antique expos could be outdoors and subject to more weather elements, dirt and even areas of mud.

Educate yourself.
While it is always fun to hunt and keep your eye out for the treasure you didn’t even know you “had to have”, if you are looking for something specific, it’s often a good idea to do a little research before you begin shopping. This will help you determine if you are actually getting a bargain. Understanding the average retail value of an item will make it easier to decide if a purchase is a good idea or not. A great thrift store find can be anywhere from 40-70% off of typical retail pricing. Often times, the cleaner and more climate controlled the shopping environment, the less of a deal you are likely to find. To some degree, you must expect to pay the overhead of the retailer, as well as put in time to clean up some items.

Know when to negotiate.
Doing research about an item’s value will help you know when to negotiate and when to simply pay the asking price. Some thrift shops are set up to wheel and deal, while others are not. Typically, large antique stores that have vendor vignettes (multiple vendor booths under one roof, with one common check out) do not offer much negotiating options because the actual booth owners are not there to discuss pricing. On the other hand, many junk stores offer the opportunity to negotiate some pricing, especially if you are purchasing multiple items. Regardless of the location, it’s always a good idea to have cold, hard cash. Many of these types of retailers don’t take other forms of payment, but either way, having cash in hand always improves your negotiating power.

Plan to transport what you purchase.
Plan ahead and be ready to transport large, heavy (and sometimes even dusty or dirty) items on the spot. Most dealers are ready to get rid of their inventory, and paying and taking your purchases immediately can often give you additional negotiating power. Plan ahead by removing extra seats from the family van or taking a truck, and making sure you pack a few extra old quilts and blankets for wrapping more fragile items.

Enjoy the hunt.
Above all else, have fun. Enjoy getting lost in the stories of the items you come across. Enjoy learning about an item’s history or imagining where an item has traveled before you found it. Enjoy the eclectic collections and oddities you’ll inevitably stumble upon as you search for new pieces to fill your home and become a part of your family’s own story.

Wood Flooring for Any Style

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

  Chair and circular lampshade besides a cropped bed in bedroomSome of the most common questions I am asked are regarding wood flooring. The many types, various suppliers and often confusing lingo associated with wood flooring can result in difficulty choosing the right option, as well as determining what will be best suited for a personal or professional environment. Hopefully the guide below can help answer some questions and clear up confusion for anyone in the market for new floors.

The following are brief descriptions of the types of wood flooring available, some of the pros and cons of each, and a few additional design details to consider when selecting the right project for your home or office.

Solid wood flooring is exactly what it sounds like—the same solid board all the way through each plank. A solid floor can be resanded and refinished several times. Although the frequency of necessary resanding will vary based on wear levels and taste, every twenty years is often recommended. Solid hardwoods are available in either unfinished (to be finished on-site) or prefinished, and both options have plenty of pros and cons. Unfinished hardwoods offer a greater selection of finish options and the ability to install the boards flush to one another, without the micro-beveled edges typically seen on prefinished boards. Prefinished floors offer a vapor-free and single session installation, versus the solvent smell and multi-step process of floors finished on-site.

Engineered wood flooring is a man-made flooring board that is made up of layers and layers of wood bonded together to create a strong core board, which is then topped with a solid hardwood laminated layer. The top layer, which can vary in thickness, is a thin sheet of actual wood. In some cases the product can endure one resanding, although typically this is not the case, meaning any major damage, scraping or scratching is often permanent. However, these products will often allow you to have a higher grade of wood without the expense of a solid wood product. In terms of both solid and engineered flooring, there are many wood species from which to choose. Each type of wood – oak, pine, ash, walnut, maple, and bamboo – has distinct properties such as the density (hardness), graining (natural pattern), and knotting (actual pits/holes in the wood). Each of these properties affects how well the floor repels scratching and denting, how it accepts stain finishes, and how it will impact the overall aesthetic design of the space.

walnut-wood-floorIn addition to wood species, engineered and solid hardwoods are also classified into grades of wood. Whether you choose solid or engineered hardwood flooring, you’ll be able to choose from prime, select, natural or rustic grade wood. Each grade is determined based on the number of knots present as well as the color consistency. Generally speaking, smaller knots coordinate with a more uniform color, a higher grade of wood and of course a higher price (prime wood). As you go down the list to rustic grade, the number and size of knots increases as does the inconsistency of color. Also, the price decreases as you go down the list. Which option you choose will depend on the overall design concept of the space and your budget constraints.

Laminate flooring is made up of an image that is sealed onto a backboard and made to look like real hardwood flooring. Since it is not made up of any actual hardwood products, it can endure no resanding and is generally not considered as durable as hardwood products.

Finishes & plank widths are also important aspects when selecting wood flooring. There are a multitude of finishes available to today’s consumers. Consider the overall design of the space as you select the color (ranging from almost white to rich, dark brown tones), sheen (from hardwearing lacquered finishes to prevent fading and sun damage, to natural, matte oiled finishes), and distressing (from a smooth, mirror-like finish to centuries-old-looking distressed). There are also many options available when selecting the plank (board) size for your flooring. Very thin planks are typically used in spaces with an older, more traditional feel, while the current trend is wide, and even varied length boards.

Regardless of where you land after navigating the many options available, well made and correctly installed wood floors will add warmth, character and value to any size, style or age interior as long as you call your space home and beyond.

What’s Trending…

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

by Jodi Kines

With a new year comes the promise of new, exciting things ahead and design is no different. As the world around us evolves, so do trends in home design. Often influenced by fashion and echoed in everything from beauty to graphic advertising, understanding the latest design trends can be a fun way to infuse a little ‘here and now’ into even the most traditional spaces. Here is a glimpse at what the design world is seeing, or expects to see, in the coming months…

Grey: the Go-To Neutral

Grey has replaced what was known as ‘basic beige’ for a few years now and that trend continues. While many may shy away from grey tones for fear they are too industrial and institutional, keep in mind that warmer grey tones can be just as cozy and inviting as their ‘beige’ counterparts, especially when paired with a complimentary warm palette. Even cooler greys can be used with warmer brown and beige tones to create an interesting contrast in a continually neutral space.

metallic accents Metallics: Adding a Touch of Sparkle

Silver, bronze, gunmetal, copper, even brass and vintage gold are making a comeback! You simply can’t go wrong with accents of all things shiny and reflective. Some experts say it’s a reflection of our culture’s fascination with technology, its advances, the speed at which it is advancing and how it impacts the world of design. Regardless of why, this is a fun trend that is quite easy to incorporate into your décor. Metallic tones can now be found in fabrics, wall coverings, and rugs as well as furniture and accessories. When paired with a neutral palette, they add a touch of glamour and elegance; coupled with a more rustic vibe, metallics offer an interesting contrast. Don’t be afraid to mix metals; it can add to the layered effect of the room’s finishes, creating depth as you add some sparkle!

Black and White: Going Bold on the Walls

Although it’s not for everyone, we continue to see the use of bold, dark color – even black – on walls for the ultimate impact. These ‘moody’ walls offer the perfect back drop for pops of color, contrasts of white, or the sparkle of the many metallics that are so popular right now. Surprisingly, black walls don’t close in a room as many may fear. The use of such a deep tone offers the opportunity to play with lighting selections throughout the space in order to create architectural interest and an ultimate wow factor.

Image credit - Emily A. ClarkOn the contrary, we are also seeing more brilliant white walls than ever before as designers seek to provide a crisp, clean canvas for the ‘collected’ style that so many are embracing. White walls don’t compete with surrounding finishes or furnishings and are a bright, fresh start for any interior. The key to making this work for you is to add layers of color, texture and pattern as you select the furniture and fabrics for the room.

Radiant Orchid: Pantone’s Color of the Year

It’s impossible to talk about design trends and not mention Pantone’s infamous Color of the Year. This often anticipated announcement from Pantone (whom many refer to as the global authority on all-things color) offers a little glimpse of “what’s to come” as the selection tends to influence product development and purchasing across many facets of design. This year’s selection is “an enchanting harmony of fuchsia, purple and pink undertones” – also known as Radiant Orchid (as described by Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute®). Purple tones have always been associated with riches and royalty and Radiant Orchid doesn’t disappoint. This color can be easily used to accent almost any palette as it pairs beautifully with cool grey and warm golden neutrals. It’s also a fabulous compliment to a warm palette of red tones and an exciting, bold contrast to cooler blue and green tones. Whether you simply add a throw pillow, blanket or vase, or you choose to ‘go big’ with a bold, tight-backed velvet sofa or tufted ottoman, infusing your space with the season’s hottest hue is a great way to stay ‘on trend’.

While it’s always fun to know what is ‘trending’ and to have splashes of the latest and greatest styles sprinkled throughout your home, the best trend to follow is YOUR style, your personality. No matter how you add in touches of any trend, they should ultimately compliment your already-fabulous, personal space.

– To contact the Home Stylist for a personal design consultation, email her at or via facebook at

Catching Up with Jodi Kines

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

Our talented designer, homemaker, mom and marathon runner Jodi Kines.

GA!: Jodi, let’s start at the beginning-where are you from, where did you go to school, etc.?
Jodi: I am a Belmont native! My family moved here when I was just six years old, so I grew up in Belmont, graduated from South Point High School and went on to get my Bachleor of Fine Arts degree just down the road at Winthrop University.

GA!: How long have you owned a design business?
Jodi: I began doing residential design consultations while still in college, so I have had a small ‘side’ business since 1998. However, I left a corporate design job in 2005 to completely focus on my design business while juggling the start of a family.

GA!: What types of design projects do you specialize in?
Jodi: Most of what I do is residential design – everything from assisting the architect during the design phase of new construction drawings to selecting furnishings and finishes for the home. We take on projects of all scopes, scale and budget. Some of my clients have had small renovation (or revitalization) projects going on with me for over 10 years! Others will call for just a simple consultation and then do all of the implementation themselves. We also do some small commercial design work as well. In 2013 we designed and managed the relocation of a local law firm and are thrilled about one of our most exciting projects in 2014 – a local dentist office just beginning new construction here in Gaston County.

GA!: You are so creative! Where do you come up with your ideas?
Jodi: Inspiration is everywhere – especially in this digital age; like most of my clients and friends I love to flip through design magazines, Pinterest and Houzz! Mostly, though, I listen to my clients; that’s where the inspiration becomes personalized. I had a wonderful mentor straight out of college, Mr. Bill Little, who always encouraged us to ‘hear what our clients didn’t say’ just as loudly as we hear what they do say. I really try to take this to heart when meeting to kick off a new project.

For example, a client may ask me about rearranging or replacing their family room furniture, often saying it just doesn’t feel like it fits or doesn’t feel cozy. I could choose to hear ‘needs new furniture’ or I can hear them saying the room feels out of proportion, disconnected and uninviting. Adding a well-fitting rug to the space could easily solve these design challenges without ever rearranging a single piece of furniture. I feel it’s my job to see past what clients think they may ‘need’ and keep an open dialogue throughout the design process to ensure we far exceed their expectations when the project is complete.

GA!: What first interested you in interior design?
Jodi: I have always loved art and been a creative, crafty person, but I am NOT at all artistic! I also love people and thrive on the collaborative process. My high school art teacher, Allison Hall, suggested I look into an interior design career. I began researching the industry and collegiate programs and never looked back. I love the combination of creativity and project management. It’s a perfect fit for my personality and talents; I honestly can’t imagine doing anything else!

GA!: How does design make a difference in people’s daily lives?
Jodi: I think our lives are more impacted by design than we realize; that’s why I am so passionate about what I do. The way a space is configured as well as the colors, textures, and patterns used to furnish it have a direct impact on the people that live and work in the environment. I genuinely believe a well-designed space can make you more relaxed, generally calmer, happier and more productive.

GA!: What parts of design do you most enjoy?
Jodi: Connection and collaboration. I love working with other design professionals and clients to find the best solution to design challenges; it’s incredible to see varied backgrounds and perspectives come together to solve simple, everyday problems. I also love getting to know my clients on such a personal level. Helping someone put their personal touch on their personal space is, well, very personal and I love connecting with each client, understanding how their family lives in their home or staff works in their office and helping them find ways to do it better, more efficiently and within their financial means.

GA!: What is the design mistake you see most often?
Jodi: So many people are too intimidated to even start making changes to their space; they feel overwhelmed with ideas and become too paralyzed to do anything all. While the internet and social media are wonderful tools that inspire many ideas, they also leave many people feeling overwhelmed and inadequate. Most design decisions are not permanent, don’t be afraid to go for it, just start somewhere!

GA!: When you are not doing design work, how do you spend your time?
Jodi: Most of my time away from work is spent enjoying my two young boys and husband. I stay busy with school, sports & church activities. Over the past few years, I have become an avid runner and triathlete and can usually be found hitting the pavement in the wee hours of the morning! Some of my most creative ideas happen when I am alone with my thoughts on a long run or bike ride.

–Jodi has a degree in Interior Design from Winthrop University, and is the owner of PlanIt Design, LLC in Belmont, N.C. Contact Jodi:

Wrap Gorgeous Presents!

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

Wrap it up!

gift wrap 4by: Jodi Kines
Have you ever envied someone else’s fabulously wrapped gifts or flipped through a magazine staring at the beautifully wrapped packages all nestled under the tree and wondering how they do it? Just like all design, the interest is in the details. It’s all about adding layers and varying textures to create interest. It’s about the ‘little extras’ that make very simply wrapped gifts seem extra special.
I love the idea of starting with an inexpensive, solid base and adding personality with a few printed papers and creative embellishments! A few years ago, I invested in an enormous roll of brown kraft paper, including the industrial roller/cutter that you see at most department stores! I use it year-round with a variety of ribbons, bows, and other special elements to give each package it’s own personality without having to store multiple rolls of partially used gift wrap; plus, I can always tear the perfect-sized sheet!

Natural and Rustic
Having the brown kraft paper for a base, I often tend to use a more natural, rustic approach. There are countless ways you can achieve this look – just look to nature for inspiration! Use natural fiber ribbons, such as twills, jutes, burlaps or cotton twine all in neutral tones. Try adding pine cones, cinnamon sticks, rosemary sprigs, holly twigs, or spruce and pine cuttings from your local tree farm as gift toppers. These will add dimension, texture and even some wonderful scents! Layering packages with ribbons and embellishments can make even a simple, rustic design feel unique and sophisticated.

Bright and Bold
If you prefer to have more of a pop of color under your tree, then go bright and cheery with a contemporary spin on the Christmas color palette. Mix up the traditional red and green with splashes of bright pinks, limes and oranges – don’t be afraid of bold colors and patterns (think stripes or polka dots!). Layer strips of printed paper over a solid paper base for a “ribbon” effect and top it off with coordinating tulle, thinner ribbons, or even pom pom fringe. A bright ornament or even colorful feathers can dress up your package and add the perfect finishing touch to this fun take on holiday wrap 1

Opulent and Elegant
When you want a more luxurious, elegant feel, try a solid black, white or metallic base paper, layered with coordinating ribbons in velvet textures or beaded edges. Add layers of gold, silver, copper or bronze ribbons, shimmery accents, and glittery toppers for the ultimate sophistication. One key to this look is keeping it neat and simple, not overdoing it, and aiming for a flawless finish (even using double sided tape for a completely clean, crisp look).

Mix It Upgift wrap 6
While I love the idea of every gift under the tree coordinating perfectly, it’s not always practical and can make sorting presents for delivering very cumbersome. With that in mind, a few years ago, I began wrapping all of our gifts in the brown kraft paper, but varying the ribbons and embellishments based on certain groups of friends or family members.
I use one type of ribbon for packages going with us out of town to visit my husband’s family and another for those traveling with us locally to my family’s celebration. I use a little brighter color scheme for the ones for our immediate family (including our kids) and more unique, personal touches on the gifts that we hand out to family and friends throughout the season. All of the packages coordinate beautifully under the tree, but with the color-coded ribbons allow us to easily grab the gifts we need when we are loading up the car to head out to various holiday celebrations. We can quickly grab any packages we need for a family road trip or holiday dinner with friends and aren’t crawling around, trying to read name tags by the light of the tree as we search!

gift wrap 3With Christmas just around the corner now is a perfect time to think about getting creative with how you present your gifts. Never under-estimate how incredibly special it feels to be given a gift that has been wrapped with care and creativity! Choosing a theme for and coordinating your holiday gift wrapping is a fun way to simplify the wrapping process and, once nestled under the tree, can add a fabulous finishing touch to your Christmas décor