Archive for the ‘Home Stylist’ Category

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

Creating Stunning Tablescapes

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

by Jodi Kinesholiday 2
When it comes to hosting dinner parties and family holiday meals it can be easy to devote all your attention to the food. But one aspect that is often overlooked is the table setting. “Your dining table and how it is presented is the first impression of any dining experience. The presentation should have function with design impact. It is a blank canvas that allows you to create a vision for your guests for that particular occasion.” This perspective was shared with me by local entertaining extraordinaire, Luke Manlove, Director of Catering Sales and Marketing at Dean and Deluca in Charlotte; he was kind enough to share some suggestions and inspirations as the holiday season approaches and many of us begin entertaining in our homes.
A thoughtfully decorated table can be just as important in helping to create a memorable evening for your guests as the feast itself. The right table setting will not only complement the delicious dishes you have prepared, it is also one of the best ways to create the desired atmosphere for the evening. With a few clever accessories and a little creativity, you can create a whole range of strikingly different settings to suit almost any style of entertaining.
Dressing your table is much like decorating your home. An overall design concept and a little inspiration can ensure it appears effortless, remains budget friendly, and still makes a memorable impact on your guests. Luke shares, “The best table presentations “tell a story” in that the food selections, serving pieces, and decor offer an insight as to how and why you created the design. Whether the menu was inspired from an area of the world that you travel or the serving pieces were an unusual find off an unbeaten path, these details tell stories which foster an atmosphere sure to leave a lasting impression. If you lack the experience but want to learn creative ways to entertain, I suggest looking through design and travel magazines, and staying away from mainstream entertaining print. These magazines will focus more on design concepts and entertaining as the locals would in various parts of the world and will offer more inspiration as you put together your unique tablescape.”
Once you have an overall concept in mind and, ideally, some inspirational images, you can begin styling your table. You want the overall design idea to follow through all elements – from the menu and the placesettings to the linens and centerpiece. You want to layer textures and patterns, adding interest, giving your table personality, and allowing it to tell your story. Luke suggests, “…to “style” a table walk around your home and pull things out of cabinets, off book shelves, from walls and start laying them out on the table with your menu in mind.”
cheese boardLinens are a wonderful way to add texture and soften a tablescape. Table cloths, runners, and place mats are expensive to purchase, rent and launder, so Luke suggests purchasing a yard of fabric and turning it into a runner or topper for your table without having to sew. For casual settings, you can use an old quilt as a table cloth, a burlap remnant for a runner or even inexpensive dishtowels as placemats. Luke and I both love the new trend of putting throw pillows against the back of dining room end chairs. It makes the setting feel more comfortable, casual, and welcoming to your guests.
Place settings are the next layer of the table that can add personality and even color to your design. Accent any basic, neutral place setting by adding chargers and accent plates; these can be family heirlooms (just use the salad plate from your grandmother’s china) or even pieces purchased at thrift stores, yard sales, or your local retailer. Add a personal touch to your place settings with small details at each seat. You can add menus, placecards, or a small surcee for guests to take home. This is also a great place to add small ‘themed’ touches like mini pumpkins at each place for Fall or a pinecone with a spring of spruce or rosemary for the holidays. These are inexpensive and festive ways to bring your overall design concept to each individual guest’s personal seat. photo 1
Possibly the biggest wow-factor of any tablescape are the serving and centerpieces. Luke recommends using unexpected items for serving such as old wood cutting boards, large chalk boards or even marble floor tiles. Layer these over a big mirror or even an old window placed in the center to add big impact and interest. Add in the ‘fun’ decorative items that you pulled from around your home; stacks of books, vases at varying heights, and unique souvenirs from travel as well as the more traditional candelabras and fresh cut flowers will give your table the ultimate personality. Keep in mind the overall scale of your table; while you want it to feel full and interesting, you don’t want centerpieces to overwhelm the actual place settings or be at awkward heights that make conversation hard for your guests.
Taking the time to ‘style’ your dinner table is a unique opportunity to showcase your personal style while really wow-ing your guests and making them feel special. Don’t let the task overwhelm you; this should be the fun, easy part of entertaining guests in your home! Have fun with it and don’t be afraid to take a design-risk! It’s just one meal, so you’re not committing to long-term design decisions; be trendy, be bold and be whimsical! Let your personal style shine & bon appetit!

Fabulous Fall Front Porches

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

by Jodi Kinesporch 3 - chair

With cooler temperatures in the air and leaves beginning to change, there is no doubt that Fall is officially here. As Mother Nature unveils her new seasonal palette, it’s natural to want to spread that new Fall feeling throughout our homes. What better place to begin than the front porch? It’s the perfect spot for marrying the bold, rich colors and textures of the great outdoors with a warm, inviting welcome into your personal space!
Let Mother Nature be your inspiration! 
Selecting a Fall color palette is as simple as looking at the trees around you and seasonal decorating is a great time to experiment with color that may otherwise overwhelm or intimidate a more neutral palette. Grab large planters, urns or even pails and pile them high with small pumpkins in a rainbow of warm orange hues, even mix in some golden yellows and deep greens with harvest gourds and winter squash for added texture and unique shapes. Add a nearby stack of larger pumpkins, from the more common bright orange field pumpkin to the more muted, softer (almost-frosted) tones of the Cinderella pumpkin. For some added height, layer in some stacked straw bails or even large bundles of moss-covered twigs or wheat grass nestled in pots or urns. Pots and pails of mums and ornamental fountain grasses also add a wonderful pop of color and texture. Early in the Fall season, pails of rich red apples would even add a wonderful splash of color. Use these jewel tone colors as inspiration in your other Fall décor, including festive wreathes adorned with raffia, burlap or ribbon.
porch3Bring the inside out! 
Your front porch is your guests’ first impression of you, your family, and your personal home, so you want it to be warm, welcoming, and inviting both to those that just pass by for an evening stroll on the sidewalk and friends and family that stop in for a visit. The rich, warm color palette of Fall is a great starting point. Continue that feeling of warmth by bringing some of your more ‘indoor’ accessories out on to the porch. Even if you don’t have a huge space to decorate, add a small accent table or wooden chair for added surface area and height. Top the table with the warm glow of a lamp or flameless candles and accent the chair with an small pillow or even an old quilt. Add a throw rug, layered under a door mat for added texture and softness.
Get the most bang for your decorating dollar!
For a porch-scape that lasts from late September through early December, start with a strictly-Fall-themed backdrop of ‘holiday neutral’ items such as potted plants, bales of straw and pumpkin-filled urns. Then add in ‘holiday-themed’ accents as the season passes. Pails of apples offer a back-to-school, September feeling. Then, as Halloween approaches, you can simply replace the pails of apples for ghosts, goblins and googly-eyed pumpkins. Stretch your Fall porch even farther as you round out the season with cornucopias, Indian corn, and even a little turkey or two as Thanksgiving approaches at the end of November.porch2
Another way to stretch the decorating dollar is by properly selecting any live plants used in your porch-scape, including the ever-popular mum. Selecting the perfect plant for your porch can be tricky, but Peggy Long, Manager at Ford’s Seeds and Plants in Gastonia, shares some fabulous advice, “If you need something with lots of color (such as for a party or special event), you want to choose a mum with lots of already-open blooms. But if you simply want to get the maximum bloom-time out of a mum, choose one with buds just starting to open.” Once you’ve made the perfect selection, proper care will also prolong the life and bloom time. Peggy says, “Be sure that it gets plenty of light to keep the blooms opening up. When watering, be sure to water the soil, not the foliage; watering the foliage can create a disease that may ultimately kill the plant.”
Seasonal décor is always a favorite – one not having to be as committed to the ideas long-term and being able to experiment and try new fun ideas is intriguing to many of us! So, get creative, have some fun and let Mother Nature lead the way as you create a warm, welcoming fabulous Fall front porch to usher in, not only another season, but friends and family with whom to share it.