Saturday, August 23, 2014

Treading Water–A Swim Academy Interiors Project

I’m finally coming up for some air in the midst of a busy summer!  I somehow thought, with all of the kids being out of school and vacations reemerging as the seasonal norm, July and August might be a little slower.  Thankfully, these months have been filled with some project completions, stunning photography and some new work with fast deadlines. 

Sink or Swim

While I like reasonable turn-a-round times, I also enjoy knowing we’ll have a projected beginning and ending to our work.  It makes for a much better outcome than to have things drag along.

One of the lovely project surprises came from a previous client, who happens to be the owner of a local swim school, Charlotte Swim Academy.  A side note:  If you happen to be a parent who would like to get your little fishes into the water and with personal attention and care, I’d highly recommend checking them out, and not just because they’re my client.  They have a very client-oriented business model and can articulate it much better than I might be able to share in a post.  Just know your child will have the ultimate experience as they work with them, one-on-one.  In fact, after having a great chat with my client, Martha Sue Crowley, it sounds like we have similar philosophies in personal client care.


We’ve worked together on her residential projects, so I was honored and excited when she called me about helping her to update the pool area, as well as some entry and lobby spaces.  The goal was to make it feel be more connected, more cohesive and well, fun! 

The turn-a-round time on this project was one week.  Yes, we had six days to make it all happen!  Before it begins to sound like a “TV” moment, let me assure you, we had several months to work out all of the designs and logistics.  What may seem simple isn’t always the case.  As we go along, you’ll see some of the challenges we faced.

Here’s where we started in the pool area.  Definitely the core of her business:

Charlotte Swim Academy Pool Area Before Photo

The equipment and training devices were pulled away from the wall and you can see the beginning of the taping as it went up.  Thanks to Bob Andrews for this shot from his scaffolding!  More about Bob, in a few.

With every project, we not only consider the design concept, we also consider the method of which the concept will be implemented.  It’s all well and good to put some “pretties” on the drawing board or the computer, but we have to consider the environment and how we’re going to make it happen. 

To make a long story short, after going through the virtual team rolodex, I realized we needed to outsource some of the work and I was so fortunate to have the team of Bob and Cindy Andrews brought to my attention.  They not only do decorative painting, they also train others and create custom stencils for amazing projects.  I was sure this might be a little more “routine” being that we were working with stripes.  Ah yes, that “assume” word gets you every time.  Think textured walls and a humidity level that would keep any complexion glowing, even in the dead of winter!  Thankfully, we had built in some wiggle room into the timeline and we used every minute of it.  Duct tape works miracles when all else succumbed to the moisture - but having someone who will stick through a project, even to tighten up rough edges by hand with an artist’s brush?  . . .  They got a huge high five!

Here is a ‘during’ shot of the opposite end of the pool.  We added some nautical stripes, life rings and customized banners to help bring in some visual interest, as well as it helps to incorporate logo colors.  The elements also added a way to bounce light back into the space. Another goal was to keep things interesting but visually uncluttered.  I think we hit the mark.

Charlotte Swim Academy Pool Installation Being Completed

Another shot from Bob’s perch, above.  My installer, Anthony, could almost reach the top band without a ladder.  We’re definitely Mutt and Jeff, when standing side-by-side.  I’m off to the right, with my client, as we consider placement of the life rings.

Charlotte Swim Academy Installation by Wanda S. Horton Interior Design

This shot gives you a great perspective on the scale needed for the banners we installed.  Proper scale is one of the key ingredients to a creating a great end result.

Even though it took “just” a week to get the major installations and painting completed, we had to allow for the pieces to come to us from other areas.  Laurie Laizure, of Customized Walls, was my savior!  We needed to create something whimsical, sustainable and moisture-proof for this space and Laurie’s team met all of our needs and in a blazing-fast turn-a-round.  From NH to NC in a week from final approval to delivery!  The 30” life rings had to be ordered from a California company because only small sizes were available, locally.  They freighted them via a Virginia warehouse.  Yes, we spend a bit of time tracking down deliveries to make sure everything is in place, come installation day.

Charlotte Swim Academy Installation - Wanda S. Horton Interior Design

The entry to the pool also received some extra “zip”, here the stripes took away the “tunnel” effect of a one-color hallway.  Some informational photos will be placed in the frames and those will continue down the wall.  New cove base is arriving, too.  My client had found the adorable fish lights at IKEA, last year, and it was a jumping off point for our design.  Definitely fun and fresh!


A big difference from the ‘before’, don’t you think?  A bit less clinical and a lot more welcoming.

Charlotte Swim Academy Before Pool Entry

The phone photos don’t do this all justice and we’ve got some signage and a few other tweaks to go, but come Monday morning, the pool will be back in the business of teaching little ones some confident swimming skills.  We hope the parents are going to be delighted with the changes and while the interiors don’t make for superior swim instructors, we know how important ones work environment can be in allowing us to bring out the best of ourselves to the world.  And I think the clients will also enjoy their overall experience, too!

As they say at Charlotte Swim Academy, “Great beginnings lead to great finishes!”

All my best - Wanda

Friday, August 1, 2014

Behind the Scenes of Design–Our Latest Buzz

Oh my goodness!  I’m glancing at the date of my last post and it looks like I’ve been asleep behind the keyboard.  I’m happy to report all is abuzz in the world of interiors, even though not much sharing has been going on. 


A lovely, kitchen remodeling project has been secured, along with some interior design updates and a fun change is coming to a local swim academy.  I can’t wait to share more about all of them!

Meanwhile, I’ll share a glimpse of our completed project in Ardrey, a lovely Charleston-style neighborhood in Charlotte, NC.  We were finally able to schedule the shoot, in between all of summer’s activities.  It takes a LOT of planning to pull these together, not to mention the selecting and styling all of the pieces, including the food!


(Too much color would have distracted from the fabulous backsplash.)


(Wish I could say I baked these.  Flakiness and all.)


(Mixing just the right amount of texture and pattern.)


(And, oh, the flowers!  These beauties came home with me at the end of the day.)

The pictures are in the process of editing so I just clipped in a few detail shots.  Of course, I think they look wonderful but my photographer, Whitney Gray, is a stickler for getting them just so.  We creative types do suffer from that affliction.  While I was fretting over the styling and placement of everything, she said, “Oh, it’s the perfectionist in you!”  Ahem?  I think we’re two peas in a pod on that one.

I’d like to take a moment to thank Kim Rushing, at August Lily Florist, for her stunning work!  It’s so much better than me running to the grocery shop to grab a bouquet or two.  She gets to see the progress pics and finds some gorgeous flowers and greens to bring the scenes to life.  I also so appreciate the kind support and help of my design friend, Davetta Moore.  It’s sure hard to hop up and down on a ladder to decide if something needs to be tweaked.  There’s nothing like having a second set of talented designer eyes!

I hope you have a wonderful weekend!  I’m going to do a little recharging as a rested mind is a creative one, in this neck-of-the-woods.

All my best! ~ Wanda

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

It’s All About Priorities– Don’t Save it for Tomorrow

I’ve been taking a little blog break . . .

I don’t expect this to be the equivalent of “breaking news”, by any stretch, but after checking in and looking at the date of my last post, even I was surprised!  I used to try to post at least weekly.  (And to my defense, lest I sound to have checked out of writing, I’ve been creating bi-monthly posts for Hooker Furniture Corporation, with lots of story boards and design ideas.)

Kim Seybert Tabletop

(My latest post for HFC – “Style from Sea to Shining Sea”)

Pardon me for digressing.  One of the pitfalls of being off of the blog is I have so much to share but I’m supposed to be on a hiatus, which means my mind becomes full of ideas, again!  Typically, I take off the week of July 4th to slow down a bit and to take stock of the half-way point of the year.  A break is good for me.  This one has been about tweaking some things in my design business, clearing out the accumulation of clutter and information, and figuring out some priorities.  Of course, a bit of relaxation is supposed to be mixed in there, too! 


Relaxation, for me, can be this weird thing called “organizing”.  Afterwards, I feel like I’ve been to a spa day.  I’m so at ease when things are back in place and all of my muscles feel lighter because I’ve gotten rid of that which weighs me down.  I also tend to slow down a bit as I’m intentional in my thoughts and the questions about what to keep and what to either give away or toss.  It’s a very Zen kind of experience.

While I’ve been into closets, files, and drawers, it brought to mind a wonderful article, maybe written before some of you were born! 


“What Special Someday Are We Saving For?” (<click on for reading),was originally featured in the LA Times in 1985 and a reprint was run in 1998.  It’s a touching story about cleaning out the author’s sister’s drawers, after her death.  I think it just goes to show, while our life and times do change, there are some things which should remain the same . . . Priorities.   

At this stage in my life, I can feel my priorities shifting.  It doesn’t mean I’m heading to the extreme, of which I’ve read about some folks presenting living in almost an empty box.  I’m an interior designer, after all.  I do enjoy my “stuff”.  I’m just looking at some of it in a different way. 

And, yes, I DO eat off of the good china . . .


I WILL be back on the blog with my mix of interiors and ponderings.  Some fun projects have been in the works, (think swimming tots and kitchen updates), as well as some exciting news for a new service.  I think the next post will be about age appropriate interiors.  See, I told you my brain is perking!

All my best to you! ~ Wanda  (Have a safe and happy Fourth!)

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Wisdom Comes From Living Through It

We knew her words were wise because she had lived through the many she had shared . . .


♪♫☜(˚▽˚)☞♪♫ ~Maya Angelou

If you only have one smile to give, give it to the people you love. Don't be surly at home and then go out in the street and start grinning 'Good Morning' at total strangers.

....maya angelou.....


And who could forget that brilliant smile?  Soar on, Dr. Angelou.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Designing Your Home From The Garden

Have you missed me?  I’ve sure missed being at the keyboard to share the latest happenings and adventures in the world of interiors.  A “little” respiratory thingy had me appreciating my  Pearson chair and ottoman for more days than I would like to count.  Thank goodness for comfy furniture with great cushions!  

I’ll have lots to share about some of the projects in the works, but since it’s the holiday weekend, I’d rather post some of our garden happenings.  I’m so thankful my dear husband has been tending to things and keeping them well-watered and nurtured, much like his wife, while she was feeling a bit wilted!

It’s beginning to turn towards the hot and muggy season, in the south, but the mornings are still wonderfully breezy.  My cup of coffee has tasted extra special as I’ve meandered through our special outdoor spots.  My walks have also nudged me to look at all of the beautiful options of nature-inspired interiors.

Come along for the tour . . .

2014-05-10 19.33.02 1

(The herb garden, after one of our spring rains.  It’s a combination of pots and plantings in mulch.  Of course, every garden pot looks lovely with a trellis of ivy.)


(Thibaut:  Allison Wallpaper in Apple. 

2014-05-22 09.31.09 1

(Herbs, brushed by breezes, make for a wonderful aroma.)

2014-05-10 19.55.21 1

(The peonies have all bloomed but I have my little still life to enjoy.)


(Peony fabric by Victoria Larson.  I’m in love!)

2014-05-22 09.25.15 1

(The rhodendron are at their peak.  I wish they could bloom all summer!)

Rhododendron wallpaper by Dorothy Draper

(Did you know Dorothy Draper, one of the most revered decorators of the 20th century, used fifteen thousand rolls of this exact pattern to cover the walls of the famous Greenbrier Resort Hotel?  Image from the Cooper Hewitt Collection)

Dorothy Draper’s 1948 rhododendron-patterned wallpaper is reincarnated as upholstery fabric in a new mint colorway on this sofa in the Greenbrier’s West Virginia Wing elevator lobby. The combination of graphic fabric, bold flower-and-trellis carpet, and mint awning-striped wallcovering is a classic Varney nod to Draper’s neobaroque style. | Photo by Michel Arnaud, from the book Houses in My Heart: An International Decorator's Colorful Journey by Carleton Varney (Shannongrove Press)

(Carlton Varney for Dorothy Draper – At The Greenbrier.  So many of these elements are timeless and classic.  I do love a Chippendale sofa and Asian panels.)

2014-05-22 09.27.10 1

(These squash blossoms are the epitome of happy!  I’m predicting a color trend on the horizon.  And some tasty dinner sides, too.)

4 - Homearama FR 2

(A flashback to a showhouse family room I designed.  Everyone deemed it the “Happy House”.  I think the wall color had a lot to do with it and the garden-like feel of the area.  It won the People’s Choice Award, too!)

(Lamps Plus)

Designing your home from the garden?  Absolutely!  While I may not literally be filling your homes with specific garden elements, it’s definitely the place where my thoughts are allowed to run free and I often think of creative solutions with a trowel in hand.  Or with that wonderful cup of coffee, meandering away.

All my best! ~ Wanda

icon-facebook icon-twitter icon-pinterest icon-instagram icon-houzz

Thanks for the follow!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Weekend Design Finds: Black Crow Studios Is Back On Etsy!

Sometimes, as a designer, I so hope I can get a client to step outside of the box and dare to be different with their walls.  Of course, when I mean different, I usually mean custom and not something found in a wallpaper book.

Tracy Hiner, of Black Crow Studios, has designed some phenomenal wall coverings and if you’re not familiar with her work, take a peek at her website!  I’m a huge fan of her watercolor series, as not only does it provide a stunning backdrop, it surrounds a room in pure magic!



You can imagine how thrilled I was to read she has opened up her Etsy shop, once again, to share some of her bursts of color and design in smaller pieces.  I can imagine putting together a whole grouping of these for a big statement!

If you’re a little more conservative about covering an entire wall, take a look at some of her pieces, below.  Just click on the image to head on over to Etsy to make one of these your own!




I hope you have a color-filled weekend and will stop by for a visit to Tracy’s shop.  And if you feel even more adventurous in your interiors, give me a ring to help you pull it all together.  Tracy loves a great design collaboration!

All my best! ~ Wanda

Thanks for sharing my posts!

Share |


Related Posts with Thumbnails