I met with a new prospective client last week and my greatest take away from our meeting was a comment he made to me informing me as to why he had contacted me in the first place.
“I’ve studied your work for some time now, and what strikes me about many of your projects is the fact that if I had sat there and had that presented to me, it would have scared the $*%% out of me. Then I see the finished result and I want to be scared.”
To be honest, when I look at my own work, I don’t see anything remotely scary about what I’ve presented, suggested or hinted at. I am however, almost always grateful that someone let’s me get away with something unexpected. I was with our client at our #PennDr project last week just before this meeting with a prospect and we were finalizing our paint selections for the house. The main floor was a breeze and we’re doing some rather uncommon things with paint there so when we got to the kids’ rooms, I figured my options were a slam dunk. HOLD. HOLD SOME MORE. I think I need to hold the client. So for Son #1 - we knew he wanted blue. His version of what the ideal blue is and our version - VASTLY different so we took some creative license with our adult selection for said child and opted for a rich warm Tourmaline. If the kid asked me I’d say it was a dashing Peacock blue or try and think on my feet of a super hero or Minecraft analogy. Fortunately, kiddo was at school. As it turned out however, I needed more quick thinking for Son #2’s room. Well not really. I want to paint all the walls black. Client practically stroked out when I mentioned it. Now this is after having seen our Hurndale project - all done in Lead Gray that with lacquer looks a rich blue. She’s seen countless examples of rooms we’ve done with all dark walls but she was really sweating it. She thought she could get away with an accent wall. I very rarely think it a good idea to just highlight one wall especially in a small room such as this. I pulled out this example to show her, by Kit Kemp and she started to drink the koolaid begrudgingly.
I could see that she was still nervous but I hoped that my extreme confidence in our choice would ease her fears. That was Wednesday. Flash forward to yesterday and she calls me. She can’t do it. She’s worried that #2 Son was her colourful child and that they’d regret it. My assurances in painting walls black, a blue black at that, enhance all colours paired with it didn’t hold water. So I tried a different approach. Let’s be unconventional and invite #2 Son to guide us in his colour preferences. Now I’m going to share the photos the client sent to me, which involve photos she reviewed on Pinterest with said son so I don’t have all the credits at hand though I will endeavour to credit those whose work I recognize at a glance. Design: Katie Ridder, Haymarket Hotel
So the first of about 1/2 dozen inspiration pictures the client sends me that she reviewed with her son. BAM. Ummm me thinks that #2 Son and I are TOTALLY on the same wave length. Wallpaper isn’t in the budget at the moment but DUDE was totally feeling my vibe. I think this room is by Kelly Wearstler featuring Martin L. Bullard wallpaper.
Direct words from #2 Son (who is now #1 in my books) “I like the Black & White…” I texted back a fist pump because we are simpatico!!!!! Now to be fair they also sent me the following array of colours he really likes for his walls… I have a big VETO red pen to use to a few but kid is definitely on point in terms of my world view of colour. Not sure where this photo is from. Nice lacquered ceiling though!
I’m always wearing of middling blues that are a hair too vivid as they remind me of Superman Underoos my brother worse when he was 5. This blue isn’t bad but the room is East facing and I worry that anything blue that isn’t deep and dramatic will read like Smurf Depression.
This band of greens has promise. I immediately said I would co-sign the top green not the the one the young client is pointing too. Again for similar reasons to the blue above, the East Facing room with that green will feel unusually chilled. The more saturated green at the top however, I’m a fan of.
I love when boys love pink or in this case a lovely shade of Mauve. I think the Mauve that is second from the top, paired with some dark blue, green and maybe a charcoal could be stellar in a boys’ room. Big Fan.
I’m over acid green for walls to be honest. I love a great citrine but the acid green feels pretty dated to me. It’s an amazing accent especially to say that first room I posted by Katie Ridder. But to me, it’s always a supporting character never a lead actor. Heck even as my wedding dress, the acid green still had to collaborate with my hair which is kinda always the main event. Not that I minded. So my parting words of wisdom to the Momma client regarding her “Colourful Child” (her words) were:
“Colourful kids can quickly find themselves in a room that looks like the Easter Bunny tied one on & spread his regret all around the room…”
Clearly I’ve done my job into scaring this client. The goal isn’t however, to petrify them so I’m always open to receiving their input. In many cases, that input spurs me in a different direction toward even greater design fabulosity. So I’m more than comfortable with a little push back - unless I’ve gone ahead and decided on how the brilliance NEEDS to be executed, even then I will agree to pursue other options but often find myself back at exactly where I started and the client insisting that the first option was the best. I can’t tell you how often that happens in fact. So I’ve learned to be patient, consult, consider, review and then I plead my case one last time or I change gears entirely. Now if I were really evil I would pretend to change my gears sooner because nothing shores up my original decision like me changing gears!!!! HA! Opening Photo: This is from our recent trip to Paris. Note the vivid blue doors work here but let me explain a bit why it’s great on a door and not necessarily on the wall. First off, the blue receives a ton more natural light which effectively lightens it. The profile of the doors is intricate and interesting and not flat which would fall flat with this blue. You get more naturally occurring high and low lights on a profile such as this. The scale in relation to the neutral walls around it again plays in it’s favour. Keep in mind when choosing any colour you must consider what it is being seen in context with. This is most important in the decision making!!! Don’t pick a wall paint in a design vacuum. Consider walls, profiles, furniture. I often feel choosing a paint colour is more like discounting other options and arriving at the one that makes the most sense given all of the context you’ve had to weigh against it.
So this morning I logged in to Facebook and there was this glaring message… “It’s been 30 Days since your last post…” over on my Biz Page which means it’s been at least that long if not longer since I wrote a blog post. It’s not like I don’t want to write blog posts - January was completely insane and then I’ve been sick (since October) as a dog with Norovirus (in Paris) and then this Phlegm plague. I am now on a puffer thanks to my Guardian Angel who phoned in a script for me last night and got me some different antibiotics too. Ahhh the joys of the Immune Suppressed (get your kids vaccinated, get a flu shot, don’t leave the house if you’re sick, don’t send sick kids to school or music lessons and for god’s sake WASH YOUR BLOODY HANDS with hot water and soap no micro beads or anti bacterial cleansers).
WHEW glad to get all of that off my chest. Which still has phlegm in it. Ok a bit less, I just… okay you don’t want to know that.
Anyway. Blogs. I’ve pretty much stopped reading all of them and I think part of me wonders if you are reading them too still? I’m tired of the blogger who writes posts to get free shit for their own house. I’m tired of people posing as designers and then writing blogs to get free shit for their house. I’m tired of brands thinking that bloggers are more influential than the designers who regularly spec and use their products. Tired of the noise and generic crap that keeps being copied and distilled down to the lowest common denominator. Blogs have kind of become like HGTV. I am proud to say I haven’t been on or near that channel in three years. Yup. Couldn’t tell you what is on that channel because there is 100% chance that I have zero interest in whatever they are trying to sell. A distinct lack of expertise, style, budget or inspiration. What is inspiring - Travel. I’ve done a considerable amount of it in the last month on top of the last year which was substantial. Getting out of my own zone and finding inspiration in new to me places or in places that just ooze culture, architecture and a love of detail and embellishment,
I began the year in Puerto Rico where I was the one beautifying. I have yet to be near the ocean or in the ocean and not find some sort design peace, heaven, nirvana. The water is a magical elixir for me even if I don’t want to swim in it. My husband is all about swimming in huge open bodies of water, me not so much but I am very happy to plunge my feet in. Side Note: I used to be a very accomplished swimmer. I can swim. I just have found that as I’ve gotten older, I don’t much love being in water that feels cold at first glance (even if it isn’t) to my body. If it’s warm like a soup, I’m good. Anyway there was very little time for swimming as we discovered that Island Time meant the girls and one guy from the north needed to double time and pick up all the slack. That meant 30 minutes in the Ocean and an hour by the pool over six days. There was also Ricky Martin to sight so that took up some leisure time too.
We had lunch by the ocean one day. I’ve convinced myself I sat in the same seat that Ricky had sat in the morning before when he had breakfast at the same restaurant on the Ritz Carlton property. All of the residents in this area have access to the Ritz Carlton property. The restaurants were really really good. If only we’d had time to test out the spa… more on that in a bit.
We do a considerable amount of work out of both our country and our immediate vicinity. MHD is exceptionally well versed in managing projects near and far away and on an island in the Atlantic Ocean has a bit of a learning curve but we’re pros now. One of the twists we had to consider is that the humidity could play a part in wallpaper installation. We love wallpaper but the foyer posed some challenges for us especially with a lot of outside edges and corners. That’s not ideal in the best of locales but add in moisture and it’s a recipe for disaster. Even more so when you consider the cost of the paper. NO BUENO. So in consultation with our stupendously talented Artist that we use to make our custom papers, it was decided that she would fly in and paint it directly on the wall. We were not disappointed. I can’t convey how much it looks like wallpaper and how concrete walls have been utterly transformed. Even the contractor who wasn’t so sure that this would be a good idea was blown away. So much so he thinks that the clients should continue it up the stairs into the adjacent hallway.
The detail is unbelievable and the birds ZOMG the birds are out of this world. This bird and then you walk into the living room and see…
The same blue in pillows and chairs… this makes a designer’s heart sing.
The tile on the walls in the bathroom kind of drove the clients (and us) a bit crazy but the details that we brought in and our choice is mirrors/lighting and accents - BOOM it all looks entirely planned and genius. This was my bathroom.
Walking around the entire property - Ritz and beyond was such a treat for the eye. GAH it’s my foyer wallpaper on a tree! This is outside the spa.
The spa itself, our clients insisted we at least walk over and visit it if we couldn’t partake. They grow and dry their own herbs.
Like a legit apothecary.
THAT SINK! GAHHHHHHHHHH
Then you walk through the doors and this is what greets you. The concierge desk for the spa is neatly hidden away. It was relaxing just knowing that it exists I swear to god. But I had a mission and I needed to find Ricky Martin’s house. Ummm mission accomplished I admit to nothing else.
I know, I know I haven’t blogged in forever and to be honest I was SO incredibly busy up until the holidays blogging was the thing that had to give. I’m currently on month THREE of being sick with some sort of pneumonia-esque, lung filled phlegm thing and now I had nasal congestion to go with. It’s been seriously UN fun but I leave for Puerto Rico to install our #DoradoBeach project on Weds so I’m hoping some intense one on one time with SUNSHINE and warmth will blast out the germs. Salt water is supposed to be restorative non?
We’ve got a ton of things on the go at the moment. Our #Soudan kitchen is almost finished being installed. I think this may be my favourite kitchen we’ve ever done. I know that’s like picking one of your children to be your favourites but this one is very different and I think that we have really outdone ourselves working with a limited space - galley kitchen. It’s easy to WOW in a big space, you get lighting and islands and amazing hoods but we’ve also managed to find a way to include these amazing details in a small space without the huge ceilings and vast cabinetry space. We also have a client who is an amazing cook and so this is really her place to shine and I think we’ve captured her in the space beautifully.
We are also working on the rest of the main floor with these clients and let me tell you, we’ve wrestled the dragon of a budget and still managed to come out with a design that you’d never know considered budget once. An amazing array of finishes and textures with some killer lighting choices.
We’re are just wrestling with a few final details on some chairs and then we should be full steam ahead! The pun will become evident in a moment…
Our Steam Oven (Sad Joke I know) is installed. We have a Steam and Convection oven in this kitchen (that table and chairs is going bye bye!).
Our Thompson Traders Hammered Silver Apron Sink has arrived. TO DIE FOR.
As have our Bridge Faucet (Perrin and Rowe) and hardware. We will have doors going in this week which is what I am positively plutzing to see - but I’m betting I’ll be in PR before I have pics! I’m expecting instagram to be getting some serious love this week!!!
Opening Photo: James Anok
We are working on what feels like a zillion kitchens and baths at the moment. I once counted the number of decisions that needed to be made for either a kitchen or a bathroom I’ve forgotten but after 125 different questions that needed answering, I think the client raised the white flag and let me do what I wanted.
Our #Beech Master Bath is particularly tricky given that the third floor in which it is on is full of dormers, odd rooflines and is sandwiched between the Master Bedroom, Dressing Room/Closet and a stairwell. The previous incarnation of said bathroom was truly something to behold - we were very happy to see it demolished. Not so happy to discover a joist was cut to put the plumbing in - right beneath the shower. It’s a good thing our clients are very fit folk. BOMBS AWAY would take on a whole new meaning if one had an extra helping at Thanksgiving with added girth. Heck if two people had tried showering in there…. YIKES! It’s all been fixed though now!
Because of these sloping issues, it’s made things tricky for us with regard to the lighting, millwork and mirrors. The slope negated the option of building in mirrors with millwork because you’d have to emphasize the slope or draw a line below it which only further serves to emphasize the slope so we opted for mirrors hung on the wall. Of course determining which mirrors work best with which lights - a whole other story. Then there came the mirror needing to be centred over the sink which negated the style of drawer layout we’d initially planned on the vanity. It’s a cascade effect. We have lots of room for built in storage which is great. Please note that we’re having the frieze slope so that the cabinetry is all built in but we’ve added the Chippendale Fretwork and mirror to distract you.
We’re still working on the other side of the bathroom. As I type this I’ve seen the addition of wainscot to the lower portion of the walls around the tub surround and shower including the walls behind the toilet. We have more room for storage so we’re looking at yet another Chippendale and mirror fretwork cabinet adjacent to the toilet.
The stone story has yet to be entirely finalized but we are close.
UPDATE: Never trust an architect’s measurements. Must always visit in person. Ceiling has to be totally redrawn as does a wall here and there because what is being built is very different than what we thought we had to work with given our drawings. Sigh. Have I ever mentioned that I really prefer to be involved BEFORE an architect is? Oh well I’m used to it. Much the same way that I now expect to find joists cut because of plumbers. THREE projects in the last six months we’ve discovered this to be the case THREE! Oy Vey.
We’re also working on a fancy schmancy master bathroom for one of my very first clients. This project we are calling #TheHill. It’s kind of an inside joke between the client and I - #TheHill that is. This is going to be one of those projects where there is scope creep. It’s been almost 15 years since we started working on her dream home. Maybe even longer to be honest. I was teaching and working at Home Depot when I met her. She had faith in me way back when so it was very important to me that I dazzle her with our presentation (I think I succeeded). I knew going in that an all white or grey bathroom was never going to float her boat and she doesn’t really covet the typical or the expected. Having said that, I have a budget I need to work within so my task was to find materials that were conventional enough to be price friendly but still distinct enough to be client friendly.
Purple was the way to her heart - I knew this. Her love of purple may surpass my own but only just. Wait til she sees my newest fabric collection for JF. YOWSAS. I started with Lilac Marble which I knew to be the perfect balance between the conventional $$ and the unconventional look. From here I jumped to this amazing killer lacquered laminate which looks like a greyed oak. We’re going with a deco inspired flavour in the bathroom to compliment the architecture which really lends itself to facets and great geometry. The pattern in the background is a wallpaper that we are going to wrap the back wall in behind the free standing soaker tub. It is a vinyl paper. Pretty killer non?
We love the Fish Tales for an accent wall in the shower. It will compliment the wallpaper across the bathroom from it. The counters will be done in the same marble too.
And this is the tub. We love a flat surface along the top of the tub - it’s easier to get in and out of and it allows you to put a tray across the tub for wine/book/soap (notice my priorities there). I love the shape of this it is the perfect #StrongFeminine which of course is my jam.
Opening Photo: Purple Haze by Caitlin Dinkins