Updated 1980’s Colonial

Updated 1980s Colonial

A 1980’s colonial, with solid bones, got a “polish” by adding custom, architectural details, and a newly remodeled kitchen.

Located in a premier neighborhood, the outdated interior of this home was not on par with it’s neighbors. While still a solid layout, the finishes, appliances and fixtures were stuck in the 80’s. The oak floors were refinished to eliminate the yellow patina and the walls got new wainscoting and a fresh palate of paint giving the first floor an upgrade.

Custom millwork was designed to surround the family room fireplace, adding much needed storage, and giving it a sophisticated facelift.

A complete kitchen remodel was at the heart of the project. Custom cabinets designed by Align Design and crafted by Woodways in Grand Rapids, MI, gave the owner the gourmet kitchen she was desiring. Azul Aran Granite gives the kitchen a luxurious touch.


“I really enjoyed working with Shawn on this kitchen remodel. I know the homeowner is thrilled with the outcome. Having Shawn on board saved the day. It changed the project from being average to being outstanding.

I am looking forward to working with Shawn again.” –JR W. , Project Contractor

West Asheville Overhaul

West Asheville Overhaul

The scope of this project was an entire home remodel and two story addition.

The Original floor plan was a maze of tiny rooms, with poorly constructed bump outs on both levels.  In the planning and concept phase, the existing floor plan was pared down to the original footprint of the house, making the two, story addition off of the back look more intentional.

The first floor was entirely opened up to create an open concept for the kitchen, dining and living area.  Steel beams were added for structural support, and left exposed and incorporated into the design.

The additional space on the first floor added a mudroom off of the kitchen, a guest bedroom/office and a bathroom.  The second story addition allowed space for three additional bedrooms, a bath and a laundry area.

The original primary bedroom and bathroom were reconfigured to create a haven for the owners.

You can read about the full project & see before photos on our blog


“Shawn Merkel of Align Design is a true pro. She helped us with a complete reno project, tear-down to almost entire new build. Her ability to take the clients style/dreams/desires and manifest them into a visually/high functioning space, is unique. She is also a very strong project manager, and has the ability to manage builder, subs, orders, and juggle multi-dimensional project needs. A huge asset. If i did it again, I would have Shawn at our side. Thank you!” –Zach A.

West Asheville Kitchen

West Asheville Kitchen

All that this dated kitchen needed was a fresh coat of paint, new appliances, lighting and tile to give it a completely different vibe.

That’s a good thing, because the owner was on an extremely tight budget – under $5,000.

Glass pencil tile was inset into the subway tile backsplash, to carry the eye lengthwise, and visually stretch the kitchen.

Enough was saved in the budget to allow a “splurge” tile, which provided a bit of bling, while honoring the age and style of the house.

A beautiful seagrass color was chosen to echo the wall color and the “splurge” tile,  Terra Ignis Floral Lantern Azure – on the chimney.

New laminate countertops, were spec’d to look like high end granite, while being easy on the budget.

Vintage style track lighting now provides more coverage and can be positioned where light is needed the most.

This little kitchen is proof that you don’t need a huge budget to get a sweet outcome.


“I couldn’t have completed my project without Shawn!! She walked me through every step, offering suggestions and information, resources and support. Shawn’s comfort level with design quickly put me at ease. Shawn did a lot of the footwork that kept me from starting the project for so long…. finding contractors, getting estimates, and keeping track of deadlines and budgets. She was available for any question and always kept me in the loop. Shawn approaches her work with a great deal of professionalism, warmth, and attention to detail. A pleasure to work with! Thanks so much, Shawn!!” -Patrice W.

West Asheville Bath Remodel

West Asheville Bath Remodel

This cramped, dark bathroom was transformed to a bright, cheery space on a shoestring budget.

The key was to design open sight lines to create the illusion of space in this tiny bathroom.

The old bathtub/shower was replaced with a walk in shower, with glass walls, effecting the sense of more space in the tiny room.

The old vanity was replaced with an open, console style sink, again, visually, creating more space in the room. The legs of the sink provide more options for hanging towels, while baskets underneath hold toiletries and sundry items.

Bright white paint and subway tile “open” the small bathroom, and  marry nicely with a fun, patterned, ceramic floor tile, that also continues up the wall behind the stool, for visual interest and easy cleaning.

Stainless and brushed stainless mirror, hardware and accessories add sparkle to the formerly dingy room.


“I couldn’t have completed my project without Shawn!! She walked me through every step, offering suggestions and information, resources and support. Shawn’s comfort level with design quickly put me at ease. Shawn did a lot of the footwork that kept me from starting the project for so long…. finding contractors, getting estimates, and keeping track of deadlines and budgets. She was available for any question and always kept me in the loop. Shawn approaches her work with a great deal of professionalism, warmth, and attention to detail. A pleasure to work with! Thanks so much, Shawn!!” -Patrice W.

Family Home With Golf Course Views

Family Home With Golf Course Views

This makeover was inspired by the owners’ love of the shoreline, family time, and traveling.

Working within a tight budget, this 1980’s spec home on a golf course, with great views, needed to be updated and personalized for a newly blended family. Working to meld his, hers and ours, a design came together to create a cozy haven that is both kid friendly and adult time ready.

By updating some of their existing furniture and incorporating artwork and treasures that had been gathered while traveling around the world, they were able to stay within a tight design budget and realize a space that meets the needs of everyone in the family.


“Working with Shawn was a pleasure. She took our lifestyle, experiences and preferences into consideration while simultaneously working within a limited budget. I could not have been more pleased with the results. Our home is beautiful and we get so much more use from our living space. I chose to work with Shawn because her residential design work looked like people could actually live in the rooms photographed on her website. I feel lucky every time I walk into my home now that we’ve finished.”

Courtney F.

Historic Downtown Condo

Historic Downtown Condo

A 700 square foot, downtown condo was the perfect place to downsize after moving from a home that was more than twice that size. The owner sold and donated a household of “stuff”, only retaining a small collection of “prized possessions”. Those possessions have been combined with a few, “new to the owner” repurposed pieces to create this cozy, eclectic space.

The first thing on the list of updates for this condo were the kitchen cabinets. Basic builder grade cabinets were given a coat of paint and got a little bling with modern door and drawer pulls.

A new bar area was added in the dining room and one wall got a burst of color. Grass cloth wall covering was applied to the wall behind the bar and in the living area adding a touch of “organic”. Click on the Zen Bedroom Makeover to see the updates made in the bedroom.

This space was also featured on Apartment Therapy & HGTV Magazine

Visit Houzz if you would like to read more about this project and see before photos.

Luxurious Kitchen in Arden

Luxurious Kitchen in Arden

Clean lines, and symmetrical layout, were what these clients wanted for their growing family. 

An oversized slab of White Macaubus Quartzite was sourced for the island, which provides plenty of storage and houses a microwave, dishwasher, and ice maker.  An additional sink adjacent to the stove and refrigerator offers efficient prep and clean up space.

More storage is offered by the built in pantry, adjacent to the dining room

Swannanoa Mountaintop Kitchen Remodel

Swannanoa Mountaintop Kitchen Remodel

The goal for this remodel was to create a kitchen that was both functional and a showpiece for the  Artist, and Home Chef, who live here.  Avid travelers, the couple wanted plenty of display space for pieces that they have collected on their travels.

Upper cabinets have glass doors and are lit from within, creating a space that is both kitchen and art gallery.

Oakley-Asheville Kitchen Revamp

Oakley-Asheville Kitchen Revamp

A kitchen revamp was in order for a local chef and his wife who, manages a local B&B.  The foodie duo were tired of their dingy, poorly designed, 1980’s style kitchen and desired a bright and open work space where they can kick back and prepare delicious meals for themselves, when they aren’t cooking for other people.
The space was gutted and reconfigured, switching the sink and stove placement, and situating the refrigerator on the opposite wall, to create a better work triangle.
Budget constraints dictated a plan that will be done in phases, and allows more cabinets to be added at a later date, where the open pantry currently lives.
A rolling cabinet, with butcher block top, situated to the right of the stove, (unfinished by the cabinet company at the time of the photo shoot), can be pulled into the room to provide a portable island.
Budget friendly materials were sourced, including luxury vinyl tile for the floors, that mimics the look of concrete, and laminate counter tops that evoke the look of granite.

Carving Out a Cozy Nook

Carving Out a Cozy Nook

Reimagining the best use for an unused closet under the stairs, a cozy nook for reading and relaxing was the perfect solution.  Upper cabinets serve as the base for the 4′ deep cushion, and provide storage area for board games.  The existing 12″ inches at the back of the niche is perfect for bookshelves to store reading material, and photos.  A wall mounted lamp provides the light needed to read.

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