It’s amazing what some time away in paradise causes you to examine and I have to say without a doubt I have been pondering Grace in all things. From my dealings with business colleagues, personal friends and strangers to how we work with clients to achieve their goals. I don’t think that Grace was ever much on my radar growing up - it was not something that was modelled by my parentals. My mother is pretty fierce and polite to a fault but Grace as I am learning is really something very different. It’s not a criticism - different circumstances in life and different times of one’s life really don’t lend themselves to pursuing Grace - I can for certain attest to that. But as I move forward and pursue different opportunities, encounter hardships and difficulties I am discovering that approaching them with a sense of Grace, which to me implies care, compassion patience and reflection, leads to a more positive resolution and far less stress in my life.
My friend Alison and I were chatting yesterday over iMessage. She was freezing her butt off back home and I was (about to become violently ill as luck would have it) lounging around here on our patio in Mexico and she expressed concern that I wasn’t truly getting a break from work and that she was worried that I would hit a wall at some point. (Apparently that wall was coming in a few short hours….) All of my life I’ve worked extremely hard, relentlessly so at times and then whenever I would take a moment to stop and catch my breath I would end up VERY sick. It’s almost expected. Especially now that I have an autoimmune disease in Rheumatoid Disease I am very much aware of stress and how it impacts me differently than others. Focusing on GRACE in stressful situations has really been something I’ve zoned in on - though it was only BECAUSE of this vacation that I was actually able to put a name to it. Prior to reflecting on this I would have told you that I just roll with things better than I used to. After becoming a Mom, my priorities shifted and the things that stressed me out about work started to dissipate. I re-jiggered our team at work and our synergy and alignment in our professional and creative goals has improved year over year. Working with a coach has also helped me to focus on working better/smarter and not harder.
So back to this Grace thing. I think as a Mom I’ve become acutely aware of my need to stand up and be a voice for those who cannot. If you listened to the Freedom Fighter Podcast I participated with Perry Gladstone a few weeks ago in, you will know this is a call to action that I responded to viscerally. I watched Patricia Arquette get up on stage last night and call for equal pay for equal work for women - I CAN’T BELIEVE WE ARE STILL HAVING THIS DISCUSSION! - because she was given a platform and was compelled to address matters on behalf of all of us who do not have the same platform. It’s become all the talk today and so we should give her another prize for taking such a risk. While I watched the immediate backlash that followed on twitter and social media I practiced a moment of Grace and hit BLOCK instead of falling down the rabbit hole of internet trolldom - well I first called one guy a Douchecanoe because he totally deserved it.
Hey I didn’t say I was successful in all of my attempts at trying to BE Graceful.
I have however, had moments where I hit my stride and managed to employ Grace in situations where my natural instinct was to take a flamethrower to a bridge aka a situation. It’s a natural high to respond from a place of kindness and compassion instead of hitting the button to Defcon 1. This was surprising for me to realize.
And then there are times in this business where I have to look at a situation, that I am not pleased with, isn’t working the way I want it to work or how I planned for something to work and employ Grace. I will stand up for our process, our team and our creative vision - I will fight for it in fact, but communicating that from the start, throughout and to it’s conclusion requires a steady hand and depth. I have never felt more able to do this than I do at this moment.
Speaking of Grace - let me introduce you to Simona Bonanno a photographer I first found online and then she introduced herself to me after I featured one of her photos on the blog. I love her work it’s simplicity evokes a lot of emotion in me and I love the composition and point of view that is expressed. If you are interested in her work you can click on the link to her website and find her current offerings there.
Before we left on vacation we signed a few new projects which if you are a creative, is always VERY exciting. One of our new projects is #Wainwright located in Toronto’s west end - Etobicoke. The clients are a referral from past clients which is always so very gratifying. They built their home themselves and then never got to finishing it - enter the Redhead and her Band of Fabulous Superstars. We’ve put together a few palettes for the formal living and dining rooms and then the breakfast and family rooms. The house has great bones - an even better art collection it just needs some MHD love! Here we go….
Blush and Grey tones with a slight nod to citrine. The clients have limestone floors in their foyer and hallway off of the living and dining rooms so we need to bear this in mind with our palettes.
We also went more tonal and lost the blush and citrine as an option.
Our family room/Breakfast area we thought we’d crank up the volume just a bit… Family friendly with splashes of colour and grounded with neutrals. We want this to be comfortable and kid friendly so we’ve included a few MHD fabrics for JF.
And then we just went for it. Full on. Much like our Dorado Beach palettes we thought let’s go for it and pull no punches. I would LOVE to transform the millwork in the space to a high gloss lacquer in the emerald but I am betting that I’m pushing my luck on that one. However, if you don’t suggest or ask… no one can ever say yes to you right? I am ALL about creating opportunity to say YES!
Opening Photo: Salt -Cars & Matthew Carden
Early part of last week our #DoradoBeach clients flew up to Toronto from Puerto Rico to meet with us and it was so nice to finally meet them!! We are definitely each others’ “PEOPLE” - united by the love of Fbombs and meat and potatoes along with great design. Our creative energies aligned and in the space of two days we hammered out their house and I am so freaking excited. I shared some pictures on instagram and a friend who is also a designer asked me how I manage to convince clients to use colour - I said they call me fully expecting that I will deliver them colour… For me though, I find that my use of colour is very strategic. I really work in a world of neutrals - hysterical I know given the pictures I’m about to share - it’s much like my claim that I am secretly an introvert. I am. I just happen to be an outgoing introvert and I love to design in neutrals and then embellish with colour. It’s true. In fact, when our coach was helping review our new website and wanted me to focus on our use of colour, I found myself hard-pressed to find super colourful pictures because everything in our portfolio is mostly neutral. There are of course the splashes of colour we throw around but if you look closely - it’s all against a neutral base.
Our living room scheme is grounded in whites with dark mahogany - the enormous two storey ceiling is covered in dark mahogany… I DIE. Walls and sofa - white. Floors are a dark grey ceramic tile with a painted carpet tile design in the middle - the design in white. We’re pairing white/mahogany and black with emerald green and periwinkle/cornflower blue. Fresh and bright - fun and whimsical. SEXY.
The dining room we are going to push the envelope on pattern mixing and do so in a truly vibrant way. Our neutrals - same grey floor and some grey built in cabinetry which we are leaving grey. We’re adorning the walls with the yellow vases wallpaper and then adding a crown moulding in white around the room. We’re then putting the blue and white leopard wallpaper on the ceiling. Our second project to get such a treatment used in the exact same way and even with the same palette but the look will be dramatically different. This is our third dining room with this palette and each one is different. Different walls, different furniture but we’ve repeated some of the same fabrics. At this rate, I should be able to have a coffee table book based solely on navy/citrine/white dining rooms.
The Family Room and Breakfast Room are one big room in this house and I really couldn’t be more excited about our plans for it. High Gloss Black Lacquer Built ins and trim throughout the room. Celerie Kemble’s flower wallpaper in grasscloth in green/cream/black. Green velvet sofa and our Melcourt fabric in cream on the other sofa then embellished with black/cream/green/tourmaline and Chaing Mai. The breakfast room has Louis Chairs with white frames and Emerald Leather upholstery. We have a vintage Murano chandelier for over the table which will be the Platner dining table with marble top in brass. We’ve got a banquette that will be backing up against the cream sofa and seriously I’m weeping tears of joy.
The master bedroom is playful and fun while edging toward sophisticated and luxurious. Corals, blushes, greys and greiges. Again we have a huge mahogany ceiling… DELISH. This house is going to be a jaw dropper. So excited.
Opening Photo: Ari Salmela
We presented our design concepts to our #YorkMills clients last week and I think it is safe to say that we hit it out of the park. After the meeting was over, I turned to Celia and said - I don’t think we heard a single no (other than one of the daughter’s who preferred one of my JF Fabrics - our Hildegard fabric over an animal print so that’s hardly a hard no right?). I love when clients trust in our vision and encourage it. These clients for sure got the #FaveClient treatment. Their townhouse is very NYC Brownstone and as such it’s got some interesting logistics. The visitor parking is located underground along with their own private parking which guarantees that other than door to door sales men or people begging for you to buy something, very few people will ever come to their house via the front door. More often than not, the main entrance will be in the basement and then you have to wind your way upstairs.
As such, it’s important that we set the right tone from the moment you walk in and the Basement Lounge is definitely going to wow. The floral fabric is for the SOFA. Yup you read that right. Our Melcourt fabric for JF in indigo and white will be on the chair and the solid shimmery velvet in Prussian Blue will be the ottoman. We’ll do the Deep Dark Tourmaline velvet as pillows on the sofa. We’re pairing all of this with a great brass oversized Sputnik light fixture and some killer oversized art above the sofa for a “HOW DO YOU LIKE ME NOW - WELCOME!”
The stairwells are aplenty in this house and so we are opting to go for BIG, BOLD, and RAAAAAAWWWRRRRR - brass handrails, leopard carpeting throughout and big, bold artwork on the landings. The foyer which is tile and flows into the powder room upstairs on the main floor will get a marble/onyx treatment - tricolour. We’ve got a geometric plan to really make a statement. We are going to pair the marble floors with dark black walls in the front foyer and the stairwell walls will all be in white. High Contrast. The powder room walls will be in black croco and the ceilings in a black and gold art deco wallpaper. We’re working with the existing vanity but changing it from cream to black and leaving the limestone countertops. DRAMA.
The living room and dining room are the only room not really about contrast. Here we are headed for a tone on tone layering of sophisticated chic. Texture and pattern in greys, indigos and dusks. The black and white animal print is for existing cameo armchairs they own and will be working into the kitchen. I’ll talk more about the exceptional kitchen we’ve designed for them in a different blog post - it deserves it’s own post.
Two of their daughters are sharing a room and thanks to FaceTime and texting while they are away at school we had a complete design consultation in situ and got approvals. Smoky Blue Velvet beds, Our Meredith fabric as a Euro and then the leopard as an accent pillow.
Their other daughter has been given a room that has a ton of built ins but can’t fit a double or queen bed into the room given the number of doors off of it. We’re making up for not being able to deliver on that request with a blushy dream of a room.
Opening Photos: Gucci by Jeremy Brooks