Saturday, December 26, 2009

Cheers!








Thank you Santa for bringing us a brand new Aquaovo Ovopur water filtration system!  I've had my designer eye on one of these units for a while now and with a little help from my friend Robyn at Bergo Design, Santa was able to cross that off my wish list!!!  I simply LOVE the clean modern lines of this nature inspired, green approach to water revitalization.

The model we now own is the beautiful Ovopur on the glass stand as shown in the photo above.  A sculptural wooden stand is available as option to the glass base as are four other versions in black and a stunning signature base design made from rough-planed ash with a live edge, seen in the following pics.

If the 11L reservoire is full and filtering isn't needed for a time, you can even remove the filtration cylinder on the top and just use it as a dispenser (shown below).



Ovobar



Ovopur



Caviar: Marcato model



Caviar: Legato model



Caviar: Staccato model



Signature wood base


The Ovopur sysytem was conceived and designed in Canada but inspired by the age-old traditions of Chinese artisan stonecutters, glassblowers and ceramicists.   The egg shape is an integral part of the by design, as the curves ease the circulation and regeneration of the water and symbolizes abundance, purity, rebirth and infinity.  High quality materials like glass, porcelain and steel help preserve and revitalize the water.  The entire filtration system actually reproduces the basic filtration process of the earth's natural water cycle.  The system operates on gravity and uses no electricity and is made from sustainable, renewable and recylable materials.

Not only is this the most beautiful water filtration system I've ever seen but the addition of this sytem in our household means we'll no longer be stocking up on cases of bottled water every week and our blue bins won't be overflowing with the empty plastic bottles anymore.  Now, I'll drink to that!



All Photos:   www.aquaovo.com



Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Oh Joy!






Yes.....these bring me JOY!  I've been on a purchasing marathon this month, and not the holiday shopping kind of marathon.  Of all the beautiful and sometimes very expensive things I come across in my daily travels............nothing makes me more excited than to find little treasures like these!!  Seriously, I was so excited when I walked into Style Garage last week and laid eyes on these beautiful solid wood ornaments, my heart skipped a beat.  Was it a coincidence that they looked strikingly similar to these beautiful wooden tops that I was just gushing over in a recent post?   I knew instantly I had to have them and bought them all on the spot (sadly they only had 3) - they were a steal at just $12 each, which brought me even more joy!

When it comes to holiday decor I'm a big fan of simple and natural - which is why i was so drawn to these sculptural wooden ornaments.   Simple enough to leave out all year round but made even more special when incorporated into holiday trimmings.  Today I'll be putting the finishing touches on my own holiday decor with fresh flowers (hopefully they'll last until Friday).  I have one of these hanging on my front door wreath and I'm sure I can find a special place for the others.....

Note to self:  remember to ask Neil if he can get more of these for me.




Photo:  Carol Reed


Thursday, December 17, 2009

GUS MODERN - Sofa Love




The newst design from Gus Modern - The Richmond Sofa


I GUSH.  When I'm crazy for a product or service, or company,,,,I can't help it, I simply gush endlessly about it.  I've been a fan of Gus Modern for quite a few years now, its designed here in Toronto, right here in my own hood actually, just a few minutes away - and I've specified it for a wide range of client projects and have bought some pieces for my own home.  It also happens to be sold thru one of my all time favorite showrooms, Style Garage who have recently opened up a Gus Modern studio right next door to their main showroom on Queen W.  This product line is rapidly gaining recognition outside the country for its elegant, industrial inspired style. I think Gus Modern's own vision statement really sums up what I love most about this product and it happens to reflect much of my own design philosphy:





Simple forms, honest materials.........delighting in the simplicity of everyday objects, and combining great design with practical purpose.  These are credos that I design by.   Its no wonder I've always been drawn to this furniture line!


But this week,,,,I AM CRAZY for their brand new Richmond Sofa, it has the same clean contemporary lines Gus Modern is known for but with a cushion seat and cushion back.  This 2 over 2, full size modern sofa is tailored AND comfy-cozy - slightly more relaxed looking in style than their other sofas.  Its not even in showrooms yet but I've already ordered one for a client!




The Richmond Sofa in Lattice, Graphite fabric.




The Richmond Chair, I've test driven this in person,,,,its incredibly comfy!




If you're not familiar with Gus Modern,,,below are some of my favorite pieces from the rest of their collection but this is just a small sample of what they offer. Sizes and fabric choices are pretty limitless.




The sleek stainless steel and leather Delano Chair.  A statement chair - I love mixing this chair in with more traditional surroundings, and not only does it look stunning, its surpringly comfortable.




The Delano chair upholstered in pony hide.  Oh, I gush...




The Jane Chair - this is what I call, tailored comfort.






George Daybed - a stunner.






Nicole Ottoman.  Whatever size you want,,they can make.






Blythe Ottoman upholstered in Pony hide.  Made to order and any size you want.






The Bishop table - I've used this little table a lot, it cantilevers beautifully over an ottoman or armless sectional.




The Pawn stool - a little scultptural end table or stool.






The Pawn stool in the 'latest' hottest colour.



The Timber Tale table - unexpected fun with faux bois 




The School House chair.






the Thompson Chair






the Swing Arm Lamp.




Check out the Gus Modern website for the complete collection and visit Style Garage for pricing and showroom location.


All Photos:  www.gusmodern.com



Sunday, December 13, 2009

Victorian Row House: A Designer Reno on A DIY Budget - Part 6







Kitchen & Family Room - Before & After

























Below are some before pics showing the old 1980's kitchen.  Half of the ceiling was badly damaged from a leak in the old roof, there was no dishwasher or exhaust fan and the cabinetry was rotted and falling apart.  The first photo shows the extent of cabinetry, lowers and uppers along the window wall and a small cabinet over the bulkhead for the basement stairs.  A table and chairs sat next to a freestanding fridge and in front of a long baseboard heater.   We ripped it all out......including the window.  In its place would be a new ceiling, new flooring, new window, new lighting, new appliances and new Ikea kitchen cabinets.



Before - View from Kitchen to DR and LR



Before - View from LR and DR to Kitchen and FR beyond.




It was definitely a challenge coming up with a layout for this kitchen.  It was elevated from the Dining and Living rooms and also had an adjoining family room with a walkout to the deck and access to the garage.  The kitchen spanned the width of the house so the main path of traffic flowed thru the kitchen, thru the family room and out to the only parking spot - in the garage.  What I found most awkward about the kitchen was that the opposite walls were too far apart to make for an efficient work space but it was too narrow for an island or peninsula layout without removing the walls between the kitchen and Family Room - not an option for us.  I wanted to utilize the long wall opposite the sink for full height cabinetry and add an island, even if it would be a small one.  The walls between the kitchen and family room had to stay so I redesigned the layout within the existing footprint.   One of the key elements was removing the baseboard heater and replacing it with a toe-kick heater that fits under the cabinetry on the one wall.  This allowed us to utilized the entire wall for new full height cabinetry.



After - View of Pantry in kitchen looking thru to back door in Family Room.  Toe kick heater under cabinetry.

The view to the back of the house from the LR and DR was directly down the middle of the kitchen and at eye level (because of the elevated floor level) so I wanted an island that was more of a table style, something that was visually light and airy looking and moveable.   Because I had limited time and even a more limited budget, I designed an island that we could make ourselves from stock goods - so the kitchen island became a DIY project.  I purchased a ready made stainless steel top from Ikea (or you could use butcher block) some unfinished solid wood butcher block style legs from Lowes, and a bit of stock lumber.  I planned out the apron size and blocking required and had the lumber store cut all the boards to the exact sizes I needed.  Next I purchased all the fasteners and brought all the pieces home, ready to assemble.  I supplied my 'other half' with the design drawing and instructions and within an hour he had put the entire thing together for me.  To finish it off, all it needed was primer and 2 coats of finish paint.  Super easy and quick!! The entire thing cost less than $300 and I absolutely LOVE the results.  There are so many variations you could do by following the same simple steps.  In an upcoming post I'll provide the design plan, the instructions and list of materials needed.











A new double hung window was installed, taller than the old window and I added a frosted vinyl film to block the unappealing view of the neighbour's house but still allows the light in.  I opted for solid cararra marble counter and wrapped it up the wall 28" for a clean contemporary look. I had planned on adding a long wall mounted shelf with traditional corbel style brackets on the wall to the right of the window but since I had decided to sell the house, I left this open for the new owners to chose if they wanted to do this or not.   To me this would be the perfect finishing touch - a great spot for displaying pretty bowls, plates and artwork but for those who like to cook, its great access to your dishes.




All of the cabinetry was from Ikea, and I chose the simple white Applad door style for a clean contemporary look.  I customized it by adding full height thick gables between each of the cabinets, (which gives the cabinets more of a furniture look) and gave the entire kitchen a high end style by splurging on marble counters and backsplash, an oversized custom stainless sink, great appliances and a unique custom designed island.  The slide in range reinforces the clean lines and the contemporary rectangular hood was a great find at Lowes for only $699.





The light fixture in the family room was by Jonathan Adler but I customized it to have a 6" drop, I loved the black metal detail on the shade and how it ties in to the other touches of black on the window frames and door hardware.



The family room was adjacent to the kitchen, with its walkout to the deck it was a really bright, sunfilled and comfy space with room for a sofa and two lounge chairs and a TV.  I purchased an inexpensive but practical slipcovered sofa from Ikea, hung a small grouping of my own b&w photos, and brought an ottoman and 2 antique apple crates from home to furnish the space for resale.  The pin-up lamps were a STEAL at only $19.99 ea from a building surplus warehouse, they have a fabric drum shade, a swing arm and 3 way dimmer switch.  I've been back several times since to buy more and I'm sorry to say, they are completely sold out now!  The new owners of the house purchased the sofa and the lamps too.

I'm proud to say that this entire kitchen, including all materials, appliances, labour (electrical, plumbing, drywall, cabinetry install, flooring install, fabrication) and all taxes came in at $17,700.  The only work my handyman and I did ourselves in this part of the reno was the demolition, the painting, and hook-up of the kitchen faucet and dishwasher...and of course the design planning.  All in all,,,,I think the quality and value of the end product is much greater than its modest budget and demonstrates that its not how much you spend,,its how you spend it!

Stay tuned for a future post with instructions for a DIY kitchen island.

For Parts 1 thru 5 of this Victorian Row House Reno:


All Photos:  Carol Reed



Wednesday, December 9, 2009

December Song



WARNING: Guaranteed to make you smile and give you that warm and fuzzy Christmas feeling. : )

I have to thank Brad Ford, Interior Designer and blogger, for posting this video on his blog Design Therapy the other day which is the first time I'd heard this song by George Michael - fitting because i think its a bit of 'Holiday Therapy'!  He described the animation as mesmerizing and it truly is - I am crazy for this song and completely smitten with the video.

If you're not in the Christmas spirit yet, this song will surely do it.   Dare I say, I think its a new classic. And ok, I'll admit it, I heart GM.

Enjoy!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Dear Santa......





.......All I want for Christmas are these spinning tops.





 Oh Pretty Please : )


These stunning tops simply make my head spin with joy, and are ranking pretty high on my wish list.  To commemerate the innovative design of Charles and Ray Eames, Herman Miller introduced these limited edition solid walnut tops in October of this year but they'll only be available for purchase until April 2010.

This collection of exclusive tops are inspired by my all time favorite design team, the Eames' giant collection of huge toys, and designed by one of my favorite porcelain studios, KleinReid.  How can I not have these these!



“Toys are not really as innocent as they look. Toys and games are prelude to serious ideas.”
- Charles Eames




"We drew inspiration from Ray and Charles Eames' gigantic toy collection - calling them "avid" collectors puts it mildly!  We sifted through cataloged toys, games, folk art, models - you name it - and spent an afternoon at their case study home in Pacific Palisades, CA.  We quickly fell in love with their tops, from primitive to refined, amassed from around the world (and featured in their film "Tops" of course).

Back in our studio we set to work creating shapes and making models. The trio is turned solid walnut and celebrates silhouette, material and most importantly - PLAY!  They're intriguing at rest and addictive in use."  - David Reid




No.1


No.5



No.7



This select edition of three are the first of what will be a series of 12 tops with additional designs slated for future release.  The trio are available thru Herman Miller for $199US per set and thru contacting KleinReid, however, a note on their website states they're currently out of stock.  So Santa, maybe if you call my friend at Herman Miller she may know where to find some. ; )




Herman Miller describes the tops as both classic toys and kinetic art!



For those of you who live in the Manhattan area, I'm so envious...., this weekend KleinReid is having their annual holiday sale this weekend.  This studio is at the forefront of porcelain design, (even Michelle Obama is a fan), so if you're in the area this is sure to be a treasure trove of unique "made from scratch" finds.









Photos:  Hermanmiller.com  and kleinreid.com


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Victorian Row House: A Designer Reno on A DIY Budget - Part 5







The Living and Dining Rm - Before & After



I should start this post by stating that we began this renovation in the spring and as September rolled around I was feeling more and more uneasy about the possibility of moving out of my rental and into this newly renovated home. With the stock market crash and the collapse of major wall street firms, I was left feeling really uncertain and confused about holding on to this piece of real estate. Knowing that if I moved in it was going to be short term anyways, we decided it would be best to sell after completing the renovation, but we would need to do it sooner rather than later. Sooooo,,,, with the plan now to sell,,,,we debated whether to furnish the house or not. And the vote was yes. We spent 2 days moving furniture in from my own home and purchasing some small items to fill in the holes. I was happy with the end result as it was certainly a step above the average 'staged' home,,,,yet, it doesn't reflect how I would have loved to have furnished the home had I planned on living there or if I had had more time and even a teeny bit more money! But this was the reality and I made the most of what I had.

The after photos posted above (and in previous posts) illustrate what the house looked like after trying to furnish a house with zero money and in only 2 or 3 days!!!  If you've seen photos of my current home and my previous home,,you'll no doubt recognize most of the furniture.



















Now here's a few of the before's a bit about some of the material's and details we used.


Before - View of Living Room and Front Entry before closing.



After - View of Living room after new windows, smooth ceilings, floor, trim and paint was completed.


The most compliments we received on the finished house was the new floors.   Everyone who walked thru the door, from installers, to friends, to neighbours to the pizza delivery guy,,,,,all commented on how much they loved the floors and wanted to know what they were, where to get them.  Personally, I loved the floors too and I had them selected from day 1.  They're a natural finish, solid 3/4"th x 3-1/4"w prefinished birch in a loft grade.  And they also happen to be the least expensive floors I've ever specified at $1.99 s.f., in stock and on sale!  They're from an Ontario based company called Kultur Flooring who claim to have the most advanced wood flooring mill in North America.  One of the things I really like about their product is they are the first mill in North America to mill the whole tree for wood flooring - this allows them to offer a range of wood grades and produce really long boards.   Also, for a prefinished floor they have the smallest micro-bevel edge I've seen, giving it more of a site-finished look.

I chose the loft grade because of the character - the variation of colour and the visible knots which reminded me of some of the antique floors I've installed (for a LOT more money), and I think they created a loft like look in the space.  They came prefinished in a clear, matt finish.  I prefer my wood floors to be natural, not stained, and I like them to be very low sheen like a waxed finish and this floor offerred both of those.  This gives them a more relaxed look and is more forgiving to scratches and wear and tear.  I think the older they get, the more character they'll develop.  What sets them off even more is the all white walls and the black window frames, again creating a contemporary urban soft-loft like look.



Before - View of Dining room before closing.



Before - Living and Dining room after demolition.  Newly smoothed ceilings and partial primed walls and railing.



Before - Living and Dining Room just prior to new floors being installed.

We installed new casings on all the windows and doors and decided to custom cut our own.   I was looking for a simple profile, something very clean lined and contemporary looking but there's not much available in stock.  So I purchased 1" x 4" select pine and had my handyman run all the boards thru his table saw to create a wide bevelled top edge.  Once the saw was set up the process went pretty quickly and the cost was a lot less than factory milled casings.  After they were cut, a once over with a palm sander and a primer coat to seal the knots, they were ready for paint.  So we ended up with custom casings for about $1.09 linear foot.  The biggesst challenge was trying to find a store that had enough lumber in stock!


Before - the first new baseboard being installed on the new hardwood floors.  Don't worry,,,1 hour later a super powerful pneumatic nail gun made an appearance.

The second most common compliment we received on the house was on the baseboards. Who would've thought something as boring as baseboards would be so appealing to people.  I assume, like myself,,,many people have tried to find simple contemporary style baseboards with no luck and maybe that's why they were so taken with the ones we installed here.   I selected stock boards again, this time a 1" x 6" primed mdf.  These boards were installed everywhere as baseboard and I love the clean simple lines they create.  The best part is its a really inexpensive solution, (about .78cents l.f.) readily available, pre-primed and with no fancy profile, its fairly simple to install because there's no coping required.  This made my handyman, Six, very happy (or was it just the power nailer).



After - View of living room and dining room new windows, ceilings, floors, trim and paint were completed. 


I think painting out the old hand rail and spindles made a huge transformation to the staircase, no more 80's golden oak.  We cut-off the little curly-que end portion of the old handrail and added a large newel post which i think is more in keeping with the original character of the century house.  The hand rail was painted a glossy black but I also think it would have looked just as good with the spindles painted black as well.

The light fixture in the dining room was a great find at Habitat for Humanity, I'd seen it regularly at lighting showrooms selling for $600, I scooped it up for only $125, brand new in the box.  The living room had this oddly placed junction box in the ceiling directly in front of the window, what normally might instead be centred in the middle of the room.  I decided to hang a small, modern looking pendant chandelier there suspended over the sofa, with the 9' ceilings it added some sparkle, made the window area look more special but also created a nice visual from the exterior of the house.  A bit unexpected but I think it worked really well.



After - the Living Room



Stay tuned for the next post on this Victorian Row House reno where I'll post photos and details about the kitchen and family room!


For earlier posts:


All Photos:  Carol Reed


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