Five Design Mistakes You Don’t Have to Make

Here’s a glimpse into five design mistakes we frequently see — and how to avoid them!

1. Scale

There is this fear with going big, especially with lighting and rugs. Oftentimes, because of the expense and general apprehension with large items, rugs can end up looking like bath mats in a space. There’s a couple ways to fix this. One, if you have a small rug that you love, think about layering it! Buy a larger rug (like a neutral and inexpensive sisal) and put it underneath! This especially looks beautiful with a hide rug or with a vintage rug. 

Secondly, understand the proper way to select a rug size. Remember you aren’t looking for wall to wall carpet, but you are looking for something that tucks underneath all your furniture. So, make sure that your sofa, side tables, coffee table, etc. are all on the rug. Our typical rule is that all of those items make it at least halfway onto the rug. 

Keep in mind rugs ground a space, so it’s important to get it right. 

Another common mistake on scale is with lighting. Proper lighting is worth every penny, and it’s important to buy the right size fixtures. Because it’s an investment, we often see tiny chandeliers installed over large tables or tiny pendants hanging over a massive island. When in doubt, go bigger — you won’t regret it! Good lighting is like the right pair of shoes. It makes or breaks an outfit (or space)! Take this handmade glass chandelier at our client’s home in Dilworth. It definted the space and added so much personality.

2. Beige on Beige

We can’t tell you how many times we walk into a client’s home and see that every room has a case of the by a biege-on-beige ailment. There is something so comforting for people about going with this neutral route, but it ends up feeling boring and impersonal. This is what brings a lot of our clients to us in the first place, they feel like its not coming together and that it feels dull. We've got you! 

Take this before and after — walls, sofas, accents — everything is a variation of tan. As with most of our clients, we discover this tan on tan look isn’t them, it doesn’t reflect their personality — it was just comforting because it was approachable. We don’t want our clients to copy what they see — we make it our goal to help them create a space that brings to life their story.

To fight this beige ailment, start by putting a fresh and light color on the walls. One of our go-to’s is Benjamin Moore's Classic Grey.

3. Painting With No Test Run

We know everyone is on a budget, and paint samples are one of the best way to stay on track. Professional painting is an investment (and if you’re painting yourself, it's a time investment), so spend $3 per sample and grab a number of paint samples and sample brushes. Or, they have a kit at most hardware stores call Spot-On with paintable and removable decals. Paint the sample right on the decal, let it dry — apply a second coat — and once it’s dry you can stick it on the wall and move it from space to space to see it during different times of the day. 

The biggest trick here is to paint sections of the wall and to walk past it for a few days, noting how it looks and feels to you in different lighting. You won’t regret this extra step to confirm you’re in love with a shade before painting.

4. Going Overly Trendy

Committing an entire space to one trend can by risky. Especially if it’s not you. Sometimes we’ve found that our clients jump on the bandwagon of a particular trend (rose gold anyone?) without thinking about longevity. Our tip is to be true to yourself. If you absolutely loving a particular trend — (a white lacquer mid-century modern console maybe? A velvet headboard? Or patterned end chairs?) — go for it! But don’t create an entire space around one trend lest your love for that trend fades and you’re caught having to replace those rose gold pendants. 

5. Shopping at One Store

This is tied with beige-on-beige for the No. 1 design mistake we see. Often, our clients go into a retail store and get stuck purchasing all their items from one place with the same fabric. While it all goes together, we find that it easily falls flat. Our tip: MIX. IT. UP! If you get a West Elm sofa, try another vendor for your lighting and rugs — and another for your table. 

While it’s good for end tables to match, the coffee table doesn’t need to. While we suggest a pair of nightstands with matching sconces or lamps, the dressers don’t need to. Check out Kell’s bedroom, where she mixed things up with a mid-century console from Atomic Furnishings instead of matching dressers. 

Here’s to hoping your spaces are as authentic as you are, and that the journey to find the right pieces is fun! When in doubt, reach out and we would love to help!

Shop Our Travels!

We believe that travel is the best design school!

Travel is not just a hobby that we love. But we are passionate about every trip we book because we get outside inspiration and we love bringing back unique items for our clients!

It’s so important to us that spaces tell stories. We find that our clients’ faces light up when we bring in accessories during styling day and they hear where the decor items came from. We love that they want to weave these stories into the story their home already tells. Having an online shop makes this story-telling design idea more accessible.

To do just this, our shop featuring our favorite finds from our travels has gone LIVE! We moved from Etsy to our website — AND — to make room for our Morocco finds, all our Mexico items are on on sale!

Currently on our shop you’ll find our best finds from our adventure last year to Sayulita, where we we went with two goals: finding Otomi textiles and a black hammock swing for Kell’s house.

The Otomi textiles, also known as tenangos, take weeks or even years for the women to hand embroider, and are said to be based on cliff paintings in the Tepehua-Otomi mountains. Some say that they may be also inspired by cave paintings in the Mexican Plateau area. While some of the shapes tend to be more abstract, most of them are based on motifs that can date back to hundreds of years ago. We sourced colorful Otomi pillows, a stunning black and white wall hanging and runners!

Design tip: don’t just think pillow when you see hand-made textiles. We used Otomi covers as art by framing them for Kell’s house!

Our best sourcing story from Sayulita is the source for a black hammock. We went pretty crazy trying to find a black hammock because Kell was in the middle of designing her townhome in NoDa — and no lie, they told us that there was no black string left in the town! We kept asking and looking, and finally, on the last day, one of the vendors met us with a black hammock they had just finished weaving. So. she is extra special to HON. She tells such a terrific story.

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If you head over to our Instagram TODAY, you’ll be in the running to win one of our Otomi pillows! You’ll find the rules to enter there — and we’ll announce the winner next Wednesday. Stay tuned for all of our Morocco finds coming soon to the shop soon — and follow along our sourcing adventures on Instagram.

Small Changes, Big Impact

There are definite times when a room needs an entire overhaul, no question about it. (And nothing can shortcut that process.) But what about the times when a space is in decent shape, time/budget might be limited and the room just needs a refresh? Maybe it just needs some personality? A small change can bring a surpisingly big impact and might be just the thing.

To get you started, here’s a few small changes that have brought the biggest impact in rooms we’ve recently designed.

1. Accent Wall

Maybe the space just needs a little spunk — and if so, an accent wall is hands down the way to go. (And that’s if your space allows for it.) Accent walls can also come in the form of paint or our current favorite: wallpaper.

A client in Davidson asked us to bring some grown-up personality to their 9-year-old daugther’s bedroom, making a space she could feel at home in but grow into. When we heard she loved pink — and animals — this mural by Anthropologie was just the thing! Since the dimensions of the mural were smaller than her wall, we painted a border around it, making it a simple, but custom art wall. Add in the tassel pendent and it couldn’t be more adorable.

Two of our favorite wallpapers right now are Rebecca Atwood’s marble wallpaper and this gorgeous gunmetal pattern.

Or try a bright paint! Take this before and after in Plaza Midwood — they had already scored a modern light fixture and a new table wasn’t in the budget, so we went for a bright accent wall instead. New end chairs were added to bring some personality, too, but the overall space was refreshed by painting that back wall, which took less than a can of paint.

2. Light Fixture

Swapping out the light is fixture is often an overlooked way to get a lot of bang for your buck. Lighting is sort of like shoes to an outfit, if the light fixture isn’t right the whole look is thrown off. Not to mention, lighting is just so much fun and one of our favorite parts of the design process. We always tell our clients: lighting is always a worthy investment point.

Here’s a HON before/after example from a cottage in Myers Park where lighting was a huge factor in our overall design. And check out everything lighting by Schoolhouse Electric for more inspiration!

3. Hardware

If you have a solid piece that you love, like a dresser or console, but it needs updating — consider replacing the hardware. This is a great option for kitchen cabinets, as well! Maybe the piece or cabinetry need knobs instead of pulls or matte black instead of brass or visa versa. Order a few and try them out! Some of our favorites right now are these brass knobs and this gorgeous reed and bronze handle.

4. Styling

Often, a space just needs a little styling — removing some clutter and adding in some finishing touches with textiles such as accent pillows or blankets. Our best tips are to start by removing everything from the space, then only add back in what you LOVE. Or maybe leave the space empty for a bit and see what you miss.

Take this space before and after. Styling has incredible power and is so fulfilling in your own space!

Then, think warmth and personality. Layer texture and color with throw pillows and blankets, and buy more than you need and play with them. (You can always return your rejects once you find a set up you love!) Another tip: go an inch or two bigger with the inserts than the pillow dimmensions — and always go for the down filled inserts.

Cheers to small changes making a big impact in your spaces!

Drenched in Moody Paint

As fall draws near, we are really feeling dark and moody rooms! If you listened in to our Q & A last week (check out our Instagram story highlights), beautiful rooms drenched in black -- and in emerald green and in navy -- are right on trend.

Generally, our clients are nervous to jump for a hue so dark because they think it will make a room feel small, but it's really quite the opposite. Here's our tips for taking a space dark.

1. Understand Your Light Source

Study your light source before making a decision on a black or moody paint. If you have a tiny space with no windows, dark paint isn't a good option. But if you have enough natural light coming in, don't be afraid to go dark! Think: wall of windows and gorgeous black walls!

2. Paint the Ceiling

Don't be afraid to take the dark color to the ceiling, the doors, the molding -- do it all! That's the secret that makes the space feel bigger. Opposite of what you would think, painting the trim and ceiling gives a seamless cohesion because your eyes don't break up the space with bright white trim. 

3. Sample, Sample, Sample

Before you buy a couple gallons of paint (or hire a painter), grab samples of the shades you're drawn to. Paint stores offer samples for $5-$10, and painting a section or two on different walls gives the opportunity to walk by them for a few days and see the colors in different light. Our go-to navy is Hague Blue (what Kell used in her room), a rich and dramatic blue that's also timeless. We adore Hale Navy for kitchen islands or cabinets dark blue. We always love a good black and Farrow & Ball's Pitch Black is a true, clean black -- as is Tricorn Black. If you're willing to jump for an emerald color, Studio Green is gorgeous.

A Well-Designed Bar Cart

Cheers to a holiday weekend! Here’s to hoping plans are in the works to relax with your favorites by whipping up a cocktail (or two!) — and what a better way to prep for festivities than to stock your bar cart! 

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One of Kell’s favorite spaces in her house is her bar cart decked out with all the essentials — and it’s a spot that Berk and Kell thoughtfully collaborated on the design. Her favorite part? Next to the drinks her and her husband, Brad, craft up for guests — it’s the textiles hung above her vintage cart. They were favorite finds on House of Nomad’s trip to Sayulita last year and framing them brought pops of color and personality to her entire dining space!

Here are some of our go-to essentials of a well-designed bar cart.

1. The Cart.

Kell’s cart was actually a steal from ALLMODERN. A few carts that have caught our eye lately are the Mid-Century Modern black and brass cart, this antique brass piece, a gold and wood cart that won’t break the bank — and this stylish space saver

2. The Decanter/Shaker.

Kell’s decanter is from Evoke the Spirit, a Sayulita shop filled with locally made goods. While there, Kell swiped the decanter and shot glasses, and while HON didn't bring back any to sell (next time!) some of our favorites are one this Mid-Century one-of-a kind we found on Etsy -- or this glass and leather detail decanter -- as well as this trendy copper shaker. This deco bar set not only adds height to your bar cart display but is your one-stop shop for tools you need to craft delicious drinks. And with a crowd in mind, this punch bowl set would be perfect to have on hand!

3. The Coasters.

We’re suckers for a good black and white print and coasters are no different! We recently grabbed this set for our studio from CB2 — a bold pattern with a wood inlay. This agate set would be good for any season, serving drinks indoor or outdoor!

4. The Greenery.

Add some life and a pop of green to your cart with a live plant or two! If you're thinking of a potted succulent to set on top of the cart, here are our top favorites planters —  a fun planter with metal detail, this elephant planter, or this black and white mini option. Or, if you have space for it — pot a snake plant or palm-leaf variety and place next to the cart to make a larger statement and add more dimension. We love this planter or this modern stand option.

5. The Art.

Further define your bar space by framing some personalized art for the space! Check out the House of Nomad Etsy shop to grab a textile to frame. The wallhangings we brought back are called Otomis, named for the native group that handcrafted them in that part of Mexico. Another idea? Hire a local artist to hand-letter a recipe of your favorite drink to frame — or grab this modern print.

6. The Recipes.

Not only do these books (The Southerner’s Handbook” or “The Southerner’s Cookbook") look beautiful piled on your cart, but they’re pages of tried and true southern advice — and cocktails. Or, head to this online resource by Garden & Gun complete with recipes, behind the scenes videos and more! And — here’s a recipe from House of Nomad -- our summer favorite!

Cheers!

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Mezcal Cocktail

Here’s a recipe Berk and her husband Diek have been enjoying with friends this summer, infused with jalapeños from Berk’s garden!

3 parts mezcal

2 parts Cointreau 

2 parts lime 

1 squeeze of agave per drink

Sliced Jalapeños - 2 per drink

Shake over ice for at least 30 seconds, until the shaker frosts on the outside. Serve immediately. Cheers!

*Note, replace the jalapeno slices with an herb of choice if you're not looking for a little kick in your drink.