Saturday, March 21, 2015

A Design Gift

I recently completed a fun office makeover for a young professional couple.  The wife emailed me in December and asked if I would redesign her husband's office at a local university.  She planned to surprise him for his January birthday.  This would be the second design project with this sweet couple, so I was excited for the opportunity to work with them again.

As you can see in this photo from our initial consultation, the husband  brought in  items that he planned to use for decorating his office, but just never quite got around to arranging them:

My first job was to assess the space and gather information from the client so that I could suggest what items should stay, and what needed to be removed.  The office had recently been painted, so we would work with the existing color.

The husband's wish list was short:  he wanted a small conference table for student meetings and a new, comfortable desk chair.

After taking the necessary measurements and snapping a few photos, I was ready to get to work on the design plan!  

Once we agreed on the plan, I began sourcing the items we needed.  My first stop was The Red Collection, one of my favorite consignment stores, where I found most everything we needed at great prices!  I shopped Craigslist and found the remaining items on my list.

One month after our initial meeting, I met the wife again for the installation! This is the surprise her husband found when he returned to his office (Happy Birthday!):

Most of the accessories that you see throughout the space were his.  I found the desk chair and the small 36-in round table in the foreground, at the consignment store.  The two banker's chairs were found on Raleigh Craigslist from a lawyer's office who was remodeling.  I picked up the succulent plant on his desk from a design studio.  We removed one bookshelf and moved the remaining two into the recessed area behind his desk, which was a great space saver!
I found the credenza and the lamp at The Red Collection consignment.  The framed art pieces all belonged to my client, so I just needed to find the best way to display them.  A gallery wall above his credenza was the perfect solution!
The small 36-in round table and the banker's chairs are working beautifully for teacher/student conferences.  The rug is another Red Collection find.
 I picked up the live plant on the table from Lowes.  
My favorite  part of this project was the reveal!  I wish I had turned on my camera as soon as the husband walked into his "new" office!  His happy reaction is just one of the reasons  I love my job so much!  He was beyond excited and I hope this makeover will add a little cheer to his workdays! 

I am looking forward to working with them both again next month as we  begin Phase 2 of their own home design project.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

A Catch-Up Post!

It has been such a long time since I posted anything on this blog, I really don't know where to begin or which projects to share first!  I think I will begin with my latest project that I completed earlier in the week, and work backwards from there.   First, let me update you on what I have been up to for the past several months!   I have several projects I am working on right now and they are all interesting, in their own way.

Today, for instance, I began the day by ordering furniture and accessories for Client #1, who have been a lot of fun to work with.  They moved into their 1970s Ranch-style home in August and decided to call me in to basically set up their new home.  They needed help sorting through what they already owned and deciding what to keep and what would not work for this new home.  We also chose paint colors, selected art, and ordered new furniture to mix with some of what they already owned.  We have repainted every room in the house, except for two bedrooms and the kichen (the kitchen is going to be completely remodeled this summer).  We chose fabric for window treatments in the dining room, and ordered a new dining table and chairs for that room. We also put a new rug and light fixture in there.  However, we were able to use some beautiful art that the clients already owned, along with a couple of beautiful antique Asian-styled lamps, and two matching antique bachelor chests.  I ordered matching Moroccan-style antique gold mirrors to go over those chests today.   I spent most of the day with them on Saturday styling their bookcases, hanging art, and rearranging furniture.  We just received word today that their new sectional sofa I ordered for their family room will be delivered tomorrow!

By lunch time today, I switched gears to focus on Client #2, a family from out of state, who purchased a second home in North Carolina where they plan to retire one day.  I started working with them as soon as they purchased their mid-century modern home with its gorgeous view of the golf course.  We have slowly. but surely furnished the home from top to bottom; including everything from rugs, art, and lighting, to accessories, bedding, and window treatments.  I have really enjoyed working with them as we focussed on designing one room at a time!   Right now, we are working on the custom window treatments for the great room and office area.  The fabric for the great room was actually ordered from England, and delivered to my house today!  It is beautiful and I can't wait to see it hanging in their home!  I somehow managed to load the heavy 50-yard bolt of fabric into  my car and deliver it to my workroom, where the drapes will be custom made.  I still need to order all of the hardware for hanging the drapes.  After lunch, I researched landscape architects in the area to recommend for their exterior spaces.  I found two excellent candidates, and I feel that either one they choose will be well-qualified to beautify their property.

Another item on my to-do list today was to  deliver a beautiful grasscloth  wallpaper to my wallpaper hanger for a new-construction project I have been working on since July.  He will be hanging this handsome paper in their library tomorrow.  This excited young professional couple should be moving into their new home by the end of this month, at which time we will begin shopping for furniture and other items they will need.

Client #3 is a project that was begun last spring for a professional photographer and her young family.  When it comes to design, this energetic client is always open to trying something new and way outside the box!  We installed beautiful window treatments in her family room and completed a fun outdoor living space for her last summer. We were just beginning her media room last fall when we had to put her project on hold because she had become so bombarded with shooting family Christmas portraits and weddings, that she did not feel she could do justice to the decorating decisions that needed to be made.  She called this week to say that  she is ready to resume design plans for the media room!  I stayed up way past my bedtime last night,  preparing a new presentation for that space.

Those are just some of my projects that happen to be on the front burner for this week.  There are several other big projects that are at various stages, and are not requiring my immediate attention, for now.  Earlier in the week, I staged a home that I will be sharing with you in today's blog post.  For the past several weeks, I've enjoyed designing a Mama/Baby room for preschool children and their mamas!  There are just a few unfinished details to complete before this project can be photographed.  Stay tuned for a recap of this fun project, along with pictures!   I also recently completed two kitchen showrooms in Graham and High Point, NC that I plan to share with you soon!  In January, a former client hired me to surprise her husband with an office makeover for his birthday.  I wish I could have videotaped this university professor's  priceless reaction at the reveal, but suffice it to say that he was very happy with his new office!  I will share the befores and afters at a later date!  In fact, I have not blogged about the dramatic transformation to their own home!  We completed the first floor of their home in July, and I will begin working on their upstairs later this month.  Finally, I am looking forward to sharing pictures of a sunroom I designed for some dear friends last fall.

This coming Friday, I am scheduled to meet with the regional manager of Marsh Kitchens to discuss the upcoming Home and Garden show in Greensboro, where they will be displaying three kitchens for the show.  They have hired me to stage the three kitchens.  Needless to say, I am excited about this new project, and I expect it will move to the front burner after our Friday meeting.   In other exciting project news, I heard from a former client today who just  purchased a beach property in  North Carolina, and would like me to help decorate it!  I am excited about decorating a beach property, and will share pictures when we've completed this fun-in-the-sun project!

In addition to working with my regular design clients, realtors often call on me to offer staging consultations for their home sellers. I also use my own furniture to stage their unfurnished listings.  Last summer, I had three homes staged at one time with my own furniture, and they all sold within a couple weeks of each other!  Moving three sets of furniture within a couple weeks just about did me in!  As you can imagine, staging a home involves a lot of heavy lifting, and is very labor-intensive, so I decided to par down my staging inventory to one set of furniture instead of trying to keep up with three sets.  I have sold most of the furniture and accessories for the other two houses.

Today, I want to share before and after photos from the cute bungalow that I staged earlier this week.  I only installed the furniture, art and accessories.  I did not select any of the flooring, tile, or other finishes that you will see.  The house actually goes on the market tomorrow!  As you will see, staging makes a difference! 

Dining Room Before

Dining Room After

Living Room Fireplace Wall Before

Living Room Fireplace Wall After.

Living Room Sofa Wall Before

Television wall in the Living Room.

View just inside the front door before.

Same view after staging.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

A Stormy Staging Experience!

Recently, North Carolina was hammered with an unusually heavy snowstorm that left most of us snowbound for a few days!  Rare snow events of this magnitude happen here in central North Carolina only once or twice each decade, so I relished every moment of this one!  I thoroughly enjoyed spending that first snow day relaxing on my sofa and watching the snow fall for an entire afternoon, into the evening hours!  The following day, my son and I sledded with our good friends for most of the day and again, by candlelight, that night!  What fun!

However, today's blog is about a storm of a different kind that I experienced just a few days prior to that beautiful snowstorm.  It began on a Friday afternoon, when I received word that my proposal to stage a home in our town had been accepted, and I would be expected to have the home ready for photographing by the following Friday.  I spent most of Saturday feverishly shopping for furniture, art, accessories, and rugs. Then, on Sunday morning, rumors of a big snowstorm moving in on Thursday began to circulate, and I felt a little uneasy about finishing the job in just four days, but I remained fairly confident that I could finish on time!  By Sunday evening, however, the forecast was changed to snow on Wednesday, and suddenly, I had two short days to finish shopping for furniture, moving everything in, and setting up the house! To say I was more than a little nervous about how I was going to pull this one off, is a gross understatement!

I am certain that, under these snowy circumstances, the realtor and the homeowners would have understood if I had postponed the staging until the following week, but I wanted to be able to enjoy this rare snow event!  I did not want to have even one thought concerning the how-to and the what-if challenges that are part of every installation that I complete.  I felt if I put my nose to the grindstone, I could get this job done in time to enjoy the impending snow days with my young son!  So, for the next two long days, I shopped, painted, arranged, rearranged, hammered, and drove many miles back and forth between Raleigh and Greensboro, determined to get the job done! And at 10:00 pm on Tuesday night, I put the finishing touches on the house and vacuumed my way out the front door, feeling completely exhausted, yet relieved and satisfied that I had given my very best effort to finish the job.  After a quick trip to the grocery store, I made it home just in time to savor every beautiful moment of the next two snow days!

Here are the before and after photos from that stormy staging experience:

Master Bedroom

 Master Bedroom Before
The headboard, nightstands, lamps, bench, and framed art were
consignment store finds.

Master Bedroom After
The Bachelor's Chest was a nice Craigslist find.
I purchased this lamp from Target.

The Dining Room

Dining Room Before
Dining Room After

My friend helped me paint these dining chairs and reupholster their seats.  I got them for a great deal at my favorite consignment store.
The table was from a wholesaler in High Point, NC.  Tuesday Morning had just received a shipment of rugs on Tuesday morning, and I snatched this navy trellis pattern one for a song!

The Family Room

Family Room Before

Family Room After

The chairs, the table, and the lamp are great consignment finds!

The sofa and the framed art were more great consignment finds!  The coffee table
and the side table were purchased from a High Point wholesaler.

The Sunroom

Sunroom Before

Sunroom After

The Reading Room
 Reading Room/Office Before

Looking back through the window as I headed home!
Reading Room After
The chairs and oval table were purchased
from the consignment store.  Baskets were a fun Tuesday Morning find.
The console table was from High Point.
  Hobby Lobby had a half-price sale on
their posters, making nice, inexpensive artwork!

Saturday, October 26, 2013


Staging a home to sell is the process of preparing a real estate property to go on the market so that it will appeal to the most home buyers.  Statistics show that a staged house sells more quickly than a home that has not been staged, and actually increases the value of the property. My goal when staging any property is to transform an ordinary property into a warm and inviting space that buyers can imagine themselves coming home to every day.

I have staged several properties over the last couple of months that sold very quickly after being on the market for many months prior to staging.  One property that had been on the market for over a year, went under contract nine days after we staged it.  Homeowners and Real Estate agents alike are very happy with the results after staging their properties.  The cost involved in staging a property is very low compared to the return that homeowners recoup when the house is sold.  According to, sellers who spent $500.00 on staging recovered over 343% of the cost when they sold their home.  

The staging process begins for me when the real estate agent contacts me about a property that they have recently listed that needs a little (or sometime a lot) of TLC.  I contact the homeowner and set up an appointment to meet with them.  The real estate agent usually pays me for that first, one-hour consultation, as a service to their client.  

During the meeting with the homeowner, I offer some ideas to them as we are touring the property. However, most of my advice to the homeowner is written in a room-by-room checklist that I email to them within 48 hours of our consultation.  The homeowner then has the option of implementing the changes on their own, or they call me to come back in and stage the home for them either by working with items they already own, or bringing in my own furniture, lighting, rugs, and accessories.

The following photos are from some of the properties I have staged over the last couple of months:

If you are thinking about putting your NC home on the market, and you are interested in staging your home, please feel free to contact Lee Ann Burkhart Interiors @ (336) 263-7424.  I will be happy to help you.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Design on a Dime!

I recently installed the fourth model home for a group of home developers out of Winston-Salem, NC.  Now that we have worked on several projects together, these clients are very familiar with my style and they trust me enough to let me design whatever I like as long as I stay within their budget.  However, I don't mind a budget at all; in fact, I like the challenge of making a room feel warm and inviting without spending a fortune.  My favorite type of room is one that appears the items have been collected over time rather than one that looks like someone went into a big- box store and bought everything to match, without much thought behind their selections.  When you are decorating on a budget, you often have to shop around for the best deals resulting in a finished room with that collected feel I like so much!

For this Master bedroom, I found great bargains at places like Tuesday Morning, TJ Maxx, HomeGoods, Ikea, Hobby Lobby, Marshalls, and some local consignment shops!

The sunburst mirror and framed marsh prints were ordered from my to-the-trade art vendors.  The Euro shams and sheets were TJ Maxx.  The duvet and insert were from Ikea.  
The upholstered headboard, mercury glass lamps, mirrored nightstands, and chevron pillows were all great Tuesday Morning finds.  The coverlet folded at the foot of the bed was from HomeGoods.

The midcentury modern dresser and the framed photo was from Ikea.  The large, round, beaded mirror was a great consignment store find.  The lamp and accessories were all TJ Maxx and Marshalls.

The midcentury modern chest of drawers was from Ikea.  The framed photo from Hobby Lobby.
 In the end, the room felt warm and cozy while staying well within the budget, making my clients and me very happy!