Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Upload: March 2011

Its time for a bit of a catch-up post as its been a few months since I've done an "Upload" on the blog so I'm gonna try and get back on track.  I've dumped thousands of photos off my Iphone during that time.  This is a brief recap of my favorites and most relevant from job site visits to showroom sourcing to things around my studio or anything else that's caught my Eye.   If you follow me on twitter I post pics to my twitter account from my phone all the time, so some of these you may recognize.  Starting with the photo above of a floor lamp I couldn't resist.  I came across it a new store on Queen East called Mad, way back in early December.  It was intended for my own home but it now seems destined for a client's unless I can find something else (grrrr).  But first,,,off to be replated in chrome.

The dining room in my "Modern Love" project received its vintage danish rosewood sideboard and its utterly stunning, like it was made for the room.  We're now awaiting installation of the chandeliers, sconces and a starburst mirror, which happens next week.

Artist: Tom Reeves

When first time homeowner clients have large houses with what seems like endless amounts of wall space to adorn, I'm often left with no choice but to seek alternatives to original art and custom framing - as much as that's always my preference, its not always feasible for every piece.  For one space in a clients house I needed a really large oversize piece of art,  at this scale an original work just wasn't in the budget.  I went to PI Fine Art,  a gallery that offers both original art, reproduction prints and custom framing where I found this large limited edition giclee on canvas, mounted on masonite backing.  Its not cheap by any means, but its much more affordable than an original and represents the abstract style of art the homeowner is drawn to.  My client absolutely loved it from the scouting shots I sent him, now its been delivered, hung, and looks gorgeous!   

I've taken at least a dozen shots of this sconce, proposed for two different projects now, and clients keep saying no.  I don't know why? I really love it.  I've used the chandelier version before, stunning in a bathroom, but I've yet to use the sconce. 

I'm a bit crazy for these vinyl Italian shopping bags at L'Atelier. They'd make a great gift bag filled with gourmet kitchen essentials!

My go to for ready-made draperies, Invu, never disappoints.  I've bought at least 6 pairs in the past couple of months.  I like that they always have a large selection of both classic neutrals and prints in stock, offer two lengths of fully lined drapes, various header styles, they can sew panels together for you or hem if needed and ,,,,they sell all their ready-made drapery fabrics by the yard too. All in one stop, with limited time and budgets you can't beat this, its the next best thing to custom.  I just used the ones above in a clients dining room.

 I've snapped a photo several different times of this black and white botanical print at Invu. It has a hand drawn feel to me.   I have absolutely no particular use for it at the moment, but wish I did.

I love the combination of clean lines with natural texture on these woven dining chairs.  Shelter Furniture.

About once a month my best girlfriends and I usually gather for a girl's night in.  There's four of us, and we're all designers who each love to cook (and eat!).  I always start the evening with good intentions of taking photos because believe me, these ladies ALWAYS impress me with their food and entertaining style  - but I get so distracted with eating and drinking I end up without many photos!  I did manage to capture this incredible baby spinach salad my girlfriend made that had roasted figs, prescuitto, pine nuts, marscapone cheese and drizzled with a balsamic reduction.  It was fantastic!!! This was followed by the BEST home-made gnocchi and sauce I've ever had in my life, followed by a gorgeous baked fish in a pouch.  She's Italian and I've learned most everything I know about cooking and entertaining from her.  My favorite thing in the world is enjoying evenings like these with my girlfriends, I'm lucky to have done this a lot lately! : )

I've been searching for sputniks for various clients lately, I prefer vintage ones but havn't had much luck. I did come across  a selection of somewhat unique ones that were custom made for the movie Hairspray, filmed here in Toronto with John Travolta some years ago.  Not exactly vintage but a cool find none the less.

I use swing arm lamps in almost every space I design, they're super practical especially when you don't have a lot of table space or need flexible lighting positions or, have kids prone to knocking lamps off tables!  Plus they always look cool with their hinged and moveable arms, I love anything mechanical.  I first specified this one back in 2006 and am still using it today in clients homes, it appeals to me now as much as it did 5 years ago.  A pair of these will be used in my 'Modern Love' project's family room.

I'm a bit obsessed with Antique brass light fixtures and hardware, this fixtures a beauty I hadn't seen before so I couldn't resist snapping it for future reference.

I am captivated by the beauty of winter but last week we were officially 3 days into Spring and enduring one of the biggest snow storms of the winter.  I look back at this photo I took on a job site before or during the Christmas holidays and I can't help but feel its been the loooooongest, winter,  ever.  Months later, winter has turned to spring yet the view still looks the same.

Inspecting and tagging batches of stone tile in the supplier's warehouse.  One of the many unforseen and often underestimated factors of designing kitchens and bathrooms (or anything else with natural stone products) is the incredible amount of additional time it requires to sample and approve the material.  Because there's so much variation between what you see on the display board in the showroom, and the sample pieces given to you and what's in stock at the warehouse, the inspecting and approving of the material can be a lengthy and time consuming process. If you're lucky the supplier you're working with has a batch or slab that meets your approval and is in stock when you need it.  If not,,start all over again searching other supplier's warehouses to inspect their lots. Then with tile, once you finally get it on site,,,,the designer needs to supervise a dry layout, and cross your fingers everything is good and you don't need more material.........

During a blustery winter day it was a pleasure shopping for fireplaces, I'm mad about these these modern wood stoves by Morso and dream of owning one, keeping it going all day long with an iron kettle on top always ready for a cup of hot green tea - heaven!  End of March and I'm still dreaming I had one.

My favorite spectrum of tinted greys.  The range of undertones here is so varied, to me there is nothing boring or plain about grey, I use tinted greys to suggest a colour rather than going literal with a colour.  Many of these tones will be used in the 70's bungalow I'm currently working on.

I've concluded that there's a huge void of contemporary exterior light fixtures available on the market.  For some reason, if you're looking for anything other than heritage anitque style, the only other  choices seem to be Arts & Craft style or uber Modern.  This one above is one of the most 'transitional' ones I've been able to find,,,,,the search continues.

Have I mentioned I have a thing for bowls?  This vintage teak bowl tempted me, and I've vowed if its still there the next time I visit the shop, its a sign that I need to take it home. : )

During a search for a shag rug for a family room I discovered there were a LOT of shag rugs out there that just didn't meet the basic criteria.  Softness was key, no shedding was key, as was the ability to vacuum (not rake).  Most of the wool ones were suprisingly rough to the touch and others had large chunky strands that weren't vacumable and were just rather odd to walk on.  The long shags in the photo above are the current rage, I'm seeing them everywhere but I wasn't loving their 100% polyester content.  Although they offerred the most gorgeous texture (like long flowing grass) and were soft, the colour ways weren't working with the space I needed it for and am concerned about not only vacuuming but static buildup....(?)

I've photographed this head vase about a dozen times.  I just love it.  

This is truly what my vehicle looks like on any given day.  In fact this was a loaner car, my new car arrived a couple of weeks ago but its not as big as the loaner car was,,,,or my previous car.  The good news is my days are shorter because the car fills up quicker!  Getting a new car with smaller cargo space is a self-imposed method of reminding myself everyday that I am NOT a delivery service - 'Delivery Guy' needs to be added to my speed dial asap.

And the winning shag carpet was deep and plush and ultra soft.  Made of two tone varying width strands its a 100% nylon specialy treated to be extra soft and its non-shedding as well as easy to vacuum. 

Another girl's night in,,,,,this time an Egyptian smorgasborg.  My girlfriend even had hand carved wood camels on the table brought back from a trip to Egypt a few years ago.  I cleaned my plate and had seconds and thirds,,,,it was that good.  If your vegetarian, you'll love the wide assortment of vegetable dishes and their incredible flavours.

There's probably nothing I angst over on a project more than lighting,,,I'm particular about finding fixtures that make just the right style statement for a space and have some originality to them.  I'm insanely crazy for mid century Italian inspired fixtures however my clients don't always share my love and appreciation for them.   I try and 'enlighten' them nonetheless by showing them some beautifully unique finds but this one above, wasn't winning any of them over (I'm both amazed and disappointed they don't trust how beautiful this would be in a finished space).   I wanted it immediately when I saw it and even though none of my current clients opted for it I went back to buy it anyways.  But of course it was gone.  Did I mention I saw it for sale in another showroom for 6x the price. Grrrrr...

We went on an antiques roadtrip on Family Day,,,I came across one of the largest set of dishes I've ever seen, there were more than 12 settings which filled up this entire cabinet.  I've been on the hunt for a set of antique or vintage china for myself and finding quantities of more than 4 or 6 settings is challenging.  This casual set wasn't what I was looking for but I wished I had a client for them - they were bright sunny yellow but the colour didn't show well on my camera at all.  

Do you like this light fixture? I actually really like it.  But I find the price tag of $13,000 a bit baffling (no pun intended) particularly in a showroom that also sells $34.99 and $99 fixtures, the price point just seemed so out of place.

So now I realize this was a ridiculously long post which could have been split up into at least a dozen individual posts!!  I'm determined to start posting less, more frequently. : /    Next up will be some progress photos from the 70's bungalow redesign.

All Photos:  Carol Reed

Friday, March 18, 2011


 Dromedary Sofa designed by John Derian for Cisco Home

I can't believe its been 4 months since I returned from a week long trip to New York City and I have yet to post even half of my photos!  It was such an overwhelmingly inspiring trip that I find myself looking at the photos over and over again on my computer, almost forgetting that most of them I haven't even shared on the blog yet.  Before visiting NYC I had heard so much about ABC Carpet & Home it was legendary, needless to say I had it on my list of 'must see' places.   As things turn out, on my very first day in NYC my travel companion Michelle and I ended up there late in the afternoon and even enjoyed drinks and dinner at the adjoining restaurant Pipa, with its decor designed by ABC Home.

Pipa Restaurant

Pipa has an incredible ambience with its exposed brick walls, reclaimed timber tables, candlelight and hundreds of crystal chandeliers hanging from the ceiling (all for sale, with price tags), they serve a great tapas style menu along with their specialty, sangria - two designers couldn't have found a more perfect place to relax, eat and drink while we got to know each other in person.  It was a stroke of luck we just stumbled upon this gem completely by co-incidence and had the place to ourselves when we first arrived but by the time we left, it was a fully packed house with a long lineup out the door.  Apparantly we were doubly lucky with our timing!

That first day walking thru ABC it was all just a blur, so overwhelming I just got a taste of everything and vowed that I'd come back for more.  Later in the week I had an afternoon to myself while Michelle was working at a clients so I headed back to the Flat Iron district and spent a leisurely couple of hours browsing all the floors of this home furnishings emporium.  Just when you think you've got me pegged as a modernist, let me tell you how crazy I was for this collection of plates displayed on the wall - it was so stunning in all its vintagey antiquey traditional gloryiousness!!

Without question my favorite find in the entire 10 floors, were these hand blown glass pendants by Cisco Home.  In fact the entire Cisco Home Collection sent my heart racing. What impresses me the most about Cisco's collection is not only how simply, utterly gorgeous it is (I dye!!) but that their product is hand made to be 100% sustainable.

Jug Lamps, hand made, blown glass.  By Cisco Home.  Each glass jug is unique, they're made in various glass colours.

Simply beautiful.  My idea of lighting perfection.  The 'stopper's at the top of the jugs are made of wood.  The smokey grey and the blue glass (shown in top photo) were my favorite.  I'm hoping to be able to use them in a project or my own home one day soon....

Cisco Home is based in California where they have eight locations in addition to one location in Florida and one location in NYC.   They pride themselves in offering petroleum free upholstered products, and state that their furniture is hand crafted and 100% sustainable.

The Cisco furniture and lighting collection in the ABC showroom. It has such a simple sophistication to it that I absolultely love.

The hand blown glass pendants on either side of the tufted headboard were the first things I spotted from this collection and instantly had me wanting to see it all.  Sadly none of this product line is available in Canada but I can only hope that will change in the near future, I can't think of any other manufacturer that's offering anything similar here.

And here's a glimpse of what I wasn't so crazy about elsewhere on the floor......there were a LOT of these deconstructed pieces on display and they weren't props - they were for sale, and they weren't cheap.  I don't get it.  if anybody gets this, please, leave me a comment explaining?


It was hard not to miss this collection! I'm not a fan of anything patchwork so obviously this kaleidascope of mismatched upholstery didn't appeal to me (understatement), but I could see how one of these pieces on their own in the right setting could make a colourful statement. Less is definitely more in this case.  I did however, love the dark grey wall and the gold gilt frames. : )

I was in heaven strolling thru the mid-century modern vendors on the 2nd floor.  The quality and selection of the pieces were superb.

This table was made of steel......gorgeous.

I've admired Barbara Barry's work since early in my career, I loved this room setting from her collection for Henredon.  I thought it was so unusual to have wall sconces installed like that on either side of a bed...

Studio pottery and porcelain is one of my biggest weaknesses, particularly when it comes to bowls!  I was totally in love with this series from MUD, Australia.  Its handmade porcelain dishware that's sold in about 30 locations in the US but only sold in two shops in all of Canada, in Toronto at Hollace Cluny.  I couldn't leave without taking a piece home with me but trying to decide which piece,,,and whether to get white or grey proved to be a challenge.  After a LOT of pondering,,,,I ended up taking home a small size noodle bowl in white (you can see on the top shelf in this photo) and it now sits on one of my end tables in my living room.  I look at it (make that stare) every single day and love it, i actually pick it up a lot because I love the texture so much.

Here you can see both the white, is actually a a soft ivory colour, and the grey.  The organic shaped dishware is made with a matte finish on the exterior and a glossy glaze on the interior.  There's something about it that compells you to want to touch it all the time.

The pieces are handmade and the irregularity you can see in the shapes is what makes it special.

I managed to make it home with my MUD bowl in one piece and hope to accumulate more from this series over time.  Now I can't stop thinking about all the other great finds I couldn't bring home with me.  Its a good thing I'm planning my next trip to NYC, I'll be heading there sometime in May - but a larger suitcase this time is a must.

All Photos:  Carol Reed

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Black & White Stripes

Its no secret I love black and white and every imaginable shade of grey.  But I love black and white the most when they're used together in a graphic pattern such as a geometric or stripe. For years, Its something I've been working into most of the spaces I design and its shown no limits to how versatile it can be.   A graphic black and white pattern is the perfect way to add a modern hit of interest to a neutral coloured space, or a space that doesn't have a lot of prints/pattern (although it plays nice with other patterns too).  When I use a bold colour in a room, my favorite approach is to offset that bold colour with black and white, it think it keeps colourful schemes looking fresh and current and to my eye prevents them from looking too heavy.  And...if I'm ever forced to work with a colour that's not so desireable (say, peach, or sea foam or hunter green for example!) I'll add black and white to the space, if I want a modern edge, I'll do it in a graphic pattern.   In a traditional space a stylized black and white botanical print or herringbone check adds a fresh twitst and for a classic preppy look a banded stripe of black or white is timeless.  Without a doubt the black and white stripes found in nature are my favorite - no matter what style the room, a zebra pattern always add a bit of edge, i could easily use this pattern in every space I design and never tire of it.  I just picked up this zebra print carpet for a clients dressing room.

A look thru a few batches of photos uploaded recently from my Iphone indicate I've been on a black and white buying spree lately.  while I think its a perfect combo any time of the year there's something about spring that perfectly suits the crisp high contrast of geometric black & white.

This black and white stripe, cropped sweater jacket was irresistable (styled like a blazer but fits more like a sweater).  I scooped this up at Joe Fresh a few weeks ago and know it'll be a staple this spring and summer! (Btw, Joe Fresh will soon be opening its first international location this spring in NYC).

The Parker flush mount fixture by Jonathan Adler for Robert Abbey.  I first specified this fixture 3 years ago and i've used it many times since. Its available in several finishes but my favotire is the bronze which really shows off the grid work, I just ordered a few more....

Some preliminary scouting for a project I'll be working on in Naples Florida later this year.  I'm loving the idea of pairing this chair with bold yellow accents and colourful modern artwork. Chair from Elte.

If you havn't been to Ikea recently, you better hurry if you're in the market for outdoor furniture or accessories.  Their 2011 summer collection has just landed in the stores and stuff is selling fast.  I'm crazy for these black and white striped outdoor pillows and scooped up a pair for only $20 ea, including insert.

Speaking of pillows, I had some of this fabric left over from a project from last year and I just pulled it out to have some more pillows made, I'm just as crazy for this now as I was when I first saw it.  I've always been a fan of chevron but its the oversize scale of this one that I really love!

Since spring hasn't even arrived yet, I'm sure this won't be the end of my black and white buying spree. If you're looking for a way to add a fresh new update to your indoor or outdoor living spaces for the new season - try a hit of graphic black and white, and I promise you'll be a fan too.

All Photos:  Carol Reed
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