Tips from the Trade Show

60,000 of us descended on the Orange County Convention center earlier this month to see what is new in home construction, design, planning, and financing. It was dizzying in its breadth. As I flew home on Friday, mentally sorting all I saw during the miles of walking in the wrong shoes amongst the displays and demonstrations, I landed on one real certainty. Building a custom home allows the owner to reflect not only the basic needs of their lives but provides an opportunity to relay core values and priorities.

15940915_608611219339334_1314703349137074137_n-editedHere’s an example of what I mean. This stunning range is designed and manufactured in France. The price definitely puts it in the “luxury” category. It’s much pricier sibling is custom-designed and hand-tooled. Does it do anything other quality dual-fuel ranges can’t do? Probably not. But who can deny that the bonds we build while entertaining in our kitchens are unique in their warmth and authenticity? Installing a unique range might reflect a buyer’s commitment to those moments.

Another example I like is the use of manufactured quartz countertops. One of the top trends interior designers are reporting is the choice of quartz over other kitchen and bath surfaces. While I naturally lean towards the most natural, I 15966002_608611292672660_6868232574638607914_n-editedhave a new appreciation for the beauty and wear of manufactured products. Quartz manufacturers are no longer just trying to imitate stone slabs. Cambria has such a cool product waiting for a patent that we weren’t allowed to photograph it.  This, from a competing manufacturer, is an example of some forward-looking design options for someone who prioritizes ease and durability.

The “extras” people might choose are expressions of priorities and personality. If convenience is important, you can wire your house to turn on the shower, monitor the weather report while managing the sprinkler system, or set the mood lighting to direct your meditation. If you are concerned about energy efficiency, new products and technologies address climate, lighting, and water use so you know you are in control of your consumption. If you are a wine collector, installing a conditioned cellar beneath your floor is a fun and dramatic option. If you are concerned about security, you can install invasion-resistant doors and windows or an underground bomb shelter. If serenity is a goal, you can start your morning with a warm summer rain and ground your living spaces with natural surfaces, lovely fireplaces, easy access to outdoor spaces, or soothing water features.  Let us build your nest. And your fortress. And your tableau. The options are endless. The blisters on my feet prove that.



As I am writing this, it is already 7:30 in the morning on this rainy winter day and the sun isn’t yet doing its job. January mornings are tough on this early morning riser. Luckily, I was born in the latter part of the 20th century and can manipulate my world through the use of many terrific technologies. Today, I proclaim, “Thank goodness for good lighting.” So I want to share some information about LED lighting; luckily, I know the owners of a wonderful business providing such lighting to the DC Metro area. LED Source DC’s blog post introducing residential LED lighting is posted below. Their contact information can be found at the bottom of the post.


“Thinking of putting LED lighting in your home?

Here are 6 things you need to know before you buy.

For years you have mentally laid out how you want your home. You’ve read books on Feng Shui, watched countless hours of HGTV and have even taken an intro to interior design class at your local college to make sure your home is perfect. Now the living room is cozy, the entryway is regal and the kitchen is to die for. But something is off. You can’t put your finger on it. It could be the lighting.

Lighting is like the perfect wrapping on the perfect gift. It brings all of the good things you’ve placed in the room together and presents it in the way most pleasing to the eye. Problem solved. So now, you’re going to get some lighting. Then you realize that there’s another problem. Buying lighting has gotten complicated. It used to be we just walked into the hardware store and bought a light bulb. Now you have to consider lumen packages, color temperatures and color rendering indexes for your solid state light source (that’s a light bulb to you and me). Mastering the jargon alone can feel intimidating. But fear not, here are some tips that will simplify the process of choosing the perfect LED lighting plan to complete your home.

1. It all starts with Lumens. Lumens is simply a measurement of how bright the bulb is. The trusty old 60W bulb is about 800 lumens, so you can use that as a guide. Then it’s a matter of figuring out how much light you need in each room. For example, in a dark kitchen try 1000 lumens and for a bathroom try 800 lumens.

2. Color has a Temperature? Color temperature (or CCT) determines what shade of white light the bulb produces. Without getting into too much science just know that there is a number that corresponds to the warm, cool and daylight colors you may be familiar with. Typically in our homes we use warm colors or

2700K-3000K. Again, for reference the trusty old 60W bulb is 2700K. In offices, we like cooler colors, typically around 3500K-4000K. Daylight is cooler still, in the 5000K-6500K range.

3. How you are going to use the lighting? LED lighting is so much more flexible than traditional lighting and manufacturers have come up with some really creative products. Are you trying to create a mood to relax or a high energy space to work? There are a lot of really creative options now. If you are looking to remodel, this is one situation where consulting with a lighting expert may make sense.

4. Get smart. In the same way as smart thermostats, home automation is making its way into lighting products. You can now have your lights blink when your phone rings or change color when it is going to rain. You are only limited by your imagination.

5. Clean up your act. One of the great things about LED lighting is that it doesn’t contain any hazardous materials, unlike fluorescent lighting which contains mercury. By converting to LED lighting, we are eliminating that toxin from our homes. When planning your lighting remodel, make sure that you identify any older bulbs and check with your local municipality to ensure that you dispose of them properly.

6. Get LEDucated. In order to help consumers, the lighting industry has developed a ‘lighting facts’ label, similar to the ‘nutrition facts’ label we find on food. This label can be found on most light bulb packaging and tells you everything you need to know!”

LED Source DC is part of a national lighting company that specializes in LED technology with offices throughout the US providing local expertise to help you with your lighting product. We carry all of the major LED lighting brands to ensure we create the ultimate lighting solutions. Located in Ashburn, Virginia, LED Source DC is your local LED lighting experts serving Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia. 

For more information, please contact

Steve Searles – 

LED Source DC

p 571-585-4533 m 703-786-5139


To Trend or Not to Trend

I recently had to  got to go shopping for a new evening gown. As all women know, this is a confounding activity. Before you are able to select one of the right color and fit, you have to first decide if you are going to buy the dress that reflects up to the minute fashion awareness (and your current physical shape) or are you going to invest in something classic, something that you might actually want to wear again years down the road.  This time, I went with something super-trendy which probably won’t fit in a few years.

Designing a house mimics the same dilemma. Everything from the architectural design to the choice of bath hardware can reflect the latest design trend. While there are no right answers for every owner and situation, there are some basic concepts that can help inform these decisions. Below are a list of some of the choices and their implications for the long term.

  • Architectural design trends – This is the biggie. If you feel like your response to the screenshot2016-09-08at6-35-02amon trend style and layout is almost spiritual, go for it. You will love living in this space and visitors will enjoy experiencing the home as an extension of your personality. Do know this might narrow the folks interested in purchasing the home when you are no longer there but we firmly believe every home has a buyer.
  • Bathroom and kitchen finishes – These are the most common. For some reason, we all really pay attention to design trends for these rooms and there are so many great options for responding to them. If you think you will have the stomach for spending the time and money on renovations down the road, this is a great place to reflect today’s aesthetic. Tile, counter tops, and fixtures can be easily replaced. Cabinets, if chosen carefully, might even be refinished.  Just keep in mind the story about giving the moose a muffin. Once you start remodeling a bathroom or kitchen, you just might want to keep going.
  • Design details – These are the difficult ones. Who knows if the latest design innovations will stand screenshot2016-09-08at6-49-16amthe test of time or firmly plant your home in the year it is built? Again, the decision to follow a trend might be made by your willingness to absorb future renovation costs. LCH will be able to help you predict some of those future costs.

If you have some idea of how long you will want to live in your home before either renovating or moving, your design selections will be easier to define. Fortunately, manufacturers and suppliers offer not only wide variety of styles but there are often diverse price points. Don’t be afraid to follow trends; just know ahead of time what costs might be associated with which choices.  Your particular set of choices is what will make your home customized and unique.

So, that trendy dress? As I made sure to inform Will, it came from the clearance rack.

Kitchen Plans with Purpose

In many homes the kitchen is the center of the household, so the design and layout can be a very personal thing.  Certified Kitchen Designer Susan Serra says “The kitchen is where all five senses reside.”  Therefore, if one of those senses is thrown off by bad design, or frustrating layout, the results can be hard to live with.  Below you’ll see some of my favorite kitchens. They are each spectacular in their own way and appeal to a variety of tastes and purposes.


This white kitchen is not only elegant and relaxing, it is very family friendly.  It is a bright and airy gathering spot.  The huge center island provides a great work space as well as extra storage, and the back island creates enough of a divider so that the table is in a separate space for mealtime. The combination of recessed and drop lighting ensures the space has personality as well as adequate light.


This kitchen is also bright and interesting, however, it is less of a family gathering space and more of an entertaining space. The contrast of the center island with the white cabinets really creates a focal point that is perfect for laying out hors d’oeuvres or buffet platters. The wine rack not only provides great storage, but it creates the perfect spot for a mini-bar or drink station.


The  long and narrow layout of this kitchen keeps the stove and sink in close proximity and separates your work space from the rest of the house.  It is more of a working kitchen, keeping the appliances, work spaces and storage all within a few steps of each other. The cool colors have a calming effect and the location of the oven distributes the heat so the space does not become overly warm when cooking a large meal.   Simple lighting and white cabinets keeps the focus on the counters and fun back splash.


This kitchen keeps dining and cooking close but makes them feel completely separate.  The cushioned bench is unusual but very inviting and makes excellent use of otherwise wasted space on a the hi-lo curved island.  The corner location and curved island give an almost hidden feeling to the kitchen itself while focusing on the dining area.

green kitchen

This kitchen is warm and bright.  The color works well with the floors and counter tops and coordinates with the living space.  The central work space keeps the cook in the eye line of the other rooms in the house and works against the separated feeling this kitchen could have had.  There is abundant storage, but the glass doors which mimic the windows, keep the room from feeling overly closed in.

How does your kitchen layout affect your senses?  What do you love or hate about it?  Tell us in the comments below!

Our Favorite Fall Kitchens

To wrap up Cozy Kitchen week, I thought I would do a little digging and share my favorite cozy kitchens from around the web. They all have a gorgeous, unique element to them that makes me just want to jump in and start cooking!

  1. Janna from Yellow Prairie Interior
    See the whole home tour by Kelly at Eclectically Vintage

2. Shayna from The Wood Grain Cottage
Check out her entire kitchen over at her blog, The Wood Grain Cottage

3. Yvonne from StoneGable
Take a peek at her whole Fall-ready home on her blog, StoneGable

4. Jen from Jennifer Rizzo
Check out her Fall inspired living space at her blog Jennifer Rizzo

5. Lauren from The Endearing Home
Visit Lauren’s whole Fall inspired tour over at Savvy Southern Style with Kim

6.  Becca from Adventures In Decorating
Check out the whole home tour over on Pamela’s Blog, From My Front Porch To Yours

What do you think? Tell us about the cozy, Fall style you love in the comments.