As I shared with you here, a client’s home renovation resulted in not only an amazing Kitchen and but also a newly created Butler’s Pantry.
This new space, connecting the Kitchen to the Dining, is a sophisticated work horse created with entertaining and ease in mind. It made quite the transformation from when our client emailed us for help with their home.
With the help of architect Jason Robb, we straightened out the wall in the kitchen and took the old office space (see the door to the left in the before picture) to create the new Butler’s Pantry. A hallway was cut short across from it for the new office.
For design consistency, we used materials that blended the Butler’s Pantry to the adjoining Kitchen. A marble backsplash and countertops create the perfect prep station—useful for food prep, drink mixing or staging a buffet.
Cream-colored cabinetry creates a quiet backdrop for more dramatic finishes. Brass knobs, pulls, fixtures, and lighting add warmth and high impact with finishes that will age beautifully over time.
Keep in mind, that, as a transitional space, a Butler’s Pantry can also be the perfect space for art.
Often visible from both the kitchen and dining room, a pantry wall can double as a gallery. Displaying photography, paintings or drawings is a wonderful way to add layers and visual interest to a walk-through space.
Storage is also important. We added elegant open shelving—unlacquered brass frames with simple quartersawn white oak shelves—to display our client’s pretty collection of glassware.
Two refrigerator drawers and a wine refrigerator allow for easy access to cold drinks and anything needed for entertaining.
Highly functional and polished, this pantry acts as the perfect transitional while delivering a big design punch.
I hope you have enjoyed seeing this Before and After of our client’s newly created Butler’s Pantry. If we can help you with your home, be sure to reach out to us here.
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We work with many incredible fabric houses, and Jim Thompson is one of our favorites to incorporate into our clients’ interiors. Their luxurious fabrics add a beautiful layer of texture, uniqueness and quality to our projects.
I am thrilled to share a glimpse behind the scenes in our Insider’s Insight series from Jim Thompson’s Senior Design Director of Home Furnishings, Susan North.
Before joining Jim Thompson, Susan previously led creative teams at Schumacher, Thibaut, and Scalamandre, and she is one of the most respected textile designers in the business—a mixmaster of color, texture and pattern.
Susan shares below her Insider Insights into the business.
What are you seeing in the design industry that has you excited?
I’ve been excited to see a lot more unexpected use of bold, deep color to transform rooms—from dark doors, dramatic ceilings, more black in interiors, and brilliantly hued furniture pieces.
Designers also seem to be playing with lots of pattern mixed together in single spaces with often amazing results.
It’s perhaps just starting as a trend, but with everyone home a lot more this year, it’s my hope that there will be more interest in investing in better furnishings and textiles that are both luxurious and lasting, more high-level quality and a lot less throw-away.
Tell us what inspires your Jim Thompson designs…
Inspiration comes from so many different places for me; like threads that you pull together to create something new—a bit from fashion, from art, or from favorite books, all mixed together.
But I would say the colors, textures and patterns from nature are what inspire me the most.
No one else hand-weaves Thai silk, or any silk for that matter, quite the way that we do at Jim Thompson. They are some of the most beautiful fabrics on earth, and behind each one is a skilled artisan weaver.
It’s the rich texture, the ‘humps and bumps’ of the silk yarns, as Jim Thompson used to call them, and also the nearly iridescent cross-dyeing of colors that makes them so amazing.
Of course, we don’t just produce hand-loomed silks; we also have a lot more to offer with beautiful velvets, prints, wallpapers and trimmings. But it’s the approach to color and a high level of quality that begins in the silk that comes across in all the products we offer.
Tell us about one of your favorite career collaborations or accomplishments…
I love the story behind one of my favorite prints ever, Pyne Hollyhock Print, which I developed at Schumacher.
Nancy “Princess” Pyne, who was a good friend and client of Albert Hadley’s, showed me scraps of fabric, all faded and in pieces, that she saved from the original room Albert designed for her in the early 1960s. I remembered it from Hadley’s book and had always thought it was one of the most beautiful chintz florals.
She kindly lent me her pieces, and I had it developed into a new chintz print, piecing the design together from all the scraps, and mostly using the colors from the original at the scrap edges, but adding some new colors, too.
Along the way, I would get these phone calls from Albert, who kept recalling what the pattern looked like when it was new, especially the color. In the end, I visited him to show the pattern in progress and he seemed very pleased to see it brought to life again. Albert was delightful to know; charming, funny and with such an incredible eye for design.
Do you have a favorite Jim Thompson pattern?
I love the hand-loomed silks. Thai silk weaves have a beautiful dry texture that makes them simply elegant but unfussy. And of all of these, I am especially fond of the ikats, which are hand-tied and dyed and hand-woven.
Some of my favorites are Anais and Thalia, which haven been in the collection for years, and also the newest ones, like Serengeti. They are like works of art, each one beautifully crafted.
What is one thing you absolutely can’t live without?
This year has somehow made a lot of things seem a whole lot less important, or even necessary. But I can’t live without nature and its beauty. It’s always inspiring to me, for colors and patterns – but getting outdoors and being immersed in nature also calms and feeds the soul in a way that nothing else can do.
I hope you enjoyed learning in this month’s Insider’s Insight series about the amazing process and artisans behind Jim Thompson fabrics. I know I certainly did.
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We often hear from our clients they aren’t sure where to start when they want to renovate or build a new home, so we thought we would share a few helpful tips for an enjoyable process.
A few helpful tips for renovating your home
When do I begin my project?
Many people don’t know where to begin; they just know they are tired of the cramped, dark, cold home that doesn’t work well for their family.
An interior designer is a great place to start. By reaching out here , we will guide you through the entire process and help you pull together your team based upon your needs. This initial step is ironically be the easiest.
How long will the renovation process take?
If construction is required, we help create a timeline based on the scope of the project.
Rushing the renovation process is never wise so sometimes pushing the deadline back on the front end allows for more realistic expectations. As I have written many times before, custom takes time but is worth it in the end.
I am also a big believer on not starting the project until the plans are finalized. Demo goes quickly but things tend to slow down after it is complete.
How much will it cost?
This is the number one question I am asked and rightfully so. Building or renovating a home is an investment and you want to spend your money wisely.
Based upon your needs, desires and vision for the home, we help you hire a team that can give you an accurate building cost based upon our selections. This helps alleviate hidden costs during the renovation.
Will we have to move out?
Going through a renovation is daunting to some, but moving out can sometimes throw people for a loop.
The good news is depending on your project, moving out may not be required. We’ve renovated entire kitchens and sections of the home with the client still living there. It’s not always pretty (or fun), but it can be done.
If your renovation covers several main areas of your house, it’s also possible to work in stages..
Just like we get creative with the design of our projects, we can also get creative helping you stay happy and comfortable- at home.
How involved will you need to be?
We understand that life is busy and adding extra tasks and decisions isn’t always ideal.
The beauty of hiring our full-service interior firm is that we take care of the little details by working closely with the architect and builder. We curate the home to our vision and present it to you for approval.
By intercepting daily decisions you may not know how to answer, we are hopefully alleviating stress from your already busy day.
Our goal is to be our client’s advocate by making sure everything runs smoothly and correctly.
I hope I have answered some of your questions about renovating your home. Whether your hesitation to begin your project has to do with timing, fear of the unknown, or an array of other reasons, take the first step. I promise it will be worth it in the end.
We are adding a new series into our blog, Insider’s Insight,where we are sharing thoughts, tips and trends from some of the top thought leaders in the design industry.
Barbara Sallick is co-founder of Waterworks, one of the world’s most prestigious makers of luxury design goods. I personally love the quality and craftsmanship found throughout the Waterworks’ plumbing line, and I am amazed at all Barbara has accomplished over her lifetime.
Enjoy below, as Barbara shares some practical advice for creating a kitchen you will love and appreciate for years to come.
You have one of the most admired kitchen and bath brands in the industry. What’s the secret?
The secret to staying in business for 40 years and maintaining brand leadership is to consistently deliver innovative and authentic product, outstanding experiences, and impeccable service.
I am familiar with the rigor that goes into designing, engineering and manufacturing all of our products. There is such a high level of integrity and craftsmanship in creating things that are timeless and meant to last a lifetime.
What is your most important piece of advice when renovating a kitchen?
Plan carefully. Do your research long before you set foot in a kitchen showroom or talk to a cabinetmaker. Only thoughtful preparation will allow you achieve the results you have dreamt about.
What’s the trick to creating a timeless kitchen?
You need to pay close attention to function and style. Your kitchen layout must flow easily. The design should be both practical and personal.
You should use the finest, most honest materials you can afford—things that will only become more beautiful with age.
But(and here’s the trick), you must first look back and think about the kitchens you’ve loved and were happiest in during your life.
Remember how you felt in those rooms and think about how their design contributed to that feeling. Then, through your design choices, try to recreate that emotion in your own new kitchen.
In your opinion, what should people splurge on in their kitchen?
First, use amazing hardware, it is the jewelry of the kitchen.
Next, select a high-grade sturdy sink and faucet together; they are the hardest working appliance in the kitchen.
Finally, do something special on your backsplash. Please don’t follow the trend and use white 3 x 6 tile.
What 3 things should every kitchen have?
Every kitchen should have a faucet that is comfortable to use. You will turn it on/off multiple times a day. This is the practical must-have.
The room should have a beautiful backsplash. This is the decorative must-have.
Your kitchen also requires a range of lighting choices, including general illumination, decorative accents, and—most important—task lighting. The way you layer lighting plays a big part in creating a kitchen that is personal and brings you joy.
What color palettes are you loving for kitchens and baths at the moment?
I am seeing lots of dark blue and, most especially, I see a mix of two colors. Either the top cabinets are light and the bottom are dark or the perimeter cabinets are all one color and the island is something different.
In my own kitchen, I used a mix of Waterworks paint colors—pale whisper gray on the upper cabinets to make the space feel wider, and navy for the lower cabinets.
What do you love most about your kitchen?
I love that my sink is in the island placing me squarely in the middle of the kitchen. I am, therefore, in the center of all activity—cooking, visiting, and looking out at my beautiful terrace.
Even though it is a small space, it has the kind of charm and functionality that make it the perfect classic and timeless kitchen.
What is one thing you absolutely can’t live without?
I never thought this was important, but having all of the cabinet interiors with pull-out trays is essential. There is no digging around and everything I have is visible. And, natural light is essential.
I hope you enjoyed this interview with our Industry Insider, Barbara Sallick. I particularly enjoyed how she emphasized to buy the finest materials you can afford as they will only become more beautiful over time.
To learn more, pick up Barbara’s book, The Perfect Kitchen.
Thank you, Barbara, for sharing your insight. Cheers, friends, to creating your perfect kitchen.
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We work on a lot of renovations, and every one is special in its own way.
This particular one is the wife’s childhood home. As I shared with you here, we renovated to give it new life for their family to grow into it.
I have no doubt many memories are waiting to be made.
Gone are the finishes of the 80s and it is now a chic, livable, family-friendly home that has made quite the transformation.
Here are a few before and after photos:
Custom cabinetry and gorgeous marble slabs create a custom kitchen while the unlacquered brass hardware and lighting finishes the room.
What a difference taking down walls and adding in new windows made, too.
Its hard to tell in the picture, but the kitchen roman shade is green and charcoal gray. Green is the homeowner’s favorite color, so we pulled it into her Dining Room.
It gives me such pleasure seeing this cute family enjoying their new home and adding in items, such as her grandmother’s dining table, that are important to them. After all, isn’t that the reason behind each of us having a home to call our own.
If we can help you renovate your home, contact us here.
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There is one trend I am seeing in several of our renovation and new construction projects.
While I began designing some homes with them pre-Covid, they are being drawn into renovations and new construction more often as people spend time at home focusing on what their home is missing.
So… what is this trend?
A resurgence in a scullery or second kitchen.
They are more functional than a butler’s pantry as they host a second dishwasher and refrigerator (and some even a second range). These spaces work hard in a home when it is time to entertain.
These second kitchens have special touches such as beverage drawers, dishwashers and coffee bars. Storage is always a priority, too.
They are perfect for containing the mess while the main kitchen serves as an entertaining space for family and friends. I believe that once society is back to entertaining, formal spaces will make a resurgence.
Hopefully, our time is limited that we have to continue to socially distance.
I long for the days of not only having family over, but large gatherings of friends. After all, our homes should be a refuge we love to share with others.
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Is being quarantined at home giving you the urge to paint a room or two? If so, here are a few tips for selecting the perfect paint color.
Choosing the right color can be overwhelming, but if you follow this process, it will ensure the color on your walls is what you thought you selected.
Top tips to selecting the perfect paint color:
The most important first step in choosing a paint color is to take the sample out of the store. Choose a handful of hues or borrow the fan deck of colors and bring the paint samples home.
2. Take the samples home and brush them on the walls of your room. Nothing will help you choose a color better than seeing the actual color applied to the wall. If your walls are dark, paint the samples on a white piece of poster board so the current color doesn’t interfere with the new ones.
From bright morning light to golden afternoon light to lamp-lit darkness, look at the colors at different times of day. Sun, or lack thereof, can make a huge difference in how a color reads.
3. Paint two good coats to get a good idea of what the color is going to look like in the room.Once the test sections are dry, hang artwork over them, push furniture in front of them, and stand back in the room to see how they look.
4. When choosing a sheen, remember that flat paint gives you color closest to the original cardboard paint chip where semigloss paint will have a moderate reflective quality.
Be careful painting a surface with imperfections with a semi or high gloss paint because these imperfections will show even more.
Good luck choosing your next paint color as I feel confident these tips will help. Let me know how it goes.
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I am thrilled to show you some never before seen “After” photos of our livable luxe project in this month’s Traditional Home.
As I mentioned on Instagram, it was all I could do to keep this home a secret. We have been waiting for a few years to share the photos, and it’s a great testament that all good things are certainly worth the wait.
This project was a turnkey project filled with beauty and function for the cutest family with small children. They contacted us here about their project and I am grateful to now call them friends.
Our clients moved into this home completely furnished with pictures hanging on the wall and accessories in their place. It’s like the magic fairies came in overnight and made it happen.
After Pictures As Seen In Traditional Home
I love that the home feels pulled together and approachable despite its high ceilings and vast size. Livable luxe at its best.
Its classic materials and detail make it hard to quite pinpoint how old the house might be, just as a new build should be.
My clients were wonderful in that they trusted my vision and took a leap of faith – even when I suggested an upholstered screen that was almost 15′ tall. I was looking for a way to ground the large space and this is what I envisioned.
If it looks like no big deal, keep scrolling Achieving this much detail 21′ in the air is not always easy.
I truly could not have done it without a detailed plan, my amazing team, the builder and my craftsmen. Oh, and a lift truck. I am so grateful.
While my clients requested a home that mostly felt light and airy, we pushed the envelope in a few rooms to create some unexpected drama.
We did so in the study by painting the walls a charcoal gray.
See the cabinetry to the far right? This was originally drawn as a door to a media closet. We wrapped the cabinetry around two walls and you can open the end bookcase to access this small room.
I hope you have enjoyed seeing a glimpse into this home, and I will share more after photos of this livable luxe home over the next few weeks.
The issue hits newsstands this Friday so be on the lookout. I am thankful to my clients who trusted us with such a big part of their lives and to the Traditional Home team who allowed us to share it with their readers.
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My mother always said that with the exception of my sister and two of her grandchildren being born in August, nothing good ever happens in this month. I am starting to think she may be right.
The fun of summer has worn off, it’s hot outside, and our houses are a mess from children being home all summer or from moving in and out of dorms, apartments, etc…
I’m not a negative person and I hate to say it…. August is kind of a yuck month.
But now that the kids are headed back to school, it’s time to focus on things we’ve put off the past few months. I’m using this momentum to assess and tackle areas in my own home that need updating. Here are a few tips if you want to do the same.
Survey How You Feel About Your Home
Does your home make you breathe a sigh of relief?
When you walk into your home, what feelings and emotions are evoked? Are they feelings of contentment and relaxation or anxiousness and dread?
If you answered the latter, it’s time for some change. Your home should be a restful retreat where you can make memories and host gatherings with family and friends.
Start with a calming, neutral palette with layers of texture as we did below.
Does your home function for you and your family?
What stage of life are you in? Life transitions usually equate to transitions needing to take place in the home.
Have your children moved out and you are a new empty nester (if so, I can relate), or are your kids older and what worked a few years ago no longer does?
A house once full of active children and their friends that served your lively family so well can now feel lost. It’s time to reinvent your home so it functions for you in this new phase.
Clients who hire us for these specific needs want to re-do their bedrooms, tackle the guest bedroom, and make the famous ‘playroom’ more of a mature den for casual lounging as we’ve done here:
Does your home reflect your personal style and lifestyle?
Whether you have more formal or casual taste in style, your home should follow suit. Below are examples of both formal and more casual interiors – which one speaks to you?
If you feel like your home doesn’t make you happy, function well (read more on this topic here), or reflect your personal style or lifestyle, we can help. Give us a call (205.938.4848) or email us here.
Have a great day,
If you would like to see more on a day to day basis of what we do at DWI, join us! We would love to meet you!!
If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you know my family and I (minus one daughter- she has been studying abroad) spent an incredible two weeks traveling to different parts of Italy to celebrate a few milestones.
Not only did I have a BIG birthday, we were celebrating a high school and college graduation. Lots of changes going on in my life right now.
Several of my social media friends asked me to share what we did and where we stayed, so here are a few highlights from our trip to Italy.
Things to Do in Rome, Italy
We began the trip in Rome, Italy for three nights and stayed at the Grand Hotel Via Veneto. It was a nice, five star hotel with great service. My girls wished it was in a location with more activity around, but I guess I am showing my age- I loved the quiet and the simplicity.
We took in the regular sites such as The Vatican, The Trevi Fountain, etc…., but it was the intricate stonework throughout the city that caught my eye.
For anyone questioning using marble in their home, Rome is the perfect example to not think twice. If it can withstand the wear and tear for thousands of years, it can withstand the abuse in your kitchen and bath.
One of our favorite things we did was take a cooking class. My Italian grandmother would have been so proud as we learned how to make fresh pasta and sauce. Why I never had her teach me her secrets before she passed, I don’t know.
Armando Al Pantheon in Rome was delicious and one of our favorite restaurants when there. It’s family owned and has been around since the 60s.
A trip anywhere would not be complete without a little shopping. What can I say- I have three girls and with the two grandmothers they have, their love of shopping comes honestly.
Among the local boutiques, we found a great department store called Rinascente. It has several clothing lines we loved including a restaurant filled with fresh juices, pastries, etc… The store was beautiful inside, too (we also visited it in Florence and while the shopping was good there, the store was a little more run down).
The Best Things To Do In Florence, Italy
We took the train from Rome to Florence, and it was interesting handling all of our bags. I know you are suppose to travel lightly, but with my oldest staying in Europe for work, we had all of her luggage with us.
We loved staying in the two bedroom apartment in the Hotel Lungarno in Florence, Italy and would book it again. It was chic, comfortable, and you still had all of the amenities of a hotel (room service, housekeeping, etc…). We stayed for three nights but all of us felt like we could have stayed a fourth (or longer!).
One Of The Finest Resorts In The World- Cernobbio, Lake Como, Italy
We took a train from Florence to Lake Como and stayed four nights in Cernobbio at the Villa D’este.
Why can I say…. It was the highlight of our trip. When their website says it is a destination, not a location, it is so true as the entire experience was incredible.
Put it on your bucket list as a place to stay.
Everything from the grounds, to the service, to the welcoming bottle of champagne, was on brand.
We spent a few days at the resort lounging by the pool, exploring the grounds, and another day on the lake seeing the neighboring towns. I highly recommend doing the same.
We found a cute neighborhood place called Harry’s (it was filled with lots of locals eating which is always a good sign), and Il Gatto Nero was suggested by a few friends. It was delicious, and I highly recommend it as well.
And while it is back to reality for me and my family, it’s amazing what a few weeks in a new place can do for inspiration and for your soul.
I can’t help but dream of our next big excursion, and am looking for our next bucket list place to stay. Please share with me any amazing places you have loved and experienced as I would love to know.
Cheers to dreaming and living,
If you would like to see more on a day to day basis of what we do at DWI, join us! We would love to meet you!!