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

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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.

Basket Wall Tutorial

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Art is tricky — and basket walls are the perfect art option that makes a big, beautiful impact. They’ve become a House of Nomad (HON) go-to and are versatile whether you want a playful wall with pops of color (like this Lake Norman craft room designed by HON) — or a monochromatic collection, keeping the baskets to natural and black. The baskets not only layer the room in texture, but also bring in the story of where the baskets were sourced into your space.

Take our word for it: basket walls truly are not hard! But, there also is an art to the order of the steps. We’re giving you all our best advice here, step by step — timelapse included!

Step 1: Wall Shop

The number of baskets you need depends entirely on the size of your wall, so start by selecting the best wall you’ve got to hang baskets!

  • Tip: Places we love to do a basket wall include the living room, a large installation in a craft room, above a console in the entryway, above a piano — or a more sophisticated grouping in a dining room.

Step 2: Basket Shop

More often than not, art is purchased too small for a space — so keep that in mind as you tally up your basket list. Don’t skimp on the baskets!

  • Trick: When ordering baskets, stick with odd numbers. A nice grouping can start as small as 3 — for a mini-space. For an upcoming HON installation, we have as many as 27 ready to hang! Make sure your baskets are all different sizes, usually 1-2 large and 1 small, with a few in between sizes. It works to have a few the same size, but try to vary for the best look. Keep in mind, you don’t want baskets that compete.

  • Source: Search “tonga baskets” on Etsy or for “woven African baskets,” and note that the ones that are wrapped tend to hold up the best! We love to mix in a few simple, monochromatic ones and then add in a statement basket or two. The statement could be in the color, pattern — or size.

Also, be sure to check out African wall discs, which are stunning! But get ready, those can be pricey!

STEP 3: Tape it Up

On a roll of kraft paper, trace the largest part of the circle and cut out each shape. Using green tape, tape them on the wall.

  • Trick: Don’t be afraid to do this step, just get taping! We typically start with the larger baskets, then fill in with the smaller ones. Start with them pretty tight, like you are forming a cluster.

  • Common mistake: The most common mistake with basket walls is that the baskets are too far apart! They should be tight knit, which creates a custom art-installation feel. Our favorite way to fight this mistake is to provide some overlap.

  • Tip: Before you commit to your pattern always STEP BACK from the wall and look at it from when you walk into the space. Walk in and out of the space and look at it from different angles. 

Step 4: Basket Up the Wall

Take it from our install team: the simplest and most secure way to hang baskets is to use finishing nails and push them gently through the front of the basket.

  • Tip: Look at the weave of each basket and in between two of the weaves, find that space where you can slide the nail, so that it won’t be visible. Hold the basket over it's corresponding piece of paper, press/hammer in the nail — and gently pull the paper off once it’s hung.

Happy basketwall hanging! Cheers to layered, happier spaces!

Stay tuned for details from our BALI trip, where we died an went to basket HEAVEN and sourcing ALL the baskets for the Queen City. Follow along with our adventures on Instagram, and we’ll post details for studio parties and pop-up sales soon!

Fresh Floral Designs: Nectar's DIY Tips

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It’s inspiration, fun and literal LIFE that House of Nomad tries to bring into every space we design. This means plants, flowers — and greenery of all kinds. For every install, potted plants come through the door (worked into the original design!) and for every photo shoot that follows, fresh flowers always make the cut. Greenery and plants are not just finishing touches but game changers for a space, incorporating texture and layers of beauty and life. 

But fresh flowers can be tricky. Turns out floral design is not as simple as it looks. Our friends at Nectar sat down with HON this week, answering a plethora of beginner’s questions on how to start out creating simple arrangements. From what flowers to reach for in the first place and what vase to use to four techniques to follow, Nectar’s owner, Karisa Pennell has us covered. Here’s a glimpse into HON’s chat with Karisa — and photos of our communications manager tackling the tricks she learned while styling a HON kitchen design!

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Q: Are there any flowers should you stay away from as a beginner?

A: “Flowers that are hard to use as a novice are Gerbera daisy and sunflowers -- anything that has a flat head to it is hard to design with.”

Q: What type of flowers are go-to’s when learning to design arrangements? 

A: “When you go to shop for flowers, how do you chose? What goes with what and what complements? If you can go by color palette versus flower type that helps. That way, you are not overthinking it. For example, maybe go with all whites or all yellows.” 

Q: What’s the best vase to work with?

A: “I personally like a square shape vase, I feel like the corners help in the design. Anything that has a v-opening is really hard to design in, because the stems start to rise up and out of water and arrangement tends to splay open.”

Q: What size vase do you recommend?

A: “Anything bigger than a 5" opening takes a lot of flowers and is hard to work with. Start with a simpler container, anything 3” to 5” is perfect.”

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Q: Once you’re flowers are set, where do you start?

A: “The techniques for how to build an arrangement smartly are broken down into four main points of design: form, lines, color and texture.”

Q: How do you build your form?

A: “The first thing we teach is how to build your form or the base of your arrangement. Think first, what is going to hold everything together? You will want something that will create that base naturally like greenery or hydrangeas, gibing you a tight grid to add stems to. Start to build a structure by putting your stems in a concentric fashion — building your grid in a round shape. Build the first layer and then continue to add more in a clockwise fashion.”

Q: Any tricks of the trade when tackling this first step?

A: “Clear, floral tape is a trick! You put that on your vase in a tic-tac-toe shape and secure it with a piece tape all around the lip. This creates different sections so your stems then are not weighing each other down. Floral netting is also good (better than floral foam) and you can reuse it. In a pinch -- purchase from flower shop you can reuse!”

Q: How do you think about color as a floral designer?

A: “The color wheel may seem really old school but lots of bold colors can really fragment your arrangement. If you don’t want to do all one color, stay in a monochromatic tone — that is the way to go.”

Q: Let’s talk a bit about texture.

A: “As far as texture, I think about contrast. Put textured thistle with soft ranunculus to give it contrast. Or, if you want something really sweet and simple -- then go all soft. Try hydrangeas and dusty miller.” 

Q: Do you have an insider’s floral tips?

A: “A good way to design is to pull your container almost to the edge of your table and then you can gauge your stem length. You can always cut your stems shorter but air on conservative side; cut it down as you need to and not all at once. Another trick is with line flowers, like snap dragons for example, you will want staggering heights. Take three stems in your hand and arrange them, then cut all three of the stems at once! Naturally, you will have them at three different lengths.”

For more information on Karisa and Nectar, visit their studio in Elizabeth, follow along with their designs on Instagram @nectarfloralboutique or visit www.nectarfloraldesigns.com

Or! Come to the Plaza Midwood Home Tour this weekend — check out the home HON designed and see a floral design by Nectar featured in the dining room. Have a Birdsong Brewery beer with us and chat design — home and floral. We hope to see you soon!

Let's Get Minimized: a Q&A

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We’re minimalists at heart over here and relish a good project where we help our clients peruse through what furniture to keep in a space — and what to pass on — so they truly LOVE their homes. We want their spaces to not just be beautiful but livable, and for them to display their most beloved items that tell stories about their lives. 

But let’s be honest, some projects we’ve come across involve a major decluttering — and that’s when we call in a local experts like Minimized so our design process can follow. We’ve followed Matlin Pessarra and her team and we loved talking to her this week, getting the inside scoop and tricks for not just decluttering a space, but creating a lifestyle of daily purging. Matlin is light-hearted and fun — she even laughed as she confided in us that naturally, she is a stacker — and has self-taught everything she knows about organization. 

Q: What first got you into organizing, a pretty niche line of work?

A: “I am originally from near Raleigh and have moved around a bit. I taught elementary school for four years and really loved it, but found myself becoming obsessed with organizing my classroom. I remember doing a lot of research — one of the reasons I love what I do so much is I am so interested in the psychology behind organization. If kids are going to learn, they need to feel comfortable and the classroom has to feel like home. Other teachers started asking for help on their classrooms and it just turned into helping people.”

Q: Is organization in your DNA?

A: “I am not naturally organized. I am naturally a minimalist, so I don’t have a lot of things which makes it easier to keep tidy —  but I am a stacker like no other. It has just been a process of realizing for myself that I need to stop that habit and create new habits. A reason I love working with clients is that I can relate to them so much. I understand that sometimes it is not natural and I love talking to people about incorporating new habits so you are not having to do a new clean out every month.”

Q: Do you find that your clients similar in their disorganization or the same?

A: “I have these four organizing personalities and all my clients fit into one of them. I call myself a stacker — a piler. Then there are shoppers, who are just people who buy too many things. Then there are the shovers —- their homes are so beautiful but if you open a cabinet or a closet something might fall on you. And then there are the solvers, the people who try to make solutions and have all these organizing supplies but they don’t have the system set up correctly.”

Q: What’s the biggest tidying habit you suggest incorporating into daily life?

A: “If there was one overall tip, I would say create a drop zone in almost every space to put those things when you realize you no longer need them. In the closet, next to your hamper, have another basket so when you try things on in the morning and think, “Why do I even own this?” instead of hanging it back up — you put it there. Get into that habit of setting things aside instead of putting them back. So you don’t have to do a huge purge, instead it’s something you are doing daily. With playrooms, I suggest working with kids and explaining to them that when they are done with a toy, they can put it in this basket over here and then it will go to another kid. Parents say that no way, their kids won’t do that but kids always do it! And then it takes work off the parents.”

Q: What projects are you hired most frequently to tackle?

A: “We definitely see a variety but our most popular spots are closets, pantries and play rooms. It’s pretty much any spaces that are behind closed doors where people tend to shove and not want anyone to into them.”

Q: What do you see as the greatest need in the minimalism/organization?

A: “The greatest need people have is realizing how to change their habits in order to get their homes where they need to be. A lot of people are not used to going through and purging and donating so they tend to get really overwhelmed and get to a point where they don’t even know where to start. I have to talk to clients about how once we come in we can help declutter but you have to keep up with it. Getting people to set up those cycling systems to have somewhere to put things to donate or set things aside is really important.”

Q: What’s your take on Marie Kondo style of organization?

A: “I love Marie Kondo! I’m glad it’s got people’s attention onto the power of decluttering. I get the whole sparking joy thing, but I have joked with so many clients about it — paper towels and batteries do not spark joy for me but we need them. Her whole style is a little extreme but I appreciate parts of it. I love that she talks about organizing by category instead of by room. Like if they want to organize their hardware or manuals —- she suggests one that she has one place for it all. Not one stack in your kitchen and another in your laundry room. And of course her folding! I just love that when I look in my drawers now I can see everything from there. It stops things from piling up and getting stuck in the corners.”

Q: What’s the biggest mistake you see that people make when trying to purge?

A: “One big one is focusing more on the supplies than the actual decluttering. Almost every one of my clients already has bins — a lot of people’s clutter is storage products. They are just creating more clutter.


Q: What’s a misconception about minimalism/organizing?

A: “One of the misconceptions I find a lot with clients who hire me is that as soon as I get there, they have an idea of a new system put in! They always jump to supplies or shelving or more cabinets — which will create more storage — but one of the things that people don’t realize is that they have to deal with the clutter first. If you go in and put in more bins you are just containing the clutter — you are really not organizing.”

Q: Your tagline is, "You don't have to do it all." I love that, can you elaborate? 

A: “The reason I stuck with you don’t have to do it all is that especially when I started the most popular question I got was: “Well, can’t people do that themselves?” Our time is worth money and energy and if you are not organizing every day and you don’t know the right process, you might spend weeks on one area where you could call people in and have it don in three hours. I am all about focusing on those things that are important to you!”

Q: What’s your organization process?

A: “The process that we follow can be different depending on the clients, sometimes we come in when they have just moved or are about to move or have been there for awhile. We have a three-step process that starts with minimizing, then organization and then styling. Minimizing is decluttering. We try to take every single thing out of the space, remove everything and begin to categorize and purge as needed. This step is the most time consuming, it totally depends on the client. As for organizing this is really space planning and we try to use products and space people already have! For styling, we will recommend some different products once we have gone through and purged and see what they have.”

Q: Which part of the process makes you come alive?

A: “Definitely the styling because I am seeing it coming all together! Almost every single time they say to me, “Are you scared? Are you overwhelmed by my spaces?” — but I love it! When I walk into an area that people may seem as messy I see the potential of what it could be and sometimes when we are going through the process you almost forget what is looked like so I love having the before and after!


Q: Do you have a go-to organizational item?
A:
“Something I use in almost every project is some sort of turn table. The Container Store has so many different types — plastic ones, bamboo ones, acrylic ones, but they are so helpful for so many different things. For example, for corner shelves or for under the sink — they are great so you are not having to dig through and things getting stuck in the back.”

Q: We often design playrooms -- what are your tips on keeping playrooms organized?

A: “I have a lot of thoughts on playrooms especially as a former teacher but something I talk to clients about a lot is how limited kids attention spans are. If you give them a bunch of options they are going to try to use every single option. You don’t have to have every single thing out and available. I suggest putting things up and away even if kids can see it but cant reach it but then they are asking for it and you are seeing what they are asking for and playing with.”

Q: Should every house have a junk drawer?

A: “Every one is going to have something that feels like a junk drawer. For example, I live in a small one bedroom apartment and in my kitchen I have some extra gum and lighters and candles and spare keys in a drawer — but they are not just tossed and shoved in. I don’t add to it — they all have their space. I think you can have a “junk space” without it feeling junky.”

Find out more on Instagram at @getminimized or visit Minimized.

15 Grasscloths for Every Budget!

Wondering how to add some texture to a space or add some personality to your powder bath? Grasscloth may just be the answer. Here at HON we are still obsessing over the wallpaper trend with the bold patterns and colors but we understand that it's not for everyone. So for all you grasscloth lovers out there this list is for you!

We have gathered 15 grasscloths in a variety of styles and price ranges that can transform your space in a day or two. Some of the most interesting ones we think are the grasscloth wallpapers with rich texture and printed patterns! 

Tip: This may not be the best one to hang for a first timer.... The glue that is required to paste your wallpaper will easily stain your grasscloth, so if you are one of the kids that did not color in between the lines (like Berk and I) this project is not for you. Also, due to the thickness of the grasscloth it is a challenge to cut off the excess where it meets the ceiling and the baseboard or chair rail is. Don't let this scare you- just hire a PRO ;) 

Nomad Design Tip: Grasscloth is a great way to add some warmth and texture to a space. It also adds a custom feel to your home that is uniquely you- so we are all for it! Some of our favorite spaces for grasscloth are offices, small studies and powder baths. (stay away from bathrooms with showers- this stuff does not like humidity). If you are wanting todo an accent wall we suggest you use one of the options with a pattern! When taking a design risk it is all about commitment... be sure to bring in a similar pattern/texture elsewhere in the space (pillows, decor, rug) to help bring the space together!