Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Farmhouse Styled Kitchens

I just viewed these farmhouse Kitchens from the Derring Hall site which are inspiring and I wanted to share.





Thursday, May 19, 2016

Spring has Sprung

I haven't been writing for a while as the design business has been busy, however today offers some time.  As I look out to the beautiful sunny day I really feel that spring is finally here.  As we approach a long weekend many will be opening pools, going to open their summer homes or purchasing and planting our summer flowers and tending to our gardens.  As soon as it is possible I am outside with a throw and some heat, enjoying the outdoors which comes and goes much too quickly for my taste.  As we have been cooped up indoors it is a welcome change to be outdoors.  My own deck awaits me.

As we freshen up the outdoors we need to think of inside our homes and freshen them up as well.  I like to change up my colour scheme with accessories.  You can put new cushion covers on your toss cushions; change up your throws from heavy to something light and bright. This the time to take up any heavy and dark area rugs and mats and perhaps replace with summery sisal ones.  Pull back any heavy draperies and let the sunshine in. Wash and open your windows for some fresh air. Bringing in some flowers adds to the summer theme.

Monday, March 21, 2016

So You Have Decided to Hire an Interior Decorator… Now What??

After you have made the decision to hire an Interior Decorator for whatever project you are undertaking, you will now be asking yourself and the decorator – what now?

  • The decorator can take over the entire project from start to finish.  They will do up a floor plan, source furnishings, fabrics, window coverings, paint samples, arrange for trades to do any work involved and present this to you for your input and approval.  It will also be the responsibility of the decorator to act as the project manager.  This method works well for those who do not have the time to go about the business of “sourcing” and “managing the project with trades”.
  • Another method of working with a decorator is more hands on for the client. If you have the time and wish to be involved in the sourcing, etc. you can pay your decorator for their time to take you to different suppliers, especially those which are “trades only”, where you are able to find items which are not available through retail available to you the consumer.  Your decorator can either arrange for trades or offer you some options, or you may in fact have someone you wish to use.
  • A third alternative is to have the decorator compile a selection of ideas for the space along with some samples and retail sources available to you, and then you can in turn,  take it from there.  This method works especially well with the “Do-it-Yourself” type client; someone who enjoys the entire project and wants to tackle it themselves, however they may require a little professional guidance from the decorator.
The above are only three ways of working with an Interior Decorator.  Everyone has their own business style.  The most important part of this entire process is to find someone you feel comfortable with; someone who listens to you and your ideas; someone who respects what you have to say; and can understand the type of look you would like, even if you cannot actually verbalize it in “design speak”; and ultimately someone who can offer cost effective alternatives to décor solutions.  After all, this person will be re-creating your personal space,  which will be a reflection of you, so it really is essential to have a “good fit”.

There are many different approaches to working with a decorator.  You, the client, should have continuous input and, in the end, the final say.

Usually when you first contact a decorator there are questions asked about the type of project you are undertaking, the scope of it, with discussion relating to your preferences, lifestyle, and ultimately the cost involved along the way.

Your decorator will discuss their fee, which is usually an hourly rate or depending on the type of undertaking, could be a total project rate.  For example, if you were having an entire basement renovation and finishing, there could be a project fee based on the total amount of work involved.  For obvious reasons, this is best discussed at your home when outlining the scope of the project. Having discussed fee, the next step is an in home consultation for which payment of said fee is due at the end of the consult.

Now comes setting up a meeting at your home with the decorator.  Many decorators offer the flexibility of evenings and weekends, however you may be required to meet during the daytime, much as you would if you had a repair person coming in or if you were going to the dentist.  This is something based entirely on your decorator’s schedule and method of work.

At the time of the consultation the decorator will sit down in your home with you and discuss your plans.  If you have ideas, these will be noted along with a brief outline of what ideas the decorator may be able to put forth at this initial meeting.  Depending on how much work is to be done now or in the future, the decorator should also be taking a walk through your home to get a feel for your lifestyle and how you use your space.  This is particularly important so as to be able to mesh the newly decorated space with the current surrounding spaces. 

Ultimately an Interior Decorator can take you from discussion and ideas through space planning, sourcing furniture, fabric, floor and window coverings, accessories and art, paint selection, kitchen and bath plans & renovation ideas, appropriate lighting, contracting trades, to managing the project.  You have the choice as to which part of their expertise you can utilize!
  
Your decorator will give you ideas of their own on how to approach any project.  Depending on your budget you do have much flexibility here. 






Monday, March 14, 2016

How do Interior Decorators create that perfect space?

There are many variables involved – the correct use of colour, textures, lighting along with space planning and creative furniture placement, in order to maximize rooms to their best potential. 

Colour and lighting; whether natural or artificial can impact on how we feel in the space.  By using cool or warm hues we create a feeling for the space.  A variety of textures add interest and depth to the space.  There is no right or wrong opinion about neutrals vs. colour; it’s all a matter of applying the colour in an appropriate manner.

Decorators are able to create functional yet fabulous designs, both being equally important.  A decorator can lend that polished look, with attention to details, creative lighting, custom millwork and window treatments.

A decorator creates innovative designs, manipulating the scale of furnishings and prioritizing features for both function and style, especially in small spaces.  A decorator can transform your space into the dream you have always envisioned. A decorator can take your ideas, make suggestions and in the end transform them into a perfect space.

An Interior Decorator can offer a full range of residential design options such as Color Consultations, Space Planning, Furniture Selection, Custom Draperies and Soft Furnishings, Flooring, Wall Coverings, Kitchen and Bath Planning, New home specifications and preparing the home for Resale, as well as Selection of Artwork and Accessories.  A decorator can assist in the Refreshing of a room by Repurposing and Repositioning pieces to create a new look.

There is great deal of flexibility when working with an Interior Decorator.
A decorator will work with you to develop a decorating plan and establish a realistic budget.  Any project can be broken down into manageable pieces to be completed at a later date.

Ultimately an Interior Decorator’s job is to add the icing to the cake.


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Countertops 101

When selecting a countertop for our kitchens or baths we can become overwhelmed by the selections available and which work best for us individually.  If you want low maintenance you would not go for marble.  For the low maintenance crowd, quartz is one of the best products available.

Solid Surface
The generic term, ‘solid surface’ refers to any material that is solid all the way through. This means it doesn’t have a topcoat that is different from the centre core. Solid surface materials are consistent in colour and content throughout. The advantage of this can be durability, hardness, temperature dispersion and edge profile options. Marble, Quartz, Granite and Corian (or similar materials like Gibraltar or Zodiac) are all considered Solid surfaces.

Plastic Laminate
Plastic Laminate‎ is a thin plastic sheet moulded around a particleboard centre with a few options for edge detail. This is not a solid surface material. Although not loved by designers, real estate agents or homeowners alike, laminate can be a practical and inexpensive solution in certain spaces. Also, laminate companies continuously coming out with new colours colours and options. This is the most affordable option.

Corian
Corian is a man-made resin product that comes in multiple colours. Corian is well known for its integrated sinks and seamless joints. Less glossy than quartz or natural stones, it has a softer look and feel. An advantage to Corian is that it can have adjustments made to it such as extending a counter top without removing the top or creating seams. ‎Corian is an easy to maintain pliable material with a premium price tag!

Marble
As beautiful as Marble is, one must be careful when selecting it.  It stains very easily so in a bathroom it can become damaged by some of the chemicals used.  When used on a kitchen countertop it requires maintenance but as it ages, it is beautiful.  If you want the look but not the maintenance, think about using it for your backsplash. The reason being, it can be very sensitive to wine stains or de-glossing from lemons, tomatoes or vinegar. A matte or leathered-finish marble can be slightly more forgiving, but it’s only for customers who can handle the natural marking that will occur. If you can’t handle this, choose something else!! Marble is expensive, beautiful but sensitive!!

Granite
Granite is a different natural stone than marble, in the fact that it is impervious to wine, acidic food and most scratches & wear and tear. ‎(Hence tombstones are now granite and no longer marble!). Granite has more of a pebbled pattern and less veins than marble. .
  
Quartz
Quartz is the generic term used to describe a man-made material formulated from the quartz found in granite and then recast in resin. It is very hard, non-porous, scratch resistant and nice looking. It is softer in pattern than granite, but it is not as reliable for heat dispersion. You may want to stay away from quartz around fireplaces and try not to rest hot pots on it. Quartz is a good choice if you want a variety of colours or lots of companies to choose from. It costs about the same as granite.

Soapstone
Soapstone is new to the solid surface lineup, although it’s been around for a long time. It is naturally heat resistant and easy to maintain. You can have integrated sinks, with soapstone, included within the counter top. It is less glossy than marble or granite and offers a variety of pattern, but always in a dark tone. It is an excellent material for dispersing heat so it’s perfect around fireplace openings or in high-wear kitchens. Soapstone is the same in cost as high-grade granite.

Quartzite
Often confused with the name quartz, quartzite is a natural stone that has the durability of granite, but the veining pattern of marble. It is a delicate material during manufacture, so it requires a good fabricator. Once it is installed, it performs well. Slabs generally have soft wave patterns in a full range of largely neutral colours. You can expect premium pricing with Quartzite.

Butcherblock
Butcherblock countertops are a breed of countertop all by themselves. They offer the aesthetic warmth that the look of wood provides while at the same time providing a versatile work surface in the kitchen. They bring a distinctive look that's appropriate in a kitchen that's hard at work or "dressed up" for entertaining.
Deciding whether it's the right choice for your kitchen takes an understanding of just what a butcherblock countertop is, how it's made and how you're going to use it.
Remember that butcherblock counters that you will cut and prepare food on will need frequent cleaning and oiling. If you're someone who just isn't up for this level of maintenance, consider getting "non-working" butcherblock countertops and use a separate cutting board for the food preparation. If you neglect the cutting board, you can just toss it out. That's harder to do (and more expensive) when you've neglected your countertops.

Concrete
The decision about installing a concrete countertop versus granite, marble, corian or laminate can be a difficult one.  When thinking about this keep in mind you will need the correct cabinetry infrastructure to handle the weight so putting concrete on 30 year old cabinets may not be the best idea.  Concrete is both beautiful and budget-friendly. If properly installed and sealed, concrete countertops will last practically forever. Colncrete works well in a modern or industrial looking kitchen.  Concrete is a poreous material and will absorbe liquids and stain.  Acidic substances will etch the concrete and cooking oils can leave dark stains.  Applying a sealer to the surface will lessen the chances of damage.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Outdoor Living - Creating your Outdoor Kitchen

Creating your Outdoor Kitchen

When we think of an outdoor kitchen we should think about our indoor kitchen.  What do we like or not like about the indoor kitchen which can be related to how you create your outdoor kitchen.  An outdoor kitchen takes a lot of planning.  You need to think about many factors including the type of cooking you will do – charcoal, smokers, pizza ovens, gas/propane and then the other aspects; chilling – will you want a refrigerator, ice makers, water, counter top for preparation, bar, seating, and storage.

Ultimately the look is important and how all of the elements fit together and of course your budget. As in creating your indoor space, you should select one element/area to be the focal point and build around it.  Keep in mind the following – Fence lines and setbacks; the type of greenery; lighting, landscape currently in place; accessories.  Also keep the location of your barbecue so that the smoke does not drift into the seating area.  Don’t block views when you select your location as the view and surrounding floral and greenery add to the ambience.

Create this outdoor space with attention to details and incorporate appropriate furniture.  Will you have a roof over your kitchen? What type of flooring will you want?  Think about your indoor kitchen and try to incorporate some of the best features of it to your outdoor kitchen. 


The addition of the outdoor kitchen and appropriate sitting area to your home will give you many years of enjoyment.  Outdoor kitchens, when done right can add to the value of your home.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Outdoor Lighting and AV

Outdoor Lighting and AV

A great presentation by Moonstruck Lighting left me incredibly inspired.  A beautiful garden is lost at night without proper lighting.  There was a lot of technical information but I will focus on general information that will help you when lighting your outdoor space. LED has come a long way and you no longer are limited with the cool blue light. 

When you decide to light your outdoor space there are factors to consider that will affect the performance.  Look at the surfaces you wish to light; is there texture; is the finish smooth; or is there colour?  Lighting will direct the eye to where you wish it to go. Something many people may not realize is that you require a permit unless the lighting is self-contained or low voltage plug in.
There are many lighting techniques; some of which I will describe.  

Up lighting is the most common which provides a focal point.  When lighting a large tree it is more balanced if you have three lights around so it doesn’t look flat.  

Try down lighting on floral plantings while angle lighting is very effective on textured materials.  

Path lighting is usually no more than 18” and is a safety option.  When lighting stairs try lighting from above so you do not have the shadows presented if you light from below the step.  A very beautiful technique is to light water and sculptures.  Some other types of lighting include shadow lighting, silhouette lighting; sign lighting but one of the most important lighting options is to have light that highlights your house numbers.  Overall it is better to have several types of lighting rather than only one very bright source.  It is important to have balance in your lighting system.
In the end it is important to consider hiring a professional to do this for you as they have the skill needed to create a favourable lighting scheme for your home.

Outdoor AV has become much more mainstream these days as people are using their outdoor spaces for longer periods of time.  They are now the outdoor version of the living/dining room.  There are a full range of outdoor speakers available that can be hidden among your plantings for a better ascetic.  You can have one full range speaker or component speakers spreading the sound more evenly.  There are now outdoor Televisions available that are waterproof; have anti-glare glass and some have a built in fan or heater.  When you get into a sophisticated system it is best to consult with the professionals.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Outdoor Living - Outdoor Fabrics

If you follow this blog you will have read my first entry about outdoor living.  Now I want to focus on outdoor fabrics.  Barb Nyke, a colleague of mine presented some fabulous information.   I would like to share.some of what I learned at the conference.  I have many pages of information but will focus on the major issues.

We all have heard of Sunbrella, however that is not the only product available to be used successfully outdoors. Outdoor fabrics should be high performance and offer the following factors -
durable, water resistant, water repellent or waterproof, stain resistant, mildew resistant, colourfast: which means they will have UV resistant pigments.

We use outdoor fabrics in many ways - awnings, umbrellas, cushions, shade sails, flooring and marine.  One of the great factors is that nowadays this fabric is not stiff and can easily be used indoors.  In fact it is difficult to tell indoor from outdoor in many cases.

Fabric content can be  Polyester (good); Olefin (better) and Acrylic (best).  All three are appropriate with there being some differences.

The type of foam is very important.  If one used regular foam the water would sit on top and cause mold to form.  Using a marine grade allows for water to penetrate and drain out at the bottom, thus no mold.

There was a lot of technical information shared by Barb and I am just giving you an overview  so you have some basic knowledge when sourcing your outdoor furnishings.

Enjoy your summer when it gets here!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Gresham House Furniture

This morning I had the opportunity to visit and take a tour of the Gresham House showroom and workroom where all of the beautiful furniture is made.  They create everything from sofas, sofa beds, ottomans, chairs, headboards, bed rails and so on.  Yes, it is Canadian made hardwood with all of the very best in construction as well as fillings.

It starts with Canadian hardwood which is corner blocked, dowelled, screwed and glued.  Sinuous springs and web and coil are offered.  The arms and backs are padded with cotton felt and green soya foam to offer comfort that lasts.  A single upholsterer works on each piece individually from start to finish. 

The seat cushions are made with eco friendly foam, soya, which is extremely durable and is wrapped in a soft fibre channeled so that it won't move around, and finished in a cotton casing to ensure futher durability. It is much nicer if one opens the outer fabric to see a nice white casing rather than just the foam.  


If you prefer feather cushions, for their luxuriousness, there is a feather blend.  100% waterfowl feather wrap for seats with a foam core and 60% waterfowl feather, 40 % fibre for the backs.  The ultimate in luxury is down fill (20% down, 80% waterfowlfeather in the backs and enveloped wrap on seats.


Each piece is hand cut individually in order to ensure that patterns are matched and then passed to the sewers.  The sewers do their part and then it is passed to the upholsterer who as mentioned earlier does the entire piece.  When sewing, the piping is cut on the bias for a better look and fit.





Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Outdoor Living

Last week I attended a wonderful and educational two day conference on Outdoor Living at SOFA which was filled with a plethora of valuable information.  The venue was filled with designers, decorators, landscape and gardening professionals all interested in learning more about the ever growing area of Outdoor Design.    Outdoor spaces have come a long way from some folding chairs, a picnic table and hibachi.  We want to extend our time enjoying the outdoors and do it in the same comfort at our indoor spaces.  Many of the outdoor ‘rooms’ rival our indoor rooms.  Not only do these outdoor rooms add to our enjoyment but, if done well,  they add to the time we can spend outdoors.  We are so lucky to have so many options available nowadays and so many professionals who focus on this valuable added space to our homes.

Why create an outdoor space?  It can extend the time we have outdoors; it can increase the value of our homes and, add to our general wellbeing by offering a place for relaxation without the usual distractions found indoors; such as promoting communication when sitting around a fire.  We live in such a fast paced world it is just nice to venture outside and spend time doing nothing.  It becomes a retreat.

Where do we start to create this space?  To build a successful outdoor space many factors must be considered.  The very first thing to consider is how you want to use the space.  What is essential to your needs and wants? Is it for relaxing or entertaining?  How much time do you want to be outside? You then need to have a ‘space plan’ just as you would when designing your indoor space.  This helps with dividing the different outdoor rooms you will create.  Think about how you will enclose the space – fences or shrubs and how you will create privacy.   

Let’s consider the following elements -

Heating - There are many heat sources available and of course checking with your individual municipality by-laws is crucial before thinking of any type of fire.  Fireplaces, both gas and wood burning; fire pits or fire tables, electric heaters are all available.  Do you have a safe area on your property to have a live fire?

Cooking – Barbeque grills, wood-fired pizza ovens, bars, a complete outdoor kitchen which could include a refrigerator, sink, grill, storage cabinet, etc.

Seating – Do you want a place to eat and have dinner parties?  Then a table and chairs will be on your list. Do you like to relax and read outside or sunbathe? Lounge chairs and sectional seating have become very popular.  In fact some of the outdoor furniture seating arrangements are very similar to those we find inside.

Flooring – Will you have a deck or porch? Perhaps brick, stone, slate, stamped concrete. There are so many options available and depending on your property size and grade a professional will help you in making the best selection.

Landscape Materials and Plant Materials – this is where it is in your best interest to consult with the professionals on how to best add soft and hard surfaces to your property
Water – will you want a swimming pool, hot tub, pond or waterfall?

AV – Many of us want to listen to our music outside.  There are a full range of speaker options available which can actually be hidden within your plant material for a clean look. Some people desire an outdoor television which is available but, be sure to purchase one that is waterproof and has an anti-glare surface.

Shelter – will you want a covered porch, a sunshade, gazebo, sunroom or will an awning or umbrella be sufficient?

Lighting & Accessories – as is the practice for indoor decorating, the same principles hold for outdoors.  Lighting is one of the most important features for your space.  We see many types of pathway lighting and of course you can hire a landscape designer who will assist in offering you many other options.  Lighting can highlight certain features in your garden – deck, path, shrubs, fountain, pool, steps and so on.  Accessories are the fun stuff – garden sculptures, tabletop décor items, area rugs within the seating area.

By working with the professionals you can achieve a completely wonderful and useful outdoor living space.


                      Stay in touch for more information and images on outdoor living.