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interior design

Houzz Award

Thanks Houzz for the recognition!

Lou Stewart of Asheville Receives
Best Of Houzz 2014 Award

Annual Survey and Analysis of 16 Million Monthly Users
Reveals Top-Rated Building, Remodeling and Design Professionals

Lou Stewart of Stewart Consultants in Asheville, NC has been awarded “Best Of Houzz” by Houzz, the leading platform for home remodeling and design. The interior design company was chosen by the more than 16 million monthly users that comprise the Houzz community.

The Best Of Houzz award is given in two categories: Customer Satisfaction and Design. Customer Satisfaction honors are determined by a variety of factors, including the number and quality of client reviews a professional received in 2013. Design award winners’ work was the most popular among the more than 16 million monthly users on Houzz, known as “Houzzers,” who saved more than 230 million professional images of home interiors and exteriors to their personal ideabooks via the Houzz. Winners will receive a “Best Of Houzz 2014” badge on their profiles, showing the Houzz community their commitment to excellence. These badges help homeowners identify popular and top-rated home professionals in every metro area on Houzz.

“Houzz has been a great resource for me and my clients. The ideabooks are a fabulous way to organize aspects for a design”, Lou Stewart states.

“Houzz provides homeowners with the most comprehensive view of home building, remodeling and design professionals, empowering them to find and hire the right professional to execute their vision,” said Liza Hausman, vice president of community for Houzz. “We’re delighted to recognize Lou Stewart among our “Best Of” professionals for customer satisfaction as judged by our community of homeowners and design enthusiasts who are actively remodeling and decorating their homes.”

With Houzz, homeowners can identify not only the top-rated professionals like Lou Stewart, but also those whose work matches their own aspirations for their home. Homeowners can also evaluate professionals by contacting them directly on the Houzz platform, asking questions about their work and reviewing their responses to questions from others in the Houzz community.

Follow Lou Stewart on Houzz

How To Pick The Best Colors for Your Home (Part 2)

To continue our investigation of picking wall colors for your home, I want to share a couple of other helpful tips.


Pull two or three colors from a favorite painting, photograph or piece of clothing….. something that really resonates with you. Match these colors to samples at a paint store or have your interior designer match them for you. This can be your inspirational palette.


To often, people make the mistake of selecting too many colors, thinking they need to paint each room a different color. This can result in a piecemeal look that chops up the visual flow of an interior.

Instead, if you use your inspirational palette as the basis of your color choices, you can vary the hues and tones of these colors to create a smooth transition from space to space. The result – a more cohesive look to your home.


The most important part of selecting your colors is to trust your gut instinct. Response to color is very visceral and you will know deep within you if a color resonates with you or not. A good designer will not tell you what color to paint your walls, they will guide you to the colors that will suit you best. Trust your instincts and you will be happy with the colors you choose.


How To Pick The Best Colors for Your Home (Part 1)

When choosing wall color for a home, some people get totally overwhelmed.

Here is the approach I use with my interior design clients to make this process easier and more fool-proof.

First,I caution clients that just because a certain color may be your favorite, it may not look good all over your house. A neutral with a hint of a favorite color can be a smart starting place.

Another good starting place is to figure out if you prefer warm (yellows, oranges and reds) or cool colors (blues, greens). Most people gravitate toward one over the other, but you certainly can use both in a home. I like to find a main color first, especially if the design is an open concept.


The number one rule in selecting color is to get samples and paint them on a large poster boards. You don’t want to paint the sample paint on your walls because it is a lesser quality and is not good to have under your new paint coat – believe me I did this years ago in my own home and it really affects the paint job. It is so important to look at the colors in your space on a sunny day, cloudy day and at night. This will help your decision and its much cheaper in the long rung than buying full gallons of your first choice just to discover it looks horrible in your space.


The amount and direction of natural light affects wall color. Eastern exposure will add a greenish tint, while southern exposure is more yellow, whitish which can brighten or wash colors out. Western light is more orange, and northern light tends to be more grey which neutralizes and cools everything.


With the variety of light bulbs on the market today, it can get confusing what to use and how it can affect the overall look of your home.

Incandescent bulbs will bring out the yellow tones, while fluorescent bulbs will generally bring out the cool tones. However, you can now buy warmer rated CFL’s. LED’s can cast a very cool white light but can also be purchased with a warmer rating.


Every color has a “Light Reflectance Value” (LRV) which is a rating from 0% (absolute black) to 100% (pure reflective white). Similar to a gray scale, the LRV indicates how much light is absorbed or reflected by a color. Many paint samples will list an LRV number. This becomes very helpful when selecting several colors that will been seen together , like in an open concept. If you choose colors that have very different LRV ratings, the result will be jarring as the colors will fight for attention. Staying within 7 or so points in the LRV, you can use different hues without creating a disturbing contrast.

These aspects can help you avoid costly mistakes and guide you toward a color choice that you can be happy with for many years.

Kitchen Countertop Comparisons

Clients often ask me what kind of kitchen countertop is the best?

That depends upon 3 main factors. I call these the holy trinity of design.

  • how you use the space
  • the overall style
  • the budget

How you use your kitchen? Are you an avid chef who needs workhorse surfaces? Do you like to entertain and have guest gather as you make the final preparations for your feast? Or are you happy with popping something into the microwave?

What’s the overall style of your kitchen? Traditional? Contemporary? Country or mid century modern?

What’s your budget? Whether your are building a new home or renovating an existing kitchen, it’s important to determine your budget and what part of that you are willing to put toward your countertops.

Once you have answered the questions above, you’ll have a much clearer understanding of your needs as you read through the following descriptions of available countertop materials. Narrow your choice down and be sure to let your design professional know which you prefer. They can show you samples, which will help you make a final decision.

The good news is there are countertops that can fit every budget, need and style.

Found at Consumer Reports, here are comparisons of the several types, listing the pros and cons and price range of each.




Best for busy kitchens and baths. It’s stain- and heat-resistant and low-maintenance. It doesn’t need sealing and is available in vibrant colors and in styles that mimic natural stone.

But edges and corners can chip. Rounded edges help. Stone finishes can appear more uniform than natural.

Price $50 to $100 per sq. ft.




Best for a natural stone look. It can withstand heavy use in a kitchen or bath. It resists stains when it’s properly sealed and it also resists heat and scratches.

But it needs resealing to protect it from stains. Color and grain can differ from samples, so it’s best to choose at the stone yard.

Price $45 to $200 per sq. ft.



Best for use near stoves because it’s heat-resistant. It comes in many colors, patterns, and prices.

But it chips. Grout between tiles stains and is prone to mildew, even when sealed. Poor installation can increase those problems. Thinner grout lines and darker grout might help.

Price $10 to $30 per sq. ft.



Best for a wide variety of colors and patterns at a budget-friendly price. It’s excellent at resisting stains and heat damage and is simple to install.

But it’s easily scratched by kitchen knives and isn’t repairable. Most have visible seams, though post-formed (seamless) options are available.

Price $10 to $30 per sq. ft.

Solid Surface

Solid surfacing

Best for seamless installations, especially in baths. Many colors and styles are available, including those that mimic concrete, stone, and quartz. It’s stain-resistant, and small nicks and scratches can be repaired.

But it’s easily scratched. Stone finishes can look more uniform than natural.

Price $35 to $100 per sq. ft.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel

Best for a modern kitchen. It repels stains and heat and doesn’t rust or discolor. The countertop can be made with an integral sink for a seamless look.

But it can look cold in a bath. It shows fingerprints and dents and scratches easily. Matte or grain finishes hide damage better.

Price $100 to $150 per sq. ft.




Best for customizing. It can be dyed or textured.

But it can develop cracks. Its durability depends on the fabricator’s skill and the sealers used. Topical sealers, which resist stains but not heat, are best for bathrooms. Penetrating sealers resist heat but stain and must be reapplied.

Price $80 to $120 per sq. ft.



Best for a natural stone look without heavy veining or graining in a guest bath, powder room, or low-traffic kitchen. It withstands heat very well.

But it’s a very soft stone that is easily sliced, nicked, and scratched. It’s also porous, so it stains easily even when properly sealed.

Price $60 to $100 per sq. ft.

Butcher Block

Butcher block

Best for a country kitchen and for cutting produce. It’s easy to install and repair.

But it might need periodic sealing or refinishing to remove cuts, dings, and scratches. Its finish affects performance. Varnish improves stain resistance and penetrating oils decrease it.

Price $30 to $65 per sq. ft.



Best for a classic stone look in low-traffic areas, like a baking zone or guest bath. It’s available in a wide range of natural colors.

But it’s more porous than granite, so it’s not as stain-resistant. It also scratches easily, isn’t very heat-resistant, and needs periodic sealing.

Price $50 to $140 per sq. ft.



Paperstone 100% post-consumer recycled paper that has been saturated with PetroFree™ phenolic resins and selected natural pigments.

Best for its warm look and feel. If scratched it can be lightly sanded like wood. Can be sealed and refreshed with a light application of natural sealer. Great eco-friendly choice.

But it can scratch and get rings. And it is expensive.

Price $85 to $95 per sq. ft.

Point of View


One of the most important qualities architecture can give us is a point of view. Windows frame our everyday world and give us an essential connection with Nature.

On a trip to Austria a few years ago, my husband and I stayed in a lovely 1800’s hotel on the village square in Hallstatt. Each morning we would look out the window across the cobbled square to view the morning rituals of the town locals. Merchants opening their shops with familiar routines that seemed to shape their lives in remarkably comfortable ways. A stray dog sniffing about to see what was new from the day before. Children running to school.

All were entertaining to watch but the most intriguing was the sight of an elderly man. Every morning he sat at the same window, in the same position gazing out to the lake. His countenance was gentle and soft as he sat motionless, totally engaged in his observance. His arm rested on the sill with such grace, they seemed to embrace each other like good friends.

I wanted to see what he saw. I tried to imagine what his point of view was, but could not fully grasp it. When I watched him, I felt a calmness come over me. Each morning I found myself thanking him for these shared moments.

I think of that gentle man often when I catch myself gazing out my window, with a softness that offers me a moment to just observe with appreciation.

Inviting Summer Designs












Love this comfortable outdoor oasis. Great way to expand your living area on these summer evenings.

For more interior design and garden design ideas check out
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Untangle Your Office

Have you ever been frustrated with all the wires you have to manage in your life? It is one of my pet-peeves.Here are some clever and sensible ideas for improving your office design.

Cord Manager

Run this track along the back side of your desk and simply slip your cords into it. Has self-adhesive back and Velcro® release.

Cable Drop

Great for laptop users…no more fishing for the dangling printer cord or accessory USB cable.

Cable Box

Can handle the more complicated cable configurations.

Incorporating small items that have great function and design can eliminate frustration and bring more joy to your working day. Sometimes the simplest design is the best.

Interior design for an uncomplicated life. Make life even more fun.