Monday, January 12, 2015

The Australia Project - The Evolution of a Space Plan

Design Plans and Kitchen Concept for the Australia Project, by Carol Reed Interior Design

While its not out of the ordinary for me to travel a few hours drive to a clients weekend retreat or summer cottage, or even have the opportunity to fly back and forth to work on a project in Manhattan… being asked to design a whole home renovation on the other side of the world is not a request I get every day.  In addition to my full-service projects I've always oferred a selection of limited e-design services for homeowners across North America but I limit this type of consulting to single rooms only.  Last year I made an exception when I took on the whole home re-design of a residence in Australia, as a hybrid full-scope/e-design.
One of the homeowners whom I knew from Toronto is an expat now living in North South Wales, Australia.  She’s a newlywed (married an Aussie!) they're first time homeowners of an older style bungalow in need of a modern overhaul. They both travel a great deal for work so embarking on a home renovation would require the ability to do much of the consulting virtually - and this is where I came.  We knew each other when she lived in Toronto and she has been in some homes that I had designed, there was the comfort level of working with someone from home, and knowing I had experience in long distance projects.  They reached out and a couple of skype meetings later we began the process of re-designing their forever home.

Kitchen and Dining Before.

Before we could delve into new finish materials, design details or furniture, we had to start with reworking the floor plan.  Here’s a look at the floor plan I started with. Its single storey, with no basement, and an attached garage (to the left side of the house), the back of the house and balcony overlook a beautiful green conservation area.  The windows across the front and sides of the house are partial height, the windows across the back extend to the floor.  Lengthways from one end of the house to the other, the ceiling slopes up to a centre peak.
The house was very divided with lots of interior doors and there is no basement or attic space.  The main objective was to update all the fixtures and finishes as well as create a more open concept  living, dining, cooking space. A dedicated storage room had to remain as well as a home office large enough to accommodate two workspaces.  Lastly a new master suite was on the must have list.  As for finishes, they wanted sleek, modern, all white, and natural wood floors with the addition of colourful artwork and accessories.  

When I first reviewed the plan and the exterior photos, my instinct was to move the kitchen and dining areas to the back part of the house so they could enjoy the view and direct indoor/outdoor access.  Below is a look at the final layout we arrived at….

The new plan provides them with a long open concept great room, with slope cathedral ceiling and views overlooking the conservation area.  New retractable doors will allow them to have an expansive opening to the exterior and new sliding doors directly off the kitchen so they can access the bar-b.   The den has ample room for both of them, an oversize sliding glass pocket door allows them to close it off when they have company.   The laundry is combined with the storage room and will have a futon for overflow guests who need a place to crash (beyond the two spare bedrooms).   The main hall bath gains a vanity with storage and a tub shower combo, the master ensuite gets a sleek walkin shower with trough drain and floating vanity and the 4th bedroom was converted into a maser walk-in closet.

I know from experience often the first reaction people have when they see floor plan is to critique it, and often wonder "why is that so big, or why is that so small" or think "what if we move this here and that there?".  I think that's natural and expected, especially if you weren't part of the planning process in getting from a to b.  Its the reason I don't ever present a client with just one layout - because even if they love it, they'll wonder if they are overlooking any other possibilities. There are some Designers who believe its best to present one solution only, but this method never served well for me despite how confident I might be with any given plan, I believe clients have expectations of being offered choices.  I like to present only the best options and let them be involved in making choices from there.  There is never just one way to slice up a space and the possibilities can vary greatly in budget and personal preference.  Below is a glimpse of where I started reviewing layouts with them and where we ended up at the final new layout. 

_ _ _

The first concepts were based on their idea of moving the laundry out of the kitchen and into the main hall bathroom (stacked units) in lieu of the existing shower stall.  Besides the obvious disadvantages to this placement, it had some benefits worth considering.  (At this point we weren't exploring the master bedroom changes until the living areas were determined.)

This concept was the least amount of change, but still offered lots of improvement with a new centre island kitchen opened up to the living room.  Initially this was the extent of the renovation they had envisioned before contacting me - a new kitchen with a bigger opening to the living room.

Some more walls came down in this layout to further open up the kitchen, dining and living rooms and get more exposure to exterior views and light.

Next even more walls came down.  Sections of the centre wall needed to remain as its the main supporting wall.  Although not noted in this sketch the laundry would again be in the bathroom. What was lacking at this point was a larger home office (Study) and the laundry situation was still being debated.

The next three concepts explored the idea of placing a stacked washer dryer to replace the hallway linen closet, allowing us to add a larger vanity with storage into the main hall bathroom with the tub/shower combo. 

This one was getting there but the main concern was still the Study was too small, and ideally I wanted to explore the idea of putting the kitchen along the back of the house instead of the storage room….

This was getting really close to where we finally ended up but the need for a larger laundry area was being realized. 

And this was the almost final layout.  The laundry was combined with the storage room, and also a futon for the occasional overflow of guests. When we began the space planning the intent was that all the windows and exterior doors in the house were being replaced and the exterior re-clad in a new finish.  We intended to work with all the existing window locations as is but the homeowners were also investigating if they could increase the amount of windows across the back living room wall.  But because of the bush fire hazards in their area, their local by-laws (and property insurance) restricted them from changing their window configurations/sizes at all.  Which meant this kitchen plan, requiring modifying a window to work with the fridge,,,was out.    

So one more round of tweaks led to this final layout below (also shown earlier in the post)…...  
 The final kitchen layout ended up being a U shape with centre island.  After the engineer's review, we had to also incorporate a supporting stud wall immediately to the left of the sliding doors beside the fridge so this area got squeezed a bit smaller.  This new plan gives them one large living and entertaining space with cathedral ceiling, direct access to the balcony and wonderful views.  The double office has lots of natural light, and its wide entrance flows off the main room, and their bathrooms and closet space were upsized and enhanced. 

So I hope you enjoyed this peek into the space planning process and how we arrive at any particular final floor plan with a client.  Taking the client thru this process assures them they have made the best possible decisions and they move forward with confidence, even if the scope of the renovation doubled (!).   Following this space planning we developed the details for the kitchen and baths and selected all the new interior finish materials and fixtures compiled into a set of working drawings (which involved working in metric and learning some new jargon!).  I''ll share more of the design concepts in another post.

 G'day ; )

All drawings and images by:  Carol Reed Interior Design Inc.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Alterations: Seaport Holiday Shopping

Gingerbread display in shop window, Lunenburg, NS

Clearly you can tell by the date of my last post,  I'm a Designer not a blogger!  Its hard to believe its been 2 months since I've been back with any updates.  "Alterations" is a fitting theme for this post.  My attempts to write a post always fall to the bottom of my to do list, especially this past year as my personal time has been consumed by our house "alterations".  At this point our alterations don't look nearly as beautiful as this gingerbread house - I love the symmetry and simplicity of this and I'm dying over that bric-brac detail!  On the technical side, I'll be making "Alterations" to the blog and transferring all the content over to a new site in the new year so part of me has been postponing (or procrastinating) any updates until that's done.  I'm desperately in need of a simpler platform for blogging, hopefully the technical changes will allow me to write posts faster and more frequently.  In the meantime, Christmas will come and go before that happens.

I'm always get captivated by the holiday spirit and the natural beauty of the season.  So although I have a back log of projects to post about I'm feeling more in a holiday mode than work mode right now and I can't resist sharing a little holiday spirit while I have the chance....

Storefront window boxes adorned with pine boughs and berries.

We're spending the holidays on the East Coast this year and last weekend we went into Lunenburg for a bit of shopping and lunch.  There is no town more charming than the seaport town of Lunenburg (a UNESCO heritage site)  known for its colourful heritage buildings that are tiered up high overlooking the picturesque harbour.  Its not a place that sees many tourists in the winter so I thought I'd share some images of the town all dressed up for the holidays!

The sign taped to the door says, "Merry Christmas we are sold out of scallops".  Not surprising since they are known to be the best scallops in the world.  The back of this building overlooks their fleet docked along the waterfront. Their bright red and white shingled buildings are iconic landmarks of the harbour.

I'm not one for organza bows but I liked the placement of the sprig of berries which gives this wreath a modern vibe.

The Lunenburg Furniture Company. No holiday decor but the red door on its own is pretty festive.

Not only my favorite shop in Lunenburg but one of my favorite buildings too.  This distillery is located in a former blacksmith shop, the late 19th century building is one of the towns most noted landmarks, and has been carefully restored to maintain its original character.  Ironworks Distillery.  (Unfortunately this daytime photo doesn't depict the festive lights in the windows.)

I'll admit this is a favorite place of mine, for the product and the interior.  130 year old timber and beams.  Hand crafted spirits made from local ingredients and distilled on site in a copper still.   The smell of a wood fire…

The still is quite a sight and occupies a prominent corner of the retail shop.  Standing next right to it you can taste sample and purchase some holiday cheer.  Also, their bottles, labels and packaging are so beautifully designed.

With this much colour, you don't need to anything more than greenery and white lights!

The beautiful, Pentper General Shop.  The grey on grey gives this heritage building a contemporary vibe. (sorry for the reflection which obscured the gorgeous pinecone wreath.)  Pentper.
 The shop was closed when I stopped by the other day, this image is from a previous year... a peek at the heritage-meets-modern simplicity inside The Pentper. 

If the buildings aren't brightly coloured, they are high contrast black and white.

Hope you enjoyed this photo tour of some holiday style in Lunenburg!

 All Photos:  Carol Reed

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Portfolio Archives - Master Ensuite Before & After

Photo by Donna Griffith, room design by Carol Reed Interior Design

Looking back at portfolio images its hard to believe I designed this bathroom 7 years ago and I just realized its never been posted on the blog before.  So to elaborate on a little throw-back-Thursday instagram post, I thought it was a good opportunity to share more photos about it here.  This Master Ensuite was part of a top to bottom renovation of a 3 storey condo in mid-town Toronto.  Although it wasn't a complete gut reno like the main hall bathroom, the master ensuite modifications were designed to work with a couple of existing elements.  There were three things that remained untouched; the cararra marble tile floor, a walk-in shower (not visible but is located to the left of the tub in this photo) which was tiled floor to ceiling in the same marble tile, and a small mirror medicine cabinet.  Since so many years (and computers) have passed I've lost track of most of the before photos but I think you can see from the one before image below the extent of upgrades that were implemented.

Master Ensuite vanity before.

Master Ensuite After, room design and photo by Carol Reed.

I designed a new double sink custom vanity, mirror and tub skirt in macassar ebony. The vanity and tub were finished with a cararra marble top and a pair of rectangular undermount sinks.   A feature wall above the tub was designed to create a beautiful sightline as you approach the bathroom thru a hallway from the bedroom.  The back painted glass panel reflected a lot of natural light from the skylight and glowed a beautiful and serene watery blue at night.   This room photo was taken by me a year or so before the top photo of this post (professionally shot).  

Preliminary Concept Sketch of the tub feature wall.

Master ensuite after - room design and photo by Carol Reed

This last image is another shot taken by me, on the same day as the professional shoot and illustrates the difference in how much better the professional images are.   I hope you've enjoyed the peek at one of my past projects which has never been seen on the blog before.  Despite how many years ago this was designed I still love it as much today and know that it can continue to stay fresh and modern looking thru the simple change-up of accessories.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Karen's Kitchen: Canadian Living

Karen in her new kitchen with her chicken Cuddles.  Photo by, Donna Grffith
At long last, welcome to Karen's kitchen!  Words cannot describe how excited and proud I am to see Karen's kitchen renovation featured in the currrent issue of Canadian Living!  If you follow Karen's wildly popular blog, The Art of Doing Stuff, you've no doubt read her updates about the more than year long renovation and seen some sneak peeks along the way.   Not only have Karen and I been twitter and blogging friends for several years, I'm honoured to say she's also an E-Design client of mine.  I was fortunate to work with Karen on her kitchen design from the initial planning stages of the project and helped guide her through the inevitable and various design dilemmas along the way.  Karen had a great vision right from the very start along with some very challenging space issues - with her great sense of style, her resourcefulness, her diy skills,,,,and a little help from me ; ), I think the the transformation is nothing short of spectacular.  Its truly satisfying to see a plan and a vision come to life but to hear how much she loves, loves, loves, her new kitchen is the most rewarding part of all. 

Canadian Living, October 2014

Not only does Karen look stunning posing with Cuddles in her new kitchen (that dress!), but she wrote the feature too.  I hope you'll enjoy reading the full story and all the before and afters along with sources in the current issue of Canadian Living, on stands now or you can purchase the digital version thru Zinio.  You won't be disappointed.

You can read more about the planning phase of the kitchen, including the before and after floor plan, optional layout plans and the design requirements,,,in an earlier post I wrote last year, here.   

For more info on my E-Design services for kitchens or bathrooms 
please check out my e-design website

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Before & After: Boathouse Facelift

Boathouse Kitchenette

As the first long weekend of summer arrived I was wrapping up a 2 day long visit to a clients summer cottage in Stoney Lake, Ontario. The trip involved bringing up some small accessories and taking note of remaining items needed to finish off various rooms. I made a big effort to get some progress photos while I was there. One of the last spaces I snapped before I retured to Toronto was the boathouse - sooo as this summer's final long weekend has just come and gone, I thought i’d revisit where I was on the first summer long weekend.   How has the time gone by so quickly?

Boathouse Kitchenette - Before

The interior of the boat house is just one big square room with a bathroom in one corner and a kitchenette in the other.  The entire interior was clad in knotty pine, the floor was covered in broadloom, the lighting and fixtures were dated,,,but with its soaring vaulted ceilings and lake views it had great potential for a simple refreshing makeover.  Loads of white paint, new pine plank flooring and a few new but vintage style fixtures were all this charming boathouse needed.  Its one of the lighter renovations I've worked on because it was purely cosmetic but it was a dramatic one, thanks to the magic of paint.  It was an easy decision to paint over all the wood, but it was a big job!

Boathouse kitchenette - After

I have to admit I cringe every time I hear people say that paint is such an easy and inexpensive or "quick fix" solution.  It suppose it can be compared to gutting a room and rebuilding or, if say you're doing only walls and those walls are 8' tall and you're painting a light colour over a light colour and the walls are in good shape - sure, you can paint an average size room in couple of hours and do it yourself.  I've done a LOT of painting in my time and I see professional paint quotes on a regular basis to know that properly painting an entire house is neither cheap, quick, or easy especially when it comes to painting ceilings, trim work, railings, windows, doors, stairwells and tall vaulted ceilings.  Factor in patching and repairing damaged walls and covering up dark colours or knotty pine, and you have a major job on your hands.  If you don't do the proper prep work, it will be a expensive disaster.  If you're an ambitious DIY'er say goodbye to many months worth of weekends or, call in the professionals.  So while I would describe this as a simple makeover - it did take a small team of trades people to make it happen.

The boathouse whitification in progress
We left almost all of the wood in the main cottage unpainted so I had carte blanche to paint over as much of the knotty pine as I wanted to in the Boathouse, and I intended to paint it all except the countertops.  Since this boat house only gets used in the summer months I wanted to give it a bright and airy summery vibe.  The painters had their work cut out for them, but I was ecstatic to see the progress and its transformation to white taking place...the white paint on the wood planks creates a great texture as all the grooves become shadow lines - so you still have the wonderful effect of wood panelled walls and plank ceiling.

See, you can still tell its wood even though its white everywhere!

The boathouse kitchenette - After

Unfortunately I can't seem to find a before picture of just the kitchenette (see before photo above) but here you can see how utterly charming it is now with a fresh coat of paint. I added a new white sink, gooseneck faucet, globe pendants and a wall shelf (not yet installed). The wood counters were perfect just the way they were and are a really great feature against all the white cabinets. The new pine flooring compliments all the white, looks rustic and is obviously much more practical than broadloom. 

The furniture is almost complete, all the main pieces are in but some occassional pieces and accessories still needed to be moved in.  We briefly contemplated white slipcovers but didn't end up using them here, this one was headed for a reading nook in the main cottage.

The best part about the transfomation is that the all white interior does a standout job of highlighting the incredible lake views. As there’s no heat source or insulation, the boathouse will get closed up soon but the main cottage gets used right thru the fall.   This was a such a departure from my usual reno projects but I hope you enjoyed this little peek at what was such a fun space to re-imagine.  Coming up in the next posts I’ll share some peeks of the front hall, the kitchen makeover and the master ensuite.

The view from the dock

Check out the boathouse bathroom before & after.

All Photos and room design by:  Carol Reed

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Before & After: Cottage Guest Bath

At the risk of overloading my blog with traditional cottage style interiors I'm going to catch up on posting some before and after pics of the Stony Lake cottage project before the end of this summer.  I completed the cottage last year...and returned this spring to get some updated photos, but there are a lot of rooms!  You can check out my first post on the project here.  Most of the reno work involved the kitchens and bathrooms.  The cottage is relatively large and has 5 bathrooms in total.  You can see the boathouse bathroom before and after here,,,and today I'm posting the first of two bathrooms in the main cottage that I'd like to share.  The objective for all the bathrooms was to update the finishes and fixtures and keep the demolition and new construction to a minimum.  All the new materials and fittings would have to be readily available from the local building supply store (and nothing custom, nothing special order).   In addition to 2 ensuites the cottage has 2 hallway baths that are shared by several guest bedrooms. This before and after is the larger of the two hall bathrooms.

Bathroom Before
This hall bathroom's finishes and fixtures were dated but the vanity was excellent quality and in perfect condition - it would stay as would the entire walk-in shower except for new chrome trim pieces to replace polished brass.

The very first thing I set my sights on replacing was the floor and wall tile outside of the shower.  With its tan tile and peach paint and beige corian counter, it was looking a bit 80's suburban and not very Kawartha's lakefront cottage.  Because the wall tile in the shower was less prominent and in excellent condition, I opted to keep the shower as is and splurge on updating the vanity area.  Below is a concept board of all the new selections.  

In addition to new wide plank pine flooring (also throughout the cottage), the bathroom makeover included new wainscotting, mirror, lighting, toilet, sink, faucets, accessories and a new quartz countertop.  Switching out all the polished brass fittings for chrome was an obvious update and pairing the chrome with white beadboard wainscotting and deep navy blue paint would amp up the nautical cottage charm. 

I drew up the details for a new wainscotting and mirror treatment from stock materials which the contractor made all on site.  I chose a new drop in style sink because its a simpler install and a bit of cost savings versus an undermount, the rim profile adds to casual cottage vibe as does the new vintage style single lever chrome faucet (the shower received the same new chrome trim pieces).  Rectangular chrome knobs give the vanity a fresh update.  I found a set of flower print towels at the HomeSense in Peterborough which were perfect for this room as well as the yellow and white bathroom on the other side of the cottage.

A pair of vintage industrial style chrome scones from Restoration Hardware flank the mirror and illuminate the room in a soft complimentary glow.  Excuse the bad photo they were incredibly hard to photograph as the room has no natural daylight so they needed to be on.

All that's left on the to do list for this room is to find a couple of framed prints for the wall above the toilet, i'm on the hunt for either a pair of vintage nautical charts or fern botanicals.  : )
But nonetheless i'm told its been a busy space this summer accommodating a steady stream of my client's family and friends.  

Note: Please excuse the inconsistency of the colour in the above photos, the original files aren't like this,  the images only appear this way once uploaded into blogger and I havn't been able to figure out how to correct it or come up with a work around - never had this problem before.  The true colour of the wood vanity and flooring is somewhere between the light and dark versions above.

All photos and room design:  Carol Reed

Monday, July 21, 2014

Picking A Paint Colour: Style at Home Designer Secrets

Thank you to Style at Home, I was thrilled to be participate in their special 100+ Designer Secrets colour issue, which hit the stands a while back.  I have to admit I had some difficulty getting my hands on a copy, the first one I had was left behind at a girfriends before I even cracked it open (and I never saw it again) then it took quite some time to find another copy on the East Coast.  Inside you’ll find some tips from myself and other paint aficionados on how to pick paint colours.  Its a a great topic, one of the major components of every project I work on is selecting all the paint finishes, usually for an entire house. So I thought this would be a great opportunity to elaborate beyond my tips included in the issue.  How and where to start when picking a paint colour?

Many designers will say that they pull the paint colour from a fabric, or select a paint based on the exposure of the room or chose colours from the homeowners wardrobe.  All common approaches when decorating an existing room.  But what if the space a) doesn’t have any significant fabric, or b) doesn’t have a window or c) the occupants vary in age, gender, and fashion taste.  Many times you can be in a position to have to pick a paint colour without having a significant fabric or persian rug to work with.  You can still lay the groundwork for a beautiful palette - if you chose the right neutrals you can layer in the colour later.

Because most of my client projects are renovations, often the paint colours for the entire interior have to be selected long before the homeowners and I have even contemplated new fabrics or area carpets or before they've accumulated an art collection.  Sometimes newly furnishing the space will follow a year or so after move in, sometimes only a few main rooms are decorated with the remaining to be completed over time.  Aside from those situations that are driven by time and budgets, there are many spaces in a house that often don’t ever have fabrics in them such as; bathrooms, kitchens, hallways, staircases or laundry rooms. The paint colour can spin off of a fabric story from adjacent rooms but that colour, primarily, has to relate to the hard surfaces.

Finish samples for a clients kitchen (paint top right).  The paint selections compliment the wood floor and cabinets, the marble backsplash and quartz countertop and stainless steel.

My process for selecting paint is always the same. It never starts with fabric.  The approach I take with paint is that its role is to enhance everything in the space (and the views outside) not distract from it.  First and foremost I take direction from the permanent surfaces and architectural details like wood, stone, tiles, metal, mouldings and in some cases broadloom. These are far more permanent than any fabric or wallpaper but are the foundation of the overall palette and have to be considered with every paint selected.  Secondly, I take into consideration the style and character of the home (Heritage or contemporary).  Lastly, the natural light and views - what is the setting, what is the view outside the windows. (The only exception to any of the above is kids rooms, its all about their favourite colour and making it work for both mom and child!).

All the upholstery fabrics chosen for the living room in this contemporary home were pulled from the colours in the stone fireplace.  The travertine stone tile was also used in the entryway and a guest bathroom.

For 90% of the interiors I design, I could happily work from a paint deck of nothing but greys and when I say grey, my definition of grey covers a wide spectrum from warm to cool, from almost white to almost black , from clear to muddy and with undertones that can make them read green, blue, beige, purple or brown.  Light and airy, to dark and dramatic, its all there.  Its in this spectrum that I always find the perfect neutral that works beautifully with the finishes of the house as well as more vibrant colours that could be found in the garden, fabrics or the painting over the mantel.  For walls, when I'm not chosing white I'm always drawn to the mineral, sky and watery greys.  I am least drawn to anything with a red undertone or citrus colours because I don't think they pair favorabely with most natural wood tones (typically golden or reddish woods) they don’t compliment or contrast instead they can clash with these woods or suffocate the room in one note. (This is particularly the case in Canada where we use a lot of wood floors, wood cabinets, wood railings, and wood furniture.)  Contrary to this effect greyed neutrals do the complete opposite, to my eye grey makes all other colours and materials look better.  Grey is anything but dreary in fact I love how grey brings everything in a room to life - nothing enhances wood tones, complements colour and is crisper with white trim better than grey.  It has the ability to make anything paired with it look modern and sophisticated, and that's why it has been and will continue to be my go to palette for picking the perfect colour.

The natural walnut floors and various feature stones inspired the paint palette for throughout the home.  The paint palette was a range of off-whites and greys,  contrasted by black metal window frames.
You can never judge a grey by the paint chip alone,,,these chameleons only reveal their true beauty in context with the whole of the room. Sample, sample, sample.

Whether you like your spaces neutral or colourful you'll find loads of great colour tips and advice in this issue, including my best tip on picking the right paint colour and what paint combo i'm coveting now.   If you haven’t see it yet its on stands until August 31st.

All Photos and Design (Except Cover Photo):  Carol Reed Interior Design

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