A Closer Look: Eugène Atget

I’ve just begun to rediscover Eugène Atget, one of the great photographers of the early 20th century.

Versailles - Cour du Parc

His straightforward compositions belie the heavy subject matter he brings to each image.  Each exposure is a meditation on impermanence & solitude.

St. Cloud

These are photographs that remind me of the world at dusk, when colors become indistinct, shadows run into each other, and foliage turns into a black profile against the sky.

Rue de la Montagne-Sainte-Geneviève

His pictures seem shrouded in a gray mist, which (in a way) reveals as much as it conceals.




images: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Design Defined: Marble Countertops

classic marble bathroom

Marble has been used as a building material for centuries, and if it’s lasted that long, why have you been warned against using it in your kitchen or bathroom?  It’s sometimes seen as taboo because marble is a softer stone than granite.  But if it’s that beautiful veined look you are after, it’s hard to be satisfied with another stone.  So what are the risks?

Marble is known for staining and etching.  I recently helped a client redo her bathroom after ripping up the existing stained marble floor and saw this concern first hand.  I found this blog post a few weeks ago where a blogger was told many times to forget about her dreams of a marble countertop for her kitchen.  Instead of believing everything she heard, she decided to test a sample of marble by sealing one section and leaving the other unsealed.  She used everything you’re not supposed to put on marble – wine, tomato paste, and acidic fruit – to see what would happen.  She was surprised to find that the next day, once the stone had completely dried, it wasn’t stained at all!  She decided to get marble for her kitchen and concluded that having it sealed really prevents stains.

That post didn’t address etching, so I searched for another experiment and came across the Granite Guru’s post here.  They also tested marble by leaving samples of many different foods on the carerra samples overnight.  They really did their homework by testing several different types of sealers and using both honed and polished marble samples. 

They found that no matter what sealer was used, the marble etched.  Even if lemon juice was on the surface for just 10  minutes, it took the sheen right off the stone. 

Last but not least, I checked in with our own expert, Judy Pickett, who has lived with beautiful calcutta gold marble counter tops in her kitchen for the past four years (shown above).  She takes care to use a cutting board underneath fruits and vegetables and immediately wipes up spills.  She doesn’t regret using marble in her kitchen, but mentioned that if she did it over again, she might go with a honed marble since it doesn’t etch quite as easily.  After all, her philopsohy is, “You can live with colors you don’t love just because they are practical. Or you can live with what you love and clean it.”

– Lauren

Design Defined: Pillow Talk

Have you ever wondered why there are so many pillow options out there?  It’s crazy talk. There are some that are perfect for your head and others just plain stink, leaving you with little to no support while you sleep. We are starting a new series called “Design Defined” which highlights the simple luxuries within your home.  

Most pillows are filled with either a poly filled, a feather/down blend or a combination of both.   Down means the pillow is filled with either duck or goose feathers, and a poly filled pillow has synthetic stuffing. The real question is what do you like? Your bed pillow is all about your personal preference and the position in which you sleep. On your side, back, or tummy. Do you want to go the organic route? IS someone in your family allergic to dust mites or is sensitive to fibers? The DLL team always recommends getting pillow protectors – which can be found at your local Target stores. We are a fan of the ones from Garnet Hill.

Spending an extra couple of dollars on pillows might insure a restful nights sleep.  Experts at Real Simple put 35 different pillows to the test and have come up with 7 different winners. Check them out!

Believe it are not pillow cases do matter. No one wants a rough fabric rubbing up against your cheek. Try a washed linen look from Garnet Hill. These are oh so luxurious.


National companies like Serena & Lily & Potterybarn  have even gotten creative when dressing the bedroom. 


Sweet dreams! 

Images 1. Pinterest  2. Garnet Hill 3. Potterybarn

2011 Trends from Furniture Market: Painted Furniture

Throughout the showrooms in High Point, we couldn’t help but notice the painted furniture pieces.  And they weren’t what you might expect.  Painted furniture can sometimes look coastal, but these pieces took on so many different styles.  Check them out below!

 In the Hickory Chair showroom, their Surry chairs were painted in a stunning deep orange tone.  It provides such a nice contrast to the wooden table, neutral floors, and neutral walls.  To the right, a simple chest was accented with a Greek key pattern.  Adding a graphic like this takes a plain silhouette and makes it a focal point!

Another chest took on a tribal look with the interesting motifs shown above.  Hickory Chair has skilled artistans that can paint a piece any way you wish! 

 The Jonathan Adler showroom was filled with painted pieces in white.  Their lacquered finish has such a modern look!  Also popular: two-tone finishes.  Whether its just the drawer fronts or the frame of a table, contrasting painted areas with stained brings great interest and lessens the dose of color. 

Hickory White introduced three new finishes in a spice orange, slate blue, and butter yellow.  The distressed tones reminded me of a colored version of the driftwood finishes that are popular now.  They have a certain richness that would be appropriate for any season! 

– Lauren

Current Projects: Johnny’s Atomic Ranch {Part 3}

For the third and final chapter of Johnny’s house transformation, we proceed to the dining nook in the kitchen and the foyer/stairwell.


The only thing that changed in his space was the light fixture.  In making your style mark on a space- nothing is as easy as switching out that builder basic lighting which can often date the house.  We chose this pendant from Arteriors- and it’s egg yolk yellow interior casts a beautiful warm glow when it’s illuminated. We re-purposed Johnny’s existing leaning bookshelf from the living room and put it in the nook.


In the foyer- another lighting surprise! This simple lantern looks like an updated version of a classic colonial fixture- but makes a dramatic impact when you arrive.

Last but not least- something you can try too! Paint that oak stair rail black (with an oil-based paint) and it modernizes the stairs instantly.

Thanks to  Johnny for sharing his home on the blog!


Photography for this series taken by Lauren McKay

Restaurant Review: Robs Fave is Bull City Burger

Winning Best New Restaurant in Durham, Bull City Burger and Brewery tops Rob’s favorites. Crafting their own ales and lagers, Bull City changes them seasonally to keep everything fresh. 


“I love The Bull City Burger because it is a ‘farm-to-fork’ restaurant that allows you to enjoy a delicious burger while minimizing your environmental impact! The beef is 100% pasture raised, hormone and antibiotic-free – and it all comes from local farms in North Carolina. And somehow they manage to keep the prices very reasonable.”


His favorite dish is a simple burger with blue cheese. “The homemade bun and juicy beef are so delicious you hardly need to add anything else.”  This ultimate burger joint is located at 107 East Parrish Street, Suite 105  Durham, NC 27701.

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images – 1. Bull City 2. Triangle Tattle

Century Furniture wins 2011 BEST: Made is America Award

One of our largest furniture Manufacturers, Century Furniture, was just announced as the 2011 BEST: Made in America award winner. Century Furniture, located in Hickory, North Carolina will receive the award at the annual Take Pride in America celebration in Washington, D.C. this July. The not-for-profit educational organization, MADE: In America – who gave Century this award – encourages the exchange of domestic products in our global minded economy.

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“With outsourcing and so few domestic companies, Century Furniture has stayed focused on producing high quality craftsmanship right here in North Carolina,” states Lisa Jennings, regional sales representative.


Design Lines has always had a strong relationship with Century Furniture. We are collaborating on a large project with them, which we will be revealing early Fall 2011! We congratulate and support Century Furniture for their hard work and dedication.

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Lisa states, “Century has always been privately and employee owned – meaning everyone at Century strives to produce the best quality and customer service around.”

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images – Design Lines

2011 Hickory Chair University


Rob and Hilaire are in route to Hickory Chair University and will be among many other interior designers from Texas, North Carolina, Louisiana, Arkansas, Alabama, Virginia and even Istanbul, Turkey for this three day event! During this trip they will learn all about the furniture manufacturing process, take behind-the-scenes factory tours, and meet the employees who make this company so successful.

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So, stay tuned, as they recap their adventures later in the week!

To see the previous Design Lines experience of Hickory Chair University, click here.

image 1. Made By Hickory Chair Blog

Hilaire is heading to New York!

I am off to the Big City today! I will be live from the highly anticipated conference – Blogfest 2011 which is hosted by Kravet and Lee Jofa. For three days I will have the opportunity to meet Editor-In-Chiefs from  top national interior design magazines like Traditional Home, Veranda, House Beautiful, and Architectural Digest.

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I’ll see Elle Decor’s Modern Life Concept House Tour followed by a design tweet-up party hosted by ABCD Designs & Jonathan Legate of DesignTVwith Joss & Main. I am glad to finally meet Amy Beth and Jonathan in person. I’ll find some time to tour the Kips Bay Decorator Show House, have tea with Barbara Barry and even attend an event by Sub-Zero.


Can you tell I am excited?! This is a dream come true for me and I am beyond excited. I will be staying at the posh boutique hotel – Ace Hotel which is located in the Theatre District of the city. The New York Times, even calls it “The country’s most original hotel.”

Throughout these three days, there will be updates on our blog, Twitter handle @Designlinesltd and our Facebook page – so check back for details.

images: 1. NYC.gov  2. Language Works 3. Ace Hotel