Our Interiors Director’s Favorite House & Home Shoots Of All Time
Interiors director Meg Crossley shares her most memorable H&H spaces.
During my almost two decades at H&H, I’ve had the privilege to direct the photoshoots of countless gorgeous homes. (It’s the perfect job for a decor snoop like me, who likes to take evening walks when lights are on in beautiful houses!) But narrowing them down to a few favorites is a real challenge. Shoots that stand out in my memory tend to have involved a trip to a place I’d never been — where I got a chance to check out local architecture — or where I saw the beginnings of a decorating “trademark” with a new-to-us designer. Seeing something completely new and unexpected from someone we’ve worked with for years is also thrilling. After some serious reminiscing, here are a few of my most memorable home shoots.
The shoot at retailer Jill Kantelberg’s country house marked the first time I saw someone really do French/Belgian Country right. I loved her commitment to the look. We also got snowed in at this shoot, and had to hike a couple of miles out of the woods before driving on dangerous back roads back to Toronto. It made for a great story!
I’d always been a fan of Viki’s, and loved to troll her store, Absolutely Inc., on Toronto’s Yonge Street. I’d also done shoots in her home in the city. I was pretty used to her love of old things, collections and antiques. So imagine my surprise when I showed up at the shoot of her country house around Lake of Bays, Ontario, and the place felt like a big modern barn! She still had her signature vintage touches around, but there was so much open space and lofty height. To me, it felt like an exciting departure from our usual country house shoots.
When I first stepped into Julie Charbonneau’s house, I was immediately taken by how layered and classic her interior looked, while never feeling overstuffed or over-decorated. She was a new designer to us at the time, and her work felt simple and timeless. The vignettes we shot in her house have now become a signature in her work (and have of course been copied by others), such as the almost full-wall mounted mirror that sits both behind and under a bathroom sink. Love that detail!
One of the first big house projects I was lucky enough to shoot with designers Christine Ralphs and Michelle Lloyd was Martha Soloman’s home in Toronto’s Rosedale area. I remember seeing the beginnings of what would become the designers’ signature style: crisp white envelopes punctuated with black, bold modern art, graphic pattern (such as zebra print) and a respect for historic architectural details. This look hasn’t tired; it’s tried and true.
Walking through a French-style farmhouse, just miles from Calgary’s busy downtown area, was a real treat for me. The homeowners wanted a country place that looked like a centuries-old home, and their designers fulfilled that wish by giving them a place with a tiled gable roof, stone façade and charming shuttered windows.
Another adventure took me to an old fisherman’s cottage on New York state’s Shelter Island. (I was excited before I even arrived, because I got to experience the Hamptons Jitney I’d heard so much about!) At Colleen deCourcy’s cottage I was treated to a simplicity that was perfect for a summer retreat. She made the most of the home’s original wide-planked floors and ceiling beams by keeping the decorating easy and spare. Hers was a lesson in restraint.
Early days in my career at H&H, I was an avid attendee of the annual Cabbagetown House Tour in Toronto. I remember walking by The Francis Shields house, lamenting that it wasn’t being properly looked after. Then one day I found out there was a designer attached to a renovation project. Though I was nervous, I was also elated that someone was going to commit to it — and commit he did. Designer James Davie transformed the historic house, keeping it traditional, but with a new twist that has now become his signature: lots of bold color and pattern. We needed something new and fresh in traditional decorating, and James gave it to us.
Having never been to Cape Cod, but being a fan of colonial architecture, this shoot was special for me. I’d photographed Kelvin’s modern “glass box” barn in Ontario, so I wasn’t ready for the undeniable charm of the 1780s saltbox house he renovated. I saw what I now consider to be Kelvin’s strongest skill in this house: keeping as much of the age and history of a place alive as possible, while adding modern and mid-century touches.
I was so charmed by Frank Muytjens’ weekend getaway, tucked away (almost hidden, in fact) on an old back road in upstate New York. The cold shingled Dutch Colonial house was filled with bits and bobs — old things that Frank had found in local vintage shops and flea markets. His way of putting pieces together was loose, and almost seemed careless, but his logic was simple: if he liked a piece, it must go with other things he liked. What a great way to live with vintage and collections.