Monday, March 20, 2017

Designer Profile | Ashley Whittaker



New York-based Ashley Whittaker's stunning red lacquered window seat truly makes a splash on the cover of this month's House Beautiful. It made me excited and anxious to dive into my copy when it arrived in the mail last week! Funny enough I had just days before completed an installment of Dissecting the Details (on La Dolce Vita blog) highlighting Ashley's work. To say I'm a fan is really an understatement, I love Ashley's use of color and texture and I find her rooms so appealing. Here are a few more images from this month's House Beautiful feature:


The purple lacquer on the walls is pretty amazing (Fine Paints of Europe's G17150), I think I would call it aubergine. And I'm a big fan of the diamond sisal rugs that Ashley often selects for her projects:




Multiple rooms in the home are saturated in deep jewel tones; if that doesn't say cozy and inviting, I don't know what does! (Farrow & Ball Hague Blue):


Soothing grass cloth for the principal bedroom:


After posting on Ashley's living rooms last week, and now seeing her newest project, I decided to include a few more of my favorite Ashley Whittaker rooms in this post. Here are some of my favorites to date, in 'quintessential Ashley' style:








Some of my favorite elements that Ashley utilizes throughout her work include bold color and prints, feminine furnishings and antiques, and a traditional foundation with millwork and the perfect flooring & rugs. I need a diamond sisal rug in my life! :)

To see more from Ashley's HB feature hop here, and her stunning portfolio here.

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Monday, March 13, 2017

House Tour | Marianne Simon Design



One of my favorite things is to discover a new project from a designer I love to follow - it's like opening up a present on Christmas morning! Filled with fresh inspiration and new ideas to love. Seattle-based designer Marianne Simon is one of those all-time favorites of mine, and I feel blessed to say is a dear friend I have had the opportunity to come to know because of this blog. Her latest project added to her stunning portfolio is going to have you coming back again and again to study all of the luxe details. We can start off with the most perfect vignette of artwork and a settee upholstered in the amazing Vanderbilt velvet pictured above. But wait, there's plenty more where that came from:




There are too many lovely things to mention in this home, but the grass cloth in the dining room is high up on the list of my favorite things:



A stunning Hermès scarf framed, an idea I have lusted over for much too long (see here):





Now, can you even imagine being a little girl and having this as your very own room? It's too good.



So many things to take in! What was your favorite part? Be sure to check out even more loveliness over on Marianne's website, and follow her on instagram for an extra dose of inspiration.

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Thursday, March 9, 2017

Reno Project | Trim and Mouldings



I promised a little how-to post regarding our use of trim and millwork in our home, and I hope this will answer many of the questions I received! Disclaimer: I am no expert, I am not trained in design or AutoCAD (though I wish I was!) - so this truly will be a representation of a 'mouldings for dummies!'

One of my favorite brands I have been lucky to work with, and have posted about in the past, is Metrie, the largest supplier and manufacturer of solid wood and composite moulding in North America. They started up in 1926 as a small family-run business in my home town of Vancouver, and are now a leader at the forefront of design savvy interior moulding products. In case you missed it, you can see the full reveal of our entry and kitchen to view how we utilized trim to transform these dated spaces.

Q: Is the foyer picture frame molding or recessed panels?

We chose to go the extra mile and install recessed panels in our entry. We felt that this was the first impression to our home, and it would be worth the extra work and cost. What this meant is that we used flat stock MDF to build out the wall first, and place panel trim within these built-out portions. We have not regretted that decision, the details make the design!




Q: What did you have to do to the walls after removing the wallpaper?

Confession: I am insanely blessed to say that my dad-in-law is a professional dry-waller. After our family effort in picking off all of that wallpaper we (ie. HE) skimmed and patched the drywall with drywall filler to perfection before any trim was applied. It's very important to get that foundation right before moving on to the next steps! I'd say hire a professional to skim your walls if they are in crummy condition underneath of the old wallpaper. 



Q: How did you plan out the moulding (ie selection and spacing)?

This was the most frequently asked question by far. What I think helps make things so easy for non-experts is Metrie's curated collections of coordinating trim and doors already grouped for you. This way you already know that the door casing depth will proportionally fit with the thickness of the baseboards to create a proper reveal, and the styles and profiles of each piece will flow together. The Metrie catalogue became my best friend during our planning period (as you can see tagged & marked below!). I selected coordinating pieces from the French Curves Collection:

[Specifics: we chose this recessed panel mould, this crown, this baseboard, this chair rail, and this door casing). The main products were selected from the French Curves Collection (Scene I)]

After choosing the collection we loved, we began to draw out our vision in the most amateur and non-AutoCAD way (on random notepaper, non-the-less). I looked to places like Pinterest to get a feel for the shapes that would work for my staircase and entry. What then dictated the measurements was the width of our flat stock. Once we new how wide the flat stock would be (in our case 5 1/2") we could plan the size of each 'cut out' shape. We literally then drew this out on the wall itself.


From there, we working with professionals to have our vision carefully installed. We managed to use MDF flatstock on the curved walls because our clever trim-installer Mark was able to notch the pieces so that they could flex and bend (see photo below). If you have a straight staircase you won't run into this problem which created an added step for us!



The one place where we could not use MDF was the baseboard on the curved wall - baseboards are typically thicker than flat stock and likely won't be easy to bend! We purchased a rubber mould instead which you can see in the process of being painted just below. Once it had 3 coats, there was no way you could tell it was rubber any more! Again, if you have a straight wall you won't have this issue, but anyone with this classic 1980's shape will know exactly what I'm referring to :) 


A few tips I can suggest if you are embarking on a trim project:

Tip 1: Measure the amount of product you will need (always measure twice) and then add 10% for waste. This saves you time, and possibly money if you need to have additional product shipped or delivered later. When in doubt hire a professional, they could actually save you money in the long run. 

Tip 2: Make sure you account for the space needed to fit door frames and baseboards into your design layout. For example, if you look at the image directly below, you can see that the vertical pieces of flat stock used for the panels were 5 1/2" wide. Then look at the bottom piece of flat stock running horizontally along the floor - It's much wider so that once the baseboard is nailed on top of it there will still be an overall border of 5 1/2" surrounding the recessed portion. You'll need this extra amount of space for your door casings to overlap with the flat stock as well.


Tip 3: Choose your lengths wisely! Several of Metrie's products come in a few options in terms of lengths; for example our baseboard selection was offered in 8', 12' or 16' lengths. Got an extra long wall? Make sure you have a 16' length for it so that you won't have any unsightly cuts or joints somewhere in the middle of the wall. This kind of attention to detail will help elevate your finished space. 

Tip 4: Go big or go home! I was initially afraid to choose beefy baseboards and crown because we were working with a space that only had 8 foot ceilings. After seeing the 5 1/2" base and 4 1/4" crown, I am so happy I did not go smaller out of fear. As much as it sounds like it should be the opposite, it has made this overall small space seem larger and brighter. 

I can very honestly say I believe that trim is what transformed this dated 1980's home. Whatever you can dream up you can accomplish with trim, and getting creative with it is the fun part. I hope I've helped to break things down a little and take some of the intimidation or mystery out of the trim process. If you have additional questions please leave them in the comments below! 

I'll leave you will a little sneak peek of the living room reveal just to entice you to come back soon and visit for another before & after post ... 


Metrie can help make this process easy with their online tools and suggestions. Here is where you can go for more information:
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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

On My Radar | Tortoise Shell Mirrors



Something I have definitely noticed catching my eye lately, tortoise shell mirrors. Whether antique or new, in an entry or a bathroom, I think this classic natural finish can work well in so many spaces. I would put it high on my wishlist for my own master bathroom reno I'll eventually get to one day - and in my case it will definitely have to be a faux tortoise shell (price tags for the real deal are steep)! Here are some stunning examples of this style of mirror installed: 


This is probably one of my most favorite examples, against the grasscloth it is divine:


left via Decor Pad; right Alex Papachristidis




You can find the tortoise shell mirrors pop up now and then on ebay, and my guess is if you are lucky you might stumble upon a steal in an antique shop. I've noticed this one with a beautiful gold detailing, and Celerie Kemble has a gorgeous piece for Henredon if you have the budget! Any one else know a good source for a similar look?

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Monday, March 6, 2017

Reno Project | Entry & Kitchen FAQs


photography by Tracey Ayton

Happy Monday everyone! I had so much wonderful feedback in the last few weeks with the reveals of the entry and kitchen, thank you sooo much for your response. I've found this community of design-lovers to be so supportive and kind, even if my style is not exactly to your taste, everyone has been so wonderful with only good things to say. I really do think that says something HUGE about the design blogging world - so many other online communities deal with a lot of negativity and I am so grateful we aren't that type of community. So thank you my friends!

After receiving so many questions regarding sources and 'how to's' on social media, email, and here on the blog, I thought I'd try to tackle the majority of them here in a post - so if you had a question you sent I hope I've covered it (and let me know if I haven't!). I'm going to post a separate how-to on all of the millwork and paneling in our project this week, so please pop by if you had questions on that.

Q: What is the source for the entry mirror?

A: It's actually this one from Ballard Designs, the price fit my budget and it's the perfect Louis-style shape. The funny thing about buying online though - it looked SO much more gold in the photo. When it arrived it was a much darker antique brass and it blended in too closely to my burled dresser's finish. It wasn't the pop of gold I was looking for:

(baby Marcus had to check out the new hardware on the dresser of course)

So I solved the problem in a matter of about 15-20 mins with a little Rub 'n Buff (in Gold Leaf) and my finger! Literally that easy, you rub it on with your finger ... this gold paint is seriously a miracle worker.


photography by Tracey Ayton

Q: What is the wall color and paint finish in the entry? And the door color and paint finish?

A: Walls throughout (even in the kitchen) are Benjamin Moore's Chantilly Lace. A very fresh white that does not have a yellow undertone, it's actually a bit of a blue-ish undertone but somehow without being too cold, which is why I love it. Where ever there are panels, crown, & baseboard the finish is satin (also called pearl). On the walls it's eggshell, which lets the trim shine in contrast even though it's all the same white. Kitchen cupboards are the same white and close to a satin finish but in a melamine paint that handles wear and tear and wipe downs so fantastically.

Interior doors are all painted Sherwin Williams Black Magic which is just a tiny bit of a softer off-black  (also in a satin finish), and the exterior door is Sherwin Williams Tricorn Black (a much deeper true black) in high gloss, all doors were sprayed.


Q: Is the floor a pain to level when you are changing from 2 or more types of flooring with transitions between them (ie. between tile or linoleum and hardwood) to one continuous floor throughout?

A: The truth is that there are many things that can be DIY'ed, but this is one thing that is better left to the pros! I think that if a space has the right flooring and the right walls, everything else is easy, so getting it right was very important to us. We hired a professional company to raise the sunken room and a separate company to install the floors. I wanted near-perfection here ... to the point that I probably drove the poor installers crazy, I said NO floor transitions allowed - I wanted tile and wood to meet flush without anything in between them! It's these little details that count ...


Q: Where/how did you get your cabinet doors custom cut to the right size, and for that price?

A: This was probably the most frequently asked question! Many of you were shocked that we were able to get such a low price per door front (approx $40 CA). The way to do it in my humble opinion, is to go to an actual cabinet maker, or kitchen store. Not a big-box store. You won't be able to get a custom fit for your door size requirements from a big box store. Measure 3x to make sure you have all your sizes correct. I even watched YouTube videos on how to make sure I was measuring properly. At a cabinet store you will be able to select and customize your profile, material, and sizes needed. For us, we needed to stick to good ol' oak in order to still have the same grain as our boxes that we were not replacing.

(If you are in the Vancouver area, we used a wonderful local company named Delta Door. Highly recommended).

photography by Tracey Ayton

Q: Did you DIY the cabinet door paint or have them sprayed?

A: In our last home we DIY'ed and painted the cupboards on our own. This time around we paid to have them sprayed. Now that I've experienced both, here's my take: If you have grain like I do with oak wood, paint it yourself if you need to save your money - the painted appearance is not that big of a difference! If you have smooth cabinets (ie. MDF and the like) get them professionally sprayed and the difference will be worth the money.

Q: What kind of counter tops did you have installed?

A: We actually went for a combo here. My initial thought was, let's be practical and do a pure white quartz on the perimeter and splurge for a nice little chunk of Carrara marble on the island. Less to worry about with the larger portion being more stain-resistant, right? BUT so far I have more marks showing up on our quartz than I do on our marble. We did not buy a high-end brand mind you, it's TCE and it's likely lower grade stuff. Sure, quartz does not easily stain but what we have been finding is that pots and pans and metal against quartz scuffs and creates dark markings. We've even had one pan leave what looks like rust marks! I've read all the possible tricks out there and I find that Windex and Vim cream can help some of the marks but not all.

If you asked what I'd choose today, I think I'd say marble all around and just get it re-finished one day when you can afford it. At the very least my advice would be to choose a quartz with some grey spots or veining to disguise any continuing imperfections.


Q: How did you create the canvas Chinoiserie painting?

A: No magic tricks on this one unfortunately, I stayed up WAY past my bed time for a couple of weeks (as I had to wait for baby to go to bed each night before I could start painting). I bought a large canvas that fit the wall I wanted to fill (you can get a better feel for the scale with me in the photo!), and I actually mixed the grey color I wanted by combining several shades of acrylic paint, and rolled it onto the canvas to get a smooth backdrop. I then waited until it was completely dry (several days) and drew my branches on with sharpie pen, using several chinoiserie panels and wallpapers as inspiration as I drew. I painted the finer details with oil paint (yes - you can layer oil on top of acrylic!). I used an inexpensive canvas frame from an art store that you assemble yourself to give it a finished look.


photography by Tracey Ayton

Q: What were your sources for the cabinet hinges and pulls?

A: All hardware was purchased through Lee Valley Tools, and I selected this traditional handle, this hexagonal knob, and this pull. For the dresser in the entry way I purchased this antique-style brass pull, and the front door got this lion head knocker.

photography by Tracey Ayton

I hope this was informative for those of you wanting a few more details! And more good stuff to come soon with the living and dining room reveals, stay tuned :)


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