del ZIO Designs Interiors, LLC, Chapel Hill
My design signature: Every client is different, so every project is different. However, most clients have some vision of what it is they would like to see and experience in their spaces but are not completely sure of how or where to go to pull it all together. We help our clients expand their vision and give them options of what “can be,” while suiting their needs. If there is one common thread in our projects, it’s our use of eco-friendly products whenever feasible. Our membership in the Sustainable Furnishings Council affords us insights about today’s “green” and “eco-friendly” market.
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Favorite thing in your home and where it came from: A French clock that was a surprise Christmas gift several years ago from my husband. It was made in Paris in 1860 and came with its provenance papers. The clock must be wound every seven to eight days. It chimes once every 15 minutes and on the hour. It’s heavenly.
Favorite method for design inspiration: Fashion magazines are my first “go-to.” What people are wearing has a tremendous influence on how they live. How we dress guides color, shape, style, texture and accessories in interior design.
Key question you ask all your clients: Have you ever worked with an interior designer before? This is a really important question since it forms the basis of our new relationship. Their expectations will be different depending upon the answer.
Best way to transition décor for fall and winter: Change out the pillows, throws and blankets to ones with heftier materials. For example, put away the linen and cotton and pull out the wool and velvet. Faux fur is really popular now. If you keep candles around the house, change their color. Experiment with layering just as we do with clothing when it’s chilly. Layer pillows and throws; be bold and lay area rugs over carpeting or even over each other. Bring in pumpkins, chrysanthemums, gourds and branches. Put them together in simple ways to make beautiful arrangements.
Best décor refresher for under $100: Group some accessories on a side table, such as picture frames, vases, a bowl and candle holders on a tray. Scour the house for these items and pull them together. Sometimes all a room needs is some rearranging. Switch the layout or move furniture or accessories from one room to another and mix things up. This can make a big impact; it’s almost as if you’ve moved. Another idea is to install dimmers for lighting; varying light levels changes the look of a room.
Open shelving or cupboards in the kitchen: Open shelving can be wonderful to display beautiful or unusual cookware, china and kitchen collections. The reality is keeping it all clean and organized is a job. I recommend cupboards because everything is out of sight. With that being said, however, have one or two cupboards with glass doors to show off the really special things.
Your favorite designer: I absolutely love Jamie Drake. He is a fearless artist; I admire that.
Best travel souvenir: A sterling silver spoon I purchased in Australia. The spoon was manufactured in commemoration of the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1932. It is hallmarked and numbered (only 200 were made) and features the bridge. Its Art Deco-influenced styling makes it very usable rather than just a showpiece. But I think it means so much to me because Australia is far away and I don’t think my husband and I are going back any time soon.
Biggest design risk and how it turned out: Early in my career, I was hired to redesign a not-very-large living room and dining room and the client was rather specific about what she wanted. I designed some custom furniture that was large and finished up the rooms with oversized pieces. I also convinced the client to redo the living room fireplace completely, take down the wall between the two rooms and bump out the dining room by 2 feet so people could walk around the dining table and chairs on the side of the room that had a window. This also meant changing the heating system and adding central air. I stayed awake nights until it was finished. The result was breathtaking by comparison. For a rather new designer this was an ambitious and risky plan. After all these years, the client is still happy with the result.