Love Where You Live - Interior Refresh

Love Where You Live - Interior Refresh

WRITTEN BY Melissa Reardon & Joanne O’Sullivan

Interior Refresh - Start your next room makeover with pointers from an interior design expert
By Melissa Reardon

Redecorating a room can be exciting but also daunting if you aren’t sure what steps to take. Leslie Huntley, founder of Weaverville-based Roost Interior Design, has been helping clients through the process for more than a decade. “Just knowing the difference a well-designed home can make in someone’s day to day is the most exciting part of my work,” she says. “It’s what allows our homes to feel peaceful and rejuvenating, and it doesn’t have to mean spending excessive amounts of money.” Here, she offers steps and pointers for making your next room redo a strategic and enjoyable experience.

When redecorating a room, it’s helpful to start by gathering images of looks and styles you like.  Resources like Pinterest or Houzz are great for building an inspiration board. It’s also helpful to make notes about what you like about each image.

Look for commonalities between what you’ve chosen. What styles or color schemes come through? You’ll want to keep these images handy as you collect your new furnishings, as there’s a danger of turning into a magpie during the decorating process; picking out every new shiny object that catches your eye can create a chaotic space. Remember that not everything in the room is meant to shine; some things need to provide a quiet backdrop for the few things that really stand out. 

(Left) Many hand-me-downs were used in the transformation of the inviting master bedroom.

Take an inventory of what you already own that can potentially be reused and/or transformed. Quality upholstered pieces can be reupholstered. Wood and metal furniture can be repainted or restained. Picture frames can be repainted. 

Measure your room and create a floor plan, noting the location of doors and windows and the space between these elements. You might also want to denote electric outlets with regard to lighting.

Start with the furnishings you envision keeping to create your floor plan and notice where the holes are. Use the floor plan as your guide moving forward so you don’t get distracted and purchase extraneous pieces. Consider practicality: where do you want to put your feet up to watch TV or set down your drink and book, or how many people are going to be circulating through the space?

Prioritize your budget based on pieces that need to be comfortable and stand up to wear and tear and that can stay with you for years to come. 

As you add new furnishings to your floor plan, allow for enough clearance for circulation through the space. Don’t shove all the furniture against the walls. Bring furniture in from the wall if possible; it actually makes the space feel larger

(Left) Color Tip - Don’t be afraid of making bold choices with paint or utilizing dark colors, which can add depth by delivering the illusion of a receding wall; (Right) By using pieces that are meaningful, Huntley’s own home reflects her personality.

Dos and Don'ts

  • Don't skimp on size with rugs, furniture, and artwork. Using pieces that are too small for the space can make a room feel cluttered and disjointed. Can’t afford that large original work of art? Group smaller pieces of art or picture frames together to create a bigger impact. 
  • Do add a mirror, which is a great way to bring light into a space and can make a room appear much larger. But don’t hang a mirror in a spot that doesn’t reflect something interesting. Placing it opposite a window brings the view into the room as well as the light.
  • Do think about adding texture along with color. Diversity among objects and finishes goes a long way toward helping to give a space depth and character.
  • Don't use generic accessories. Use pieces that say something about your history and personality. Your home should tell your story!

Stylish Trends - Three interior designers share looks they’re loving right now
By Melissa Reardon

Statement fireplaces, funky wallpaper in small spaces like powder rooms or on a hallway ceiling, and natural wood cabinets paired with white countertop or tile are among the fresh looks Asheville-based interior designer Hannah Lowman of Hannah Lowman Styling is loving right now. A large-scale gallery wall to display art collections, photos, and other personal items is a trend she believes never goes out of style. Another trending concept: bold, colorful kitchens using rich hues like navy, emerald, or olive make a statement while keeping the space from feeling too formal. This look pairs well with neutral décor.

Dina Gunn of Hendersonville-based August Interiors refers to herself as an “architectural interior designer,” and her work primarily focuses on helping clients select hard finishes in new construction. She sees a continued trend in a “mountain vernacular-meets-modern aesthetic” and achieves this look by juxtaposing natural tactile finishes like stone, reclaimed floors, and hand-hewn beams with clean industrial lines, like geometric tile patterns and uncomplicated trim profiles in woodwork and hardware. In one bathroom (pictured above), Gunn created the look by pairing black steel shower doors and window frames with reclaimed wood. Cleaner profile plumbing in fresher metal patinas is also on trend.



Talli Roberts of Asheville-based Allard + Roberts Interior Design says bold, color furnishings are making a comeback. For years, restrained neutrals have been en vogue, she admits. It’s an easy approach to embrace when not wanting to compete with incredible mountain views. However, “it’s fun to see color making a comeback,” she says. For one project (pictured above), in which the clients have an extensive art collection, they used one focal painting above the fireplace to influence the area rug and chair fabrics in the room.

Room Redos - Discover how small and large changes can have a big impact
By Melissa Reardon

If you feel unsettled with the way a room looks or feels, or if it no longer fulfills your needs (like foregoing the formal living room for a fabulous home office), then it could be time for a makeover. Your budget and the time you have to dedicate to the project will need to be considered, but even small changes, like swapping out pillows, rugs, and lamps, can have a big impact. Here, designers around the region submitted some of their own inspiring projects, which range from a remarkable transformation primarily using just paint to larger-scale makeovers.  

Kitchen Aid - Platt reimagined the kitchen with fresh white paint and new hardware. He added new lighting and painted the solarium framing dark. 

COLOR CONTRAST Design by Parker Platt

As architect and president of PLATT, a full-service architecture, construction, and interior design firm in Brevard (which is also launching PLATT Home retail store in March), Parker Platt surprisingly didn’t opt to build his own house. Nor did he call on any of the five interior designers on staff to help him transform the 5,000-square-foot, 1980s abode. The house, situated on a 40-acre farm along the French Broad River in Brevard, had captivated Platt since he first saw it in high school. But it was many years later before he was finally able to purchase it, even losing a bidding war the first time the house went on the market. The home was very well built, he says, but the outdated interior definitely needed a face-lift. Platt was able to achieve a completely fresh look primarily with just paint and some new lighting. Says Platt, “A house isn’t really a home until it has a great interior.” >>View more photos here

Welcome Home - Since the clients weren’t afraid of a little color, Lowman worked with them to design a light and bright backdrop so that their art, décor, and textiles would be statement pieces through the home, including in the stairwell. The floors were refinished and restained.

CLASSY CHIC By Hannah Lowman Styling

Hannah Lowman worked with architect Jessica Larsen of C.JEM Designs and contractor Swinger, Inc. to complete this first-floor renovation in Asheville’s Biltmore Park. “The clients wanted the main spaces to have a better flow and provide a slightly more open floor plan,” she says. The team updated the foyer to create a welcoming entrance and better access to the formal living room (to the right of the hallway) and kitchen, which she says was the jewel of this revamp. They opened up the kitchen into the family room and added new cabinets, tile backsplash, and appliances. Classic white with gold touches and small pops of color bring this look together. 

Lighten Up - The home sits on a hill, so from the kitchen, it feels as if you’re in a tree house. The team on the project took advantage of this aspect by creating a large picture window with a bar, offering a prime perch to take it all in.

A NEW LIFE By Shelter Collective

Karie Reinertson and Rob Maddox of Shelter Collective may be recognized for their work designing commercial spaces, but their residential designs are equally modern and unique. This full-home West Asheville renovation, which included work from Greenlight Home Builders, transformed a house that hadn’t been lived in for years. “The kitchen was dark and laid out in an odd configuration,” says Reinertson. The solution: they opened up the back wall and installed a large window. Every surface was refinished or rebuilt. And some fun colors make the space pop.

Naturally Elegant - To repeat the natural element beyond the windows, the white soaking tub is contrasted with a tree stump side table.

SIMPLY GLAM By Dianne Davant & Associates

Working with Sky House builder, Pamela McKay with Dianne Davant & Associates remodeled this home in Banner Elk’s Linville Ridge Club. The whole house received a refresh. Silver and gold accents and lots of texture, including hair on hide, wood grains, and metallic sheens, are mixed throughout. And the overall soft neutral palette continues in the master bathroom. Here, existing shower walls were removed to provide more light and connection to the outdoors, and porcelain wall tiles and marble mosaic floors (all from Classic Stone) add a touch of glamour. 

Get Organized - Pro organizer Jessica Varney offers helpful, and accessible, tips for decluttering
By Joanne O'Sullivan

Jessica Varney (pictured above) has always been an organizer. As a teen babysitter, she’d even organize drawers in the homes of people she was babysitting for. Based in Asheville and now known as “The Tidy Up Girl,” she’s a certified KonMari consultant, trained in the techniques developed by decluttering guru Marie Kondo. Kondo’s approach differs from many traditional organizing approaches in that it centers on categories instead of room. Instead of tackling the bedroom first, for example, you prioritize clothing before moving on to books. 

A decluttered home can decrease anxiety. “Stuff occupies space in your brain and your heart. It’s a static at the back of your brain,” Varney says. Without that static, you can focus your attention on pursuits you enjoy. But getting rid of the stuff is never easy. The KonMari approach requires the homeowner to question whether an item “sparks joy.” If not, it goes. It may sound simple, but the emotional attachments we have to our stuff makes it challenging. In helping clients declutter, Varney says she’s a bit like a personal trainer. She’s there to help clients make long-term sustainable changes, not just quick fixes. 

For those who aren’t ready to go full “KonMari,” there are lots of ways to begin the process of decluttering. 

Varney’s Tips to Cut the Clutter

  1. Make a personal vision statement for how you’d like your home to look. It could be a Pinterest board, a written statement or something else—anything that will help you determine a goal. Before you know the “how” of decluttering, you’ve got to know the “why.”
  2. Clear the floor and countertops. Items in these places tend to “attract” other items. 
  3. Give your items boundaries. Varney uses drawer inserts, for example, to make sure everything has its place. When you know what the boundaries are it makes it easier for you to say no to additional items. If you don’t have space for it, there’s no question about whether or not you’ll acquire it. 
  4. Don’t assume better storage is the answer. Sort and discard before you think about storage. 
  5. Allow for transition times in your life. Scheduling activities in your life back-to-back leaves you with no time to reorganize your home and things in between. Hit the reset button each evening—house tidied, table ready for the next morning. This requires saying no not only to too much stuff, but to too many activities. 
  6. Be kind to yourself. Everyone feels that they are “the only one” with a cluttered, untidy home. Not the case, says Varney. “It’s normal; give yourself grace.” 

Finally, Varney says, you can always call in help—a professional organizer or a friend. Decluttering doesn’t have to be stressful. It may in fact be fun … and spark joy.

Call for Help - For info on services offered by The Tidy Up Girl, visit

Photographs by (headshot) Marlumor Photography; (pantry) C Woods Photography; (folding) Damian Lugowski; (shelter kitchen after) This Land Films; (shelter kitchen before) courtesy of Shelter Collective; (Dianne Davant bathroom after) Burton Photography; Photographs by (after photos) Thomas Gaines, Outside In Photography; Photographs (after photos) by Ryan Theede; photographs by (august interiors, 2) carl amoth; (allard + roberts) david dietrich; Photographs by (Powder Room and Living Room) Ryan Theede; (Master Bedroom) Nick Gould; (Dining RooM) Matt Rose