Our new site has been two years in the making. A lot of people have had a tremendous hand in shaping it. We began toying with the idea on our own and then the gods put Kim Kuhteubl in our path and we undertook our first Intensive with her 2 years ago this coming November. We were fired up after that and began strategizing on how we wanted the site to look and feel. This quickly got sidelined though because we were having so much success implementing the business components that Kim had advised us on that biz took off and we couldn’t keep up with the vast amount of work that the site revamp was generating.
2014. We were still kicking ass and taking names but the year of the Horse really decided that it was going to show us who is boss. We have been doing the kind of work we excel at but the projects slowed down - quality yes but not quantity. I was very stressed out by this but part of my work with Kim has been learning how to channel this sort of stress (have I mentioned that working with a biz coach is the professional and often personal equivalent of seeing a shrink?) and to look for the patterns and change how I interpret and react to the stress. The Design Gods were conspiring to force me to do the work, grow the brand and get the new site up. The new site is a testament to all of the hard work that we, along with our amazing team, have achieved over the last SEVEN (YES our old site was SEVEN yrs old) years. We’re still adding to the new site but it’s 98% done. Brand collaborations and several newly completed projects are waiting to be shot and added.
Growing a brand is an investment in yourself/yourselves. It’s a bloody struggle some days. It’s frustrating trying to a) find the vision (you need a coach to really finesse this) b) communicate the vision to a team who will then in turn make it ready for others to digest and engage with it c) not overanalyze every single detail and stay mired in the inertia that inevitably takes over. There are days when you just want to stamp your feet and say F8ck it put it up as it is and be done with it. There are days when you love it and think it’s amazing only to wake up the next day and hate it all.
What I’ve learned from working on this revamp is that we have worked damn hard on ourselves, our brand and our vision over the last seven years and it shows. The new site does reflect our viewpoint and our brand - it feels more inline with the social media persona we have crafted for ourselves which is what brought Kim to us in the first place. And while it is tempting to pop the bubbly and sit back and toast ourselves… I’m actually more inclined to this…
Photo Credit: Patricia Recourt for Chloe Magazine Summer 2014
“I am doomed to an eternity of compulsive work. No set goal achieved satisfies. Success only breeds a new goal. The golden apple devoured has seeds. It is endless.”
Oh what the hell, let’s have a bottle shall we. Thank you for being a part of our journey. Building a brand is so much more enjoyable when you can engage with others along the way. The friendship, support and challenging of ideas really does help to shape our world view and it makes us strive to be better, stronger and to grow our roots deeper into our industry and in the world. We not only talk about more soulful spaces but we truly try and carve this out for our daily lives and your participation in this is essential.
Growing a brand is intensely personal. A lot of reflection is required both of yourself, your successes and your failures. Asking yourself and others the hard questions and understanding your truth and owning it. It’s a lot more than just pretty pictures and a nice font. It’s a bit like standing naked in front of the audience instead of imagining your audience naked come to think of it…
As you are well aware, we travel across North America and are willing to go beyond our continent to do Design Work. We also occasionally take on Remote Consults depending on the scope and our availability. As you know, I am NOT a fan of E-Design mostly because it is often offered by non-professionals and at a pitance. I’ve been doing this for almost 2 decades and it’s something that I excel at because I know the right questions to ask and I don’t require an exorbitant amount of time to consult because I am experienced and decisive. Unlike other designers who offer this service, I dont relegate the selections to my staff because they will take much longer to make choices and will worry, overthink, rethink their choices. I know people who have taken on E-design and seriously put 10+hrs into the endeavour and if they are charging $150 that works out to $15/hr - barely above minimum wage… I don’t know about you but when I worked at Home Depot making paint and was paid to basically provide this service to clients for free at least I got benefits and stock options. Ya know?
A reader of the blog got in touch with us about a post I did regarding exterior colour palettes and was interested in one of the photos and the colour used. It wasn’t my project and as you know trying to match a colour from a photograph is an especially tricky business. Fortunately, this reader is super savvy and we offered her a remote consult and she jumped on it and BAM ideas went into overdrive. Exteriors to be honest, scare me a bit. They are a TRICKY TRICKY business. Colours are so influenced by the location of the house - not only if it faces N, S, E, and W but if it is in a more southern climate vs northern, and then is it more Northwest, Southwest and the like. It’s why vivid colours work amazingly well in the Islands but SUCK in Toronto. There is a house just outside of the city that belonged to a former student of mine. His mother was from the tropics somewhere and really wanted to have their house painted to remind her of home. I think it was purple and green. I mean it was STOP THE CAR STOP THE CAR Horrible. Another teacher or parent told me I had to drive by and I practically crashed into the cars who were also hitting the breaks as their minds boggled in front of me.
I am Still tweaking my own exterior colours. The white feels to white I want it to feel less white but not yellow… it’s a process and well I’m notoriously picky.
So to this house. The client clearly wants a more sophisticated palette. The architecture needs a slight tweak through colour and accent pieces but I’ll share with you what I’ve provided - not all of the details but I’m looking at C2 Paints as our palette!
For exteriors, I always, always have to draw a sketch. I don’t like the photoshopping of an exterior photo - sketches are best. Even if the palette is approximate it helps me to visualize.
You always need an inspiration board to work off of. LOVE when a client has a Pinterest board all ready and raring to go!
Here’s our Mineral Palette.
And of course our Indigo Palette.
And Exterior Accents. These will make or break a design!
I suspect that a lot of people think that every day is crazy creative over here in design land. That we get to play with pretty fabrics and endless amounts of fun. I know that people often remark what a fun job we have and bemoan their own but I wanted to give you a look at what a typical day is when you are juggling new and existing projects including trying to finish up projects that you know, if the client will just trust you to rally hard on and finish up - will be sublime.
As I’m typing this please note I got an all too familiar iMessage from Celia that reads: “CRAP, It’s Discontinued….” More on that later.
Our #Nobscot project is in the final rally push and it’s at this point where a client will either hit the pause button or they dig deep and finish. We’ve sort of been on pause for a few months waiting for the baby to come and we’re hopeful that there will be a rallying point very soon. Our strategy on this is to pull together a list of items that need to be sourced/added (who are we kidding we know what we want) and then an estimated budget so that we can present a plan of action to the client. This makes saying yes to us all the easier. We can’t linger - lingering creates inertia which is hard to overcome. We’re using this in a greek key fabric for our #Sawmill project but think it would be perfect as is as an accent chair for our Lady of the House office in #Nobscot. It’s really comfortable and I think it should go in my house too.
This desk is going in our #AlexandraBlvd project in the master bedroom. SCHWANKY pretty luxe. So excited.
Our #Unionville project is in the same boat. The light we wanted for the breakfast room was discontinued and the client doesn’t like our suggestion for an alternate. This is disappointing because it is perfect so I will have to rally and send a few concepts to sway. This client also isn’t loving our idea for the dining room buffet styling - so I’ve gone to Plan B. The hardest part is often a client wants to see something and it’s simply not available in a store and I have to buy it. Some I’ll risk it and make the purchase but other times it’s too much of an investment and I can’t afford to be left holding it after the fact.
I’m looking at firepits, cutlery and media credenzas for #Cactus - the former and the latter are NOT cheap. Yikes.
Trying to finalize between two carpet choices at #AlexandraBlvd.
Our #Sawmill project is getting close to installations. We’re finalizing choices in the family room and about to install wallpaper in two of the four rooms getting it. We’ve decided on plaster pilasters for the living room and ceiling medallions and our Grisaille handpainted paper should be ready in the near future so that’s going to be devestatingly fabulous. We’ve got chairs that have been reupholstered as well that are waiting to move to their updated spaces.
And we’re looking at new projects to start including a restaurant in Bordeaux France.
Now it sounds busy, but it’s not especially. This is the norm.
These topiaries and cement balls by Anouska Hempel Design are totally making my day for our #Nobscot patio. The sofa arrived and looks so tiny out there…. The umbrellas are to die for too. The benches - I’ve owned. They fall apart in this part of the world rather quickly.
While I love the idea of the infinity pool overlooking a ravine for the new project we are hoping to begin working on, this would work too. I try not to get ahead of myself when it comes to prospective projects. I learned this from my coach. Try not to give a prospect head space. Wait until it is firmed up, you are retained and the project is a go or else you are wasting time and energy to something that isn’t going to go anywhere. It’s hard. There are so many possiblities and I want to JUMP JUMP JUMP (into a pool clearly). Photo: Michael Trapp
TV and Still Photography are very different beasts. With Still Photography you can cheat oh so much. It’s amazing whenever you see the scout photos vs the professional shots of a space. My own living room for example. It’s mostly dark - except in the mornings and early afternoons in the winter. There are huge trees on my street which will block out a ton of light during spring and summer. In the winter, they are bare and therefore there is much more light. In the mornings it can hit you just in the wrong spot and you are sitting on the sofa wearing shades I kid you not. I can recall reading a blog about furniture layouts once and some blogger NOT designer decided to use my living room as the example of WHAT NOT TO DO. She used the picture from Style at Home’s feature on it and then proceeded to extole her VAST experience about why I had done it wrong. I couldn’t NOT respond to her post and I credited the photography. Stacey Brandford made it look huge with the angle he chose. Margot Austin pulled the dining table out of the shot and that allowed us to add in the two coral stools. Normally a dining table lives pretty much where they do - well the dining chair does. The overall space is slightly less than 9ft wide so I welcomed suggestions but knew that this person was clearly out of their depth in terms of understanding the tricks I employed as the base and then the nuances the photography added in as bonus. Ya, I totally ::facepalmed:: when I read this particular post. It was a *TRUE GEM*.
This photo above is of my kitchen. We needed to submit something to someone and it was hastely thrown together. The truth about this photo is that there was an insane mess to both the left and right of this targeted area. We literally just swept it all away including on to the floor to get this isolated shot. Also I’ve had a wire sticking out of the wall for almost 4 years now for lighting under the shelf that we’ve never gotten around to. I sometimes put Luke’s art on it just to soften the ugly.
And our somewhat famous living room shot taken by Stacey Brandford for Style at Home in 2012. I still don’t know how this person thought we could arrange this room any other way but she’s welcome to come and try!!! I will totally fess up that the rug in this picture was propped and was too big for the space. We’ve rolled it up under the sofa at the back. I still love it though - probably the most of all we’ve had in there. Weavers Art graciously loaded it to us for the shoot.
With TV you can’t fake it - but a skilled camera person can soften and pick the right angles to make beautiful B Roll Camera love to that is for sure. Pans and Sweeps and great background music can do a lot in a space to convey the vibe. I like that it is often more honest but don’t get me wrong, I love a photo that looks like a million bucks and hides many a secret…. I’m getting really good at spotting these in other portfolios and magazine spreads.
Much like applying filters to our selfies, we want to show off our work to the best of it’s ability. We will lighten and brighten, crop, blur out and in some cases photoshop the dust bits right out of the picture of the space. You can choose to hire out this service or hire a professional photographer who will offer this as part of their fee/add it as an extra fee depending on how they are billing you. One of the reasons we have chosen to do our own photography is the processing after the fact. I am really particular about this aspect and I need to be involved in the editing process. You should see some of the requests I make it’s a wee bit crazy. It doesn’t mean I don’t have mad love for professional photographers - I do and there are several that we’ve worked with like Stacey and Donna Griffith that I don’t even need to be involved in the editing - they will always deliver a product that exceeds my expectations. I always purchase the photos they have done for magazine shoots of our work because it’s impeccable. I have waves of euphoria wash over me every time I see the photos - YEARS later.