Saturday, August 25, 2012

A Day Trip in The Country

If I could bottle a day and savour it over and over again, last Thursday would have been one of those days.  It was an absolutely perfect summer day, clear blue sunny skies, warm breezes and my agenda........a long drive out of the city to check on a nearly complete client project.  I love a day trip more than anything, especially thru the rolling country roads north of Toronto.  The drive up north was a pure treat and I soaked in the early harvest scenery.  As I began my drive home, like a que from a movie script a vintage red top car pulled out in front of me at a stop sign and I drove behind it for over an hour.  It was like being transported to another time as we passed by old barns and old fashioned "General Store" signs along the road.  I could have hit the accelerator and sped past this car many times,,,but I didn't want to -  I was completely entranced by this nostalgic scene in front of me.  I felt like I'd been gifted my own vintage escort as I cruised the country roads.  There was a smile plastered on my face a mile wide, wishing the drive would never end.

It was truly a day full of vintage moments.  This old painted wood ladder was found in my clients garage, left behind from the previous owners.  I'm in love with this colour.  I think its the perfect shade of green for the front door of the house.  (And if they don't want the ladder, I've put dibs in on it.)

I rarely drive thru Primrose without stopping at Super Burger, its a destination on its own so I was looking forward to making a pit stop there on this trip.  Its a step back in time for some classic burger joint food....

During the summer months they open up their vintage TTC street car for extra seating.  Its 50's cool, complete with modern day air conditioning!

After cruising here behind my vintage escort I had a craving for an old fashioned vanilla milk shake and rings.  Oh how I enjoy great home made style onion rings,,,, I've even been known to plan road trips around them. ; )

There are some days you just wish would never end.

All Photos by:  Carol Reed

Monday, August 20, 2012

My New East Coast Home

Without a doubt, this is the most exciting and favorite project of my designer life to date.  I've been an interior designer for almost 20 years and nothing can match the passion I have for this project. This is my new old house on the beautiful South Shores of Nova Scotia.  The search for this, our 'next' home has been a looooooooong time coming, a search that's taken us to small towns all over the vast rural countryside of Ontario to the far shores of Nova Scotia.  We've travelled back and forth frequently this past year as our search narrowed on the East Coast.  This July 1st long weekend, we flew out east once again to proceed with an offer on this century old carpenter gothic.  On August 1st, we drove all the way out there non-stop to collect our keys.  

Here I am trying out the first set of keys!

She's a charming beauty, a Gothis fisherman's cottage sitting on 5 acres adjacent to a mile long white sandy beach.   The loud roar of the ocean rings in your ears, the smell of the sea air is dense, and the cool salty breezes flow thru the open windows.

Little did we know during our visit to the area this past March, that a morning stroll on this beach would become our new routine.  We didn't know it then, but we can walk our property to this very beach, this beach and nearby town that we were so taken with as we scouted out potential properties.

When visiting in March we took this boardwalk from the parking lot to the beach.....

Our path to the beach is just thru the trees to the left of this grand old chestnut tree on the front lawn of our house.  I fell in love with this giant chestnut tree and its rope tire swing the instant I saw it.  Its huge and majestic and there are beautiful views of it from inside the house.  I'd love to hang a fresh new swing on it.  

Besides the views of the beautiful chestnut tree, the inside of the house didn't have many memorable features. But that's not why we bought it.  I wanted this house because when you walk down that hidden path beyond the chestnut tree,,,,,,you arrive here....

The ocean.  Every moment of every day the scene changes as the tide comes in and out, and the mist rolls in and then suddenly out again,,,,and the wind changes from a breeze to gushing and then all still. Always a changing palette.

We have only one neighbour near our house, he's a fisherman.  He keeps his dory boat tied up here which is used on the weekends to row out to his fishing hut on a nearby island.  He's promised to make a bluenoser out of me yet and teach me how to cook lobster.  Already he's corrected me on the pronounciation of scallops - its pronounced "scaw-lups"!?  He's shown me where he keeps the oars and explained how to roll the boat out into the water (aka the open ocean), so I can take the boat out whenever I want.  LOL,,,,,,,um, I laughed and asked if he had flares on board.

I much prefer to gaze at the open ocean from the safety of the shore!  On Canada Day I enjoyed a long walk on the hot sandy beach, in awe of this beauty.  This was our third visit to the house and I had only gone inside once.  I wasn't so interested in the inside of the house, I love the houses charming exterior character, the chestnut tree and the adjacent beach but here's the real reason I wanted this house.... comes with a barn.  A century old, sturdy, stunner of a barn complete with shake shingles. I think its only called a barn because that's the most common type of out building around here. This was actually a carpenters workshop and not a barn ever used for animals.  Our first visit to the house I went straight to the barn to see it first.  And I was ecstatic at the sight of the all original interior, both floors of it.  I love its geometry.  Its got beautiful bones and I hope to make good use of them. : )

There I am opening 'her up moments after getting the keys.  These side doors of the barn will be the main in/out doors to and from the house and will become future guest space and/or eventually be new office/sudio space.

Here's a peak at the back half of the second floor, this 2nd floor barn space will eventually could be converted into a guest room.  But for now,,,my priority is to renovate the interior of the house.  Sadly its lacking any trace of original character as a result of whats probably an 80's reno.  My work is cut out for me.

After getting the keys to the house, we spent a couple of days getting things organized before I flew back to Toronto where I'll be for the next several weeks.  I had to leave BF there with not much more than a cell phone and a list of local contractors.  Its been a bit of an adventure for him but he's doing better now that we FINALLY have internet service.  Whew.

The question everyone is asking me, "will I be moving there?".  Well of course we'll be moving to our new house but we'll always have a place in Toronto too (and I'll continue to work here too).  Not our current place which we'll be vacating in the coming months but after things have settled at the Nova Scotia house, a search might begin for a smaller secondary home here in Ontario.  In the meantime, I'll be commuting back and forth on a regular basis as I continue to work on existing projects and start on some exciting new ones.

As I said, I've got my work cut out for me with this renovation, demolition started inside the house this morning and I've barely started the design plans.......

All Photos:  Carol Reed

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Style at Home: Living Room Paint Palette

I was thrilled to be asked by Style at Home to share a favorite living room paint palette for their readers to be featured in a special Designer's Secret's issue, on stands now (and on-line at Zinio).  The requirements were to provide them with a four colour paint palette to include a ceiling colour, wall colour, trim colour and accent colour.   You can see the first page of the feature below were my palette is shown.

Style at Home - Designer Secrets 2012, Page 59

A favorite palette of mine instantly came to mind, its based on Benjamin Moore's, Horizon OC-53.  It's not a palette I've just pulled out the air, its a palette I've used time and time again over the past 7 years -  if I had to name a 'go to' colour that wasn't white, Horizon would be it for me.  Its the palest silvery blue that reads differently in every space, its as light as a white so it highlights architectural mouldings and showcases artwork like a white and it pairs beautifully with all wood tones.  I've sampled it with dozens of other greys and off-whites and its almost always the unanimous choice.  I've used it in client's living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms, bathrooms, and ceilings, in both traditional and contemporary spaces, urban and country.  The feature on p.59 illustrates one of my favorite trim/ceiling/accent paint combos with Horizon OC-53.  (not to be mistaken with Horizon Gray, a different colour completely). 

Below is my own breakdown of the colours and why I chose them, along with a photo of a client's living room and dining room painted in these paint colours (minus the accent colour).  The house is a grand old Edwardian in mid-town Toronto, home to a young family of 4.  If I had to describe this palette, I would say it exudes SIMPLICITY & ELEGANCE.

Benjamin Moore
Horizon OC-53
This pale silver grey is my favorite alternative to white walls but with all the same attributes - its simplicity compliments wood tones, highlights furniture silhouettes and enhances other colours.  I first used it about 7 years ago and its been a go to paint colour for me ever since, it works in any room.  Its undertone has just a whisper of blue so this grey reads clean and sophisticated, never drab.

Benjamin Moore
Swiss Coffee OC-45
A warm off-white that has an aged looked to it and is perfect for architectural mouldings in a traditional space.  Paired with HOrizon this tinged white trim work gives a room timeless and elegant character.  (pair with a white trim for a contemporary space).

Benjamin Moore
Chantilly Lace OC-65
A very neutral clean white, a good balance with the mix of cool wall paint and warm trim paint.  It provides a nice crisp definition against the antique white mouldings.  In a contemporary space, use this for the trim too!

Farrow & Ball
India Yellow #66
What I love about Horizon is you can go any direction for an accent colour.  My favorite with it is a deep ochre yellow, its inviting and chic paired with pale blue/grey, use it on the backs of a bookcase, upholstery on a statement chair, silk pillows, ceramic lamps or on the walls of an adjoining room.

Wall Colour:  Horizon OC-53, Trim Colour: Swiss Coffee OC-45
Room Design and Photo by:  Carol Reed (2007)

Upper Wall Colour:  Horizon OC-53, Wainscoting and Trim: Swiss Coffee OC-45
Room Design and Photo by:  Carol Reed  (2007)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Cottage Bungalow: Kitchen

Kitchen concept board

I began designing a cottage bungalow project  back in January for some past clients. The house is located a couple hours north of Toronto in the 4 season resort town of Collingwood.  For them its a third home and will be used as a summer residence.  The house is a near century old cottage style bungalow that’s lost all of its historic charm over the years as you can see from some of the original photos below, and then how it looked when my clients purchased it.

The top photo shows the bungalow probably in the 50's (?) clad in the original wood siding which eventually was bricked over and had a cement porch added.  The second photo above is what the front of the house looked like when my clients purchased it last fall.

Front exterior mid-June.  The old brick has been removed and the entire house is newly cald in wood siding (white of course!).

The size of the house is deceiving from the photos, its quite deep and also has a separate detached large garage.  The scope of work involves a complete interior gut as well as a rear addition with a new master suite and a new side patio/covered porch area linking the house with the detached garage.  I inherited the project after the Architect had done the initial base plans including the new addition and the proposed new interior layout.  I started the interior design plans by doing some tweeking to the kitchen, below you can see the initial plan I started with and the final plan below.

This plan was prepared by the Architect's office and was used to get the permit process moving forward, and the new addtition started asap.  The kitchen used to be located in the rear of the house (you can see a bit of in the plan view above shown in dotted lines).  The new layout brings it to the front section of the original house, adjoining the other living areas.  The rear section of the house will house the bedrooms and the new kitchen location will overlook the new side patio outdoor living area.

The initial issues I addressed with the layout was the location of the cooktop, (in front of a window) and also the large amount of space between the front and back counters that this created.  It was a huge amount of workspace for a couple who don't cook a lot and also I wasn't fond of the upper cabinets over the pennisula.

Above is the final kitchen layout I prepared for them.  Its a straight line layout which I personally find to be the most efficient (range, sink, dw, fridge all in a line) with an island in front.  I eliminated the built-in wall ovens and gained back that counterspace for the main work wall, then was able to place a range to the left of the window.  The island will be great additional counter space, and will house pots, pans, recycling, dishware and a microwave.  It will be all one height with counter seating - great for casual daily meals and for entertaining. There will be no upper cabinets at all, the kitchen will be low and open, emphasizing the extra high ceilings,  with lots of wall space for the clients art collection.  I think we achieved better flow and a more efficient work zone.
The original part of the house where the new kitchen is located has wonderful high 11’ ceilings, the old windows were replaced with new to replicate the original 6 over 6 style.  We positioned a new window above the sink which overlooks the outdoor dining area but instead of having it installed above the counter height, it was installed at the same height as all the existing windows so its actually lower the kitchen counter.  This creates continuity with the window alignment (inside and out) and gives the sense the window has always been there.  To accommodate this, I made the counters extra deep at 30”, and created a trough space where the countertop drops down behind the sink, in front of the window.  This little trough can be a great spot for potted  herbs.   With an extra deep counter the double hung window over the sink won’t be easy to open but even knowing this, my clients opted to go this route anyway rather than switch this one window to a casement style. 

My client is an artist with a desire for all white interiors and clean lined architectural details.  She has amassed a large collection of oversize, very colourful paintings along with some interesting antiques and family heirlooms that will be beautifully shown off in the all white space, almost gallery style.  Although she loves clean modern lines, she also has an appreciation for heritage style details and it was important to them to see the character charm of the house be brought back to life and referenced in a fresh way.

Below are a couple of elevations showing the design concept for the kitchen.......

The kitchen cabinets themselves are non-custom, but the rest of the kitchen has lots of custom detail such as; a custom full height stainless steel backsplash, custom designed s.s. chimney hood, custom fabricated quartz countertops, customized panelled sides on the island, and custom made pantry doors made from antique wood.  With no upper cabinets at all, the kitchen will evoke a spare simplicity.

Selecting all the fixtures and finishes was all about balance and instinct - how to mix interior and architectural styles without it looking like a mish-mash?  For the best balance I'll always use an 80-20 rule.  Then give or take. Going with my own instincts for where to stray from this.   In this decidedly contemporary interior, deciding how or where to use rustic or country elements takes some thoughtful planning and a restrained approach.

Like the rest of the interior, I designed the white on white on white kitchen with a dose of modern lines and a pinch of vintage/industrial country.  The white cabinets and nickel hardware are clean and contemporary, as is the stainless steel hood and backsplash but the wide plank floor has a rustic patina with a weathered grey wash.  The white quartz counters are made from the newest technology but the large visible aggregate in this one reminds me of concrete which gives the kitchen a more relaxed vibe.  The faucet is a modern take on a bridge style faucet  (its a stunner!) and will sit in front of the classic 6 over 6 window.  Suspended from the extra high ceiling (unadorned, free from crown moulding) will be a pair of oversized white barn pendants highlighting the island.  An antique nickel swing arm lamp will be mounted over the sink window to provide some additional task lighting, (and another pair of these will be mounted on the Living Room side of the same wall to highlight a gallery wall of artwork above the stairs).  To contrast all the white and stainless steel, the pantry doors will be custom made from reclaimed wood, left in their natural colour.  
I’m looking foward to another visit to the house next week to see the countertops and most of the new lighting installed.  Not to mention, I’m anxious to see the nearly completed 3 bathrooms and 2 fireplace designs come to life!

All photos, illustrations and drawings by:  Carol Reed

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