March 20, 2014:

That Je Ne Sais Quoi Piece….

Whenever I'm asked about my go to piece or how to set a room/house apart from others I usually find that my answer involves something along the lines of "shopping the client's house" to discover the pieces that will enable me to tell the story of the client all the better. Now sometimes, this proves difficult as the client doesn't have a treasure trove of heirlooms that have been passed down generation after generation or they haven't spent much time travelling to far off places as they been elsewhile occupied.  I love when clients don't think that they have anything worth using but Celia and I are jumping up and down at the chance to use X and Y. Love those surprises. Now when we have a bookcase to fill we often find ourselves walking the aisles of a Home Sense, Home Goods or a Target but I have to say this is not my ideal. These stores are great for filler pieces but we've found of late that we are at the mercy of the retailer and their current season/trends. Ugh. We tried to go to West Elm for a client before Christmas and all the decoratives were mercury glass it seemed. I don't want the built ins to feel like Christmas all year round. I'm usually a few seasons ahead colour wise than most retailers and finding the right palette for what I'm after can also prove to be difficult.

Lately I've been scouring 1stdibs and antique shops for "New to the Client Conversation Pieces." I think these to be better investments even if they do tend to run a bit higher price wise. I don't want my projects to feel mass market and while I'm pretty good at mixing and matching from retailers to hit the right price point, I really want our work to grow in it's original, bespoke feel and therefore, finding that "Je Ne Sais Quoi" piece is what I strive for.

I love a chair that doesn't match in a room. Even in a hallway, a chair such as this Savonarola Chair makes such a statement. I think this would be PERFECT in our den. Yes, I'm committed to practicing this in my own home. I'd stack books on the seat and use it as a table personally.

Louis Phillipe Chests are my weakness. The burl, the marble. I want to use this in the Master Bedroom at our #Hurndale project. The classic lines and rich burl texture will juxtapose with the newness of the upholstered bed and it's tailoredness.

These Neoclassic Napolean III lamps are JUST what I've been looking for for our #Lakefield family room project. We already have a red sectional but these are the PERFECT red shades if ever I saw them. They have a rich sophistication which will create the perfect foil to the more contemporary furntiure and tie into the more classic fireplace design with cast stone.

Love me a Federal Convex Mirror. This one is a English Regency which is a bit more unusual - more feminine in fact and would also work in our #Lakefield project rather nicely especially with those lamps. We've got one at our #Hurndale project and I adore it.

I think this pair of Bagues sconces would be PERFECT in our #Nobscot dining room. They are a wee bit pricey but less than the wallpaper so maybe they are worth suggesting?

This 19th Century Syrian Inlaid Table on a tripod base is well... exquisite. I don't have anywhere at the moment that I can use it but I am hopeful. As a centre hall table can you imagine????

These Rose Medallion Porcelain Urns - on a bookcase can you just??? Imagine them on a magenta high gloss bookcase or built ins? I swoon. It's the perfect amount of Je Ne Said Quoi - n'est pas?

March 18, 2014:

MHD Rug Collection and Chloe Magazine

Working on a Rug collection for the last two years now has been both exhilerating and exhausting. There are so many details and so much hurry up and waiting it really blows the mind. All of this is building toward something but you're never entirely sure of what that is - so there is some frustration and a huge learning curve.

What I have done though, is slow the process down. We put out our natural hair on  hide rugs initially because they were the easiest to work with and we were developing our relationship with our manufacturer. We then tried some colour options and this was a hit and miss.  Some we nailed it, others not so much and so it was here that the learning process began. We had to establish a language of colour for our hides and that is unfolding as we speak.

What I am most excited about however, is our new collection. We've worked on a bunch of different designs that will be made using wool, silk, carving, and some flat weaves. We'll still be doing hides but the colour for me is the key. It is what will set us apart from all the other hides. There are a lot of differences in a good hide vs one you will find at a big box retailer or a sale site so it's definitely buyer beware. Double stitching is important as is a suede backing sewn on to the hide.

But let's talk about the pretty. It's here to share and it's a little sneak peek of both our #Brooklin project and the hides that we've been working on. These along with the new collection should be available on our brand new website which we are THIS close to being finished with. Talk about patience of a saint. oy. We worked with the amazingly talented Lisa Petrole (photographer) and Liz Yu (stylist and makeup guru) and the team from Chloe for their Spring 2014 issue. It's a killer issue. The cover alone is Coffee Table Styling Worthy. Amazing.

The feature is Here but please check out a copy of the magazine which is available across North America!

I can't even begin to tell you how hard it was to be a hand model. Silicon lotion was involved so my hands didn't look dried out, the odd angle I had to hold them in... it was truly a lesson on the littlest of details. Mind Blown!

March 17, 2014:

DXV Launch in NYC

Last week I was in NYC for the Media Launch of DXV by American Standard. We stayed at the Bryant Park Hotel which was originally the head office of American Standard which was a really great full circle experience.

The entire team from design to marketing to set design to PR - I don't quite know how to describe them without seeming to blow proverbial smoke but truly the entire team is stupendous. Not once were we greeted with a not possible everything was enthusiastically cheered on and complete creativity encouraged. It was like being on a Bob the Builer Loop - "Yes We Can!" The results really speak to this attitude which after meeting the CEO Jay Gould, is definitely a top down business model.

I haven't really given you the background on how this all came to be though which I should because it's a testament to social media and the community that has evolved as a result of twitter. I've known Veronika Miller of Modenus and Blogtour Inc for over three years now. Through Veronika, I was introduced to Nora DePalma who does that PR for American Standard. I've gotten to know both of these fabulous ladies thanks to the Blogtours I've been on and those I've crashed and through KBIS. We thank Twitter regularly for the opportunity to know each other and become friends and now co-conspirators in something truly fabulous.

Mid November we received an email from Veronika that was a bit cryptic but asked if we'd be interested in a fabulous collaboration opportunity. I said yes before reading the fine print. Given the players I knew to be involved, I knew that this was something I wanted to be a part of - without a second's hesitation. Once we got the "dirt" we had about two weeks to hand in our concept and our "shopping list" so to speak. I knew I wanted to work with Walker Zanger's Jet Set from the get go and was thrilled when they said yes as quickly as I did. The same goes for Zack Taylor at Wesley Hall, Marcia & Paul Priven of Zia Priven, Robert Allen, Arteriors and Global Views. All of these vendors with their generosity and willingness to collaborate made this project what it is and I am indebted to all of them.

After our concepts were handed in, including CAD/Sketch Up renderings we began working with Earl Kendall's studio out of Minneapolis. We coordinated back and forth over the design elements, finishes and the styling. I've already mentioned their genius and when I look at my sketches, renderings and then the finished product - GOOD SWEET JESUS THEY NAILED IT! I mean it's incredible really. It's wonderful to have your vision understood so completely and celebrated.  It's why I fight tirelessly for creatives and the sanctity of their work. It MUST be credited because it's born out of them and it often takes others pouring their own heart and soul into the execution of the vision. It DOES take a village. The design was built about a month after it was conceived. Impressive. We then flew to Minneapolis to style and give our blessing on the translation before it was shot and videoed into what it has become.  My day on set was just that, a day. The set itself was built in two halves so that it could be shot properly. Now you think that there is an abundance of tile in my 15ft x 20 ft bathroom but it was carefully constructed so that certain shots had flow but the tile itself is actually reflected thanks to Photoshop and the single sink was moved from side to side,  photographed then joined together in post production. I mean it's truly brilliant. 

We decided to shoot my bathroom as a nighttime shot because let's be honest, we often use our bathroom in the dark more than we do in the brilliant sunshine. Those of us who live in the north for SURE spend a lot of time using a darkened bathroom with reduced sunlight opportunities. Most bathrooms are shot with bright sunny light flowing in but I thought it would be great to see a moody, sexy bathroom which is no less stunning without the natural light. Heck I just designed my own bathroom to be moody and light and airy thanks to this project.

We were sent final proof shots - mine arrived while I was in Vegas for #BlogtourVegas and I couldn't contain my squeals of delight. It was getting embarrassing because I couldn't share. People knew something was up. We were all about to burst but we knew that the end of February would provide the release of all this built up excitement. A relatively short design period from start to finish - most of our projects are longer than that and so fulfilling. I want to do more. I am obsessed with ideas of how to improve and take things to the next level.

The line will continue to grow over the next few months but over the next little bit I will be sharing some of the individual pieces with you. They are working on some exciting "Meredith Approved" finishes that will be coming out sooner rather than later. They talk in three year plans. I am impatient. 

This was my rendering of the space before it was even built. I mean have you ever?????

Me and V at the most amazing dinner before the launch at Del Posto in NYC with the rest of the Marketing and PR gang - Jeanette, Debby, Nora, Lisa, Flo my amazing friends and fellow designers; Marilyn, Corey, Mary, Susan, Cheryl and of course Jay Gould our gracious and inspiring host.

My Uber Talented business partner and husband Asa Weinstein. I am so glad he was able to make it to NYC for the launch. His Sketch Up skills and patience not to fire me as I insisted it be done this way or that way repeatedly...

It's a bit surreal to see your name on such a thing, it drives home the accomplishment and maybe it's the Canadian in me but it was both humbling and a reminder that I need to dig deeper and challenge myself more. So much gratitude to be invited to the table to participate in this discussion that we are starting with DXV.

Did I mention that they had three screens with our videos and our spaces on a loop. I was convinced that Corey's was on screen more than mine. I think he had a fast forward clicky.

The Team.  We really do build each other up and support one another. What a gift to be able to share this experience with this much talent and generosity.

I'm usually part of the press invited to these launches. I don't really know how they run. Apparently the press comes in, grabs a drink, maybe a bite to eat, does a circuit and high tails it out of there after checking out the wares. Not this launch. Full House from start to finish and then we shut it down! Karate Chop as Corey would say. We were then a wee bit starving so Jay had us back to his hotel room where he DELIVERED on the after party with eats to die for. First Class.

You've never seen designers hoover Truffle Parm Fries so fast. They actually sent in a second helping. We were animals. Talking plumbing and design apparently causes quite the appetite to emerge.

I made the wait staff hold everyone back so I could snap this picture. Could have lost a finger otherwise.

Marilyn and I at least POSED with our food before wolfing it down. Who am I kidding, this may have been our third helping at this rate. FAMISHED.

I left NYC as excited as I was in this photo snapped by Corey. While my Magnolia Red Velvet cupcake was disappointing the smile on my face here stays with me after this experience with DXV and American Standard. I SO look forward to developing our relationship further...

March 17, 2014:

A Tile Story…. #MadisonAve

Without a fabric palette to start me off, I often have to use tile as the inspiration for a renovation project. Both our #LongBranch and #MadisonAve projects began with a twist because we weren't starting off with furnishing the spaces. Major Renovations had to come first and then with our #LongBranch project we had to see what was left over in the kitty for furnishings as we knew going in that it would be a phased project.

Our tile has begun to go down over at #MadisonAve and let me tell you - INCREDIBLE. It's actually the sort of thing that has me break into a streak of swearing or french sometimes swearing IN french. Sacre Bleu!!!!

Tile MAKES a space if it is a space that requires tile.  It's the perfect storyteller and a foundation on which the rest of the space begins it's conversation. Don't believe me?

Spacious. This tile design we've put down in the master bath was done with the intention of making the space feel bigger and grander than it is. It's a big room, don't get me wrong but we are putting the walk in closet in the middle of the bathroom so it was important to choose a floor material and design that wasn't too busy or repetitive. We designed it to be tile that felt more like a parquet floor than a tile per se. By putting it on the 45 we offset some of the weird angles that already exist in the space and the mixed stone helps to throw off a grid like feel that can happen. A fool of the eye to make the space feel bigger and more open.

Our Third Floor Loft and Kids' Room's will have this bathroom. The grout will be black because otherwise it would be unforgiving with kids. We've added this border to a simple, cost effective tile to harken back to the original period of the house and to allow the space to grow as the kids' grow. The walls will be painted black in the W/C and we are pairing this floor with a 4x4 white ceramic in a brick pattern in the shower again with black grout. The fixtures will be gold.

The black legs belong to the vanity that is going on the third floor. We custom designed all the vanities in the house to give each space it's own distinctive look and feel. Bespoke. Well-thought out. This is what we want to say with our bathrooms in this house. The posts on the left are for the 2nd floor guest bathroom.

The vanities drawers.  We've carefully selected hardware for each vanity that shows attention to detail and ties into our light selection and our tile selection. Our third floor bathroom has a chinoiserie meets Soho Loft feel to it. Our 2nd Floor Guest Bathroom is Roman Chinois and our Master Bath is Parisienne Pied a Terre. Our powder room will blow your mind.

March 12, 2014:

NYC DXV & YYZ DXV

I'm in NYC celebrating the launch of DXV but I'm also celebrating DXC Chez Moi.

Some toilets are a religious experience.

Self-closing lid and seat. Can I get an Amen??!!!!

The Wyatt Toilet is narrow - hallelujah!!!! This is a must when you have a teeny tiny bathroom. It's also allowed us to FINALLY add a vanity to our bathroom. 10years without a vanity. I mean can you even imagine?

Here's a little taste of our transformation.

Choir of Angels I tell ya.

Changed out the knobs that came with our Cascada Vanity from American Standard.

Oh Hi. This ol' thing. I can't even try that with a straight face. I mean HAVE YOU EVAH???? This is the Broche chandelier from Crystorama. Now I just need to figure out a fabric for a shower curtain. Thoughts?