A Lifelong Dance of Transition

Home is so important to us. It is a place where we can kick off our shoes, get comfortable, be surrounded by familiar things, and just feel safe. Some of us have spent decades living in one home and the thought of moving seems too much to tackle. Almost like losing a very close friend or family member.

Over the years we enter into a dance with our homes. You keep me safe and warm…cha cha cha….I will take care of the maintenance…cha cha cha. As we age the tune and dance steps change a little, but no need to stop the dance altogether. By changing up some areas in your home the music can keep playing and your home can keep being that safe place it is meant to be.

Here are just a few new steps for example:

  • If balance has become an issue remove loose area rugs from walking paths. And, remove any rugs that have been placed on top of carpeting.
  • Be sure to have and maintain good railings on all stairways.
  • Attach grab bars where needed, especially in bathrooms to aid getting in and out of your tub/shower (or up and down from the commode).
  • Light up hallways at night and keep a bathroom night light on.
  • Use non-slip treads or mat in your bathtub.
  • If and when needed, arrange for a trustworthy and well-vetted person or service to regularly help out with chores.


When we are proactive any transition in life can be less upsetting. Take a step back and see which dance is appropriate for you now and make the necessary adjustments. With a few tweaks here and there, staying safe at home can be doable for all stages of life.

Updating a Fireplace . . .

So you bought a house with all that beautiful old character and extra architectural gems and came to the realization that some of your gems aren’t really shining anymore and are in need of updating. We understand! The craftsmanship and care is remarkable in some older homes, who can’t help but fall in love with them. But we are in the 21st century now and our tastes have evolved a bit and there is no reason you can’t have the best of both worlds.

Here is a great example of how to merge the beauty and charm of yesterday with the sophistication and character of today. Under the direction of our design staff and at the hand of our talented contractor, Jed Durand, of Elk Mountain Associates, this fireplace was completely transformed. Designed to maintain the integrity and mimic the style of the original woodwork throughout this Craftsman-style home while presenting a fresh, updated look, the old tile was replaced with black slate and the brick was encased in custom woodwork. The simple lines in conjunction with the use of black slate and crisp white paint lend to the fresh, updated look.

The clean looking nature of these materials enabled us to have the slate tiles cut to a smaller size more traditionally found in “Craftsman-style” fireplace and hearth designs without sacrificing the updated, sophisticated look our clients were hoping for.


Note in this before photo, the painted brick and mantel detail were less than inspiring. More importantly, they were not cohesive with the style of the home and adjacent woodwork.

A Work in Progress









The Final Result


Jackson & Hartley Designs

One of the many services we offer at Key Associates is Interior Design, which encompasses custom draperies, bedding and linens. We are very fortunate to work with some amazing people like Gerald Jackson and Doug Hartley at Jackson & Hartley Designs in Greenville, SC.

Excellence, integrity and class are just a few words to describe these men who we consider to be our friends. They are the creators of our window, drapery and bedding visions. Through their artful craftsmanship we have the ability to turn an ordinary window into a work of art and craft luxury, often out of the unconventional. Attention to detail ensures that each project they work on is truly one of a kind.

Whatever challenge we bring to the table their skilled eyes and light-hearted attitude will be applied and carried through completion of any project. Working and creating with these talented men, our friends, is a joy.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!!!

My name is Dawn and I am the Marketing Coordinator for Key Associates.

I have recently moved back home after 8 years of living on the Western side of our country. Home being Western North Carolina, a beautiful state filled with amazing mountains, southern hospitality, creative people, and an eclectic blend of different cultures. Coming home was right for our family and being home is good for the soul. But all transitions of this nature take adjusting and maneuvering all sorts of emotions. We left our two older children back in California to finish out college and enrolled our two teenagers into a brand new high school. Wowza!! The girls are settling in and having Papa and Grandma so close is a total win-win, of course. Which leads me into why I am writing this Blog.


Our Family

It will be our first Christmas with five in the house, not seven. Old traditions will need to be laid to rest and new traditions must be established! Navigating my own Mother and how to honor her and my Father on special days that use to be just “us” are on the horizon.

So I have chosen a few core goals for myself to keep this time of year, the most wonderful, and I wanted to share these with you. I know I am not the only one who is facing a “not so normal” or “not the same as before” holiday season. Whether someone you love has passed, you have moved or you are facing financial strain, how we chose to position our hearts and minds this season can make the world of difference. So here we go!!

  1. Laugh a lot. Laughter bonds people and has so many health benefits.
  2. Do not try to pack 10lbs of flour into a 5lb sack. The holidays can easily lose their meaning when we do this. People come first, not productions.
  3. Enjoy my family. Spend my time with them, more important than spending money on them.
  4. My home, my time, my children, my love.
  5. Be kind. To all the people that cross my path.
  6. Singing is like laughter so good for our heart and helps us bond (can also make others laugh just by hearing us J).

Hope my goals lend encouragement to you and may this be The Most Wonderful Time of the Year for you and your family.

Cosmetic Upgrade on a Budget!

We all like the idea of upgrading!  Everywhere we look, upgrade your app’s, phone, vacation package, it goes on and on.  We are always invited to upgrade something, of course for a small fee and a simple “yes”.  But when it comes to our homes the task of upgrading can seem daunting or overwhelming.  Especially if you are not skilled in carpentry or your time and budget are limited.  Here is a look at a “cosmetic upgrade” Key Associates managed on a budget.

blk-mtn-kit-b-afterWe met with the clients and they shared their desire for a more updated look but they were not interested in the muss and fuss of scraping the popcorn ceilings.  Nor did they want to replace the cabinets or appliances.  The cabinets were in great shape and much of their outdated look came from the out-of-date hardware, the laminate countertops and the surrounding wall coverings.  The appliances were quite new and in good working order so we happily agreed to work around them.    

blk-mtn-kit-a-beforeFirst things first….out with the old!  Removing the wallpaper and picking light neutral colors brought an open and clean warmth to this large room.  The old tiles were small with very wide and dark grout lines.  Putting in a softer tone and a larger square tile with minimal matching grout lines aided in creating the light and airy openness desired.  Replacing the countertops with granite and butcher block added a pop yet still blended with the natural pallet we were creating.  A good wood cleaner/restorer was used on the cabinetry and new, clean-lined hardware was added for a seamless tie in to this cosmetic facelift.  

blk-mtn-kit-a-afterFinal touches included the natural and decorative tile backsplash, new lighting fixtures, and the white open shelving for displaying new and old white serving and accent pieces.

This once outdated kitchen was transformed on a budget into a beautiful and serene space for friends and family to gather.

The difference is in the details!

Drape Detail

Drape Detail



Attention to detail is often what makes the difference between something that comes together and is pleasing and soothing to the eye and something that is distracting and just a little “off.” One example of paying attention to detail can be seen in the photos shown here.

Drapes by Gerald Jackson

Drapes by Gerald Jackson




Adding a band of trim or contrasting fabric to window treatments is a great way to add interest and dimension and help tie the colors of a room together. But, don’t stop there! A key factor is where the banding is positioned and that position must make sense. Shown here, the banding is placed in line with the window sill where it is visually pleasing and – – in this case – – adds balance to the wooden rod, rings and brackets at the top (not shown).

Kudos to the extraordinary Gerald Jackson of the sewing room Jackson & Hartley Designs for yet another great job.



What do you do if your clients don’t like their granite pass through?

Key Associates solved the problem of the "cold" stone pass-through.

You cap it! Or, in our case, we call the cabinetmaker and ask him to fabricate a rich and warm wood countertop.

Our clients told us they felt the granite pass through in their newly-purchased apartment felt cold and sterile. They had discussed having it pulled out and replaced with a wooden countertop – – not a bad idea, but what a mess! We suggested saving the added cost and mess of the tear out by simply “capping” the granite with a wood counter that fit their requirements and worked with the finishes in the adjoining rooms.

All credit goes to cabinetmaker extraor-dinaire Steve Huter, of Giving Tree Cabinets, http://givingtreecabinets.com, who was already involved in other projects in the home. Steve worked with us to make our concept fly so beautifully. Installation went seamlessly and the “cap” fits perfectly, is totally sturdy and looks amazing. And, best of all, our clients loved it.

It really does make this little space warmer and more inviting!

Which House Would You Buy?

Of course, the photos that follow are of the same house. But consider the difference a little expert help made in the appearance of this home! Here’s the story:

Working with the adult children of an elderly widower residing in an assisted living community, Key Associates was asked to divest the personal property and furnishings remaining in their father’s home and then get the house ready for sale. Keeping the furnishings was not an option in this case.

After a tag sale was held and the furnishings were cleared out, Key Associates got busy scheduling needed repairs, updating some lighting and hardware, hiring a painting contractor and selecting just the right paint colors. Some worn and dated carpeting was replaced and then came the cleaning crew and a very thorough cleaning. The front door was given a fresh coat of paint and the landscaping was cleaned up with an emphasis on curb appeal. The house was then ready for sale.

In this case, everything looked so clean and fresh, very little “staging” was needed. A very few key pieces of furniture and furnishings made the home feel welcoming and ready for new owners.

See the results and ask yourself, “Which house would I buy?”

Great Room Before

Great Room – Before Key Associates

Great Room after

Great Room – After Key Associates

Dining Room Before

Dining Room – Before Key Associates

Dining Room After

Dining Room – After Key Associates

Bedroom Before

Bedroom – Before Key Associates

Bedroom After

Bedroom – After Key Associates


An Unwrapped Gift

Overwhelmed? Tense and fatigued? Tis the season for too much of everything. We at Key Associates suggest you have a cup of tea. Set aside a place that is yours. Drink from a china cup. Add sugar from a silver spoon. All the care that you bestow on others can be draining, so give back to yourself what you need most: Time. It is a gift that delivers so much and doesn’t have to be wrapped.

Merry Christmas from Key Associates

Merry Christmas from Key Associates!