10 Questions Decorating Secrets from The N&O Design Team

10 questions: Decorating secrets from the N&O design team

November 2, 2012 

Pat Lowry of Pat Lowry Design in Chapel Hill.


Pat Lowry

Pat Lowry Design, Chapel Hill



Your design philosophy: Home as haven or home as place to work, the space should say something about the people who live and work there.

Undressed windows? Where and when? Unless there is an issue with privacy, light control or heat loss/heat gain, leave the windows undressed. Bring the outside in! If “softness” is desired around the windows, that can be achieved by adding fabric panels or linen sheers and decorative rods.

Besides a comfortable bed, every master suite needs: Serenity, calm and peace – and that means no TV or computer. The master suite should represent the combined tastes of the couple in a warm and personal way.

A rule of thumb for mixing old and new: Make your home your own. Be inspired by your past: collections, art and family mementos. Don’t be afraid to mix styles. Example: A clean, new modern sofa paired with a 19th century chair can add balance to a room.

Favorite shelter magazine: I have several favorites, from Architectural Record to Traditional Home.

Favorite color combo: For a small room, I like to use a light blue/green paint in an eggshell finish, which visually expands the room. It is beautiful in combination with cobalt blue accents and accessories. In rooms with high ceilings, I often suggest a darker version of the wall color for the ceiling to make the space feel cozy.

Best use for a quart of paint: Paint an accent wall. Choose the color from existing fabrics, rugs or accessories in the room or an adjacent room. This works well behind a bed or to add interest behind a special art object.

Your favorite recycling/repurposing/craft project: I bought a beautiful small chair at a yard sale for $2 and recovered it with a fabric remnant. It found its new home in my living room.

Carpet or wood floors? Carpeting can be cheaper in the short term, but the investment in hardwood will pay you back many times.

My best tip for do-it-yourself designers: Buy several shelter magazines and get your scissors ready. Create a file (or files) for the things that catch your eye. It may be a single piece of furniture or accessory, or the overall ambience or color of a room. When you are ready to start your project, these files will prove invaluable. This also works well if you decide to hire a design professional. A picture is worth a thousand words.

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