To be fair, I wasn’t counting but last night my best friend notified me that it was Day 46 of my renovation today. I swear to god, I’ve lived three lives in those 46 days and two of the three weren’t so great. I suppose it’s healthy in a sense, to live what our clients live in order to better empathize with their plight on the journey to amazing. I’ve certainly understood their situations better with both my kitchen and bathroom renovations in previous years but this one - HOLY HELL. I knew it was going to be rough moving out one’s entire main floor into a storage container but the mess and upheaval (living at one’s office, eating out far too much and the to and fro-ing) really set one’s eye to twitch. Add in a few extraneous and entirely unexpected twists and turns in the saga that has now become #chezmoi - well it’s a true wonder that I’m not in a padded room down the hall from Asa donning a straight jacket. I mean not to make fun - but we’ve been tested in ways you can’t possibly imagine. FORTUNATELY, we have an amazing network of found family members that helped us get through that so that we could focus on putting Humpty back together because he was seriously scrambled eggs.
DEEP CLEANSING BREATH.
One of the more unexpected things to come from this is the book I’m going to write. I’ve had some pretty profound Come to Jesus moments about myself during this process. Who knew that a renovation was enough to put you into an existential crisis?? There was crisis and there was existentialism fortunately they weren’t at the same time. I am not rethinking becoming a designer, but more along the lines of understanding why at the core of it all, I AM a designer. This understanding was profoundly clear at peak crisis and enabled me to navigate my way out in an entirely positive way. All of my years of being coached, literally crystallized in that moment. I know this sounds sort of vague but trust me, a book will better explain it all than a blog. Suffice it to say I was rocked to my core, put on a brave face, found my footing and well - found Home.
Enough deep thoughts though, you want the goods. I get that. I want it too!
Ok painting our own walls and trim isn’t what I call a win but when your project starts to skid sideways time-wise and you lose your painter to another project, you gotta do what you gotta do. I should point out that having bad knees that burn and explode with pain when you bend down, forcing you to bend at the waist to paint trim and cut walls leads to this weird add-abductor thing in your legs that is a world of pain.
See when I received this picture from Asa I felt a sense of excitement and anticipation. That was soon dashed because….
I had to tunnel my way through boxes and tilers and plasterers and electricians to take this photo. I mean the guy smiling that smile and the amazing sofa that he is sitting on are PERFECT but literally they are the calm in the storm. I JUST WANT TO SET IT ALL UP!
Meanwhile, in the Den this was unfolding. I can’t tell you what a genuine surprise the den has been to me. This was LITERALLY my not so secret shame for the last 12 years. I dreaded walking people past this room on the way to the backyard. Now, it’s a JEWEL of a space. I keep joking that I don’t know if I can turn it back over to Luke.
Seriously it just gets better.
Well it did. And then it took a shit turn. PLASTER DUST IS MY ENEMY. It is insidious. It goes everywhere. We spent the better part of Sunday trying to suck it all into oblivion. Vacuum, sweep, vacuum again. Wash. Dry. Wash again. Dry again and on and on and on. SUCH A MESS. But then you see the arch go in and you’re all… GULP (wearegeniusesmoments) it’s SO PRETTY. I was sharing pics and a friend pointed out to me that my chandelier choice in the dining room - which full confession moment, I was TOTALLY regretting when it first went up and I had to calm myself down and remember that you can’t judge it out of context and that every little change in a renovation after you’ve gotten used to the previous phase of it feels wrong (like my stain choice for the floors which I also regretted and fell in love with and never confessed to) until you have a bit of time to get used to it - repeats the palm spikes in my paper and proclaimed me a genius. Subconsciously maybe I knew this was the case but I was surprised to see that YES in fact, it does. HA! Helped ease me into thinking that I hadn’t screwed up my lighting choice.
And then, on Day 45 this happened. FINALLY, the plaster is done except for painting it. The arch has been a saga of it’s own with the manufacturer failing to use our template and the original installer being given the axe by our contractor only to have another happen upon us like kismet. It turned out that the replacement was a bit of a plaster whisperer and was able to work with the pieces that were not to the template and well it’s done. Much like childbirth, I hope to soon forget the pain of the birthing process.
More lights going in today and we’re in the home stretch.
Opening Photo: I have to tell you that posting this photo is actually causing me to crack right the hell up. During one of our Passover Seder’s I looked down at my plate when we were doing the 10 Plagues where you stick your finger in your wine and put it on the plate to count out the plagues. Blood being spilled and all. When I was looking for a photo to use for the header, I saw this and though PERFECT. Blood was shed, tears were shed, tempers lost, no locusts but we did find a dead wasp’s nest in our ceiling and so on… it’s absolutely perfect to sum up the last 46 days…
this little somethin somethin called…
The Meredith Heron Collection Vol. I
I mean HOLY MOTHER OF ALL THINGS DESIGN ETERNAL… RIGHT???!!!! I mean I know I created human being before, but I have to admit other than a swollen belly, it was pretty much a roll the dice and wait and see what happened kind of experience. Sure there were ultrasounds along the way, but still it was a decidedly passive, abstract sort of creating. I know, the roller coaster rides in my belly didn’t exactly feel passive, but the lil Alien as I called him, had already a mind of his own and I was but a mere host. Creating a fabric and now a wallpaper collection, is remarkably similar and dissimilar all at the same time and I think there were stretch marks in both instances.
After curating our first fabric collection, I had very definite ideas about where I wanted the next fabric collection to go and what was missing. When asked to include design ideas for a wallpaper collection, I was beyond thrilled and in truth I was definitely slightly more out of my comfort zone. Knowing what I know about wallpaper, scale and proportion, I knew that all of these factors had to be considered on top of the more obvious theme, motifs and colour and that it would be no easy task to achieve the visions in my head. The other twist that I had learned from the first collection of fabrics is that the buying audience has their own wants/needs/purchase agenda and I wanted to make sure that this was considered in the design process. Empathetic design - anticipating the needs of your clients and in my case, that means other designers. Of course the more obvious leading or trend setting is in there too, but I think that goes without saying. A lot of considerations, worries, frustrations (some designs don’t translate as easily as you’d hope and when you have to choose skus, those are dropped in favour of the sure things that don’t require much tweaking).
I worked for several days with my team on colouration after we finalized the designs. As you may have picked up, I’m a bit of a perfectionist. When it comes to colour, this is literally out of this world in terms of my exacting demands. We worked tirelessly over colour combinations. Some patterns had what appeared to be 4-5 shades/tints or different hues altogether and we had very definite ideas about how these needed to be expressed. While the patterns feel very much like me, the colours hit it out of the park. I can’t convey to you how thrilled, proud and excited for the birth of this collection. I found the fabric designs so much easier and was really surprised by how much harder the paper collection was to realize but it was a true labour of love. In the end, with Luke he was plucked and I didn’t have to physically birth him (have I mentioned how grateful I am for having had a C-section?? years of therapy avoided I swear to God). And as with my darling boy, holding my very first wallpaper book in my hands was definitely an insanely awesome moment in my design career. (And for those fearing that I love my wallpaper collection more than my own son, I wouldn’t throw myself in front of a car to save the book - I’m sure most of the papers would be fine even if run over but I would for my son… mkay?) Not that you’ll want to throw this book in the street - I’m confident that it will be prized in any designer’s resource library!!!!
Now, you may have noticed that in wallpaper books, there are a lot of stock photos that have had the wallpaper photoshopped into the pictures to give you an idea of what the paper looks like in a room. Some companies actually shoot real rooms with papers up in them but in our case, we were looking to use stock photos. I was told I could have a say over what these were and then it struck me, wouldn’t it make more sense to just include some photos from my own portfolio? Why try and find rooms that look like my work when I could just provide photos of the rooms themselves. SO you will see some familiar looking rooms - and no we didn’t run out to paper a bunch of different houses to make it possible…. The paper IS now available for sale. Mercury Retrograde has been having some fun with the JF Fabrics website, so hopefully the images will be loaded there in the immediate future. If you are a designer, check with your showroom or rep for samples or books. Books are handed out to accounts according to the amount of business you do with JF. If you are looking for a new account, sampling is still available but speak with your rep because they may have books available. I know that often our office declines books unless we love absolutely everything as we don’t have the room for storage. We kept this book though.. go figure! HA!!!
We’ve been sharing sneak peeks on SM the last week but here are a few you haven’t seen! Thank you for your love and support in this exciting adventure. It’s been an amazing learning experience as a designer and working with the team at JF has made it all the sweeter. SO FREAKING HAPPY!
As with our fabrics, we would LOVE to see how you use these papers and where (I have the book cover on our den ceiling and our Pagodas/Lanterns paper - they are numbered not named this is just for descriptive purposes on the walls if you head over to my IG you can see a sneak peek on the installs). Please tag your projects with #jfwallpaper and #jfmeredithheron and of course @meredithheron so that I can share as well. It’s so gratifying to see how you imagine a space using things that have come from my imagination. I never tire of it.
Talk about a month of extreme highs and lows. Let me tell ya…. I’ve mentioned before that I always experience a bout of depression when a project is finishing up - I mean I love a good set of professional photos and another successful project concluded with happy clients but I am always very sad when it’s over. #PennDr is almost finished for this round which is kinda sad… Our #Soudan project is wrapping as well and we’re about to install #Bessborough.
The good news beyond that these projects are all looking amazing and I love them to pieces is that we’re ordering a bunch more for our #Rye project in NY and have some more amazing things shipping down to #DoradoBeach in Puerto Rico. A LOT of work culminating which is rewarding. We also discovered last week that our Wallpaper Line with JF Fabrics is going to be launching within in the next week. That means, wallpaper books available to those accounts who qualify and sampling available for all other accounts through JF or Duralee showrooms depending where you are located. HALLLLLLEELLLUJAH!!!! Fabric will follow end of May. I mean SERIOUSLY I couldn’t be more thrilled. The book landed in our office late last week and I gotta say - SO FULFILLING. I was working with the papers today for two of our projects and I know I’m biased and all but HOT DAMN it’s so versatile. I had floor tile for our #PennDr powder room to work with and I have options galore. So many unexpected combinations. I may have overwhelmed our client with text messages. Careful what you wish for right?
Some sneaks have been shared of the new wallpapers including few that may be creeping into this very blog post…. If you notice the picture above, that’s not the animal print in my office you’re used to seeing. We gotta new bad boy.
JF Fabrics shared the orange colour way of this floral and the pink one… so it’s really not entirely hard to imagine it in blue is it? You see nothing. Mum’s the word yes??? I’m loving this fabric as romans and the floor tile is a bit different in our #PennDr powder but it’s the same marbles.
I shared a sneak peek of one of our Marble papers back in March when I was in Florida showcasing the new line. Our #Rye client loved it and asked if we could switch out the paper we had lined up for the dining room and go with this one. Who was I to disagree with her on such a thing? We are lacquering the rest of the millwork in the dining room now to suit. We have even decided to go with an unexpected colour on the drapery just to break up all the greys.
Our house is kinda at a bit of a stand still. Well floors began today I think. This is the problem with mostly cosmetic enhancements. Once you get some of the ugly out of the way, you’re basically setting the stage for the pretty which has to happen in sequential order. I wish that some of the work could be done at the same time but you kinda need the floors in before you put the baseboards, no point painting until you have all the trim in including crowns and casings and the aforementioned baseboards. You can’t wallpaper until the painting is done. You shouldn’t paint before the floors are sanded. So ya… we always tell the clients that once drywall has gone up in a renovation, that is when time officially begins to stand still. You THINK you are in the home stretch but really, time will ground to a trickle if not a complete halt. If one trade fails to meet their window for completion, the entire schedule can get thrown out the window. We’ve had that happen at our #Soudan project as walls weren’t finishing being painted and patched and our wallpaper installer arrived on three separate visits to try and install paper only to find the first two times were a No Go. So depressing. But you rally. It’s a team effort and shitting on one trade really accomplishes very little other than it gets your blood pressure up. Mine’s been pretty high of late. Asa’s higher still. But as I said, we rally.
Ceiling medallions. We have them.
Our cornice is in and looking divine. The artisans who installed it were so meticulous. We still are waiting on the custom made plaster arches to arrive. I’m kinda loving how simple these are but they do look a bit naked. I have to remind myself that clients myself included, can easily became fond of the where you are in stages of the design. It’s easy to become complacent. The fatigue can sometimes really wear you down and you need a designer to rally for you, pick you up, help you cross that finish line. I’m SO there right now. I have decision making fatigue. I am tired of living as a nomad. I hate eating out. I want my house back. I want my stuff new and old back. I’m so ready to be done. But I will rally. I do know that patience pays off… the opening photo is an array of Paul Lange Big Blooms photos and I’ve waited YEARS to use one of these in a project and we just got the A-Ok from a client. SO FReAKIN excited!!!
We are still suffering from Sprinter here in Toronto. That’s Spring that is suffering from the delusion that it is in fact, still winter. Hopefully we’ll be embarking upon more SPRING like weather shortly. Rumour has it, it may grace us with its presence this coming weekend. One can hope. The down side of having your house under renovation in Sprinter is that you really become a Nomad - hell I think I’ve been bordering on Sherpa of late. I have to bring my gym clothes in one bag, have an array of footwear and outer wear at the office or else I’m ferrying it back and forth. First world problems for sure.
Fortunately, for our new project #StGeorge, the client is living elsewhere and has had tenants in the pied a terre we are looking to fully gut and renovate. The client will then move in to the newly renovated abode. I’m very excited about this project for a whole host of reasons; specifically because we are design sympaticos and well it’s about five minutes from my office. I really enjoy a short commute. The building is a former mansion that was designed by EJ Lennox who was the architect in Toronto who designed Casa Loma. It’s a Queen Anne Revival building that was then converted into apartments some time ago but it was done a la Le Cheap Subdivisione. We are seeking to rectify this.
What’s not for me to love?
My inspiration as you will see here - Jean Louis Deniot, Joseph Dirand, Steven Gambrel & Rudolphe Parente….
Millwork, Ceilings, Cabinetry the entire gamut. If it is possible to overthink detail, I’m doing it.
Love the cornice profile in both of these abodes. The pic on the left is Mary Mcdonald for Chaddock Home.
This is the palette I’m consumed with for this project. Jean Louis can do no wrong. Masterful.
I love the idea of a very formal looking kitchen as it will be open to the dining room and I think we want a mix of formal casegoods and lighting but maybe opt for a more contemporary take on the seating. The kitchen in the opening photo is actually from an article in the Daily Mail - you have to read it. Go HERE. It simply has to be seen preferably on a 27” iMac like I have in my office I was practically licking the screen. I love the layout of this kitchen and the embellishment. The Hicks pendants not so much but that’s okay I have my eye on a killer fixture for over the island that is part function part sculpture!
Rudolphe Parente’s apartment in Trocadero is sublime. THAT CEILING. ZOMG! We’ve got 1200 sq ft in total over two levels. I can’t wait to make it extraordinary.