Recent Posts by Sarah

Market Watch

I check local real estate listings on a daily basis because who knows when you might need to pick up and move to the house next door or the house across town? Truly, I check them because I love houses and real estate and something might come along that I can’t resist, my dream house listing might pop up any day. Although at this point I’m 99% convinced that doesn’t exist–not for me.

I was driving through town and I started to think back about all of the houses that we’ve toured in this county and it’s a lot. Crazy houses that were falling in or that were rambling and had no end, that had vegetation growing through the windows, some that were time capsules and some that just needed a new coat of paint.

I’m often asked what I see on the local MLS that is exciting. So here’s what I think is hot in the local Southern Pines, Pinehurst and beyond real estate market.

I’ve got modern on the brain so let’s kick it off with 630 South Valley.

southern pines real estate market-valley


southern pines real estate modern

Why I like it –  I like the neighborhood, the large wooded lot, ample circular driveway and THE PRICE. The price gives us flexibility to renovate and the wooded lot gives us a green view when we look out of our big modern windows.

What I don’t like – All of the work that it needs, it really needs a new kitchen, new bathrooms and the addition of a third bedroom.

Potential? – Yes, quite a bit. Close in the carport to enlarge the footprint because it’s only a two bedroom and take care of that unfortunate 1970s living room window/fireplace situation. Add more windows where there are long, blank runs of siding. Do the kitchen for now, a paint update on your bathrooms and then do those later. Re-think the deck, maybe drop it down to a big patio with a fire pit.

630 South Valley is a close match to Michelle Steinback’s house featured in the September issue of Martha Stewart Living, tell me you see it!


360 New Hampshire
is as American as apple pie.

I loved it so much a couple of years ago when it was on the market. I was in my “I want a colonial” phase.


Why I like it – It’s in the heart of our charming downtown Southern Pines, walk to eyerthang in SoPi. On a half acre lot and bonus round — a detached guest cottage! Mom can move down and take care of the kids or you can rent it out to supplement the mortgage. It has a layout, despite it’s age, that would suit our way of living now. The deck addition on the back is good as well.

What I don’t like – Although the kitchen has been renovated it appears to be a 100% IKEA kitchen, I could be wrong and I’ll be happy to correct this if I find out I am. I’ve got zero problem with IKEA kitchens but I don’t like to see 100% use of their products in a room. The kitchen gets too contemporary and the house needed something different. The listing price absolutely contemplates the kitchen renovation.

Potential? – Ofcourse, really almost every house has it. Without going inside, I’m thinking there’s some kind of reconfiguration of the connection between the dining room and the sunroom and maybe the kitchen too, maybe opening up. There also may be an opportunity with some shifting around that the office or sunroom could have different uses, perhaps as a 4th bedroom. The kitchen needs to be addressed again but there’s freedom to make that change down the road. The exterior of the guest cottage could use some fixing and we really don’t know what we’re dealing with in the bathrooms.


My third property in SoPi is 215 Daffodil and I’m a little surprised it has been on the market for as long as it has, I’m sure I’d understand more if I could go inside.


Why I like it? – Large lot 1.34 acres in an established neighborhood called Knollwood Heights, traditional architecture and another detached guest cottage–I’m a fan because they are really useful.

What I don’t like – I’m a little concerned with how the single story addition with the bay window adjoins to the two story portion (I’m pretty sure I can forgive)

Potential? – It’s traditional, straight forward layout could make for a simple update. The kitchen is ready for a renovation and a more open floor plan could be achieved.

Let’s head over to neighboring Pinehurst, I think I’ll surprise you with some picks here.

485 Lake Dornoch is an interesting property located in an exclusive neighborhood that is meticulously maintained and is gated.

There are typically a lot of wonderful 1960s houses that haven’t been altered in this neighborhood and I think you’ll see once you spin through the images why I like it.




Why I like it? – High, open ceilings with exposed beams and they go a long way in this house. The square footage and number of bedrooms is great, plenty of space for everyone. Does the vintage pool table convey?

What I don’t like – To some the exclusivity of this neighborhood is great, there are perks, the club and golf memberships that all cost additional money– but I don’t need that stuff. The exterior is pretty modest, there aren’t any interesting architectural angles and it doesn’t share the same cool, modern appeal as the interior.

Potential? – Absolutely, open up the living space to the kitchen which is closed off and a little tight compared to the living area. Get some fresh white on the walls and some other modern hues, update the bathrooms, remove all the carpet and you’re in business.

175 Linden is a rare and incredible opportunity that someone is really going to enjoy!

If we drive in to Old Town Pinehurst or the Village as some call it, we find this grand but neglected estate at 175 Linden, built in 1935 on what is considered today to be an enormous lot, more than 3 acres. A rarity for sure.






Why I like It? The sheer presence and size. The unusually large lot size that is park-like, the kitchen both Part I & II, the fact that you can walk in to the front door in to a wide hall and walk clear to the back and right out on to the back patio area, party ready! The history.

What I don’t like – That there is no HVAC system in the house and there are miles and miles of unsexy work that must be done before it gets fun.

Potential? Of course there is. Someone commented on TEOT Instagram that it would be a great B&B and I agree but the best fantasy is a single residence.




Today’s Modern Home

This week Betsy and I took a little time off from the store and met with our one and only local Southern Pines real estate agent Sarah O’Brien and viewed a gem.

hayes stones


Modern round stones lead to this dreamboat.


Hayes screen porch

Designed by FAIA Architect Thomas T. Hayes Jr. for his family in 1958. Minimalist on the exterior and painted a deep pine green, the house folds in to the landscape of longleaf pines.

The main floor plan is fantastic and open in the way that we want to live today. The first highlight of the tour comes rounding the corner in to the living room.



hayes living Sarahs window


hayes living


hayes porch doors


hayes laney


The living room has a wall with full glass and a pretty view on to the best part of the lot, which is 1.14 acres. Sitting or standing in the living room you get the sensation that you are floating over the grass and you can’t deny that is pretty special.

The end wall in the living area is occupied by built-ins to house media, toys– they can handle whatever it is that you need to stow with ease. The interior wall in the living area is occupied by a large brick fireplace with a floating stone hearth and a modern slab mantle that is installed in 85% of home renovations today.


hayes hearth

Sliding closure of bottom part of built-ins,

hayes stereo


The living area is open to the dining area which grabs part of the glass view from the wall of windows.


hayes dining


Shimmy around the free-standing dining room wall and you find what can be described as a bar and entertaining area where you can mix up a pitcher of martini’s, store dinnerware and serving pieces. I saw Betty Draper standing there pouring cocktails.

You could eliminate the wall between this bar area and the dining area and make a more expansive dining room and sitting area space. The bar area itself is still large enough to put a small table. Are we having fun yet? Clearly I am.


hayes butler


From the bar we head in to a butler’s pantry with a large and original wall oven and paneled sub zero fridge with more storage space.

And then the second highlight of the tour is a very special kitchen that fell right from the pages of Dwell magazine. There are no upper cabinets in here, a very happening trend and it’s almost entirely glass from counter level up. The appliances are original except for maybe the dishwasher added in the 1980s and the sub zero likely replaced an even older fridge. You have a down draft slide in range with a small oven for daily casseroles, laminate countertops, original cabinets and wood flooring and the potential is seemingly infinite.


hayes kitchen


hayes kitchen2


hayes kitchen3


There’s a breakfast nook and a screened porch that adjoins the master bedroom and kitchen that was added in the 1980s.


hayes back screened porch


So we’re drooling now walking out of the kitchen and we go to the bedrooms. There are three on the main level, a master suite and two smaller bedrooms.

The master has a wall dedicated to built-in storage and it’s good size and it gives you a good starting point. Remove the carpet, update the lighting, paint the walls, replace doors leading on to screened porch and spruce up the built-ins a bit.

hayes master


The master bathroom is fun from a novelty perspective but it needs to be re-worked. Larger vanity, new tile, shower expansion, lighting, paint and elimination of the hotel sink. Somewhere in between the master bathroom and the tiny kitchen pantry there’s a laundry space in there.


hayes master bath sink


master bath shower


hayes master bath2

Hotel sink,

hayes hotel sink


Two smaller bedrooms need carpet removal, paint, lighting and a spruce up in the closets but they are perfect for kids or guests. They each have a triple set of casement windows.


hayes bed1


hayes bed1 closet


The hall bath that the two kids/guest rooms use needs some updating but doesn’t need a plumbing move, meaning the layout can stay which saves some money.


hayes hall bath


hayes hall bath2

Here’s something worth mentioning there are two sets of hall closets amping the storage even more. There is major storage in this house.

Let’s head downstairs to the basement which is partially finished and is a walkout. I think we were a little surprised that the basement wasn’t more finished than it was. The basement has a large living area with another fireplace and french doors on to a patio that desperately wants to be a beautiful zen garden with some sort of water happening there.

hayes basement


hayes basement hearth


The floors are concrete down here and there is one additional bedroom and tiny bathroom down here. They feel a bit dank and slightly raw so you would need to invest some money down here, allowing more light in and putting some different flooring down and changing the finishes and of course beautifying that little patio which by the way, the guest bedroom has its own little view of that patio as well.


hayes basement phone


The mechanicals are down here as well as the laundry which I think needs to be relocated upstairs.


hayes exterior side


Walk the grounds and realize that the house is cantilevered over the foundation on large beams, that its private and quiet, in a great neighborhood and that a little trimming and some landscape addition and this place could be absolutely amazing! I know you see a lot of brown and dark corridors but fresh white paint goes a long way and some finish upgrades, we’re in business.

Love this house but have no idea where to start? Call or write to us we’d love to consult, learn more about our Design Services.

Modern is not cold and it’s not the Jetsons I can assure you of that. It’s eclectic, functional and collected. Here’s a bit of inspiration of what the Hayes home could be-


Note floating stone bench at hearth,



One of my favorite bits of inspiration was this LA ranch feature from the June issue of Martha Stewart Living.













Mi Favorito

There’s lots to love…always, as you well know.


mi fav17

You know what I noticed in a lot of these images, that pool blue color seems to be following me around a bit. You can see it above in the pendants. It’s fun paired with a bunch of different colors but there’s something about pairing it with cherry red.

mi fav16


mi fav15


mi fav14


mi fav13


mi fav12


mi fav11


mi fav10


mi fav9

Walls in the nursery painted black sweetens the softer accent hues even more.

mi fav8


mi fav7


mi fav6

I almost fainted upon the discovery of this floor tile.

mi fav5




mi fav4

Reusing Diptyque candle jars as pencil cups, chic and green.

mi fav3


mi fav2




Hold Me Closer Tiny Bedroom

How to style a tiny bedroom on a tiny budget

Maximize space in your small bedroom

Make a tiny bedroom live large, this afternoon!

10 tiny bedrooms that don’t feel cramped at all

You’ve seen these articles, posts and pins right? I love to click on these features, in fact anything that says “small [insert room]” I’m on it. I’m sure there’s a twinkle in my eye when I pull the monthly House Beautiful from the mailbox and the feature is “Small Spaces”.

I want to see how everyone “lives large in a tiny space” because that usually means either maximalism (heavily collected & decorated) or there’s going to be some sort of innovative organizational tips. I keep thinking I’m going to stumble on some sort of genius way to convince someone & myself that we have a luxe space fit for a sitting area instead of the 10×12 bedroom that they (I) actually have.

nick olsen bedroom


When I think about the best plans for tiny bedrooms, it seems the best course of action is to ensure that the bed takes center stage because that’s all you are really going to be able to do in there–bed down.

tiny bedroom OKL


Some of my favorite small bedrooms focus on maximizing the wall space, whether it be for art or shelving.

tiny bedroom dunham


tiny bedroom2


Canopies are a good idea in small bedrooms because they make the bed feel like a private retreat and they add dimension to a box that doesn’t have architectural character.

tiny bedroom3


Wallpapered feature walls or the entire room can make a small space feel special.

tiny bedroom4

tiny bedroom3


tiny bedroom5


tiny bedroom


tiny bedroom2


The Cure for The Common Ranch

The best way I’ve found to alter the ranch style house that was so prolific for decades is to OPEN that space up.

The key to updating and opening that place up is to find a ranch with the right bones. The right bones is a house that has the living area and ideally the kitchen along the back of the house. Why? So you can open up the back wall and be in harmony with your backyard and flood the place with light and fresh air.

You can open the house up in a more extreme way with accordion doors or even a garage style door that lifts.

ranch open6 ranch open4 ranch open3


ranch open


ranch open2


ranch french4


ranch french2

Or on a smaller scale with a bank or banks of full view french doors.

ranch french7




ranch french6


ranch french3


ranch french

Later we can talk about things like double-sided fireplaces, beams, board and batten ceilings and additions all healers for the rancher.

ranch addition

Trends: Hats as Art & Display

Last year I was in a fantastic thrift/antique spot in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina with one of my favorite girls on the planet. Myrtle Beach has a few redeeming qualities, one of those is that my best friend of 20 years (what!) lives there. Among lots of treasures, there were three straw hats hanging on the wall. I tried to explain to Amanda that we could group some in her entryway to make an artistic display or statement of sorts but also to channel a beach vibe but not in an obvious “Beach Life” distressed wood sign kind of way. I couldn’t convince her BUT maybe if I would’ve shown her these images, she could’ve seen it. If you need to pretty up your entry way a little or make a cool statement on the wall, this is an easy way to do it.

Behold –hats as art. I’ll race you to the straw hats in Goodwill!

Designer Tom Scheerer is way in to it. When I saw those hats at the shop I immediately thought of some of Scheerer’s entries.









hats trunk


hats shop


hats mirror


hats ladder

I’d like the bamboo sofa that cool girl is standing on.

hats b+w

Dogwood Project: Master Bedroom

Hi. It’s Sarah. We’re going to take a quick dip into a residential Design & Development project I’ve been working on.

The Dogwood Project is a modest 1960’s ranch located in Durham, NC. A college professor and her family live part-time in this home while school is in session, and the rest of the time, they spend in their New York abode. We would describe the homeowner’s style as a collision of modern, eclectic and global.

Since the beginning of the Dogwood Project, I have been operating in an official capacity to consult on new paint colors throughout the home. The client loved the color selection at the Durham project and so they emailed for our input. She wanted to freshen up the paint job in her 1960s home which we did happily.

After the success of the paint color consultation, the project has evolved. Now, we are re-thinking the master bedroom space plan and decor. Here is a look at where she started.

dogwood bedroom before plus floorplan

The client was seeking expert advice on the room layout, and we could see why, as the room certainly had challenges.

The Problem
Each wall in this small room is occupied with a challenging door or window, leaving limited options for bed placement. Additionally, equally distributed bold patterns are competing for attention in the room.
The Solution 
Our goal is to make the bed more commanding in the room. Despite the window position, we can achieve the desired result by shifting the bed to the left, closer to the window and then re-distribute the horizontal space with neutral drapes and a large scale piece of art.
While intuitively the thought is to center the bed between the window and the wall, what we hope to do is create a feature out of the bed, and tricking the eye as to where visual weight belongs, for a new balance.

We mocked up the change as a rendering before we suggested it. This is a good practice when you can’t be in the space yourself or if you need your client to envision your ideas before making the change.

The client and I wanted to maintain a modern aesthetic with some added layers and texture. I utilized some existing elements that they already had like this wonderful Anthropologie throw, and I suggested some new additions as seen in the design board below.

We sought to redistribute pattern throughout the room for greater balance in the scale from neutral to busy. The client operates on a no shade philosophy in their household so the recommended natural shades were cut and instead we found a quiet cream linen curtain option. We kept the bedding and drapes neutral as well, which allows the rug, art and accessories to pop, maintaining focus in the room.

Here’s the plan,

Dogwood design board

We love working with the Dogwood clients because they give proper but quick consideration to our suggestions but most importantly they are willing to try out our ideas.

You can see below that the lighter curtain, the artwork and bed positioning have already made an impact on the layout.

Once we get the right rug placed on the floor, it will really ground the new composition of this room.

Also, I think we will adjust the artwork slightly more toward the window and we’d love to see more prominent lamps and matching end tables that bring more warmth, texture and a modern appeal to the room. All in all these minimal changes have made a vast improvement to the room.

I Spy Potential

During a routine cruise through my local real estate listings I saw this jewel. If you’ve got the feeling that you just want to ship lap some walls, bring some character back, get your modern farmhouse on and just generally do it up Chip & Joanna Gaines style–this house is for you. This house would almost certainly be one of the three properties that a Gaines client would see, we’ll call it the “pond house”.

It’s a whole lot of 1990s goodness but I’m guessing the upside is that all the renovation would be cosmetic. For $275,000 you can buy a 3,200 square foot house with a detached mother-in-law apartment, 25 acres, a shabby barn, a pond that needs some TLC in the form of carp to eat the algae and a whole lot of potential.

Do you see what I see?


farmhouse back porch

The decision to cover the entire porch on the back of this house was clearly a good one.

You could tailor the exterior to look similar to these examples that have been in my inspiration file since the onset of my Farmhouse obsession.

farmhouse historical concepts

We need to get an outdoor fireplace happening and screen in some of the porch and put a metal roof on.

farmhouse screened porch

Moving around to the front, we can get some windows, new front door, remove the vinyl siding, update the columns and railing, add a few architectural elements and we are in the business of modern farmhouses.

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 9.02.57 PM


farmhouse columns



If you think you are going to take this on please email me, I’m happy to be of service!

It’s Always Time for Accessories

The April issue of Elle Decor features some stunning homes and to me it’s the best issue in a long while. You should pick one up.

The best feature is the former YWCA camp from the late 1800s in Northern California that was completely reimagined by architect Gil Schafer and designed by Rita Konig.



It’s highly personalized and the rooms have heaps of character. Konig’s interiors and her personal apartments are testaments to the importance of accessories to layer your space and communicate your personality and experiences.

Said best in the article by Konig,

“The Harrises believe in details and discoveries, and they trusted me. So I’d buy something odd, like a ship in a bottle or a stuffed seagull–I mean, who bothers to stuff a seagull?–and They’d get excited about it. Others clients might say “That’s a detail; we can deal with it later.” But they understood that sometimes, little things matter most.” Details are what allows you to create the story that gives life to a house.”

It’s because of Konig that I always search for colorful vintage glass ashtrays.

The moral of this post quite simply is — loosen up and buy the accessory that can personalize your space, don’t keep putting it off. And do always mix the old and the new.

Here are a few other vignettes to wet your whistle.

















Shop TEOT: Vintage Eero Aarnio Wicker Stools

Eero Aarnio stools

Vintage Eero Aarnio Wicker Stools

It was hard to let these babies go once I got my hands on them. They are superb foot rests not to mention way cool with their hourglass shape. They provoke a sort of what would Tom Scheerer do? type of moment upon first glance, at least that’s what they did for me.

And here’s why,


Wouldn’t our stools look right at home in a place like this?

Green Envy

Peter Dunham’s feature in Elle Decor is what opened my eyes to the recent influx of green accents that have been floating across my radar.

peter dunham green sofa

J. Crew labeled their green offering in the spring line “pesto” and next to blue, green is my favorite so I ordered a new “baby suit” in pesto green.

jcrew green swim suit


green peels

My mind also wanders to Sarah Sherman Samuel’s green upholstered bed,

green bed smitten studio


green cabinets

It seems though that the green accent is often the sofa,

Screen Shot 2016-03-06 at 11.22.21 AM


green liess sofa


green sofa


green sofa2



Jersey Ice Cream Company

Have I mentioned the design duo called the Jersey Ice Cream Company before, forgive me if I droned on about it on some other occasion.


The mix is moody and casual and the settings are generally rural but there is always the right amount of modern surprise.



jersey ice cream

The shelving and storage is always expertly styled.

jersey ice cream cabinet




jersey ice cream shower






jersey ice cream porch

More great styling work, its all about the details.

jersey ice cream herbs

I have a thing for eat-in kitchens, I think they are decidedly the way to go…for me at least.

jersey ice cream eat in

The expertly tossed attic hang out room.

jersey ice cream attic


the perfect English roll arm sofa

Betsy and I have been talking sofas. Reason being…I was thinking about putting my dirty well-loved Petrie on the shelf and getting a…Belgian Classic Slope Arm when Restoration Hardware was running a legit year-end sale on their in stock furniture.

I waded in to a sea of online reviews and read other people’s sofa journeys and rambled on about it via email, text and on the phone to Betsy. She listened, for the most part patiently, as she does. I texted my neighbor who has a petite track arm that stands up well at 3 years of age to two small children, no pets but no major spills. “I hate to bug you about this again but did you say you got the brushed linen in fog” She knew exactly what she’d purchased because she had the receipt! Her only regret? She didn’t get the luxe depth.

The conversation between Betsy and I shifted, as it most often does when I talk to anyone about sofas, to the english roll arm sofa. Betsy said, you’ve always known you wanted a roll arm–thats what you should get. But I’d have to settle because the perfect roll arm that is financially feasible and easily accessible eludes me…it eludes most.

Design junkies know these images,

sofa coppolaSofia Coppola

Jenna Lyons English Roll Arm SofaJenna Lyons

sofa pinkAnn Mashburn


and the image I’m fixated on,

sofa bulow


sofa bulow2I tell Betsy that Pavoncelli’s children in the Town & Country feature are laying on the perfect sofa. Betsy isn’t easily convinced but she wants to pour over it with me.


This is some of what that conversation sounds like,

“Well it’s a tight back. I can’t tell if the back has a seam and if it’s a single seat cushion or two because of the magazine binding” We can’t find the whole flat image on the internet. “It’s down-filled, I think it’s pretty safe to say the seat cushion is down-filled. Is it George Smith? Well AD says that Markham Roberts likes George Smith.”

I love the sofas of both George Smith and George Sherlock. They are what others try to replicate. Why don’t I invest in one? Well…because they are $12,000.


But what happens to these sofas that are seemingly perfect and supposed to last forever? What happens when they are sat on and loved and napped on for a good long while–say 20 years or so?

Well Grandma saggy buns comes to mind,

sofa saggy buns
The cushions are starting to take a dive at Ashley Putnam’s place,

sofa putnam


One of the authors of the Everygirl, has the Pottery Barn Carlisle in her Chicago apartment but the cover looks a bit askew and the seat cushions look a little broken down. My Petrie seat cushions look very similar and it’s 9 years old. The Carlisle is a roll arm sofa that a lot of folks go for, it’s relatively affordable and it’s good looking. I thought it was a sure bet until I sat on one and then I quickly put the brakes on. Sorry PB, painful but true.

sofa everygirl PB
A well loved George Smith three-seater once for sale on 1st Dibs,

Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 10.46.12 AM


This two seat Smith is on sale for $6500 on Viyet, BTW you should cruise Viyet if you haven’t yet. This sofa turns nine this year. It looks good don’t you think, wonder if she’s had work done? Ultimately the legs are too contemporary.

Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 10.59.10 AM

Perfection doesn’t yet exist and by perfection I mean the perfect sofa that we can afford, that is a beautiful roll arm silhouette, that is well-made and can be reconditioned over time, something that will last. This is all assuming that you’re in to roll arms. Maybe you’re in to slipcovered track arms and if that be the case well then we can still talk.




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