​What happens when a project hits a snag? Sometimes it’s because something got missed, other times it’s a much bigger set of issues at play but what do you do? I know that designers routinely want to know how I handle problems along the way - they sure had a slew of questions about this at my recent #IDMC14 Talks. Interestingly enough, clients often don’t see the snags coming and then are bogged down by them or they just roll with it and you figure out a different course.

All too often, a snag presents itself in the Budget vs Scope. The Wish List is much bigger than the amount the client has to invest. Sometimes this is a conscious decision on our part as designers. I know our contractors feel the same way too. We would much rather give clients a much higher than expected reality check in the Budget vs Scope - why? It’s much easier to take away than it is to start off underquoting and then have to continuously go back to the client with a +... +... + I find that this erodes the trust in the relationship if you are continually adding to the budget that was underquoted originally.

Other times, we will come in with a range of numbers a low and a high in order to help define the budget and the scope. It’s much easier to do this when you are facing numbers that are based on tangibles. This sofa will put you in the $8000 range. This one, $2500. Then you can discuss. We are continually slicing and dicing throughout the process but trying to nail down the scope and the budget at the start is time well spent.

So what do you do when they don’t fall into step with one another? Drink. Drink heavily. Eat Polish Donuts. Oh wait, that just may be my way of handling things. I kid. Sorta. I’m used to clients getting a reality check in terms of what they want vs what they can afford so it doesn’t really bother me. I try and qualify this well before we agree to take the job in fact. When the numbers are off, we see what can be done in terms of phases. What makes sense to do right away, what can be deferred, what needs to be totally reconsidered or shelved and so forth. Sometimes this means having to go a little bit beyond what a client would prefer to spend in order to put them in good standing and other times it means spending less to get your foot in the door and waiting until more money can be stockpiled in order to launch the next phase.

We’ve had other clients who have decided to increase the budget - of course this is always my favourite solution because it lets me do what I do best and realize more of room, a house and get it underway to becoming Home. I’ve seen and worked with people in the past that turn this into an adversarial turning point in the relationship. I’ve learned how to mostly avoid this - it goes back to qualifying people at the outset of the relationship but it also comes down to making sure that we are very direct and to the point about our process and in sharing numbers as soon as we can so that we have information. Informing your clients is empowering your clients. They have options and you are the one with the experience to help them navigate these choices, answer questions and chart the route you are going to take in order to get them to their destination.

Almost every snag you can think of can often be avoided through excellent communication. Others however, will often hit you by surprise so expect them. You know at least one will pop up and being flexible and open to doing things a different way makes overcoming the snag all the faster and less painful. After all….

This is what you’ve/we’ve trained for.

But seriously, drinking often does help. So do the donuts. Yum.

Opening Photo: Kevin Trotman - Don’t Make Me Leave Without You

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December 14, 2014

I love when a grouping of visual images inspires especially when they relate to a given theme or genre. Individual pictures attract your attention all the time but when they are curated either by intention or randomness they have so much more impact. I happened to have liked 4 pictures randomly that inspired this post in fact. I keep finding myself drawn to this style which for me is about as minimal as I get but I really like the simple sophistication. Not sure where it is headed but it definitely is factoring into a lot of my own design choices. I’m sure it has something to do with the festive season which has thrown up decorations all over my house. It often causes me to want to impose a forced pairing down….

​Kelly Hoppen

​Brad Grove

Opening Photo: Santa Monica Art by Linda Ruiz

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December 11, 2014

Between the Ongoing Asshattery that is Bell Canada who is under contract to provide us with our internet - and then DOESN’T and the snow storm that we got hit with oh and the PLAGUE that has been unending for poor Luke, I am pretty much ready to pack it all in. The only saving grace today is I found a killer new lipstick last night and am rocking some seriously fab lips. Oh and my new leather pants fit. Oh and I dropped down into a new weight class on the scale this morning - HELL TO THE YES!!!!

We are waiting on some approvals, we have an install next week and we’re sent out a few concept ideas for some part deux projects. It’s kind of the typical December fare to be honest. You rush and rush to get to the finish line and then the December Limbo creeps in. Have I mentioned that I suffer from extreme OCD when it comes to unanswered emails? I strive to answer all emails occasionally I miss one (especially when you have a clusterfark of an internet provider who thinks that every day is Elf on the Shelf hijinx time - they are SO on my Naughty List…) Anyway, I get my shorts in a knot when I send out proposals and they just sit out there in the ether and get zero acknowledgment. I am working on the Elsa spin on this and “Letting it Go…” which of course has me singing the damn song and annoying everyone around me. Well that’s kinda fun at times come to think of it. #SilverLining.

We are working on a client’s home office that is in the basement now and has very short ceilings and a blasted radiator that really causes issues with layout. We found this picture that is serving as our inspiration for the room. Tracking down the original of the photo proved to be more effort than the drawing we did it would seem but fortunately the credit goes HERE. Take a gander at her site and you will find yourself an hour gone into your day but totally worth it.

​I’m also working on the IDS Booth Design for DXV’s launch and can I tell you how hard it was to find navy blue high gloss laminate? Long story but it was tricky. Here are some other details that I am jonesing for. The Helix light by Bec Brittain. I think it may be because it reminds me of my kitchen faucet but there is something that I love about this that I can’t put my finger on. It’s sophisticated as heck and would look great juxtaposed against very ornate millwork and herringbone floors. A pair over a kitchen island that is super traditional… LOVE.

​I’ve been a long admirer of Jean-Louis Deniot. I think all of his work is genius. It’s the ultimate in Luxe Modern Traditional.

​The details. The sheen. The texture and the simplicity. It has great appeal. If you have the right architecture it is divine. There are times when I would love to strip out my entire house and refashion it in the Deniot way… hmmmmmm I probably love pattern too much for that to work so I’ll have to use it in a future secondary home… or not. For now, I’m using it to inspire our #YongeLoft project.

Opening Photo: Alicia Bock - Winter and Woods

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December 09, 2014

Tomorrow is a very big day. A long awaited one in fact - our Den Sofa arrives!!! We partnered with both Van Gogh Designs and Robert Allen to make this sofa possible and I am breathless with anticipation. It is going to be an adventure getting it into the house and I am keeping my karma bank account FLUSH so that it will be so.

We had a list of must haves for this sofa. Our den is doubling as our guest room and so the bed HAS to be a sofa bed. It can’t be any bigger than 72” long. I’ve measured, drawn out the room and even I’m not convinced it will fit with end tables on either side of it but here’s hoping I’m wrong. The sofa is the most important piece truly because anything too wee would make the room feel smaller than it already is and it is tiny!

Here’s a before. It’s entirely heinous non?

​We chose this paint colour 11 years ago. I am SOOOO over it. The lighting in the photo is terrible, on purpose but I really can’t wait for the colour to be gone. We’re doing things a bit out of sorts because we still have to rip up the floors, prime the walls and wallpaper in a delicious grasscloth but the sofa is here and it’s going in until we can schedule it all which has been elusive schedule wise thus far. We have to move out for the flooring to come out and go in - and that means needing somewhere to go. Hoping for the end of February… that would work with our schedules. #DesignerProblems

​In anticipation for tomorrow’s delivery we added our Natasha Star Dhurrie to the space. Asa wanted to know why we are going ahead and putting down the rug even though we are going to have to eventually empty out the room to do the floors and the wallpaper. Well it’s damn cold and that’s two months away so the rug goes down!! It will make me feel like more progress is being made which is essential to overcome #DesignerInertia

​This is the fabric.Eliza’s Garden, Chesapeake by Robert Allen. We chose this because of the scale of the fabric. Using an oversized pattern is a great way to add volume to a piece despite it being smaller. We wrestled with the decision of to skirt or not but opted to show off the legs.

​The 70’s sofa. We wanted a sofa that was able to be condo sized, a sofa bed, and under 36” deep. The room is 9ft deep - 36” is 1/3 of the room which is another reason why we didn’t want to go with a tiny pattern or a solid. Go big or Go Home. If the sofa feels bigger in scale, the room will likewise feel bigger. The squared off arms are lower, which works to our advantage and the sofa itself isn’t too tall. Fewer piece but bigger scaled pieces are the best way to make a room feel larger than it is.

We’ve worked with Van Gogh for over a decade and are big fans of their products. Canadian Made they are a great value for the money and we are able to customize with nail heads and the addition of custom fabrics.

The Retro/Vintage Vibe of this sofa was also selected because it is a favourite of my best friend - the real motivation to have a guest room! This will make her feel at home and Luke thinks it is fabulous and fun. We’ve had a great time designing this space together… though I have to say I am still not certain what the final iteration will be… but hey that’s half the fun!

Opening Photograph: Be Still by Francesca Ritchey

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Meredith Heron Design

Sashay

verb (intr), informal

1.To move or walk in a showy way; parade.

2. To strut or flounce in a showy manner.

Once upon a time we had a Design Forum on our website. A member (who exactly, escapes me) coined the term “Sashay” to describe the excitement that was experienced every time a client/forum member received a package or had a “Reveal” from Meredith Heron Design. I love the visual I get whenever I hear it spoken or see it written..

Here’s hoping every day includes time for a little Sashay!

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