Modecor BlogBig Style For Small Spaces

Will There Be More Grey Hair?… An Update

Stuff is happening…lots of stuufffffff!!!!

If you recall, we are downsizing to a condo, which is currently being built and will be move in ready in late winter early spring 2015. I have spent many hours choosing finishes and designing new furniture on paper for the condo, with the plan to execute the designs this fall. Our unit is on the 15th floor, one of the units shown on the far left with the balcony under construction, with all the windows that butt up to the green. Our current home will go on the market when we feel the timing is right after conferring with our real estate agent.


I have also been working this past year with Sonya Kinkade Design on 7 Tamarack Model Homes. The original Grand Opening was to be this past February, which got moved to May, then Labour Day weekend and now mid September. SKD and Modecor have met every timeline, but there have been construction set backs which has meant furniture delivery was put on hold. We are now in the process of receiving the furniture and placing in all the homes. This has been a daunting task to say the least. Scheduled deliveries have been delayed, items are missing or incorrect, which means reordering, which means more waiting. We are also continuing to source the ‘finishing touch’ items such as mirrors, lamps, cushions, artwork and accessories. There are upwards of 45 rooms to be furnished and decorated before the Grand Opening…a huge undertaking but ultimately rewarding as we see the rooms come together as envisioned. Below is a very incomplete sneak peek of  the girls room in one of the models. Professional photos of the completed rooms will be on this blog and Sonya’s blog a bit later. You will be blown away, I promise!

IMG_0349  1

Skip forward to July 11th when my husband found out he would be headquartered in New York City for up to 3 years and perhaps beyond. Ok then…what to do? We decided to expedite the listing of our current home, help our youngest daughter purchase a condo that she will share with a room mate and sell the condo in TO. Did I mention that we were also prepping to host our annual Break Family Reunion at the cottage?  My new mantra …”let’s get her done and worry about how I feel about all this later”. After the announcement of my husband’s new position on July 21st…my prep jets came on full blast. I had to organize in my head the things that had to be done first and proceed in a methodical matter. Thankfully our temporary accommodation in NYC, a fully furnished one bedroom/bath in Manhattan, was being looked after by my husband’s office ….phew!

It must be noted that we were in a really great position in that we did not have to sell or move by a certain date.

1. prep for family reunion  weekend Aug 1st-4th

2. Contact our real estate agent ….THIS IS REALLY GOING TO HAPPEN ….NOW!!!

3. start looking at condos with Danielle…my baby is moving out on her own

4. begin purging basement and 3rd floor of our house…many many visits to Value Village

5. clean and tidy house for listing photos….has never looked so great so I hired my own photographer to take photos for my website

6. delegate my sisters to finalize menu for reunion…. we will eat very well

7. talk to agent about listing condo in Toronto …out of my hands, but need to strongly suggest to daughter #2 that she and her room mate start cleaning

8. don’t forget to eat three meals a day and go to bed at night ….also, wine helps

9. contact family and friends about our move to NYC … great responses, made me a bit teary

10.continue sourcing and shopping and set up of the model homes…I can do this, I LOVE doing this

11. proceed ahead without Mike being anywhere near Ottawa…I can do this too, have been doing this for 33 years

…and last but not least, Grammo and Grampa had been asked to look after Jaxson one weekend, which actually made all of this madness much more bearable. As you can see, someone likes to lick the espresso foam out of our coffee cups, and I can tell you right now, I am not the one who taught Jaxson this new morning ritual….We are sooooo going to miss this blue eyed, never sits still, sometimes likes to cuddle, makes the best facial expressions ever, almost one year old life changer. Sigh!

IMG_2190 111

So the family reunion went off without a hitch, except Mike got stung by a hornet which had taken a detour inside his baseball cap and not 10 minutes later my mother tripped on our pathway upon her arrival and ended up with a broken bone in her wrist. Despite her very swollen and incapacitated right arm, my Mother who turned 87 a day after our reunion, Aug 5th, was treated like a queen (and rightly so) by all members of the family, including my 88 year old father, all of her 9 grandchildren and her 3 adorable great grandchildren.


Danielle’s condo purchase was finalized the week after the reunion..yay! Our house went on the market August 6th, during our one week holiday at the cottage. On August 13th there were rumours of an offer. On August 14th, 2 more offers were in the works. On August 15th I signed on the dotted line…our house was sold within 8 days, no conditions with a closing date of Sept 30th. I was thrilled to learn that the couple who bought our house truly love it . For some reason, that put my mind at ease.  All of this was completed while Mike was in his NYC office, at the ready with a phone. I plan is to write a post about the process of selling our home. We had an excellent agent who walked us through the entire process.

IMG_2221  222

I have decided that for the next two weeks to concentrate solely on the Model Home set up. Next on the agenda…determine which furniture is stored for condo and disperse the rest to the girls. Although ‘I am Woman’ and I can do all this, I am not going to be a hero…I am hiring packers and movers for Danielle’s move, and our storage move. I hope to move to NYC with no more grey hair than I already have.


Screen Shot 2014-01-27 at 5.34.18 PM




Read more

Storage and a Log Wall Removal…YIKES!

I need more storage at the cottage. Not a lot of storage, just a bit. As you may know if you follow me, we are downsizing to a condo and some of our dishes will not be invited. I can’t bear to part with my red and white transfer ware collection…so I need a spot at the cottage to show them off. This beautiful antique pie cupboard will fit the bill. But I have to remove some logs before she will be comfortable in her new abode.


When I spied this pie cupboard in Almonte at Tin Barn Market, I knew I need look no further. It was close to the perfect size, had the character and history I was looking for and needs very little fix up. I am on the hunt for some vintage wire screening however.


She’s going here, on the right side of the post, where the irregular checker board is situated now. Notice the initials on the checker board…MC…top and bottom…Mike and Maureen Coates. I will find another suitable spot for this weird, but meaningful find.

IMG_2036.jpgProblem is, I need my new showpiece to be inserted into the logs so she will not jut out into the room. I’m especially anal about tight spaces and allowing for traffic flow, but I’m also especially anal about having this pie cupboard in exactly this location. In fact, this is the ONLY wall in the cottage suitable for the pie cupboard. Truth be told, I have never been fussy about ALL the log walls in the cottage, I wanted more painted walls, but Mike really wanted a ‘cabin’ feel, so I acquiesced…. for 8 years.

PicMonkey Collage.jpgThis is what I’m doing…..well in fact my son-in-law Jordan is doing this weekend, with my project managing skills. In the stairway leading down to the basement, he’ll be adding two new studs, and a header, taking down 2 original studs, cutting away the log siding in between the two new studs, trimming off  some of the bottom of the pie cupboard and inserting into place. I will then paint the exterior in Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and finish off with a dark wax. Very soon this sweet pie cupboard will be displaying my red and white transfer ware collection ….and perhaps a few home baked pies.

Screen Shot 2014-01-27 at 5.34.18 PM


Read more

Edit, Edit, Edit!!!

Designers are often hand holders. At times, clients who are very attached to personal items have a difficult time letting go. We as designers have to gently encourage the client to ‘remove the forest in order to see the trees’, as it were.  This past week I was involved in styling the living spaces of a home with Sonya Kinkade Design  where we literally removed the forest inside, in order to view the trees outside. The home is 30+ years old on a beautiful property in a rural setting, nestled along the Madawaska River. The task was to make pretty the living spaces (lower level) for guests arriving after a family wedding. There was no time for renovating or purchasing new furniture…a major facelift with paint and furniture and accessory arrangement would have to suffice.

Sonya specced one colour for all the walls and another for trim, purchased pre-made drapery panels, a few lamps, pillows and minimal accessories. The remaining magic was achieved through strict editing…..and this is where the hand holding came in to play.

Living Room Before

PicMonkey Collage.jpg.jpg 1The rooms have dark oak fireplace mantels and surrounds, trim and doors, all original to the home. The clients have an abundance of silk flowers, gifted accessories, Christmas decorations, dated prints, family and friends photographs and furniture. We were tasked to make the rooms appealing, on a budget, using what was available except for the minor purchases mentioned above. We were given carte blanch with regards to moving furniture and clearing out the clutter, however, we were very much aware that we were also editing some beloved items. When we arrived Tuesday, the painting was complete which made a HUGE difference to the overall look of the spaces. (The above photos show a jumble of furniture, where in fact, the furniture had been pushed into the middle of the room)

Living Room After



IMG_1981.jpgRemember, we were not designing a new spaces. No new furniture was sourced or bought. We were using existing furniture and artwork, books and accessories in order to update and redefine the space. The wall colour went from grey to cream. A few items of furniture were removed entirely and others were added to the space.  The original sheers were removed from all the windows and chocolate brown side panels now frame the large picture window. The side windows were purposely left uncovered. The views from the Living Room have now been capitalized…the forest has been removed to see the trees.

Front Hall Before and After

PicMonkey Collage.jpg.jpg 3This antique mirrored chest found a new home in the front hall. New candle sticks and candles are accompanied by existing carved wooden balls.

Family Room Before

PicMonkey Collage.jpg

 Family Room After



IMG_1990.jpgAgain, the view from the Family Room is spectacular and Sonya and I endeavoured to make it the focal point by editing the clutter to see the view. We removed all of the photos and tchotchkes from the mantel then reorganized all the books. The outdated and dusty ruffled valances were replaced with cream side panels on the picture window. Side tables from he Living Room were repurposed here. New artwork was hung and a few pillows were added.

The Side Hall Before and After

PicMonkey Collage.jpg.jpg 5Everything old is new again in this vignette. The desk lamp, books, framed print and metal sculptures were sourced from other rooms placed on the table to redefine this little nook.

PicMonkey Collage.jpg.jpg 2

Red wall begone. Armoire and surrounding space is completely edited. New light fixtures are still to be hung.

The clients were thrilled with the transformation. We’re not 100% positive that  the ‘forest” will not make it’s way back into these spaces. With encouragement and some hand holding on our part, we may have convinced the owners that their spectacular view is worth the continual editing.

Screen Shot 2014-01-27 at 5.34.18 PM


Read more

How to MacGyver Store Bought Window Treatments

Different clients have different budgets. Custom window treatments can take one of the largest chunks out of a decor budget and some clients prefer to use their budgeted decor dollars elsewhere and are comfortable resorting to store bought window treatments. Non-custom window treatments can be the perfect solution for many applications. I often suggest embellishment to semi customize store bought window treatments. Below is an example of how I had to more than embellish store bought treatments in order to make them fit.

The window treatments below (both sets) are ridiculously too short, by a whopping 10″. This budget bedroom window originally had a black out roller shade but the client wanted layered window treatments to complete the look of the window and bedroom. But even budget window treatments should fit the window properly. OYE!


Although the window treatment rod is hung close to the ceiling (as it should be folks, makes the room and window appear larger), if it was hung just above the window frame (horrors), these window treatments would STILL be too short. Hellloooo… Target, I’m suggesting you make your window treatments longer by at least 18″ to account for taller ceilings and decent hems. I solved this issue by adding an insert to the existing panels. The inserts for the grey panels came from existing IKEA off white panels and the inserts for the patterned sheers was achieved by buying one extra sheer to use as the insert.



To add inserts, and therefore a little interest without having to touch the hem. Yes, this can be done.

What you will need:  

fabric for inserts, sewing scissors, sewing tape measure, sewing pins, sewing machine, coordinating thread, iron and ironing board, a stool for removing and re hanging and an extra pair of hands (optional) to help with the rehanging.


1. While panels are hanging from correct rod height, measure from the bottom of the existing hem edge to the floor / carpet …these panels were too short by exactly 10″. Make sure your measurement allows for 1/4 clearance above the floor /carpet.

2. Determine where you want the insert to be. We decided to visually have it where the lower window frame begins, or about 1/3 approximately from the bottom of the treatment. This is really an arbitrary decision, but the insert should divide the treatment in thirds, quarters, fifths…NEVER in half.

4. We needed 10″ extra inches to achieve the proper height for the finished window treatment. But seam allowances must be included before cutting the inserts. I wanted 1/2″ seams. Therefore I needed to add an extra 2″ to the 10 ” for a total of 12″ unfinished insert.                                                                                                                                                          *1/2″ at TOP of insert sewn onto 1/2′ of  TOP existing panel = 1″ Plus 1/2″ at BOTTOM of insert sewn onto 1/2″ BOTTOM of existing panel = 1″ for a total of 2 extra inches*                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               ** keep in mind that the 1/2″ seam allowance needed from the top and bottom of each panel reduced the overall length of the finished panels by 1″, therefore, the insert ended up being 11″, but the desired total finished length was achieved **


NOTE: for the patterned sheers, I knew I couldn’t match the pattern repeat, so I cut the insert lengthwise, so the pattern would purposely not match. I measured and added enough length to include the two side hems to match the existing side hems on the panels.

5. The inserts were cut to 12″ and thankfully, the IKEA inserts were only slightly wider than the panels so a quick side hem was done to make them the same width.

6. To ensure the inserts was going where we wanted them, I pinned the inserts to the panel at the desired height which in our case was 28″ from the hem edge.

7. I then cut each existing panel at the 28″ from the hem. I pinned the TOP of each cut panel to the TOP of the insert and sewed the 1/2″ seam allowance. I then pinned TOP of each panel including the newly attached insert to the cut BOTTOM of each panel and sewed 1/2″ seam allowance.


8. I ironed the two seam allowances on each panel OUTWARD and then topped stitched on the RIGHT side, close to the seam edge, to hold in place.

Screen Shot 2014-06-06 at 2.08.31 PM.jpg

VOILA…semi custom store bought window treatments that are not only embellished, but are now the correct height.


Screen Shot 2014-01-27 at 5.34.18 PM

Read more

McGuire Furniture, a Stylist, a Photographer, and an Architect …BlogTourNYC

Our final day of Modenus BlogTourNYC was arranged by the lovely Franklin Eighth duo Tina Ramchandani and Sarah Sarna. These two designers had a jam-packed agenda for us, beginning with our visit to Treillage as mentioned in my previous post. In the afternoon we headed over to New York Design Center to visit McGuire showroom and have styling and photography sessions.




My arrival at McGuire was delayed due to a mix up with transportation, so I wasn’t able to take as many photos of their showroom as I would have liked, but I was afforded time to have a chit chat with Modenus 2nd in command, Flo Von Pelet and Sarah Sarna, which more than made up for our tardy arrival.  Besides, we were greeted with more champers. I must beg your pardon for this fuzzy shot.


Creative Director of McGuire Furniture, Jim Caughman introduced us to the McGuire Story and Legacy. I was not familiar with this furniture line, but I do have a huge appreciation for artisans and craftsman, and I shortly became aware that McGuire prides themselves on their workmanship. I was interested to learn that for the past 6 decades, McGuire has held steadfastly to their original heritage of combining outdoor elements with indoor comfort and elegance. Original owners, John and Elinor McGuire were committed to the highest standards of design and craftsmanship and this commitment is very much adhered to today. Attention to elements of design, including, proportion, scale, balance and form are enhanced with with natural materials and and exquisite textiles. Each McGuire product is handcrafted by trained artisans for maximum comfort and timeless appeal. McGuire has collections from Barbara Barry, Bill Sofield, Jacques Garcia, Thomas Pheasant, Robert Kou, Laura Kirar and Orlando Diaz-Azcuy. Comprehensive information on the these designers and their McGuire product lines are available on the McGuire website.  Below are examples of the craftsmanship valued by McGuire, designers and consumers …hand tied leather on the arms, beautiful wicker and luxurious fabrics, not to mention wood and concrete and leather.





The Stylist


Source: Raina Kattelson

BlogTourNYC learning expanded into the afternoon at the McGuire showroom as we were introduced to stylist Raina Kattelson.  I think in my next life, I would like to be a stylist. Raina, whose work appears in Country Living, and Thom Felicia’s book American Beauty not only styles food, interiors and lifestyle shoots, she also produces, designs sets and art directs photo shoots. We are somewhat kindred spirits as it turns out, I too used to design and sew clothes for my Barbie doll. As a designer, I certainly know something about styling, but I had no idea how much time and effort not to mention energy and brawn are required to successfully complete a styling effort. As you flip through a magazine, it is likely that every photo shown had a stylist who managed, arranged  and perhaps brought all the props to the shoot location…. in a BIG truck.  The stylist, after conferring with the art director, producer and photographer does her homework and brings every element to the shoot that will complete the look the art director is trying to convey. In the above photo, the table, and all the items seen on it, plus all the books in the background were styled by Raina…in fact, she may have brought every item to the shoot in order to have this space look precisely the way it does. The stylist needs to be prepared and will therefore ensure that many more items are brought to the location, than may ever be used.

Follow Raina on her award winning blog A Stylists Life at as she dishes about renovating a 150 year old house and other adventures in styling.


The Photographer


Michele Scotto Trani of Sequined Asphalt Studio is an award winning Architectural and Interiors photographer and she was invited by Tina and Sarah to guide us in a photography session on our last day of BlogTourNYC. Michele works with Architects, Interior Designers and other professionals in the creative field and her photography has appeared in several shelter magazines including New England Home Magazine. Takeaways from Michele’s session…

1. always use a tripod

2. consider the light source… natural light, open or closed curtains to filter light

3. lamp light can blow out the shot so should be dimmed or turned off

4. lights turned on can show up as a different colour

5. consider the view….do you want the view in the shot

…and Hellooooo…did you know there are camera lenses for your iPhone? … from Photojojo  I’m not sure I can wait until my birthday to get these.

Screen Shot 2014-05-22 at 4.51.42 PM


To read more about Michele’s photography, tune into her Tripping on Asphalt blog at                          

The Architect


Neal Beckstedt…. young, suave, debonair and a wonderful architect who launched his thriving business in 2010. His philosophy and mine totally jive….interiors are for living rather than for admiring. “The people should be the focus, not what’s around them.” Perhaps this philosophy was evident when BlogTourNYC visited Neal at his office. He was very generous and gave a wonderful talk about his young business, his clientele, his new digs, and his philosophy….he encouraged us to take photos of four of his project boards including plans and finishes, but preferred that we not take photos of the actual office space.  Neal’s website is super classy. Moving shots of his completed projects convey the Neal Beckstedt Studio story.


As you can see from these boards, his residential spaces are elegant, and modest, yet work in tandem with luxury finishes. Neal’s floor plan program of choice is SketchUp  , and they were very detailed, which surprised me a little as I thought Architects were more likely to use a program like AutoCad. I’m going to investigate SketchUp a little further for my own floorplans. I was thrilled to find out that Neal hires, Interior Designers and Decorators to compliment his architectural skills….they are a full service design studio.  No wonder clients such as David Lam seek and hire Neal Beckstedt Studio to design and complete there elegant spaces.


Thank You, again to Tina Ramchandani and Sarah Sarna of Franklin Eighth. It was a huge pleasure to meet you both and have you escort BlogTourNYC on the wonderful tour you organized for our final day. Thank you also to McGuire and Jim Caughman for welcoming us into your showroom and introducing us to your iconic brand. Raina Kattelson and Michele Scotto Trani for taking time out of your busy schedules to enlighten us about styling and photography…they both go hand in hand in designer’s lives. A delightful late afternoon spent at Neal Beckstedt Studio was a wonderful way to cap off our day, before our farewell BlogTourNYC dinner. Finally, words cannot adequately express my thanks to Veronika Miller / Modenus, her lovely daughter and right hand woman, Flo Von Pelet and all of the BlogtourNYC attendees who made this final day utterly joyful.

Screen Shot 2014-01-27 at 5.34.18 PM


Read more

Treillage, Bunny Williams and BlogTourNYC in Vignettes

Our final day with Modenus #BlogTourNYC was organized by Tina Ramchandani and Sarah Sarna of Franklin Eighth. More about Tina and Sarah and our final day of BlogTourNYC in my next post. After having the morning ‘OFF’ and spending it shopping with some of my new blogger buddies, we headed to Treillage, the store co owned by Bunny Williams and her husband John Rosselli. This is what greeted us at the door… IMG_8672.jpg…and this is what greeted us just beyond the door. Have I mentioned that we were treated like Royalty? IMG_1304.jpgBunny and her husband John have owned Treillage, a garden, interiors and antique store since 1991. I truly believe they have THE best job on the planet….sourcing, travelling and shopping the world to fill their store with antiques, artisan wares, unique pieces and whatever pleases their eye and design aesthetic. Are they not just the cutest couple? IMG_1293.jpg We were all eager to hear Bunny talk about Treillage, traveling, her design business and the four books she has written, but we were encouraged to peruse the store first. What a delight. IMG_8678.jpgThe potting sink at the back of the store caught my eye. I’m not sure we were intended to be back there, but I’m certainly glad I took the chance and snapped this photo.

IMG_8675.jpgLater on when Bunny was discussing antiquing and how to find that special something, I mentioned that I have trained myself to always look up and she readily agreed. Hence this photo of a wrought iron chandelier hanging from a skylight in the middle of the shop.  You never know what you will find when scrutinizing in every direction…up, down, over and under. IMG_8682.jpgWe were served a wonderful lunch as well. Beautifully displayed … I love this entirely unique table scape. IMG_8688.jpgBunny sharing her thoughts on travel, antiquing and her design business. One of my biggest take aways from Bunny’s thoughtful discourse was her advice that all designers should take drawing classes. Drawing or sketching helps train the brain to really see objects in their true form and in their surroundings. This translates into aiding the actual design process as you develope a sense of scale and proportion, shape and size etc. Great advice if you ask me….I’m a bit of sketcher now, but I might invest more time in this relaxing activity. IMG_1288.jpgAs mentioned before, I’m a huge vignette enthusiast. When done well and with purpose, a vignette can convey the love of a certain colour, or a theme, present a beloved collection, beckon you sit down and let a moment of time pass unhurried. Treillage vignettes not only exhibited the wares for sale, but also encourages the shopper to replicate the importance of vignettes in their own homes. IMG_1302.jpg

IMG_8676.jpgBunny Williams Home collection… Button Down Chest in Cerused Oak…..LOVE!!! IMG_1301.jpgThe mix of furniture, colour, texture and pattern compels the customer to sit for a spell. An example of Bunny Williams for Dash and Albert rugs completes this inviting ensemble. IMG_1300.jpgA trio of glass vases adorned with palm leaves is complemented with colourful tea light holders lamps and frogs. IMG_8687.jpg BlogTourNYC reflected in a mirror in Treillage. There are a variety of mirrors sprinkled throughout the shop and each one echos the image of another wonderful Treillage find. IMG_1299.jpgI did some shopping. I couldn’t help myself. I asked Bunny if she would sign my new purchases and she willingly obliged. I’m so excited to have these two books, displayed in a vignette in my living room. IMG_1286.jpg….and now Bunny Williams and I are like  X THIS X. IMG_8671.jpg THANK YOU, THANK YOU , Bunny Williams, John Rosselli , Tina Ramchandani, Sarah Sarna of Franklin Eighth and of course Modenus for this most wonderful shop tour, lunch and chat at Treillage.

More information on Bunny Williams Home website . More information on John Rosselli Antiques.

Screen Shot 2014-01-27 at 5.34.18 PM

Read more

Tess Casey and BlogTourNYC Classes

Be prepared to be wowed by colour in this post. I actually had to hold myself back and be super diligent in editing the photos selected to use here …. it could have easily become colour and flower power overload (if that’s even possible).

IMG_8576.jpgImagine being invited to go to New York City in March. Now imagine that invitation includes starting your day in the Chelsea Flower District at 9 am. For this ‘north of the 49th parallel’ designer, it was like Christmas, the births of my three daughters, and my favourite vacation rolled into one euphoric event.  On our first full day of Modenus #BlogTourNYC we had flower arranging classes with Tess Casey from Aisling Flowers. Providing classes for the bloggers was a first for any BlogTour and we blogger guinea pigs were excited and up for the task. We left our hotel at 8:30 am and proceeded to the Flower District, where we met up with Tess and her assistant Miles. Our education began immediately with a walking tour of some of the Flower District wholesalers. I could not get over the assorted bunches of flowers lined up OUTSIDE along the street. Thankfully there are no pictures of me …they would have certainly shown me with my mouth agape, catching flies or picking my jaw up of the pavement. WOWWW!!!



PicMonkey Collage.jpg.jpg 20We went from flower shop to flower shop. You can imagine this colour lover in a frenzy to take it all in after being starved of these glorious hues since October. I had left Ottawa with 3ft of snow on my front lawn and now I was walking in shoes, in a flower market that was drenched in every variety of flower and colour combination imaginable.


IMG_8618.jpgWe ventured inside several flower wholesale outlets and were again greeted with the most heavenly flower scents and sights. Every conceivable flower, florist wire, ribbon, container and accessory were displayed row upon row, shelf upon shelf.

PicMonkey Collage.jpg.jpg 2

PicMonkey Collage.jpg.jpg 6We were introduced to wrapped bunches of beautiful flowers. Florists and Floral Designers had likely been through the wholesale market earlier in the day….I mean, much earlier as in 5 -7 am. You need to get get to the Flower Market in the wee hours after the imported flowers have been delivered in order to secure the best flowers available

PicMonkey Collage.jpg.jpg 8 We were told that while the customer continues to peruse the never ending stalls and shelves of flowers, their previously selected flowers are put aside on check out shelves, just like the ones below.





IMG_1101.jpgWe bid farewell to the Chelsea Flower District and walked to Tess’s business, Aisling Flowers. I just knew from the sign on the door we were entering a very special space.

IMG_1064.jpgOh…look at that, Miles is behind the ‘bar’ preparing Mimosas just for us. I must say, we were treated like royalty on #Blogtour NYC


IMG_1060.jpgOur ‘classroom’ greeted us upon entry. HELLOOOO! Isn’t it lovely and bright?  Tess’s wedding dress is hanging between two windows….and why not?  And the ginormous pendants in the back corner drew resounding oouuu’s and aahhh’s from all of us. In reality, we were mostly speechless, drinking mimosas and snapping photos of this utterly fabulous studio.

PicMonkey Collage.jpg.jpg 43These pendants caught the attention of us all and rightly so, They were hand made by Tess and Miles. I can’t remember the number of man hours it took to complete, but it was a ridiculous number. They were constructed from hanging pot racks and adorned with regular ball chains found at any hardware store. Aren’t they magnificent? Now this is thinking outside the box that all designers appreciate.

More of the studio shown below. I love vignettes, and this studio was chock a block full of them.





IMG_1073.jpg Did I mention that Tess Casey is a floral designer for movies such as”The Devil Wears Prada”  and “Sex in the City”  ?  Above is the famous wedding scene where Carrie Bradshaw and Mr.Big have an altercation with the wedding bouquet. I believe there were 50 bouquets assembled for this scene.


IMG_1079.jpgIn the photo above Tess is explaining some of the ways in which flowers can be arranged with chicken wire, frogs, floral foam etc. Also shown in this photo, behind and to the left of Tess are the very generous Troy Hanson and Megan Reilly of WestEdge Design Fair. They sponsored this unbelievably informative day and wrote a lovely post about #BlogTourNYC and Tess Casey here.

Tess discussed everything floral including buying decorative garbage cans and using them as large receptacles, prepping flowers by removing all leaves below the water line, positioning flowers in a vase using scrunched up chicken wire, hiding stems in glass vases with coloured elastic bands and much more.  Below is a selection of succulents, orchids and greenery, which will be displayed on a mirror. SHARP scissors, and knife and floral tape are the tools required and are as necessary to a floral designer as the scalpel is to a surgeon.



IMG_1092.jpgThe props for OUR  floral designs are beautifully displayed

IMG_1095.jpgNO ONE exhibits group concentration quite like #BlogTourNYC. Tess Casey’s valuable floral lessons were put into practice. The result was an array of  at least 16 bouquets….each one slightly different than the next, depending on interpretation, floral additions and imagination.

PicMonkey Collage.jpgMy bouquet  above. I would create something entirely different given the opportunity again. Floral design is infinite!

IMG_1075.jpgTess was proud of each and every one of her #BlogTourNYC students.


A day in NYC and floral lessons I will never forget!

Thank You WestEdge Design Fair, Tess Casey and Aisling Flowers including Miles and Maria, Modenus and #BlogTourNYC….

Screen Shot 2014-01-27 at 5.34.18 PM


Read more

Calypso Soho and BlogTourNYC in Vignettess

How lucky were we? Two wonderful stores in SoHo on our first night AND more champagne. Calypso SoHo Home  was kind enough to invite Modenus #BlogTourNYC  into their wonderful store. I could have done some major shopping here, but that would have required another large suitcase and some explaining at customs upon my re entry into Canada. Calypso St Barth which has several boutiques throughout the US, opened in 1992 and is now recognized as a luxury lifestyle brand in both clothing and home furnishings. Travel, art and culture are the main sources of inspiration for the Calypso brand.  I encourage you to peruse  Calypso St Barth lovely website.


I’m a colour gal, but I found the absence of colour in the displays of furniture, art, textiles and accessories extremely soothing.  Please enjoy the following vignettes. As you will see, Calypso SoHo Home enjoys neutral and monochromatic schemes where pattern and texture take centre stage … with random pops of colour.








Yes, I did love our visit to Calypso, St Barth, and will I return. Thank you for feting #BlogTourNYC …we thoroughly enjoyed your lovely shop.

Screen Shot 2014-01-27 at 5.34.18 PM


Read more

Michele Varian and BlogTourNYC in Vignettes

IMG_8518.jpg Long time TW friend Michele Varian hosted Modenus #BlogTourNYC the night we all arrived in NYC. I had long desired a visit to Michele’s shop. What a magnificent treat for all of us!

IMG_8540.jpgMichele welcomed us into her gorgeous eclectic SoHo shop with champagne. Beginning an evening with champagne is a fabulous way to get to know new friends and of course, our hostess Michele. As you can see above, Michele and fellow blogger Marcy Michaud are sharing a tipple and having a special moment, as reflected in one of the many mirrors displayed throughout the store.

I was immediately inspired by the unique vignettes arranged strategically throughout the space. I’m a vignette lover…vignettes bestow a story. Michele’s stories begin with her original wallpaper and fabric designs on sofas, chairs and pillows, combined with art and doodads, tchotchkes and candle sticks, imagined conversation areas…you want to sit a spell and take it all in. You don’t want to miss a SINGLE tidbit in the carefully curated vignettes. This is what designers do best….they convey a visual story …. extract segments from various design elements and compose a space that is interesting and ultimately comfortable. Michele did this beautifully! Take a look….





IMG_8524.jpgYou must be sure to look up, or experience the disappointment of missing the heavy cardboard ‘Egg Carton Pendants’…

IMG_8523.jpg…or the white cotton masts floating from the ceiling above adorable animal prints and white crockery .

IMG_8543.jpgAnd if your eyes wander sideways you’ll catch the heavy planked swing dangling from two heavy ropes in yet another vignette. Perhaps if no one is looking, you may find yourself seated on that very swing.

IMG_8541.jpgMichele’s wallpaper artfully displayed.

PicMonkey Collage.jpgTables are adorned with black dishes and candlesticks and your thoughts dribble back to your own kitchen where your dishes are primarily white….hmmmmm

IMG_8530.jpgA colourful explosion of pillows on metal racks with a sentinel blue wire chair.

IMG_8531.jpgtexture, texture, texture…..


A warm, warm Thank You to Michele for welcoming #BlogTourNYC into your shop…. it truly felt like home. I will be visiting again.

If …no, WHEN you go to NYC, it is well worth your time to visit this unique shop in SoHo

  • 27 Howard St
    New York, NY 10013
    United States

    b/t Lafayette St & Crosby St in SoHo


More #BlogTourNYC Vignette posts coming….. Calypso, Aisling Flowers/ Designer Tess Casey, Treillage /Designer Bunny Williams, AD Home Design Show, McGuire Furniture…..

Screen Shot 2014-01-27 at 5.34.18 PM

Read more

BLANCO and BlogTour NYC

I have a big double sink in my kitchen, in fact I have a big double BLANCO sink. We are downsizing to a condo within the year and our kitchen sink will be downsized as well. I have never had a single sink in my kitchen…always double for me, but countertop space will be at a premium in the condo. I must admit I was having a wee issue with this soon to be enforced change. I use both sides of my sink every day…for food prep, washing, stacking and drying of dishes. I was recently introduced to two BLANCO sinks that may have allayed my single sink trepidation.

BLANCO ONE collection…three single sink sizes with coordinating accessories. Each under-mount ONE Single sink has a 9″ depth bowl, is made from 304 Series Stainless Steel and comes in Satin Polished Finish.

Untitled.jpg singl medONE Single Medium has 25 x 18″ bowl

Untitled.jpg super singleONE Super Single has 30 x 18″ bowl

Untitled.jpg XL singleONE XL Single has a 30 x 20″ bowl

Untitled.jpg acccessoriesONE Accessories fit each of the ONE single bowl sizes:  Magnetic Sink Caddy, Custom Grid for protecting the sink, Workstation for sharp knives, Ash Compound cutting Board, and a Multi Level Grid exclusively for XL Single bowl. The ONE kits or à la carte  accessories enable your sink to do double and even triple duty with ease while accessory integration allows for clean prep surface.

The second BLANCO Single sink I have become familiar with is the raised edge ATTIKA Steel Art™ sink. It is available in two sizes 20.5″ x 18.5″ x 8.25″ D  and  26.75″ x 17.75″ x 10″ D and is also made from 304 Series Stainless Steel, 18 Gauge Stainless Steel and comes in SatinPolished Finish. This drop-in sink is gorgeous and a must consideration if an under-mount sink is out of the question.

Untitled.jpg ATTIKANow that I have seen how glamorous and functional the BLANCO ONE and ATTIKA Single Sinks are, I’m confident that downsizing from a double to a single sink will be quite manageable. I do know that BLANCO is the chosen sink manufacturer for each condo unit, but I am not apprised of which BLANCO model. Stay tuned!

In anticipation of EARTH DAY, Modenus #BlogTourNYC was invited to do live videos with BLANCO, another one of our fabulous sponsors.  We were asked to join BLANCO PR rep Lori Dolnick in the DIFFA table displays area while attending AD Home Design Show. BLANCO has joined DIFFA’s Specify With Care® program in an effort to ensure that DIFFA has resources to help HIV/AIDS  organizations. BLANCO is donating a percentage of their sales from the award winning ATTIKA™ sink …as shown above… in their effort to support DIFFA’s fundraising goals. Lori divided us into 4 groups of three and each group was asked three questions.

1. What Earth Day or Earth Friendly tips do you have for home and for the kitchen? …to save water, recycle, compost, buy eco-friendly products etc. How can people save the earth every day?

2. If you were to compost or if you do compost –  what would you put in the BLANCO SOLON Compost System? How can we connect our indoor and outdoor environments more?… Composting inside to gardening outside.

Untitled.jpg solon.jpg

3. What do you do to connect with the outdoors in your home?

The four Earth Day videos are a representation of 3 questions asked with a wide range of answers. Twelve bloggers who live in varying communities from several US states and 2 cities in Ontario, Canada answered the questions with eagerness a variety of helpful tips, and solutions. I encourage you to view the four videos on  BLANCO  by Design  and enjoy our answers and the various ways in which we all endeavour to participate in Earth Day, EVERYDAY.  One thing was certain after the interviews….we all agreed that BLANCO SOLON Composting System was practical, great looking and a convenient way to encourage kitchen composting. My family is diligent about composting and our city, Ottawa, has a compost pick up service every week. Right now, our compost goes into a little brown bag fitting into a plastic container under the sink. The bag is removed when full and put into our outdoor green recycling bin until garbage day. It can be a bit messy. I’m seeing the benefits of installing a BLANCO SOLON Composting System in my house very soon, and hopefully in our condo as well.

A hearty Thank You to BLANCO for  Modenus #BlogTourNYC sponsorship and to Lori Dolnick for making all 12 of the bloggers “famous” in her Earth Day videos.

Screen Shot 2014-01-27 at 5.34.18 PM







Read more