“I just can’t see it…”
I hear this all the time. Up until VERY recently, I thought that it was my job to make clients “SEE” what it I was imagining, before I got the okay. About two years ago though, I started to have a change of heart. It’s not my job to make a client see it, my job is to create it. The client hires me because of my vision. My portfolio speaks for itself. The referrals I’m given, speak to the process, the experience and of course the end result. THIS IS ENOUGH.
I of course want people to feel comfortable with what I am proposing and have input into the development but experience has taught me that the very best projects that we do, often happen when the client steps out of the way and lets me do my job, which is to bring to life a vision. I’m gifted with this vision. It is a talent that few possess and even fewer can duplicate. The nuance of knowing just where to hang something, place something to choose between this hue and that hue - it can be acquired over many years by some but for most you are born with it. I have it. If you choose to work with me you are hiring this. What it requires is a huge amount of trust. This involves a lot of communication and exchange of thoughts and an investment in the creative that you have chosen to work with. There will be times it can be scary (I received a text at 830 am this morning from a client with the words “The Butler’s Pantry is VERY blue.” My immediate thought was: “Yes, yes it is. That’s what we chose and it will be GLORIOUS.” The client trusted me with this choice and it will be brilliant. There are more aspects to the room yet to come into play but it will be something that she will love and that every person who visits will comment on. I know this. So I reassured her and asked for pictures.
It can be scary judging a space when it is incomplete. I would LOVE to ban all clients from their homes until there was a reveal. It’s always a minefield that needs negotiating when you are looking at a wall colour that has nothing else around it to make it make sense or to ground it. For young designers, I’m sure that this is the heart attack stage of any project. Actually I know it to be true. When I first was in the business, my very first full house project I got a frantic call on my cell phone at 10pm one night. The white wasn’t the right white. I jumped in my car (Seriously I was an idiot) and drove over there. I didn’t want the client to go to bed upset (I’ve always thought our relationship designer/client was a marriage). As it turned out, the white was fine on the walls but the trim was the wrong colour. We fixed it. All was fine.
Now that doesn’t mean that things always come together how I imagined they would. Sometimes it is in our favour - a most auspicious unexpected but totally welcomed surprise, other times, not so much. We usually pivot on the spot and figure out our next move. We know that problems will arise and we’re able to roll with them. Clients aren’t as easy about this for the most case though there are amazing exceptions and well we want to clone those people. I understand why it’s harder for some to roll with the problems, it’s not a criticism of them but it’s much easier if they are somewhat removed and let us handle it. Think of it like a triage. If you’re needing emergency medical treatment and the doctors can’t get in to treat the you because the bystanders are in the way… you are going to bleed out. I’ve used an extreme example but let’s be real, if your drapery is a bit shorter than we’d hoped, this is not the equivalent to say losing a limb. I’ve seen some people react like it is - it’s not. It’s fixable. It will be fixed. Deep breath and here’s a martini. You don’t drink? Start.
So back to the vision thing. I don’t like 3D renderings for anything other than millwork. Millwork I see the value in it, but for other parts of the project I think that fancy computer drawings hinder the creative. They don’t leave gaps that allow for genius. They become something of a fixation and the client being able to see it - can’t cope when there is a flag on the play. I prefer my rough thumbnail sketches and inspiration pictures to illustrate an idea but as one client so brilliantly said to me last week - “I’ve hired you for your creativity and your vision. I can’t see it done in my head and you clearly do. I need to trust this.”
This is what happens when you leave me to my own devices… though I will add that Margot Austin asked for the rug for this House and Home shoot. Photographer extraordinaire - Donna Griffith (all photos including opening - from February 2014 House and Home Magazine)
Okay not really a ball of wax. It’s going to be another one of those crazy weeks and it’s a short one to boot. Next week is going to be a short week as well because I thought I’d give my team a 4 day long weekend and then I’m off to High Point. April will be a giant blur.
We have two installs this week, a video shoot (more on that later) and of course the getting ready for all of the above that that entails. At least the sun is shining and the weather is warming up so I’m totally in the mood to make things happen. Did I mention the shoot is at my own house? Yup. Crazy. Our #Rye #MountHolly Project is in high gear and we’re are waiting on a few key YESes to come our way on some other projects. I am determined to not feel the need to have my best friend on Bail Speed Dial this week too. What the hell was with the last few weeks… am I right?
Did I mention I’m redoing a bunch of rooms including a bathroom at my mom’s house? Good GOD I couldn’t get her to agree to a colour to paint her front door. It’s a miracle everything else was a yes. I am secretly contemplating driving up there and painting her door the colour I want… evil or genius?
Do you see the picture TAPED to the glass insert? That was our inspiration. LOVE a determined and effective tradesman who doesn’t want to stray too far!!!! We’ve decided to paint the trim and casing/crown out in a pale grey and leave the walls a warm white in the living room. So far, I am absolutely thinking it is entirely genius. So much so, we are doing the same in the office adjacent. There was a FaceTime call on Friday to hammer out remaining colours and then come Saturday we realized we’d forgotten a few more rooms (#BigHouseProblems) and we resolved that via text. This is the nature of working at a distance - it can be 15 minutes away or it can be an hour flight away. There was some negotiating re: the office trim colour. This was our inspiration.
I’ve looked on every service I can for the credit for the image and I cannot find. Pinterest sent me down a rabbit hole to blogs that are now defunct. Anyway, we want to go with a more butter cream grasscloth on the walls to play up a carpet… well we’re not sure if the carpet will now work in this room it’s between here or the guest bedroom. We shall see. It’s a bossy carpet - check our portfolio and look at the Kingswood family room.
The powder room floor is in. We’re going to be going ahead with a very bold paper and a chinois black vanity with bamboo. Can’t wait.
We decided to have some fun in the guest bath and just added a simple border on either side of the shower walls. We’ve got black and white hex on the floors in the bathroom too.
We have walls in the Master Shower. A great carpet inlay on the walls and then a herringbone pattern around. We’re doing the same floor on the main bath as we did in our #Madison project because we have some interesting angles to work with and we are trying to create a sense of depth and spaciousness. Wait til you see the millwork we’ve got going on there.
Opening Photo: Michael Dweck
I’ve had a less than stellar week which has seen me collapsing onto my sofa at the end of each day, glass of wine in hand hell even some Skittles found their way into my belly last night. I figured it was the safer choice than ripping a few new ...well you get the picture. Know your limits and some days are really BAD days to blog.
It’s Friday, it’s the weekend and as such I am looking forward to NOT working or thinking about work. Okay who am I kidding. I have a big shoot at my house next week and well I’ll be stressing over that. Who knows what I’ll decide to change at the last minute. Have I mentioned that my wallpaper has arrived and I have three rooms that need papering… hmmm
I’m a sponsored blogger for this year’s Market and my Spring sponsors are Ambella Home and Kong Xing. I style spotted the most amazing Sexy Curved sectional at Ambella Home at the Fall market and we are currently about to put their Pick Up Sticks dining bases in our #MadisonDecoration project. Divine. So excited. Kong Xing is a Chinese company and a brief review of their website absolutely appealed to this Chinoiserie Lover. I can’t wait to see what gems they have in store for me!!! I’ll be blogging about both in coming weeks.
I’ve never been to the Theodore Alexander showroom before but I am LOVING their pieces and we’re specifying them for a bunch of different projects. I have many friends in the biz who use them and have highly recommended them. Here’s a taste of what I am coveting.
Dying over the profile of this armchair. Love the squared back and then the rolled arms.
I really like the twist on this “it’s everywhere” chair. Great detailing and the white frame is chic.
I’ve designed this console table for projects. It’s great in a small space that needs a desk/console combo. A great way to add function to a console behind a sofa to serve as a room divider or it would make a great table in an entry hall. I love a simple parsons table.
Imagine it flanked with a pair of these?
THIS DESK IS EVERYTHING!
I love a good Director’s chair. I see this around a very modern dining table. It’s very shades of Ralph Lauren non?
This would make a great bedside table that needs to do double duty!!!!! I love a black and cream combo.
Opening Photo: Asa Weinstein… think I could get it blown up and framed by next Thursday?
Our #MuskokaBunk project has begun. This is project 8 I believe with these clients - our longest clients to date. They are family now. We love working with them and we are determined to finally get their cottage into a fabulous magazine. We’ve done the entire cottage and it’s a big one - once this bunk is done, we’ll be heading up there to photograph!
We received the architectural plans for the Bunk today - some framing has happened but based on the photos we have, we flipped the living area and bedroom - but I actually really prefer my layout. How the layout impacts the ceiling lines though is going to ultimately be the deciding factor on which version we go with. We have a lot of pitched ceilings and dormers to factor into this design - the bunk is over the existing garage so it’s not like we can make a change to the structure - we can only work on the interior.
The Bunk won’t be heated in the winter (which is kind of why I’m not up there deciding this in person to be honest - that and our clients are at their winter home in Florida) so our wall treatments have to be cold-friendly. We love the idea of shiplap panelling on the horizontal but I do kinda love the vertical panelling on the left. We may do a mix of panelling.
The kitchen won’t really be a kitchen per se. The main house has a huge kitchen and a terrific pantry to boot. This is more for popcorn, breakfast and snacks. We want to have a counter that serves as a breakfast bar and then a little run of cabinetry.
The living room needs to also be another bedroom so we’re opting for a pull out sofa which needs to be covered in a family friendly fabric. We showed the client some of the furniture we were looking at initially and she wanted it to be more rustic and cottagey and less like their city pied a terre. We are thinking the bobbin chairs would be fabulous in a red gloss (her husband is OBSESSED with red and we’ve denied him in their city home) and then the rattan/stick chairs, while brand new, totally harken back to furniture from the 20s. LOVE.
This brings us to the Fabric Scheme. This is the perfect project for MHD fabrics #jfMeredithHeron - Crypton Home, kid and pet friendly and of course red wine friendly. We want to use the Meredith Fabric the red and white ogee chenille on the sofa… DELISH and fun and cozy too. The stripe will find it’s way into drapery and we’ll embellish furniture in some of the prints - though the bobbin chairs in the Holmes blue scrollwork… to DIE for.
Up until about 4pm I thought we were going to have a red vanity in the bathroom. Then I decided that I want that Federal Cobalt blue. The floor tiles you’ll see in a second but the fabrics will all be in the red and white. We’re going with one of those jet-mould plastic shower inserts because we don’t want to worry about tile cracking and grout issues.
And that brings us to the floor - Vinyl plank hardwood and these amazing vinyl tiles we used at my DXV booth project for IDS. We’ll do them in red and then the vanity will pop.
The bedroom if we go with it in the room that I have planned, will see two built in bunkies. We want rope ladders and of course drapery to give each bunk some privacy.
Here’s our palette and our lighting choice. This way no flashlights required and if you pull the drapery across you won’t keep anyone else up!
Opening Photo: Akos Major