I'm Erika Ward

Over a decade ago, I exchanged my corporate life in building construction for an opportunity to enhance your personal home via decoration and renovation.  My mission? To help busy professionals make their homes their sanctuaries.

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See what inspires my mantra of sanctuary living.

See what's on my desk and what inspires our designs.

We find great pleasure in both giving and receiving an education in design and decoration. Therefore we’ve created this series, Behind the Curtain, to give you an insider’s look into the inspiration behind our magnificent discoveries. It is usually the finished product we see whether it’s a gorgeous cabinet in a showroom or a splendid painting in an art gallery. However, I believe when you take a peek behind the curtain to learn about the catalyst for design and about the artist’s passion you gain a more significant appreciation of their work.

For this installation of Behind the Curtain I’m thrilled to shine the spotlight on two artists, Mark McDowell and Carol Benson-Cobb. Both artists introduced breathtaking collections this fall at John-Richard. I had an opportunity to speak with them both about their respective collections and their creative process.

Manhattan Chic by Mark McDowell

Mark McDowell

Mark’s creative process is ongoing. “It’s not a job,” he says. “It’s a lifestyle.” He’s very observant and studies everything from fabrics, store displays, and jewelry. The world is full of inspiration because it is constantly evolving—not too fast, not too slow.

Mark’s latest collection, MANHATTAN CHIC, boasts a palette of warm creams and gold. Each piece references famous neighborhoods and landmarks in New York City one of which, the Park Avenue Cabinet, was the number one pick in the High Point Market Product Premiere.

An Art Deco-inspired repeating wave design decorates the front of this bar cabinet. The interior is fitted with two drawers on push-latch runners, touch lighting, a mirrored back, and a single adjustable glass shelf. The doors are finished in alternating golds and antique beluga. The case is finished in beluga white, and the metal stand is in Aztec gold. The inspiration for the wavy metallic motif featured on the doors? Bric-a-brac!

Other products in the Manhattan Collection include the Soho Sideboard, the Carlyle Cabinet, the Sutton Place Sideboard, and the Plaza Side Table.

Park Avenue Cabinet

Sutton Place Sideboard


The Carlyle Cabinet

Soho Sideboard

Plaze Side Table

The lobby of John-Richard Showroom in High Point, NC

Dune by Carol Benson-Cobb

Carol Benson-Cobb

Abstract artist Carol Benson-Cobb’s inspiration reaches deep into emotions awakened by a sunrise or a sunset. Her color stories are derived from nature and is focused on how and where colors meet. It’s a thought provoking exercise that we often take for granted but appreciated when on display in our homes or seen in public spaces.

The inspiration behind Dune:

The Playa/Desert landscape of the southwest was definitely an influence for me. Actually, it is my favorite painting because you walk away with a sense of a figure in an unknown place and time. – Carol Benson Cobb

In addition to framed art, Dune’s warm, neutral color palette is also available on a modern table lamp and a four-door credenza, an ash-veneered case in dark taupe frames featuring Dune’s image across the six drawers and two doors of this credenza. Each door and drawer feature push-latch mechanisms. The two metal legs are in a matching dark taupe finish.

Dune, Carol Benson-Cobb

Dune Credenza


Dune Lamp

Below is an interview where Mark and Carol further describe their creative process and source of inspiration. I hope you enjoy!

If you are interested in these exquisite collections, we proudly offer them to our full-service clients. Need assistance? We’d love to help you make your family home an elegant, yet approachable gathering space.

Please visit our services page for more information. After deciding which service best fits your needs, please take advantage of our convenient scheduling platform.

We hope to hear from you soon!

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Hi, I'm Erika.
Your Design + Happy Healthy Home Advocate.

Over a decade ago, I exchanged my corporate life in building construction for an opportunity to enhance your personal home via decoration and renovation. My mission? To help busy professionals make their homes their sanctuaries.

Learn more