More than a month since my Part 1 post, and you’d think my tiny galley kitchen would be complete with a set of pretty after photos. Not so. The kitchen at our new place, which I have dubbed #Austinsuite on Twitter and Instagram, is at a plateau. Let me bring you up to speed on our progress.
Right after cabinet demo, this tile ugliness had to go. This mottled pinkish, greyish, bluish, texture tile covered the kitchen and entry floor. Ew. The result was a meeting of several disharmonious flooring materials as you entered our suite (right). Granted, the bathroom door (visible on the left in the photo on the right) would usually be closed (a pact I made with my husband, since when it’s open, the view is straight to the toilet — horror!). Alas, flooring disharmony is a personal design pet peeve of mine, especially in small spaces. The tile was ripped up and down went old school parquet in the kitchen and entry to match the rest of the suite.
Then I painted it all white. Here’s the view from the bathroom, across the entry to the kitchen after one coat of floor primer. Better already. More on the painted floors in a future blog post.
Way back in mid June, Ikea installed our Applåd cabinets in a single day. They were in place and ready so that when we moved in, I could unpack right into them — no delays. Perfect. There was only one minor hiccup. Here’s what happened.
You may recall that my plans called for a paneled fridge (as in the photo at left) and that I had some bulkheads to contend with (right). I wanted the fridge gable to be notched out around the bulkhead and continue right to the ceiling. When I met on site with the installer to discuss this, he talked me out of it. He was sure the bulkhead surface would be uneven, making the end-panel cut look sloppy. And he though that end of the kitchen would feel too crowded. He had a point so I took his advice.
This was the result. I knew right away it was wrong. Bummer. When stuff like this happens, you have to sit with it for a bit: Am I being too picky to want it changed? I decided to wait until the fridge was on site before my final decision. The fridge did not change my opinion. It still looked off-kilter and I knew it would drive me nuts.
Et voila! Fixed and so much better, don’t you think? Honestly I can feel the difference physically — it’s like I breathe easier. Note also the large fluorescent ceiling fixture from the previous photo had also been banished in favour of a sleek mod Ikea Bave LED ceiling track and LED under-cabinet strip lights. Note also the makeshift cabinet pulls fashioned from painter’s tape. That’s how it looks to this day as I remain undecided on hardware and won’t settle for just anything. (Perhaps you feel my husband’s pain in dealing with my uncompromising nature?)
And speaking of my uncompromising nature, may I present the hole where our range will one day be, God and Bosch willing. You see, being a member of the press, I was privy to a sneak peek of a brand new slide-in induction range made by Bosch (makers of the existing laundry appliances I already loved in the space). When you go to a press event, the people hosting hope you will write about their products. They don’t expect you to say “I love it. I want to buy one. How soon can I get it?” Their answer was “great” and "end of June." The current projected range delivery date is set for this month. I love induction cooking. I already had to compromise on my original plan for a wall oven with induction cooktop above due to the electrical wiring limitations of our suite. An induction slide-in range is the next best plan and they are very rare birds in Canada.
I am convinced this Bosch beauty will be worth the wait. But just so you feel the full effect of my decision, no range means the counter can’t be templated: no kitchen sink and faucet, no dishwasher. Also, since my laundry is in this area and the water is turned off, no laundry. It’s summer. No laundry is killing me. My husband and I have a hot date at a local laundromat tonight. Perhaps you feel his pain even more now?
In other appliance news, here’s my cute fridge. It’s by Blomberg. I got it at Caplan’s in Toronto and it’s a slim 22in wide. It sits here totally naked waiting for a skilled carpenter to make it some custom panels since my cabinet installers reneged on their original agreement to make this part of the cabinet install. I have placed a call to another guy who was recommended by a colleague. No call back. Here’s where I insert my plug for hiring a designer to handle your kitchen reno.
You see, finding skilled pros and managing them is a full-time job. I have a full-time job already; it’s hard to get this stuff sorted when you are busy at work. In other disappointing fridge news, it’s not working particularly well. I have reset the temps. No luck. Blurgh. Call is in to Caplan’s. My fridge is like a lazy supermodel — it’s tall, skinny and naked and doesn’t work much.
My Bosch custom panel dishwasher is sitting in my dining room minding its own business waiting for the range/counter/water to be turned on/elusive custom panel maker. Bless my Bosch dishwasher.
So, like I was saying, it’s a plateau….
While Japanese design has often been associated with the country’s post-war intense industrialization, decorative arts have been around for much longer. Back in prehistoric times, Jōmon hunters and gatherers were among the first nations in the world to create pottery. The first elaborate ceramic decoration can be traced back to 8,000 B.C.
Through the ages, and in spite of foreign influences, the Land of the Rising Sun has been able to preserve incomparable aesthetics anchored in traditional culture, while opening up to modernity. And even though high-tech products made in Japan became a huge export success since the 1960s, it is ancient know-how that attracts creative minds nowadays, whether they search for meaning or authenticity.
Woodworking artist Loïc Bard seems to have a natural affinity for Nippon style: pure lines, simple concepts, sensorial material or an overall sense of harmony. He designs lamps, furniture and other items inspired by “organic forms,” which he discovered while visiting Japan. When we featured Loïc’s portrait for the October 2013 issue of M&D magazine, I was moved by the poetry of his creations and inspired to learn more about Japan.
Loïc takes us on a tour of his Tokyo…
Corinne Cécilia: Where do you normally stay?
Loïc Bard: In a youth hostel or with locals: Japanese people are very welcoming. And I spend at least one night in one of the rooms furnished by Japanese designers at the Claska hotel.
CC: Where do you like to dine?
LB: There is a wide array of restaurants to choose from in Tokyo. It’s good to get acquainted with a Tokyoite who can then help you discover one of the hidden gems tucked behind a building, such as the Shirubei restaurant in the Shibuya district.
CC: Where do you go for drinks?
LB: The bar in Claska hotel is a good place for a break when touring the best interior design shops in the Meguro-ku district. The hotel also has a showroom with Japanese design objects.
CC: Where do you like to shop?
LB: At Tokyu Hand. It’s a large store selling materials and tools for artisans (pretty much a heaven for woodworkers because Japanese tools are truly the best), as well as furniture, design objects and more. You could easily spend the whole day there. On Sundays, you can find incredible objects in little flea markets in certain neighbourhoods.
CC: Where do you go to relax?
LB: I like strolling in the gardens — the Kiyosumi garden especially — and the Shibuya district because of the shopping.
CC: What are some of your favourite places?
LB: My three favourite museums and galleries are located in Roppongi, the entertainment district: the National Art Center, Tokyo, the Mori Art Museum and the 21_21 Design Sight gallery space, with its stunning architecture.
LB: Japan Airlines.
Loïc Bard's best address for interior design in Tokyo: In the Meguro-ku district, Meguro-dori Avenue hosts a great many Japanese furniture stores.
Corinne's travel tip: Creative industries typically have a fascination for Japanese designers, and special exhibitions are often dedicated to them. If you live in Europe, immerse yourself in the world of Takumi Nariyoshi, one of the nominees for the Rado Star Prize, an award celebrating 80 emerging designers from all over the world. Takumi’s projects will be showcased at now! le Off, at the Docks — Cité de la Mode et du Design, during the Paris Design Week, from September 6 to 13, 2014.
Plafonnier Shensi, by Takumi Nariyoshi
Closer to home, don’t miss the exhibition L’objet japonaisPanorama du design contemporain au Japon, which will be presented at Centre de design de l'UQAM from November 20, 2014 to January 18, 2015.
Read more travel blog posts here.
1-2. Tokyo National Museum collection, via Pointe-à-Callière
3. Alexandre Gergely
4. Andy Long Hoang
5, 7. Claska
6. Shibuya Daikanyama, via JNTO
8. Meguro – Nakameguro 3, via JNTO
9. Kiyosumi Garden via Japan National Tourism Organization (Canada)
10-11. National Art Center, Tokyo, via Japan National Tourism Organization (Canada)
12. Mori Art Museum
13. 21_21 Design Sight, via Masaya Yoshimura/Nacása & Partners Inc.
14. Meguro – Nakameguro 4, via JNTO
15-16. Ceiling lamp Shensi, by Takumi Nariyoshi © Takumi Nariyoshi
Sometimes when decorating a room you need something more than just paint to update the walls. Patterned wallpaper adds interest to any space, but isn't the only solution for wall decor. Grasscloth wallpaper, made of woven grasses and reeds backed with paper, offers the perfect middle-ground between paint and patterned wallpaper. It brings colour, warmth and texture to a space without requiring you to commit to a wallpaper pattern.
WallsRepublic.com, an online store that serves customers in Canada and the U.S., features numerous grasscloth wall coverings that you can apply yourself. (This blog post is brought to you by Walls Republic.)
You might be more familiar with grasscloth wallpaper in neutral colours like the three above. Walls Republic's grasscloth wallpapers are made from natural, sustainable materials. Raw Charcoal Grass Cloth R 2016, Duo Sisal Coffee Grass Cloth R 1994, Duo Sisal Amber Grass Cloth R 1971.
My personal favourites include blue- and green-coloured grasscloth papers. To get the look of grasscloth wallpaper without committing to it from floor-to-ceiling, apply it only above a chair rail and paint below. Sisal Lavender Grass Cloth R 1993, Sisal Blue Grass Cloth R 1991, Sisal Baby Blue Grass Cloth R 2005, Sisal Army Green Grass Cloth R 1964.
You can also line the back of bookshelves with grasscloth wallpaper to give it a new, custom look and make your books and decorations stand out. Warm, bright tones like these yellows, oranges and yellow-greens are also available, and depending on the paper you choose, showcase more or less of the natural woven look. Rush Regular Orange Grass Cloth R 2001, Reed Yellow Grass Cloth R 1973, Sisal Tangelo Grass Cloth R 1975, Rush Grass Green Grass Cloth R 2003.
Check out wallsrepublic.com today to see the numerous grasscloth wallpaper choices available and other wall coverings. Walls Republic offers free samples and $10 shipping for all orders in Canada and the U.S.
It’s a well-worn cliché that a fresh coat of paint can work wonders for a space. After our first site visit to the townhome featured in our September 2014 issue, it was clear that paint would be the first step in this dramatic makeover.
To keep the painters on time and budget, I chose to paint the walls, ceilings and trim in the same creamy white — Behr Swiss Coffee. This instantly lightened the interior and gave us a blank slate to work with.
Since the home was void of architectural interest, I selectively used black paint to create the missing drama. We painted the front door, stair railing and interior doors in Behr Beluga (one of my favourite shades of black for its plum undertones). Adding black was a great way to modernize the entry while staying true to the age and style of the home.
The key to using black paint is to thoughtfully select what you’d like to highlight. The foyer, for example, was too small for a hall table, so the black doors and railing add interest and contrast while keeping it open. Similarly, the bathroom was too small to add an interesting piece of furniture, like a stool or runner, so I painted the window trim in the same Beluga black, which framed the window and made it feel larger.
Throughout the home, I used a variety of drapery tricks to give the look of full, custom draperies without the made-to-order price tag.
The living room window was already outfitted with classic white shutters, so non-functioning panels were the perfect solution (they cannot be closed for privacy).
This beautiful cotton print from Tonic Living is graphic and bold.
Lining the drapes with cotton and interlining gives them the fullness of a functioning drape.
Mia’s bedroom window was completely bare, so we needed a solution that offered privacy and softness.
Using the same concept from the living room, we lined an inexpensive cotton print to create non-functioning drapery panels.
We then made the window look larger by hanging the drapery rod as close to the ceiling as possible, allowing the rod to run the length of the wall. For privacy, the perfect solution was Lowes’ white faux wood blinds, which are cut to size in store.
The family room features a window and patio door, and I wanted to create the illusion of one continuous window.
West Elm’s stocked drapery panels were the perfect shade of ivory with our Swiss Coffee wall colour, and a steal at only $89 per panel. I try to avoid extending drapery rods, as they often look cheap and flimsy. For a small upgrade, we ordered custom hardware that fills the wall and feels much more substantial.
Mia was interested in updating her small main bath, but it wasn’t until our site visit that I realized how tired and dated this room really was. With only a month until move-in, we transformed this bathroom using a few budget-friendly tricks:
Note what needs to go: Virtually every fixture in this bathroom made the list, but the existing layout worked. By keeping all of the fixtures exactly where they were, we saved thousands of dollars.
Choose the best fixtures you can afford: The bathroom’s small size meant that there was little space for extras, like a decorative stool or shelf. So the vanity, toilet and faucets all needed to offer great quality and function, as well as style. We chose pieces from the DXV Collection by American Standard — the designs are classic and timeless, making them a worthy investment. Toilet shopping has never felt so glamorous!
Look for ceramic tile: Despite this bathroom’s small square footage, I avoided costly marble and stone mosaics and opted for ceramic. We saved hundreds by using a spiral black and white mosaic on the floor, and classic white subway tile inside the shower.
Here's a full breakdown of our makeover purchases:
Sofa, $720, HomeSense; Sweep armchair, 2 at $779 each, West Elm; Souk wool rug, $899, West Elm; Vittsjo bookshelp, $50 each, Ikea; Origami coffee table, $479, West Elm; side table $130, HomeSense; rattan stool, $145, Bacon Basketware; brass sconces, $495, Black Rooster Décor; console table, $995, RH Restoration Hardware; drapery fabric, 9 yards at $14.95 each, Tonic Living; sewing and installation, $1,030; toss pillows, $917, ELTE, West Elm and Indigo; accessories, $725, ELTE, HomeSense and Indigo; throw, $49.50, Indigo.
Table, $1,469, BLVD Interiors; throw pillows, 4 at $45 each, Indigo; pendant, $249, CB2; floor lamp, $599, Mobilia; bar cart, $249.99, HomeSense; tray, $245, ELTE; dining chairs, $680, Frontier Sales; chair fabric, 5.5 yards at $22.95, Tonic Living; chair, painting and reupholstery, $943.
Stools, 3 at $99 each, RH Restoration Hardware; pendant light, $119, West Elm; accessories, $80, HomeSense.
Sectional, $1,710, Crate and Barrel; sheepskin, $39.99, Ikea; Parsons Square coffee table, $699, Crate and Barrel; Morgan Black sconce, 2 at $199 each, Crate and Barrel; bookshelf, $299, HomeSense; area rug, $189, Ikea; side table, $59.99, HomeSense; fram, $149.99, Pottery Barn; drapery panels, 4 at $69 each, West Elm; drapery hardware and installation, $340; Andanza green allpaper, 2 rolls at $125 each, Hygge & West; pillows, $270, Pehr and HomeSense; rattan lounge chair, $299, Bacon Basketware; tree, $149, Valleyview Gardens; plant basket, $40, HomeSense; wallpaper installation, $160; accessories, $460, HomeSense.
Headboard, $350, HomeSense; bedside lamps, 2 at $129.99 each, HomeSense; Leksvik desk, $149, Ikea; pillow, $58, Crate and Barrel; side table, $416, RH Restoration Hardware; retro chair, $289, Bacon Basketware; rug, $315, eCarpet Gallery; drapery fabric, 10 yards at $23.95, Tonic Living; sewing and installation, $920; wallpaper, 7 double rolls at $160 each, Walls Republic; wallpaper installation, $600; throw, $255, ELTE; custom-cut white blinds, $110, Lowes.
Rug, $189, eCarpet Gallery; You Make It Chandelier, $145 US, lindseyadelman.com; closet system, $900, Ikea; bench, $99.99, Target; mirror, $70, Ikea; drapery panels, 2 at $63.20 each, West Elm; drapery hardware, $39.97, Home Depot; closet installation and electrical services, $450.
Bed, $549, Restoration Hardware Baby and Child; Vintage Locker desk, $699, Restoration Hardware Baby and Child; Vintage Schoolhouse desk chair, $199, Restoration Hardware Baby and Child; Academy Task table lamp, $129, Restoration Hardware Baby and Child; bedding, $858, Restoration Hardware Baby and Child; Reef Jute Rug, $500, West Elm; custom posters framed, $800, Art.com and Pottery Barn Kids, Custom Framing by Deserres; drapery panels, $39.99, Ikea; drapery hardware, $99, West Elm.
Princeton Bathtub, $641, DXV American Standard; Wyatt Pedestal Lavatory, $495, DXV American Standard; Percy Widespread Faucet, $655, DXV American Standard; Wyatt Toilet, $910, DXV American Standard; Percy Multifunction Showerhead, $255, DXV American Standard; Percy Pressure Balance Tub and Shower Trim, $282, DXV American Standard; Percy Wall Tub Spout, $185, DXV American Standard;roller blind, $17, Home Depot; ceramic floor tile, $200, The Tile Shoppe; shower curtain, $49, West Elm; accessories, $170, Ginger’s; mirror, $59.99, Ikea; toilet paper holder, $14.99, Ikea; light, $218, Home Depot; labour and electrical, $3,150.
Dresser, $395, Vintage Fine Objects; vintage chair, $550, Tonic Living; artwork, $230, HomeSense; Ranarp floor lamp, $50, Ikea; table lamp, $60, HomeSense; bedding, $260, HomeSense; mirror, $279, Crate and Barrel; area rug, $189, Ikea; sheepskin, $39.99, Ikea; custom pillows, $583, Tonic Living; accessories, $50, Target.
Prices may vary.
A gin and tonic is a very personal drink. There is no "best" recipe or "perfect G&T." I like a one-to-two ratio of gin to tonic, but others will find that too potent. I also prefer a G&T with lime, but in the U.K. they often use lemon. I’ve broken it down into its two basic components and given a couple of recipes to get you started. But if you enjoy this libation as much as I do, I would encourage you to delve deep into the subject and create a gin and tonic that makes you go "Hmmm."
Compared to the great wall of vodka, the gin shelf at most liquor stores is anemic. That’s slowly changing as an increasing number of premium bottlesmuscle in on the classic bar brands.
Gin is essentially vodka (i.e. a neutral spirit) flavoured with an array of botanicals, the defining one being juniper berries. There are no good or bad gins; only ones you like. My go-to brand is Hendrick's, a Scottish gin distinguished by an infusion of Bulgarian roses and cucumber. It's higher in alcohol than the average gin, so I use a little more tonic to compensate. I'm also a big fan of Bombay Sapphire: its juniper is front and centre, and there is a complimentary note of liquorice. Finally, Dillon's, a new micro-distillery in Niagara, Ontario, makes a unique gin that's unfiltered, floral and complex.
Most gin and tonics in this country are made with either Canada Dry or Schweppes, a pair of tonic stalwarts available at grocery and corner stores from coast to coast. If you want to up your G&T game, there are two lesser-known brands worth seeking out. The first is Fentimans, a century-old British soft drink maker, whose tonic comes in an old-timey, brown bottle straight out of a Victorian apothecary. It's on the sweet side with a floral, citrusy flavour profile that it gets from lemongrass and lime leaf. It's delicious on its own, and goes extremely well with Dillon's gin. Also from the U.K., Fever Tree has become my house tonic. It's smooth, balanced and herbaceous with a lovely liquorice kick, complimenting both Bombay Sapphire and Hendrick's. Fentimans and Fever Tree are expensive, but, in my opinion, worth it.
Eric's Gin & Tonic Recipe
2 oz. Bombay Sapphire
4 oz. Fever Tree tonic water, chilled
1 lime wedge
Step 1: Chill a 10-oz. Collins glass.
Step 2: Fill glass with ice. Pour in gin. Top with tonic water. Give drink a light stir. Garnish with lime wedge. Serves 1.
Hendrick's & Tonic Recipe
2 oz. Hendrick’s gin
6 oz. tonic water, chilled
3 thin slices cucumber
Step 1: Chill a 12-oz. highball glass.
Step 2: Fill glass with ice. Pour in gin. Top with tonic water. Give drink a light stir. Garnish with cucumber. Serves 1.
Get more drink recipes.
Travelling for business and pleasure is a great source of inspiration for designer Richard Ouellette and architect Maxime Vandal, of the Montreal-based firm Les Ensembliers. (Tour their stunning country home in Quebec's Eastern Townships.) The creative pair’s frequent trips to the United States add a certain American chic to their look.
While interior decorating in the USA was shaped by European influences — with steady waves of immigrants bringing old world decorative traditions along ever since the early 1600s — contemporary designers have been increasingly under the influence of globalization and American pop culture, a reflection of a forward-looking nation driven by the dream of a better life.
In a way, this evolution meets with the work of Les Ensembliers, known for their modern interpretation of traditional styles. Richard and Maxime often visit the Big Apple, where they acquire some of the ideas and unique finds that you may have seen in our pages.
We asked Maxime and Richard to share their favourite hangouts in the city that never sleeps.
CC: Where do you normally stay?
Richard Ouellette & Maxime Vandal: At the Surrey, because of its great location at the heart of the Upper East Side, where most of the city’s design stores and showrooms are located, not to mention its proximity to all the best museums.
CC: Where do you like to dine?
RO & MV: We have breakfast at the Whitney Museum of American Art to enjoy its relaxed atmosphere and modern space. We have lunch at Balthazar, for their oysters and the vibrant bistro vibe. For dinner, we like the Caravaggio restaurant, just steps away from the Surrey hotel. We then take our evening walk, like residents of the Upper East Side do, daydreaming about the townhouse we could buy and renovate.
CC: Where do you go for drinks?
RO & MV: We don’t go out that much at night…. Our days can be quite long, and dinners stretch out.
CC: Where do you like to shop?
RO & MV: With its 18 floors of showrooms, the Decoration & Design Building is the spot to start the day. We then cross the street over to Holly Hunt and John Rosselli Antiques. Treillage is a must-see place along the way.
We then stop at ABC Carpet & Home on Broadway. We finish the day in Soho, and the Green Street neighbourhood, which is full of trendy design stores. Do visit Ralph Pucci if you can (by appointment only): it is the ultimate showroom experience!
CC: Where do you go to relax?
RO & MV: Outside of the peak season, we run off to the Hamptons for a day. An hour or two by car and you’re in Southampton. We love the seaside, beautiful houses and lobster rolls. The museum dedicated to Jackson Pollock is a must-see (by appointment only). Very inspiring!
CC: What are some of your favourite places?
RO & MV: Central Park, of course – during the cherry blossoms, the last week in April! The rooftop of the Dia Art Foundation in Chelsea is also a fantastic spot.
CC: Do you have a favourite airline?
RO & MV: No, we prefer to get there by car. It gives us a certain freedom.
Corinne's reading pick: American Design, by Russell Flinchum. Published by The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Read more travel blog posts here.
1. André Rider for Maison & Demeure May 2014
2. Svein-Magne Tunli via tunliweb.no
3. Jimmie Martin
4, 5, 10 and 11. Les Ensembliers
6. Decoration and Design Building
7. Holly Hunt — HHNY Showroom
8. ABC Carpet & Home
9. Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center