Sized Just Right: The Small Luxury Home

As a seasoned designer with diverse clients, I am often either helping a family decide how much to add to a home they are outgrowing or I am figuring out how to put unused rooms to work in a house that is a little too big for its owner.

Generally my opinion is that less house is better than too much house, but my skills and vision afford me the opportunity to create impactful designs no matter the scale of the project. For the homeowner who is trying to decide the size of their next home investment, there are a number of ways to evaluate what will be the perfect fit.

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A Look Back on 2016

"The use of a rich plum on the walls serves up a warm and cool helping of wow factor" - PM 

"The use of a rich plum on the walls serves up a warm and cool helping of wow factor" - PM 

A client's gathering room in their historic home in Winchester VA. We furnished this space with a combination of American made and vintage goods. Built-ins provide a clean space to showcase our client's collection of art and artifacts. We visually merchandised the collection so that each vignette is a punctuation of beauty making up the canvas of the entire wall display.

Moody and sultry, Benjamin Moore's Vintage Claret comes to life in the lamp-lit corners of the room. We chose the palette to compliment our client's collection of Asian art.

We sourced the furnishings from our favorite North Carolina makers. Just out of the frame, the client's own lamp and artifact perch on a vintage Brandt octagon table we picked up in western Maryland - not far from its original manufacture location. 

"This cheerful floral felt well suited to all seasons in this sunny oasis." - PM

"This cheerful floral felt well suited to all seasons in this sunny oasis." - PM

In this happy gathering room on a creek side property, one can experience the joys of each season through large wood framed windows. A pair of American made swivel rockers from our maker out of High Point, North Carolina wear a vibrant, meandering (and sun-safe!) print.

On the American made sectional and ottoman, we selected our fabrics for a posh pairing of hardworking velvet and a colorful woven. We made our overall choices light, bright, and colorful for this room, bringing out stunning contrast in the architecture of the space.

As a whole, the room has the play of masculine and feminine, light and dark, textured and smooth, effectively balancing the design.

"A massive custom shadow box was key to transforming the dense collection of small treasures into a single graphic monolith. " -PM

Welcome to Ed's Heads Hair Salon on historic Main Street in Stephens City. The dapper collector's look was largely inspired by the owner of the salon. Perfection is found when the large comercial-friendly Spicher Co. vinyl rug, American made sofa, and a pair of fabulous vintage redux chairs make friends.

We played boldly with pattern at Ed's Heads. The vinyl rug is custom made to order in Pennsylvania and we paired it with a Californian sofa frame upholstered in a soft plaid flannel to make the lively combination.

We got our hands dirty making this custom shadow box for the waiting area. A classic green off sets the glazed walnut stain for a been-there-forever look that is perfect for the salon's quirky collections. Just out of view, are spectacular felted light fixtures dotting the high ceilings over the workstations. 

Hospitality accents like flowers and mementos add personal flair to this locally owned salon.

We chose joyful and expressive fabrics to keep this classic design upbeat.

A traditional project in Lake Frederic called for fresh fabric choices, highlighting the rich wooden pieces in the space. Crisp contrast welting in a dark teal outlines these custom made cushions. A perfect pair for cozy reading in the sunniest room of our client's home.

The transitional frames of the artisan made sofas in this room wear a practical upholstery that will be loved for years to come. Bright custom pillows and warm brass and wood tones provide an ambiance of coziness to the space. Mirrored tray tables work double duty to reflect light in the space, and to hold our client's treasures. 

"The serene turquoise grasscloth brought out the warm tones in the mid-century dining set. Suddenly everything clicked." -PM

"The serene turquoise grasscloth brought out the warm tones in the mid-century dining set. Suddenly everything clicked." -PM

For this project, we took design inspiration from our client's heirloom mid-century dining set. From color palette to accessories and material choices, we love how this space came together around a treasured piece. We used a combination of our client's keepsakes and accessories from our sources to round out the design.

In the same home, the breakfast room carries on the mid-century thread with a vintage hutch. We painted the find in a Benjamin Moore color to freshen the look. 

A sunshine colored Company C wool rug anchors the room and provides a point of dramatic lightness on the dark floors.

Here's to many more delightful projects in 2017!

Brand-Supportive Design

Every space tells a story.  We tell the story of the families who dwell within our projects by allowing their interests and patterns to read in the flow and aesthetic details of their homes.  When our job is to design restaurants, lounges, and lobbies, we aim to tell a different narrative: brand story.

At the bare minimum, the task of a marketing agency is to help a company refine and present its message to the appropriate audience.  In the hands of the extraordinarily thoughtful and creative marketer, a company can even develop a stronger sense of its core identity - sometimes learning that it has yet to establish one. 

Many brands are not a physical location to the public as much as a sense of place.  Coca-Cola isn’t a plant with offices and conveyer belts to the average soda lover.  It’s a twist of white on a field of red or a half time ad that draws a chuckle.   Deeper still in our consciousness, it’s the sweet, fizzy burn in a childhood memory, as fleeting a pleasure as fireflies lighting a meadow.

Yet for restauranteurs and many experience-based enterprises, the location of their business is as strong a sense of place as the food the chef creates, the drinks the bartender crafts or the way in which staff engages them during their visit.  In the lobby of a service provider, the stability of the business is suggested by the weight of the actual furnishings.  One hesitates to invest money with a firm that lines up folding chairs in the front room and perches a fax machine on a moving box tagged: Ship Next Tuesday.

We believe the designer working on a commercial project must understand the brand identity of the business.  Knowing who the audience for the business is and determining what they will want out of the experience drives every detail of the outcome.  In the best case scenario, the design blows out past what the brand audience could have imagined, providing a memorable journey that sets a business in a class by itself.

We have helped determine the aesthetic and functional details of restaurants, salons, lounges, professional office lobbies,  as well as public spaces in university housing and learning facilities. Without exception, the best outcomes were always arrived at when the brand story of the client was clearly understood and integrated in the design process.

As it heads into its twelfth year in business, MakeNest is positioning itself to capture more commercial and hospitality projects.  Part of our goal is to underscore our unique sensitivity to branding through design.  The procedure for our commercial projects is to dig deep to discover the intentions, the audience, the narrative, and the brand standard of the company.   In this way,  MakeNest can not only impact the function and beauty of professional and hospitality spaces, but help businesses to edit and project their own brand story.

- PM