The Heron-Weinsteins took Japan and lived to tell about it. What a whirlwind adventure. I can hardly begin to blog about it because it’s really book worthy. We spent our first week in Tokyo with a Day Trip to Nikko which was mind blowing. It rained THE ENTIRE time we were there and we coped through not one but TWO Typhoons but I am entirely smitten with Japan, the Japanese themselves - hands down the NICEST most helpful people and their cultural identities. It was a feast for the senses.
As a designer, the entire country was rich with inspiration but Kyoto, Takayama, Naoshima and Hakone were the stand outs for me. Kyoto really felt like a home away from home. The food was epic. I mean seriously and in Hakone we ended up mid Typhoon having the best meal of my life at NOBU. Seriously, it was the only restaurant open and the Kobe beef we had there LITERALLY melted in our mouths. I bowed my way out of the restaurant without thinking because I was trying to show my sincere appreciation for what I had just eaten. GAH. Here’s a little sampling of what Japan feels like to me. Note: This is the muted palette I’m sharing. Japan is both colourful, muted & tonal.
Persimmons. It was the season of the orange fruit and they were EVERYWHERE!!!!
Nara - magical. We used Free Guides just about everywhere we went to show us their city or countryside. It’s a wonderful service - the guides get to practice their English and share their culture. Highly recommend. We had the best Italian lunch in Nara. Go figure!
Patina. Aging is graceful and honoured here.
Artisanship. We saw the most amazing art galleries and exhibitions. The interior design in Japan- well they need me but the architecture and embellishment of buildings, shrines, temples and then the craftwork… it is just exquisite. Hard to put into words. There were times were I was so moved, I couldn’t help but weep. So much beauty. So very lucky to experience it with my family.
MHD Brownstone is alive and well with MHD folk calling it home. Not going to lie - the unpacking odyssey is pretty daunting at this point especially given that our office still kinda needs to be painted and I have plasterers up on the top floor finishing the gallery. Thankfully we have a great terrace with a cover on the roof/pergola so the bins can stay out there for now…
It’s been a slog not going to lie - some furniture can’t go into it’s spot because there are other things in it temporarily and one of my sentimental pieces - the hutch/cabinet that was behind my desk in the old office can’t get up the stairs even in two pieces to Asa’s office which is the only room in the house that is tall enough for it. It’s just a wee bit too big….
Having said all of that, I’m sitting in my new office, writing this post on my computer which is on my desk and working which was so easy and straightforward which reflecting back on other times and other computers I have had - this was definitely the easiest of computer moves ever. We left our old phone system at the old office and we have a fancy new one - I don’t think it’s quite working yet but hey good times. EMAIL me if you need me.
It feels like we did a lot here yet we didn’t really - it just took way longer than we thought it would and when the first trades slid from the week we needed them to start until the next week well it just spiralled and everyone was tripping all over themselves. Some missteps on our part in a few areas - trying to do too many things and expecting others to have caught it - not blaming but sometimes deferring can wreak havoc on your process. Where we really lucked out is that our White Glove Delivery Service - Dejong - offered to help us with our move and they really worked their schedule to suit our chaotic out of control one. I can’t thank Jeff and his team enough. They were amazing. I’m not surprised by this - we use them exclusively because they are the best and our clients are so lucky to have such a great team backing us up always.
You may recall that when we first bought the house the plan was to raise the doorways. I couldn’t justify paying $7000 for 5 doors and by then we’d already ordered the casing so we pivoted and went to making over doors. The panels are almost all installed now and ready for paint. AMAZING. So much better.
Asa’s office is one of the few spaces that got a rich deep hue. The kitchen and the sample room are our other two options (I know black for a sample room seems like an odd choice but I think it will actually help nail things better than a white room would.
My office is ridiculously pretty and just what I had hoped for. The plaster moulding adds height. The ceiling feels darker than the walls and is currently a velvet finish which I’m kind of loving though I’m still considering a venetian plaster polished into a gloss. Gonna live with it for a bit and see how I feel about it. That’s the beauty of owning - I can mull.
The gallery looks amazing it is so bright and airy up there and our Triglyph Plaster Cornice is spectacular. We are so thrilled with it. We’ll be using it again for our #StGeorge project in the neighbourhood. Living in Canada we have so much winter vs summer humidity issues - plaster is always the better choice.
They are cleaning up to leave us and I’m so so happy. It means MORE mopping and cleaning and vacuuming and windex-ing but again, it’s kind of like when your baby pukes/poops on you - it’s aggravating at times but for the most part you are immune to it.
Opening Photo: Petros Koublis one of my favourite photographers and literally this photo should be in my office which is at the moment entirely comprised of these hues.
Looking back to the end of June, a mere few months ago now I can honestly say that I went into a state of shock when we decided to purchase #mhdbrownstone. All of the coaching I have done over the last decade has really focused around my relationship with money - the good and the bad sides of it. It’s been so helpful and effective, I immediately recognize my issues in others both colleagues/friends and with clients. If you have seen or spoken to me about our new office, you’ll probably wonder why I don’t seem so excited and celebratory. It’s a double whammy - I’m still in shock that it happened and I am ridiculously superstitious. I don’t want to jinx things and maybe it’s a Canadian something in the drinking water but I like to take it in stride. Of course I am proud - this is a serious bucket list both personally and professionally. Dream Street. Dream Location. Dream Layout. Everything aligned. I like to tell the story of how it all came to be (it’s way better in person the story that is) because it helps me get past the shock of it all.
However I am starting to realize that I was so nonchalant about it because I was keeping a lid on the emotions of leaving our office for the last 8 years. I’ve moved a lot. Asa has moved a lot. One of the reasons why we are such a good fit for each other is that we both had crazy in our families and we moved a lot and our parents split up. I could go on but we have a ton in common in terms of how we were shaped and formed as people. Because of all the moving, I become detached from spaces usually about 6 months before I move. My moving has often been rather impulsive given that I didn’t really have any solid plans to move until it was upon me. I’m a Jump and the Net will Appear person. When I see an opportunity or things starting to align I get with it and fast. Intuition is my friend. Our third floor office on Davenport has been so very good to us. We loved being in Designers Walk, long before others saw its merits. Luke was 4 months old when we moved in to our first office on the 2nd floor (which never felt like it was home). A year later we moved up to the third floor and we laid down roots here. We redid the kitchen, the bathroom, the rooftop patio. I kicked off the Tanzania wallpaper craze in partnership with Thibaut - heck my office was knocked off by a blogger and got published as if she was some sort of design genius even… We’ve had countless shoots here. A fabric, rug, and wallpaper collection were all born here. My original baby MHD grew and flourished as did our other adorable cherub who’s first word was SHANDA-WEER and now uses words in passing like catastrophic or devastated (if we were to ever move our house - though he’s really excited about the new office space). We’ve had great team members come and go, others that we were definitely happy to see the back side of (I was recalling yesterday a few interns and co-op students that I was not sorry to say goodbye to). Some helped grow our business to where it is today in a profound way and others have played their part which I am all very grateful for.
Our current team is comprised of wonderful people - they feel like family as do many clients. I have been so busy that one though that I had fired her - to which I responded NEVER you are family! I feel that about so many. Ironically or maybe it was just intentional but we didn’t know it but Asa and I have overcome our own personal family deficiencies by creating family in other aspects of our life. It is all integrated. I was initially worried that the new space would alter our vibe as a group but whenever you are approaching a levelling up situation - I think that is normal. For clients who are going from a modest home to say a custom home - the jump can be daunting. Likewise, for those who are used to living in a larger home and are looking to downsize - the stress of changing how you live can be overwhelming. I’ve seen it happen time and again and I do my best to try and prepare our clients for the major life change or shift that they are going to be embarking on. I keep having to give myself pep talks and focus on the finish line. We have a hard finish date this week. Keys have to be given back and new routines created at 222 Bedford. Right now it looks like a drywall bomb went off and soon it will have all of our stuff in and sense will have to be made. I look forward to the day where all I have to do is plan the finishing touches in terms of light the candles, arrange the flowers and sit down and enjoy the biggest glass of champagne and savour that it is really and truly OURS. We did the work. We brought the fucking magic. We fought for this. We earned it. I don’t need to rush to replenish this box on the bucket list. I can just enjoy it as it is.
Look how far we’ve come baby…. we are so very proud.
Photos: Jessica Bosse & Chloe Magazine
It is officially crunch time. Our office move starts in less than a week. As of today I have plastering of drywall finishing up - and starting again - given that I also have electricians on site, painters and trim workers all doing the big push to get’er done. I also have my stairs at my house being touched up so that the runner that I’ve had for I don’t know how many months now can be installed - did I mention that my favourite installer has decided to quit the carpet biz in favour of art? Fortunately he emailed back last night and said he’d do our job for us.
I have friends visiting this week and next week from out of town so I have to take some time away to see them both (not complaining) but I do feel guilty (so I’m going to pack this weekend as my sweet friend Alison texted me to tell me that she’s coming to stay over at my house on Friday night (wine therapy) and then will help me pack up my office on Saturday. Our trainer has also insisted on helping given that she thinks that moving is an amazing work out (masochist). All the while, we are furiously trying to coordinate more installs out at our #HandsartHouse project in Winnipeg. It’s a good thing that I’ve worked on my coordination and stretching skills with said trainer because it really does feel like we are each being pulled in about a million directions and are being asked to juggle things all the while a new ball keeps being added unexpectedly. Weighing the pros and cons of what material to use to ship cabinets for example. Do we want cardboard/shrink wrap and strapped in with someone we know and have worked with successfully across the continent or do we want blanket wrapped with a new guy? We decided to err on the side of experience and go with the team we know and have the relationship with.
It all sounds entirely glamorous doesn’t it?
Also can we talk about the fact that the weather in Toronto is very Florida right now and the constant leaning toward almost 100% humidity is really messing with my hair and it’s Rosh Hoshanna - Shana Tova - if you celebrate, and I have a dinner tonight and a lunch today and I feel yet another Top Knot coming on. I also feel that it is necessary to add that if I owe you an email, it will most likely have a lag time in the next week (reminds me I have two people that I owe emails to!) Also if you leave the number of unread emails on your phone at some ridiculous amount instead of reading and marking read I don’t understand you. I can’t even have a recent call notification on my phone - I am decidedly THAT type of person. I’m a little more flexible with how the toilet paper roll goes - I’m an Ambi-Toilet roll person it just better be on the roll and holder (I’ve lived in my house for almost 14 years and have only had toilet roll holders installed for the last year I’m totally a hypocrite.
In light of my Stream of Consciousness blog writing today here’s a little taste of things we’ve been working on in the last little while in no particular order.
I uploaded some new pictures from our house reno to our portfolio - please check them out it has been quite the evolution. We’ve left up the photos that were first published in Style at Home magazine back in 2012 for comparison. I’ve also left up Luke’s nursery which has transformed into what he describes as a Chill room with a really great vibe. He’s 8 going on 14. As you can see we did include the herringbone floors into the kitchen - I love wood in a kitchen it is so much easier on your back and in my case my feet. You’ll also notice that we changed out our old Electrolux gas range which was 30” and put in a 36” Superiore NA Deco Range and Hood. We decided to be different and not match the hood to the range in terms of colour because to be honest, I was terrified of closing in an already tight kitchen. Here’s a surprise twist - the range fits in and is perfectly in line with the countertop which creates the sense that the countertop area is considerably more vast and spacious. This kitchen of ours is actually the perfect chef kitchen because everything is within reach and Asa often looks like Edward Scissorhands as he spins and grabs everything he needs. So visually our real estate seems to have doubled and the 36” width means that all of his cast iron pans have somewhere to live and don’t overhang the countertop. The lighter hood was brilliant in that it sort of disappears and has the quietest fan. I am appreciative of that touch.
I haven’t shared pics of our powder room either. Our DXV Wyatt Console sink and Landfair faucet look amazing. Mix your metals people. We also have their Spa-Let toilet aka the car wash for your bum, which my boys fight over. They don’t actually fight, they just jockey for who gets to use it. Luke took six months to come to terms with it and now it’s his favourite thing in the world. He’s going to LOVE Japan.
If I am being honest, while the grasscloth is fun, I think I’d rather a funkier paper on the walls. I had it and it looks great but it’s a little more casual than what I aspire to but don’t tell my husband I said so. It’s SO low on the priority scale. Like non-existent but I always need something to fixate on and plot about.
We installed our #LighthouseLodge project over the summer. Well in truth we started in May and the the clients saw that the furniture, while it looks amazing, really needed all of the accessories and art to bring it to life so we did a second round of installing the end of July beginning of August. I would say that people in generally, underestimate how empty a house will feel with only some furniture and a few accessories especially when it is a larger home. The addition of too little furniture and accents actually makes a house feel emptier than when it is empty. Likewise, a room can feel smaller when it doesn’t have anything in it but the moment you start adding pieces in it’s amazing how quickly it expands visually. I’m currently plotting out accessories for their city home and when I tell you that their garage is going to look like a design store in order for me to pull and style the house I am not kidding. In truth, I don’t think that one garage full of stuff will do it. They have two garages but the install will be in December at this point so I’m planning on setting up tables in the basement and using that as my command central for Styling and I anticipate that it will take me 4-5 days to complete. Then we will assess and I’m willing to bet dollars to donuts I’ll need another full round. Crazy huh?
Design is in the Details or Details are the Design - Charles Eames had it right even if I can’t remember exactly how he said it. Case in point, our #LL project our clients didn’t flinch at our addition of trim and unusual piping/nail heads etc because they appreciate that these elements create the nuance that makes no transforms a space from a room to something well more - they really shape how you respond and interact to and within a space. We were basically outfitting the whole place from scratch with some vintage and antique pieces but most of it is brand spanking new yet we didn’t want the space to feel as such. The whole notion of a LODGE is something that tells stories past and present and ages with a well-worn patina and isn’t precious. I think we achieved that. And can I tell you, an octagonal log cabin smells heavenly each and every time you walk into it. Amazing compliment to our design and the smell will trigger such amazing memories as our interiors envelope you in a giant hug that says Welcome Home. Also my kid is forever ruined as to “Cottages” he would like to live there.