April 01, 2013:

#Madison - A New Kind of MHD Project

We are embarking on a new kind of project for MHD one that I've long wanted to become involved in, but we've never had the opportunity before now. MHD is teaming up with a Developer/Builder to redo a beautiful historic home in the Annex neighbourhood very close to our studio. It's a beautiful old home that up until very recently, was divided into 11 apartments but we are restoring it to a single family dwelling and MHD will be doing all of the interior design for it.

Hummmmdinnnnggggerrrr - an insane project with no actual client.

Now I know that I was bemoaning how hard it is to not have a client yesterday with our #KBIS2013 project but that's just conceptual this we get to build. The house itself presents many challenges so that will keep us in line. We also have to hit a budget so that will also necessitate some trade offs/ups. The hardest part, will be NOT getting to keep the house when we are done that is for sure!!!

The architectural elements that were probably once in this house need to be harkened back to and played up but with a contemporary twist. Our goal is to add in features that will appear to be original to the house all the while using modern construction materials. It can be done when you know what you are doing.

The 3rd floor will have quite the ceiling line. I think we should play it up. We could be three bedrooms up on the third floor but I think we'll only do two and then opt for a built in office area that acts as a transition space between the two rooms. Jack and Jill bathroom will connect they two very large bedrooms. The house will also have a side entrance vs a front door at the front of the house so we will be needing to play that up so that it feels grand and welcoming. I adore this side entrance here on the left.

We also have a beautiful back garden to play up and there are already some challenges that we have to consider - specifically there is a stairwell at the back of the house that leads to the basement and up into what could be the kitchen. However we are suggesting that that actually be turned half into a butler's pantry and instead of putting the kitchen at the back of the house - furthest away from the entrance that we opt for the dining room to go back there. This will mean having a side door off of the kitchen to lead to the backyard in addition to one off of the butler's pantry. I'm thinking that a family with kids wouldn't want the kids going through the formal dining room to get out to the backyard so a side entrance is a must. So many things to consider but isn't it all just exciting? Want to follow along on our journey? Check out our #Madison Inspiration Boards on Pinterest HERE.

April 01, 2013:

Easterpaloozzza & Other Indulgences

Oh this has been a weekend of indulgence, decadence and becoming ever more sloth-like. Delicious Pizza Libretto with fabulous clients on Friday, Blondies on the Island with Uncle Ken on Saturday, a right British Fry Up at the Bristol Yard Sunday morning-ish and then smoked briskett with the other side of the family come dinner time. It's a wonder I can even lift my fingers to type this.

Walked by a former student of mine on Saturday afternoon. I was too shocked to see him all grown up to get my brain/tongue/mouth all working together and by the time I did it was too late - so I did the next best thing and messaged him on facebook to tell him I'd just walked past him. Sweet Quinn is probably my all time favourite. I taught him in Grade 3 - he was going to a pub to drink and watch the hockey game so it's been a few years and thensome since I last saw him. Hasn't really changed just got bigger. He borrowed another teacher's engagement ring and proposed to me in front of the class. Such a sweet boy.

I don't miss teaching though there is much it does bring to the business of design. I have to teach clients and staff/suppliers/other designers all the time. It's just the nature of communicating the creative and why you would do something over something else. I much rather teach about design than primary school that is for darn sure. It is nice however, to be friendly with so many former students who are all now adults. I was VERY young when I started teaching - I'd just turned 23 so I remind myself of that when I run into sweet lil kids all grown up.

I'm on deadlines for KBIS and I will be honest, I'm struggling not gonna lie. I've already mentioned how unrewarding designing a concept space is for me on a personal level. It's having the wonky/bizarre/OCD/rule based restrictions that truly make what I do rewarding. You need parameters including budgets to help make making decisions all the easier. Being able to do anything no matter what the cost - well it's just not the same. Bloody hard in fact! So I write this instead of sketching. We are supposed to do some sort of rendering of the space. I don't believe in doing a big one for any design project. Too restricting if you have it all mapped out before it's done and I ALWAYS change my mind about something or derive inspiration where I'm not quite expecting it. Even more important is that if a client sees a fully rendered drawing then they are more likely to fixate good/bad on something either before you do it which can delay the process or after it is installed because of what was seen in that drawing. I prefer my sketches/renderings to give a mood/feel but not be too perfect. This makes for a much better reveal always!!!!

This is my concept for the eat in area in the kitchen. That Clarence House Tiger fabric on that settee.... hot DAMN I bet that would be tuition for an Ivy League College but who cares... indulgence & decadence win the weekend!

March 28, 2013:

Cookin in the Cottage Kitchen….

I'm not one to celebrate the out of doors or getting back to nature but I will confess to occasionally wanting a cottage in order to have a cottage to decorate. Silly yes?

We are working on a design plan for the living, dining and kitchen with our #HaliburtonCottage project.

The clients had Aya Kitchens design the kitchen and I'm hearing that it has been installed. However, the island is up for negotiation when it comes to the style/design.

Here's the concept sketch for the kitchen done by Aya.

The island is supposed to be faced in barnboard but the client isn't loving the horizontal placement. She's mentioned vertical to me, so you know I've kiboshed that and said horizontal. However... I'm not entirely sure that this is the right way to go.

The client was using this kitchen by Sarah Richardson as her original inspiration. I have to be honest, this was my least favourite of her kitchens ever. I especially find the island schlocky. I also think it's entirely impractical. If you were to lean up against the front of the island, you're at risk of getting a splinter let alone catching your clothes.

This island on the Walker Zanger blog is at least running on the horizontal. The barnboard also looks like it was at least planed. Rough wood with small kids is a disaster waiting to happen.

I feel like the ends need to somehow incorporate an X into them. I also think that a cerused black walnut/oak that has been greyed is the answer too...

We need to work somewhere in this range... or we go for a totally different vibe and do a tongue and groove horizontal black or indigo bead board - but wider than a regular bead. Thoughts?

March 26, 2013:

Cottage Palettes

We are under the gun in terms of picking paint colours and we all know how much I hate picking paint colours without a palette in place. I may or may not have mentioned that while our clients' cottage is up in Haliburton here in Canada, they are living just outside of NYC. So popping by to review fabrics isn't exactly the easiest of things to make happen so we are doing it quasi remotely. 

Our clients love colour but I feel that we need to be subtler than we have been in their main residence. We also have two William Birch leather chairs to factor into the design. The leather is brown. I have plans for this though...

I'm obsessed with these chairs. I want to replace the seat cushion in the leather with a velvet seat cushion. I think we need to pull the outdoors in in terms of our colour palette. Greys, browns, inks, jades - mineral palette.

I love this Pendelton upholstered chair. Reminds me of this fabric from the Naturals collection by Robert Allen. I would love to lose the leather entirely and do something like this but that seems to be an unnecessary extravagance considering there are four children and leather is probably a good option. I should mention that the velvet I'm thinking of for the seat cushion is an outdoor velvet very kid friendly!

I am OBSESSED with this floral chintz fabric. The old cottage was torn down and a new one has replaced it but I can't help but think that this fabric harkens back to the old one. I lil bit of designer kitch. We need to find a huge chandelier for the living room area....  All of these have potential. The client had mentioned an antler chandelier but I'm so over those... HOWEVER a gigantic twig chandelier is always possible. I used one at a restaurant I designed that was up in cottage country. Great fun though there was always the risk of poking out one's eye. The big huge lantern is the same one as in my office. I adore it.

What to accessorize with on a colour scale? A jaunty red plaid? A little deer pelt or faux linx? Decisions decisions... what do you think? Follow along as I pin my inspirations over HERE.

March 26, 2013:

Progress Pics - #MHDstudio & Home Depot Canada


We don't however have a sink, which is kinda important. I know we've only been without sinks for a few days, but this is ALWAYS the point of stress that freaks out clients and turns them from sweet & accommodating into - I'll be frank - less than sweet and accommodating... I recall when we were without our kitchen in our house for a few days while we ripped out the old, replaced with the new all in time for a Style at Home magazine shoot, my husband was an absolute DRAGON. I can say that because he is, in fact, a dragon according to Chinese Signs. Where things get dicey with kitchen installs is the sequence of events. If you are missing one component, the entire projects screeches to a halt. You simply can't progress without it. Without the sink, we can't template the counters, without the counters we can't do the backsplash which means you can't really use the kitchen. This is NEVER the time to second guess the design (unless something is truly wrong or overlooked entirely and then you can by all means play catch up) just because. You start messing around at this point and you could add months to the process.

I should make a note about that as well. Very rarely, but it has happened, we've started installing something, only to have the client hate it and have us rip it out or stop the install. This is always a sticky situation. Of course we want our clients to LOVE everything that goes into their house and if something isn't working, then for sure it should be addressed. This is why we add contingencies into budgets. If you don't love it, hopefully you've noticed this beforehand but if not and you stop or interrupt the process you should budget at least a 20% delay in the timing of your project. It's like stopping something that is already in mid-swing. Adjustments have to be made and this ripples down the line. Schedules are booked, trades are booked, heck the people that need to pick up the phone and answer our call may be occupied with another client or project and can't return our call immediately let alone the same day. It all takes time. This is why planning and working with professionals is a value added component to any design project. For the most part, we're able to roll with the punches that come along and have the experience and where withall to troubleshoot but there are limits.

So the punches that we are rolling with - gables need to be cut down, the corbels that we picked for the microwave shelf, we prefer over on the opposite wall under the uppers, our flooring installer may have misjudged where the cabinets were starting so our installers need to build up the base/kick for the cabinets to hide the shortfall. Do I look worried? No, they can handle it. All issues were solved or addressed before they could even become a problem. The biggest problem that we've had thusfar (other than the sink not being here yet - selfishly I just want to see that faucet installed already) is who got to peel off the plastic on the cabinet doors between our installer and Celia. She won by the way....

Feels soooooooo good.

Voila. Isn't the reeded glass just the bomb? LOOK AT ALL THOSE DRAWERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A whole lotta Martha Cup love.

This is where the faucet will be showcased. I may charge admission prices.

My Blueberry cabinet for the bathroom vanity. LUST WORTHY!