Technically I'm writing this on a Sunday so it's more of a moody Sunday. Blame the carb hangover, potty training a defiant 2yr old & Hobbits, I'm looking at pretty pictures in an attempt to stay sane. Oh and there's a hockey game on the tv instead of my beloved Good Wife. So let's pretend instead that life is as glam as this board shall we?

Totally deserves a Gimlet non?

We're starting a new Salon Project. There won't be espresso, clean lined, ultra modern Toronto Hair Salon in this project.

Definitely want to add splash of Key West to the space... Key West meets Paris meets NYC with a hit of say Marrakesh? I may be traveling this week lots of interesting new projects taking shape. Hope your week is a fabulous one.

April 19, 2012:

What I’m Designing Now

First off - I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who shared yesterday's blog post. The response was overwhelming and I'm so glad we could get a dialogue started vs being relegated to whispering around a watercooler as someone suggested to me. I think that in this day and age when more and more people are calling for transparency, it's important that it goes both ways. If designers are expected to be transparent about billings & so forth, it's only fair that they be transparent about what hinders communication or the speedbumps we encounter running a business. Because it is a business and we are paid for it. Let's keep the dialogue going though - it's how real change and progress is made! 

Moving On.

I often find that there is this inexplicable ebb and flow to our Design Business.  Rarely are we engaged in both residential and commercial projects at the same time.  Without any actual explanation, if we are working on a major residential project odds are we aren't working on a major commercial project at the same time. I leave it up to the Design Gods to sort out but appreciate their working on my behalf to allow me to multi-task to the best of my ability.

Case in point. We've just finished up a very substantial residential project. Well it's 94% done. A few more things here and there and then it will be done. We've already had it scouted by one DIVINE magazine. Fingers crossed. (No need to beat around the bush, I'm a full on #GetPublished Trollope). As that was finishing up, we began our #SnugBistro project in earnest. Snug is set to launch in the next 3-4 weeks.

We're currently working on a few small kitchen projects one is residential the other is part of a larger office project that we are doing. We have some living rooms #BrowningAve & #Kingswood2.0  that are about to be installed and are in talks with several other commercial projects. Now the other day, I threw out to the Gods that I would love to design a Women's Boutique and I'm pleased to say that I did get a lil nibble on this. I would also like to throw out there that I'd LOVE to do a summer home/farmhouse restoration or mountain home in the next little bit.... you never know? I'm seriously dying to do a rustic modern farmhouse/family home. It's all done in my head I just need somewhere to install it all.

Redhead may be traveling though... we've got some amazing discussions and opportunities coming forward - Can we say #RedheadRoadtrip??

Bakeries, Hair Salons also on the agenda. Can not wait to knock your socks off with what we are plotting!

Ask and ye shall receive I have long since believed - that or threaten to go all Tonya Harding and voila Zac Posen happens!!

So there you have it.

To that end - here's my weekly snapshot of what is passing through my brain at the moment.

 

Thank you to The fabulous M at Waiting on Martha for her amazing Zac Posen contest that I LOST (still bitter) and to Camille for playing all nice and stuff and winning (still bitter) but most especially to everyone at Zac Posen who felt my suffering and decided to send me a lil somethin somethin to ease my pain (CAMILLE YOU STILL HAVE MY BAG - but I'm letting you borrow it mkay... for now).

April 18, 2012:

Time is ACTUALLY Money….

In this day and age of accessiblity and immediate interaction has respect & value for people's time/effort/energy/experience been forgotten?

Businesses are told they need a facebook page, a twitter page, a Houzz account if they are a designer, pinterest, google + and so on. One must be accessible or risk being passed over or overlooked for someone else who is available.

For me personally, it's been fantastic. So many opportunities I'm happy to invest the time into this sort of marketing. It can be a bit overwhelming at times but it has paid off threefold or more.

However, there is a trend I'm noticing that I need to address in a public forum because I don't know if people are aware of their actions and the ramifications. Allow me to step up on to my soap box for just a moment to raise this issue.

We have shared our work across many a platform and we love to be published. Serious thrill. As one would expect, we then get inquiries about our work. Now the, "OH MY GOD I LOVE YOUR WORK I MUST HIRE YOU" Inquiries.... ALWAYS WELCOME. Of course there is a caveat in that  - you need to be able to afford our services. The good thing with that though is that most designers will offer at least a consulting rate so even if you can't afford full service design, you can still benefit from their expertise and invest in some time spent consulting. Great.

Others however, are interested in specific product. The questions we get on our Houzz.com portfolio though truly boggle the mind. They stop only just short of saying "Hey, can you give me all of your resources, trades, specifications, drawings and designs so that I can go out and copy it without giving you any credit or payment whatsoever..." I mean they ask for this but not in so many words... Frankly, it's gotten to the point where I've considered pulling our account because I am so offended. Others have full blown discussions on your portfolio about how and where people can knock off your work for less. Has your jaw hit the floor yet?

Now other people are more practical and reach out and contact us directly through our office. Again, always enjoy the direct contact. Many people express interest in a specific item that was used in a project. Area rugs are a big inquiry from our projects. In the last year, my office - that is my staff (who I have to pay in real dollars they aren't independently wealthy and work for me for kicks) have to check stock, confirm pricing, look into shipping costs. They provide the prospect with a price and then we wait. And we wait some more. Oh and we wait some more. In fact, in the last year we have received dozens of inquiries regarding specific products and to date we have received TWO polite no thank yous. TWO. The rest of the inquiries we haven't even got a "OH MY GOD I HAD NO IDEA THAT A WOOL SILK CARPET THE THAT IS 10 FEET by 14 FEET would cost $20,000."  I am certain more than a few got a serious case of sticker shock. ::CRICKETS:: y'all :: CRICKETS::

As my mother would point out with implied hostility but still delivered rather politely - "How Rude."

Please also keep in mind that the time it takes to put that quote together for someone means time taken away from someone else. I hear my mom again.... more clipped this time though.

Now, I am guilty of occasionally not getting back to a supplier who quotes us on product. I have dropped that ball on more than one occasion. Reminds me I owe someone a note as I type this. However, since I have noticed this disturbing trend at our office, I am making it my misssion to send a note to suppliers as soon as we receive a quote that says the following:

Thank you So & So for your quote. We appreciate the time and effort it took to put it together for us. We will submit it to our client(s) for their approval and should they accept it we will follow up with a Purchase Order. However, if it is not successful, please know that your quote will be put on file in our office to be used as reference for the next project that we would be pleased to collaborate with you on.

Gonna lead by example.

Maybe it's because I have a rather round birthday coming up and I'm feeling suddenly old. Or maybe it is because now that I am a mother, I would rather spend the time with my son and husband vs working on a quote that won't get a response. My team and I do beautiful work. We enjoy working with clients to help them achieve more than what they have dreamt for themselves on their projects. That is the bar that we have set and will continue to work to exceed. If this is what you are looking for, then we would be thrilled to hear from you.

I need a gin.

April 18, 2012:

THIS WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE!

That's a pretty bold statement.

I KNOW.

I will warn you, this may actually be a blog about housekeeping.

I KNOW.

First I showed you blogs that featured my cooking and now I'm about to talk about housekeeping. Your worlds' are collectively spinning out of control right now. I get that. I'm a bit freaked out by it myself too truth be told.

Okay here's the dealio:

I was contacted by a fabulous PR peep to see if I would be interested in reviewing a product. I am not being paid to review said product I was simply given a bottle of the stuff to try.

Normally, I'm not really into that and I hate when blogs that I love and adore feature DIY series/product reviews/yada yada yadas. Annoys me. It's the blog equivalent of peeing in my Cheerios ya know?

However, this product tempted me because I was told that it was a stain remover.

You see, my household is a household of stains WAITING to happen. Stain causing items lie in wait around each and every corner just hoping to pounce on us. Specifically, my husband's shirt. WITHOUT FAIL.

You may have gathered I also have a 2.5 yr old son. He's mostly remarkably clean and stain free, the stain magnet gene hopefully having skipped his dna but he does love to CAUSE stains on other things. Ribena Knocker Overer. That's black current syrup for those not in the know. Okay so maybe he did get a gene or two from me... I um, well let's just say, in true diva fashion, I've knocked over more than the occasional glass of red wine. SPECTACULARLY SO.

So to say my interest was piqued would kinda be an understatement.

I was also enticed by the possibility of removing old paint marks and so forth...  ALWAYS a good thing to have in your back pocket as a designer let me tell you.

 

So here's what the sent me. Gloves Off. I like that. Previously, I've relied on Windex as my go to to remove things. It's not friendly on light coloured items as the blue tends to leave a bluish cast on items and it irritates my skin. I used to work making paint in Home Depot's Paint Dept years ago and Windex would remove fresh paint from say an exploding paint shaker (BLUE POOL PAINT IF YOU CAN IMAGINE) but it also didn't play very nice with my skin after I soaked the jeans I was wearing in addition to the pool paint. So a product that is environmentally and skin friendly + tough on stains. Go on you have my attention.

So we have these chairs. They have suffered terribly through three no wait FOUR moves. They were leaked on, stepped on and apparently written on too. I had resigned myself to having them reupholstered. Truth be told, we've draped a blanket over them because the stains were kinda embarrassing. Perfect for the test!

I sprayed them and sort of washed them until I got a slight lather with a damp cloth. There are three of the chairs all of them a mess. Some of the stains came out immediately. The ink - immediately GONE. I am not kidding when I say that these chairs have been stained for almost FIVE years now... so think set in dirt and grime.... are you ready??

Hard to see in the photos but seriously - they were so messed up, I had to hide them from my mother whenever she visited.

THE AFTER. EXACT SAME CHAIR there. I left them all for about an hour maybe two. To be honest, I actually forgot about them until I walked by one and the cream fabric SHON. Holy Farking SHizzballs.  The stuff didn't smell, didn't bother my skin in the least AND all of our chairs are pretty much in perfect condition. There were grease spots that I didn't think at first were going to come out but still the chairs were noticeably better right off the bat but after leaving them to dry... spot free.  Thank you Planet People for introducing me to Gloves Off. You may want to send me a case. I'm having red wine tonight.

April 16, 2012:

New Project Alert!!  #Fashion&DecorOffices

Exciting Times.

I mean seriously EXCITING TIMES. I just found out that our house that was in Style at Home's April issue was featured on Apartment Therapy today. Holy Wowsas Muchas Muchas Gracias!! If you aren't absolutely sick to death of seeing it (come on over for a bevvy & some lentils!) or you want to see their suggestions on how to nab my look for a bit less - go HERE.

In other over the top beyond fabulous news....

MHD has been hired to design the offices for Fashion & Decor - your soon to be latest addiction. You will be blown away by what they are doing in terms of taking Fashion & Decor pairings to the next level. My involvement with Founder & Editor in Chief Gretchen Aubuchon goes way back (okay it's only been a year but trust me when I say, we must have been related in a former life). We first met on twitter, then we met in real life at BlogFest and the next thing you know, I designed her sweet baby Lucy's (my future daughter in law) nursery. If you recall #ProjectNurseryFabulous last August (2011) we wrote a 3 part Client-Designer blog series for HGTV.ca. The room was only out done by the gorgeous Lucy who has totally grown into it's chicness.

The site will be THE authority on fashion and decor pairings. I've long since admired Gretchen's ability to match rooms/runway. It's like getting a blind revealed on a gossip site. I'm constantly oohhing and ahhing... And then she asked me to contribute some pairings. Folks it is NOT easy. Sometimes you luck you and it just falls into place but other times.... whooooaaa Nelly.

Gretchen & her team have been building the new Fashion & Decor site from the ground up and the space that they are using as an office is well... a challenge. I've been charged with the task of making it both functional and fabulous. Ready for a sneak peek?

You know it's going to be bold.

And there will be lots of unexpected.

Now I'm mum on details because I haven't even presented my ideas to the clients yet. Just working on the inspiration at this point. That & figuring out if we need to take the back off the house to expand the office vs build on a wing to the garage... I kid I kid.. okay maybe not. ( Note: I just got a note from Gretchen asking to see a mock up of the post before I post it. Where's the fun in that Gretch?)

Check out Fashion & Decor HERE.

If you want help designing your office either at home or elsewhere, please get in touch - we'd love to help you make it fabulous!