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Q& A With Interior Designer Phoebe Howard

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The first thing you should do every summer is give your house a really good cleaning. The second thing is to add fresh, live greenery, like pots of ivy, orchids -- they last forever and are easy to maintain. In the bedroom, you could update your bedding. In the dining room, take a look at your chairs and make sure they're comfortable. Do you need new ones? Can your existing ones be slipcovered? In the living room, add pillows or lamps. A new coffee table can usually greatly improve a living room.

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Are there furniture pieces and accessories you turn to again and again?

My signature favorites are starburst mirrors (I dig around for antiques), Bridgewater club chairs (English arms, delicately turned legs and a high, tight back), modern coffee tables, painted beds, upholstered dining room chairs, antiques that have a modern silhouette. For accessories: glass hurricanes (they're very versatile; you can use them on a dining table, coffee table, a mantel), glass lamps with colored shades, brass accessories, and I always love antique boxes and books. With accessories, it's important that they aren't cluttered. I like collections, but collections need to be controlled. Most people buy too many picture frames.

Is there a design trend that you dislike?

People are too caught up in mid-century furniture. I like it in small doses, but I don't know if it has staying power. People randomly make purchases without careful consideration and thought, then call the look "eclectic." Furniture and decorating is an expensive investment, and I think it should be treated with a great deal of importance. I think people should do as much research when they buy furniture as they do when they buy a car.

Do you have favorite design blogs?

Things That Inspire [http://freshpalette.blogspot.com], the Peak of Chic [http://thepeakofchic.blogspot.com], Eddie Ross [http://www.eddieross.com], Style Court [http://stylecourt.blogspot.com], All the Best [http://www.allthebestblog.com], Habitually Chic [http://habituallychic.blogspot.com] and Absolutely Beautiful Things [http://absolutelybeautifulthings.blogspot.com].

What's next?

Once we open the new store, getting back on our feet will take a few months, but then we'll be keeping the stores up and keeping them going. Based on the performance of the Charlotte location, I would open more. In our plans for future expansion, we definitely have D.C. on our radar.


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