Friday, September 16, 2016

When the Stars Come Out At Night–A Special Award!

If you’ve read my recent post, “Finding the Perfect Fit – The Luxury of Service”, I mentioned recently shopping for some special attire and how much I enjoyed that experience.  Well, there was a good reason for my update to the wardrobe!

(By the way, I loved my dress and all of the beautifully detailed elements.  How nice that it was comfortable, too!)

You see, the North Carolina Home Builders Association held an awards gala to honor a list of those who represented excellence in their industry.  Unbeknownst to me, a new residential construction project, (for which I had been included as the interior designer), was submitted by the builder, Arcadia Custom Homes and Renovations.  I’ve collaborated with them on some previous clients’ homes and have always enjoyed the stellar manner in which they’ve managed their projects, as well as the top-knotch professionals they bring to the table. 


To make a long story short, the category for which they submitted our clients’ home was in the luxury group and it took the top award!  I was so excited to be there to share in the evening and it was an honor to be included as they received the trophy.

2016-09-14 21.03.33
(Jeremy Schumacher and AJ Foard, both Managing Partners, took the podium as the project was featured on the screen.)

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(The Omni Hotel is a lovely venue but goodness, we couldn’t find a place to get some decent lighting for a photo!  Left to right:  AJ Foard, (me), Jeremy Schumacher and Daniel Queen, all Managing Partners with Arcadia Custom Homes and Renovations.)

(Maybe this is a little better in the selfie/close-up category.  I was so happy my husband, life partner and business partner, could attend, too!  He makes it possible for my boutique design firm to keep moving effortlessly between projects!)

Some of the biggest stars of this evening, were behind-the-scenes.  Our shared clients generously allowed access to photographing their home while maintaining privacy.  We’ve been able to capture some beautiful spaces.  If you read my blog, you’ve already seen some of these photos.  (Thanks to our talented photographer, Whitney Gray.)

Sedgefield Bath - Wanda S. Horton Interior Design

(One of my favorite spaces, the Owner’s Suite Bath, features an elegant free-standing tub. I was able to emphasize the wall behind it by getting AJ to bring it forward and to showcase my design for the mosaic tile feature.  The homeowners were so open to ideas and that’s why it allowed us to create a show-stopper!)  Image ©: Wanda S. Horton Interior Design  Photography: Whitney Gray

I’m happy to report I’ve got another project in the works with Arcadia and I’ll be sharing more updates as we get closer to some of the permanent selections installations.  Ironically, I was putting some finishing touches in place when my new clients did a walk-through of this property. 
I can truly say, I’ve had the good fortune and pleasure to team up with the best!

All my best to you – Wanda

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Finding the Perfect Fit - The Luxury Of Service

Over the years, we've worked diligently to find the best vendors and service providers to bring the experience of luxury design to our clients in their homes and vacation retreats. With each client and project, the goal is to continue to grow and excel as we move forward.

Just recently, I was reminded how great it feels to be on the receiving end of some special attention and having my own needs met. I love it when serendipity allows for an "aha" moment, don't you?

An occasion arose where I needed, (translated - wanted), to shop for a bit of evening attire. Being it was a little while since that corner of my closet had been graced with an updated offering, a more-than wee moment of panic ensued in how I might accomplish this and in time to find something to fit and for it to be ready-to-go. When you're under 5'2" and not a size '0', well you definitely have to plan for the inevitable challenges of alterations!


Finding the right scale and proportion even applies to rooms.  Love this vignette from Thibaut!  Their new Venus wallpaper pattern is divinely luxe!


Fast forwarding from the moments of angst and after making some phone calls, I found my fit - in more ways than one - at our local Nordstrom store. First, I was amazed I didn't hear a 'click' at the other end of the phone, when describing what I perceived to be all of my issues. Then, when I met the calming miracle-worker, Ghesoun, I knew I would be in capable hands and perhaps had found the person who could help me with future needs, too.

    Product Image, click to zoom  Product Image, click to zoom

Nordstrom has a great reputation, as a brand, for excellent customer-service. They also offer options within their specially selected vendors to help them put their best foot forward.  Absolutely some of the reasons I decided to make the appointment.

They give their staff members the autonomy to take care of their customers, above and beyond whatever department they may be located.  Not only did Ghesoun have several dresses selected and waiting for my arrival, she also pulled together the coordinating shoes, jewelry, and clutch purses. They all went home with me, by the way, because they were perfect in every way!  As a past Girl Scout, I go by the motto: "Be prepared." (My husband chuckled at this rationalization!)



A Sweetie of an Evening Clutch from Jimmy Choo.


A glimpse of a shimmering project we have in progress for a Charlotte, NC dining room, with accents waiting for the rest of the “outfit”. Definitely black tie ready but it’s been designed for comfortable everyday gatherings, too. That’s how we approach luxury design – a blending of the best of both worlds.

After happily jaunting off with my purchases, I acknowledged some important take-a-way's from this experience:

  1. Preparation and homework is key to any successful outcome. Ghesoun knew I was already feeling a bit overwhelmed and had she waited for me to walk through the entire store for a shopping expedition, I would have been lost in aisle 3. She asked the right questions and then went right to work to narrow down the options.
  2. It's all about timing. I was so thankful they had immediate options available, but was prepared to accept having to customize or alter something to be a better fit. I went in with realistic expectations, sprinkled with optimism.
  3. Let people do what they do best, in the spirit of collaboration. In this case, Nordstrom stands behind their customer service but they also foster decision-making skills among their team. An import ingredient when establishing key relationships and decisions.
  4. Chemistry and respect are everything!  Even with considering all of the above thoughtful details, these two factors seem to rise to the top. Call it chemistry, communication capacity, similar values, like-minds - or whatever - there is an "it" factor in every working relationship which can make or break it in the end. You know it when you feel it and it makes you want to share in the experience, all over again, as well as pass it along to others.

And absolutely,  Number Five!  Consistency and Classic.


In the last couple of years, I’ve focused my business towards a boutique-type interior design firm, with more selective projects, where my team can pull together a total space or home.  My experience with Ghesoun was another confirmation this approach has been the right decision.  Had I only left with a partial ensemble, or two, I would still be looking for the missing pieces and not feeling the investment of my time and dollars had served me well.  I find the same to be true for a partially-finished room or home.

After all, while we enjoy seeing close-up’s of interior details, we want to see how they are put together in the bigger picture. 

All my best! ~ Wanda

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Interior Design - The Artist - Comparing Apples to Apples

On most projects, I feel very capable of putting my design skills to use in pulling together the finishing touches for a final reveal, once I’ve got received the project's go-ahead and the real budget has been approved.  I become the artist who layers in the final brush strokes with the tools of their trade. 

If each of those strokes needs to be revisited or reviewed, it impacts project management as it does slow down the entire process with second-guessing and it stifles the creative capacity - and well, let's face it, retracted budgets don't always bode well for the outcome.  It's not necessarily awful, but it's not necessarily great, either.  When the client(s) allow for the follow-through to unfold, it's literally a beautiful thing!

We begin with an inspiration image, with the understanding it will be personalized to accomplish an end goal.

The process begins . . . Yes, the beginning can create some anxiety.  And it's during this time of project development, if clients are involved in every step of the way, there is temptation to change course.  It takes a firm but gentle designer to lead the way and a willing and trusting client to follow.

It’s at this stage I can hear a sigh of relief.  While collaboration is important, notice there is one hand controlling the brush.  

Comparing apples to apples . . .  it's in the artist's designer's mind and in their final touch which makes for a beautiful picture.

I like those apples, very much!

Thanks to 

for sharing a great lesson in art.

All my best! ~ Wanda

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Bridging the Balance of Interiors and Lifestyle

In the last few years, there has been a certain trend in interiors where embellishments have been kept to a minimum.  A cleaner, more modern approach.  Some say it makes for a calming quality and the practicality of less maintenance makes for an important purpose.  

I think there are many underlying reasons for this aesthetic to have gained so much popularity.  Some are the ones I mentioned above, but I think it goes far beyond the surface, as beautiful design should always push deeper, with more meaning and intention.  

Soft, elegant design details made for a beautiful bath escape for our clients.

The world has transitioned from a period of excess, in many ways.  Interior design has been affected by this, as well.  The elaborately bloated pieces of furniture with the "more is more" attitude are fewer and further between.  More editing and less layering in accents.  Living lighter and a less encumbered lifestyle.  There's a fineness to the small details, when embellishment is allowed.  A more meaningful experience is provided rather than feeling compelled to own a lot of "stuff" to showcase a certain station in life, especially if the accrual doesn't reflect the pure spirit of good design or its owner.

Image:  Captured by Wanda S. Horton on a recent project sourcing trip.  A stunning finish on a desk.

I believe; however, as with any design direction, there can be extremes . . . just as in the way we live with or without the perceptions and expectations of how our world should be defined.  During the aftermath of any catastrophic event, be it financial, health-oriented, family-focused, or anything which can put our personal world on it's ear, there is a tendency to pull back, to refocus, to let go. Sometimes, though, we can even place ourselves in a mindset of paying penance for having let ourselves go off our "diets".  The kind of fear thought of including an occasional treat which might send us back to the extra weight we just lost, so there is a denial of savoring some extra frosting, as it were.  So much so, this disciplined approach can rob of us our spontaneous joie de vivre.

Image:  Kravet Fabrics - Barbara Barry Collection

As an interior designer, I strive to honor my clients' aesthetics and their requests.  In fact, I want to be absolutely certain we spend a great deal of time in the discovery phase of their projects, to be sure they aren't feeling compelled to follow what they think is a must-have, in terms of the "latest and greatest" because, in the end, it won't be so great if it's not authentic to who they are.  There's a fine balance which takes time and careful thought, just as in any important decision - no matter what some outside party might be pushing on the latest shows or pages of the internet.

Image:  Kravet Fabric - Barbara Barry Collection
Personally, I'm glad to see a return to well-executed details and embellishments, as I'm not a big fan of austere interiors and well, living.  I can work in just about any aesthetic but if "To thine own self be true"applies to working with my ideal clients, (and it should), my cup of tea will be someone who wants a story to be told in their homes and not a pretentious gorgeous book filled with blank pages.

The dining room may be formal, in appearance, but the comfort and ease for gathering was key for this project.

Of course, I do believe there should be a few pages remaining, as our life stories are always being re-written, edited, re-balanced and added to.  Totally by design.

All my best!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Snow Day Inspirations

There's nothing like a cozy snow day to inspire the designing mind.  In my area of North Carolina, we wistfully yearn for the rare excuse to celebrate a pure, crystallized play day.  I'm not so wistfully watching the formation of icicles as I know the longer they become, the more opportunity we have for a loss of power and I'm furiously working away on some new project proposals.

Ah, but back to the inspiration . . . 

(Click for larger image.)

While taking a brief survey of outdoor activities, I captured the frosted gazing ball in my front "flower-less" bed.  Through the glazed over surface, a color palette caught my attention - probably because one of the new projects on board includes a client who happens to love deep plums and purple.  We're also considering coppery, metallic washes and a rich/warm aesthetic.  I also suggested we punctuate some built-in's near her fireplace with some color. 

While we're not doing an entry, like the image above, I'm still cataloging it for the hue as well as I love the good use of a space where folks can hang up some coats and pull off messy shoes or boots.  It sets the tone for the next interior round, too.  

If you're in the path of the storm, stay safe and warm, but if you can, get out and about for some winter inspiration.  We'll make sure you have a lovely place waiting for your return!

All my best ~ Wanda 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Happy New Year - 2016! Daring to Begin

Isn't it funny how we receive messages we need at just the right time?  I was cleaning out some data files, as part of my goal to live lighter in 2016, and I found a saved image which summarized it all.  It also reminded me to forget perfectionism, which is the greatest stall point for me.

I know this will be one of a gazillion posts about starting fresh in the New Year.  What makes it so unique?  Simply said - Me.  And - You.

Each of us has our own set of core values, our own reasons for motivation, and our own method for accomplishing our goals, visions, dreams . . . whatever you want to call them.  We also have our own circumstances for some of these to come true and for others to be kicked to the curb.  Mix in a dose of destiny, add some faith, maybe a stirred-in bit of luck, and the results can take us down varied paths.

2015 has been an amazing year.  I'm so appreciative of it being so.  While it's important to take time to plan ahead, it's also important to take time to look back to see what made all of this happen.  That's a part of the process we sometimes forget.

For interior designers, "amazing" can mean so many different things.  The one thing which made this one of my best years?  I looked inward instead of outward because my measurements for success are for me and for me, alone.  I did have some wonderful projects and worked with more of my ideal clients.  I accomplished some personal goals and plan to continue to check off lists which allow me to maximize my time in many different ways - carving out more time to honor my thirst for learning and cultural endeavors, for more meaningful experiences and relationships, for optimal health, and for giving when and where I can fill a need.

I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge the help I've received along the way.  Sometimes it came when I directly reached out and asked for it.  Other times it came from someone not knowing they shared a post or a comment which ignited a spark in my head and in my soul.  In some cases, referrals were made which fortified my business.  Vendors who had my back.  The list goes on.

This week I'll be writing notes to share my appreciation to these people.  An important item to honor on my 2016 list.  Share gratitude above all.

So . . .  while my list is being formulated and the quest to reorganize and prepare is underway for what is to come, come what may, this is the image which inspired me today . . .
All my best to you!  Happy New Year, Happy 2016! ~ Wanda