4 crucial questions for your Design Associate

I can think of another caption for this New Yorker cartoon: Louis XIV thinking, "I told the designer I needed furniture fit for a King’s mission, not mission furniture. "

Keep this little cartoon in mind when you start shopping with your design associate in High Point. The assistance is free and some designers are so good you'd pay them hundreds of dollars an hour to work with you.

The following 4 questions can help you find the right associate for your project.

How long have you worked here? More than one year is a good sign. Some stores may have high associate turnover and that’s an important consideration.

If your associate is new to the place, ask about previous experience with other stores. If they tend to jump around a lot, that's not a great sign.

One caveat: The recent economy has closed a lot of showrooms, and some associates may be moving around with the economy.

What is the most important thing to you about design? Scale is everything. Sometimes a few inches don't matter, and sometimes they really do.

For example, a cocktail table should be at least 18 inches from the edge of the sofa to the cocktail table, and a minimum of 3 feet in a heavy traffic room (such as an entrance in a family room versus a door to the library that no one uses).

A good designer knows you need to make room to navigate among the furniture. The best designers understand scale, proportion and color.

Do you have experience in design? Listen for a response that includes a solid design background, or someone who has been a designer on their own or in some other capacity.

Design degrees tend to be rare, so if you find someone with a degree, that's a great sign.

Finally, ask if they can show you pictures of projects they've recently completed.

Once you start working together, you’ll want to watch for the following:

Customer service and follow-up. Do they get right back to you? Do they jump on the issues before it becomes a bigger problem?

Are they listening to you? If you're car shopping and looking for a family car and the salesman keeps showing you sports cars, or a Lexus Sedan, it's pretty clear that you're not on the same wavelength.

Are they paying attention to your priorities? Not just trying to sell furniture? Are they showing you things you actually like, of the quality, and price range you desire.

If you don't like your associate's answers to any of these questions, you can request to work with someone else. Also, feel free to give me a call before you come here. I'd be happy to help you find the right one.

- Carole (336) 404-1040

Create your home's "Year of Style"


Plan a year's worth of beauty projects for your home and plan to save in February. With a little French inspiration and historic furniture discounts starting next month, you can create your home’s “Year of Style.” Here’s how.


One of my favorite books is Frederic Fekkai’s “A Year of Style.” The French stylist shares his monthly self-care and beauty ideas - a different set of ideas for each month - that are simple, practical, and luxuriously self-nurturing.

Suggestions range from “paint the inside of your closet a cheerful color,” to “make a cup of hot chocolate the Swiss way.” Such seasonally-inspired ideas inspire me to take better care of myself all year long.

My home is an extension of my year-round self-care. Each season inspires different desires: January makes me crave cozy floor rugs and July inspires family time on the patio with comfortable chairs for sunset dinners.

When it comes to styling and designing these moments for my family -- finding a good value tops the list of self-care.

Plan a year’s worth of projects and purchase during February’s furniture savings

February is the still one of the strongest month's to get the best price on quality furniture. Think Nordstrom's Anniversary Sale, when you get a personal invite from your favorite associates to view upcoming styles. Their sales associates know that July is the time to buy the best at the best price. And the sale is legendary.

In the furniture industry, February is to furniture what July is to fall at Nordstroms. In February, manufacturers want to clear the aisles for new designs. But when you're buying from a quality furniture maker, these styles don't fall out favor or fashion.

Create your home’s “Year of Style”

Take a look through this list of ideas. Send me an email with your project list and I can create a personal style calendar to help you find the right design - and best value - for your vision.

Warm, cozy rugs in January

A sweet heart gift in February--such as a love seat or dining set

Create a cozy reading nook in March

Let there be light, lamps, and chandeliers in April and May

June weddings and special “first home together” gifts

July patio furniture

August means Mohitos on a southern-inspired front porch

In September, suit up and organize your home office

Update the family’s entertainment centers for fall sports

Upfit the guest room in November

Upfit your bedroom in December

In January, relax and reflect on the year in something special -- like a chaise lounge

Email me at with ideas for your home’s “Year of Style” and we’ll make it a beautiful, nurturing, New Year.

A few of my favorite showrooms

The Fall 2010 High Point Market begins October 16, and I can't wait to see the new styles, reinvented trends, as well as some my longtime favorite furniture showrooms. Just to name a few ....

Lillian August

She has one of my all-time favorite sofas—both beautiful and comfortable. And if you love a European style, she’s the one for you. Her designs feature tailored basics and re-inspired antique treasures. What really sets her apart is an “easy elegance.” Lillian August furniture is beautiful and approachable. A wide variety of people can feel comfortable about displaying and living with one of these elegant pieces in their own home.

French Heritage

I’ve always loved the French Heritage Showroom. The room is beautiful and bright. The colors are pleasing, and the layout of the space is well designed. You literally walk through and say, out loud, “wow!” at almost every turn. And anyone that likes a French style or well-made accent pieces will find something at French Heritage.

Christopher Guy

You need a good pair of Ray-Bans for this showroom. While he’s not for everyone—his style is the cutting edge of modern, (not to be confused with contemporary) Christopher Guy is simply a beautiful designer to behold. With his own Secret Agent upbringing, born in Britain, raised in Spain and France, and now residing in Singapore, the designer’s international background informs his Hollywood style. You may have already seen a few of his pieces in some 007 movies: Thomas Crown Affair, Casino Royale, and Tomorrow Never Dies. Plus, Ocean's Thirteen, the Devil Wears Prada, and Charlie's Angels 2 – just to name a few.

Natuzzi Editions

Simply walking into the Natuzzi showroom feels like something special. The building is built like a modern ship sitting in its own mini-harbor in the middle of High Point’s downtown proper. No one does leather better than the Italians, in my opinion. And Europeans who like contemporary or modern furniture really love Nantuzzi designs. Plus the quality and the pricing is great. They have a few off-shore brands with very reasonable prices. Francesco Molon

I love Italian furniture. And Francesco Molon is right up there, meeting all my high expectations. The showroom is gorgeous. Francesco Molon features a wide assortment of beautiful traditional pieces. They also do extreme modern—ultra modern—in the way that Christopher Guy does. Prices are very expensive. Everything is a showpiece for beautiful wood and upholstery. They simply confirm my theory that the best furniture really does come from Italy.