• Fall Brings Change to Everything, Including Interior Design

    Fall Brings Change to Everything, Including Interior Design

    Fall is a time of change, and it inspires change in all of us that manifests itself in so many different ways. We change the way we dress (sweater weather, new boots, and jeans), we change the way we eat (squash, apples, and spice), and the way we want our homes to look and feel also changes. Some of these changes are functional–we need to dress in sweaters and boots because of the temp drop–but some of them are simply inspired by the desire to change with the season. To start afresh. I think what so many of us love about fall is that it’s both charged by warmth–the summer sun is still on our skin and in rich, sun-drenched rooms; the leaves look ablaze with reds, yellows, and oranges–and by cool as well–the temperature drops and evening comes a little earlier. So what’s a good way to change with the season and at the same time make a change that will outlast the season and still be relevant at other times of year?

    autumn decor

    Photo: http://passionforpattern.com/

    It think it’s important to keep two kinds of change in mind: permanent and temporary. The permanent changes should be investments–something you’re willing to spend more money on because you feel they’ll stand the test of time. Some examples of permanent changes are: reupholstering furniture, making custom furniture, wall paint and wallpaper, and redesigning entire rooms (especially having to do with appliances [eg. new stove] or new hardware [new countertops, new cabinetry). For these kinds of changes, even though you’re inspired by fall, be sure to choose neutral color palettes. If you’re psyched about rich fall colors, perhaps use things that could translate to spring and summer as well. Be sure to balance light and dark, and keep explicit fall patterns for more temporary changes. Light browns, slates, soft bricks, and sage greens can be fall-inspired colors that transition into other seasons as well.

    For temporary, or at least less permanent changes, you have more leeway to go wild with your fall decor. With window treatments you might be comfortable switching them out every two seasons (so you might have one kind for fall/winter and another for spring/summer), or you might be willing to “go naked” in certain months, that way your window treatments would only have to be appropriate for whichever season you’d like them up. Rugs are another way to make temporary changes. I like to go with an antique rug like the one pictured above, then swap it out for something brighter come spring. Pillows are also an easy way to transform your home decor for fall, and they can be easily switched out whenever you like. The important thing is to indulge your inspiration. You need to do less thinking ahead for temporary changes, and for the big ones, take your time–fall can work its way in, but be sure to accommodate every season.

    How do you indulge your need for a fall decor change? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!


    (Cover photo: http://thingssheloves.tumblr.com/post/1569513291)



  • Helpful Tips if you’re Considering an Interior Design Change for your Home

    We see it all the time: you know you want to make a change in your home, but you’re not sure where to start. Interior design changes–whether that be redesigning an entire room, or looking for a custom piece of furniture or window treatments–can make a big impact on your life. If you’re uncertain or unprepared, the impact can sometimes be negative (the cost ends up too high, the design process disrupts your daily life too much, and you feel out of control in terms of the results). If you know where to start and how to manage the process effectively, then the impact will be (as it should be) positive–you’ll feel more comfortable in your own space, and the design will reflect your personal aesthetic. We asked our designers to compile some helpful tips and answers to some of their most frequently encountered issues.


    1. When you’re just beginning the process, how do you decide what you want and need out of a redesign? 
      Take a look at your current space and decide what you think will make it more functional for your particular needs. I think it’s important to think of function first. You’re living in the space, so think first about function then about style (color, patterns, etc.). You’ll often find that functionality will make certain demands on aesthetics. So think about your needs, then about your wants.
    We recently redesigned a living room to accomodate a new baby. They needed more space so we removed a sofa and replaced it with two chairs (easier to move in and out to accommodate play space, but still enough seating for everyone). So that handled the need. To update the room for fall, we changed the color scheme through pillows. We added reds, browns, greens, and golds. It was completely transformed.
    If you don’t know what your wants are, stick to your needs. If you’re going to be hiring a designer, they can help you discover your wants and you’ll have helped them narrow so much down simply by knowing what you need the space for functionally.
    2. How do you best research what you might want/need out of a redesign? 
        Depending on what you determine you’d like to redesign you may want to consider which aesthetic changes have the best resale or profit of return for your investment. Many bathroom and kitchen renovations tend to have the best profit of return. I would try to keep things neutral to appeal to any buyer in the event you’d ever like to sell your home so the change  doesn’t tie any potential buyers down to a particular color or theme. Similarly, if you’re not planning on selling your home ever, neutral, or at least classic, changes are best because they stand the test of time. I think just looking at tons and tons of options is the best way to determine what you might want. What you need, again, should be determined by what you use your room most for. If you’re an avid cook, you’ve got to make sure that your kitchen functions perfectly before you make any aesthetic decisions. As far as where to start, anywhere you’re inspired! Check out your friends’ places, check out design blogs (like this one;) and Pinterest. An image can really help solidify your design ideas, so it’s great place to jump off from.
    3. How to do determine the right price range for yourself?
        Don’t be afraid to do your due diligence. I would always recommend getting a couple quotes from different vendors and ask for references. Look at your budget and see what makes the most sense. I would have the vendors quote the best case scenario (meaning all the bells and whistles), then back off of that if price is a factor once you determine what your particular priorities are.
    4. How to decide who/what firm/designers you’re working with?
        I would say the best type of advertising is word of mouth. If you know someone who recommends a praticular person then you can look at what they’ve done in their house and build from that. Otherwise I would check out Angie’s list to get references and opinions of others.
    5. When is a good time to redesign? 
        Most people want things done before the holidays when they entertain the most company. That being said, depending on the extensiveness of the project,  I would say July is great for the plan-aheaders, and no later than September for the last-minute deciders out there.
    6. What should I expect during the redesign process? Do you have any advice for minimizing disruption in your life/home? 
        As always, planning ahead is best. During a summer vacation or when you don’t have too much going on in terms of entertaining. Keep in mind that sometimes it depends on when designers and vendors are available.  Try to give yourself and the contractors time. Nothing good comes out of rushing!
    If you have any further questions about starting a redesign project in your home that you’d like our designers to answer, feel free to ask away in the comment field below!
    (image source: http://www.ehow.com/info_8141855_elements-design-process.html)
  • Trendspotting: Linen. Great for Versatile Interior Design

    Trendspotting: Linen. Great for Versatile Interior Design

    Linen is in right now, and we really love that because it has a classic look. It’s always good to take advantage of a trend that will outlast its trendiness! Some of what we love about it is its versatility and durability. Linen, a natural fabric, can be used for gorgeous window treatments. It can be quite heavy so it will hang well, and it can be ever-so-slightly translucent, too. So, depending on color and weight, can help brighten up a dark room, or let just enough light in to an already sun-exposed room so it offers protection but in an unoppressive way.




    Semi-sheer is a hallmark of linen. It diffuses light for a soft and inviting look.









    Linen gets dressed up in a more structured window treatment.  










     Little light will get through these heavy curtains linen backed by a retractable shade. The vibrant red debunks the neutral tone only myth. 










    These are highly-structured curtains. The two-tone design offers further sophistication.





    For upholstery it always has been, and always will be, an excellent choice. Its durability is huge, of course, because you want your furniture to stand up to years of wear and tear. It’s also a natural fabric, and is breathable and soft enough to make a real positive impact on the comfort side as well. Additionally, the texture of linen changes depending on its weave. So you can use the very coarse look for a natural and relaxed decor. Or, you can have a tight weave with an vibrant dye to make a polished high-end look. When we think of the colors of linen we typically think neutrals, which is great for a base to any decor. You can get as wild or tame with your other pieces and accents as you like. And, neutrals make it incredibly easy to change things up.





    A polished chair with classic rough-textured, natural-colored upholstery. 










    Linen goes wild in animal print upholstery. 










    Classic comfort in soft charcoal linen. 






    Really there’s so much linen can do! It’s uses stretch way beyond clothing, bedding, and tablecloths! What are your #design experiences with linen? Have any ideas for a new project with linen? Let us know in the comments field below!

  • Is DIY Killing Interior Design?

    In the past five years, there’s been a proliferation of DIYers. Spurred by the economic landslide, people have found numerous ways to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and do things for themselves–improving the look of their homes is no exception. Websites like Etsy and Apartment Therapy have championed these efforts. They not only show people how to do it and where to get it, but they inspire people to take design and redesign into their own hands, and even the mainstreamers, like Home Depot, have launched a hugely successful “more saving, more doing” DIY campaign. The icing on the DIY popularity cake has been Pinterest. Pinterest has really become the social media platform for the home, fashion, and DIY enthusiastic. It’s the perfect place to share your inspiration or to be inspired.

    So is all of this DIY design enthusiasm killing interior design businesses? You’re probably thinking, if people are taking matters into their own hands, how can our businesses survive? Well, it’s simple really! First of all, I’d like to flip the whole attitude of concern on its head. In fact, I think the DIY wave is actually GOOD FOR INTERIOR DESIGNERS. Hear me out!

    1. The “DIY wave” generates enthusiasm for design. So it’s reaching more people than ever. With its popularity and mainstream presence, the DIY craze is drawing attention to our interior spaces, and encouraging people to make changes.

    2. So you might think, yeah, they’re encouraging people to make changes, but to do it themselves, and that is certainly part of it. But I’m willing to forfeit a few pillow covering projects if it means this person is now going to pay attention to their home’s interior design more, because it means there will likely be a project that she/he will not be able to do  alone…and then we’ll be there to help. (Plus, if you sell fabric like we do, even DIY can be profitable.)

    3. Just because DIY generates a lot of enthusiasm around fixing things up on your own, doesn’t mean everyone is willing or able to do it. Many people (I’d say most) truly do not have the time to take on formidable design projects. Some people that maybe could find the time realize that once they track down and spend the money for the right fabric and tools, the project now costs nearly what it would have if a professional had done it. And others, while they enjoy perusing their friends’ Pinterest boards, and they too get psyched about new fall decor, simply don’t want to do it themselves.

    Ultimately, the DIY movement benefits interior design. What we may lose in small DIY projects, we gain in enthusiasm for design. The trend champions taking ownership for your space–evaluating it or re-evaluating, and making it exactly what you want it to be. If you can do some of it yourself, more power to you. We’ll be here to supply materials and take you on further and more difficult journeys in the future.

    Join in the DIY convo in the comments below. Any project stories you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you!


  • We’re saying goodbye to summer with a huge sale. Much of our in-stock inventory is 50% off! Check out the flier below for details. Sale ends August 31st! 

  • Behind the Scenes with Designer, Ashley Pace

    Behind the Scenes with Designer, Ashley Pace

    We took some time this weekend to sit down with one of our most talented in-house designers, Ashley Pace, to get an in-depth look at how she got started in the design business, what motivates and inspires her, and what design tips she has to offer.

    Can you give us a little insight in to how you got started in design? 

    Growing up fabric and design was always a part of my life. My mom was always sewing something for the house. She worked at a fabric store for as long as I can remember. In fact while most kids would ride the bus home from school, I rode the bus to my mom’s work at the fabric store where I would assist in cutting samples for customers. Eventually my family branched out and decided to open their own fabric store in Wilmington, NC. I worked there most days after school and on weekends, depending on my volleyball schedule. After high school graduation, I decided to play it safe and major in Business Management at UNCC. At that time, my parents had opened a store in Charlotte, which allowed me to continue working throughout college. After completing two years in Business Management, I knew that an office job was not going to be for me. I knew my passion was in design. So I transferred to the Art institute of Charlotte to study Interior Design. I continued to work for my parents until I was finished. I am so grateful for the learning opportunity it gave me. I helped in setting up as well as closing stores,  moving stores, and selling fabrics. Although the family business had lots of benefits, I still felt as though I was restricted in terms of what I could do design-wise. I saw an ad for Distinctive Fabrics and Furniture and thought I would send in my resume– not really looking to make a change but open to it. I have been here four years next month. I love being able to work one-on-one with customers in their homes to make their personal spaces reflect their particular style and functionality. I enjoy working with the workrooms in the process of making new furniture and window treatments. I feel like I have found my place in the design world and I’m loving it!

    Who are some designers that inspire or inform your work?

    Candice Olsen and Christopher Lowell. I really like their diverse styles. They can keep things ultra sleek and modern with a splash of color to cater to the traditional/transitional consumer as well. Everytime I watch their shows I am intrigued by their unique styles.

    What outside of the design world inspires/informs your style of design? 

    Really anything can inspire me, depending on where I am and what I’m doing. I’ve pulled colors together based off of a funky shirt or from a bowl of candies–bright orange skittles look great with their blue and green companions! The color wheel presents itself in many different forms throughout any given day, particularly in natural forms. The gray, rainy sky and the bright green trees against its backdrop make a great color palette for a modern, cool feel.  My surroundings play a big part in my design styles. This past weekend I was out with my family and the colors in my three-year-old’s bathing suit (pink, green, orange) against the teal blue of the pool inspired me to update the colors in her room to help make the transition to a “big girl” bedroom. Being inspired isn’t a problem for me at all, I enjoy picking up on the elements around me daily and using them in my design styles.

    How would you define your aesthetic? For example, do you consider yourself contemporary or classic, or a little bit of both? 

    I would consider myself a little of both. My house has a Mediterranean feel throughout. I’ve used a lot of warmer colors to create a cozy living space. I also love mixing styles together for an eclectic look. I have some modern barrel chairs that I had upholstered in green chenille that provide a mixture of styles, and flow well with all the colors in the living room. Functionality is also super important to me, and these chairs create extra seating space, which with a growing family, is a must.

    What current design trends do you love? 

    I love the natural look of all things linen right now. Modern to traditional–I love them all! They can make an elegant statement in a dining room, or look ultra casual in the living room. There are no limits with what you can do. A simple band down the leading edge can give plain, everyday drapes a dramatic effect in any room.

    Do you believe in mixing design styles, or do you think keeping things coordinated is essential to achieve balance?

    I absolutely love to mix things up. It’s amazing what a contemporary piece of fabric can do to an antique piece of furniture. I think contrasting eras and styles can actually achieve balance in a piece or a room more effectively than keeping patterns and styles coordinated all the time (which can get monotonous and boring).

    What is your most requested room to redesign? 

    I would have to say either the master bedroom or living room. That’s where people spend the most time themselves and entertaining others, so they want to make sure those rooms are highly functional and comfortable and that they’re able express their personal style in those rooms.

    What is your favorite type design project?

    I enjoy working on all kinds of projects, especially those that are color-focused– from the crisp classic colorways of cream with a splash of color, to the people who love bright, bold color. It’s always interesting because everyone has a unique design perspective and color palettes they favor, so each project is different and that keeps things interesting and refreshing for me.

    Any advice to our readers who want to change the look of their home or office, but don’t want to do a complete redesign?

    Pillows, pillows, pillows! You can change the whole feel of a room with some funky colored pillows for spring, or you can use warmer tones for the fall. Re-covering pillows is a versatile way to give your room a fresh, new look each season!

    Ashley is a regular contributor to our Pinterest page. Check out our boards here: http://pinterest.com/distinctiveff/


  • What Does Quality Really Mean?

    What Does Quality Really Mean?

    In the furniture and design business we hear a lot about quality. It’s an adjective thrown around with more or less reckless abandon, and of course, it’s used to sell pieces and services. But what does it really mean? When we talk about a custom upholstered chair, for example, this is exactly what we mean:

    1. We’re using the best raw materials. In our case, we use 5/4″ kiln dried hardwood. Hardwood resists warping and is infinitely stronger and more durable than other materials that mass producers often use (like pine–about as bendy as a trampoline, and particle board–believe it, Ikea fans). Hardwood is also a sustainable and locally available resource. We also use superior construction methods to improve durability. So, we start with exceptional materials then we assemble the piece with double dowel joints and corner blocks glued and screwed for additional strength, stability and structural integrity.

    2.  For the seating and spring system, we use an eight-way hand tied seating support, which is double cone coil springs supported by polypropylene webbing and steel bands fastened directly to the hardwood frame.  Steel bands provide strength and prevent sagging. Springs are then hand tied together in eight different directions to permanently secure coils in place and allow for superior comfort and durability. No sad slouching or sagging seats here. What you can expect from imitators in big box stores is just that: imitation. They typically use prefabricated spring coil systems that are tied to one another (not affixed to the frame), so the springs have no support and start to fail quickly, compromising the comfort and lifespan of the piece.

    3. For the upholstery process we use 360 tailoring. First we hand cut and sew all of our fabrics to ensure the pattern’s consistency and accurate placement on the piece. Our skilled craftsmen make sure the pattern of the fabric matches from every vantage point, and that the fabric is taut and smooth throughout.

    And ultimately, it’s the craftsmen who determine the quality of a piece of furniture. It’s through their skill and experience that they’re able to translate quality so effectively and consistently to a piece. Quality, to us, is something expertly and carefully made, and something that endures.

    What does quality mean to you? Have you had any experiences with custom-made furniture that you’d like to share?  Feel free to post in the comment field below.  

  • Why “Custom” means Collaboration, not Compromise

    Why “Custom” means Collaboration, not Compromise


    I’ve heard so many Interior Designers (none of ours!) bemoan the customization process. Whether it’s custom designing a piece of furniture, window treatments or trims, or an entire space, there is a sense that what the client wants ultimately compromises the designer’s vision. I couldn’t disagree more, and not just from a customer relationship standpoint (it’s probably not a good idea to think of your client as an opposing force). The client’s personality, needs, use of the space, and desired use of the piece contribute to the inspiration behind the design. As interior designers we’re typically working with several different elements, and it’s our job to bring them together harmoniously, so sometimes flexibility feels like an additional challenge, but if you’re a good designer your client’s input will strengthen the vision of your design. Someone might want a formal dining space but will need it to be highly functional because they use it often and have children. Someone might want to use an extra room as an office, but it will need to do double duty as a storage room for bikes. All of our lives are different and demand creative design solutions. We need to be facilitators of the design process, not inflexible dictators.

    Below I’ve outlined a few tips to making the collaborative customization process go as smoothly as possible:

    Read more

  • We Love Local: North Carolina’s Furniture Comeback

    We Love Local: North Carolina’s Furniture Comeback

    Over the past few years, the “local” movement has gained serious traction. North Carolina proudly boasts local food–both in their bustling farmer’s markets and their seriously delicious farm-to-table restaurants–, a spate of local breweries, local wineries, local coffee roasters… the list goes on. But local woodworking and furniture is no new phenomenon. In fact, North Carolina used to be the epicenter of furniture manufacturing until global manufacturing took over, and like so many American-made products, furniture manufacturing was moved overseas where labor and materials were cheaper. Read more