Not sure how you feel, but for me, summer seems to be going by way too fast. Before we know it, we will be buying pumpkins for Halloween and arranging our fall dining table. I am ready to pump the breaks a little, as I am quickly reminded how time flies when looking at how quickly my girls are growing.
I was honored when B-Metro Magazine asked me in July’s issue for a few tips on how to furnish a teenage room. In this article, I share where to spend your money in the room to create a space that can grow with your child. They were kind enough to share four rooms of my work, and while each child’s room has its own look, you will see similarities in each. Balance your classic, more expensive pieces -like the headboard, window treatments, and bedding- with trendier, less expensive items to round out the room.
To read more on how to design a room for a teen, check out “Living the Teenage Dream” feature in B-Metro. More pictures of these rooms will soon be up on Pinterest, or better yet, feel free to pin yourself.
Have a great day, everyone-
P.S. A BIG thank you to Graham Yelton for the amazing pictures!
All of us know what it is like to get bombarded with a 50+ emails every morning suggesting we read this or buy that – it is exhausting.
I want to share with you an online publication that is certainly cut from a different cloth. StyleBlueprint is a southern style blog that focuses on conversations that inevitably connect women with people and businesses within the Birmingham community.
Every Monday, StyleBlueprint Birmingham showcases someone on “The Faces of Birmingham,” and I was so honored that my friend, Catherine (StyleBlueprint’s Birmingham City Editor), asked to feature me. In the interview, I really wanted to emphasize your home can be both beautiful AND functional. Every square inch of your home should have a purpose and it should be designed to withstand the wrath of daily life.
Do you ever walk into a room, or look at a picture of a room, and become invigorated by what you see? That’s exactly how I feel when I look at the work of Cindy Smith and Jane Schwab. Jane and Cindy are the talent behind Circa Design Firm based in Charlotte, NC, and the renowned retail collaboration – Circa Interiors (the retail store has locations in Charlotte and Birmingham). Something in their interiors or in their store always catches my eye. Every time.
Imagine my excitement when I learned this talented design duo had written a book, The Welcoming House. I couldn’t make it to Circa fast enough for their book signing.
While I have met Cindy several times and think so much of she and her daughter, Whitney, who lives and runs the store here in Birmingham, I was thrilled to finally meet Jane. Jane was just as warm and gracious as I pictured her to be. Warm and gracious. Two good words…. Not only to describe these two ladies, but their work as well. I also discovered Jane was staying the night with my next door neighbor, a dear friend of hers from college (small world).
Why do their interiors resonate with me and make me want to study every little detail that never seems to be forgotten?
There are a lot of reasons. I love how they mix old and new, formal and informal, and while a room may have been installed in one day, their homes always look like they have evolved over time. I also think this quote in their book sums it up just fine:
“In design and decoration, pretty is wonderful, but it’s far from everything. Practicality and function always come first, because if a room doesn’t work, who will use it?”
Not only are their interiors gorgeous and inviting, but their rooms are useful. Yes, they are pretty AND functional. You want to sit down and stay awhile. Real Homes For Real Life. Remember? My new mantra that I think every homeowner should be able to claim.
Be sure to visit Circa Interiors or Amazon.com to buy your copy of The Welcoming House, as it is filled with great advice for all. In the meantime, I will leave you with a few pictures of my favorite things in their Birmingham store right now. Have a great day, everyone!
Photo Credits: (1) The Welcoming House (2) Dana Wolter Interiors (3,4,5,) The Welcoming House (6,7,8) Dana Wolter Interiors
I don’t know if I am just tired of the cold, wet weather, but I am noticing more and more as I go into homes the importance of window placement and size in relation to the sun. To me, there is nothing better than a room with natural light filtering in. I came across both of these pictures on Pinterest and thought I would share-
Not sure what I love more about the window above: The size or the shape. What a beautiful detail it is to this room.
I am also loving the look of steel windows, and though when I look at them I see a lot of windows that will need cleaning (call me neurotic- I get it), you better believe if I build again I am going to incorporate a few into the architecture of the home. I guess I will need to have my Windex ready.
What do you think? What’s inspiring you lately? Follow us on Pinterest to see what is catching our attention-
It’s been a while since I last blogged (September, but who is counting?!). By the time I work, take care of my family, complete my volunteer commitments, keep up with social media, and other things that pop up with everyday living, blogging just seems to fall the wayside. No excuse, I know, as I am really going to try and do better.
My business has grown quite rapidly over the past few years, and to be honest, I am experiencing a few growing pains. As I am setting new goals and looking toward the future, I am trying to be honest with myself as to where my strengths- and weaknesses- lie. Maybe it is because I have a dog and a revolving door with three active, busy children who constantly have friends coming and going, or maybe it is because I grew up one of five children so I am pretty practical, but I think one of the ways my work stands apart is I design for real living. Yes, that’s right….you can actually live in the pretty homes I design. Real homes for real life.
Take this home in the Liberty Park section of Vestavia that was recently featured in B-Metro magazine. With two boys and a dog (a second pup just joined this family btw), the mother was adamant for a home they could entertain AND live in.
Come on in and see for yourself how we gave them just that:
What began as a builder spec home quickly became their own through new paint and new furnishings. Custom upholstery, done in lush but forgiving fabrics, can be wiped up with a dishrag. No worries about spilled milk in this home.
With the exception of the foyer loveseat and the kitchen banquette, notice how all of the fabrics are light? I tell my clients all the time the durability of a fabric is so much more important than the color of a fabric. Even with active children and K9 friends, you can live in a beautiful home with light upholstery. The key is to choose durable fabrics and finishes, and with today’s options, they are not hard to find.
For more on this home, you can read the article here. Have a good day, everyone.
Not sure when I blinked and discovered Christmas is around the corner. I am just now putting up greenery as I have been busy with two installations and a child’s birthday this week. As I am deciding how I am going to decorate my own home this year, I thought I would share a few photos from Christmas past in the Wolter household.
Have you heard of feng shui? If not, you are not alone. I was familar with the term but knew little about it. Recently, a high school friend emailed me that her cousin, Katie Rogers, had moved to Birmingham and that she thought we should meet.
Katie graduated from Vanderbilt University with an English degree before becoming a certified feng shui specialist. Originally from Mobile, she was living in Los Angeles and Sun Valley, ID the past ten years when she decided to move back to her home state to be closer to family.
When Katie and I met at the local Starbucks, we immediately hit it off. Here was this warm, Southern-bred girl who was as genuine as she could be, yet she also had this artsy side to her as well. A friendship was quickly formed, and I am honored to call Katie my friend.
I have enjoyed learning more about feng shui from Katie and thought you might like an intro into it as well.
Take it away, Katie ……
“Feng What?” That’s what I usually hear when telling my fellow Southerners that I am a feng shui (pronounced: fung schway) consultant. I smile and repeat the words a little slower, and I’m then met with a blank stare. “What in the world is that?” they ask.
Feng shui, in its essence, is how you feel in a space.
Let me put it this way. When you walk into a beautiful home, where everything is in order and there are possibly healthy plants here and there and other happy details, you just feel good! Right?
Compare that to a cluttered mess! Yuck!
Like photosynthesis is to a beautiful garden, feng shui is to a beautiful home (or office or anywhere!) It’s what’s happening — energetically — behind the scenes.
Let me give you an example. Below is one of Dana’s gorgeous designs. While she could tell you how it works from a design perspective, I can tell you how it works from a feng shui perspective.
1. Yin and Yang. Dana talks about mixing hard and soft and using different textures and materials. In feng shui, there is yin and yang. You may recognize this symbol:
Yin and yang represent balance. Notice how this living room has both curvy (yin) and straight (yang) lines; light (yang) and dark (yin); and hard (yang) and soft (yin). The yin elements would be the cushiony pillows, the curtains, and even the nook in the corner.
The yang elements would be the sunlight streaming in, the lighter color scheme, and the hard center table.
Dana had no idea that she was balancing yin and yang to create optimal energy in the space. But her intuition knew!
2. Colors and elements. Dana tends towards a neutral palette, so in feng shui, we’d say that she likes to decorate in the element of Earth.
Earth represents a nurturing and grounded energy, so this is optimal for homes of busy families, who need a respite from life! However, again, with the elements, we want a balance. Dana also added the element of Fire (the amber-colored vase and the outspread flower arrangement)…
…as well as a good dose of Wood (ceiling and center table). Metal appears too (chandelier and fireplace) to create a perfect harmony. Again, this was Dana’s intuition in high gear, unbeknownst to her!
3. Bagua map. A hot topic of interest in feng shui is the bagua map. Did you know that your home is actually a map to your life? If you were to divide your floorplan (given that it’s in the general shape of a rectangle) into nine equal sections, you could use the bagua map to discover what part of your home represents which part of your life!
Amazing right? So, say your kitchen was in the far back left corner of your home (facing the front door), then that is your Abundance section. Therefore if your kitchen is in disarray, your finances may be in disarray. If your kitchen is clean, your fridge filled with healthy foods, and you always have an overflowing bowl of fresh fruits displayed, then a feng shui consultant could deduce that your finances are perhaps overflowing and in good health!
The living room we’ve been talking about happens to fall in the “Helpful People” sector according to the bagua map. Notice how the seating allows more than three people to chat without straining to hear or shouting.
This is very auspicious in feng shui as group-seating represents community, and that’s what this sector is all about!
I’m just giving you a taste of feng shui here. It’s an in-depth art and science that is better understood when put into practice. And more than that, it’s a fun way to get your home – and your life – in order! For more information, check out authors such as Sharon Stasney, Terah Kathryn Collins, Karen Kingston or Denise Lynn…or my blog The Sparklit. You can also check out the International Feng Shui Guild for a feng shui practitioner in your area, or call me for a distance or in-home consultation. And let us know what you think! I always love a good feng shui success story!
Who doesn’t love a beautiful kitchen? Throw a little — or a lot — of function in there, and you may possibly end up with your favorite room.
I am working on a kitchen remodel right now, and there are a few must-haves I always try to incorporate.
1. Natural Stone Countertops: To me, there is nothing prettier than an aged piece of marble or limestone. I love the texture it provides and the fact it has endured many years of the elements.
2. Warming Drawer: Okay, not a must have, but I sure do like them. For a family on the go, it is a wonderful luxury.
3. Function: Yes, a kitchen can be beautiful, but if it is not functional, what’s the point? Make sure the flow works well and that there is plenty of good workspace. After all, this may be the most lived-in room in the house, and cooking is so much more enjoyable when everything has its place and is within reach for your next great meal.
4. Soften the hard surfaces: With so many hard surfaces found in a kitchen, try to incorporate ways to soften the room. Many of you know I love adding banquettes whenever possible, as they are a great way to make a kitchen more functional and unique.
Also, wood is a great texture to incorporate against shiny surfaces found in kitchens. Whether on your island, on the ceiling, or as an accent, it whispers “nature” and takes the edge off all those kitchen appliances.
5. Good lighting: Natural lighting is ideal, but a good kitchen also needs task lighting in all of the right places. Again, think functional!
6. Make your kitchen a reflection of you: Yes, you can create a beautiful kitchen many different ways, but if it does not look like you or fit your lifestyle, what good is it? Your home should be your haven, and your kitchen is no exception!
My segment on fall trends for the home is airing TODAY, October 19th, on NBC-13 Daytime Alabama at 11:30 AM. I have to say, I adore this season’s looks! If I had to sum it up in one word, I’d say — lush!
Here’s a preview for what’s in for fall 2011:
1. Brass — It’s back! Whether it’s lacquered or unlacquered, this is not your 70s flashback. The shapes are uber-modern, and the color is rich and refined. I’m also loving bronze right now — see the large handle below.
2. Driftwood — The gorgeous shape and color of wood touched by the sea is showing up in homes all over. It acts almost like a piece of sculpture, and I’ve found some amazing accessories made out of it. What better way to bring a bit of nature into your home, while still keeping it chic? Check out the chandelier below to see what I mean…
The wall below makes a bold statement, but check out the crafty yet chic driftwood lamp next to it. Driftwood in the home is definitely a trend, so a little goes a long way.
3. Colors — We saw a lot of turquoise last spring and summer, but as it cools off, the deeper hue, teal, is popping up in its place, and it is beautiful! I especially love it as an accent with warmer neutrals and even grays…. Other colors to pair with gray are the softer purples that I’ve been talking about, as well as eggplant.
Here is a great example of grays and purples by Susan Ferrier:
Another color that is a must for 2011 — saffron!
4. Wool — As far as materials go for fall, wool cannot be beat. Softer wool is making its way into homes and fashion this season. The look is draping, feminine, and sophisticated. In homes, it is being used as upholstery as well as on pillows, rugs, and throws.
Tune in tomorrow to NBC-13 — that’s Friday, October 7th– for more on these amazing fall trends!
I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Dirk Walker for years now. He’s an amazing artist based here in Birmingham and also the owner of Loretta Goodwin Gallery. If you have never been in his gallery, you must go soon!
Dirk is known for his “Birmingham Landmark Series.” He says the works evolved “completely by accident.” He had been doing mostly pastoral and landscapes scenes, but then one day he attempted an urban setting with some “non-descriptive figures.”
As he puts it, “There was such an immediate appeal that I felt I had found something that allowed me to pursue a more individual style. The flowing paint and abstract qualities also loosened me up in my brushwork. Having grown up in Birmingham, I have [seen] so many changes to the city and landscape, so the ‘landmark buildings’ had sentimental meaning not only to myself but to my clients.”
The foundation for his artwork began with a more traditional approach called chiaroscuro, which deals with light and shadow, that he learned through the teachings of David Leffel, a Contemporary Master who taught at the Art Students League in New York City.
Today, Dirk Walker describes his approach as “Impressionistic with a slant towards Abstraction.” He works primarily in oils for the “wet-into-wet” look and for their luminosity.
Below is a painting that he was commissioned to do for a client of mine.
He chose this perspective — with the driveway leading the viewer into the painting — because we wanted the piece be more “painterly” rather than architectural. Dirk found this angle focused more on the figures in the painting rather than the structure of the house, while still leaving room for the abstract feel he leans toward. Dirk achieves this effect by using many thin washes in the beginning stages of the painting, claiming that it sometimes creates “fun mistakes” that he leaves in the work.
This piece is an interpretation of my client’s home that they can pass down through the generations. The palette of soft golds and blues and the watery, abstract feel is absolutely beautiful. Isn’t it dreamy?
So excited! Christina of Greige Design contacted and asked me if she could feature some of my work on her blog! If you have not visited http://www.greigedesign.blogspot.com, take a few minutes to look. It’s beautiful! Christina manages to showcase some of the prettiest pictures around, and I am honored to be included on her site. Click on her link, and have a great day!
I know it’s hard to believe because it is still hot hot hot outside, but fall is around the corner! And what’s hot hot hot right now in design are color schemes that reflect the season.
Warmer tones are a no-brainer when it comes to fall’s inspiration. I love how designer Vincente Wolf used these beautiful colors in his own loft.
a gold and cream dream
Gold, caramel, taupe, tan, rust. Notice how he tosses in gray here and there to cool it off a bit — on the pillow, coffee table, and in some of the artwork. Subtle and beautiful!
So yes, gray is definitely another hot color I keep seeing everywhere — and loving! So sophisticated. Think of it as the new softer black.
Here’s Donna Karan’s take on a light gray dress from her Fall 2011 collection. For more shades of this season’s grays, visit her website here!
I’ve also been gravitating towards purple, as it is big this fall. Not the Mardi Gras purple that may come to mind but something a little more sophisticated. Here are some fabrics I’ve recently pulled to use through a client’s home:
I love the depth purple gives — it’s full of confidence, yet these more discreet shades whisper rather than shout.
So this fall’s tones are rich yet chic, a bit audacious but within the realms of taste. And I have to say — I’ve fallen!
As school resumes, and my schedule is at risk of being greatly overwhelmed, I’m reminded of the thing that I think a lot of us struggle with these days –- Keeping It Simple, Sweeties.
With our cell phones constantly beckoning, and email literally at our fingertips, I’m sure I’m not the only one to find it ironic that technology, in its attempt to make things easier for us, actually contributes to the frenzy of daily life. We’re all busy. Too busy perhaps. It seems that life is a juggling act, balancing work and family, extracurricular activities and exercise, eating well and volunteering. How do we keep it up without it all crashing down!?
Through trial and error over the years, I’ve learned a few tricks to streamlining my life. While it takes a little discipline, and I am not always good at it, it definitely helps.
1. Make a list. First thing in the morning — or better yet, the night before — make a list of everything that you want and need to accomplish that day. It only takes five minutes, and it saves oodles of time later as it gives some structure to the day. After you write the list, highlight the top two things that absolutely must get done. Then star a few other items that you would like to get done. Then be easy on yourself. If you are like me, it’s probably impossible to get everything on your list checked off! So congratulate yourself if you complete at least the two “musts” and one or two of the stars. After all, there is always tomorrow!
2. Consolidate. How tempting it is to check every email/text as it comes in! Give yourself a break. If possible, allot two to three times in the day to respond to phone calls, email, and texts. This way, nothing slips through the cracks, and you will probably end up feeling less scattered. Who knows, maybe these email and phone times will end up feeling like a break in your day!
3. Prioritize. While the first two tips will help you prioritize your day, remember to step back and prioritize your life! Figure out what is important to you – really important to you – and see if your daily life matches up. If spending time with your children is more important than baking four cakes for the charity bake sale, then feel free to say no this year to the sale – or better yet, get your children involved with the cooking! If having some alone time is more important than making it to every social function you are invited, be sure to honor yourself in that way. When you know what is important to you, saying “No” to anything that diverts you will be much easier. You – and your family – will be happier for it.
The key is to find a balance. Not an easy goal, as I know from experience! I do believe though, that in order to simplify, it’s necessary to maintain perspective. When we are caught up in the day-to-day, we could end up missing out on life. Keeping it simple helps us to slow down and savor our blessings. So give yourself a break. Turn the cell phone off if you have to, forego the juggling, and enjoy your life.
Maybe having three daughters of my own has something to do with this…but I love designing girls’ rooms. I also love that girls’ rooms give me the chance to be playful with color schemes and whimsical patterns.
I am excited about one of my latest projects, as it’s a bedroom for a precious nine-year-old girl who loves the color blue. What makes this project so fun is that it’s going to be a surprise installation for the entire family. Full rein to design as I see fit as long as I stay on budget! I kind of feel like I am on an episode of Trading Spaces…
Here are my inspiration fabrics as I am in the beginning stages of planning the room. I absolutely adore the combinations!
What do you think? What colors do you love to use in children’s rooms?
I have been working hard the past three weeks on an exciting new project!
It’s an incredible, historical house in Birmingham — home to a fun, young family — and they hired me to work on the interiors of a few rooms. Interestingly, as we began the project, Cathy Johnson, editor of Birmingham Home and Garden Magazine, called. It turns out this house appeared in the magazine’s first issue, and she wanted to feature it again for the upcoming 10th anniversary issue!
While the rooms are not complete due to the quick deadline, I was pleased with how it looked for the shoot. If it looks this beautiful with a few pieces we plan on replacing, imagine how it will look when everything is installed! While I cannot share the final photos until the article is published, I do want to give you a little preview.
Are you looking to update a particular room, but you (like the rest of us) are short on time? Good news! You can make some major improvements in as little as an hour! Try one or all of the following tips and poof! that room that was bothering you may just become one of your favorites.
1. Accessorize: Is the top of your coffee table cluttered? Do the tops of your end tables look messy? Tired of seeing the same accessories?
Begin by clearing off the tops of furniture. You’ll get a fresh look this way, and it’s easier to add to than take away! Remove the lamps, the books, the candles, the ceramic pears, everything. Now that you have a clean surface, ask yourself: what kind of furniture is it? Is it a wooden chest with a marble top? If so, begin with a wooden lamp and go from there. Mix up the textures, materials, and styles to see what suits you best. Be a little daring! Playing with the hard and soft surfaces creates tension that works.
In this client’s home, I played with shiny and rough textures; metal, wood, and ceramic; and curves and lines to create the perfect combination. Even the stick in the corner adds dimension!
2. Create a Vignette: By definition, a vignette is a “small picture.” In decorating, it’s a part of your home — say, a nook, a window, an entry way — that, after your creative touch, will tell a story and shed some personality. Do you have a corner in your home that is empty and boring? If so, find a purpose for it, and make every inch of your home count! For instance, I took this bare hall in a client’s home and made it warm and inviting:
3. Paint: I’ve said it before, but it’s a must for instant impact. Paint! Even painting one wall can create dimension in a space. Paint also makes the space look fresh and can give a light fixture an entire new look.
4. Clean out: Sometimes we just have to get rid of it. Bookshelves that are overcrowded, china cabinets with plates that haven’t been used since 1977, bedrooms with stuffed animals that haven’t been played with since 1987 — you get the idea. Even spaces guests don’t see count! Is your make-up drawer out of control? Has the storage closet collected so much that you have forgotten what was in there? When you hold onto items you aren’t loving and using, you — and your home — are being weighed down. Say ba-bye, and feel lighter!
5. Reframe Your Art for a New Look: While you are cleaning out that storage closet, you may come across some treasures as well. If you’ve been meaning to hang some forgotten pics, do it! Whether it’s artwork that suddenly appeals to you again, or photographs that bring back fond memories, walls welcome anything that warms the heart. It’s good to change these things out from time to time too, perhaps using different frames or switching the bedroom art with the living room’s.
This is a room I designed for a client’s daughter. See how the child’s owl art is taken to a new level when mounted on black?
Customizing a room doesn’t have to be over the top. It just has to be creative and well-thought-out! With a clean slate and a few good ideas, your home can go from ho-hum to custom in no time at all.
So you’re hiring a designer to help you with your home? Congrats! Below are a few tips to ensure the process is fun and smooth-sailing.
Have a Budget in Mind. A good designer will be able to work within your means whatever your budget may be, but you must be forthcoming with the numbers from the beginning. A designer does not want to spend hours pulling items that are over your budget nor does he or she want to skimp and miss out on the custom and higher-end items you can afford. Know from the beginning what you want to spend so the design process can evolve accordingly.
Buy What You Love. I cannot tell you how many times I have walked into a home and the first thing the homeowner will show me is a specific piece of furniture or art that she has bought on sale. As the conversation continues, she will proceed to tell me she does not really love it, does not really have a place for it, but nevertheless, it was a deal. Regardless of the price point, if you do not love a piece, do not buy it!
Show Your Designer Anything You Can to Convey Your Taste. Communication is key, and pictures are worth a thousand words, as they say. Pull pictures from magazines and off the Internet that inspire you, such as specific rooms or landscapes or artwork. Giving your designer a visual will help him or her evoke your unique taste into the look of your home. It’s also helpful to show your designer your current home and what you love and don’t love about it.
How Involved Do You Want to Be? Some clients want no part in the design process, while other clients want to be involved in every detail. It’s your home, and either is fine, but it’s helpful to let your designer know up front how involved you would like to be and in what capacity.
Trust your Designer. At the end of the day, you hired this particular person for a reason – because you like his/her style. When a designer gives you an opinion, it comes from experience and skill. This is why you are paying them. Some of my best results have been on projects where my clients were willing to trust me and take a few risks. If you do not have this confidence in your designer, find someone else to help you.
We Want to Make You Happy. Yes, your designer wants to please you, and yes, your designer wants you to be ecstatic with the end result. We work hard and do not always convey the million times we have had to call about the fabric that was never shipped or that we had to send something back as it was not up to our standards. In the end, we are in this together, and we have the same goal: to make your home beautiful and something to be proud.
Hopefully, these tips will help you and your designer work together harmoniously so the process will be enjoyable and the end result will be the home you always imagined! Have fun!
Below is the home of my client and dear friend. I am pleased to announce some of these photos recently appeared, much to my delight, in the March 2011 issue of Birmingham Home and Garden. A big thanks to Jean Allsopp Photography for allowing me to post!
I had so much fun designing this house, and I think it shows — enjoy the peek!