Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Special Delivery: MMD

Illustration by Michelle Morelan

In this electronic era of emails is there anything more exciting than opening up your "real life" mail box to find a package inside with beautifully handscripted writing on it,,,,,,the type of writing that can only belong to an artist or craftsperson - the sight of that alone makes your heart race thinking about what could possibly be inside!

Custom stationary of Michelle Morelan Design

I immediately recognized the writing of my friend, the uber taltented Vancouver based designer/illustrator/artist Michelle Morelan.  (You may also know her from her popular blog A Schematic Life).  I felt like a kid at Christmas as I opened up this surprise package.  Before I tell you more about the contents, I have to share the opening up of the package with you because it was a treat in itself.  The packaging was a perfect example of someone who lives by the credo of good design, in all the details.  The stationary was worthy of its own moment of appreciation.

Inside the postage envelope was a handwritten letter on a beautiful piece of folded custom letterhead, the back of the paper was a patterned monogram logo print, unfolded, the inside was an off-white linen texture with embossed monogram logo on the top.  Exquisite.  In addition to that was an envelope in the same off-white linen paper.  As if the exterior of the linen envelope with embossed logo and modern grey font wasn't beautiful enough, opening it up revealed the inside of the envelope was lined in the patterned monogram print too.  A really lovely detail!

This monogram print was on the back of the letter head and inside of the envelope.

Inside this envelope was a card, on heavy grey stock.  Partially folded over one blank side for personal messages, and exposing a large tone on tone logo print on the other.

Embossed card with logo print.

After I finished swooning over Michelle's gorgeous stationary, and being moved by her hand written words,,,,i choked up completely when I unwrapped this very special gift from Michelle, a little something for my new home on the East Coast.

My new old house, illustration by Michelle Morelan.

Its an illustration of my new old house on the East Coast, drawn by Michelle of course, and mounted in a vintage frame that she found at a local flea market - I'm crazy about the frame! She remembered me telling her one time I had some artwork in antique gold frames.  The fact that she's a special friend and one of the most talented architectural illustrators of our time,,,,makes me feel so lucky - its now one of my most favorite things and I'll cherish it always.  It'll have a special place in my home somewhere near my desk to remind me of this talented woman I admire and inspire me to sketch more.  : )

Thank you Michelle with all my heart.  From the east coast to the west coast - xoxo.

Also, kudos to the talented team at the multi-disciplinary design firm Meade Design Group who designed Michelle's cards/stationary (and website design).  Beautifully done.

All Photos by:  Carol Reed

Thursday, November 15, 2012



Changes have a way of happening in multiples.  There have been a lot of changes around here lately.  One of them is Lucy.  This is Lucy (photo above).  Out of the blue this little black and white fuzz ball showed up on my back porch 3 months ago, desperately crying from hunger,,,,all skin and bones, she wrapped herself around my ankles and my heart in an instant.  Her timing couldn't have been worse, or, more perfect if you're a cat looking for a beachside home.  We were in the middle of packing up a house in Toronto and moving it all to the East Coast.  She was homeless and decided she wanted to come with us, she literally forced her way into our home and made it clear she wasn't leaving.  She could care less we already had a cat.  She wanted what he had and nothing was going to stop her.  Apparantly word on the street was that we were headed to a house on 5 acres complete with an old barn and she wanted to hitch a ride.  Her plan worked.  After taking her to the vet and nursing her thru her shots and being spayed,,,I was completely and hopelessly attached and couldn't possibly part with her or give her up to anyone, so of course she came with us to Nova Scotia.   Our 11.5 year old tabby wasn't so thrilled.  We weren't so thrilled about the prospect of a two day long road trip with them, which was pretty much a nightmare but we made it.


The two cats are polar opposites as far as personality goes and its been fun to watch them slowly become friends.  It was stressful and chaotic keeping them separated from each other for the many weeks that we had to but as I told myself it was better than her living on the streets.  It took a long time to name her and for months she was simply called Kitty. So impersonal.  Her personality is so dominant I just couldn't think of a name that suited her character.  She's what I call a cartoon cat...the epitome of every stereo typical cat characiture.  She's a bully and a sucky baby at the same time.  She's a girl but she's about as graceful as a bulldog (no offense to bulldogs!).   She's kinda gawky looking and with her broad stance and her pipe cleaner stick legs she's quite hilarious to watch when she runs.  She's only 10 months but she's a survivor,  every time we let her outside she quickly returns with a "present" she's caught.  She knows how to fend for herself, she's fearless.   We now call her Lucy as named by a brother who was staying with us over thanksgiving.  She seems to suit it.  She bullies and torments our 11.5 year old Elliot just like Lucy did to Charlie Brown.  

This is where kitty was living until I took her in.   She was living in these bushes 24/7 all by herself, never leaving our yard.

I've come to see how beautiful she is and even though she was completely unexpected and totally a surprise in our lives, it seems like she fits into our new house here like she was made for it.  I have so many black and white accessories in the house, she really looks like just another one.   The diamond shaped black and white markings on her face and chest mimic the gothic window on the front of our black and white house.  She matches.  So yah, we think she's kinda special like she was meant to be here and now we can't imagine life without her.  Everything happens for a reason.

For a street cat Lucy's adapted to life indoors pretty quickly.  She's a cling on.  This is her regular position.  She wants to be on our laps every moment of the day.  Its become a bit of a problem especially when trying to work.  She'll stay on your lap for hours or until you pick her up and move her.

From sleeping in the bushes to sleeping in our bed - she's lapping up the luxury.  If ever she isn't on one of our  laps, she's on our bed.  She looks almost regal in this shot, which is funny because she really isn't at all.   Her nose was badly bruised and scraped up from her days on the 'street'  but its healed nicely now and she's put on some pounds.

Although I am insanely head over heels crazy about my older cat and this new little one (they are my *babies*)  I vowed when I started this design blog I would  keep my crazy cat pictures to a minimum.  But I do feel that pets are one of the most important elements that make a house a home.  This little one is the newest addition to our home and as you'll see in an upcoming post she's the reason behind many design decisions and changes we'll be implementing into the reno plans.  

All Photos by:   Carol Reed

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Beautiful Old Things

Blue & White antique fruit plates.

Our new old house in Nova Scotia will give me an opportunity to explore some of my personal passions with regards to design.  My preferences and tastes always include some traditional reference or vintage nod, even in contemporary spaces.  This is the oldest house I've ever owned  (read the first post about the house here) so I'm excited about embracing its humble character and creating a home where my passion for all things old, simple and rustic can be indulged while at the same time provide a beautiful contrast to some of the modern things I love.  I've had some antique pieces in storage for quite some time that finally will have a place to fit in, and my small collections can start to grow, like my blue & white pieces.  I picked up almost a dozen of these antique blue willow fruit plates (above) last month in a local antique shop to add to my small collection.  

Dining Room Ceiling

During demolition we discovered the house was older than we first thought based on the construction which is all timber beams, notched and pegged.  I'm in love with the structure and we're planning on leaving the wood beams (ceiling joists) in the living room and dining room exposed (previously covered up with layers of plaster and acoustic tile).  They were really really rough, including bark.  After the demo crew finished up, BF did a bit of work scraping them down and this is what they look like now. The question of whether to paint or not to paint has yet to be decided.

Square nails removed from window casing.

When the casings around the windows were removed, these rusty square nails were pulled out with them.  We figure there are a few hundred more in the house but I've put these ones in a mason jar for safe keeping until I come about a way to display them.  This type of square nail was pressed or cut by blacksmiths as opposed to hand forged and were commonly used between 1820-1910.  

Original Gothic Window/Door in Dormer

The house is a gothic carpenter style and the front of the house features a high peaked dormer with a gothic window in the centre of the dormer.  The window is actually a door which leads out to the porch roof.  On the inside its located up on the second floor hallway opposite the stairwell.  We're opening up the ceiling and eaves all around the dormer to expose the peaked ceiling and create a nook in this landing area but we're going to maintain as much of this original window as possible.  I love its leaded panes and peaked arc.

Spot sanded original floor boards.
The number one most thrilling discovery was that the house's original wide plank wood floor boards were all still in tact, hidden under carpet and vinyl.  We peeled back layers of flooring and plywood sheeting to reveal very thick, very long, wide original floor boards throughout the entire house.  I had suspected they were there but to actually confirm this was a total high,,,,a few places will need some patching/shifting around of boards and they all need to be sanded down but I'm ecstatic about this discovery.  We've spot sanded a few areas to get a peek of what the wood will look like, they'll have lots of character from knots and because they're face nailed they also have visible nail heads for added goodness (which all need to be recessed before sanding!).

Barnboard walls in our barn.

There's no shortage of old wood in this house.  We've pulled dozens of old wood boards out of the attic space which were just laying around loose and have them stored in the barn for use in the house reno. Some of the boards are up to 20"in width and 16' long.  Incredible sizes.  In the barn we can see some of the same wood was used in its construction. The photo above shows the barn board cladding on the barn walls, you've probably seen loads of faux antique barn board around, but this is the real thing.  I love the texture and patina.

Modern chair and barn board.
I noticed that everything looks great against barn board.  Currently we're storing most of our furniture in the barn including most of my office furniture and I can't help but get excited when I see the modern lines of these chairs against the rustic boards and how this space will one day transform into my studio.

Modern furniture in the barn.

All of these beautiful old things are driving the design direction for the interior renovation, I'm just letting it lead me along where it so naturally wants to go -  I'm psyched about seeing the old bones of this house brought back to modern life.

All Photos by:   Carol Reed

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