December 11 2014

Design Dilemma: Styling – A Few Take Aways

One of the joys of working on a design project is the big reveal day. It’s when all the amazing things you sourced, designed and ordered for your client are finally ready to be perfectly placed. Here’s our studio table full of some of the amazing pieces we found, ready to be styled. It may be hard to tell from the photos, but the scale of some of these pieces are very large. The glass vase series in the background are huge and will look so dramatic in my client’s dressing room. The stacked Barbara Barry boxes in the foreground are large enough to hold legal size papers and odds & ends; plus fill an entire shelf in the adjacent office bookshelves. Scale, quality and balance are so important when styling. Adding these final details are the personal touches that reveal your personal story, and give the room individuality and character. It’s not easy to do and in my opinion, best left to the professionals. But if you’re going to give it a go on your own, please keep a few of these tips in mind:

1. Remember scale and balance: I like to use larger scaled pieces to add drama and keep it from looking cluttered. Balance of colour and pattern throughout gives a sense of calm and synergy.

2. Layering different textures in similar tonalities are a stylist’s trick to make a space cohesive and sophisticated. It’s more complex and risky to mix colours and pattern.

3. Quality: Invest in some special pieces you love. If you add a bunch of cheap items everywhere, it will cheapen the look of the whole room.

4. Edit: Just like an elegant woman, know when to take the one extra piece of jewellery off before leaving the house. Leave the “more is more” styling credo to the experts.

November 6 2014

Design Dilemma: Quantity vs. Quality

I totally understand working with a budget and having “so much” set aside to spend on something. Even though I’m in the design business, I too have to consider my purchases carefully; making sure what I bring into my home is worth the hard earned money I spent on it. Do I really love it? Will it add substance and interest to my home? Will it improve the function of the space?  Will it make me smile?

A reoccurring issue I see, is people wanting so much for so little. This often results in, a) compromising on quality, b) compromising on the over-all design (scale, light, colour etc. to accommodate the not so perfect piece into the space) and, c) compromising on the enjoyment you get when you purchase something you absolutely love.

My friend Meredith said recently that some people fall in love more with the price than the thing they’re purchasing. Food for thought.coco


September 25 2014

Design Dilemma – Painting Wood Trim

I was at a client’s house the other night and suggested they paint their old, dark gum wood trim in their 1920’s house. You would think I asked them for their first born child! It has been a challenge since the day I started designing to convince people that painted wood actually enhances the detail of the trim and gives the home a whole new lease on life. It freshens and makes a home more current, without losing the character people covet in older homes. I know there are always exceptions to the rule, and there are situations when it would be a crime to paint over wood trim or panelling. Honestly, it has to be in amazing shape and absolutely gorgeous for it to take precedence over painting it, in my opinion.

As for my clients? Knowing the positive feedback I get from people who do paint their wood trim, made me press on. I told them to paint all the casings, baseboards, etc. and leave the doors stained for now. It will still look 90% better than leaving it all wood. They thought about it for a minute and agreed it will add interest to their quaint home and give them the updated look they desire. I know they will be thrilled! Maybe they will paint the doors in the future…or maybe not.

paint trim 1Designer Paul Corrie’s row house

paint trim 2Designer Blair Harris                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Here’s an example of wood that should be left as is. Gorgeous!

hotelPalácio Ramalhete Boutique Hotel in Lisbon

Disclaimer: I know this is a touchy subject and people are very passionate about their wood trim. No hate mail please. xo