Monday, September 15, 2014

Karen's Kitchen: Canadian Living


Karen in her new kitchen with her chicken Cuddles.  Photo by, Donna Grffith
At long last, welcome to Karen's kitchen!  Words cannot describe how excited and proud I am to see Karen's kitchen renovation featured in the currrent issue of Canadian Living!  If you follow Karen's wildly popular blog, The Art of Doing Stuff, you've no doubt read her updates about the more than year long renovation and seen some sneak peeks along the way.   Not only have Karen and I been twitter and blogging friends for several years, I'm honoured to say she's also an E-Design client of mine.  I was fortunate to work with Karen on her kitchen design from the initial planning stages of the project and helped guide her through the inevitable and various design dilemmas along the way.  Karen had a great vision right from the very start along with some very challenging space issues - with her great sense of style, her resourcefulness, her diy skills,,,,and a little help from me ; ), I think the the transformation is nothing short of spectacular.  Its truly satisfying to see a plan and a vision come to life but to hear how much she loves, loves, loves, her new kitchen is the most rewarding part of all. 


Canadian Living, October 2014



Not only does Karen look stunning posing with Cuddles in her new kitchen (that dress!), but she wrote the feature too.  I hope you'll enjoy reading the full story and all the before and afters along with sources in the current issue of Canadian Living, on stands now or you can purchase the digital version thru Zinio.  You won't be disappointed.

You can read more about the planning phase of the kitchen, including the before and after floor plan, optional layout plans and the design requirements,,,in an earlier post I wrote last year, here.   


For more info on my E-Design services for kitchens or bathrooms 
please check out my e-design website




Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Before & After: Boathouse Facelift


Boathouse Kitchenette


As the first long weekend of summer arrived I was wrapping up a 2 day long visit to a clients summer cottage in Stoney Lake, Ontario. The trip involved bringing up some small accessories and taking note of remaining items needed to finish off various rooms. I made a big effort to get some progress photos while I was there. One of the last spaces I snapped before I retured to Toronto was the boathouse - sooo as this summer's final long weekend has just come and gone, I thought i’d revisit where I was on the first summer long weekend.   How has the time gone by so quickly?

Boathouse Kitchenette - Before

The interior of the boat house is just one big square room with a bathroom in one corner and a kitchenette in the other.  The entire interior was clad in knotty pine, the floor was covered in broadloom, the lighting and fixtures were dated,,,but with its soaring vaulted ceilings and lake views it had great potential for a simple refreshing makeover.  Loads of white paint, new pine plank flooring and a few new but vintage style fixtures were all this charming boathouse needed.  Its one of the lighter renovations I've worked on because it was purely cosmetic but it was a dramatic one, thanks to the magic of paint.  It was an easy decision to paint over all the wood, but it was a big job!


Boathouse kitchenette - After

I have to admit I cringe every time I hear people say that paint is such an easy and inexpensive or "quick fix" solution.  It suppose it can be compared to gutting a room and rebuilding or, if say you're doing only walls and those walls are 8' tall and you're painting a light colour over a light colour and the walls are in good shape - sure, you can paint an average size room in couple of hours and do it yourself.  I've done a LOT of painting in my time and I see professional paint quotes on a regular basis to know that properly painting an entire house is neither cheap, quick, or easy especially when it comes to painting ceilings, trim work, railings, windows, doors, stairwells and tall vaulted ceilings.  Factor in patching and repairing damaged walls and covering up dark colours or knotty pine, and you have a major job on your hands.  If you don't do the proper prep work, it will be a expensive disaster.  If you're an ambitious DIY'er say goodbye to many months worth of weekends or, call in the professionals.  So while I would describe this as a simple makeover - it did take a small team of trades people to make it happen.




The boathouse whitification in progress
We left almost all of the wood in the main cottage unpainted so I had carte blanche to paint over as much of the knotty pine as I wanted to in the Boathouse, and I intended to paint it all except the countertops.  Since this boat house only gets used in the summer months I wanted to give it a bright and airy summery vibe.  The painters had their work cut out for them, but I was ecstatic to see the progress and its transformation to white taking place...the white paint on the wood planks creates a great texture as all the grooves become shadow lines - so you still have the wonderful effect of wood panelled walls and plank ceiling.



See, you can still tell its wood even though its white everywhere!


The boathouse kitchenette - After

Unfortunately I can't seem to find a before picture of just the kitchenette (see before photo above) but here you can see how utterly charming it is now with a fresh coat of paint. I added a new white sink, gooseneck faucet, globe pendants and a wall shelf (not yet installed). The wood counters were perfect just the way they were and are a really great feature against all the white cabinets. The new pine flooring compliments all the white, looks rustic and is obviously much more practical than broadloom. 





The furniture is almost complete, all the main pieces are in but some occassional pieces and accessories still needed to be moved in.  We briefly contemplated white slipcovers but didn't end up using them here, this one was headed for a reading nook in the main cottage.


The best part about the transfomation is that the all white interior does a standout job of highlighting the incredible lake views. As there’s no heat source or insulation, the boathouse will get closed up soon but the main cottage gets used right thru the fall.   This was a such a departure from my usual reno projects but I hope you enjoyed this little peek at what was such a fun space to re-imagine.  Coming up in the next posts I’ll share some peeks of the front hall, the kitchen makeover and the master ensuite.



The view from the dock

Check out the boathouse bathroom before & after.



All Photos and room design by:  Carol Reed

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Before & After: Cottage Guest Bath




At the risk of overloading my blog with traditional cottage style interiors I'm going to catch up on posting some before and after pics of the Stony Lake cottage project before the end of this summer.  I completed the cottage last year...and returned this spring to get some updated photos, but there are a lot of rooms!  You can check out my first post on the project here.  Most of the reno work involved the kitchens and bathrooms.  The cottage is relatively large and has 5 bathrooms in total.  You can see the boathouse bathroom before and after here,,,and today I'm posting the first of two bathrooms in the main cottage that I'd like to share.  The objective for all the bathrooms was to update the finishes and fixtures and keep the demolition and new construction to a minimum.  All the new materials and fittings would have to be readily available from the local building supply store (and nothing custom, nothing special order).   In addition to 2 ensuites the cottage has 2 hallway baths that are shared by several guest bedrooms. This before and after is the larger of the two hall bathrooms.

Bathroom Before
This hall bathroom's finishes and fixtures were dated but the vanity was excellent quality and in perfect condition - it would stay as would the entire walk-in shower except for new chrome trim pieces to replace polished brass.

The very first thing I set my sights on replacing was the floor and wall tile outside of the shower.  With its tan tile and peach paint and beige corian counter, it was looking a bit 80's suburban and not very Kawartha's lakefront cottage.  Because the wall tile in the shower was less prominent and in excellent condition, I opted to keep the shower as is and splurge on updating the vanity area.  Below is a concept board of all the new selections.  



In addition to new wide plank pine flooring (also throughout the cottage), the bathroom makeover included new wainscotting, mirror, lighting, toilet, sink, faucets, accessories and a new quartz countertop.  Switching out all the polished brass fittings for chrome was an obvious update and pairing the chrome with white beadboard wainscotting and deep navy blue paint would amp up the nautical cottage charm. 




I drew up the details for a new wainscotting and mirror treatment from stock materials which the contractor made all on site.  I chose a new drop in style sink because its a simpler install and a bit of cost savings versus an undermount, the rim profile adds to casual cottage vibe as does the new vintage style single lever chrome faucet (the shower received the same new chrome trim pieces).  Rectangular chrome knobs give the vanity a fresh update.  I found a set of flower print towels at the HomeSense in Peterborough which were perfect for this room as well as the yellow and white bathroom on the other side of the cottage.



A pair of vintage industrial style chrome scones from Restoration Hardware flank the mirror and illuminate the room in a soft complimentary glow.  Excuse the bad photo they were incredibly hard to photograph as the room has no natural daylight so they needed to be on.




All that's left on the to do list for this room is to find a couple of framed prints for the wall above the toilet, i'm on the hunt for either a pair of vintage nautical charts or fern botanicals.  : )
But nonetheless i'm told its been a busy space this summer accommodating a steady stream of my client's family and friends.  




Note: Please excuse the inconsistency of the colour in the above photos, the original files aren't like this,  the images only appear this way once uploaded into blogger and I havn't been able to figure out how to correct it or come up with a work around - never had this problem before.  The true colour of the wood vanity and flooring is somewhere between the light and dark versions above.



All photos and room design:  Carol Reed






Monday, July 21, 2014

Picking A Paint Colour: Style at Home Designer Secrets





Thank you to Style at Home, I was thrilled to be participate in their special 100+ Designer Secrets colour issue, which hit the stands a while back.  I have to admit I had some difficulty getting my hands on a copy, the first one I had was left behind at a girfriends before I even cracked it open (and I never saw it again) then it took quite some time to find another copy on the East Coast.  Inside you’ll find some tips from myself and other paint aficionados on how to pick paint colours.  Its a a great topic, one of the major components of every project I work on is selecting all the paint finishes, usually for an entire house. So I thought this would be a great opportunity to elaborate beyond my tips included in the issue.  How and where to start when picking a paint colour?

Many designers will say that they pull the paint colour from a fabric, or select a paint based on the exposure of the room or chose colours from the homeowners wardrobe.  All common approaches when decorating an existing room.  But what if the space a) doesn’t have any significant fabric, or b) doesn’t have a window or c) the occupants vary in age, gender, and fashion taste.  Many times you can be in a position to have to pick a paint colour without having a significant fabric or persian rug to work with.  You can still lay the groundwork for a beautiful palette - if you chose the right neutrals you can layer in the colour later.

Because most of my client projects are renovations, often the paint colours for the entire interior have to be selected long before the homeowners and I have even contemplated new fabrics or area carpets or before they've accumulated an art collection.  Sometimes newly furnishing the space will follow a year or so after move in, sometimes only a few main rooms are decorated with the remaining to be completed over time.  Aside from those situations that are driven by time and budgets, there are many spaces in a house that often don’t ever have fabrics in them such as; bathrooms, kitchens, hallways, staircases or laundry rooms. The paint colour can spin off of a fabric story from adjacent rooms but that colour, primarily, has to relate to the hard surfaces.

Finish samples for a clients kitchen (paint top right).  The paint selections compliment the wood floor and cabinets, the marble backsplash and quartz countertop and stainless steel.

My process for selecting paint is always the same. It never starts with fabric.  The approach I take with paint is that its role is to enhance everything in the space (and the views outside) not distract from it.  First and foremost I take direction from the permanent surfaces and architectural details like wood, stone, tiles, metal, mouldings and in some cases broadloom. These are far more permanent than any fabric or wallpaper but are the foundation of the overall palette and have to be considered with every paint selected.  Secondly, I take into consideration the style and character of the home (Heritage or contemporary).  Lastly, the natural light and views - what is the setting, what is the view outside the windows. (The only exception to any of the above is kids rooms, its all about their favourite colour and making it work for both mom and child!).

All the upholstery fabrics chosen for the living room in this contemporary home were pulled from the colours in the stone fireplace.  The travertine stone tile was also used in the entryway and a guest bathroom.

For 90% of the interiors I design, I could happily work from a paint deck of nothing but greys and when I say grey, my definition of grey covers a wide spectrum from warm to cool, from almost white to almost black , from clear to muddy and with undertones that can make them read green, blue, beige, purple or brown.  Light and airy, to dark and dramatic, its all there.  Its in this spectrum that I always find the perfect neutral that works beautifully with the finishes of the house as well as more vibrant colours that could be found in the garden, fabrics or the painting over the mantel.  For walls, when I'm not chosing white I'm always drawn to the mineral, sky and watery greys.  I am least drawn to anything with a red undertone or citrus colours because I don't think they pair favorabely with most natural wood tones (typically golden or reddish woods) they don’t compliment or contrast instead they can clash with these woods or suffocate the room in one note. (This is particularly the case in Canada where we use a lot of wood floors, wood cabinets, wood railings, and wood furniture.)  Contrary to this effect greyed neutrals do the complete opposite, to my eye grey makes all other colours and materials look better.  Grey is anything but dreary in fact I love how grey brings everything in a room to life - nothing enhances wood tones, complements colour and is crisper with white trim better than grey.  It has the ability to make anything paired with it look modern and sophisticated, and that's why it has been and will continue to be my go to palette for picking the perfect colour.

The natural walnut floors and various feature stones inspired the paint palette for throughout the home.  The paint palette was a range of off-whites and greys,  contrasted by black metal window frames.
You can never judge a grey by the paint chip alone,,,these chameleons only reveal their true beauty in context with the whole of the room. Sample, sample, sample.

Whether you like your spaces neutral or colourful you'll find loads of great colour tips and advice in this issue, including my best tip on picking the right paint colour and what paint combo i'm coveting now.   If you haven’t see it yet its on stands until August 31st.


All Photos and Design (Except Cover Photo):  Carol Reed Interior Design





Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Boathouse Bathroom: Before & After





Happy Canada Day! Its a perfect day to share a before and after of a clients red & white cottage bathroom.  This boathouse bathroom evokes a classic canadian cottage style and what's even more dreamy about it is the sound of the waves lapping against the docks below you.

Last year I completed a whole Cottage renovation for a client that involved updating the main cottage and boathouse to incorporate all new finishes and fixtures but without doing extensive construction. I find these type of projects incredibly enjoyable because its so exciting to explore the potential of the existing space and see the dramatic improvements that can result by making a series of simple but thoughtful changes.  By simple I don’t mean the modifications didn’t still require a lot of time, effort, and co-ordination but they were simple in that they didn’t require new construction or complicated modifications.  I made a visit to the cottage a few weeks ago to check on the status before this season got underway.

Boathouse Bathroom Before

The entire interior of the boathouse (which is only used seasonally) was knotty pine, with exception of the floor which was carpeted in the living areas and tiled in the bathroom.  The biggest change I made was that every bit of exposed natural wood on the interior was painted white, and then we added new but reclaimed wide plank engineered pine on the floor.  Essentially I took all the wood away from the walls and ceilings and put it on the floor.  This effectively doubled the brightness of the interior, emphasized its dramatic vaulted ceilings and painting the wood panelling created interesting tone on tone texture.  The best part was the lake view and exterior landscape became the focal point. The white paint transformed the boathouse interior to a fresh, bright, summery oasis.

The boathouse bathroom is a good size with interesting ceiling lines but was dated with respect to its fixtures and accessories and the ceramic floor a bit too suburban looking.  Everything about the vanity was perfect though, it was excellent quality and was hand built from solid wood with lots of storage and was in perfect condition, that and the mirror were definitely keepers.  I even loved the natural pine countertop and wanted to preserve it because i think its an excellent choice for this application it’s not the place for expensive marble or quartz.  I saw loads of potential for this space merely with paint and new fixtures.  A main criteria for selecting new items was we had a very short timeline to complete all the changes so everything needed to be readily available and/or deliverable to cottage country.  Below is a rough concept I put together for the owners and they quickly agreed with all the proposed changes...

New proposed finishes, Carol Reed Interior Design.


The vanity and the existing mirror would simply be updated with a red paint and some new striped ceramic knobs.  New engineered plank fooring replaced the tile and was in the same tones as the existing wood countertop.  The key to retaining the wood countertop was replacing the old drop-in sink with a vessel style sink that would fit over the old sink cutout.  I decided to mix in some more contemporary fixtures with the otherwise very traditional space but keeping the metal finishes in a dark bronze gives them a more relaxed nostalgic look.  A gooseneck barn light fixture with filament style bulb gives the bathroom a modern rustic vibe.

Boathouse Bathroom - After

In the end we opted for a countertop mounted faucet in lieu of the wall mounted (from the same series) for an easier install.  A simple hook for a hand towel (I’m obsessed with turkish towels ones and stock up on them whenever I find them!) its rope fringe and blue stripes evoke a nautical vibe, an oversize seagrass basket and more wall hooks on the opposite wall (not yet installed) store large beach towels.


Boathouse Bathroom Vanity - After.


My visit to the cottage last month was my first since all the major installations were completed in the boathouse last summer so its was a thrill to see the progress.  I took note of some final details that still need to be addressed, one of them includes installing new knobs on the vanity, I'm in love with the white ones I found with a stripe around the rim which i think will be the perfect finishing touch.  Lastly I think the floor needs a fun colourful indoor/outdoor rug for in front of the vanity.  But so far the transformation of this lakeside loo as been a dramatic improvement - I think its now bursting with character and style!


Happy Canada Day!


All Photos and Room Design by:  Carol Reed

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

New Website





AT LONG LAST my new website is up and running!  As an extension to my previous "update" post, the past few months while I've been absent from the the blog one of the internal projects I was consumed with recently was getting a brand new version of my website launched, it finally and quietly went live in early May.  I'm excited to announce the site is now completely responsive which means its tabloid and web-phone friendly.  This update was long overdue, but one that required an enormous amount of dedication and time.  For the past several years I honestly felt like I was being held hostage by my old website which after only a year old with its flash technology became incompatible with all the latest mobile devices.  There was no quick and easy fix, the only solution was scrapping the old site completely and starting again, overwhelming to say the least.  The new site is still a work in progress, and for the most part always will be evolving, but the basics of it are up and running while I continue to work on finessing and updating the content. 




There are some new photos of old projects in the portfolio, one of my favorites is this detail shot of a clients kitchen (top photo) captured by Donna Griffith.  The lacquered shelf was custom made and installed on a full height backsplash of calaccatta marble.  The homeowners day to day all white dish ware and a vintage Eva Zeisel bowl create a striking composition.   I'll be loading lots more photos of more recently completed spaces between now and the end of the year with 4 more projects in que to get photographed. This blog will also be moving off of blogger and over to my website domain soon, hopefully without any glitches or losing any content.



Top Photo:  Donna Griffith
Website Images:  Donna Griffith

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Springing Into Summer



Spring has come and gone and I didn't manage to get a single update on the blog.  Maybe because I was so pre-occupied waiting for Spring like weather to arrive I didn't realize it had come and gone, already?  So instead of jumping back in with new regular posts (I've already prepared a couple) I thought I'd do a quick recap of what I've been pre-occupied with during the past few months, wow the time has flown by - in 4 different time zones no less.  I love that with the advancement of technology and travel I can work on projects in various cities, provinces or countries.  Principles of design are universal but I really enjoy being exposed to different regional traditions and lifestyles as well as exploring the local materials that influence the design of a home. 


Upper East Side reno project, Living Room progress.

NYC - Construction on the UES reno project was completed some time ago and after taking a much needed break from more than a year and a half of reno madness, the homeowners were ready to focus on furnishings and decor.  So with the hard work done and a great canvas in place we've been working together on the furniture room by room.  The very first pieces to arrive this spring for the living room where the sofas and the area carpet.  So much more to come, tables, lamps, pillows, mirrors,,,its very exciting to see it coming together.  (no the table in the corner is not part of the new furniture plan ; )).



A whole home renovation near Sydney, Australia

AUS - Over the winter (their summer) construction started on a whole home renovation I designed for clients in Australia not far from Sydney, she's an expat from Toronto and he's a native Australian. Aside from having to learn some new jargon and conversing in metric, the process was no different than renovating in North America.  The entire renovation was completed in slightly more than 3 months and the homeowners moved back into the home in early May.  I'm looking forward to sharing more about this project on the blog and its entirely new floor plan.  The project began with a very modern vision of a white on white interior and for the most part stayed true to that initial concept.



Stony Lake Cottage main entrance sneak peek.

ONTARIO - In May I was in Toronto getting started on a couple of new renovation projects one is in Oakville and is a family home for a young couple and I'm so excited to get started on the design planning and the other is a master suite renovation for long time clients in Port Credit.   I also headed up to cottage country to get some progress photos of the Stony Lake project which wrapped up last summer.  It was finished and furnished enough for use last season, some more furniture and small accessories are still needed to fill in some gaps but its been a huge transformation so far.  Lots more before and after posts to come.  


Sneak peek of Karen's new kitchen.
Image from: The Art of Doing Stuff.
Over the spring I enjoyed keeping in touch with Karen and helping her work thru some final details on her long anticipated kitchen installation.  Its finally finished and ready for its close up, in fact its being shot for Canadian Living magazine this coming week.  If you haven't seen the sneak peeks on Karen's blog yet, click on over and have a look, as I try and contain myself from showing you the rest of it - which I've already seen, and its fantastic!! 



Field of beams.  Reclaimed antique wood, in Canning, Nova Scotia.

NOVA SCOTIA - Home of the world's slowest renovation, my own house project came to a halt in the winter when early into the kitchen phase of the reno we discovered we just couldn't salvage the existing wood floor boards.  Sheets of plywood screwed down with a million screws would make it almost impossible to remove without doing a lot of damage to the wood floor beneath.  The good news is I was able to track down some antique wood flooring of the same age and species.  The bad news is we had to wait for the snow to disappear before we could get access to where the wood was stored.  It was a looooong snowy winter......so things were at a standstill for a while but an update on my kitchen reno is coming soon, soon as I have some progress photos.  Any day now.  : / 


That's a really brief update on some of the things that have been keeping me busy without even mentioning the garden work I'm trying to do or the many E-design orders I've had the pleasure of working on.  I couldn't be more excited that Summer's here and especially to be able to enjoy most of it on the East Coast!





All Photos and drawings:  Carol Reed, except where photo is credited otherwise.







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