Becoming Remarkable!

Becoming Remarkable!

If you read my review for Steve Mouzon’s new book you know that I now understand myself better than ever before. I don’t want to be branded which to me reads predictable. I want to be REMARKABLE at what I do!! That has me so excited I can hardly stand it. Do you ever struggle to explain to others what you think sets your work apart? I have. In my heart I know exactly what my sweet spot in design is but just like on the tennis court I don’t always hit it and I now believe it is because I haven’t properly communicated to clients what will allow me to give them the best end product. Maybe you can help me figure out how to state it. I am a story teller so I think I will
spend the next few posts telling you stories of how I added my unique mark to projects and then ask YOU to tell ME what it is I am trying to say. Does that sound crazy??? Humor me. I neeeeeed your help.

So here goes. I don’t like jig-saw puzzles. Why? I am having to put together someone else’s picture and they keep changing the image. They send me a picture of something that to their eye is just what I said we needed but it is actually totally wrong. Whether it is scale, texture or most often, quality, I know that that puzzle piece would stick out like a sore thumb. It is better if  I create the puzzle then let them help me fit the pieces together. That is why I do so much better when I am invited in at the beginning to work with the architect to get the picture right to begin with. It’s not about control it’s about having the ability to see in 3-D and walk around in the building before we ever break ground. It is a money saver. It’s also about open communication and trust. Design is no different than everyday life. You have the best relationships with people who know that you have their best interest at heart.

At frame-up is when I do all of my happy dances because things just start popping into my head that are cosmetic changes that make all the difference. They are the small changes that make the place remarkable and it is by far my most favorite thing to do in the world.

Don’t ask me at this stage what color the walls are going to be.

Case study number 1.

The plans in this house called for sheetrock coffered ceilings. Nothing wrong with that except that every single house on the block had the exact same ceiling. That gives me the shakes. I suggested that we take out half of the coffers thus making the openings between each much larger and wrap the beams with thin veneers of old wood giving the appearance of support beams. We went from this


to this. This change alone got us so much closer to the warm, homey feel that the client wanted.

alford stainbalance


alford ceiling

Then there was the header shown in the picture below. It made sense on the plan because it mirrored the transom that you can see in the background that leads to the master bedroom. However, standing there looking at it you felt like you needed to duck – even though we had 12′ ceilings. My gut said that by taking it out and just casing the opening we would give the stairwell the importance that it deserved.

alford header

What do you think?


Then there was the floor to consider. Even though that is just a breezeway connecting the public areas to the private it is a very important breezeway because it is on the front of the house and it is all glass.  There was no room for art and the only way to make it special was with the lighting …unless I made a flooring change. This was tricky because the foundation was finished before I was hired so we couldn’t depress the slab but we were still able to use some Peacock Pavers (that’s hard to say) in order to set set this area apart. If you are not familiar they look like antique limestone. We now had hardwood in the bedroom, pavers in the hallway and hardwood in the greatroom.  It still needed some little something.

Since the bottom stair was rounded off we decided to add border of the hardwood, repeating that detail and adding the finishing touch.

alford floorbands

casestudy #2

Unless you have a formal house I just think that wood adds a warmth that nothing else can- especially old wood.

Try to imagine how different the “temperature” of this foyer would be with a white drywall ceiling.

woodall foyer

But you can’t add and forget. The weight, the texture, the color all has to be balanced in other areas of the immediately seen rooms.

Here, we chose to do that with the range hood which will sit between the two banks of wall cabinets.

woodall kitchen


You can almost see the foyer ceiling through the doorway on the right. This is especially important for balance. You can easily see in this picture alone how the added weight of the dark stain on the hood and floor balances and anchors the coolness of the rest of the room.

Directly opposite the range is the fireplace. Plans called for it to be a traditional painted mantle.

Instead we found this one that, again, adds weight and visual interest to the room.


I will continue this discussion next post. In the meantime, think about and see if you understand what I am trying to convey and how you would put it into words.

See more pictures on Pinterest and Instagram.


Cindy Barganier
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