Lighten Up

Open layout shows off classic colors

Grace Shearer loves her beautiful brick home in Fuquay-Varina, but there came a day when she decided its look needed refreshing. She had ideas, and sought professional help to bring them to life.

Enter interior designer Amy Brothers: With more than 25 years’ experience, and as a member of the American Society of Interior Designers, Brothers knows that inviting a designer into your home and embarking on a design project can be daunting. But, as Shearer found out, it doesn’t have to be.

Left: In the dining room, Brothers changed the fabric on the chair cushions, added accessories, and brought in color with a new wool rug. “Sometimes it’s easier to fall in love with a rug and find fabrics, than vice versa,” she said. They kept the existing drapes, which were made by the same workroom as new treatments added elsewhere.

Right: A new sectional replaces a dark sofa, while a tone-on-tone rug pattern adds depth and interest.

Nancy Pardue: What were the goals of this project? 
GRACE SHEARER: I had a wish list for the family room, dining room and kitchen. Before, the family room had paisley brown drapes and a dark sofa; everything was dark. We like to entertain, and it was time for a change.

AMY BROTHERS: The scope of this project, which took about three months, made it easier for Grace and her husband, Charles, to concentrate on making selections. First, I asked questions about their lifestyle, if there are children or pets, and what functions the rooms serve.

How do you communicate visual concepts?
AB: That communication is important. I asked them to show me pictures from magazines and websites, or things they’ve seen on home shows. We started with the rugs; sometimes it’s easier to fall in love with a rug and find fabrics, than vice versa. Grace and I went together to look at rugs for colors. Clients need those visuals.

GS: Amy and I clicked right away. She’d show me this, and that, and I’d say, Yes!

Tall French doors in the family room required functionality, so Brothers used three curtain panels that soften the height of the ceiling. She added a green band and trim for pop on each panel. The trim’s taupe, black and gold subtly bind the window treatments to the rug and upholstery.

The Shearers chose a classic color scheme.
AB: Yes, one that will not quickly become dated. Next, we looked for elements that work together. That flow is especially important with the open layout, and yet we want enough differences to define the separate spaces.

Were the French doors a challenge?
AB: The family needs to be able to open and close the doors to the backyard, so we looked for balance on the window treatments in using three smaller rods. The curtains also soften the height of the ceiling, and the glass.

The fabric of the curtains was too plain by itself, so we added the green band and the trim for pop. Its taupe, black and gold pull in all the colors of the room without being too matched. It’s a subtle way to bind the window treatments to the rug and upholstery.

A backsplash of glass tiles in the kitchen is one of Shearer’s favorite updates; under-cabinet electrical outlets and LED lighting were also added.

And in the breakfast nook?
AB: On the bay window, we did a mock Roman shade with custom scallops. I drew a picture for the workroom, and they did the final measurements, using protractors to get the angles. This represents many hours of work. It’s all one piece, and truly unique. The workroom balanced the scallops over the windows, matched the pattern throughout, and added hand-sewn cording on the bottom edge for a finished look.

For the custom rug, we chose the color, size, border and overall design. And in the adjacent kitchen, we added a backsplash of glass tiles, and under-cabinet LED lighting. It’s a cooler, cleaner light. There are no outlets on the backsplash; they’re under the cabinets too.

Highlights of the project appear in the breakfast nook, where a mock Roman shade features custom scallops carefully balanced over the bay window and hand-sewn cording on the edges. “It’s all one piece, and truly unique,” Brothers said. The custom rug offered Shearer input on color, size, border and overall design.

What did you change in the dining room?
AB: Here we changed the fabric on the chair cushions, added accessories, and brought in some color with the rug. We kept the existing drapes, which were made by the same workroom as the new ones.

What’s your favorite part of the results?
GS: The biggest surprise was how much I love the backsplash! And the rugs … and the couch … and the layout! I’m just so pleased.
Amy Brothers Interior Designs
(919) 552-7022

READ MORE: 10 Reasons to Hire a Designer

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