August 27, 2023
Design With…Rima Nasser
Rima Nasser and her growing household needed a larger home, and after four declined offers, they found one on two acres in a perfect neighborhood. It was no surprise the house had been on the market for a while, as the downside was its awkward layout and all-gray color palette. Before they decided to move forward, Nasser, owner and principal designer at Raleigh, N.C., TEW Design Studio, came up with some preliminary drawings to see what was possible, and her husband was completely on board with her ideas.
There are always challenges with any project, and this one endured a few more, as it needed to be complete before baby number two came, and Nasser and her family planned to live in the home during the entirety of the remodel. She admitted that although she is very decisive when making choices for her clients, she was not when it came to her own home.
“I knew all the possibilities and kept going back and forth,” said Nasser. “Eventually, I treated my husband like the client so he could help narrow down my suggestions, which was so helpful.”
The designer and her husband like colorful and bold styles – not all white or anything you see every day. She wanted the new spaces to speak to both of their personalities but also to Rima’s Palestinian heritage and multicultural experience.
The original primary suite was on the second floor and resembled an attic with dormers and vaulted ceiling with a strange layout and small closet. The goal was to move it to the main floor, taking over a huge bedroom with a small closet and a half bath. The new space also features a large his-and-hers closet that used to be a home office.
Nasser included a soaking tub, a double vanity and a sizable shower with a large niche and a shaving bar. She did not want multiple valves for the multiple water sources – a rain showerhead on the ceiling, a handheld on a bar and three body sprays – so she chose a digital model that controls everything from temperature to music from a screen.
Nasser loves color blocking, which she did in the shower with two bold tile hues – muted peach and blue. She was nervous about this at first but said that having someone install the tile the way she envisioned it was key.
“The angle of the tile was tricky to get right so that all three connected correctly,” she explained. “The tile installer had to redo it a couple of times to get it right, and we used a black L-channel cap to give it a cleaner joint.”
The former kitchen was small with an awkward layout; when opening certain cabinet doors, they would bump into other elements. Nasser said it was clear a designer had not been involved in the implementation of this space. She was able to transform it into a bright room with tons of natural light.
A sliding pass-through window on one wall opens to a counter just outside. A large island provides ample storage, and the space is large enough to accommodate a 36-in. range, since the family loves to cook.
Nasser’s husband playing the client was pivotal in the kitchen design, and he was able to narrow down her initial 20 shades of green to a specific emerald he knew from the beginning he wanted.
“It was both a blessing and a curse to design my own spaces,” said the designer. “It was great to use some really cool materials most clients don’t know about. The downside was not being able to use everything I know is available in the market; we too were on a budget, after all.”
In terms of lessons learned on her own project, Nasser said to trust yourself and not to second guess everything. As design professionals, you know what you are doing, and you have done it multiple times. She also recommends exploring different materials.
“It has been great to be able to personally live with many of the products and materials I sell to our clients,” she added. “My first-hand experience and education on those offerings has grown.”
—By Chelsie Butler, KBB executive editor
Designer: Rima Nasser, TEW Design Studio
Photographer: Allie Mullin Photography
Appliances: Fulgor Milano
Cabinets: Bernier Kitchens
Faucets: House of Rohl
Hardware: Belwith Keeler
Lighting: Arteriors & Mitzi
Sinks: Barclay & Blanco
Cabinets: Bernier Kitchens
Digital Valve & Shower Fixtures: ThermaSol
Lighting: Robert Abbey & Tech Lighting
Sinks: Native Trails
Tub Filler: Barclay