It’s been a bit of time since I last was here - life has been going full tilt and so many exciting changes and updates have been happening that it has required my full attention. It has almost been a full year since we bought #mhdbrownstone and I have to admit, it’s taken almost the full year to actually believe that it’s ours and that we own it. It’s also taken almost as long to figure out what our actual priorities are in the house because it’s not just Asa and I - we have our team to consider and we’ve had to figure out how we actually use the house.
One thing that became immediately clear, was that our windows were NOT up to snuff and our doors, well they look like doors but they don’t really function as well as one would hope a door to…. While I wanted to put in new millwork in our main office and remove our kitchen these quickly became less of a priority as I got a phone call one wintery Sunday from Asa - who may or may not have been screaming into the phone because the trifolding door at the back of the house had blown open in a snowstorm and the locking mechanism wouldn’t close. He eventually managed to coral it to sort of close and then had to TAPE IT SHUT FOR THE REMAINING OF THE WINTER. THE LONG, COLD, NEVER ENDING WINTER. Good times. I would find our staff huddled under blankets as they worked away daily - and I’m not even talking about how ugly the windows and doors were. SO FUG. Function over pretty needed to take a priority. Now and again, the stars align and imagine my extreme JOY when I got an email (I was in Mexico which was amazing on it’s own) from the amazing team at Pella Windows and Doors (who had no idea of my window woes) to talk about a partnership. BIG Pella fan and that was even before I met their amazing team.
I was fortunate to travel to Dwell by Design with them at the beginning of April to talk about Modern Design Elements and then they shared with me the incredible new product that they wanted to use at #MHDBrownstone and well I completely geeked out over these windows. I live in a historical neighbourhood and have so for the last 15 years. I feel in that time period I’ve come to really appreciate good vs meh windows and how they can dramatically transform the look of a house - not to mention all of the cost savings they can provide when you invest in the right window system for your dwelling. I have a lot of opinions on windows I have noticed but in this instance, I showed the team at Pella my overall inspiration for the #MHDBrownstone, and I left it in the hands of the experts to deliver…. Good lord it really does pay to work with the experts - more on that in a bit.
Because our building is 7 yes 7 half stories and each with their own window, we had to divide and conquer when it came to installation. A fancy game of Designer Tetris, we decided to focus on my team’s general office area and the Sample Room for the first round of installs. You’ll have to check back on the updates as we move throughout the rest of the house…. The girls’ office had three windows that formed a giant picture window. You could get heat stroke and as sunburn from this window in a hot minute during warmer months and in the winter, well frost bite was a possibility. Upstairs in the sample room, we had a beautiful arched window but again it barely provided a barrier between the exterior and the room itself. None of the windows in the house had casing - they were all set within the drywall which was a bit odd but I kind of liked the contemporary aspect of it except that the windows themselves were brown aluminium and ugly as sin. The way they opened too - NO BUENO.
The befores are rather terrifying as you have seen…..
Pella had a new product that they were/are bringing to market and I’m so excited to be one of the first to have it. The windows themselves are Double Hung windows - WOOD - and they have an integrated low profile screen with magnetic catch so…... YOU NEVER SEE THE SCREEN UNLESS YOU OPEN THE WINDOW!!!!! GLORY BE!!!!!! Honestly I never knew how much I hated screens until I saw the Rolscreen Window system from Pella. I’m now looking at the screens at my house with disgust and utter disdain. Now we also decided that if we were changing the windows, we absolutely wanted them to be black inside and out. For the girls’ office, this meant adding a casing - Pella provided a black stained casing to frame the windows but we opted to forego the casing in the Sample Room with the arched window. I don’t know why black windows aren’t the standard. The view is SO much better with a black framed window. Everything pops and is just full of wow.
Some Tech Details:
Pella’s Integrated Rolscreen, which appears at both the lower sash and the upper sash of double-hung windows, and appears at the lower sash of single-hung windows, is initially available on Pella Architect® Series™ Reserve double- and single-hung windows in August, with plans to expand into other product lines in 2019. Pella designed the Integrated Rolscreen with functionality, durability and the unhindered beauty of a project in mind.
The Install - This was exceptional. We had some pretty crazy deadlines to hit and deliveries caused our best laid plans to be compressed and we basically had ONE day to remove and install both windows. Pella here in Toronto, sent their best installers and let me tell you - it was amazing to watch. Just before 4pm, I came up from the Salon where we were all huddled and saw one of the installers vacuuming his way out the door. I mean design NIRVANA - HELLO I have been waiting to meet you my entire life! I have never felt more like my mom as I did in that very moment. I think I welled up - THEY VACUUMED THEMSELVES OUT OF THE HOUSE! LAWD. HAVE. MERCY.
As I was leaning against the wall swooning over this vacuum situation and was busy focusing on the AWESOME view out the entire back of the house, something else hit me almost immediately. For the first time in a year, I could stand on the stairs between the front door and the girls’ office, and I could feel the cold air coming from the vent across the office and below the new window. I’ve never felt that air before because it was always being sucked out the window itself into the out of doors. AMAZING.
I’m going to leave it to the experts to explain the how and the why as they have done so on their Youtube channels. I will tell you that working with their team if you are a designer or a homeowner has been amazing. I have long been frustrated by websites for windows and doors and being able to speak with a professional who knows their product and can assist and demystify the process of specifying has been amazing. With the remaining windows and doors we’ve had some design opportunities that have arisen in terms of the openings and they’ve been really great to work with us to achieve the goals we are after on this. Communication and follow up are so important to me as a design professional and it really does set brands apart when you find one who has a great process in addition to great product.
How ROLSCREEN Works: https://youtu.be/Li6SofHsus8
Integrated Rolscreen Story: https://youtu.be/3XL2mSXUbl0
Beauty of Design: https://youtu.be/68Y1phmoV-s
Thank you Pella for being such an amazing team to work with with products that are easy to use (and clean) and look killer inside and out!!!!
Please be sure to head over to my instagram @meredithheron and check out my videos and sneak peeks of the windows and how well they work and the ROLSCREEN system!!!!!
The Heron-Weinsteins took Japan and lived to tell about it. What a whirlwind adventure. I can hardly begin to blog about it because it’s really book worthy. We spent our first week in Tokyo with a Day Trip to Nikko which was mind blowing. It rained THE ENTIRE time we were there and we coped through not one but TWO Typhoons but I am entirely smitten with Japan, the Japanese themselves - hands down the NICEST most helpful people and their cultural identities. It was a feast for the senses.
As a designer, the entire country was rich with inspiration but Kyoto, Takayama, Naoshima and Hakone were the stand outs for me. Kyoto really felt like a home away from home. The food was epic. I mean seriously and in Hakone we ended up mid Typhoon having the best meal of my life at NOBU. Seriously, it was the only restaurant open and the Kobe beef we had there LITERALLY melted in our mouths. I bowed my way out of the restaurant without thinking because I was trying to show my sincere appreciation for what I had just eaten. GAH. Here’s a little sampling of what Japan feels like to me. Note: This is the muted palette I’m sharing. Japan is both colourful, muted & tonal.
Persimmons. It was the season of the orange fruit and they were EVERYWHERE!!!!
Nara - magical. We used Free Guides just about everywhere we went to show us their city or countryside. It’s a wonderful service - the guides get to practice their English and share their culture. Highly recommend. We had the best Italian lunch in Nara. Go figure!
Patina. Aging is graceful and honoured here.
Artisanship. We saw the most amazing art galleries and exhibitions. The interior design in Japan- well they need me but the architecture and embellishment of buildings, shrines, temples and then the craftwork… it is just exquisite. Hard to put into words. There were times were I was so moved, I couldn’t help but weep. So much beauty. So very lucky to experience it with my family.
MHD Brownstone is alive and well with MHD folk calling it home. Not going to lie - the unpacking odyssey is pretty daunting at this point especially given that our office still kinda needs to be painted and I have plasterers up on the top floor finishing the gallery. Thankfully we have a great terrace with a cover on the roof/pergola so the bins can stay out there for now…
It’s been a slog not going to lie - some furniture can’t go into it’s spot because there are other things in it temporarily and one of my sentimental pieces - the hutch/cabinet that was behind my desk in the old office can’t get up the stairs even in two pieces to Asa’s office which is the only room in the house that is tall enough for it. It’s just a wee bit too big….
Having said all of that, I’m sitting in my new office, writing this post on my computer which is on my desk and working which was so easy and straightforward which reflecting back on other times and other computers I have had - this was definitely the easiest of computer moves ever. We left our old phone system at the old office and we have a fancy new one - I don’t think it’s quite working yet but hey good times. EMAIL me if you need me.
It feels like we did a lot here yet we didn’t really - it just took way longer than we thought it would and when the first trades slid from the week we needed them to start until the next week well it just spiralled and everyone was tripping all over themselves. Some missteps on our part in a few areas - trying to do too many things and expecting others to have caught it - not blaming but sometimes deferring can wreak havoc on your process. Where we really lucked out is that our White Glove Delivery Service - Dejong - offered to help us with our move and they really worked their schedule to suit our chaotic out of control one. I can’t thank Jeff and his team enough. They were amazing. I’m not surprised by this - we use them exclusively because they are the best and our clients are so lucky to have such a great team backing us up always.
You may recall that when we first bought the house the plan was to raise the doorways. I couldn’t justify paying $7000 for 5 doors and by then we’d already ordered the casing so we pivoted and went to making over doors. The panels are almost all installed now and ready for paint. AMAZING. So much better.
Asa’s office is one of the few spaces that got a rich deep hue. The kitchen and the sample room are our other two options (I know black for a sample room seems like an odd choice but I think it will actually help nail things better than a white room would.
My office is ridiculously pretty and just what I had hoped for. The plaster moulding adds height. The ceiling feels darker than the walls and is currently a velvet finish which I’m kind of loving though I’m still considering a venetian plaster polished into a gloss. Gonna live with it for a bit and see how I feel about it. That’s the beauty of owning - I can mull.
The gallery looks amazing it is so bright and airy up there and our Triglyph Plaster Cornice is spectacular. We are so thrilled with it. We’ll be using it again for our #StGeorge project in the neighbourhood. Living in Canada we have so much winter vs summer humidity issues - plaster is always the better choice.
They are cleaning up to leave us and I’m so so happy. It means MORE mopping and cleaning and vacuuming and windex-ing but again, it’s kind of like when your baby pukes/poops on you - it’s aggravating at times but for the most part you are immune to it.
Opening Photo: Petros Koublis one of my favourite photographers and literally this photo should be in my office which is at the moment entirely comprised of these hues.
Looking back to the end of June, a mere few months ago now I can honestly say that I went into a state of shock when we decided to purchase #mhdbrownstone. All of the coaching I have done over the last decade has really focused around my relationship with money - the good and the bad sides of it. It’s been so helpful and effective, I immediately recognize my issues in others both colleagues/friends and with clients. If you have seen or spoken to me about our new office, you’ll probably wonder why I don’t seem so excited and celebratory. It’s a double whammy - I’m still in shock that it happened and I am ridiculously superstitious. I don’t want to jinx things and maybe it’s a Canadian something in the drinking water but I like to take it in stride. Of course I am proud - this is a serious bucket list both personally and professionally. Dream Street. Dream Location. Dream Layout. Everything aligned. I like to tell the story of how it all came to be (it’s way better in person the story that is) because it helps me get past the shock of it all.
However I am starting to realize that I was so nonchalant about it because I was keeping a lid on the emotions of leaving our office for the last 8 years. I’ve moved a lot. Asa has moved a lot. One of the reasons why we are such a good fit for each other is that we both had crazy in our families and we moved a lot and our parents split up. I could go on but we have a ton in common in terms of how we were shaped and formed as people. Because of all the moving, I become detached from spaces usually about 6 months before I move. My moving has often been rather impulsive given that I didn’t really have any solid plans to move until it was upon me. I’m a Jump and the Net will Appear person. When I see an opportunity or things starting to align I get with it and fast. Intuition is my friend. Our third floor office on Davenport has been so very good to us. We loved being in Designers Walk, long before others saw its merits. Luke was 4 months old when we moved in to our first office on the 2nd floor (which never felt like it was home). A year later we moved up to the third floor and we laid down roots here. We redid the kitchen, the bathroom, the rooftop patio. I kicked off the Tanzania wallpaper craze in partnership with Thibaut - heck my office was knocked off by a blogger and got published as if she was some sort of design genius even… We’ve had countless shoots here. A fabric, rug, and wallpaper collection were all born here. My original baby MHD grew and flourished as did our other adorable cherub who’s first word was SHANDA-WEER and now uses words in passing like catastrophic or devastated (if we were to ever move our house - though he’s really excited about the new office space). We’ve had great team members come and go, others that we were definitely happy to see the back side of (I was recalling yesterday a few interns and co-op students that I was not sorry to say goodbye to). Some helped grow our business to where it is today in a profound way and others have played their part which I am all very grateful for.
Our current team is comprised of wonderful people - they feel like family as do many clients. I have been so busy that one though that I had fired her - to which I responded NEVER you are family! I feel that about so many. Ironically or maybe it was just intentional but we didn’t know it but Asa and I have overcome our own personal family deficiencies by creating family in other aspects of our life. It is all integrated. I was initially worried that the new space would alter our vibe as a group but whenever you are approaching a levelling up situation - I think that is normal. For clients who are going from a modest home to say a custom home - the jump can be daunting. Likewise, for those who are used to living in a larger home and are looking to downsize - the stress of changing how you live can be overwhelming. I’ve seen it happen time and again and I do my best to try and prepare our clients for the major life change or shift that they are going to be embarking on. I keep having to give myself pep talks and focus on the finish line. We have a hard finish date this week. Keys have to be given back and new routines created at 222 Bedford. Right now it looks like a drywall bomb went off and soon it will have all of our stuff in and sense will have to be made. I look forward to the day where all I have to do is plan the finishing touches in terms of light the candles, arrange the flowers and sit down and enjoy the biggest glass of champagne and savour that it is really and truly OURS. We did the work. We brought the fucking magic. We fought for this. We earned it. I don’t need to rush to replenish this box on the bucket list. I can just enjoy it as it is.
Look how far we’ve come baby…. we are so very proud.
Photos: Jessica Bosse & Chloe Magazine