Bonjour Mes Amis. I know two days in a row. I’ve got a cold and I’m waiting on breakfast at the office followed by a coffee date with a friend. It’s amazing what can be done when you have a pressing to do list with timelines - BLOG!
I’m currently on the hunt for real art for my own house. I just purchased two pieces from Elsha Levetis at the Distillery Christmas Market two weeks ago and I’m craving more original art - specifically for above my big black tv. Living in a house that is 15 ft wide in total with a living room that is only 9ft wide, there are limitations. The extra ceiling height we added back in the spring helps as does the luxe furniture and embellishments (plaster cornice never hurts nor does the killer lighting) but something needs to happen over the TV and I’m absolutely NOT putting up anything Ikea again. Side note - I can’t even with that TV show. What a waste of air time.
Anyway, back to the wall. I want real art. I was cruising instagram last night and became obsessed with this painting on there but it’s now only available as a print. I reached out to the artist who is an imaginary online friend and told her that I thought the same piece would be killer with well red hair of course. She’s working on it.
So I have two of these concentric circle oil paintings from Elsha - and to be honest I love the idea of seeing them straight down the hallway when you walk in the front door - I have a photograph there by James Anok that I love but the framing is in polished nickel and too light in the all white hallway in my opinion. I know I’m splitting hairs but it bugs me.
Meet Vivien by artist Gina Julian. I just love it. It speaks to my strong feminine. It’s whimsical but not too whimsical. It’s moody. It’s the perfect balance for a large black rectangle! I also wouldn’t say no to the Louise Richardson painting in the opening but alas, it’s SOLD!
I so just had to google if Noel was masculine or feminine. The things that come to mind when choosing the appropriate Blog Title I tell ya!
I’m feeling the spirit, despite the lack of snow in Toronto. That’s not a complaint mind you I don’t know if I’m prepared for the white stuff reality yet and I’m still riding my bike. But the house is getting groomed that is for darn sure. I’m going to have to refresh my greens for the three holiday parties I’m hosting but I like that it’s there as a base and I don’t have to do much else to glam it up. While I’d love to put fresh Ilex berries in my foyer like in the opening picture by Tory Burch, I know that that arrangement cost THOUSANDS of dollars and we don’t do full Ilex branches like that in Canada at least. They are much shorter. I’m investigating. I have a wholesaler who I buy my greens from so we shall see.
Love some fresh Magnolia Garland. Now mine isn’t looking as fresh so I may add in some cedar or maybe some more magnolia and bows. I’ve also got my gold tinsel wreaths which could work too with it. This is still TBD.
I love arrangements of fresh boughs. it’s my go to and they make me so happy. I have some new art to hang which will be happening on Friday unless I change my mind. I found a portrait this morning that is speaking to me so maybe it will go up. While I love an analogous colour scheme, the rust tones are speaking to me which is rather unexpected. I am having a bit of a crisis over this at the moment.
See crisis comment above - magnolia is on my cocktail table.
The Ilex looks great here but I don’t love it with the rust tones. Are you feeling my crisis? Here’s the thing, for the last 7 years I’ve done a lot of reds/magentas and vivid colours at Christmas. With the new decor I’m leaning to a more traditional well appointed feel and the vivid colours aren’t really working for me in the living and dining room. Our new buffet arrived and I’m letting that sit with me - it’s incredible I mean mind glowingly awesome but it’s glitzy enough on it’s own so a more tempered accessorizing is very appealing.
I also have WAY more scotch than I knew. See the sparkle of the buffet? It’s killer.
Perfect anchoring in the dining room. Which it has desperately been waiting for. Now I’m gazing back at the living room and I’m wondering…
I had this moment of it needs a rich mossy silk velvet but I happened to have a wrap in just the thing and well it didn’t speak to me as much as it did in my head. Maybe it wasn’t the right fabric but it just wasn’t grabbing me the way I had imagined.
Then I found this rust velvet and OH MY GOD it’s incredible. The other print is fun, it’s new from Linherr Hollingsworth for Kravet and I quite like the collection but it’s on a lot of muddy linen grounds which don’t really work for me. The velvets are awesome. The rusty greatness is Barbara Barry of course. It’s really mind blowing and so so soft.
Look I put gold balls in a vase and voila - I’m done right?? Ha ha ha I have to figure out to Tree or not to Tree. I’m torn. That’s the good thing about having a Jewish husband. He won’t care if I say Xnay on the tree….
So the drinking portion of “Getting Ready for the Holidays” is my upstairs hall. It’s being painted next week. I’ve decide to go bold because it’s a dreary hallway. My inspiration below is from the amazing Steven Gambrel’s own home. I’m thinking gloss, walls & ceiling. My options on the right.
Holy shit right? I’m also trying to arrange a leopard running from Carpet One before then because you know, I’m nuts.
And I’ve decided on this chandelier for the hallway too hanging down over the stairs. F U L L B A N A N A S ! ! !
What’s doing Chez Vous?
I’m laughing to myself because when isn’t it a time for a refresh in the life of a designer. I mean the whole point of what I do is refreshing, redoing or building from scratch. I get bored of my own spaces pretty quickly and have pretty much got things to a point where I can do a quick refresh on the fly without having to reinvent the wheel. That’s what people mean when they talk about Good Bones.
Where am I refreshing you ask? Well I’ve got things going on two fronts at the moment. My kitchen, as you may recall is about to get a whole lot more bling in the form of a Tecnogas Superiore Matte Black and Brass Range + Hood AND we are finally getting our new sideboard in our dining room which I have designed to fit the tiny space. It’s replacing the old Ikea Upper Cabinets which we had suspended on the wall to act as a bar and catch all for LIFE. I couldn’t make my house any wider when I renovated it so I couldn’t make the buffet any deeper than 12” which I know is bonkers but it’s enough. As I type this our amazing cabinetmaker texted me to say “Let’s install it this Friday!” GLORY BE!!!!
The design is a little more contemporary than I’m perhaps known for but I always love that edge. We put traditional bones in our Victorian and juxtaposing it with more contemporary lighting and occasional pieces of furniture were the essential Mix I was looking for. Because the layering is becoming self evident now (I’ll admit it was lacking the first few days things were installed #ChezMoi) so I’m happy but it means I’m likewise turning my attention to my other home away from home, my office. As you may recall, my focus for 2017 is on EDITING - walking the walk and talking the talk and I think it’s time that my office speak more to where my designs head - Layered Luxury. To that end, we’ve got new dining chairs for our marble meeting table on the way and I’m thinking of some dramatic fabric treatments to delineate office space. More Drama. More Layers.
In my own office, well things need to be livened up. For our first Fabric Collection Launch, I opted for corals because I felt it would photograph better and speak to the possibilities the fabrics offered. I routinely protest that I’m not an orange person, but I use it all the time but I need to change how it is in my office. Now the crazy thing is that this all got started because of a light fixture that came into my life. Dyson Canada has recently launched a lighting collection and I’ve had the opportunity to visit with them not once, but twice to see the technology in action. The first event we attended was the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum) and I was blown away with their pendant lighting the CU Beam - one LED bulb lit up the entire hall. I mean DAYYYYYYYYYYUUUUMMMMMM. So impressive. The floor and desk lamps were the sexiest lamps I’d seen in a long time and I was immediately smitten. When the Floor Lamp found it’s way to my office - ELATED. Now it’s a surprisingly lil number I must tell you - I’m usually the girl with the alabaster, substantial lamps but this just was the perfect 180.
Let me introduce you to the CSYS Task Light..
I linked to their website above because it’s very straightforward and I met Jake last night and I have to tell you, my eyes often glaze over when people start going on about the Tech Specs on things. I mean I want PRETTY lights but I found his talk very engaging and hopeful to be honest. Perhaps it is all the doom and gloom in the world right now - the fact that he was able to create something which seems SO SIMPLE gives me great hope for what else can be achieved. We asked about a few things to make things even more awesome and well they got cagey which leads me to think that they are ON IT. Specifically, being able to control all of these amazing lights from my phone…. I get giddy thinking about this.
I mean HELLO LOVER right? What I’ve learned from hearing Jake speak and my own experience with the light (which comes in both desktop and clamp versions) is that this light really provides what I need and doesn’t waste a lot of energy illuminating areas that don’t need it. The sexy slide features, remind me of my slide ruler and again are functional as I’ll get out. I love the architectural lines of the lamp juxtaposed against my Thibaut wallpaper and that Louis chair. I mean HELL YES. So much win. The CU Beam hasn’t been released but it’s also ridiculously functional with all sorts of different settings - it’s a need vs a want. Now before I come back to the other changes I want to make in my office, I need to share with you one other picture. Now the space was designed by my friend Alison Habermehl. I helped her style a project that was being shot back in the summer and when I saw the space, I knew she needed to borrow my CSYS lamp. I only have one picture to tease you with, but you will immediately see that a trad vignette really gets elevated with the lamp.
SO GOOD. Perfect for so many applications the mind boggles.I love the sleek gloss components to the lamp which got me thinking about what else I could add to elevate the office to something more sophisticated and luxurious and then I came across this.
I mean DAMN right???? This is from a 1stdibs ad for a settee and I love the colours and how they will juxtapose with the coral and the wallpaper and of course the light!!! I’m thinking drapery. As much as I love the look of the settee (which I have pretty much), I think the drapery in my office will JUMP UP AND DOWN AND POUR CHAMPAGNE for you.
I’m going to need to do a few new pieces in here as well but I’m working on that still.
So that’s how a light changed my life and sparked a refresh. It’s dangerous being me.
If you follow me on social media, you know that the world has gone to hell in a hand basket and well my thoughts/feelings/commentary are all out there for you to see. This here blog will be a safe place, all are welcome except for haters, those who promote hate or intolerance and the like.
In the morning, I’ll be off to Winnipeg with my team and a few extra team members. We’ve got our millwright and our Drapery Workroom joining us on this trip because there is so much amazing that needs to be done and our wonderful clients have entrusted not just us but our incredible trade partners to make this project a reality. I’m so grateful to NOT be the one in charge of taking measures and translating them to someone else. This is really the ideal design scenario. We come in, we bring in our people, we work with our people to make it all happen and then we install and celebrate. Design Nirvana.
I haven’t shared with you our inspirations for #HandsartHouse or #LighthouseLodge - same client on the blog but if you’ve followed along on instagram you’ll have had a taste with what we are aiming for. With #HandsartHouse we find ourselves with a relatively new build, that checked off a LOT of our wish list items. You’ll hear people talk about “Good Bones” when it comes to a house and often it means it has architectural features, layouts and other items that you can’t really build into a house after the fact. For example, our clients really really wanted a secret passage way. The house comes with two and we’re adding a third. The house comes with two double garages so we can have a show garage and a regular garage. Check. The kitchen is wonderfully laid out with fantastic cabinets - it just needs a few tweaks. Awesome and so on down the list.
Our scope of work however, in spite of the good bones, is still extensive. Every time I think about it I may get a little bit light headed because it is really and truly a designer’s dream. Worth noting on our mandate: Design and build a Hammam Spa in the basement. Other people may have Climbing a Mountain on their bucket list, designing one of these is definitely mine. We are also designing a Virtual Reality room. I’ve tried it out and it’s hilarious. I think there are videos of me doing so on the internet. Apparently you are supposed to be quiet when you are in the VR world… oops my bad. We are vaulting a ceiling in the Master Bedroom to match the one in the office and are looking at a lot of bespoke, hand made, one of kind decorative items. A custom mural in the two storey kitchen (hand painted on the walls), lacquer, wallpaper, Pecky Cypress Panelling, Tile work and of course furniture and other millwork. You can see why we need a Design Army!
I’m going to start with two rooms that gave me the most trouble. By trouble I mean, I didn’t quite have a vision for them. Well the problem was more that I had too many ideas and narrowing it down to one GREAT idea was escaping me. I want the dining room to be dramatic and not dark & conventional. I’m still flushing out the embellishment but I’m thinking we need gilded mouldings. As you can see, I’ve begun to specify pieces for the room which have actually helped me to better define where I want it to head. Sometimes, it’s a journey to find your way to the right design. We have had a custom wallpaper in mind for the ceiling, by custom I mean, we’ll have to design it and have it made (we have a pro who takes care of this for us) but I’ve also flirted with plaster mouldings on the ceiling. I’m thinking now that we beef up the cornice with plaster, possibly add wall pilasters and lacquer the walls. The moulding will all get gilded. Gloss + Metallic though I was really taken with the ceiling design above. I love the mix of the Chinoiserie chairs and this middle eastern buffet. We fell in love with Holland and Sherry bespoke embroidery on wool drapery so that’s a must.
The Karen Knorr photograph in the opening I’m sort of obsessed with. I love the idea of doing the room in rich aubergine lacquer with burnt red accents and heather and iris with gold accents. I’m also okay with going a bit green should say our clients fall in love with a particular feather wallpaper. More on that later.
Joseph Dirand for Pucci used a gilded highlight which I think is super elegant on either a light or a dark base. If you want to see some of my other inspiration for the project visit my Pinterest board for what’s catching my eye!
Our Master Bedroom I had initially thought they wanted a neutral vibe for so I presented that initially but to be honest, it wasn’t much of a presentation it was more of an ink blot test. Ironically, they saw some of the papers and fabrics we’d picked for guest bedrooms and felt Master Bedroom FOMO. They were jealous of the Guest Bedrooms and wanted the Master to have the same WOW. So we’ve got a wonderful Lorenzo Castillo wallpaper, a spectacular Chinoiserie fabric for a headboard AND a matching settee. I was so inspired by Les Ensembliers’ Kips Bay Showhouse Dressing Room that I simply must do something similar for bedside tables. That hand painted lacquer finish was really so delicious I had to stop myself from rubbing up against it. Oh who am I kidding I totally did. We are also going to do more Embroidered Drapery in here to really cocoon them in the winter!
More on the Guest Rooms which are REDONK when I’m back!!!