I've been working on some style boards for a client who lives half way across the country. While it may seem strange to some people to work with a decorator who will never enter your home, it's actually a simple process - and one our clients love.Read More
The Design, Decor and DIY Blog
It's time for another great Before & After from a recent project. A blank slate project is always fun for a decorator and this condo was no exception. The remit from the client was to keep this open living/dining room space simple, modern and clean. The walls had already been painted an off-white, with a single wall in dark grey, but other than that, it was wide open. The client had some art he wanted on the walls, but was happy to leave space for future purchases. This is an approach, by the way, that I'm fully behind. Your walls need not be filled if it means putting up objects or pieces that you have no connection with. You don't need to hang expensive art, or even limit yourself to pictures and paintings, but what you do hang, you should love for one reason or another. But never mind all that, on to the before and after pictures!
Working with the client, we decided on a monochromatic palette of greys and whites with natural accents through wood and greenery. this is a simple scheme to use and it holds well over time. Additionally, should the client ever feel the urge to add pops of color, this would be simple to do through cushions, throws and other accessories around the space. It also allowed him to add a huge splash of color with a painting by local artist Mitchell Wiebe.
This space is typically used for socializing (read: the TV is in another room) so we created two distinct spaces: a living area and a small dining area that takes advantage of the space without making things cramped.
With a big piece of art on one wall, and wall space reserved in the dining room for future purchases, the lights were kept simple - a flush mount in the living area, and this clear globe in the dining area.
Greenery gives the space light. A small grouping like this can be built on, or even split up later.
A simple dining table and lucite chairs keep the look light. With limited space, using pieces that have clean lines and avoid bulk helps to maximize the feel of the room.
When choosing plants, we kept in mind that the client travels quite a bit. We talked to staff at a local nursery to ensure we chose plants that would flourish in indirect light, and require moderate to low levels of care. Succulents, yuccas and cacti fit the bill.
We also included an air plant, which make wonderful solitary or group displays, and require no watering in the pot, just the occasional soak and air dry.
The bar stools gave a dose of wood to the space, while still keeping in stride with the calm palette of greys. Modern with a hint of retro, their low profile doesn't crowd the living space.
A simple, clean modern space that is comfortable and allows the works on the wall to shine. To see more of our work, visit our gallery.
Multifunctional spaces are useful to everyone, but especially to anyone with limited space. If you don't have room for a separate TV room and a lounge/entertaining space, then you need to consider if your space if really doing all it can for you. One of the things that a good decorator or designer will do for you is not only make your space beautiful, but ensure that it is functional as well. To show you how this can be accomplished, we've created an example of a small living room that looks reasonably familiar to us.
We often see spaces like this set up with nice furnishings and fixtures, but not quite being all they could be. Let's take a look at some easy changes could be made to bring this living room from basic to so much better.
We've kept the colors in the space fairly neutral as we're not going to focus on those today. Instead, let's look at Four main things we can do to improve this room:
- Hang the drapes to take better advantage of the only window.
- Stop letting the TV hog valuable floor space.
- Put in a rug that is more appropriately sized.
- Take advantage of the left side of the room.
Right now, all we can imagine doing in here is sitting on the sofa and reading a book in front of the fire, or watching a bit of TV. And that not a bad thing, but what if you wanted to socialize or entertain a few friends in here? Without throwing away what you have, and by changing a few things and adding just a few items, the space could look more like this:
- Hang your drapes about 6 inches out from the window, and 6 inches above (space allowing). This allows the drapes to stay out of the window space when they are pulled open, and also makes the window look bigger and the walls higher. (We'll show you another angle of this below.)
- Mount the TV above the fireplace. This allows you to use that precious floor space to add a small armchair. We've also added a floor lamp. Having light come from different sources and different angles in the room is important. We're also using the wall space here to hang a few small pictures. Don't be afraid to group your pictures together in different configurations.
- Add a rug that connects the sofa with the table and the chair. This brings the space together. (We'll show you another angle on this below.)
- & 5. This space on the left was under utilized. We changed the standing shelf to something that offers display space as well as storage space, which the room lacks, and again used the wall space for a picture or some art. We also rehung the room's original painting, and added a small bench. This gives you a little more flexibility for seating in the space. You can also style the bench as you would a coffee table, with some books, cushions, a small tray with candles, etc.
To get a better idea of how small things can have a big impact on your space, here's a look at those drapes before and after:
And having a rug that is adequately sized really creates a change:
You don't have to throw everything out or buy a whole new living room suite to create big changes in a small space. Just take a few minutes to ask yourself what you need to the space to do for you in terms of beauty and functionality, and proceed from there.
If you're not sure where to start, take a look at our decorating packages - we'll give you all the tools and ideas you need, from color schemes to floor plans and buying guides, to transform your space into the room you've always dreamed of.
It's no secret that I love beautiful interiors that showcase a mixed look. And to achieve that look, I don't mind spending time searching for those quirky, special pieces. I'll admit, I'm a pretty dedicated picker. I love a unique find and a good deal. OK, I really love a good deal. But it's not all Instagram shots of pretty finds and visits to quaint shops. No, some days it is decidedly the opposite, and this is the story of one of those days.
Steve was out of town, and I had seen an online posting about a large antiques shop having a 50% off sale on every item. Every item. Like a moth to a flame, I was dying to check it out. I won't name the shop, and the reason for this will become apparent shortly, but believe me when I tell you that this incident has in no way put me off a return visit. But maybe I'm a bit more single minded about these things than others.
The shop was fantastic. Three floors crammed with treasures, small and large - and at 50% off, I was less likely to grumble throughout about "prices for tourists" and the like. Despite the incredible volume of items, the staff had clearly taken time to arrange things thoughtfully, some even in beautiful little tableaus.
Between texting clients with a few images of items they might be interested in, and scoring a ridiculously over the top swag light for $10, I spotted it. A lovely, huge, green demi-john, sitting in a corner, strapped into what I can only describe as someone's seventh grade shop project. The wooden containment system was ridiculous, but the beautiful green, glass container was mine. All mine.
I lugged it down to the cash and giddily paid my money. (You know I'm happy with a find when I don't even haggle.) I first carried the light fixture out to the car and returned for the demi-john. The man from the store was holding it and seemed somewhat insistent that he would carry it to my car. As kind as that is, "IT'S MINE NOW GIVE IT TO ME." Um, I mean, "Don't trouble yourself, good sir, I can easily carry that." And with that, I took it out of his arms and headed happily to the car. Happily, that is, until I glanced down into the bottle and caught sight of what appeared to be a tiny, wizened skeleton.
"Oh crap. Dead mouse." I wavered for the briefest of moments before my brain reminded me that this was 50% off. "It's just one small, very dead mouse," I reasoned, "No biggie. Be cool. Just get it in the car Quickly. Ick. Now. Hurry hurry HURRY!" As I set it in the back of the car, my face hovered perilously close to the opening of the bottle. Oh God. Would I get the the plague? Ugh. Trying not to think about what was in the bottle and its potential implications on my health, I drove home. The weather forecast was calling for freezing rain that night and the next day, so I was going to need to take care of this issue today, unless I wanted the Plague Bottle in my house.
Normally, a hideous task such as cleaning up rodent skeletons falls to Steve. This is less because I don't want to do them, and more because I want to watch Steve do them. He has a weak constitution and strong gag reflex when it comes to such things, so it's great sport. We once hit a crow while driving on the highway (a strange incident where the crow was shoved out in front of our car by two other crows) and did not realize for about three hot summer days that it had landed neatly inside the fog light hole on the front of the car. You can probably guess what alerted us, after three hot summer days, to its presence in this cavity. The extraction of its incredibly rank remains nearly did Steve in. I, meanwhile, stood at the end of the driveway, hopping from foot to foot, making disgusted yelping noises and capturing the whole thing for posterity.
But I was on my own today, so I pulled on the gloves, got a very big bottle of bleach, and began. The first task was to remove the wooden containment system it was in and then determine how much of this problem could be shaken right out of the bottle. The bottle was so dirty that it was hard to see what was going on inside, but as I hefted it up and gave it a bit of a shake, I immediately realized that I had underestimated the scope of the carnage inside. There was clearly a second body. Ugh. I carried the bottle out to the yard and tried tipping it upside down and giving it a good shake. The loose contents flew straight for the opening and, rather appropriately, bottlenecked, refusing to fall out.
Defeated, I realized that I was going to have to get a stick of some sort and extract these bodies. I rooted around, found what I considered to be a reasonable tool, and then began enacting what would have been a ridiculous scene had anyone been around to witness it. A twenty litre bottle is pretty sizeable, especially if you want to tip it upside down with one hand, jam a stick in it with the other hand and forcibly evict what you thought were two carcasses from the bottle. I say this because, as I grunted and struggled and gagged a bit, the bodies just kept coming. One, two, three, four. Four dead mice. Three small, and one rather large.
With the corpses all assembled on the ground in front of me, I couldn't' resist the urge to poke them a bit and try to work out who died when. Were two or more ever alive together in the bottle? If so, what Donner Party nightmare did they live out? Did a third mouse land in the bottle and see two already emaciated bodies and immediately realize its folly? How quickly did this all happen? How long would the bottle have to sit there to fill up completely with dead mice? What sort of a discount could I have got if I pointed out the tiny mummified remains in my bottle?
And of course, I named them.
With the bodies removed, I brought the bottle back indoors and commenced bleaching and scrubbing it to within an inch of my life. And here it is today:
I await the next dinner party when I can casually mention that the big green bottle was once a crypt for rodents. And soon, I will head out on the road again, seeking beautiful finds with perhaps a touch less drama.
Here's a quick shot from a recent job decorating a condo in downtown Halifax. Most of the pieces are in place, but there's always a delivery or two to wait on at the end! Once we've got everything in place, we'll show you the entire fun, modern, functional space!
This project offers lots of lessons about making the most of open spaces, using smaller spaces, and considering dual functions to make the most of what you have, so stay tuned!
Just a few quick snaps from some recent work in a client's house. The bedroom is a great example of simple style that mixes a few elements for a lovely effect. Gold, white, and a pale grey-violet color mix to create a relaxing space. The simple Ikea nightstands work beautifully with lush little table lamps.
Trixie, the on site help. She's also handy with my measuring tape.
The room is a wonderful mix of styles, and really captures the idea that you don't have to spend a fortune to get a distinct look for your home. I'm off to start setting up a client's condo - a lovely downtown space with some great artwork. Pictures from that to come soon!
Here's a peek at a dressing room recently completed for a client. The space was formerly a small nursery, with dark blue walls that made the space feel crowded and the light stark. We designed a simple organizing system that allowed them to retain space for ironing and dressing.
The walls were lightened to a pale grey, gauzy drapes and a glamorous light fixture were added, and it was ready to go - but yes there is a cellular shade as well for privacy!
Using the corner is always an issue in a closet, as clothes closest to the wall often end up half hidden behind a cupboard wall. Keeping the walls of the unit shallow and allowing a bit of separating between the two hanging spaces means the clothes in the corner are still easily accessible.
The beautiful, extra large mirror with gorgeous bevelled edges serves two functions: its obvious reflective function for dressing and maximizing light in the small space.
While we don't all have the space to create a luxe dressing room with centre cabinets and walls of shoe racks, it is possible to take a small space like this and make it very functional. Who needs another guest room when you can have a spot that you will use daily and makes your life a bit easier?
It's another before and after for you - today's edition is the dining room of a home we've been working on recently. It's the same home we feature in the Living Room Before and After last week. An older home that had some patchy work done before being sold to our clients, the dining room was a drab putty tone and the light fixture was a bit dated. There was little to make this room stand out as the entertaining space our clients wanted. BEFORE:
The dining room was painted the same calm grey as the living room, and a subdued but still dramatic wall paper was added to one wall. The clients wanted a to make this room a feature while still looking clean and smart and it was decided that a chandelier would take it past that point. A simple, modern light fixture on a dimmer switch was chosen to contrast the pattern and color of the wall paper, while still offering sufficient light for dining and socializing.
The table is a vintage find, which is often a great way to mix up the look in a dining room and stay on budget. The moulded chairs provide a contrast, both against the wood of the table and floor, and the color of the wallpaper. They also tie in nicely with the white light fixture.
The dining room is a fairly small space, and a hutch or large bar would have eaten up the room and made it feel a bit crowded. A small, portable bar fits nicely in the corner, and can be wheeled out to the living room for a bit of smart cocktail entertaining.
You don't need a lot of stemware on show in your dining room if you don't have a large hutch or case for it. Pick a few of your favourite things to display, along with a few bottles of the things you love best.
The dining table has a leaf, and extra chairs are simply placed in two corners of the room, ready for use either in here, as as extra seating in the living room when entertaining.
Clients often shy away from the idea of darker walls, as they have been taught that they make small spaces feel smaller, and rob the space of light, but that's so often really not the case. Our clients were wary of the dark wall, but trusted us to make a decision that was aligned with their vision for the room. Making the far wall darker not only gives you a focal point, but it can make the wall appear further away, tricking the eye into seeing more space. This room also has a large patio door, and a wide opening in to the living room, which has a huge window. Having both of these sources of natural light meant that I would have been confident to paint this entire space dark and know that the natural light would keep it from being claustrophobic. In the end, the wallpaper provided just the right touch of drama to the room, while never overwhelming it.
A final bonus is the view of this beautiful wall from the living room or kitchen, which simply makes you want to enter the space and take a look.
We've got a Before and After for you today! We recently finished some work with a couple of lovely clients who took possession of an older home and wanted to rework the interior a bit. The previous owners had done a bit of updating when they prepared to sell, but had likely done a lot of the work on their own and the results, unfortunately, weren't great.
Paint colors were dreary and not terribly well applied. Cracks in the corners were left un-mended, and this older home lacked sufficient outlets for modern owners. The fireplace in the living room was the original red brick, and the sconces were also from another time - which is not necessarily a bad thing, but in this case....well have a look at the first before picture:
And here we are after:
Our work with these clients covered most of the spaces in the home, so the living room became part of the overall plan. The clients were looking for a mix of old and new that was still uncluttered and functional. In this space and the adjoining dining room (pictures of those to come later), we settled on a calming grey - Sherwin William "Passive." We used a simple palette of grey, blue and yellow-gold, with mixed metals, primarily brass and chrome. Modern fixtures, mix with vintage pieces to give the space a relaxed feel. There is a family room in the basement where the TV is located, so this room was kept as an entertaining space.
The drapery fabric (So Good's Medina) was worth every penny spent. Having custom drapery made can be a considered purchase once you factor in the fabric and the labor, but if the room is one that you intend to feature and entertain in, it's a worthy place to put some of your budget. These drapes look stunning and catch the eye of anyone entering the room.
What to hang on your walls? My advice is typically that it doesn't need to be "art" or even necessarily a picture or painting. It simply needs to be something that you really love and/or that means something to you. Don't hang things on your walls that you feel so-so about. Surround yourself with things that bring you joy. And a few mirrors, they're great for adding light to a space ;)
Here are a few more great vintage finds that were added to the space. The sideboard was found via local classifieds. In it's former life, it was a cabinet stereo. It's now general storage and hides speakers to the bluetooth system. A bit of beeswax polish and four new legs and it became a new treasure for this home. the brass lamp is also a vintage piece, and the crow was one of those fortuitous finds at a local Yart Sale.
Now, on to that fireplace. Here's the before:
The decision was made to simply paint the fireplace, rather than replace it. If a client intends to use a fireplace like this on a regular basis, my advice is typically to renovate it and install an insert. Wood and gas inserts are very efficient heaters (and can be absolutely gorgeous as well), whereas an old wood fireplace like this, while romantic, is essentially a hole in your house through which heat escapes. If you are installing an insert, you can also take a moment to consider complely transforming the fireplace and hearth with a new front using, for example, tile, or stone.
But as they don't use it frequently, wanted to keep some of the older features of the home in tact, and wanted to reserve more of their budget for exterior work, we used a simple and inexpensive method to transform it.
The contrast between the dark charcoal color and the warm brass fittings is just gorgeous. Most of the brass pieces were sourced at vintage shops and flea markets and given a good polish. The tired old sconces were replaced with new ones that evoke the past, but still have modern chrome touches.
That's it for now. In coming posts we'll show you the before and after in other space in the home, including a fabulous new dining room.
Tis the season! SeeSea Interiors is having a Christmas Sale. Buy any Interior Consultation package or Color Consult and get 20% off with the coupon code MERRY20. You can purchase for yourself, or make it a gift (just add a message to us in the order notes). A great way to treat yourself or someone you know.
Check out our great packages here.
We're back to work on a project for new homeowners who are revamping most of the main floor. The decision was made to leave the old fireplace intact, with an eye to adding an insert down the road. But that still leaves us with a fairly tired brick face. The house painter will be arriving soon, so we decided to paint the fireplace in advance of that, so he can cut in clean lines around it. Here's the old face:
Stained and sooty, the fireplace was first given a thorough cleaning, and wiped down with a degreaser. We opted to leave the firebox alone, as an insert is planned, and a beautiful, vintage brass grate was found to cover the opening.
And our current state:
The primer is on, and the next step is the paint. The room will be a pale, neutral grey, so we opted for a dark charcoal on the fireplace, hearth and mantel. the uniform color will completely change the look of the whole fireplace and surroundings, and will give it a quiet sophistication that we are going to take advantage of.
Mixed metals and a masculine but warm aesthetic will rule in this space. New wall sconces, brass accents and some beautiful furnishings are coming up in the next few weeks as we complete this room and the adjoining dining room. Stay tuned for updates!
Here's a project in the works at SeeSea Interiors. Our clients have recently taken possession of a new home and want to bring the interior up to date. It's a great older home in a gorgeous neighbourhood, but it needs a facelift. We'll be working on the living room, dining room, kitchen, master bedroom and basement over the next year or so. It's not necessary to do all the work in one push, especially if your life/work schedule or budget won't allow it. Working with the clients, we chose the order in which they want to proceed, and work is starting soon. Here's a peek at how the living room looks now and what's in store for it.