The Importance of Vibe: a Q&A with Where to Eat CLT


The Importance of Vibe

A Q&A with Miranda Mounts from @wheretoeatcharlotte

A year ago, Miranda Mounts posted the first photo to her CLT foodie account @wheretoeatcharlotte. Now with more than 10,000 followers, Miranda specializes in finding the best spots locally to eat — places that provide diners with consistent food, experience — and vibe. With our newfound love of restaurant design launched with our Optimist Hall project, El Thrifty, we met Miranda at its opening. We also picked her brain on the best spots to check out this fall in the Queen City — the best food, patios, pup-friendly spots and most of all — the ones with the best design. 

Q: How did you get into the food scene?

A: “I went to North Carolina Wilmington to play volleyball and I graduated and started working inside sales for Inland Seafood. That’s when I started to develop my love for food. I would call up chefs in Myrtle Beach and Raleigh and ask them: “What seafood do you need for tomorrow?” I learned all about cuts of beef and fish.”

Q: How did your sales job impact your current foodie status?

A: “I am not just someone who likes to eat, but I really respect chefs and what they do. Walking in the back doors of restaurant as a 23 year old to talk to chefs was really intimidating.”

Q: What brought you to CLT?

A: “I moved to Charlotte late last September and since I was always guiding people where to go to eat in Wilmington, I started my Charlotte page Oct. 1 last year. I love photography, which I picked it up from my mom who is a photographer. I noticed the post with me in them were more engaging them the post of food, so I developed this brand.”

Q:  So why do you do what you do?

A: “Whenever I travel somewhere, I do hours of research on where to eat and I thought that if people could have one outlet in Charlotte that they really trust and know I am going to send them to the right spot — how much is that worth? It’s priceless.”

Q: What do you think of the CLT food scene?

A: “The Charlotte foodie scene is on the rise to becoming one of the best in the US — in my opinion. With the amount of young, energetic and HUNGRY people moving to Charlotte every day, the restaurants and chefs are going to be stepping up their game and getting more and more innovative.”

Q: What was your take on Optimist Hall’s El Thrifty?

A:El Thrifty is the definition of trendy. It’s a modern Mexican-inspired cantina where you can get handcrafted cocktails in a social environment plus my favorite part — GAMES! The vibe is extremely aesthetic every aspect is Instagram worthy!”

Q: How important do you think the design of a restaurant is?

A: “Honestly, for a restaurant to succeed and to get people to come back consistency is everything. That means that with so many people moving to Charlotte, restaurant owners really need to hone in on the vibe. The vibe is really important. Food is important but if you are not in an atmosphere that’s engaging you won’t come back. The energy makes a difference. At Barcelona, you go in an feel like you are in another city — and they remember my drink order form last time and remember that I love the croquettes, those things bring me back.”

Q: What restaurant would you say has the best design in CLT?

A:Barcelona Wine Bar! The vibe is my favorite vibe in Charlotte, I just love it! You feel like you are somewhere else, like you are in a big city. It’s the best spot to get drinks with girlfriends and is not only really aesthetic but has an old-world feel to it.  I’m obsessed with their Truffle Bikini! It is so simple and delicious. They make mini decadent grilled cheese cut into triangles like a bikini top and stuff them with Jamón Serrano, Mahon cheese and the perfect amount of truffle!”

Q: What’s your go-to fast food eatery in Charlotte with spot-on design?

A: “I consistently recommend YAFO Kitchen for fast casual Mediterranean.  I interviewed the chef recently and he told me the spices in their house-made spice blend come straight from Israel! My favorite item to order is the build-your-own grain bowl with hummus, cucumber tomato salad, beets, feta, purple cabbage slaw and topped with Shawarma Chicken!”

Q: What’s your best date-night suggestion?

A: “Date night must be spent at one of the signature Bruce Moffett Restaurants. Hands down, they’re some of the best restaurants the Queen City has to offer. Good Food on Montford is one of my favorites! Small plates for sharing, exceptional service and an intimate romantic vibe!”

Q: What’s the best good vibe, pup-friendly spot?

A:Flower Child! They are California based and know exactly what they are doing! Located in the heart of the city, they have an amazing patio — and it’s pup-friendly! I always order the strawberry fields salad, add salmon. But, their macaroni and cheese is ridiculous. Make sure to try it.”

Q: What’s your go-to for an extravagant design experience?

A: “I don’t think you can beat the vibe at La Belle Helene. It is an experience and I really enjoyed dining there. They just changed up their menu — putting out some fresh fall options! My go-to is their Hanger Steak and Frites.”

Q: Favorite sushi spot?

A:O-Ku Sushi is probably the best sushi in CLT. They have an option for the chef to create custom dishes for you that are not on the menu. For my birthday last weekend, they created this grilled Hamachi belly (yellowtail belly) topped with toasted pine nuts drizzled with daikon yuzu floating in a truffle ponzu sauce. It was insane. Nowhere else in Charlotte can compare to their seafood, it is top quality! And, from 5 to 7 p.m. on Monday’s and Wednesday’s, they serve half-priced sushi rolls!”

Q: What’s your favorite weekend patio design?

A:Kid Cashew is such a fun restaurant — that patio is a really great design! I love brunch there and they have $3 mimosas! The food is all simple and fresh. My go-to is their lamb burger! It’s one of my favorite burgers in Charlotte. I pick Kid Cashew for their freshness of food and price point — and, they welcome pups on their patio, too!”

Find out more on CLT’s food scene on Instagram at @wheretoeatcharlotte.

HON's Best of Morocco & Paris

Just a few days ago we got our passports freshly stamped, making it home after two weeks in Morocco and Paris! We brought back with us some of our best sourcing memories to date and what we loved about this trip to Morocco (our second sourcing go-around in Marrakech!) is that we saw familiar faces. Habib, the Moroccan artisan who creates HON’s round pillow collection, was someone we had long anticipated seeing again, to talk business, design new products and enjoy a rooftop meal together. While we went last year without a single acquaintance, this year reconnecting with friends and making more connections felt so right. It’s like Marrakech is starting to feel like a little part of the world HON belongs in.


Here’s our best design and travel memories that we want to share before tucking them away for next time!

1. Day at the Coast

One of the first days in Marrakech, we took a day trip to the Moroccan coast to meet with a new vendor. Not only were the coastal views stunning, but we got to design new pieces for our shop (which opens Nov. 9!), which is always a favorite project for HON. Looking through the vendor’s vintage rugs, we were educated in the rug-making process. Little did we know that the faded rug trend that's really in right now means that there are literal fields of rugs! Artisans take vintage rugs and lay them in the dessert and it’s their full-time job to rotate the rugs everyday creating the desired outcome.

2. HON Dreams of a Riad

When booking details for Marrakech, we came across the most charming, locally owned riad run by Alice and Gaby, who say they hope whoever books a stay leaves as a friend. And it’s so true. Everything about the riad was beautiful — the hospitality, the stunning design and impeccable breakfasts delivered to our rooftop. It’s a hidden gem that’s a simple left, then right off the main medina (last year we were often lost, wandering the narrow streets trying to find our hotel). 


This dreamy spot had us dreaming of starting our own riad in Morocco! It’s made it’s way to the top of our dream list and we cannot wait to tackle a design and a space we can share, extending the same welcome we felt with Alice and Gaby.

3. Moroccan Rooftops

Moroccan food hasn’t always been a highlight (minus fare and cocktails at El Fenn) but this trip we found Terrasse des épices in Marrakech. The menu features a modern take on Moroccan foods with a Mediterranean twist, and it’s perfect. And the location is right across the street from Habib’s shop, so we felt at home. We ate on the rooftop, allowing us to get some air, and it the even had a great DJ. Added bonus? They served wine, which is rare in Morocco.

4. Food with a View

Paris was so fun — and everything about the city is beautiful — and decadent. Starting with another rooftop highlight, we had rooftop cocktails at our hotel (what a view!). 

Some of our favorite Paris memories were the foodie spots we found in the Montmartre neighborhood we stayed in. Just around the corner, we discovered Le Petite Moulin, a locally-owned charcuterie spot with seating for just a few. Featuring natural wines and a great selection of fresh, locally made cheese, we got to watch the chef craft each board. It was just perfect.

5. Rattan Everything at MO

It was a dream come true to go to Maison & Object. Everything we saw was rattan and cane, baskets and texture, Africa and basket walls — everything we love! Rattan is truly timeless, something that can fit in with most styles well and adds texture and we loved seeing it stay as such a trend. A favorite vendor was Rock the Kabah, who specializes in textured light fixtures with the best scale. We were hooked!

A favorite Maison experience was seeing our Turkish rug vendor — a familiar face halfway across the world! We purchased gorgeous silk pillows for the shop and he talked us into a sourcing trip to Turkey next year! We can't wait!

6. The Showroom of our Dreams

Going to the showroom and shop for India Mahdavi was hands-down a life changing experience. She's a designer with so much talent that we’ve adored from afar and seeing her style in person was dreamy. Truly, she does nothing wrong and creates playful, colorful pieces with unique silhouettes that are so inspiring. She doesn’t take it all too seriously, and that’s what we love. 


For more photos of our Morocco and Paris travels, check out our instagram and the highlight reel of our travels! And Queen City locals, mark November 9 as our shop grand opening —  come see our finds in person! We just received more than 100 Moroccan rugs yesterday and are so excited to share our sourcing trip goods.

Stay tuned for our full Guide to Paris that we’re releasing soon, adding it to our Travel Guide collection

White Paint & How to Pick It

White paint is tricky. But it’s a House of Nomad favorite to bring a clean, airy feel to a space. Here’s a guide to our favorite whites and how to pick the perfect shade for your home!


1. BEFORE you start

Consider if you want a warm tone — or a cooler hue. Depending on the light in your space, white paints tend to play either off-white or gray. But keep in mind that you want depth to your paint color, so that you don’t feel like you are living in a house splashed with whiteout. A lot of it comes down to personal preference, so grab some samples and chip brushes (or try this no-mess option!) and try them on at least two walls before before you commit.


2. Cool Tone: Pure White

We’ve found Pure White to be a favorite and picked it for this bathroom and guest-room suite we designed in Lake Norman. While it is a cooler tone, it provides a modern feel and we’ve found it to read extremely neutral in spaces with and without sunlight. We’ve also selected this color for kitchen cabinets and it’s gorgeous there, as well!

3. Whole House: Eider White

If you’re on the hunt for a color to take through your entire home, Eider White is our go-to. It plays well with other whites, has a depth to it so you don’t feel like you are walking into a sterile space and brings a really fresh tone.


4. Warm: Snowbound

Snowbound has a warmer tone to it and reads beautifully in kitchens, like this kitchen renovation we completed in Quail Hollow. It reads creamy — but never enough to look yellow. It’s a perfect cabinet paint!

5. Exterior: Simply White

Berk’s house got a paint job earlier this year, and Simply White won out in her sampling test. We’ve also pegged it as a great cabinet color in kitchens and in bright rooms, reading warm and crisp.


For more help with paint selections — and for daily design inspiration, follow us on Instagram as we design and travel to source on-of-a-kind items for our clients and shop!

The Perfectly Styled Bathroom

Here’s the scoop for how to perfectly style any bath! Maybe you have a space that needs a refresh — but a reno isn’t in the budget. You’re in luck! It truly comes down to the styling. It’s amazing what some simple decor, lighting and a rug can do for a space! And, don’t forget the perfect paint color! Here’s a glimpse into three bathrooms we designed and tips for each.


1. It’s all in the paint.

A fresh coat of paint truly makes a space come alive. And, a gallon of paint is a small investment for a huge impact! For a powder bath, we love to take a risk — go really dark on the walls and ceiling or try a funky wallpaper! But for a master or guest bath, we keep it neutral and timeless.

Our tip? Go with a white or light gray, something that gives a clean and airy feel. In this bathroom (pictured above and at tip no. 5) we selected Pure White by Sherwin Williams. In the Plaza Midwood bathroom (shown below at tip no. 4) we used Icy Avalanche, also by Sherwin Williams.

Also, keep in mind the room that the bathroom is adjacent to when doing your paint selection. For all three of these bathrooms we designed, the paint selected for the bathroom was the same used in both the master for a congruent feel.


2. Mix the Metals.

After paint, swapping out the hardware is the best way to modernize a bathroom!

Our tip? Start selecting new hardware by considering the finishes through your home. If you are doing brass in the kitchen, you might pull brass into the master — but if you dont want to commit to brass, that's where the black comes in to bridge the two. A go-to black option for pulls is this hex knob and this modern faucet. For polished nickel, try these pulls and this faucet.

Another way to mix the metals? Pick fun lighting! We love this double-ball sconce as well as this brass option. Don’t be afraid to mix the metals a bit!


3. Don’t forget the toilet.

An often forgotten design area (but often visited nook) is behind the toilet!

Our tip? Don’t neglect this space — try a fan or a few baskets to create a mini-basketwall — or a cute piece of art to snaz up this space. Also, go for a modern toilet paper holder to make a subtle statement.


4. Style the space.

Our tip? Remove everything from your counters to quiet the space. Add back in only what you use on a daily basis — and only add in things you love. Consider getting some fun, decorative containers, like this bowl or a basket (sourced on our trips for our House of Nomad shop!), to hold everyday items. Add a vintage runner for some color and texture!

5. Plant it Up.

Add in a plant, or two! Our go-to is a snake plant, which is the easiest plant to maintain without sunlight and with very little water. Check out our Q&A with Malone’s Greenhouse for plant selection tips — or click here to download our free, printable guide for plant care.

Cheers beautiful bathroom spaces! We love spaces to be functional, personal and well designed. Follow along with our daily design inspo on
Instagram — and contact us if you hit any design snags and we can help along the way!

HON's Best of Bali

It’s been just a week since our plane landed in Charlotte, delivering us and our memories of beautiful rattan everything back to the Queen City. Unlike Morocco, we weren’t able to pack part of what we sourced in our suitcases (turns out rattan does not compress as well as Moroccan pillows) — but an entire shipping container is its way to our studio. We’ll be sure to let you Queen City locals know when it arrives and our loot is ready for shopping!

We’re back in the swing of life in the studio with design consultations, installs and photo shoots, but took a bit to reminisce on our top moments in Bali. Here are the sights, memories and food we will always carry as our first taste of Bali — but not to be the last!

1. Rattan Workshop Visit

What surprised us the most was debunking our assumption that certain rattan pieces might be crafted in a factory! Every piece is TRULY hand crafted. We watched artisans hand bend the rattan to make each and every shape for bar carts, hanging swings and so much more.

The second surprise was realizing we could design our own rattan pieces! From a bar cart, headboards and coffee tables to a beautiful caned-back shelf, hanging swings and accent chairs — we cannot wait to see these custom rattan items come to life.

2. Trade Safari

Our first two days in Bali, we boarded a trade safari where a guide took us to all the go-to spots for sourcing, introducing us to artisans and guided us to custom design locations. Second after our rattan experience -- a favorite was a visit to a manufacturer for Australia-based Barnaby Lane, where we designed some of the most beautiful things we have ever seen, including a favorite hide to be crafted into sling chairs. 

Then, we visited an artisan wood carver where we designed side tables. Not only did we shop a range of traditional, gorgeous Balinese pieces but also ordered custom decor and tables. On another day, we met with a lighting artisan and created designs for HON custom light fixtures — AND met with an incredible leather artisan! We can’t WAIT to share what the Bali artisans are busy creating and shipping our way soon!

3. Air B & B

After our 32-hour trip from CLT to Bali, it truly felt like we woke up in a Domino Magazine. It was an incredible surprise to wake up in this space where every detail had been thought of and every space was thoughtfully designed. From the round pillows to the combo of blush and orange, it was impeccable and so inspiring! A favorite memory was the dance party we had in the pool! If you ever go to Bali, it's a must-stay!

4. Cooking Class

Our favorite way to get to know a culture is to do a cooking class at every new destination. We both love cooking (and lucky for us, so do our husbands!) so once they arrived, we booked a cooking class with the Kenduri Project.

She came to our villa, not only bringing spices and ingredients for a feast but flowers for a tablescape. As we ground spices in a traditional Indonesian mortar and pestle to make sambal paste, we heard the story of her business launch and marriage to an Australian native who relocated to Bali. It was such a fun evening! 

While our favorite of the class was the Kenduri turmeric chicken (a traditional chicken dish made with local ingredients), we’re always up for a good dipping sauce. A menu stand-out was the peanut sauce we made, served with homemade prawn crackers. So delicious! 

5. Sundays Beach Club

After all the sourcing, it was a luxury to sit in a lounger right on the ocean and watch the surfers — and enjoy a drink! What made Sundays Beach Club stand out from other Bali beaches is its location a cove. It took us 1.5 hours to get there and once a day, the tide calmed and we snorkeled and paddle boarded in the insanely bright teal waters. That was a memory worth the 32-hour trip there.

6. Cove Island Essentials

There were so many Balinese shops we adored, but we stumbled upon a retail shop we wished we could copy and paste into our retail location in SouthEnd — Cove Island Essentials. They even had a candle and a perfume they dubbed ‘Nomad,’ so obviously, those made the cut and came back to CLT with us. Next door, a chic clothing boutique owned by the same person offered some amazing coats that we were crazy about. We can’t wait to bring some of this inspiration into our shopping space as we overhaul it this fall!!!

Stay tuned for our full Guide to Bali that we’re releasing soon, adding it to our Travel Guide collection