Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Comfort & Joy

My bedroom 'dressed up' for the Holidays.

As the holidays drew closer I was craving the comforts of my own bed more than ever before.  Having been away for a few weeks on an extended road trip, we arrived home to a house in the midst of construction - it looked like one of my job sites, not my house...and they were clearly behind schedule.  Another two weeks of living thru and around the mess had me counting down the minutes until all the trades would be out the door and I could put the house back together again.  

The sight of our living room upon our return from the East Coast.  Not the welcome home I was expecting!  : /  It took another two weeks for all the work to be finished while we stayed at a brother's house.  When they were finally done, it was just six days until Christmas and pretty much the entire contents of our house were still packed away.

The first room I needed to put back in order was our bedroom.  A little touch of holiday greenery was enough to instantly put me in the spirit of the season and make the house look festive.  Ahhh the comforts of my own bed with all my own things around me once again.....

I plan on spending lots of down time here over the next few days,,,setting goals, making plans and dreaming big dreams for 2012.

To be able to enjoy the comforts of a crack'lin fire with family on Christmas day was truly joyful.

And sipping delicious hot teas from my new Iwachu iron tea set will bring me comfort & joy for many years to come.  I'm absolutely in LOVE with the sculputural lines of this tea pot,  I plan to leave it out where I can see it all the time.  Thank you Santa!

From my home to yours,
 I wish you Comfort & Joy
 this Holiday season and
 in the New Year ahead.



All Photos:   Carol Reed

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Dream Worthy

Most people have a special vision of their dream home, considering I'm an interior designer you might be surprised to learn that all my visions of what make a *dream home* for me are more about the exterior.  I actually envision *dream views* around which my dream homes are designed (hey if its a dream, I can have multiple homes!).  Don't get me wrong, I'm all about well designed interiors but to me it goes so beyond that, its a bigger picture for me and that picture starts even before you set sight on the front door, its about the setting -  the location of the home makes or breaks it for me.  Specifically with my ideal locations, its all about the views.  An interior is just static and stale to me if it doesn't relate to the exterior and offer some type of view or sense of place that transcends beyond the interior walls.  The vibe of a home's architecture and interior in sync with its setting, its place.  I have this term I use called 'sense of place' I don't know if there's another proper design term for this but its the best way I can describe it.

My ideal interiors stem from having an incredible sense of place,,,,,the key to this for me is capturing great views that expand your eye beyond the interior walls.  My dream homes are always about some stunning non-static view.  I don't have just one dream home in my head, I have several - each one is quite different depending on the setting - but they all are designed around spectacular views, my dream views.  When I travel I can't help but fantasize about what kind of home I would design for whatever local i'm visiting and what kinds of scene(s) it would capture, and how the interior would play off those scenes. Weird maybe,,,but that's what inspires my visions for interior spaces.

I have to say when I told people recently that I was visiting Cape Breton for a few weeks, I experienced a lot of raised eyebrows and puzzled looks.  Cape where?  Is that in New Brunswick?  PEI?  Isn't it really cold there right now?  So for those who have never visited or know little about this East Coast Nova Scotian Island, I feel the need to explain my fascination with this beautiful place.   When I first visited Cape Breton two summers ago, I was never more captivated by stunning scenery than I was there. Its no wonder the Cabot Trail is rated in the top 20 most scenic roads to drive in the world!!  (The first three photos of this post are from my vacation there in August 2010.)

This island is home to many of my *dream views* all in one destination; dramatic ocean coastline, wide sandy beaches with long wispy grass, lush green highlands and valleys, sprawling rolling fields, and did I mention ocean views,,,ocean views everywhere.   I could instantly envision how a house could capture this beauty, whether you were ocean front, or high in the hills or amongst the lush valley's.  I was actually surprised that I didn't see more great architecture or design that really paid homage to these settings.   But there are a few exceptions, and I want to share with you the closest thing that I've ever seen to my own visions of a dream home - in real life........

This hilltop cottage is a second home to Los Angeles designers, Alexandra and Elliot Angle.  Its pretty much perfection in my eyes.  Its been published in Canadian House & Home, The New York Times, Oprah Magazine, Australia's Country Style, and countless other publications.   This house has received a LOT of coverage.  I think it's location lends a bit of 'mystery' to readers.

  Set on the highest point along this westerly section of coastline the cottage has breathtaking views up and down the coast overlooking the Gulf of can watch wales right from the deck.

via Australia Country Style

via Australia Country Style.

The house's modern salt box design with its weathered cedar shake siding was inspired by the local barns.   The low wraparound deck was inspired by a traditional lobster trap design.

via Australia Country Style

The interior is bright and open and painted about 10 varying subtle shades of blue, grey and green.



The house has wrap around ocean views.  The one side of the house that doesn't face the ocean, has mountain views.

Can you imagine sunset views like this from your own dining table.  Check out any of the links mentioned above for more interior photos and the full story of this L.A. couple's Canadian dream home...

Not too far away from the Angle's modern saltbox cottage above is another  modernized take on a saltbox cottage.  Again, up on a hilltop with views up and down the coast, the property gradually slopes down to the ocean.  Dreamy.  This oceanside cottage is offerred for vacation rental

This house has a bit of a rustic adirondak vibe (?) but the views are insane.  (Recently offered for sale but the listing no longer appears online.)

These houses all truly capture the beauty of Cape Breton the way I envision it.  

Dream home worthy in many ways.

Now back to reality,,,,,,,I returned from vacation to a house in the middle of construction/repairs, and Christmas is in 4 days.  Not so dreamy.

Photos 1, 2, 3:  Carol Reed
Photos 4, 5, 7:  The New York Times
Photos 9, thru 13:  Alexandra Angle Interior Design
Photos 6, 8: Australia Country Style
Photo 12:
Photo 13:

Friday, December 2, 2011

Cape Breton Houses

I spent a few days in Sydney on Cape Breton Island where the houses all have that classic East Coast style that I love so much.  Its rare in these parts to see homes constructed of brick or stucco, or to see them painted in dull neutral colours.   My favorite exterior colour combo for these character houses is a dark deep grey/black or deep blue with white trim and a bold colorful front door.   Walk down any street and your bound to see a different hue on every house.   I also love that these houses have a lot of symmetry - with they're crisp white trim and colourful siding they're just the perfect showcase for holiday decor.

Whether I'm at home or travelling one of my favorite past-times is to walk thru neighborhoods and check out exterior home designs.  I wasn't disappointed in Sydney, it was a treat to stroll up and down the streets and take in all the different colour combos and, what I thought were all beautifully appointed front doors.

Not the greatest photo but the wreath on the front door (and side door) of this yellow house was gorgeous along with a pair of potted topiary evergreens it was so tastefully done.

Here's an example of that high contrast colour combo I love so much,,the contrast of the dark siding with the crisp white trim really highlights the architectural details.   Check out that railing design!

Here's another great railing design similar to the house photo above - love this!!

Once you get outside of the *city*, the houses in the rural areas you can still find some colourful houses but mostly you see a lot of naturally greyed cedar shake or painted white farmhouses.  Now these are what really speak to me,,,,,like this classic cedar shake farmhouse.  It sits high on a hilltop with panoramic ocean views along the west coast of the island - hello, whoever owns this beauty, I want your house.  : )

All Photos:   Carol Reed

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