Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Art of Planning: Karen's Kitchen

Photo by Donna Griffith, for Style at Home

You may remember last  year I prepared some design sketches for my cyber friend Karen’s chicken coop gates.   If you’re a fan of the Art of Doing Stuff blog, like I am,,,you know Karen doesn’t often need help with anything because she’s a master at figuring how to do stuff herself.  She has a wonderful character style house and over the years she’s done many home improvements and decor projects inside and out.  Not your average homeowner diy's,,,,Karen has an impressive archive of magazine quality 'afters', in fact the inside of her house and her backyard have both been featured in Style at Home magazine which you can admire here and here.

Clearly Karen doesn't need any help in the decor or handyman departments but one of the few things she hasn’t tackled is the house's original 1940‘s kitchen.  She's pretty attached to the old kitchen and its easy to understand why - it oozes an authentic nostalgic charm that’s hard to replace (top photo).  Even the editors at Style at Home couldn't resist photographing and featuring it just the way it is.  Yah, even the "before" picture of Karen's kitchen is magazine worthy. ; )  Inevitably the time has come to replace it and Karen knows enough to know this in’t something she wanted to tackle on her own because the consequences of making mistakes or oversights are daunting, and expensive.  So this is where I came in.  Karen hired me thru my  e-design services to work on the new kitchen plans.  As far as finishes and appliances went she knew what she wanted but what she was struggling with was how to fit all of the new elements together.  She needed a plan.  

The first step I take is to review the existing space to assess what's working and what isn't.  The whats not working about her current kitchen might be obvious, but its not all bad.  There are aspects of this kitchen layout that Karen enjoys, particularly the huge expanse of uninterrupted counter space between the sink and range....and having a kitchen table and chairs. To be frank the shortcomings of the kitchen were easy to find solutions for but doing so and maintaining those elements that she loved was truly the challenge.  That and accommodating all of the other things on her wish list.

- 'not cookie cutter'
- no new construction
- non-custom cabinets
- more storage
- a range hood
- a glass door fridge
- a furniture style pantry
- a stand alone butcher block table
- a place to sit
- a fixed budget
- did I say 'not cookie cutter'..

Knowing that we couldn’t alter the bathroom, laundry room, mudroom or doorways,,,,,I recognized the biggest obstacle in Karen’s kitchen was the counter height window on the end wall.  It’s location was a prime spot for a range and hood, or a fridge,,,or wall cabinets.  Ideally it needed to be moved to best utilize the space. Unfortunately the window was fairly new and had involved re-stucco’ing the exterior of the house.  The option of moving it or changing it now was not in the budget so it was staying.  Had we not been able to find a workable layout that Karen loved, I would have suggested she hold off until her budget allowed to move the window because it would open up so much more layout potential. 

This is an example of how we could have utilized the wall had we moved the window. We quickly eliminated this option (and variations of it) for budget reasons and moved on.

Even though this layout doesn't appear to be drastically different than the existing, the changes are significant enough that with new, more efficient cabinetry and appliances it would be a big improvement.  This option ticked all the boxes including a 36" range.  It was the front runner,,,,,until,,,, Karen came home with an antique butcher block island that she couldn't resist and that meant a change in plans.  But I've seen and completely approved,,,it's a beauty worth changing things up for.

After exploring more than a dozen layout options we arrived at a final plan that Karen loves (shown above).   You can read Karen's first post about her kitchen reno plans here .......and you'll notice she received no shortage of opinions and suggestions from readers too. ; )   I'm confident in saying they can rest assured that the planning process was extremely thorough and not a single possible option was overlooked.  : )  (We are aware the fridge overlaps the window a tad in this layout but this is the worst case scenario and we're prepared for how to deal with it.  The fridge she's hoping to get is narrower than this but we're planning for the larger option just in case).

True to her vision “not cookie cutter” would be the design mandate and concept for Karen’s new kitchen.  This applies to the layout too. There are a LOT of kitchen design standards, rules of thumb and conventional layouts with their regulated work triangles - well this plan doesn’t necessarily follow all those rules.  And that's perfectly ok.  I can say from experience that the clients who do a lot of serious cooking are the ones who's kitchens stray from generic design standards the most because they have much more specific needs, usually simpler.

When I approach a kitchen plan from scratch I use spacing standards only as a starting point (which also is an instant way to gauge if your footprint is considered tight or generous).  From there I determine how and where adjustments can be made to suit the space and the users specific needs.  There's nothing wrong with conventional layout standards but they simply don’t always fit or work for every situation, that doesn't mean you can't still have a kitchen that's functional - it just means you need more adaptable solutions (while maintaining safety and functionality of course).

In addition to the floor plan I also worked out all of the wall elevations which detail Karen's new cabinetry and will facilitate getting it ordered.  The task of pulling this entire plan together is now in her very capable hands and I can't wait to see it all come together.   Karen has done some savvy networking to co-ordinate a few great collaborations and sponsors for this project.  The design layout reflects the products and publication opportunities that are anticipated thru the collaborations as well as some of Karen’s unique finds so it promises to be an interesting and beautiful transformation story for all parties involved.

You can follow the kitchen reno progress over at The Art of Doing Stuff and I'll post updates here as it starts coming together!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

My House: Dining Room Progress

For the past 11 months we've had the front part of our East Coast house and the entire 2nd floor undergoing an extensive renovation.  The reno area consists of a living room, dining room, hallway/staircase, 2 bedrooms and a bathroom - in total less than 1000 s.f.  Its been 11 months and this new work is still not finished.  I expected we'd  have the entire house reno completed by now but reality is I'm dealing with Atlantic time here. Nothing happens quickly.  This first phase of renos is complete enough now that we've moved into the new area and its a huge relief to have the extra room and to have the tools and dust and daily trades gone.   

Its fitting that the very first room we used in the new part of the house was the Dining Room (even before the bedrooms).  What better way to christen the new space than a special dinner with family, our very first house guests.   I never imaged 3 months previous when we planned their visit that w'ed be scrambling to get the new space livable by July 1st.   It was a close call,  I'll be honest, new beds arrived for the bedrooms on Thursday, the plumber arrived on Friday to install the bahtroom fixtures, boxes were being upacked on Saturday and our guests arrived on Sunday.  I had hotel rooms reserved just in case but miraculously we didn't need them.   Shortly after they arrived we gathered in our "new" dining room for a big dinner.  To give you an idea of how far this room has come, here's a little before and after along with a peek at some of the progress.

Dining Room Before

Dining Room After (same view as "Before" photo)

The only redeeming feature about this room "before" was that it was a decent size.   Fake wood panelling, acoustical tile ceiling (its everywhere here), nasty pet stained carpet, mis-matched trim work - it all had to go.  With a house this old a coat of paint and a steam clean isn't nearly enough to bring the space up to todays standards.  Behind the walls and above the tile ceiling your likely to find no insulation, mould, loads of mouse droppings, critter nests, faulty wiring and water damage.  We found all of that and more.  The only way you could move forward with this interior was to go backwards first.

On the floor we stripped back a layer of carpet, a layer of vinyl and a particle board subfloor to reveal what I had suspected (and desperately hoped) was there. Original solid wood wide plank floor boards, complete with a solid wood subfloor beneath.  I was ecstatic when we uncovered these and that they were throughout the entire house.

These are what the floors looked like after stripping off layers of paint. 

The next most exciting discovery was uncovering these original timber ceiling joists in the living and dining rooms.  Just like the wood floors, these beauties hadn't seen the light of day in a looooong time and I had no intention of covering them up again.

Almost there,,,many months later here's the dining room just after the drywallers finished.  We reframed all the exterior walls, added insulation, new drywall and new wood windows and all new trim work.  The wood ceiling beams were left bare and new drywall was seamlessly fitted around them.

Below is a sneak peek of what the dining room looked like the day we used it for the first time with our guests, I literally took the building permit out of the window seconds before these photos were taken.   The room was far from finished; there are no light fixtures, no electrical cover plates, no vent covers and barely any furniture.  The table and chairs we moved into the room are completely temporary but work for now - it will ALL be replaced in the near future.  The fact that the room isn't complete and is a long way from where I want it to be, would never stop me from making use of it now as best I can.

This is how the table looked while I was half way thru setting it for our first dinner.  I filled the bottoms of the hurricane lanterns with sand from the beach and added wild daisies and ferns that I picked from the side of our road (there's no flower shop to run to).  In case you're wondering what was on the menu for this inaugural dinner - we had a lobster feed of course. : )

So that's a sneak peek of the new construction in the dining room, the furnishings and artwork are another story all together.  Stay tuned for sneak peeks of the other "new" rooms which I'll be posting soon.  You can also check out some before photos of the exterior on my first post about the property here and one other post on some of the demo progress here.

Room Design and all Photos by:  Carol Reed

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Grey Scale: Powder Room

Clients powder room in various stages of progress.

I was sorting through room photos of past projects and came across these images of a powder room from a recent renovation, the 70's Bungalow project.  It dawned on me that I hadn't ever posted any photos of this room before, probably because its just such a difficult room to capture without a wide angle lens.  Like the entire house this room underwent a complete gut so we started with a clean slate - dark grey slate in fact which I chose as a wall colour for the small room.  

Small rooms are the perfect spaces to play up drama and scale - whether its a large print wallpaper, deep paint colour or graphic floor pattern, going bold will have lots of impact and kick the wow factor up a notch for your guests when they excuse themselves to powder their noses. It makes the entire experience a little more special.  : )    The drama in this little room doesn't come from the colour, its neutral in that sense but the walls are deep and dark and quite a departure from the rest of the home's all white modern interior.  The large calacatta marble floor tiles have beautiful dramatic veining.   

A bevelled tray mirror adds some elegant sparkle to the dark room but the floor to ceiling bare grey wall was crying out for a piece of artwork and I wanted large scale.   What I had completely forgotten about until I came across these room photos the other day was that we had one of my own photographs framed and hung on the wall.   For this room it was an affordable alternative to what would have needed to be a very large  original piece (or a smaller pair) of art.  I sent my file to Elevator Digital and once again, Kevin worked his magic on it to make sure when it was enlarged that the image quality was maintained and then the print was beautifully matted and framed.

The photo chosen was from a series I took of buildings on Wall Street when I was in NYC two summers ago. The homeowners have both travelled to NY for business over the years and now have a son who lives in Manhattan, they're pretty fond of the city and were quite taken with many of my architectural photos.   Its hard to tell from this not so great snapshot but the size of the framed piece is over 3' wide and over 4' tall.  Its not actually a black and white image but the colours are all monochromatic greys that it reads that way.  My favorite thing about this photo is the perspective,  its so dynamic that it brings an amazing sense of depth to the room. 

There's been lots of finishing touches and a massive landscaping overhaul happening at this house over the past year so they'll be more after photos coming soon.

Room Design and all Photos By:  Carol Reed

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Style at Home: Celebrating Canadian Designers

Room Design &  Photo by:  Carol Reed

There's truly nothing I'm prouder of than being Canadian so I was thrilled to be invited to share my favorite space last month for a special Canada Day feature on the Style at Home website.

You can read all about why this is my favorite client space here.  It was an easy decision to chose Gail's kitchen for all the reasons that are mentioned in the article.  Further to that on a personal level it was the first project I documented in its entirety on social media from initial meeting to magazine cover - I blogged and tweeted the progress. To eventually see the completed kitchen on a recent Style at Home cover was such a perfect finale. (for more posts on this project you can search "Gail's Kitchen" in the side bar).

Not only is this room one of my favorite spaces, this image is one of my favorites too - prior to the extensive reno this is a view that wasn't even possible due to a large catwalk that cut thru the cathedral space and hovered over the eating area.  Removing the catwalk was the very first thing on my agenda and it was impactful!  Exposing this cathedral ceiling added great volume and light, and,,,,this incredible sightline from the loft space above.

Thanks to Elaine Song for putting together such an wonderful feature, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the inspiration behind the 10 other celebrated Canadian spaces.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Front Door Friday: Turquoise & Chevron

Chester, Nova Scotia

If you've ever visited the seaside village of Chester, Nova Scotia, chances are this charming turquoise coloured chevron panelled door has caught your eye - as it did mine a couple of years ago.  I've posted a photo of this door before on the blog and on twitter but I think you'll agree its worth repeating.  A shingled house always stops me in my tracks but the unexpected colour of this front door paired with the grey shakes is truly sublime.   And the antique brass seashell door knocker,,,,hello, can I come in please!

Chester is a picturesque little village on the South Shore of Nova Scotia popular for sailing enthusiasts.  Its tree canopied streets are lined with charming historic homes.  Many of them are summer homes so this turquoise door colour perfectly suits the quaint coastal style of the community.  The closest colour match I can find is Sico's Paris 1900.  I think its especially interesting that here its paired with linen coloured trim as opposed to white, I think this evokes a more nostalgic vibe.

Photo by:   Carol Reed

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The TBB Blog: Summer Cottage 2013

I was thrilled to participate this past week as one of 4 guest Designer's contributing to the TBB's Blog series "Colour Fabric & Style 2013".  My friend Sonya of Sonya Kinkade Design (and TBB contributor) asked me if I could submit a favourite paint and fabric scheme of 2013.... and I of course, not having the patience for an imaginary concept, decided to pull a scheme that I love from my client files.  The timing couldn't be better to share this classic navy, white and green scheme which is part of a total renovation of an Ontario summer cottage I worked on during this past winter.   The cottage at this moment is still being pulled together for its first season with its new homeowners, and no doubt over the course of the summer will continue to receive some finishing touches.

You can check out the story behind this scheme along with the colour and fabric specs here on The TBB's blog and I'm sure you'll enjoy the entire series.  Thank you Sonya, Maureen, Lisa, Donna, Nicole and Mary Ann for including me -  it was an honour to contribute along with such talented company!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Front Door Friday: Grey & Green

I've amassed a large collection of front doors over the years, its seems whenever I travel or am simply out for a walk or drive in any neighbourhood one of my favourite past times is to admire front door designs.  I'm drawn to them for many different reasons whether they're rustic, modern, traditional, formal or utilitarian,,,,country, city or lakeside - they all make a statement that speaks to the architecture, the inhabitants, and the location.  The image the front door conveys to me is like a mini story of the life, history and style of the home and the homeowners.  Many of the front door photos I have are just too beautiful not to share, like this one above.

I drive by this cedar shake house almost every day, its located about a mile or so down the road from my own house on the South Shore of Nova Scotia.  I actually remember taking a photo of this door when we first visited this area a couple of years ago because I was so captivated by the colour combo.  Although this appears to be the main door of the building its not one that's used very often and hence the storm door is permanently in place.

This is a classic East Coast style that I see a lot of in Nova Scotia, and I love everything about its traditional coastal charm; the weathered grey cedar shakes, the coloured door, the white trim, the strap hinges, the nautical style lanterns.  If you look close you can see the hooks for the window shutters too, the shutters are painted the same colour as the storm door.

Photo by:  Carol Reed

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Stoney Lake Cottage: Bathroom #1 Progress

Here's a sneak peek  of one of several bathrooms in the Stonely Lake cottage project that are undergoing a light renovation.  The objective was to work with the existing elements as much as possible but give the entire bathroom a fresh new cottage style.   Its actually one of my favorite things to do - to explore the potential of existing space without completely gutting it and starting from scratch.  It is possible to transform an interior by implementing some straightforward changes.

Before - Existing Bathroom

The modifications for this bathroom involved replacing the ceramic tile floor with a wide plank knotty pine.  The existing solid pine vanity was great quality and in excellent condition but we replaced the synthetic countertop with new quartz counter, new hardware, added a new sink and faucet, and new lighting.  In addition to the new chrome fixtures the wall tile was removed and replaced with beadboard wainscotting with built-in mirror.  On the opposite wall to the sink I replaced the shiny brass towel bars with a row of chrome towel hooks.  A navy blue wall paint above the crisp white beadboard creates a classic cottage scheme.  To complete the bathroom we'll add colourful striped towels, a graphic area rug, and polished chrome and ribbed glass vanity accessories.

After - Bathroom in progress

This is just one of 4 bathroom remodels that are nearing completion in the cottage and getting ready for their first summer season.  I'm looking forwarding to sharing some after photos of the other spaces here in the coming months.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Stoney Lake Cottage: Kitchen Progress

Cottage Kitchen - In Progress
This cottage kitchen is nearing the end of an extensive transformation.  When my clients purchased this new to them cottage late last summer, my first impression when I saw the photos was that it had great bones, and when I visited in person I especially loved its tall vaulted and cathedral wood ceilings.  It had several bathrooms and a large kitchen which were looking dated and more suburban in flavour perhaps than lakeside cottage. Without undergoing a complete gut of the interior, my challenge was to give the entire interior a complete update that would inject it with classic cottage charm that reflected this young family's modern lifestyle. The cottage would not be used in the winter so light, relaxed and summery vibe was in order.

Carpeting and narrow strip maple flooring (installed on a diagonal) would be the first to go.  Next up; new wide plank pine flooring, fresh wall paint, all new light fixtures, plumbing fixtures, hardware, countertops and appliances would complete the to do list.  But before we concentrated on all the new finishes and fittings for the kitchen, I recommended we rethink the layout.  The cabinetry was solid wood, great quality and in excellent condition but I saw a lot of potential for improvement and was convinced I could rework the layout using the existing cabinets but make it more functional for cooking and gathering.

Before - Kitchen Plan View

This cottage has no shortage of angles, while I do love the slopes of its dramatic cathedral and vaulted ceilings I wasn't crazy for the multi-angled kitchen island so this became my first target.  The island consisted of a cooktop, a prep sink, 3 different counter heights and despite its size, had seating for only 3, maybe 4.  There's nothing I dislike more in a kitchen than a cooktop in an island, especially where there's seating so my first goal was to find a new place for the range.  As you can see on the plan above, there wasn't a lot of wall space to work with.

After - Kitchen Plan View

Here's a view of the new kitchen floor plan I proposed.  The entire layout was created using all of the existing cabinets plus a new open section for the microwave.  Although there's still a few angled cabinets in the island I straightened out the island's orientation. The range now sits against a wall complete with a range hood. The fridge moved to the opposite wall, so now the fridge, sink and range are in a nice efficient configuration.  The island becomes a great pre-dinner gathering place (out of the way of the cooks) with lots of room for snacks, beverages, buffets, and seating for 6.  The family of 4 can also enjoy meals here dining style around the open end of the island. The new undercounted microwave frees up counter space in the work area.  There was much debate over the microwave vs second dishwasher vs wine fridge here. : )

Once the layout was nailed down, I selected an entirely new palette of finish materials and fixtures.   

Before - Kitchen Left Side 

I also did some editing by deleting the heavy wooden light valance above the kitchen windows, as well as the ruffled fabric valance.  This immediately brightened and simplified the space.  Next, the solid knotty pine wood cabinets would all get painted.

Before - Kitchen window and light valances.

Kitchen Left Side - In Progress

Fresh white walls and deep navy painted cabinets would compliment all the amber wood tones in the cottage and set the tone for a classic navy and white scheme throughout.  A new farm style sink and articulating antique nickel wall lights above the windows add vintage character.  The tall cabinet on the left will house the new stainless steel fridge.  The new counters and industrial pull-down faucet will be installed shortly....

Before - Right Side of Kitchen

  The old panelled fridge with black trim and counter top microwave were permanently removed as was the diagonally laid narrow strip maple flooring.

Moving the fridge to the opposite wall and shifting some base cabinets around made room for a new 36"wide range and exhaust hood.  A relocated glass door wall cabinet will work well beside the range for plates and bowls.  The existing solar shades, previously hidden behind the ruffled fabric valance now look perfectly simple and crisp set in the wood framed windows and provide light control from the afternoon sun.  See, I didn't get rid of everything. ; )

A pro style 6 burner range will be perfect for large family gatherings.  The entire cooking area gets a new full height stainless steel backsplash. New satin nickel cup pulls on the drawers complete the old cabinetry facelift.  New white and grey 'marble' quartz counter tops will wrap up to the underside of the window sill.

Before photos of the island, front view and back view.  A sea of wood.

The proposed new re-design of the island.
Initially the plans called for a second dishwasher in the island but later the homeowners opted to add a microwave here instead.  Amore recent change was the deletion of the raised countertop behind the sink, the island counter will now be all one level.

I completed all the design plans in December and the deconstruction started right away.  The contractor has been working non-stop all winter in effort to get the cottage ready for use starting May long weekend.  While all this reno work has been going on I've been working with the homeowners selecting all the new furnishings - no small task for this 7 bedroom, 4 bathroom cottage, plus boathouse!  Its been exciting to see it all coming together this past week, the rest of the fixtures and countertops will be arriving soon.  I'll be posting more updates and after photos in the coming weeks and months - I can't wait to share the dramatic bathroom transformations that have taken place not to mention the newly painted, all white (stunning!) boathouse.

All photos and drawings by:  Carol Reed Interior Design Inc.

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Big World of Interior Design

A recent meeting at an office in downtown Toronto had me reminiscing about the earlier half of my career when I designed corporate interiors.  On this trip to Toronto I had the pleasure of attending a meeting in one of the most well designed spaces I've ever been in with stunning city views, perfectly appointed furnishings and impeccably planned details.  I could write volumes about the infinite design details that played out just in the lobby and boardrooms alone.

The commercial sector of the interior design industry employs the largest number of designers and makes up the highest volume of projects dollar wise and square footage wise encompassing hospitality, retail, personal services and business spaces. When you think about it, outside of your home almost every space you experience is designed by interior designers - from your corner starbucks to the movie theatre to the airport lounge, to shoe boutiques and all of those 9-5 office facilities both urban and sub-urban - large teams of interior designers and technicians design and plan these spaces.  In comparison, the residential sector of this industry is a tiny drop in the bucket yet it dominates the media and the public's perception of what interior design is.

For Interior Designers who have experienced working in commercial design you'll understand when I say that the residential market of interiors its an entirely different world, one that leaves us staring at HGTV with tilted heads and raised eyebrows wondering what the heck any of that has to do with interior design (!?), at least the world of interior design as we know it.

I've always felt that what we see happening in the commercial side of the design industry leads the way for what we'll see translating into residential spaces.  Fashion certainly has a large influence too but what we see in public environments makes a big impression on our aesthetics for our own homes.  Its common for clients to send me photos of things they've seen in hotels or restaurants that they want to incorporate at home.  Stainless steel appliances and countertops, back painted glass, floating shelves, recycling centres, giant screen monitors, halogen pendants, engineered flooring, green products.....all of these things were common place in commercial spaces a decade before they were mainstream for the home.  Same goes for mid-century modern furniture.  Fifteen years ago the only people you'd ever find with a barcelona chair in their living room would be an architect or designer, who've been using them in commercial spaces for half a century.  I remember just starting out in my career how much I idolized Barbara Barry but I only knew of her from the commercial spaces she had designed.  

I think my experience with commercial projects has been invaluable in understanding the technical side of built environments, in understanding the construction process and in learning how to work with contractors, trades and craftsmen.  For Interior Design students who may be graduating this year, I would suggest that even if your hope is to work on residential interiors that you don't completely disregard opportunities to work in other sectors and become as diversified as possible, if not soley for the chance to develop and hone your aptitude for details.

Some of my favorite things about working in commercial design and some of the most important things I learned are also many of the aspects I see lacking in the residential field so take advantage of work experience you can acquire elsewhere in the industry, the more diverse your design experience the better.  Either way if you are passionate about design then travel as much as possible, never stop studying art history and always keep your eyes open to soak in the details.

I've always wished there was a TV show that showcased interior design projects other than just private residential spaces. There is a big big world of interior design happening out there that is rarely showcased or celebrated outside of its own industry but yet it influences our lives on a daily basis making our experiences positive or negative, memorable or forgettable.  Personally I can never stop admiring great design in any type of venue and nothing stops me in my tracks like perfectly planned details.

All photos by:   Carol Reed

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Riverdale Reno: Progress

On a recent site visit for this project I was so pleased to see how all of the details of this renovation have come together.  Creating two new luxe bathrooms out of one large outdated one has been part of an extensive transformation process for this Victorian semi in Toronto.  You can read an overview of the design brief and view before and after floor plans of this second floor reno project here.   As I mentioned in that first post the design vision for the master ensuite space took a dramatic turn in direction from the initial concept meetings.  I had come up with a floor plan solution that my client approved in no time but deciding on finish materials was a much slower process and one that really pushed me to embrace some details and finishes that I wasn't entirely confident about.

Bathroom concept design sketch by Carol Reed Interior Design.

From the beginning the homeowner had a very clear idea of all the features he wanted IN his bathroom however, he didn't have as clear a vision of what he wanted the space to *look* like when it came to colour of materials and finishes.  This sketch above was something I prepared for him to help him visualize the new space and this then really helped him pin point what he didn't want.  This was definitely the look he wanted in his Guest Bathroom, lots of white marble on the floors and walls with a walnut vanity.  But for the master,,,he immediately decided dark and and sexy was the direction he wanted to take, further to that, he wanted a dramatic ledgestone feature wall.  This is when as a designer,,,,you truly have to tune in to what your client wants and not be blinded by your personal preferences.  You need to always be open to new concepts and directions and then use your expertise to filter and edit, not dictate.  Clearly this room nudged me in a new direction but I thoroughly embraced the opportunity and I am completely thrilled with the results.  

As you can see from these photos, this is quite a departure from the initial sketch.  The dark stone on the floor and the dark ledgestone on the tub wall is a striking contrast with the white marble used for the counter and tub deck and on the shower walls.  This photo above was taken just after the custom tv-in-mirror was installed.  The warm tones of the custom walnut slab tub panel and vanity is stunning against the grey.  One of the great features we kept from the old space was a skylite which floods the room with lots of natural daylight.  I think all the white marble, the mirror and the daylight beautifully balance all the dark grey. The homeowner and I are still on the hunt for the 'perfect' light fixture.

Even though there was a lot of different materials going on, including 4 different stone materials, I used them in a very monolithic way - each one of them used singularly and in an uninterrupted pattern.  The floor is a large rectangular tile laid in an alternating offset, the wall tiles are long narrow rectangles laid in a brick pattern in rows of alternating heights, the ledgestone is very thin long pieces of horizontal split face stone panels installed from wall to wall.  In designing this bathroom , there was a lot of consideration paid to mixing various patterns, mixing smooth with rough, light with dark, large with small.  In building it, there was an incredible amount of skill required in order to seamlessly integrate all of these different materials and details together.  Not for the faint of heart.

The master bedroom got a mini reno too.  New carpet, new trim work, new paint and an entire new wall of closets now on the left side of the bay window.

The guest bathroom was not quite as far along as the master ensuite.  On this day the custom walnut wood frame for the mirror was about to be installed.  We are also awaiting a pair of tall french windows that will be outfitted with polished chrome cremone hardware. : )

Here's an older progress pic of the guest bathroom shower under way.  Again, a departure for me with so many different tiles being used.  The mini cararra 'chiclets' on the floor are my favourite!  Outside the shower the bathroom floor is finished with extra large, slab like, cararra marble tiles.

The guest bedroom has seen a lot of changes too.  Starting with a new pair of french doors and a juliette balcony,,,new carpeting, trim work, paint and hardware.  Its a small space but its jamb packed with luxe details.  A new upholstered bed was the first of the new furniture to arrive.  This will be flanked with mirrored night tables and a pair of antique alabaster lamps.  We've got some gorgeous graphic fabric picked out for the draperies and hits of bright coral coloured prints for the bed. 

Its been a long process but this house is almost ready to welcome its first overnight guest, but I've forewarned my client that they just might never want to leave! ; )  

All photos by:   Carol Reed

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