I’ve been writing this blog for almost 7 years now just shy thereof. I’ve written about all sorts of design projects and there is one MUST have that runs throughout each and every project. What is that you may ask? I’ll cut to the chase.
I’ve read more than my fair share of “Get the Look for Less..” “Copy Cat”.. “Steal This Look…” posts and even these (abominations I muse to myself) have a budget. Sure, they are unrealistic and more about primping than say actually designing but still a budget they have. Surprisingly though, when you ask many a prospective client what their budget is, few are able to tell you and if they are able to tell you, it is most often not in alignment with their overall scope of work or design goals. There are however, those clients who have a range or others still who are open to the idea of you informing them what is appropriate. The truth of the matter though, you can always spend more. I will always want you to spend more. Now that’s not to say that sometimes I am appalled at what something costs and think the client is off their rocker to a) spend it b) want to spend it or c) is even considering spending it. Other times I’m incredulous as to why we are discussing this $100 add on to finish something off. It’s needed, it will look better, it makes the X, Y Z more functional - spend it. Let’s not cut off one’s nose to spite their face right?
When you hire a designer, in truth, you are hiring something to steward your project both creatively and financially. I’m about to spend the rest of my day trying to fine tune a budget that needs paring back and I can be ruthless about it but I try never to just start from there. All too often, if you strip out a creative presentation to reflect the exact budget a client has, well it’s not as inspiring as you would hope. I find that it is much easier to paint the big picture for a project so that when you start to eliminate elements or defer/phase them, a client is better able to appreciate what they truly MUST have vs think they would like to have. I also find that sometimes deferring choices until later in the project better enables you to see mid way through if you even wanted it, or if there are better options that lay ahead. I refer to these as design opportunities that would have gone unrealized had we just tried to steamroller our way through. Stripping things out too also shows the clients themselves what they love most in our creative and what they are willing to sacrifice or pay more for in order to ensure its inclusion. I’ve had some clients get offended when we present them the design and creative they’ve asked for but it’s over budget. I recall one client who wanted a 1.3 million dollar job for $300,000 and couldn’t understand why we weren’t able to provide such a thing in a 6000 sq ft house. We ultimately weren’t a great fit and we chose to leave that project. I can’t get blood from a stone nor can I get cash. Others however, are far more open minded and leave it to us to zhush the numbers to something that is more palatable and still allows us to retain the essence of what we were going for. I’m off to do that today. I’m hoping the good tidings of Budget 2015 for one of our projects are still with me - I was able to lop off $50K in the 11th hour which made me a total super hero that day.
Here we go!!
I often find it necessary to show clients at the start of a project tangibles. This costs X and that costs Y. We recently fell in love with a faucet as did our client that has yet to be released. We got the pricing on the faucet from the mfg ahead of time so we could include it in our budget and it’s about $1500 more than what I expected to pay. Not sure if it will make the final budget cut. It’s stunning but we have to pick our battles. We also got a bit ruthless on our bathroom design. While a separate shower is lovely and we are making room for it by eliminating the laundry area from the main bath, it would be more cost effective to have less fixtures to invest in and it would also require far less tile/marble/glass. We can still design a stunning & gorgeous bathroom but we are being choosey about where to spend the money.
I hope it means we can afford this blue cheese marble. We all love this AND a barrel ceiling.
I should probably not mention that the opening photo has me wondering again if we should add applied mouldings to any of the spaces in our #StGeorge project but of course that has me spending more and not cutting out. Hazard of the trade…
Opening &Bathroom Photos Credit: Jerome Galland Photography for Elle Decoration Design by Franz Potisek Styling by Catherine Soto
Well we are almost settled back in to ours’ now that most of our renovation is finished. We have our powder room slated to start and I’m hoping to change out the runner on our stairs which has done right by us for the last 12 years but I’m thinking it’s about time to go our separate ways before we really start to hate one another.
The powder room I’ve been meaning to do since ohhh I don’t know a year and a half ago when I was first approached with product from DXV and I have to tell you that I’m currently struggling with the “Just get it done, so it’s done” set of decisions vs “Do what you love..” I often warn our clients about Design Fatigue which can include; Cheque Writing Fatigue, Decision Making Fatigue, Get These Damn Trades Out of My House Fatigue and the like. I have experienced the entire gamut myself of late and I was trying to NOT be a wimpy woo about it. The problem with Powder Rooms is there are TOO many fabulous options so you have to lean on some choices that are made for you. Even harder when you are a designer and you have say a lighting or mirror addiction and a stockpile of impulse purchases, wrong pieces that clients bequeathed you and so on down the line. I’ve actually discovered, that it’s often harder to design with FREE product because you become enamoured with the lack of price tag and it’s harder to discern if you really love the product if you aren’t paying for it. We had worked out a pretty sweet deal once upon a time for a free hardwood floor (we’d still have to pay for installation) but you know, in the end, I wanted a site finished floor and that wasn’t on the table so I walked away from the free floor and paid for my own flooring which is exactly what I wanted. Worth every penny.
So with my powder room, I have a multitude of factors that I am relying on to guide me…
- It’s a small, dark, windowless, insulation-less room.
- I have a faux limestone, porcelain tile floor in cream (it’s not changing)
- It’s TEENY TINY and the ceilings are less than 8ft
- I can only have a sink that is no more than 24” wide so I’m going with the DXV Wyatt Console sink with a shelf that I used in my room for them
- Luke is getting a Spalet toilet which will wash and dry and keep his tush warm in the dead of winter (the boy is a toilet aficionado)
Parameters for sure but other considerations include:
- The Den which is just beyond the powder room, is not shy and retiring. The living and dining are more sophisticated so the powder room can’t be wimpy but it can’t compete either.
- I have a cream grasscloth wallpaper that I’m dying to use which will work beautifully with the floor
- My fixtures are polished nickel
- I have a wall sconce that will throw great light it is also nickel
Choices I need to make:
- The shades for my sconce were crushed at some point so I have the option of making new shades and they may be in some sort of accent colour which is TBD
- I’ve settled on a mirror but it arrived wonky woo and so I’m waiting on a replacement but if I am going to change my mind, now is the time to do it. One of the issues is that we’ve relocated the wall lighting to above the toilet instead of above the mirror so I was originally hoping to go with a tall mirror to cover the plate that has to go on there now. The mirror I’ve chosen though won’t. I was thinking I could possibly add another funky mirror above the already funky one?
- Ceiling wallpaper - I need to choose. I think I have a choice it’s a great one but it will mean I have no colour in the powder room and I don’t know how I feel about that.
- To grosgrain ribbon or not to….
There are a bunch of wallpapers here (all the patterns) that I considered for the ceiling. As you can see, tying more into the living room was my initial direction. I did of course consider a few other alternatives:
The one option cloying away at my brain is to paint the ceiling out this shade of Jade in a high gloss from Farrow and Ball. The photo is from Steven Gambrel’s own hallway. It ties both the front and the back of the house together because you know, green is a neutral totally. I have a mix of gold and silver in the room… so this DOES work….
Of course, then we pulled out the Marble wallpaper from a certain Redhead’s new collection and that really works amazingly well too and stays with the whole metallic idea and it won’t close in the already short ceiling. It shimmers when the light hits it in just the right way too…
The mirror is definitely more contemporary. As you can see I included the faucet above which I call a Pagoda faucet I know it’s the Landfair but I like Pagoda better.
So I’m torn. What do you think? Ironically if you scroll through all of S. Gambrel’s house HERE you’ll see he plays back and forth between bold colour and neutrals.
To be fair, I wasn’t counting but last night my best friend notified me that it was Day 46 of my renovation today. I swear to god, I’ve lived three lives in those 46 days and two of the three weren’t so great. I suppose it’s healthy in a sense, to live what our clients live in order to better empathize with their plight on the journey to amazing. I’ve certainly understood their situations better with both my kitchen and bathroom renovations in previous years but this one - HOLY HELL. I knew it was going to be rough moving out one’s entire main floor into a storage container but the mess and upheaval (living at one’s office, eating out far too much and the to and fro-ing) really set one’s eye to twitch. Add in a few extraneous and entirely unexpected twists and turns in the saga that has now become #chezmoi - well it’s a true wonder that I’m not in a padded room down the hall from Asa donning a straight jacket. I mean not to make fun - but we’ve been tested in ways you can’t possibly imagine. FORTUNATELY, we have an amazing network of found family members that helped us get through that so that we could focus on putting Humpty back together because he was seriously scrambled eggs.
DEEP CLEANSING BREATH.
One of the more unexpected things to come from this is the book I’m going to write. I’ve had some pretty profound Come to Jesus moments about myself during this process. Who knew that a renovation was enough to put you into an existential crisis?? There was crisis and there was existentialism fortunately they weren’t at the same time. I am not rethinking becoming a designer, but more along the lines of understanding why at the core of it all, I AM a designer. This understanding was profoundly clear at peak crisis and enabled me to navigate my way out in an entirely positive way. All of my years of being coached, literally crystallized in that moment. I know this sounds sort of vague but trust me, a book will better explain it all than a blog. Suffice it to say I was rocked to my core, put on a brave face, found my footing and well - found Home.
Enough deep thoughts though, you want the goods. I get that. I want it too!
Ok painting our own walls and trim isn’t what I call a win but when your project starts to skid sideways time-wise and you lose your painter to another project, you gotta do what you gotta do. I should point out that having bad knees that burn and explode with pain when you bend down, forcing you to bend at the waist to paint trim and cut walls leads to this weird add-abductor thing in your legs that is a world of pain.
See when I received this picture from Asa I felt a sense of excitement and anticipation. That was soon dashed because….
I had to tunnel my way through boxes and tilers and plasterers and electricians to take this photo. I mean the guy smiling that smile and the amazing sofa that he is sitting on are PERFECT but literally they are the calm in the storm. I JUST WANT TO SET IT ALL UP!
Meanwhile, in the Den this was unfolding. I can’t tell you what a genuine surprise the den has been to me. This was LITERALLY my not so secret shame for the last 12 years. I dreaded walking people past this room on the way to the backyard. Now, it’s a JEWEL of a space. I keep joking that I don’t know if I can turn it back over to Luke.
Seriously it just gets better.
Well it did. And then it took a shit turn. PLASTER DUST IS MY ENEMY. It is insidious. It goes everywhere. We spent the better part of Sunday trying to suck it all into oblivion. Vacuum, sweep, vacuum again. Wash. Dry. Wash again. Dry again and on and on and on. SUCH A MESS. But then you see the arch go in and you’re all… GULP (wearegeniusesmoments) it’s SO PRETTY. I was sharing pics and a friend pointed out to me that my chandelier choice in the dining room - which full confession moment, I was TOTALLY regretting when it first went up and I had to calm myself down and remember that you can’t judge it out of context and that every little change in a renovation after you’ve gotten used to the previous phase of it feels wrong (like my stain choice for the floors which I also regretted and fell in love with and never confessed to) until you have a bit of time to get used to it - repeats the palm spikes in my paper and proclaimed me a genius. Subconsciously maybe I knew this was the case but I was surprised to see that YES in fact, it does. HA! Helped ease me into thinking that I hadn’t screwed up my lighting choice.
And then, on Day 45 this happened. FINALLY, the plaster is done except for painting it. The arch has been a saga of it’s own with the manufacturer failing to use our template and the original installer being given the axe by our contractor only to have another happen upon us like kismet. It turned out that the replacement was a bit of a plaster whisperer and was able to work with the pieces that were not to the template and well it’s done. Much like childbirth, I hope to soon forget the pain of the birthing process.
More lights going in today and we’re in the home stretch.
Opening Photo: I have to tell you that posting this photo is actually causing me to crack right the hell up. During one of our Passover Seder’s I looked down at my plate when we were doing the 10 Plagues where you stick your finger in your wine and put it on the plate to count out the plagues. Blood being spilled and all. When I was looking for a photo to use for the header, I saw this and though PERFECT. Blood was shed, tears were shed, tempers lost, no locusts but we did find a dead wasp’s nest in our ceiling and so on… it’s absolutely perfect to sum up the last 46 days…
this little somethin somethin called…
The Meredith Heron Collection Vol. I
I mean HOLY MOTHER OF ALL THINGS DESIGN ETERNAL… RIGHT???!!!! I mean I know I created human being before, but I have to admit other than a swollen belly, it was pretty much a roll the dice and wait and see what happened kind of experience. Sure there were ultrasounds along the way, but still it was a decidedly passive, abstract sort of creating. I know, the roller coaster rides in my belly didn’t exactly feel passive, but the lil Alien as I called him, had already a mind of his own and I was but a mere host. Creating a fabric and now a wallpaper collection, is remarkably similar and dissimilar all at the same time and I think there were stretch marks in both instances.
After curating our first fabric collection, I had very definite ideas about where I wanted the next fabric collection to go and what was missing. When asked to include design ideas for a wallpaper collection, I was beyond thrilled and in truth I was definitely slightly more out of my comfort zone. Knowing what I know about wallpaper, scale and proportion, I knew that all of these factors had to be considered on top of the more obvious theme, motifs and colour and that it would be no easy task to achieve the visions in my head. The other twist that I had learned from the first collection of fabrics is that the buying audience has their own wants/needs/purchase agenda and I wanted to make sure that this was considered in the design process. Empathetic design - anticipating the needs of your clients and in my case, that means other designers. Of course the more obvious leading or trend setting is in there too, but I think that goes without saying. A lot of considerations, worries, frustrations (some designs don’t translate as easily as you’d hope and when you have to choose skus, those are dropped in favour of the sure things that don’t require much tweaking).
I worked for several days with my team on colouration after we finalized the designs. As you may have picked up, I’m a bit of a perfectionist. When it comes to colour, this is literally out of this world in terms of my exacting demands. We worked tirelessly over colour combinations. Some patterns had what appeared to be 4-5 shades/tints or different hues altogether and we had very definite ideas about how these needed to be expressed. While the patterns feel very much like me, the colours hit it out of the park. I can’t convey to you how thrilled, proud and excited for the birth of this collection. I found the fabric designs so much easier and was really surprised by how much harder the paper collection was to realize but it was a true labour of love. In the end, with Luke he was plucked and I didn’t have to physically birth him (have I mentioned how grateful I am for having had a C-section?? years of therapy avoided I swear to God). And as with my darling boy, holding my very first wallpaper book in my hands was definitely an insanely awesome moment in my design career. (And for those fearing that I love my wallpaper collection more than my own son, I wouldn’t throw myself in front of a car to save the book - I’m sure most of the papers would be fine even if run over but I would for my son… mkay?) Not that you’ll want to throw this book in the street - I’m confident that it will be prized in any designer’s resource library!!!!
Now, you may have noticed that in wallpaper books, there are a lot of stock photos that have had the wallpaper photoshopped into the pictures to give you an idea of what the paper looks like in a room. Some companies actually shoot real rooms with papers up in them but in our case, we were looking to use stock photos. I was told I could have a say over what these were and then it struck me, wouldn’t it make more sense to just include some photos from my own portfolio? Why try and find rooms that look like my work when I could just provide photos of the rooms themselves. SO you will see some familiar looking rooms - and no we didn’t run out to paper a bunch of different houses to make it possible…. The paper IS now available for sale. Mercury Retrograde has been having some fun with the JF Fabrics website, so hopefully the images will be loaded there in the immediate future. If you are a designer, check with your showroom or rep for samples or books. Books are handed out to accounts according to the amount of business you do with JF. If you are looking for a new account, sampling is still available but speak with your rep because they may have books available. I know that often our office declines books unless we love absolutely everything as we don’t have the room for storage. We kept this book though.. go figure! HA!!!
We’ve been sharing sneak peeks on SM the last week but here are a few you haven’t seen! Thank you for your love and support in this exciting adventure. It’s been an amazing learning experience as a designer and working with the team at JF has made it all the sweeter. SO FREAKING HAPPY!
As with our fabrics, we would LOVE to see how you use these papers and where (I have the book cover on our den ceiling and our Pagodas/Lanterns paper - they are numbered not named this is just for descriptive purposes on the walls if you head over to my IG you can see a sneak peek on the installs). Please tag your projects with #jfwallpaper and #jfmeredithheron and of course @meredithheron so that I can share as well. It’s so gratifying to see how you imagine a space using things that have come from my imagination. I never tire of it.