Musings

Design Cannot Happen On A Dime!

The request for help arrived in my inbox at 9am. “I’m not sure which of the two slipcovers you suggested I should order online”.

I’m leery of placing online orders, particularly for fabrics, as every monitors’ representation of colour and texture will undoubtedly be skewed. I had done my professional due diligence and had gone in person, the day before, with existing room inspiration fabric swatches and wall colour selections to investigate and choose the best option(s) for the slipcover. With a bit of discussion between Pottery Barn sales staff and myself (right hand and left hand were not quite connected), I eventually departed, satisfied that I had two choices of appropriate slipcover fabric swatches in hand.

I relayed the information to my client, knowing she was going to proceed with the ordering. My job was done, or so I thought.

Upon reading the email cry for help, I was curious where the concern and confusion was. After what I thought would be a quick online search, I became aware that the two swatches I had acquired, were not exactly those reflected online. Hmmmmmm. I dug deeper into the website fabric selection page which was not terribly user friendly as I had to delete previous comparison searches, in order to continue. Eventually, a box popped up on the left to start a PB online furniture expert chat. Excellent… an expert who will answer my question. With the PB slipcover fabric selection page open, I proceeded with my chat …. not once, but 5 times. Each time I scrolled the PB page to get exact information required, the chat would disappear so I decided to minimize the next chat, and it too vanished from my screen. The last chat expert suggested I call the toll free PB number to speak to a design expert. Surely a new expert could walk me through this confusion or at the very least, recommend which slipcover fabric I should suggest my client order. Cutting to the chase, I eventually did receive the help I requested and relayed it back to my client at 1pm.

There is no moral to this story. Instead, there is insight to be imparted. When a client hires a designer/decorator, the client remunerates for our knowledge and service, for our dedication and professionalism…and most certainly for our time. Two to three hrs were spent communicating back and forth with my client, navigating the online search, chatting online with experts and finally speaking with an expert. These are billable hours. I could tell you that the minutes that turned into hours spent problem solving this issue were an anomaly…. unfortunately, they are not. None of the time spent resolving this issue was expected or predicted. I could not stop the clock for what seemed like a ridiculous amount of non-design time incurred. The fact is, there was a hiccup in the procedure, and being a professional dictates that a certain amount of time is invested in a satisfactory resolution. I could easily have made a quick, uninformed decision, but I’m not in the business of crossing my fingers and hoping for the best outcome. My business name is associated with all my professional work and ALL of my business endeavours require, knowledge, service, dedication, professionalism and time.

I will not invest my business or my client’s time on shortcuts. Design cannot happen on a dime!

 

maureen

 

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Modecor, Gestation, Birth and New Beginnings

Today I realized that I have been living in NYC for exactly 35 weeks, almost 9 months…..very nearly the amount of time it takes to grow a baby.

Although I have been immersed with living in Manhattan and have written a few posts under the category ‘Canuck In NYC’, I have not been idle with my business Modecor Inspired Interiors. While I have been living in NYC, I have also been nurturing our condo ‘baby’…. gestation is almost complete.  The many backs and forths to Ottawa lately have been very fruitful, but somewhat tiring. We moved all of our stored ‘junk’ from the cottage to the condo last Monday….

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…..and I unpacked ….

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….. and in order to decrease the number of boxes strategically lined up in the library, I unpacked dozens and dozens of books and loaded them on the shelves, which now desperately need major editing, pruning and styling ….

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….but instead, I couldn’t resist adding our Moroccan area rug and our 30 year old antique-brass floor lamp and (aided by a friend) our new leather lounger to the library.  And with that task completed, I came back to NYC.

I have been fortunate to work on a few smaller Ottawa and Toronto design jobs while living here in NYC. I don’t have an office, in fact I don’t have a desk, my desktop computer or any of my valuable office resources in NYC, making it difficult, but not impossible to consult.  About 2 years ago, our Toronto friends Steve and Kelley were in the very beginning stages of contemplating a kitchen renovation.

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This 30 year old, extremely hardworking kitchen is not just getting a makeover, but a complete gut job. Kelley has not only provided culinary nourishment for her own family, but 40 daycare munchkins have sat in this kitchen and at this table for the past 25 years. Kelley is retiring next month and next week, a new kitchen will begin to emerge. I was thrilled to put pen to paper after getting these photos and kitchen dimensions, and do a super quick floor plan.

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Kelley and Steve wanted a drawing to outline where potential new and improved storage and counter space could be achieved. I obliged by spending an hour on this very rudimentary, to scale drawing.

While I have been in NYC, Kelley and I have corresponded about every option available to complete the new kitchen within their budget and timeline. Of course Kelley and Steve have done most of the leg work themselves, with long distance consultations and approvals going back and forth between us the entire time I have been living in NYC. They have hired a kitchen cabinet company and my original sketchy sketch has been tweaked and improved and a new floor plan provided. All possible questions and concerns have been addressed in order to provide Kelley and Steve the kitchen of their dreams. I highly approve 100% the direction the cabinet maker and general contractor are heading.

Right now, Kelley and I are discussing colour schemes, furniture placement, artwork and accessories for the adjoining living and dining rooms that will coordinate with the finishes in the kitchen.

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I was able to visit Kelley a few weeks ago. she had done her homework. Her dining table was covered in paint chips, fabric swatches, and kitchen finishes samples. Kelley LOVES blue! Kelley shall have blue in her new kitchen and throughout the main floor. The new colour palette is a huge deviation from their existing, and perhaps dated palette, but after 25 years and uber patience, it is time to move forward with a fresh scheme. It is time to depart from the functionally challenging kitchen. It is time for Kelley’s retirement and the beginning of a new life for Steve and Kelley.

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In other news, I will be heading back to Ottawa for the summer. Our new condo will provide the Ottawa home we need when going back and forth from NYC to Ottawa. We are very excited to be making this transition. And speaking of transitions,  gestation and growing babies, our grandson, Jaxson will have a brand new baby sister due to arrive August 1st. The very bestest and most important reason for me to get back to Ottawa.

 

maureen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Genesis of a Condo…Choosing Finishes

The foundation for the condo had barely been carved out before the condo buyers were requested to choose their finishes. Typically, the finishes you choose will be the backdrop or canvas for the other elements in the room. Finishes are long term and not easily replaced in short order, so choosing wisely at the get go is highly recommended.  Although I love grey and black and cool metals in contemporary spaces, for our homes, I have mostly gravitated toward warm decorative palettes. As I have mentioned before, I rarely pursue design trends, preferring instead to analyze lifestyle, style preferences and existing decorative elements. With this in mind I made my way to the sales office and to the wall of offered finishes to make my choices. When choosing finishes from a builder, often there must be compromises as the builder typically offers affordable standard finishes and more expensive upgrade finishes. Cathedral Hill is targeting a Leed Platinum rating, which means all the finishes, in fact, every single element involved in the construction of the building must adhere to the strict Leed Platinum guidelines in order to achieve that esteemed designation. There were essentially no deviations or upgrades for these initial finishes.

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Cathedral Hill offered four boards of choices for finishes, each board including the floor, quartz kitchen countertop and marble backsplash, bathroom vanity, corian countertop and porcelain wall and floor tiles. With new builds or renovations, I typically choose the flooring first as it usually yields the most real estate in any space, and can be the largest determinant of style, future finishes and colours. As mentioned, I wanted warm finishes and from the selections above, my package choice became very simple. Top left (or second left below) was the only direction I could possibly entertain for our space. Our flooring is not meant in any way to be a focal point, but is defined as the canvas where existing architectural elements, our view, furniture and area rugs, etc will become the focus. The med brown, engineered hardwood flooring was the perfect option from these four choices.

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With a bit of whining, I was able to choose an alternate backsplash tile beyond the package option. I did not want what every other unit was going to have as a backsplash….traditional tumbled marble in small geometric shapes that would have a lot of grout. I wanted white and textural, large tiles with less grout, and with permission, I chose the tile below.

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The next major element I needed to choose was our kitchen cabinetry style and finish. There were very few upgrade selections for cabinetry, but I did fall in love with this gorgeous cherry flat panel cabinetry upgrade. This was a MAJOR design element decision. The kitchen cabinets take up almost 12 linear feet of uppers and lowers on one wall and the 10′ island across from this wall, plus our pantry doors. I loved this cherry so much that I had custom bookshelves made for the library and wall paneling for the fireplace wall. Although there is no grout around the tile in this photo, I am so happy I stuck to my guns, whined and was able to upgrade to this backsplash tile. It’s clean, white, textural and contemporary. I also upgraded the hardware as the standard choices offered mostly cool finishes. I’m not 100% certain that I favour this hardware, but I had to opt from a few select suppliers who also offered matching hardware for our integrated appliances.

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Below is the Windmill Development sales office model bathroom. Although our two bathrooms do not have windows, and the floor plans, lighting, mirror accessories are different, these are the finishes that correspond to the board of finishes I have chosen. I was able to switch the finishes a bit for the main bath, which has a darker vanity and tile.

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In order to make our bathrooms different than the others in the building, I upgraded to sleek hardware, in brushed textured nickel for the master bath and a combo of espresso leather and chrome for the main bath, shown below. The bathroom walls were not permitted to be painted as all the bathrooms in the building have tiled floors and walls, without exception. Artwork, lighting, mirrors and towels and a few accessories will have to work their decorative magic in these bathrooms.

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With the finishes chosen over a year ago, it was time to move onto furniture selections, some of which I have been designing in my head for two years.  The designs have been committed to paper and are now in production.

Next on The Genesis of a Condo… Furniture …. Existing, New and Found.

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The Genesis of a Condo… The Seed

There is a lovely plot of land in Ottawa, and Anglican Church services have been held there since 1833. Where there was once a 50 x 30′ rudimentary church structure, there is now the gracious English Gothic stone house of worship,  Christ Church Cathedral. This designated Ontario heritage property sits on the bluffs at the edge of the Ottawa River.Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 10.50.06 AMOver time, land was purchased from the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa by Windmill Developments  and in 2012, construction work began on Cathedral Hill, our new home.

We bought our unit on spec in Sept 2011. The location of the proposed condo and the fact that the developer, architect and builder were striving for LEED Platinum certification, was extrememly appealing to us, but I knew I was going to be super anal about the floor plan. I inspected all of them, knowing immediately which ones were not suitable for us. I narrowed down our choice to one floor plan and one floor plan only…The Grande Portage.  I made a refundable deposit on two units, finally receiving notice that the unit on the 15th floor could be ours.

Yes, we wanted that unit, but not without making a few significant floor plan changes in order to enhance OUR vision of OUR perfect condo space and without breaking the bank.

Below, the original Grande Portage floor plan.

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…and my structural and custom change requests noted in red, on the floor plan below.

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1. With the removal of the sliding doors, the rinky dinky ‘den’ is going to become a larger entrance with a library wall and gallery wall…super sexy and functional with huge entrance impact.

2. The kitchen island is extended to 10′, the cooktop is now positioned on the island, the sink has been moved down the counter, the island cabinetry is almost flush with the counter width at the opening of the kitchen, and there is only room for 4 counter stools at the other end of the counter, which is where we will have most of our meals.

3. A 9’W, floor to ceiling cherry panelled fireplace wall is centred on the long wall with a contemporary 7′ electric fireplace recessed into the panelled wall.

4. Because I have a huge pet peeve about traffic flow and ease of movement, I have switched the position of the LR /DR. The bigger space closer to the kitchen is now for seating and the smaller space at the end is for less often used dining. I did this for several reasons, not least of which was that we will have full vantage of the fireplace and the view when seated or dining.

5.  There are now only two, instead of three bathrooms to clean…yeeehaw!….and we now have a proper laundry ROOM instead of a laundry closet. I air dry most of our clothing and will be using this room for that purpose.

6. I now have for the first time in my life…a WALK-IN CLOSET. I’m so so so excited, that I actually bought a girly-blingy pendant light fixture to hang in there.

….all of my structural requests as seen on a quick drawing by the architect.

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….and finally, looking the worse for wear, my copy of the floor plan showing my structural changes. Over time, there were other changes, made by the builder, mostly to the configuration of the Master Bath, that actually worked in my favour.

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Once I had the final floor plan, I was able to translate the measurements to scale and map out each room, thereby creating furniture layouts.

This takes some time, as I’m old school and do mine by hand. The scribbling and writing notes are visual cues for me to remember to add or take things away.

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This seed has taken 3.5 years  to grow, from the moment we bought our unit, until we took possession one month ago. During that 3.5 years, we have only been on site ONCE, a year ago, when the condo was a 21 story shell of itself. I cannot tell you how difficult it was for me, a designer, with a personal vested interest, not be on site on a regular basis to oversee  observe the progress being made at regular intervals. GRRRRRR…

However, we were able to drive by often, until we moved to NYC in Sept, and take exterior progress photos. I have made a video, but am having no luck uploading to my blog, so this collage will have to suffice. Enjoy….

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Next Chapter in Genesis of a Condo…The Finishes

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It’s a ZOO Out There!!!!

I have been living in NYC for almost 5 months and I have pounded the pavement almost every day in an attempt to acclimatize myself to the Big Apple. Manhattan, an island, is approximately 3 miles wide and 13 miles long. The Streets, like 42nd St run east /west. The short distance between streets takes about 1 min to walk. The Avenues, such as Fifth Ave run north /south and are a 1.5 min hike.  It is said to be possible to walk the north/ south intersections of midtown Manhattan… for example, 59th St down to 14th St, in about 45 min…if there are no interruptions.

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Manhattan is not large, but it is VAST!

 

I have learned a few simple, but extremely valuable lessons on why and how one should actually put one foot in front of the other and navigate the sidewalks of this magnificent metropolis.

1. Traversing on foot through Manhattan can be extremely fulfilling. You will witness something new on every venture.

2. You can literally bump into a cross section of the world’s various nationalities while strolling in Manhattan.

3. It is wise and healthy to walk. Since there are few grocery stores, certainly in midtown Manhattan, dining and imbibing in neighbourhood restaurants on a regular basis is de rigueur and also weight gaining. Walking not only encourages cardio health it helps to maintain weight health.

4. Walking allows you to connect with the very unique neighbourhood pockets, the very essence of NYC, which would otherwise be missed with other modes of transportation.

5. Getting from A to B can often be time sensitive, so adopting a RHYTHM to your stride is essential.

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Walking south on 5th Avenue at 3:15 pm.

 

6. BUT,  it has become abundantly clear to me that said rhythm is easily interrupted on the sidewalks of Manhattan due to:

  • construction and scaffolding which is abundant and extremely detrimental to your walking stride
  • tourists…since I don’t view myself as one a any longer, I’ve concluded that tourists need their own walking lane…. just saying
  • large bags and umbrellas are a huge interference
  • strollers and munchkins….in fact families and groups of friends that amble en masse….get a move on please!
  • all tour ticket sellers …they seem to be on every single corner … if you are seeking a NYC bus tour, or want to go to the top of  The Empire State Building, fear not, you will inevitably come face to face with tour ticket sellers.
  • the endless cell phone walker/talker…. They are so attuned to their own walking/talking rhythm, they fail to recognize the true and productive NYC stride
  • traffic lights at intersections… this is huge. If you catch one red light while walking a straight course, you will likely run into several more and your walking rhythm will be off kilter and several minutes will be added to your trip. My best advice for this is to change your stride and whip into a store for a quick browse
  • Christmas/Holiday Season do not attempt walking….in fact stay away…stay far away from midtown Manhattan, from at least the second week of December until the first week of January.

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7. Due to the aforementioned, a certain amount of dodging, sidestepping, weaving in and out and lane passing is inevitable, thus interrupting the rhythm

8. Traffic lights are intended to…..well, I’m not actually certain of their purpose, but I now know that when in Rome ….. pedestrians can cross against a red light but only if traffic is halted. Everyone else does it.

9. If your destination is several blocks north or south AND east or west, I encourage you to zig zag your way to your destination, thereby hopefully avoiding red lights for the most part.

10. There is an inordinate amount horn honking. I used to stop in my tracks, fearing I was the reason for the outburst. Being an almost 5 months in, seasoned NYC walker, I now chuckle at the absurdity of the continual horn honking cacophony.

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Manhattan traffic…. on a Sunday afternoon

 

11. Comfy shoes or boots are a must when pounding the pavement in NYC.

12. Remember that the destination is as equally important as your mode of delivery. Do stop and have a cup of coffee in the numerous cafes, a glass of wine in one of the fabulous bars, or a surprise lunch in a quaint bistro. You will overlook that it is a Zoo out there.

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THE CHELSEA

The Chelsea, another compact yet spacious Tamarack Model Homes town house, features mostly standard finishes. If you have seen the previous models, designed by Sonya Kinkade Design and Modecor, you will notice The Dover, The OxfordThe Madison and The Hudson had a selection of standard and upgrade finishes as a jump off to creating an affordable, comfortable and unique house that buyers could appreciate. The Chelsea was designed to inform potential buyers that choosing standard finishes need not imply that a home will be boring. In fact exactly the opposite was achieved. We decided this home would be our contemporary Black and White model. By adding tons of texture, pattern, warm finishes, themed artwork, wallpaper and elements of the unexpected, we created a home that surrounds and compliments the more affordable standard finishes.

The Floorplan

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The floor plan shown above is the mirror image of the actual Chelsea Model at Poole Creek. Because this was the model home chosen to have the least upgrades, very little was altered in this floor plan. The first floor fireplace however sports an upgraded floor to ceiling porcelain tile surround.  Unlike the other models, the raised counter on the kitchen island remained as did the standard fireplace surround in the finished basement.

The Finishes

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Choosing mostly standard finishes allowed us to maintain the allotted budget for the Chelsea model. Standard oak floors, laminate counters, flat panel doors, and porcelain tile were chosen for the kitchen finishes. The only upgrade in the kitchen was the glass tile backsplash.

Fabrics, Furniture and Accessories

Chelsea inspiration

 Living Room, Dining Area and Kitchen

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 Powder Room Wallpaper

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 Master Bedroom and Bath

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 Finished Basement

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 All Photography: Charlene Burnside Photography

The Eton model will be the next featured Tamarack Model Home

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The Madison

The Madison, the third single Tamarack Model Home at Poole Creek in Stittsville, is undeniably the most eclectic in it’s design. Sonya and I decided that each model home would have a designated $$$ value and a unique personality.  The smallest of the three singles, the Madison, had a $ value assigned which meant there were more standard finishes chosen. Thankfully Tamarack has a wide selection of standard finishes, but the unique and eclectic design elements woud be achieved with colour, fabric, furniture, lighting and accessory selections. We decided this home would be edgy with a blue, orange and white colour scheme. To follow along with the introduction of the model home designs by Sonya Kinkade Design and Modecor click here for a brief background, and the introductions of  The Dover and The Oxford  .

 

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A FEW CHANGES

To create more efficient traffic flow in the kitchen, we took out the peninsula with the raised counter and added an island with a flush counter. We also removed the cumbersome pantry wall dividing the kitchen and great room.  Wine cubbies, corner display cabinet and ceiling to counter glass cabinets were incorporated into our design. The island counter was dressed in solid walnut, while the perimeter counters were upgraded with quartz.

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THE FINISHES

The entire process for choosing every single design and decor element for each model home began with the finishes selection. Below are the final Madison kitchen finishes. All other finishes throughout the model where chosen to coordinate with these. The Shaker white cabinets, Mirage, cream/white subway tiles and the Mirage Savanna Maple floor are standard finishes. The Snowden White Quartz and Walnut Butcher block are upgrades. We felt it was important to show potential Tamarack clients that combining mostly standard finishes with a few strategic upgrade finishes will yield a fabulous end result without breaking the bank.

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FURNITURE, ACCESSORY AND COLOUR INSPIRATION

As mentioned above, The Madison was dressed in an up to date white, orange and blue palette. Pattern, texture and colour with a strong dose of natural wood and warm finishes  ensured that The Madison’s spacious and open floor plan would have comfy, family appeal. Below are the original mood boards depicting the look we were going for.

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FABRIC CHOICES

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LIGHTING CHOICES

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THE COMPLETED MADISON

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Photography: Charlene Burnside Photography 

Designers: Sonya Kinkade Design and Modecor

Builder: Tamarack Homes 

 

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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 Family Room After

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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.

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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.

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