Saturday, March 31, 2012

East Coast - Patina

Nova Scotia always overwhelms me with inspiration, the landscape, the architectural character, the food.  On my recent visit we spent our days road-tripping thru the Annapolis Valley as well as the South Shore travelling a total of 1500 km.   With my camera always on my lap, the days were filled with 'stop the car' moments from beginning to end.  I'm constantly 'gasping' to pullover or turn around or drive down there,,,,,BF's become so used to this that most times I don't have to do anything except flick my camera on and he's already looking for a place to pullover.   With the patience of a saint, he'll happily make a stop as often as I want, usually snapping away with his own camera while he waits for me - he's amassed a huge collection of pictures of me taking pictures at the side of the road!   I'm sure passers by often wonder what I could possibly be so interested in.......

The seaside landscape here truly calls my name -  vast open water, changing skies, long wispy grass, cedar shake buildings,  (especially barns!) and the sculptural rocky shoreline all reflecting that time-worn, weathered patina created by coastal winds, water and sun.  When it comes to architecture there are two distinct palletes you'll see along these coastal communities, distinctly bold colourful hues or,,,, a more natural palette that blends into the surroundings.  Below are a few of my favorite images from this trip, each capturing the characteristics of these elements, from rustic abandoned fishing shacks to modern day masterpieces, the simplicity speaks.  (the resolution sizes have been reduced for ease of posting.)

Somewhere near 

Near Liverpool, Nova Scotia.

Green Bay, Nova Scotia

Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia

Driving near LaHave, Nova Scotia, from far down the road I recognized this modern residence up high on a peak overlooking the ocean.  Its the work of local Architect Brian MacKay's firm.  I'm a big fan of their work and you'll spot their modern east coast structures all around this area.

Near Broad Cove,  Nova Scotia

Near East Port Medway Nova Scotia

Near Cherry Hill, Nova Scotia

All Photos by:  Carol Reed 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Upload - East Coast Character

Vintage Wallpaper, painted floor boards, gigantic fresh cut blooms

I've been in Nova Scotia for the past several days with my other half looking at properties and touring some really old houses.  Our search for an East Coast abode has us focused primarily on century houses, many we've seen are close to 200 years old and have been in various states of neglect or restoration.   What I love most about these old houses is seeing the original details still in tact whether they're in need of some love or have been lovingly maintained.  I know that in either case, I would never think of getting rid of these character details - I can only envision how interesting it would be to incorporate them with my own aesthetic.   My own personal taste for architectural details runs much more traditional than modern, but I prefer it in a minimal way, simple to a point that leans to utilitarian and paired with more modern furniture and art.   And then sometimes you can't predict what you'll be drawn to, the landing area shown in the top photo totally captivates me, from the sunlight streaming in, the wide painted floor boards to the huge yellow blooms.  But most of all, that vintage wallpaper!  I'm not a fan of flowery wallpaper in general, but I have to admit I'd have a hard time stripping this one down.  Add a great lamp, a comfy reading chaise and a stack of books - perfection.

The same elements that attract me to modern designs are the same elements that attract me to centuries old east coast details and decor.  Clean geometries, simple form, no over embellishments.  When things are so pared down, there's an unpretentious ease.  I love a space that is so simple it enhances your personal collections of books or artwork or collections.   I adore things with aged patina and I appreciate imperfections especially when juxtaposed with crisp and modern.

Here's a glimpse at few of the things that have caught my Iphone while viewing some of these houses, some architectural details, some decor.  Even though these images are from a number of different houses, the character is consistently charming.

Antique door hardware, antique doors painted black, antique brass bed,
wrought iron bed, hand made quilt, brass knob on antique door, painted furniture, collections of family heirlooms

hand made lace bedskirt, 180 year old floorboards with glossy white paint, antique brass cup pulls,
built-in storage with original hardware, original handrails and newel posts, brass faucets

Antique brass bed, original ceiling beams, simple block printed curtains, stacks of wood for fireplaces and furnaces, oversize wood burning fireplaces, antique chairs

The search continues for that perfect combination of location, views and character.  Stay tuned for some more photos from our travels around the coast.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Kitchen Sink

Most of my projects involve entire whole home renovations where I specify everything for the interior buildout from the bricks in, right down to the kitchen sink.  Most of my clients fall into two categories, they have their hearts set on a large single sink or they don't have an opinion about a kitchen sink at all, usually because they don't cook.  My own personal preference (from many years of experience) is a single wide deep sink.  I enjoy cooking and I cook a lot, typically 6 nights of the week you'll find me cooking in the kitchen.  Of all the dozens and dozens of kitchens I've designed over the past 6 or 7 years I've rarely specified anything other than a single bowl kitchen sink, either farmstyle or undermount, they've almost all been one large sink.

The kitchen shown above is in a client's house I designed in 2007, it features an apron front stainless steel sink, concrete counters and custom cabinetry made from reclaimed barnboards.  (This is a candid photo I took one day years ago while there for a meeting.  It seems like a lifetime ago, this was before Iphone's existed,,,,and before I blogged or tweeted.)

In many situations I find double bowl sinks impractical, overall they require a larger cabinet size, they eat up a lot of counter space, and the divider in the middle is permanent - you simply don't have the option of soaking large pans or oversize cookware.  With a single bowl sink,,,,they're typically not as wide as a standard double bowl sink but I love that you have the flexibility of soaking large items whenever you want.  You can still use it to wash small or delicate things as you normally would.   A lot of people struggle with this concept, how do you wash and rinse in one large sink?  Well, when it comes to washing, I typically take the largest bowl or pot that needs washing, rinse it out, fill it with hot soapy water and use it to wash everything else in.  I keep a small dish strainer inside one side of the sink for rinsing and drying.  Occassionally I use the counter for drying items, but usually I can contain it all in the sink.  The top photo is a perfect example,,,,when I arrived at my client's house that afternoon she was soaking some large baking pans in the sink, so you can see her dish rack on the counter while she was putting these things away - typically the rack sits inside her sink.  This isn't a dish rack specifically made for her sink, but they are available.

When I specify sinks I like to also order accessories specifically for that sink.  If I'm having the sink custom made, I'll find a series that is compatible with my custom size as close as possible.  The selections above are just a sampling of the variety of options to chose from.

Double bowl sinks or sink and a half, usually require a 36" wide sink cabinet.  Many times I'm working with limited space and a 36" sink cabinet just isn't practical, I'd rather go with a smaller sink cabinet and have that extra 6" or so for a bank of drawers beside the sink, ie; an 18"set of drawers vs a 12".  I'm not a fan or irregular shaped sinks with funky curves or angles, I like them clean lined and simple.   It can be challenging to find simple double sinks to fit a 27-30"cabinet which is another reason I often use a single.  You can easily find large single bowl sinks from 18" to 24"wide, and if you really search you may find a 27".  When I want the largest single sink I can possibly fit in my sink cabinet, I have them custom made.  I've had stainless steel sinks custom made for most kitchens I've designed, this allows me to maximize the sink to whatever size I want and ensure it works with the cabinet I've specified.  (I don't recommend this for DIY'ers.)

If you're shopping for or considering a single bowl sink for your own kitchen here are some great tips to keep in mind:

  • know the exact inside dimensions of your cabinet not just the outside dimensions
  • refer to the actual sink size not just the overall size which includes the mounting rim
  • the lower the guage stainless steel the thicker and sturdier the steel, 16g is stronger than 18g.  18 is standard, 16 is even better, avoid 20g for a kitchen sink.
  • keep drain location in mind if you're also using a garburator, anything other than centre may impede your garbutor/drain hookup inside your cabinet
  • the tighter the radius the more of a 'pro' look you will get but the almost square corners can require more attention to cleaning
  • the smallest radius for the corners of a stainless steel sink is called "Zero Radius"
  • a 5/8" radius will still give you that rectangular look and ease of cleaning
  • go for 9" or 10" deep sink for pro style function
  • its key to utilize sink accessories to maximize the efficiency of a single sink, use bottom grids, dish drainers, dish racks and integrated cutting boards to optimize the sink interior
  • a side spray or pulldown spray faucet is great for using the large sink to wash small dogs or large vases
  • make sure when determining your sink's location for the countertop cutout that you leave adquate counter space behind the sink for your faucet and faucet handle clearance.

Its always a major milestone for me when the kitchen sink finally gets installed on a project, its the moment the space becomes a *functioning* kitchen and indicates final completion is just days away, not months!  Currently on my project board, I have an upcoming single kitchen sink install in the NYC project, and we were measuring down to the 1/8" of an inch for that one!  For another out of town project I've just drawn up the details for a stainless custom sink and a half configuration,,,,,ready to be sent off to the fabricators.   The anticipation of both these installs has me excited to see these sinks in their newly finished homes very soon!!

All photos and room design:   Carol Reed

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