July 15, 2014:

Design that Terrifies Yet Still Excites….

I am a big believer in pushing boundaries as you may have gathered. I push myself the most but I am also one to push clients when I feel they need to get beyond their comfort zone. The best things await you just outside of your comfort zone I truly believe. Sure it's often hard to overcome the inertia of being in your comfort zone, but once you've crossed the line it gets a bit easier especially when the effort pays off.

I often propose ideas that are a little bit off, a little bit ugly and entirely weird. We are currently trying to finalize our choices and selections for #Cactus and I'm fully invested in the idea of adding in a bit of ugly and kitsch because it feels like it is the right thing to do. Why is it the right thing to do - well Palm Springs has NEVER EVER taken itself seriously. It's always been a haven for decadence. Manufactured getaway for the stars who were already larger than life. We were once approached by a client to use Clam Chairs for her living room. We thought her entirely daft initially because we can remember taking out hideous versions of these from the 80's that were just done so badly that setting fire to them seemed like a compassionate gesture.

I've watched Kelly Wearstler bring back some things from the 70's that I truly believed needed to stay where they were - a sad, distant memory but what I think is most brilliant about her is how she pushes the boundaries, uses ugly to her advantage and then gradually gets you to consider ugly as being en vogue. This is not a criticism, it's just that sometimes you need an extreme to achieve moderation. Big, puffy, black garbage bag esque furniture will never be my thing, but I fully appreciate adding in the ugly to juxtapose more refined pieces in a space to keep it from becoming too homogenous or pedestrian and predictable.

We have a space we refer to as the Den that is just off the kitchen in #Cactus. It was probably the eat in kitchen in the house once upon a time. There's a fireplace - very of the period and we were going to put a sofa and chair in there but we've rethought this idea. My new plan - Ugly Chairs. In Leopard.

It just feels right doesn't it? Liz Taylor pouring one too many vodkas dripping in jewels right yes?? A bit messy but still a goddess. This is my new vision for the space.

Ugly but not SO ugly. The leopard is a fave - forget the zebra on the chairs that is just bad but the leopard is FUN non? A bold abstract painting on the fireplace or something more Twombly esque????

Totally not for Cactus - I'm clearly obsessed with this green chesterfield. I am loving the ugly moss stools too. They are truly fugly but I kinda love them. The artwork is fabulous too. I am really enjoying the darker greens - not so emerald but heading toward moss. Especially paired with a baby blue or tiffany blue and white. It's crisp and not earthy. I hate earthy. You may have gathered that. I love green though. ::rethinks grey leather sofa yet again:: No no I love the grey. Sigh. Maybe I should add green pillows??? See this is a hazard of the job. Working on a client project begets working on my own.

See these are the same leopard print - Milo Baughman chairs mind you by Dominique from Comfy Cozy Couture. They are sort of fabulously in your face but neutral none the less. I think on the Clam chairs it would totally rock non?

July 14, 2014:

Desperate Designer in Search Of…

New projects that will let me use these...

It's funny how as a designer, you spend the first few years trying to assert yourself and your style - when you don't really have one. That takes time to evolve. I remember trying to pigeon hole myself into a particular look in order to give myself some cred or a boost or I'm not sure what. Ironically, it's totally the opposite of where I am now. I don't even fully believe that I have one style per se - but I do have an aesthetic that is revealing itself to me more and more. I am however, insistent on pushing it further to see where it goes and what it teaches me about design in general and how I want to shape/influence it.

So with that, these are pieces of art that amuse or thrill me. I want to design rooms around these pieces - they aren't even budget breakers.It's my daily bucket list of items or looks that intrigue, delight, challenge you name it. If you resonate with any or all  by all means get in touch!



These botanicals are HUGE. In an all white kitchen or parchment coloured country room... divine.

I have a thing for eggs. And blue and green together.

I couldn't choose so I did a combination.

I don't recall who this room is by - I did a quick search to no avail. I would change out the earthier tones myself and ditch the floral to go with the art I'm suggesting. I love the green against the white walls. Love.

Sometimes I feel tonal. No colour needed. It's rare.

I've been dying to use this set forever. They are quite large and impressive in person.

And I'm putting this together for our #Cactus project in Palm Springs. Delish.

July 10, 2014:

Sneak Peek Alert!!!

My moonlighting as a fashion model has hit the stands!!! Chloe Magazine's Summer issue is on the stands now and if you've stalked my instagram or facebook or twitter you will have seen a few shots.

What you haven't seen is the one that has a sneaky peek of my bathroom in it. Yes my not quite but mostly finished bathroom. The shoot was supposed to be in places other than my home - except for one shot or so I thought. It turned out to be throughout my house which wasn't really ready for a close up but hey, take a talented photographer, stylist, make up artist and a designer who can improvise with set design on the fly - VOILA!

What it actually taught me is this - when you have created good bones in your design, frills or the lack thereof don't really matter because it's solid on it's own and as it turns out, worthy of a magazine. Modelling in a fashion magazine as you are about to turn 42, has a bit of a similar twist to it. When you are confident in yourself and know yourself it's hard not to have the good shine through. The little imperfections we often fixate on or worry about fade away and you just are who you were meant to always be. It takes a team but only works if the foundation is there for them to build on and bring out. 

So modelling and designing actually have a lot in common.

Thanks again to the amazing team at Chloe - it's a spectacular issue and not just because I'm in it.

The chandelier is from Crystorama's Broche collection and you can see my American Standard vanity - I HAVE A VANITY PEOPLE!!! My spectacular faucet is the Vero from Delta Faucet in the spectacular Champagne Bronze aka CZ. You'll have to buy the magazine to get all the details on my wardrobe - let me tell you some of the dresses are SUPER cheap!!! The jewelry - nottasomuch!!

July 10, 2014:

At The End of My Tether….

I was going to skip the whole blog today because I wasn't in the mood and then I read someone else's blog who isn't in the mood either. Interestingly enough, this blogger is also a designer and I have to say there are days where it is all you can do to get out of bed and put one foot in front of the other like a zombie. It's not necessarily because you've worked overly hard but often it's because you have been worked over.

Not gonna lie - sometimes people just plain ol' suck.

In the service industry - the entire service industry not any one in particular - the perception of the worth of the service rendered depreciates 50% immediately after said rendering. What is interesting to me in the interior design industry are the people who suddenly don't feel like your efforts were as hard fought as they did at the start of the project, once the bill has been issued. What I always want to ask of those people is this: "You order a steak that is $60 and a bottle of wine that was $150. After the meal do you renegotiate your food and drink bill?" If you are unhappy with the meal but still ate the entire damn thing, do you even get to complain?" I mean sure one could complain to the manager but it really doesn't bolster your cause if you ate the entire thing and drank the whole bottle ya know? What it does reveal is a whole lot more about your character than it does the service itself.

Character and Integrity. Some days these are extremely rare.

So I'm going to go and dive into some projects that DO deserve love and attention. Maybe burn some sage. Or a voo doo doll or two.

July 08, 2014:

Phasing a Project…

If you have been reading this blog for awhile, you will know that I am a proponent of phasing a project when the budget won't meet the needs & the wants. I am working toward taking on only whole house projects - so fewer projects but bigger projects but until that happens I am happy to work on a variety of projects varying in size and scale. Now what does that look like exactly? Let's get on the same page. My dream project is without budget, and involves me doing all of the interior design and the interior decorating down to the drawer liners in the linen closet and the dishes in the cupboards. A full house project will not have a client living in it until I'm ready to hand over the keys. This is the ideal dream project that I am working diligently on making a reality as I said, however in the interim a typical 'whole house' project looks slightly different.

Our #Brooklin project began almost two years ago. A new build in a subdivision outside of Toronto, the clients hadn't really bought much in the way of new furniture since university and after having two gorgeous boys who were in school full time, it seemed like the right time to do it up. The "Honey Do" list for this designer was rather large especially given the budget. We had a good budget to work with but when you paired it with the scope, it was immediately decided that phasing would have to happen. Now, we may have gone a bit over in the first phase budget wise but we got a lot of bang for our buck and we laid the groundwork for the overall look and feel of the entire house. Every room with the exception of the Mud Room was touched during Phase One which was really great. No one room however, was finished. We made sure that lighting, paint, wallpaper and furniture were done right away. The basement was finished - which was a "Honey Must Do," so the kids had a dust-free play space. We had some great pieces to work with that needing new upholstery or a paint job so that was a huge budget saver. We decided to just paint the kids' rooms and give them new lights but pushed drapery to phase two. Art work did not make it into Phase One. After living in the house for a year, we re-evaluated our goals based on how they were living in the home after our initial foray.

In Phase Two we needed some Media Storage, I insisted on art work in key areas, we had to revamp barstools - existing ones after our attempt at custom ones caused me to slip like Rob Ford on a weekend or week night for that matter. That's a blog for another day. We also wanted to add the drapery to the boys' rooms and finish off the mudroom with custom millwork so that the space was functional and looked good to boot. We also went to town and accessorized a few areas that needed some love and changed all the hardware in the kitchen to something decidedly snazzier.

Phase Two was about refining our efforts from Phase One and we're already talking about Phase Three. Having clients who are upfront about budget requirements empowers their designer to act on their behalf and achieve the best results even if it takes time to evolve. Being able to step back and evaluate the choices you made and then improve upon them never hurts. This includes putting a certain sectional that no one really likes up for sale and replacing it with the sexiest of chinoiserie adorned sofas and a pair of equally as delicious chairs to really add that je ne sais quoi to the Great Room. I mean it was a Great Room to start with but now..... Whoooooaaaaa NELLY.....

So this was the dining room before... a total transformation furniture wise and lighting - we added the new sconces but...

We needed something on the table and Artwork to really ground the space. The artwork and the fabric on the back of the chairs add movement and repetition in the space and we've played that up with the grouping of glassware on the table top itself.

Gorgeous wallpaper from Thibaut. Check. Great chairs and stool and ottoman by MHD. Check. Custom MHD area rug. Check. Sectional. Sigh.

Bold Art Work that was selected for it's composition and overall lack of colour and business. The Quill mirror is to die for and adds both texture and depth to the space. In combination with the art, it really makes the space feel cozier and much richer.

We opted for this faux bamboo media centre under the wall-mounted tv. It really changes the vibe in the space and is super practical. We need to hide stuff. A lot of stuff. This is the solution to the where does all the stuff go dilemma. 

Drapery!!!! We chose to do a striped accent wall on the headboard wall in this bedroom because we needed to add some vavavoom but didn't have the $$ to put into wallpaper. I find accent walls actually work in this instance. Again you need to be a skilled professional to employ them. DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!!!

We couldn't let one brother have stripes and ignore the other brother. My painter almost quit me after this room. I made him stripe the whole damn room. OY. It totally pays off though as do the much anticipated drapes. Wait until you see how we are finishing off this space and personalizing it for the young man!

The Mud Room. We went with a bold citrine for the millwork and the first thing on our agenda is to CHANGE THE LIGHTING! We need to go with a track I think. It will give us the most flexibilty and we need to change the temperature on the bulbs for sure. Jazz it up with some baskets and a few well placed accessories and we are in business. Phasing your projects are sometimes as rewarding as they are necessary!