Jason Black’s House #8, the Magnolia Cottage, was a fan favorite at the 2016 Homearama in Louisville. “It was interesting to hear the comments when people first walked in the door,” recalls the home’s interior designer, Jason’s wife, Gretchen. “I watched people’s faces to read their reactions. The general sentiment was that it felt beachy, happy, coastal. That light, airy, beachy, easy living vibe is something we like.”
Gray is a big trend in design right now, Gretchen explains – particularly for walls and accents like drapes and throw pillows. Gretchen says she also used touches of navy to add masculinity to the house. Matte, brushed brass was her finish of choice.
For a home show, Gretchen really has to wrack her brain to come up with something new and different. In this case, she said it would have been easy to do marble – because everyone is using marble in homes these days – but homeowners have their reservations about it. “Marble can get really expensive, especially the lighter and whiter varieties. Then homeowners are also leery of caring for marble, the upkeep, and possible staining.” So they found beautiful, affordable granite that had a marble feel with its light color. “We waited over five months for the right slab to come in,” Gretchen says.
Gretchen and Jason frequently design for luxury clients, but they are budget-conscious by nature. The thinking is: Why pay more for something if you don’t have to? “I think that’s where somebody can benefit from a designer,” says Jason. “Gretchen can usually find an alternative to that $5,000 chandelier that you saw at the home show.”
One shortcut Gretchen uses is to buy light fixtures online and use a spray to get them the right color. “I sprayed some lights that were oil rubbed bronze a matte gold and they worked out perfect,” she says of some of the Magnolia Cottage. People touring the home would be hard-pressed to tell which fixtures were altered, she adds.
To come up with new ideas, Gretchen taps her vast network of fellow professionals and attends events like the Southern Living Builder Conference. She constantly flips through magazines, browses Pinterest, and shops the stores.
Her own store, Lulubelle’s, is a gift and accessories store that carries everything from stationary, candles, and pillows, to chandeliers, antiques, and baby items. You can find her store in Norton Commons at 10638 Meeting Street.