Archive for the ‘Home Stylist’ Category

Winter Window Treatments

Saturday, November 1st, 2014
Winter is coming and that means colder temperatures. Colder temperatures mean it is time to switch your thermostat over to heat. That switch can change your utility bill, which may have you trying to find ways to save dollars. As the graph at the end of the article shows, much of your utility dollars go toward heating and cooling your home. So what can you do to keep a little more money in your pocket? Have you considered your window treatments? image 3According to the Hunter Douglas Company, as much as 50% of your home’s heating and cooling energy can be lost through your windows. Indoor heating moves toward and escapes through your windows, so window treatments can be an excellent way to add beauty to your home, as well as energy efficiency. Window treatments add insulation, which results in lower energy consumption and increased savings for your pocketbook (see Image 1). There are many types of window treatment choices available when looking to gain energy efficiency. One of the best choices is honeycomb, or cellular shades (see Images 2 and 3). Cell shades provide insulation and eliminate air flow through the shade. Additionally, they provide filtered light, which allows sunlight to aid in warming the room. Cellular shades can be used with other window treatments such as drapery panels or valances. GraphRoman shades are another great choice (see Image 4). Roman shades can be raised and lowered throughout the day to provide added insulation to the window, protection for your floors and furnishings, and privacy. Roman shades are layered – topped with a fabric and then lined. Linings can range from regular to blackout, depending on your needs. Blinds have been used for years and are an economical choice. The biggest advantage of blinds is the slats can be adjusted to control light and ventilation. The disadvantage is that it is difficult to control heat loss during winter months because of the openings between slats, even when closed. On the flip side, blinds can reduce heat gain by around 45% when closed in summer months (See Image 5). Need noise reduction in addition to added insulation? Blackout drapery panels are the answer (See image 6). Blackout drapery panels are panels that have a fabric on the front and a thick lining on the back. In addition to reducing noise and providing increased energy efficiency, blackout panels also block out any intrusive light, which can help out on those days when you would like to sleep in. Image 7 shows a beautiful set of drapery sheers. Sheers have come a long way from what your Grandma may have had in her home years ago. There are many different patterns to choose from, as well as different levels of opaqueness. Some sheers are thinner, some are a little thicker. Sheers are often used with other treatments to add a layered look. Although sheers will not block out heat or provide insulation to keep heat in, they do provide protection for your floors and furnishings by filtering sunlight. What if you have a view you do not want to lose by adding shades, blinds or draperies? Window tinting, or window film, may be your best option (See Image 7). Radiant energy is converted to heat as it strikes people or objects (Solar Gard, Window film blocks this transfer of energy by reflecting the energy back, thus preventing the heat from striking objects. In normal people terms, this means that the heat is reflected away from the window, not into the room. Additionally, window films reduce glare into your space and also block 99% of UV radiation, which can contribute to skin cancer. You have been armed with the information you need to make wise window treatment decisions. Need help in turning those decisions into reality? Give me a call… I can help! In addition to her Interior Design work, Tammy Taylor operates a retail location in Cramerton (open through October 31) and also provides Interior Design Services through Next Generation Interiors, also in Cramerton. You can contact Tammy Taylor Interiors by calling 704.908.3740 or via email at

Where To Start Sprucing Up Your Home For Fall

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014
Happy Fall Y’all! (I just couldn’t resist offering a fall southern salutation.) Yes, it is upon us. Ah… That time of year when we get a break from hot temperatures and high humidity. The leaves begin changing, the tailgating begins and the pumpkins arrive. Yellow, orange and red are popping up everywhere! It also means that it is time to spruce up your home for the change of seasons. Front door fallWhere do you start? I tend to start on the outside. I love decorating my front porch for a new season, especially fall. I move out the ferns and geraniums from the spring and summer and move in the mums and pumpkins. Are you ready to get started? Where can you go to get what you need to make sure your porch is ready for the new season? Well, we are lucky to have two great area businesses that can provide you with all the fall pretties you could want. Ford’s Seeds and Plants in Gastonia and Lineberger’s Farm in Dallas are two great places to start. Ford’s Seed and Plants (231 E Main Avenue in Gastonia) is a wonderful place to gather items on your fall decorating list. Ford’s has beautiful mums, great garden flags and a staff that can instruct you on what to plant, as well as when and how to plant it. Lineberger’s Farm, just off Stanley-Dallas Highway in Dallas, has the best pumpkins around- the ordinary and also those not-so-ordinary ones. You will find pumpkins and gourds in many various shapes and colors. In addition, you can buy delicious muscadines, as well as apple and strawberry ciders. Now you have your pumpkins, you have your flag, you have your mums and cabbage plants… What can you do with those to make your neighbors stare as they pass? pumpkinsLet’s begin with something simple. Have some old, faded urns? Paint them black, apply a vinyl letter and stack your pumpkins. Placing greenery, like magnolia leaves between the pumpkins adds a great detail. Run to the local craft store, grab some wooden letters, paint them fun, fall colors and hang with ribbon and you’ll have a whimsical, happy front door! Finally, place your mums on a lower step or in front of your urns and you are done. How easy is that? Okay, you want to be Martha Stewart and go a little more elaborate? Well…. This porch has that wow factor, no question. Complete with grapevine pumpkins, crows, lanterns filled with acorns and leaves scattered just so, your neighbors would probably be envious. I must admit, I really love this porch, simply because of the attention to detail. I doubt my porch will look this stunning, but if yours does, kudos to you! Lastly, it’s time for your fall soiree, and you want your table to look just right. These are both great choices! Have fun and enjoy!

The Psychology of Color

Friday, August 29th, 2014
What color should I use? As a designer, this is the question I receive most often. People are very apprehensive when it comes to selecting color for their homes. I think folks are worried that they are going to break some color rule in the “Laws of Decorating” book (which, might I add, does not exist). Where does all of this color anxiety come from? Let’s think about color just a minute. Consider a few company logos that are the most familiar to you. Do you ever wonder why you recognize these logos? It’s because companies spend a lot of money to make sure you do. Companies hope that the colors and the psychology that accompanies those colors ensure that the consumer will not only recognize them, but remember them when it is time to make a purchase. John Deere green and Coca-Cola red and are two great examples. Isn’t it interesting how many of the color meanings relate to the company logo that shares that color? For example, the Hallmark cards logo falls into the purple category, which means imaginative, while companies like Lowe’s, Dell and Walmart fall into the strength and dependability category of blue. It makes sense why they would choose these colors to brand their image. Colors in your home What does all this mean to you, the homeowner? It means that the colors in your home can and will affect the way you feel, interact and live. Refer to the following guidelines when choosing your home’s palette, but remember to choose what you love, no matter what. New Sign 12-TTI-vectorBlue is a color that promotes productivity, in addition to strength and dependability. Therefore, home offices are a great choice for shades of blue. Since red encourages appetite, dining rooms have long been drenched in red. Bon appetit! Greens are effective in bedrooms, as they foster health and tranquility. A green bedside lamp is an excellent choice. Pink is not just for nurseries! Pink is calming and warm, so many spaces lend themselves well to the use of pink. Be brave and try adding pink to your space. Yellow does what a kitchen should do – it promotes energy, brightness and metabolism. Yellow makes for a happy place to gather. Although purple is my least favorite, I have to admit that any color that encourages relaxation is a color that my home could use. Each of these colors creates its own mood and affects the way people interact in certain spaces and situations. While colors can affect brands we may choose and trust, they also determine the feel of our homes. Your home should reflect your personal style and how you want to feel in it, and the colors you choose will ultimately complete this reflection.

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.