The old saying that the kitchen is the heart of a home has rung true, especially during this past year. For many, it’s not just the place to prepare meals but also an area to work at home or a place for the kid’s homework. A kitchen remodel usually tops the wish list of home renovation projects and a great deal of attention goes into kitchen planning when constructing a new house.
The 2021 Houzz Kitchen Study reveals the top choices and colors when it comes to kitchen design. Read on to see where your preferences fall.
White Prevails. Shades of white are the preferred choice for cabinets, countertops and backsplash material in both renovations and new construction. Light wood cabinetry follows second with gray coming in third for top cabinet colors.
Island of Color. 41% of homeowners prefer a contrasting island, either with a different cabinet color or countertop material.
Top of the List. When remodeling, countertops, backsplashes and sinks are the most important upgrades. Engineered quartz is the most popular counter material followed by granite.
Ceramic or porcelain tile is the top pick for backsplashes and most homeowners bring their tile to up to the cabinets or range hood.
Wood versus Tile. In the survey, tile is the preferred material for floors especially wood look tile. Hardwood floor is still popular though mainly in lighter, natural tones.
Stainless Reigns. From appliances to plumbing, stainless steel is favored choice among homeowners.
Mr. H says: Good food is what makes a house a home-Enjoy!
Whether you’re moving into your first home or tenth home, it’s important for some of your furniture purchases to stand the test of time. Resisting the temptation to fill your rooms with every piece you may need at a low price is tough though and it may end up costing you more money in the long run. While a less expensive option will often make a fine choice for a few years, there are six critical items that really are worth the investment.
Sofa-It’s possible to find a well made sofa in many price points as many frames are crafted in the same way. It’s often the fabric selection that bumps the cost up. A sofa built to last will feature a solid hardwood frame with the legs and arms built into the frame versus attached separately. The seat and back cushion construction will effect both the comfort and the price. My first choice is spring down seat cushions with foam blend down backs which offer comfort and support. High-resilient foam wrapped in a down and feather is a good option too.
Dining Table-A quality dining table is a must have regardless of your of your lifestyle. Purchase a table that’s durable and will withstand the daily use from your family. A solid wood table with clean lines will last for decades and can be refinished down the road. A table with one or two leaves is also worth the extra money as it allows for flexible seating of additional guests.
Dining Chairs-While your table top will take a lot of abuse, the chairs you choose will be the dining space work horse. From being pulled in and out, sat on and even stood on, it’s a must that your chairs be of solid wood construction that can hold the weight of your family. Make clean up of spills and other accidents easy with a performance fabric that will keep your seating looking great for years.
Upholstered bed-A queen size (or king if you have the space) upholstered bed in a neutral fabric can start out in a master bedroom and migrate to a guest room if you upgrade. Select a classic design, with a solid wood frame that can work with a variety of design styles. I prefer a complete bed with upholstered side and foot boards eliminating the need for a dust skirt. Bonus tip: Invest in a high quality mattress. We spend a lot of time in bed and it’s important that your mattress lasts for a good seven to eight years.
Chest of Drawers-A solid wood chest of drawers can be used in a myriad of places. A simple, classic design can be repurposed to hold clothes in the bedroom, linens in the dining room or be used as a TV center in the family room. Look for dovetail joints on the drawers, with sanded and finished edges. Wood on wood glides and a center rail support will help keep your drawers from sagging.
Accent Piece-Your home is a reflection of your personality and lifestyle. Investing in a piece you truly love like a painted desk, an antique mirror, or anything else that strikes the can’t live without emotion is worth the money.
Mr. H says: Your home should be a collection of what you love-Enjoy!
It’s one of the first questions I ask when I’m working with new design clients. Defining the feelings, you want to have when you’re in your home is key to understanding the home’s function, creating the experiences that conjure up those feelings. Ideally having all your family members answer these questions will establish a guide to how your home should be designed.
How do you want to feel when you come home after a long day?
What do you want guests to think about your home?
What three feelings come to mind when you think of your dream home?
When you reach a consensus on those feelings these are tips on achieving those emotions.
A Welcoming Home
If feeling welcome is important, then consider what guests may see when they walk in. Is there clutter in your entry? Do you have plenty of comfortable seating for guests? It’s not just about guests either, everyone in your family should feel some connection when they come home. Displaying family photos and having your family’s favorite things out will create a warm vibe.
A Relaxing Home
If snuggling the pets on the sofa or having family pizza night in the living room is relaxing to you then expect your home to show some wear. If having your feet on the 19th Century coffee table stresses you out, then you need to rethink your pieces opting for a different look. A relaxing home won’t necessarily equate to a perfect home so be realistic with the amount of clutter and dust you’re comfortable with and commit to keeping your home at that level.
A Peaceful Home
We’ve heard it many times that your home should be a sanctuary, especially in these trying times. Leaving the outside world at your doorstep can be attained with minimal clutter and soothing neutral colors. Thick drapes and blackout shades help eliminate outside noise and annoying streetlights.
A Creative Home
If you’re an artist, quilter or even an occasional crafter design a home that inspires you. Have your supplies readily available and easy to set up. If it’s creative cooking you’re into, arrange the kitchen so that your knives and equipment are within easy reach. Communing with nature and playing music is symbiotic with generating creative energy.
A Fun Home
Commit to having more fun at home with family activities like game night or happy hour with your neighbors. Don’t overthink a new bold paint color and colorful curtains creating a youthful home that feels fun.
A Safe Home
You don’t need to invest in an expensive security system to feel safe at home. Get to know your neighbors, install good quality window and door locks. Operable window coverings boost privacy and make a home feel more secure.
Mr. H says: The magic of home is that it feels good to leave, and feels even better to return-Enjoy!
Just because most of 2020 was canceled doesn’t mean that lazy days spent at home have to be too. With vacations off the calendar this summer use that time to make your back yard a retreat. Creating an affordable water oasis is within reach with these brilliant ideas.
Stock Tank Pool
During the dog days of summer, having a pool is top of the must have list. There has been a run on above ground pools and installing an in ground version may be financially out of reach. You don’t need to resort to a plastic kiddie tub for your cooling fix though. Stock tanks have become a popular and inexpensive way to incorporate a soaking area in your yard.
Regular-size swimming pools may dominate a smaller sized lot making a plunge pool ideal when space is at a premium. These pared down pools still follow the code requirements as their larger counterparts and much of the equipment is the same. Costs would be dependent on the finishes and ease of excavation.
An inflatable pool can be ready for water in fifteen minutes and is just a click away. Having a built in filter is critical as this keeps the water fresh for weeks though you may need to top off the water level due to evaporation once it’s filled. Best of all once summer is over it can be stored away until next year.
Man Made Pond
Unlike a traditional, chlorine-filled swimming pool, a natural pool is designed to mimic an old fashioned swimming hole. Natural swimming pools are filtered organically with a gravel filter or a plants that clean the water. While not an inexpensive option, a bio pool would blend into yard’s landscape adding value by giving your home a water view.
Where we choose to spend money is an actionable step that we can all take to relieve the socioeconomic challenges that African American companies face in our country. While I talked about some Charleston home related businesses to support these companies are small, black owned shops that provide goods via the web. We all love to shop online so next time your’e searching for home decor keep these noteworthy boutiques in mind.
Rochelle Porter Design Atlanta-based artist Rochelle Porter creates bold, vibrant patterns for printed products, including apparel, home decor, electronic device cases, packaging, stationery and much more. Her brand combines her passion for patterns with her commitment to social responsibility.
Southern Elegance Candle Co. Self proclaimed southern belle, D’Shawn Russell crafts her scents to conjure up a slower, more simpler time. With names like Back Roads, Front Porch, and Summer Bliss these divinely packaged small batch candles are created in Raeford, NC.
AphroChic Interior designers Jeanine Hays and Bryan Mason, curated their online shop with striking pillows, poufs, rugs and lighting. This husband and wife team is dedicated to exploring the intersection of modern design and global culture across diverse populations.
Reflektion Design This home accessories brand is geared to culturally inspired people who love to express their authentic self through design. Sourcing products with a discerning eye for pattern, designer Anitra Terrell offers products that help you create a home that feels collected not decorated.
Tackussanu Senegal Jasz Dio and Cheikh Biaye bring handmade basket decor by Senegal artisan women to the United States market. Their neutral and colorful wares come in wide variety of sizes and styles so finding one to complement your decor is easy.
Bolé Road Textiles Born in Ethiopa, Hana Getachew, brings a diverse collection of products to the home decor market. This Brooklyn based designer’s love of color is evident in this expansive home decor shop that helps customers create spaces they love, while supporting economic development in Ethiopia.
Effortless Composition: This one-stop shop for eclectic home decor is carefully curated by owner Brittiny Terry. Sourcing from Istanbul to Los Angeles, she partners with skilled artisans to bring fresh designs to life.
More fabulous finds can be found on this extensive list compiled by Shoppe Black. Happy Shopping!
While the entire world feels on edge, let’s dream of the places we want to escape to when it is safe to do so. When you want break from it all check out these incredible vacation homes that inspire relaxation and rejuvenation.
Spain-A spacious and elegant home in Aloha, in the heart of Nueva Andalucía. Surrounded by a lush, tropical private garden this villa has a large salt water swimming pool and lovely covered chill-out area.
Italy-A restored home built in the tradition of the ancient Roman Villas in this part of Tuscany it is nestled between the Apuan Alps and the Tyrrhenian Sea. From the beautiful veranda overlooking the garden, you can see the Island of Elba, the Gorgona and the reliefs of Corsica.
France-Locted in Mougins, this sumptuous new contemporary villa is just 15 minutes away from Cannes and 5 minutes from the Old Village of Mougins and its restaurants. The landscaped and intimate garden has a heated pool and a pool house.
Costa Rica-Casa Teresa is a new ocean front luxury villa located on the white-sand beach of Santa Teresa, Costa Rica. Located on the beachfront, the house is walking distance to the restaurants and bars of town.
North Carolina-A little closer to home, this Lake Norman rental property is reminiscent of the traditional lake vacation. Tucked away in a private setting, endless lake views create the ideal ambiance to unplug and relax. Bonus: it is only three hours by car from Charleston!
Mr. H says: A vacation is what you take when you can no longer take what you’ve been taking-Enjoy!
As an interior designer, I love that I’m constantly exposed to designers, artists, and craftsmen from all over the world. While I work with a few African American people in the Charleston area, I admit that I’ve not made a concerted effort to support local minority-owned small businesses. Like so many others, I am horrified at the many unjust acts committed against people of color in our country. In these uncertain times, moving just a fraction of your purchases to a black business can make an enormous impact. Here are a few local companies and artisans that are committed to making our homes and community a better, more beautiful place.
Iconic Granite & Marble
Offering fabrication and installation of granite, marble, quartz and natural stone countertops in homes and businesses. Iconic Marble & Granite, owned by Cory Steed, has over twenty years experience creating custom kitchens, baths, exterior spaces and more.
For well over 30 years, Charles L. Hudson, Jr. AIA, NOMA has been designing custom homes and spaces for commercial and religious projects. His firm, Hudson Designs, with its impressive portfolio, is located in the heart of Johns Island.
Smithco Services LLC
Husband and wife team, Michael and Cassandra Smith, form Smithco Services LLC. A licensed general contractor, master electrician and master plumber they can handle all your construction needs.
If your yard needs a tune up, contact Tony Spense. Providing landscape design, hardscaping, irrigation and maintenance services, Lowcountry Greens, is committed to providing excellant service at reasonable prices.
Neema Fine ArtGallery
Meisha Johnson, the owner of this Broad Street gallery, exclusively features original art by Southern African American artist. Alicia Goodwin jewelry, pottery by Winton and Rosa Eugene, and paintings by Ted Ellis and James Denmark are among the seventeen artists that can be found at Neema Fine Art Gallery. A Certified MWBE Woman Owned Business the name Neema translates to favor, grace and prosperity in Swahili.
Sweetgrass Basket Makers
One of Lowcountry’s most venerated hand craft is the sweetgrass basket. Passed down for generations since the 1700s, this art was brought to America through the enslaved people from West Africa. Mary Jackson is one of Charleston’s best known sweetgrass basket artisan and in 2008 was a recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship and a 2010 NEA National Heritage Fellow. Her work is on permanent display at the Gibbes Museum of Art.
Local artists include Corey Alston, Tonya Aiken, Mazie Brown, and Chlorissa German. More resources can be found at Mount Pleasant’s Sweetgrass Cultural Arts Pavilion or taking a drive North on Hwy. 17 which is known as the ‘sweetgrass basket makers highway’. The Charleston City Market, which is home to over 50 resident Gullah artisans, is great place to find unique, locally produced products.
Mr. H says: We become stronger when all of us stand together-Enjoy!
With our country in the grips of some life altering changes you may be feeling rather stressed. Just turning on the news or scrolling social media can raise your blood pressure and bring on a headache. Its been said repeatedly that our homes are our sanctuary and we should take the steps to actually make it feel like one. Now is the time to consider how your home’s colors may be adding to your anxiety. While you may have noticed that certain colors alter your mood, you may not realize that color affects your subconscious as well. Certain cultures use color to promote health and wellness. Known as chromotherapy, color and light are used to restore imbalances in a persons physical, mental, emotional or spiritual energy. Here are my tips on colors to avoid and the best alternatives if you want to create an oasis at home.
Yellow: Often associated with happiness, yellow can also activate the anxiety center of the brain. Bright yellows, especially neon shades, should be used sparingly as an accent. Try buttery, yellows that remind you of summer days or deep golds that connect you to a sense of the past.
Red: Studies have shown red rooms increase our heart, respiration and blood pressure rates by activating the pituitary gland. Red is a showstopper, making it a powerful design tool for creating drama. Used in excess though it will inhibit relaxation and should be kept out spaces you want to chill out in. Shades of peach and coral will still stimulate creativity and interpersonal interactions without the revved up feeling associated with red.
Black: Talk about dark and gloomy. While black rooms can be so chic, they will do little to make you feel uplifted day in and day out. Try instead cozy charcoal grays which can still feel dramatic though less oppressive than a true black.
White: On the opposite end, stark white feels clinical and not at all relaxing. Opting for a warmer white, can still feel clean and modern while producing a relaxing vibe.
Green: Popular yellow greens make fantastic accent colors especially when combined with neutrals, however steer clear of these bright yellow greens as they can be mentally overwhelming. While green has been well documented as a relaxing color to be around, stick to softer tones that lean more blue green like Sherwin Williams “Sea Salt”
Mr. H says: Color can speak to the soul in many ways-Enjoy!
So you’ve found yourself having to work remotely, and like many are woefully unprepared to to do so. With the health crisis continuing to loom well into the future, now is the perfect time to take stock of an underused space in your home and create your “go to work” zone. At a minimum your home office is going to need a computer and a surface to set it up on. Beyond these basic components though what additional items you’ll need depends on the work your doing.
The Space. Assess your home for the most underutilized room in your house. The formal dining room that may get used twice a year, the guest bedroom that has been a dumping ground for items that need to be organized or tossed, or even a garden shed can become the perfect home office.
The Desk. Think about what components you’ll need on the desk. Do you to spread out files or use multiple monitors? Purchase the largest desk that will fit into your space keeping in mind you’ll need at least 30″ between the desk and other inanimate objects likes shelves or file cabinets for comfortable passage. Be sure to locate near an outlet too so that a traditional PC, desk printer or lamp can be easily plugged in.
The Chair. Your desk chair should be on wheels so that you can easily move within your workstation. It should be adjustable as well to allow you to ergonomically position yourself for computer viewing. This graphic shows the optimal set up that will help with back and neck pain, eye strain and fatigue.
The Storage. Consider what kinds of storage you may need when you are working from home. Bookshelves, lateral files or any other specialty furniture needs to be considered when planning your space.
The Equipment. Wireless printers and scanners can be tucked away in a closet though they should easily accessible as well. You shouldn’t have to move a lot of stuff around to add paper or change out an ink cartridge.
The Layout. This plan is about the size of an average bedroom and shows some critical issues to keep in mind when planning your home office. Have enough clear space to maneuver your desk chair and allow for flow around the space and leave enough room to fully open file cabinets drawers.
Mr. H says: The first five days after the weekend are the hardest-Enjoy!
Are you currently having trouble finding your usual cleaning supplies? With stores selling out of bleach and other anti bacterial products as soon as they hit the shelves, it’s become difficult to keep your home virus free. Fortunately, you most likely have some natural cleaning alternatives already on hand. Here’s a run down of non chemical based items that are easy on the environment and your own health.
Lemons: This common citrus is nature’s cleaning miracle. Due to their high acidic content, lemons have powerful antiseptic and antibacterial properties. Rub a slice of lemon across your chopping board to disinfect the surface. They are a natural deodorizer and smell great. Use lemon sparingly on counter tops and tile though as the acid can etch the surface.
Hydrogen Peroxide: Not only can hydrogen peroxide disinfect your doorknobs, it can clean and brighten your laundry as well. It’s a great bathroom cleaner as it kills the coronavirus and mold. Use caution though, since like bleach, it can ruin bright fabrics and fibers.
White Vinegar: Like lemons, white vinegar is a cleaning powerhouse. It is a weak acetic acid that has robust antibacterial properties. It’s effective in removing stains when diluted in water and can be combined with other natural products like baking soda to clear a clogged drain or clean soap scum.
Essential Oils: Advocates of oregano oil sing its praises for its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antioxidant properties. Used as a natural alternative to commercial hand sanitizer, oregano essential oil inhibits the growth of bacteria. Other essential oils that have a wide range of medicinal and antibacterial properties include, tea tree, citronella, geranium, lemongrass, orange, and patchouli. Do some research before you use on your skin, since some oils can cause an allergic reaction.
Vodka: While delicious in a dirty martini, vodka can be used as a disinfectant, remove stains and kill mold. Wipe down a surface and let it air dry to sanitize. Look for 100-proof vodka for the the most antibacterial power and obviously don’t buy the most expensive brand for this task, save those brands for happy hour!
Baking Soda: With no known antibacterial properties, sodium bicarbonate, is still a great product for a healthy home. This eco-friendly and affordable cleaning supply is effective on grease, is a non toxic oven cleaner and when mixed with water is a fantastic all purpose cleaner.
Mr. H says: Cleaning and organizing is a practice, not a project-Enjoy!