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

Finding Your Style

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More often than not, when couples sit down in our studio for a design consultation — we quickly discover they have different styles. And most often, their design styles aren’t just distinct but they are opposite, like a West-Coast Cali-vibe lover married to someone set on Southern charm. 

But we love this. It’s always a fun design challenge to not just create a cohesive design but one that reflects dual personalities. We start by finding the common denominator — what’s something they both love and agree on? And then, we find what they are each drawn to and how we can incorporate must-have aspects from both clients.

This design process means we get to know the clients really well, which we love, and we do so by taking them through a number of exercises. Pinterest is where we start, showing them galleries of images based on what spaces we’re designing. We watch for what they are each drawn to — and what they are not drawn to. This helps establish patterns for each person and we can find where they intersect. Almost always a color emerges that they both love. We also show them examples of our previous work and ask them what they like — and what they don’t. Is this kitchen way to modern? Dining space too traditional? 

Once we start to find their style — we start the compromise game. We may have discovered they both love blue, for example, so the designs reflect that vibe as the foundation. If he’s set on a leather couch with modern wood accents, maybe we jump for that piece but then soften the design with textiles and pillows that reflect her personality. 

Another trick we’ve found so unifying for most couples is to include an unexpected element in the design. If it’s a one-of-a-kind light fixture — for example — often both clients are thrilled and drawn to it, and bond over that being in their space.

Check out this dining space, as an example (shown above)! During the design presentation, immediately they both intrigued by this light fixture. The layered glass was unique and they both loved that they’d never seen it before. As for the rest of the space, we touched on his style with the modern, streamline table and chairs. We also incorporated a wallpaper that she loved, making the space welcoming and a room that reflects them both.

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Across CLT, we designed another dining space (shown above and below) where he was drawn to a textured light fixture and she — a bold wall color. He compromised on the bright paint for her, and she went for the light fixture and a rug he liked. The space sings to both of their styles.

For the design of Kell’s house in NoDA, Kell and her husband Brad (who designs furniture!) worked together to create cohesive spaces. While Kell is drawn to modern and eclectic, if it was up to Brad — everything would have a mid-century modern vibe.

They worked together in this dining space with chairs that have a nod to mid-century with the caps — but then incorporate Kell’s personality with the hide and curved bucket seats. They both loved the light fixture and across the space, incorporated a mid-century piece from Atomic Furnishings in Asheville.

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Their bedroom also reflects a unified design with them both loving the moody feel of the deep-toned walls. Off this vibe, the duo picked a mid-century piece that Brad had his eyes on with Kell’s pick: a velvet headboard and textiles that reflect her eclectic eye. It’s a pure mix of them both.

Happy Valentine’s Eve! And cheers to all the couples who have pushed our designs to the next level with your distinct personalities and love for your homes!

Travel Tips from Thailand

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I just returned from Thailand, which is hands-down my favorite place on earth! While I’m still unpacking my bags and it’s fresh on my mind — here’s my best travel tips, and Berk chimed in here, too! Here goes our do’s and don’t’s of international travel — with some favorite Thailand shots thrown in.

1. Before You Leave

  • Grab your passport and check the expiration date. If needed, apply for a renewal - ASAP!

  • A passport holder is a fun way to keep track of your important documents!

  • Once your flight is booked, check your airline and download their app. Sign up for flight status notifications. Create the wallet option on your smart phone so you’re not juggling passports and tickets and boarding passes.

  • Research the converter you will need! Before you hit the airport, make sure your phone is charged so you aren’t in line worried about showing your boarding pass before your phone dies.

  • Apply for TSA Pre-Check and Global Entry! We think the $85 membership fee for five years is WELL worth it — it’s a lifesaver, especially for the trip home! Keep in mind you have to apply in plenty of time prior to leaving on your trip but it saves (ALOT!) of time in customs and security lines both going and coming.

  • Download 3-4 movies, a few podcasts and a book on your Kindle! Last trip, I stood in the airport trying to get my movie to download and it never did. Make sure you go board ready with some fun media to look forward to!

  • Search “sleep” on Spotify and download a sleep playlist. It’s so worth it!

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2. Pack in These Bags

  • And what I mean by “bags” is BAG! Berk and I never check a bag — unless it’s an EMPTY duffel to bring back full of goodies for our shop! This is a favorite suitcase!

  • Pack light! Just fill your carry on what you love! This not only cuts down on travel prep but strangely cuts down on stress during the trip. While in Thailand, I had less options to chose between day to day. Your favorites are always enough. Five days prior to leaving, lay everything out that you might bring. Set the items in your guest room bed, perhaps, so that you can walk in and out a few times a day and start removing things you’re not thrilled about bringing.

  • This Calpak laptop bag is tried and true and we’ve found nothing safer or easier to carry for our computers! It’s a backpack and stylish, too.

3. Tuck these in your carry on

  • Nothing is worse then chapped lips on a plane! We never leave the house without this!

  • Travel-size dry shampoo is your best friend while en-route and all trip long.

  • This (travel size) facial spray is magic for when you start to feel like you need a mid-flight refresh.

  • These no-leak containers are perfect for toiletries.

  • Berk and I both are suckers for a travel uniform, meaning our favorite joggers, a T-shirt, lightweight and comfy sneakers (perfect for when we have to sprint to our gate!) — and most of all, soft socks. Sounds ridiculous but it makes the hours and hours on a flight that much more comfortable.

  • Tiger Balm is magic — it’s a tiny container, perfect for your carry on and takes away headaches and neck/muscle tension quickly.

  • I love having these Colgate Whisps on hand to freshen my breath in between flights.

  • Neck pillow — this one is perfect, Berk and I have both used it every trip we’ve taken! It inflates/deflates so doesn’t take up too much space, and truly I can’t sleep without it!

  • Benadryl — take it 20 minutes prior to being ready to go to sleep and turn on your sleep playlist!

  • Investing in these noise-canceling headphones is a no-brainer. They dramatically changed my experience on flights! They’re incredible.

  • Eye Masks really help get your zzz’s in on a flight!

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4. Airport Tips

  • When you have long layovers, find the closest lounge to pay to get into and use their shower! Definitely worth the fee!

  • Buy some healthy snacks ahead of time or in the airport shop — they always have a nice selection and will help you feel better during your flight.

  • Buy a large bottle of water prior to boarding your flight — and try to get some steps in. We walk our terminal at least twice, just trying to prep for a long time staying seated.

5. Once You Arrive

  • When you get into the international airport, make sure to stop at the kiosk and swap out SIM card on your phone! All international airports have numbers of places to do this — and even better, it is really economical!

  • On every trip, we also rent a hot spot so we can work remote — and stream music/vidoes while we travel on the bus/subway!

Next month, expect a Guide for Thailand to be released and a summertime Guide to Tulum! In the meantime check out our Guide to Marrakech and Guide to Sayulita.

Cheers to a new year full of travel!

Introducing Our Guide to Sayulita!

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If you’re looking for an epic way to clear the winter blues, consider jet setting straight for Sayulita. It’s surprisingly affordable (check out this poolside VRBO villa!), a short flight away not to mention incredibly beautiful and full of creativity that forever changed our perspective on handmade goods.

We’ve created a downloadable Guide to Sayulita to make the trip enjoyable at every turn — best places to stay, eat, shop and enjoy a drink. Here’s our inside scoop to Sayulita with stories from favorite moments, items we brought back — and a recipe to our go-to best Mexican cocktail (no matter the weather!).

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Quickly, we learned the Sayulita artisans are not only talented — but endlessly patient. These gorgeous macrame masks had a high price point because they can take more than a WEEK to craft. Each stitch is handmade and the entire mask is covered in intricate, gorgeous designs.

We snapped these photos outside the local shop, Evoke the Spirit, and wished we had time to sign up for a class — next time, we’ll work that into our agenda. Also — invest in a mask! Every time we think of this day, we regret not bringing back more and they’re stunning art pieces!

A highlight of our trip was the Saturday market in the center of downtown Sayulita! Be sure to plan the trip around shopping this expansive market, it’s where we found all of our best handcrafted items. Artisans come from all over Mexico to sell their work at this market — from pom pom strands to otomi (traditional Mexican embroidery) to straw masks.

No joke, we immediately bought up 60 strands of pompoms from white to bright, multicolored strands to turquoise and brown — we fell in love with them. Just to give you a glimpse: we were dying laughing trying to make a path in our hotel room — we had so many bags of pompoms we could barely walk through our space.

We’ve loved working these pieces into clients home such as this little girl’s bedroom in Davidson, where our last multicolor strand was just the think to make her window more playful. The straw mask added some personality to the open shelving in a client’s Uptown apartment — it was so him and the perfect finishing touch.

We don’t just love the items in client’s designs — but we designed our personal spaces with these items in mind! In Kell’s living room, you can see that this corner includes a hammock handmade in Sayulita, a bright cactus planter we picked up at the Saturday market — and a mask handmade in Sayulita. Not only do these pieces add personality, but they give Kell a reminder of our adventures, and to keep a global, creative perspective. Our spaces are curated with things we love and items that evoke inspiration.

A BEST memory of Sayulita was the hammock. Kell landed in Sayulita with the goal of finding a black hammock for this corner and NO LIE — every local artisan we talked to told us that there was not a single strand of black string left in the town! We didn’t give up. By the end of our days in Sayulita, EVERYONE at the market knew who House of Nomad was because we were the blonde duo who kept asking for the black hammock. On the last day, one of the vendors met us with a black hammock they had just woven. So — she is extra special piece!

A trip to Mexico would never be complete without some mezcal! We stumbled upon Cava, where we did a trio mezcal tasting — and that’s when our love affair with mezcal got deep. There are days we will just dream of these modern bar stools, the warm Sayulita wind pouring into the restaurant and the kick in our favorite mezcal cocktail.

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It’s absolutely delicious and they even passed along our favorite pineapple mezcal recipe from the trip! It is not only refreshing but has a good kick to it! If you can’t fit in a trip to Sayulita, at least make this drink for a wintry Charlotte day and help you dream of warmer days. Cheers!!

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Pineapple on Fire

  • Mashed pineapple

  • Chilli Serrano (2 slices)

  • Coriander

  • Lime

  • Salt

  • 1 shot mezcal

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