February 28, 2011

Today is the last day of my 28th year. What a year it has been. Here's a couple of highlights:
  • Started this blog and joined twitter in a effort to get myself out there
  • Met an amazing and supportive group of local designing women whom I now consider great friends and mentors
  • Met Kimberly Seldon, who was hugely inspiring
  • Got a new job that hit all my checkmarks
  • Bought a new house
  • Travelled to Palm Springs, Seattle, Portland, Vancouver and Toronto; I think the most I have ever travelled in one year
  • Knocked 4 things off my life list, not bad for it's first official year
  • Got a fabulous haircut
  • Bought my first piece from Holt Renfrew
  • & I think I mastered Hot Chocolate
All in all, I'm pretty happy with how it all turned out. And now on to year 29...

February 26, 2011

Our new sectional sofa for the media room is due to arrive in a couple of weeks, so that room has now been pushed to the top of my list. This room is in the basement, and has no light, which is why I have never shared pictures of it. There is one tiny window, and that's about it.

I do have a pretty clear vision of what I want down there. The basic colour scheme is Chocolate, Cream and Magenta! We have a nice chocolate brown wool carpet down there, and I'm going to use my favourite brown to paint the walls and ceiling as well. Because it's a media room, my hubby want's it dark, so that's what he going to get. Searching for a sectional caused us a lot of grief. We have a 3' wide stairwell to get it down, and then a tight corner to turn, with a really low ceiling. It was very difficult to find one that would fit. In the end we found the Domino Sectional would fit just right, and ordered it in cream. We also ordered a unit from BDI, which are my favorite for media storage as they look great but have tons of features to support your equipment.

We still need to get a coffee table and some accent pieces, but those will come in time. Right now I'm focusing on the art that I'm planning to put in there. One wall is going to be a photo gallery for personal photo's. I'm not big on having lots of photo's of us around the house, but it's nice to have those memento's somewhere. I though the media room would be a good place, as it's also a more personal space. On the other wall I want to have art that reflect's the entertainment part of the room, and I have been searching for art that is inspired by our favorite movies and musicians.

Some great websites to check out for posters like these are:

February 24, 2011

Life List: Be on the Board of Directors for an Organization

I like being in charge. That's kinda why I do the profession I do. I get paid for my opinion on a daily basis. That's pretty great. But there are lots of things in our lives that could use improvement, and that's why I wanted to be on a Board of Directors. I want to make things happen, and change things for the better.

So my alma mater, Mount Royal University (formerly College) announced the Annual General Meeting of our interior design alumni chapter. I've always wanted to get more involved with the program there. I think that working in the profession has made me realize just how much you don't get taught in school. Plus I love talking to students and sharing my passion for my job with them. I love having a job where I can tell students that I do truly love my job, all these years later. So I went to the meeting wanting to get involved, and I did. I got elected to the Board. Cool. It's funny how easy these things are sometimes.

February 21, 2011

Last week I got to meet the 10 cent designer. Finally. I have been following her pursuits forever, first on Flickr and then through twitter and her blog. We had some great conversation, and talked a lot about the power of blogs and how it was great form of media. Honestly, I never really thought about blogs that way. But it struck a cord with me, and I've decided to make a couple of changes around here. I want to share some more personal day to day stuff, and not just posts relating to my home design. This blog was conceived as a way to share "all the stuff in between" and I'm going to move forward with that in mind.

simple pleasures: homemade hot chocolate

A couple of weeks ago I was really craving hot chocolate but had none in the house, and didn't want to bother getting in the car to buy some. But I did have cocoa and I did have sugar. So I headed over to Martha's website and found a great recipe.

3 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 1/4 cups cocoa powder
1 tbsp salt
milk, for serving

Sift cocoa into a large bowl. Whisk together with sugar and salt. This mixture can be kept in an airtight container until needed. I recommend cute glass jars.

To make hot chocolate whisk together 1 cup of milk with 2 tablespoons of the cocoa mix. Heat on the stove in a small saucepan, or in the microwave in a mug. Top with mini marshmallows, whipped cream, or a bit of grated chocolate for an extra decadent treat.

February 20, 2011

I've been listening to this song all weekend. Love it.

Heaven's on Fire by The Radio Dept.

February 19, 2011

Photo of Me, Circa 1985

I have a bunch of little projects I want to get to this weekend and writing them down is the best inspiration. So...

1. Finish painting office closet.
2. Buy shelving for office closet and pantry.
3. Install shelving for office closet and pantry.
4. Buy filing cabinet for office.
5. Sort out coat hanging solution for office closet.
6. Buy hooks for pantry.
7. Source area rug for pantry.
8. Put all the office stuff into the office closet.
9. Take Margot to get her nails clipped.
10. Buy dogfood.
11. Buy bulletin board supplies.
12. Make bulletin board and hang.
13. Sort out what items I need for trip to Hawaii!
14. Buy items I need for trip to Hawaii!
15. Do not dispair when I can't find sunglasses that I like.

Between the party I'm headed to tonight, and some recreation time that I also want to put in this weekend, I think this is very doable. What are you planning for your long weekend?

February 18, 2011

One trend in design these days is a return to the basic & utilitarian. I really appreciate this movement, that focuses on tried and true standards of the past. And I think that kitchens in particular are a great space to incorporate these ideas and details.

When we moved into this house, I was a little disappointed that the kitchen had already been renovated. But I decided to live with it, despite not being what I would pick for myself. It features dark brown flat panel cabinets with stainless steel hardware, black polished granite countertops, and a great series of appliances from Fisher Paykel. Oh, and the dirty yellow walls that I am such a fan of. I love the appliances. Everything else, not so much. Here are a couple of photo's for reference.

The renovation was done well, but frankly, it's really boring. Everything is just square and flat. I'm a very textural person, and the lack of detail here drives me crazy. It needs some personality. I feel like I've seen this kitchen a thousand times in condo magazines, and I hate that. So here's what I'm planning to do, based on the fact that I also don't want to spend any money on this either.

1. Paint the room a nice bright white. You can see the pantry beyond that we painted last weekend. What a huge difference. This will immediately open the space up.

2. New lighting. The lighting now is terrible. Two of the undercabinet fixtures don't even work. I often say that lighting is the most important tool in the designers box, so to get this right, I am willing to make the investment. We will need new undercabinet fixtures, and I'm planning to add 6 potlights over the perimeter worksurfaces. Then I'd like to rip out the three existing pots, and replace them with a couple of pendants, to light the island.

3. New hardware. Those flat pulls drive me crazy. You can't hook your finger under them to open the cabinets. More often I just grab at the bottom of the door to open. I am cursed when it comes to replacing door pulls, as they never seem to have a standard screw placement. So my trick is to specify longer cup pulls that cover the existing holes.

4. New backsplash. I feel that of all the finishes existing in the kitchen, this is the easiest to change. A simple subway tile backsplash will help to create some needed pattern in the space, particularly if we use a contrasting grout.

I would also love to get the counters honed, as the polished black shows everything. But that's a maybe item, depending on the cost. Other than that, adding a few great accessories should help to bring everything together.

Vintage Clock

February 17, 2011

All this talk of chocolate the past couple days has reminded me of some beautiful chocolate shops that I have come across lately. I've been wanting to share these for awhile, but now seemed an appropriate time to showcase them all together. You know, while you munch your way through a heart shaped box of confections.

From the WonderWall website:
"The theme is "Chef's Table in the Kitchen." The entire establishment is rendered as a chocolate kitchen, with a table placed within to accommodate invited guests. Covering one of the walls are 56 different types of chocolate blocks, tastefully placed in glass showcases."

Le Maison des Maitres Chocolatiers
Brussels, Belgium

The concept for this space evolved from the idea of chocolate as a gem, which explains the faceted appearance of the walls and ceiling. While the dark chocolate colour of the walls, floors, and ceilings suggests a cave like environment, the facets reflect the light at various angles, which opens up the space. The fine reveals also suggest the break marks in a bar of chocolate.

Harajuku, Tokyo

From the WonderWall website:
"This is Godiva’s new concept flagship store. Godiva’s idea was “treat thyself”. Wonderwall’s intention was to add a breath of fresh air to the more traditional image Godiva instill. The shop features humorous design details such as the “melting chocolate” ceiling combined with the primarily classical interior design. The boutique’s popular and fashionable location of Harajuku has also been considered in the overall design. Passers-by can view both its entrance as well as the customers enjoying their time with chocolate on the second floor cafe."

February 14, 2011

In the spirit of St Valentine, I thought I would showcase a couple of fantastic restaurants that feature pink in their interiors. It's really an underused colour in my books. These examples below all look stellar. And the menu's aren't half bad either.

February 13, 2011

Oh, wow. I totally went off the rails there didn't I? It always happens when I take a trip, work comes back with a vengeance. Oh well. The vengeance is done, and I can get back to my regular schedule.

This weekend we are tackling some of our storage issues. We have an unfinished closet in the office that needs some shelving and will house all the office supplies and the printer. We are going to reuse the existing adjustable rack shelving that is currently in the pantry, because it's ugly and useless in it's current state. So we have ripped the pantry apart, and are redoing that as well. The idea is to make it into a butlers pantry of sorts, with lots of open shelving for storage. Stay tuned...

Another quandary that I am pondering is our delightful fireplace in the office. Here is how it exists today.

It's the only thing that has been left of the original house. The only thing I dislike about it is the horrible colour. And I'd hate to rip out something that reflects the original integrity of the house. So I've decided that a lick of paint to hide the orange is all it needs. Now I just need to decide what colour to paint it.

Here are a couple of images that are tugging me in all directions:

White is my first consideration, but is it a bit safe? This image is a good idea of what a simple white fireplace will look like, against the black walls.

Pow, Whop, Bam! Look at those colours! My mind is reeling. It big risk but big impact.

Care to weight in?

February 2, 2011

The most exciting thing for me when I visit design shows is always the more conceptual exhibits, and IDS11 didn't disappoint. This year the installations were entitled Sibling Revelry, which featured designer siblings creating spaces together.

The first space was called the Green Bunker by My and Thien Ta Trung, who operate the design studio, Periphere, and their shop, Domison, in Montreal.

My and Thien created the most conceptual space in the exhibit featuring free form upholstered stool, sculptural plants stands, and a textural paper installation.

The second space was designed by David and Glenn Dixon, from Dixonhouse in Toronto.

The inspiration for this space was the story of the 1000 paper cranes. The ceiling was finished with lattice work, from which the 1000 paper cranes were suspended. The quality of light within the space was really beautiful, and it was hard to believe you were in the middle of an exhibition hall.

The third space was designed by the Brothers Dressler, who operate a woodworking studio in Toronto.

The space perfectly reflected their vision of repurposing and up-cycling materials by combining all sorts of salvaged wood pieces in unique ways. Some forms were more raw salvage, like the exterior wall made up of the old windows. Others were very refined, like the furniture pieces you see below.

The last space was designed by Sarah and Theo Richardson, of Sarah Richardson Design, and Rich Brilliant Willing respectively.

Obviously this space was most popular, as both siblings are super stars in the design world. This space appealed to me, because it was the only one where the siblings came from very different design aesthetics. I loved seeing the contemporary lighting and furniture from Rich Brilliant Willing's line, juxtaposed with Sarah's classic eclectic style.

So which was my favourite? I'm gonna say the Richardson Siblings was the space I most responded to. I loved that they created three small spaces, I loved the pops of colour, and the eclectic mix of pieces that were used in the space. Maybe it's the obvious choice, but it certainly hit all the check marks for me. Yes, it wasn't as conceptual as some of the others, but maybe I'm not as deep a thinker as I claim to be. Besides, I think it's always best to follow your gut, and I just felt happy here.