Places to Spaces

We all know interior design is often inspired by the fashion world.
I love seeing the runway trends that are translated into room decor around the Pinter-sphere.  


So I wanted to show how inspiration comes from many places - like travel.

When I came across this beautiful island shot I was immediately inspired by the colour palette and filed it away in my Inspiration board on Pinterest.  

Love the soothing color palette

I wanted to show how this picture can inspire a mood for a room 
and inform the colour scheme and design concept as well.

It could be a picture you took on your honeymoon or anniversary that conjures up feelings of serenity, comfort and sheer bliss! You want to bring that feeling home after the vacay. 
So, how do you do it?  Here’s my take.

My first response is an emotional one – how would I feel being in this space (aka water’s edge at dusk).  It immediately feels very serene and peaceful; a lovely sunset over gently rolling waves.
 At the same time, it evokes an edgy, modern, sophisticated vibe; and a sense of mystery as the evening transitions to night and all the colour fades into the darkness. 

If I was decorating a living room inspired by this picture, 
I would see light silvery blue-grey walls with a steely-grey ceiling & trim
to pick up on the colours of the approaching night sky and make the space feel cozy. 

Glacier Lake,  beach house color  contemporary paints stains and glazes by Benjamin Moore  tweed coat CSP-85: The neutral gray tones of a classic tweed are both sophisticated and timeless. Ideal for grounding brighter accessories.

The bubble chandeliers in multiples provide the lightness and ethereal qualities
of the billowy clouds accenting the vast evening sky. 

A curved charcoal sofa with silver nail heads and the graphic lines of the side table
feature asymmetrical shapes similar to the side of the cliffs.   

 The black shades on this modern brass floor lamp
repeat the edges of the spiked rocks that accent the water's edge.

The linen tufted ottoman with bleached wood legs and base
adds contrast to the dark sofa and brings in another texture
 like the sand against the water. 

The wavy dark grey lines on the rug create the foundation for the room and
mimic the waves of the ocean, giving the whole room a sense of fluidity and motion.  

Lavender, cream, pink and metallic finishes splashed about in accent pillows, flowers, and accessories lighten the space like the night sky’s showcase… as it sets.


What do you think?

Does this space look like that place?

If you can't get to the oasis, bring the oasis to your home.

All it takes is a little inspiration to get you started.

Kitchen Design Tips

Every kitchen I've designed, although all different in style and space, all started with the same issues:

dated finishes
not enough storage
not functioning well
poor layout

In every case when I start a project it always starts with the 20 questions!

Although it's obvious that the main function of the kitchen is to cook there are many nuances that go into a good design plan that works specifically for you.

How many cooks in the kitchen?

This is a baseline question because if the answer is more than one,  than I have to consider multiple work zones or stations are required to be used at the same time. 
Or, it may simply mean we take turns cooking, or we cook with the kids on the weekends, or I want to be able to bake with my grand kids when they come over.
All of these answers feed into the plan and each one translates into a different feature of the kitchen that changes as a result.

In this client's kitchen I added a second sink for prep, with the main sink on the back wall for clean up next to the dishwasher.  There's also 46" between them so that two cooks can easily work simultaneously.  I've also separated the cook top (left) from the wall oven (not shown) to ensure lots of space to move around.

Do you like to entertain?  
If so, how often, and how large a group?

Based on this conversation, I may create an island with bar stools so the cook can be part of the fun or we take down a wall between the kitchen and dining room to open up the entertaining space.
I may bring in a free standing credenza or sideboard that can act as a buffet to accommodate frequent large cocktail parties or a small bistro table for small dinner parties for four.
For someone that has frequent dinner parties, I may recommend coordination or extension of kitchen cabinetry into an open plan dining space.

In this client's kitchen (pictured above), I actually removed the raised bar counter on the peninsula because the client's never used it and their top priority was storage.  I was able to extend the cabinetry behind the sink to add an additional 7 foot x 12 inches of storage space that was just used for bar stools.

beautiful built in cabinetry
If you have the space, a Butler's Pantry between the kitchen and dining room is the way to go.  Leave some shelves open for display and easy access to items you use often.  This is also a great place for a small wine fridge.

Do you need to have a dining table in the kitchen?

You may think this is an odd question, but in a small space forgoing a separate table for a large island with required seating could be the best option.  
See below Before picture (with table) and After (with seating for 4 at the island).

This was an IKEA kitchen makeover.  See the whole project HERE

modern kitchen - wood and white
Change the material of the counter top and the height to create a cozy dining space.  The reclaimed wood on the back wall helps keep the white space with concrete floors from feeling too cold.  And check out that view!!

Black & White kitchen 2014 Interior Design Excellence Awards (IDEA) winners revealed
Nothing like Black and White and Marble all over to create big drama!
Over sized pendants are the right size for an island this large.
Keep in mind scale as well as function when designing your space.

What small appliances do you like to use?

Bread maker, toaster oven, food processor, stand mixer, crock pot,
all of these items can be stored out of the way if they are considered up front in the design plan.
Notice a coffee maker was not on the list?  In my world this daily use appliance should be out front and center, and space permitting, should be housed in a Coffee Station with lovely mugs, pretty serving pieces and a chocolate shaker for your latte.

a coffee lover's dream
This coffee station would wake up any kitchen!  Open shelves above give it a Bistro feeling.

avoid counter clutter by installing these handy organizers inside the cabinet

This is a design concept I did for a client with a cabinet wall built to hide all the kitchen gizmos

No more dragging out the toaster and coffee maker every morning! Add outlets inside a cabinet and group small appliances together:
Here pocket doors are installed so you can choose to display or hide the appliances.

Do you want a desk or computer area?

This is a big one!  Almost every client I work with has some requirement for a space to sort mail, pay bills, store paperwork, to place a computer or laptop, store cook books or other books.  Depending on the age of the children in the home, this may be the place for homework as well.  

#Kitchen Docking Station | A sliver of a desk—only 30 inches wide—is all you need for your laptop and the kids' paperwork.

A dedicated area can be built into the design of cabinetry if you plan ahead, even small kitchens can use a practical space like this that may have been otherwise unused.

Small kitchen desk is always a good idea.

These are just some of the basics for planning your kitchen design.
Find all the links to pictures above and lots of great ideas on my KITCHENS board on Pinterest.

The most important thing is to give yourself lots of time in the planning stage to consider all your options.  Spend time visiting showrooms and looking at lots of pictures so that you can really hone in on your desired style once the practical elements are figured out.

Of course, if it all feels overwhelming please contact me for some professional help!

Eclectic Style

some boho
a bit beachy
cottage library chic
add lots of vintage vibe

mix it all together ... feels eclectic to me!

My client's requirements for her open plan living room was first and foremost comfort, nothing precious;  family & dog friendly, barefoot country living with cozy places to play guitar or plop down to read a book, which the whole family of five love to do.

This is the BEFORE

On one side of the room, lots of mismatched and recycled pieces of furniture that had seen their time.  A dull brown rug that weighed down the room and leather sofas on their last legs... literally.  The aluminum window blinds and drapery sheers did nothing in terms of function or style.

The other side of the room hosted this lovely old piano that sat lonely in the middle of the space with only a few minutes a week having her ivories tickled - a smaller keyboard in the daughter's room had taken its place.  Random furniture placed about but it didn't feel cohesive with the adjoining space.  So the task was to make both spaces separately functional while still complementing each other.

The only piece that had to stay was this beautiful cabinet that stored a ton of cherished books.

The first task was to create a functional layout for both spaces that worked better for this family's specific needs.  A games table was mandatory and comfortable seating with good lighting for reading.  This was also going to be a teen girl's area for writing and crafts.

I designed two distinct but complimentary spaces to accommodate everyone at the same time, 
and created functional areas that could also be cozy enough for just one person.

The space is 33 feet wide by 13.5 feet deep.
Front entry door at bottom center with adjacent dining room (top right) and hallway to the kitchen (top center).
The original dull yellow walls were painted a crisp Benjamin Moore Cloud White and all the traditional trim in a contrasting dark grey, Benjamin Moore Kendall Charcoal for a nice pop. Matching sisal rugs with red border trim define each space but still link the rooms together.  A gorgeous navy velvet tufted chesterfield sofa is the best spot for lounging with a good book or taking an afternoon nap.  Client's vintage farmhouse cabinet (bottom right) provides additional storage.  The desk was an antique find that was painted to work in the space.

Client's artwork inspired the accent colour for the throw and pillows on the sofa.  They also kept their cubby bookshelves.

Daughter's desk hosts her prized vintage typewriter and lavender tea set.

The other side of the room showcases my client's vintage art posters that tie into the red rug trim.
I brought in a new daybed with classic styling and great patina on the wood frame.
The rustic wood table is just the right size for card games and works well with the two vintage Queen Anne chairs; we are still looking for two more side chairs that can be pulled up to the games table when needed.  The fireplace was freshened up with paint for now, with plans for a vintage surround in the future.

This is the front entry door that has no adjacent closets.  The nearest closet is 16 feet clear across the room, which makes no sense at all in a home this size.  So the solution was two hall benches flanking the door with hanging coat hooks and drawers for shoes.  We added baskets above for scarves, mitts and the dog leash.  It now helps define the space as well as keeping it tidy.  The frame of the door was also painted dark grey to match the window trim, it really makes the solid wood front door look richer.

There were three beautiful vintage chandeliers that came with the house but were located in hallways, so I wanted to move them into these spaces (two flanking the chesterfield shown below) 
but unfortunately they needed to be re-wired to meet electrical code requirements, as did the rest of the room, so we held off for now on the lighting upgrade until budget permits.  
So sad...

The original design concept was to hang the vintage chandeliers on either side of the decadent! 

The definition of a successful project is not only to have extremely happy clients that give you wonderful referrals but, when the homeowner's teens give up their beloved media room to hang out here with the family instead.  Quality family time in a beautiful and cozy space. 

That makes me a very happy lady indeed!  

Modern Rustic Loft

You know you're a designer when....

an empty room makes you squeal with joy!

That's what happened when I first saw my client's loft.  
Not just any loft, but an authentic schoolhouse built in 1894 that was converted into 66 unique apartments - featuring a towering 22 foot ceiling with timber beams, exposed brick, vaulted ceilings, a skylight and an open railing across the top floor bedroom.

Here's the before.  

Only the kitchen was installed when my client took possession of the 1100 sq. ft space.   
There's a bedroom and bathroom in the upstairs loft.  
 We had medium-tone hardwood floors throughout and creamy vanilla walls to work with.

This is my client's first home that she could decorate any way she wanted.  
She liked all the rustic elements that came with the space but wanted to ensure it was still very comfortable and a modern space for entertaining.  

The crazy thing about this cool space is that it lacked two very important elements,


There were only 2 hall fixtures in the whole place, along with the bathroom and under cabinet lighting in the kitchen.  So, that was a big priority!

Also, this client is a Fashionista, 
so we started in the bedroom by expanding the closet doorway to allow her to take advantage of the 10 foot height of the space.  The closet doors were removed and the opening raised 3 feet higher (they would be draped for privacy instead of getting custom made larger doors).  By not removing the center piece of drywall, we saved the expense of having to repair the floors and it allowed us to mount a new closet light switch on the outside center wall as well.


We also opened up the space under the stairs to create a huge 6 foot storage closet and extra crawlspace under the stairs landing.  This is where the luggage and seasonal items get stored. 

I created a floor plan that allowed for 3 distinct zones
Entertaining/TV watching
Work space / home office
Dining + Kitchen Area

Once all the structural and electrical needs were addressed, we focused on creating a comfortable space that was part rustic, part chic and very unique.

Reclaimed wood dining table with a metal base is accented by black Eiffel chairs with chrome legs.
The old bronze "sticks" pendant over the table is pretty huge and is a statement piece that can be seen from anywhere on the main floor.  I was ecstatic when I found the dramatic artwork hanging in the background and knew it would be perfect for this space and the client's style.

Cozy curved back sofa and an over-sized reclaimed wood coffee table with huge drawers provides great storage.  The huge window's frames were painted black to work with the space.

I created an 8'x8' chalkboard wall to help ground the office space as well as for function.
The framed picture is a wallpaper print I found of statistics formulas via Spoonflower.
(the homeowner is working on her PhD in Statistics - fun, right?!)
I'm still looking for a nice saucer to put under the concrete plan pot.

Love these asymmetrical steel mesh pendants over the kitchen island.
Staircase railings and posts were painted black to play up the architectural feature.  

Custom made live-edge shelves were installed between the pillars for more display. 
I found the perfect vintage red cabinet for added storage and a splash of colour.
We will be adding a mirror on the back wall behind the shelves and removing the coat rack that's there now.

 I framed some vintage magazine ads and created a gallery wall on the staircase landing.  
Some small mirrors with metallic frames add a little bit of sparkle and add light to the space.

A view of the dining space from the staircase landing.  

The view of the art and live edge desk from upstairs is even more dramatic against the black chalkboard wall.

A little Yves St. Laurent clutch and Jimmy Choo heels for extra glam styling (client's own).
I told you she was a Fashionista!

The vision for the bedroom upstairs was a bit more edgy than downstairs.
I found a cool wall mural of Torn Advertisements that created a dramatic backdrop for the bed.

For a bedside table, I found a wooden vintage school desk with black iron base that fits perfectly.
I had sleek metal sconces attached to the wall for night time reading.

Organized and filled closet space.  
Custom drapery panels in a black & white stripe on a simple iron rod keeps the room tidy.

We went for a "Rocker Glam" vibe with this vanity table.
The chrome sconces are not only very retro-cool, 
but they are practical when putting on make-up here.

This was a very fun project that came together in record time.  
It helps to have an easy-going client with a great sense of style; a reasonable budget that aligns with the requirements, and my skilled trades to help with the technical details.

Next project is the builder's basic powder room. 

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