Monday, January 9, 2017

A Life Change Not New Years Resolution

Over the holidays I watched an interesting documentary called Minimalism, "people dedicated to rejecting the ideal that things bring happiness". It's about two guys who are good friends who decided to leave their high profile jobs to simplify there lives doing with far less material things and then wrote a book and traveled to promote it. They talk about the mass consumerism that society falls trap to, to perhaps fill a void and the impact on our environment to produce and transport these items we buy. They showed what I feel are incredibly sad clips of people who were literally beating each other up over items at what was probably boxing day sales and new product opening sales. I for one have never rushed out for those sales but it made me think how I approached bringing new items into our home and the money I am spending. Their spaces and the homes of some of the other minimalists filmed were definitely not what I could live with myself , although somewhat functional, void of all personality and  individualism but one has to think that with little else to consider when you arrive home and walk in the door, what window of energy would open itself up to other endeavours.

We by no means are finished our home top to bottom, the upstairs is a work in progress but we have what we need. Need being the operative word, need not want. If we were to take this approach, it would most certainly conflict with being in the renovation, design world. This is an even greater challenge as those around us might judge our ability if our home was a minimalists home and not  "designed"but just because the shoe maker may walk around in basic shoes, that does not mean that he cannot make outstanding shoes for others. I love our 138 year old home and love that it has beauty and personality in both architecture and the pieces of furniture that inhabit it. Lots of people say that our home is an "uncluttered home" when they see it for the first time and that is most definitely what I need in order to feel at peace when I walk in the door (clutter does not bother my honey in the least and so the constant badgering to pick up his "stuff" goes on!).
 Everyone has a different threshold of amount of "stuff" that is acceptable and no stuff would not be an option for me but I do agree that I fall prey to consumerism, not for clothing, or shoes, or jewellery, or makeup but for our home, I did in the past love to go out on my days off and see what the latest and greatest is at the ever changing supply of stuff at the local Home Sense and would actually get a bit of an adrenaline rush at the possibility of what might be there that week but this documentary made me check myself and ask, why? Why do I need to go there every week when I could doing something more important and then what would that be?

So I have made myself a resolution, a life change that I am very excited about. I have announced to family and friends (so they can keep me on track if I falter along the way) that if there is something I would like to bring into our home then I must sell something we already have in our home to do that and there are quite a few things that can easily be sold and not missed at all.  This means that I will be able to continue to create the spaces that we want in our home but not spend unnecessary money to do it and it also means that I must think very hard if I want that item as I will have to make my money go very far. I will also do everything I can to find the item second hand as opposed to brand new first so as to not contribute to the negative environmental impact of manufactured goods.

So first up, a while back I had made over this gorgeous french provincial cabinet breathing new life into it with a coat of Annie Sloan Pure White chalk paint and a robins egg blue interior. It has been in our master bedroom as a TV stand and so just before Christmas I decided to finally part with it selling it to a friend who's home decor it fit's perfectly with.

Last year we removed our kitchen table and I designed and then my honey built us a custom island  which I absolutely am in love with and yes this material thing makes me very very happy!
 (there will be a future post about the island) 
After deciding that we needed the storage that the previous 
(yes, we had an island before and we sold it, against my honey's choice and put in a 6' table )
 island had but after living with the table and hardly ever using it, needed to find a compromise that would make us both happy, an island to sit at that my honey likes the height better than a table, storage that I need for pots and pans and an additional work counter. We had these two beautiful stools from the older island and never got rid of them so out they came from storage once the island was built but the problem was that I designed the new island to seat four where the old island only sat two. After searching everywhere for two more of the same stools and coming up short, I started a search for 4 matching stools in the range I could afford with the money I earned from the sale of the hutch.

And so yesterday I was thrilled to find and pick up 4 of these gorgeous X back solid wood heavy stools for a fantastic deal. Of course as you might know, the X in design is a favourite of mine. I like to use it somewhere in each room on our main floor. I even have money left over for some new cushions! They are scratched here and there and need a makeover along with a bit of a repair on one but nothing that won't be difficult at all to fix. My honey likes the black finish but I picture them white too so we will have to see. Nice thing about paint is you can always paint again! 

So this is the challenge I set for myself, to finish up our home and not spend any more money except on renovations that are necessary for improving our home's value that will stay with the house such as roof etc but still make it look and live beautifully.

So do  you fall trap to the interior design shopping addiction I once did?
Could you live with the very bare necessities in your home, a table, a chair, a bed, and be happy? 

Monday, January 2, 2017

Happy New Year!
Hello Again!!!
I am so happy to be back blogging after a very long time off  (wow I can't believe it has been so long) and look forward to continuing on a regular basis. Along with a few health challenges that kept me tapped out for my energy outside of work, walking the dog, and cooking and prepping our food for our almost Paleo clean eating, I found out that I am deeply affected by wifi technology and having only a laptop previously, could not use it without exhausting consequences. It took sometime but we managed to remove our wireless technology from the house and now I use a hardwired PC instead and I am so thrilled to be able to be back blogging with you all again and to be able to read what you have been up to as well! I also got a great new cell phone (which I don't talk on regularly) and for the purpose of this blog find it so much more convenient than taking a bulky camera with me for taking photos.

It has been a really nice Christmas holiday season of which we hosted a truly wonderful first Christmas family dinner at our home. Mom and Dad have always graciously hosted it every year and it's about time we gave them a rest.  
Thank you Mom and Dad for all the fantastic Christmas's you have given us and we look forward to returning the favour for many years to come!

We actually opened our pretty antique empire pedestal round table up to it's full length of 72" for the first time using the 3 leafs that came with it and managed to seat 8 around it with our very comfy Ikea Henriksdal and Nils dining room chairs. We purchased the Henriksdal chairs many years ago new from Ikea and then the Nil's shorter chairs from Kijiji a couple of years ago and they worked perfectly.

Dad (Santa hat), Mom, my nephew Rob and his fiance Laura, my honey (Santa hat), Todd's brother Mark and my big sis, Karen

Wishing you and your family what is the very most important thing, Health and Happiness for 2017!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Tray Ceiling Transformation (in progress)

Happy Easter everyone!
 It is so nice to actually be off today and even though I work tomorrow I feel like today is such a treat to have all to myself to do whatever I like, when I like!

After many discussions back and forth about our master bedroom ceiling we decided on a tray ceiling.

At first I wanted to do another coffered ceiling the same as our living room and although I know it would look stunning, I felt it would be a little over the top combined with the sliding barn door for the closet and the 3/4 wainscotting we would do in the hallway. Our home is a simpler arts and crafts victorian and doing just for the sake of "doing" would not be the answer and I didn't want to overwhelm this not so large room with the heaviness of a coffer.

I love the angle of our doorway, it is so much more interesting than just a square room.
I am on the lookout for an antique dresser for this wall that we can use for extra clothes storage that will go on this wall opposite the bed. We are undecided about adding a TV above it as I fear that I will end up staying up later than I should watching it before bed but we only have one TV right now and a second one would be a nice for those nights when I want to watch something different than Todd does,
which is most nights!

My honey was happy when I finally made this decision to go with a tray ceiling as it was his original suggestion that I kyboshed and then came back to!
I finally managed to convince him to shave that fur off his face today, he is far too handsome to cover it up under so much facial hair. 

A ceiling fan will be in the middle of the room to keep us comfortable on hot summer nights and we decided we will add recessed lighting in the tray that will be on a dimmer for added ambience. 
It must be work stress or something must be wrong with my brain but in spite of its largeness, this bed is growing on me.
 What  the heck is up with that?!!!!

I am having thoughts of adding MDF flat stock in the inside of the tray to make it look like a boarded ceiling but am not 100% sure. We are going to add crown at the ceiling and perhaps below the tray as well but will take it one step at a time.
The other thing to consider is that our barn door we will make for the closet at 48"wide does not fit typical barn door hardware sets you can buy as a kit as they will only allow up to a 36" door, so we will either consider a slider that is used for real horse stable doors that are far less money or consider forgoing them altogether and putting double doors on instead.
Of course I don't want to give up on the barn door as I know it will be such a nice feature in the room.

Our electrician is coming Tuesday to do the final hookup and inspection for the lighting that Todd is running all the wiring for, so hopefully we can move this project along a bit faster than we have been after that. I am getting excited about the prospect of having a restful and beautiful master bedroom and with fingers crossed before the summer is here and all the outdoor work that needs to be done.

Wishing everyone a wonderful Easter weekend!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Randy and Brenda's Farmhouse Kitchen

Happy Weekend everyone!
It's a very snowy past couple of days here in the GTA and it definitely feels like winter. The roads are greasy, slick with mixed snow and freezing drizzle today and I am anxiously awaiting the return of my honey who drove north to Owen Sound yesterday to visit his dad.

I have never ever posted about any of my customer's kitchens I've designed but will do more of that from now on as I plan to make a point of going out and getting pictures once their renovation is complete. 

Randy and Brenda are wonderful people who have been putting their heart and soul into renovating their gorgeous farmhouse in the country that was built in the late 1800's.  
As you know, century homes are nearest and dearest to my heart and I wanted to make sure their kitchen was perfectly designed for their home.
Randy runs his own renovation company and is also a creative genius with welding and if that isn't enough, an auto body mechanic. Brenda is a warm and extremely funny lady who works for the Board of Education.
Brenda and Randy wanted the kitchen to feel inviting and cozy for their family and for entertaining but also wanted to make sure it was in keeping with the style of their home.
They chose painted warm cream cabinetry with a raised bead panel detail on the door  and drawers to keep it feeling light and airy but also have character as well.

Their entire kitchen was taken back to the studs, all the historical trims removed and painstakingly stripped and restained. All new insulation and drywall was installed as well as new hand scraped floors laid. Randy also added this gorgeous beam he stained to play off the stained trims in the rest of the room.

Randy is going to build Brenda her dream harvest table and then she will get a new set of chairs for it that will finish off the space to completion.. 
After much searching online without any luck for lights for the space, I found these gorgeous historical reproduction fixtures on Restoration Hardware's site that were on sale and when I showed them to Brenda she ordered them up right away.

These beautiful chairs are so comfortable and Brenda told me that she loves to sit here with her tea and laptop on weekends and that the counter space is incredible for cooking up a storm. Randy incorporated lighting in all the glass cabinets and when they have company over at night, they turn just those lights on and the room glows.
Since the room is quite large, I created many layouts but this one made the most sense for a reasonable work triangle and gave the most working counter space where it is needed most, near the sink.

Brenda loves her white cast iron drop in sink, another choice that is befitting of an old farmhouse and is extremely durable as well. She chose the Victorian faucet from Delta in brushed nickel. I love a mix of metals and this one works beautifully.
Like most projects, some of the final details just take time to get right and Brenda is still on the hunt for another light for the sink area. The stove is tucked into it's own little niche and we decided to keep it free of cabinetry since there is plenty of storage in the rest of the room.
Gorgeous new stainless steel appliances bring the kitchen into this century.

Our granite company arrived at 4pm and worked well into the night to install the granite in the kitchen with it's challenging wrap around design and slide-in stove at one end. They did a fantastic job!

Randy chose to install wood stained baseboard behind what he calls the"yickety yacks" (arched valance kicks) so that their profile stood out and I thought that was a super idea. I didn't get a good shot of the door to the right side but I'd suggested they paint the door a nice pop of a muted colour like a blue grey and Brenda plans to paint the glass with blackboard paint. I think it will add a fun and charming detail to their large kitchen. 
I asked them why the handles and knobs were positioned differently on the upper pantry doors on either side of the fridge than what you would normally do and Randy told me that because the knobs are a larger size, when they opened the fridge door all the way, it would hit the knob and cause a dent in the door. Fortunately they had to get the fridge replaced under warranty due to issues and immediately remedied the situation with the new one by changing the doors on either side so that wouldn't happen again. 

This symmetrical design of custom looking cabinetry on either side of the door to the living room creates visual harmony in the room and oodles of storage.
Rich brown granite counters add warmth but also contrast nicely with the cooler carrera marble subway tile backsplash. Brenda found stunning glass knobs at Anthropologie for the upper cabinets and oil rubbed bronze pulls the lower cabinets and work beautifully together.
The lights move up and down on their pulley system, beauty and function, how could you ask for more!

Where most folks would just rip out old wood that needed some work and toss it in the garbage, they  removed, stripped, repainted and reinstalled the tongue and groove wainscotting. 
Ah, people after my own heart.

Just off the kitchen through the door you see to the left of the penninsula is an enclosed sunroom porch that runs the entire length of the front of the house. Talk about lucky! Brenda says they live in that porch when except in winter as it is not heated. They replaced the solid door with a glass one to allow all the light to pour in and connect the spaces in the winter when the door has to be shut.
I love her large wall clock!

 Here is the man who did an incredible job with the help of his lovely wife!
They even created an open transom above this doorway that leads to the main entrance mudroom to let some more light into the kitchen and they might add a stained glass window to it. For now it is a great place for some charming chickens to roost.

With my visit fast approaching, Brenda lit a fire under Randy's butt to get this gorgeous hard to find (we sell it at my store as a special order) real travertine silver stone tile I helped them choose for the mudroom and he rose to the task and finished it the day before I arrived.
Way to go Randy it looks incredible!

I love how the silver travertine floor plays off the backsplash as well tying the two spaces together.

Randy also made the floating shelves and below them created a holder for his antique drill bit collection. Another creative idea, the electrical panel is behind this bumped out area to the left of the stove and he showed me how he opens the door by removing one of the slats first which allowed him to put his hand in the opening to open a hinged door that opens just above the counter. If you look closely you can see the seam where the door is. 

Randy and Brenda told me that they had realized their new kitchen has fulfilled their wishes completely, when their kids, for the first time in years chose to stay home on New Years Eve and celebrate in their new kitchen!