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No rest for the injured

Family trip to Allentown PA to visit the hubby’s grandfather. 93 years old and still goes into the office 3 times a week. For real. I pulled my back out on morning #1 of the trip. Other than being in labour, I have never felt such pain. Being mom to two kids under the age of 4 means being active, having to pick little ones up and having to allow for quite a lot of being climbed on top of. That goes out the window when you can barely walk. So me and the 93 year old man were getting around pretty gingerly. I admit to eying his walker with some jealousy.

The bad back also meant that I couldn’t take pics of all the cool signage and architecture I wanted to photograph while down there. All I managed was this shot of a pretty church from the side of the road.


Back to Montreal and back to work.

The floor guys came by to do a test patch on the butcher shop floor. The paler colour on the bottom and in the second pic is a stain of the Benjamin Moore Puritan Gray we had painted on the floor of the restaurant. Weirdly, it looked super green in the shop. The other patch of stain is a dark grey that looks really brown pre drying completely but turns into this nice charcoal grey. It is a little darker than I pictured. But I think it will blend nicely into the kitchen tile. I think. The dudes will sand the floor to get rid of the ridges you see in the pics below, then apply the stain and then do 4 coats of glossy sealant. I’m hopeful but honestly, a little unsure as to what the final result will be. Fingers crossed.

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When I got to the shop, Sefi was sanding the big table. It looks so great! We are sanding and just oiling the one that will go into the kitchen. The one in the front of house (the one I consider mine) is being sanded and then I have the option of staining it but I almost like the pale maple as it is. I may wait till the floor is done and the table is placed before making that decision.

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Over at Lawrence, we want to set up a mini terrasse out front. I want to get two more bavarian beer garden tables like I have inside the restaurant. They were bought from Michael at Beige, on Notre-Dame st. Lovely guy, lovely shop.

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We are now running around trying to get all the permit stuff in order. The space is tiny and we can’t eat up the whole sidewalk but it would be pretty nice to be able to sit outside for brunch, lunch or dinner. A couple of potted cedars and maybe a parasol or two and we are set. Something like this?

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Hopefully, the city approves us soon and then party at Lawrence everybody! Or at least the 16 of you that will fit on our terrasse! Yay.

I also went by the grand opening of my friend Gen’s new shop Empire Exchange. When she first got it I helped her with some ideas and colour choices. Great vintage finds, fun opening party. Even with the kids running around, I scored a jacket and a top.


Next week I need to sort out the lunch counter and stools for the shop, meet with a new client, consult with an old client and go see my osteo. Big time.


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All butcher, all the time

Mr. Sign told me a funny story about our tilers/painters/workers. Apparently they asked him if he knew me well. He said we’d worked together a few times, so well enough. They then told him that I’m famous and have written books on design (?!). I thought they had been looking at me funny, now I know why. You’d think that working for such a big shot would mean they would do what I ask more. Clearly, that is not the case. So apparently being a big shot wouldn’t change my professional life all that much. Anyway, here are some butcher shop updates:

The tables from “Skidoo Daniel” arrived. They are massive 4’x10′ stainless steel with shelving beneath and maple tops. Here is Lou perched on top, striking a pensive pose. Sefi will sand the tops and we need to find some missing casters for a few of the legs. I love them! They will eat up a fair chunk of space which is not a bad thing in this case.

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Speaking of things that take up big chunks of room, the walk-in fridge is installed and it is HUGE. But also pretty great. It will have a large window so that customers will be able to see hanging carcasses. Awesome.

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Walking in the basement, I saw this table that Sefi had bought for 100$. I think we may use it for the cash. I’m not 100% sold on the idea because there is always a fine line between too matchy-matchy and too eclectic and jumbled. Using this makes us lean towards the matchy side of things – stainless tables, wood tops. What we need to find is a piece of furniture that can be slid beneath it for storage (paper, bags, stamps etc). Once I find something in a different style/finish, I think I’ll be good with using this one. It is quite beautiful.


We went dumpster diving next. Well, not really – we just went to a couple of spots that have jumbles of antiques/junk/hardware. Our haul was pretty great at Eco Reno:

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We got a bathroom light, a latch lock for the bathroom door, a bathroom mirror and a beautiful black top for a stair rail that we’ll use as a paperweight. Or something. It’s so pretty and shiny – I love it. But then the real winner, the coup de grâce, was this stand alone, enamel, double sink:


My life and work partner, Ethan, had the idea to sell oysters at the shop as well. Some drain stoppers, bags of ice and voilà! A perfect oyster home and beautiful enough to be at the front of house.

Meanwhile, the paint is going up on the walls. They still need to do a couple of coats but you can get the basic idea. I love, love, love the Onyx on the mouldings.

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So now our missing pieces are stools for the counter (maybe 10), waiting area seating, some kind of storage unit for below the cash table and a surface (table? cabinet?) to put the coffee maker on. The final piece of the puzzle will be the u-shaped counter for customers to have their sandwiches at. The design is slowly coming together, now I just need to figure out how much it will all cost. All in all, we are in good shape.

On my way home I realized that my favourite t-shirt of the last couple of months (from Anthropologie), is basically our wall colour which leads me to believe that I really have a one-track mind. Then again, maybe that’s what you need to have to become a big shot designer that writes books.



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This week at the butcher shop:

The kitchen floor is being installed. It isn’t has bad as I thought. I maintain that laying it down my way (in a diamond pattern) would have been cooler. Still it is nice in it’s straight up grid. I’m very happy with the black grout we chose for the walls. It is striking. I have never done this dark a grout and I love it so much.

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We then met with Mr Sign. He started painting the sign and it looks so great. Totally made it real. THIS IS HAPPENING! It says so on the sign.


I love Dave’s work. He is thorough and has great taste. He is super accommodating but still has opinions which is basically exactly what you want from someone you work with. At least that is what I want. I want you to take pride in your work, listen to me the customer, tell me if I am totally wrong (in a nice way), and ultimately agree with me. We let him work for an hour or two and came back and this is what we found:


I am super happy. He starts by painting the black and then a couple of days later adds the silver contour. After that he will paint over the whole thing so that it looks just as good on the inside of the shop. It is simple and solid and weirdly, you can read the sign perfectly half way down the block- I guess the angles of the Gil Sans font make it so that you can read it from various angles quite clearly. So many signs out there require a practically head-on view which is illogical if you are walking up the sidewalk or especially driving by. This really makes it really really real. Really.

While at the space, we started talking wall colour. Now as anyone who knows me knows, I am cream, white, pale grey girl. I have never been coloured walls girl, accent wall girl, wacky colour girl. And I always thought that I’d go cream or pale grey with the butcher shop. And then we went with white tile. And that changed something. Standing in the space this morning waiting for Sefi to come back with coffee, my mind drifted looking at that orange-y brick. One of the bricks was dirty and darker than the others, almost blue. I looked at my colour chips and saw these grey blues and greens in my Farrow and Ball fan deck. They do these blues and greens better than anybody in my opinion. Like their Dix blue or Breakfast Room green. Their paint is way out of anyones budget really but you can get Benjamin Moore paint matched to it. Not always a perfect match but almost a third of the price. Or, you can just find some Benjamin Moore paints that have the same tone or feeling to them. And that is what we did. We picked 3 samples up at City Paints:

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We are looking at either Whythe Blue, Buxton Blue, or Covington Blue. The ceiling white will be Oxford White – it is soft, bright but not cold. I’m pretty excited by the idea of colour on the walls. The big white tile wall is perfect for the kitchen: it needs to be almost stark and it needs to look clean. In the rest of the space though, given that we are putting a giant stainless table smack dab in the middle, I think that having some colour will warm it all up. Even though there is something industrial about these colour choices (they kind of remind me of old metal machinery), I still feel like they will help break the space, have it feel less fancy/loft-like. And now that we are going to do a colour, I think I want to try painting the mouldings really dark and glossy. Really really dark. There is a terrible accordion style closet door that the landlord installed that I was thinking of painting in the glossy Onyx colour that all the Lawrence furniture was painted in. Now with a greenish/blue wall and that black stripe going through the back of the space, I think I’ll paint the mouldings the same colour and it will look amazing. After putting our 3 samples up on the wall, I chose the Covington Blue. It was the warmer, least grey of the three. It is a gamble but the more I picture the finished space, the more I think the colour is a winner. Hard to tell from this lousy picture, but I am feeling quite confident:


And then at the park, my friend Catherine, who’s personal style I’ve always admired, was wearing pants that exact colour and it felt even more right. Sometimes a colour, a pattern, a aesthetic will really scream at me from all corners of the universe. That’s what’s happening now:


I also had a meeting with Jason Cantoro. He is the hyper talented screen printer responsible for co-designing our Lawrence wallpaper. He is working on two projects for the shop. He is making us a large Quebec map that will live on the first wall coming in to the space. It will show all the regions of Quebec and we’ll be able to put push pins in the spots where the farms we work with are located. It will, I think, really show customers the fact that there is a relationship established with these farmers and show them how very local the meat they are buying is. The map project is evolving from wallpaper to a mural to screen prints on wood to who knows what by next week. For Jason’s second project with us, I had the idea of having him make us a sign for the exterior. A hanging, perpendicular to the building, sign of a pig that will have the address on it. Because the front door is recessed, the address is not immediately visible. This kind of signage will not only draw passers by’s attention but also solve the practical problem of a non-visible from the street address. This is Jason at work with piggy:

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He does these screen prints on wood and cuts them out to make 3D works and that’s what he’ll do with mr.pig. I can’t wait to see it done.

And then the Lawrence butcher shop got a visit from the real boss, the queen bee, Miss Lou. It is crazy for me to see her at a renovation site that I am working on. Her brother was about her age or a little younger while I was working on the Lawrence design. And here she is stomping around the work site, pointing at everyone. She wasn’t into the tilers (or rather, the noise they were making with the tile saw) but she liked Mr. Sign. Like mother, like daughter.

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The big reveal…

The final post is up on their site. I’m really pleased with the results. We pretty much used, re-purposed, painted, and/or re-organized 80% of what Genevieve had, purchasing only accent pieces like pillows, lamps, curtains and frames. Obviously I was lucky that we were starting with nice things – some of these things were dated or weren’t used to their full advantage, but the bones were there. All the big pieces were in the house: the two pull out couches, the beautiful teak desk, the rugs. Here are some of the main things I did to the spaces:

– Moved stuff around: we took the desk downstairs, brought Elliot’s grandma’s needlepoint upstairs

– Eliminated visual clutter: the built-in downstairs now looks pretty and organized instead of messy and icky to look at

– Worked with the right proportions: the coffee table downstairs was waaaaay too big for the room. The trunk we put in its place was too small. Adding a basket to the end of the trunk – perfect proportions!

– Warmed up the spaces: adding curtains, rugs and art can make any room feel and look lived-in and loved

– And, finally, looked at things differently: we flipped the Ikea Expedit shelving unit on its side and added casters – now it works as appropriate kid friendly storage

Some before and afters for your viewing pleasure:

Upstairs guest room/playroom

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And downstairs two person office/ guest room

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Ultimately, the spaces are warmer, more personalized, more useful. Pretty great result and most importantly, happy client!


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Secret no more

I finally let all my friends, family and Facebook friends in on this little, (until now) secret blog thing I’ve been doing. Other than my hubby (who reads everything pre-publish so he can fix my punctuation), my parents, and like five of my closest friends, no one knew that I’d been working on this. (Oh, and Brendan Reed, the nicest, sweetest and loveliest person that I have never even met, who helped me put this site together and still answers at least one lame technical question a week.) Anyhow, other than with those few people, I wasn’t ready to share. But wow, was the response a huge hug from the internet. It gave me a nice little boost of confidence. So, to you all, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Now back to work.

I went to look at the tile progress at the butcher shop this week. The wall looks pretty great. I’m really happy with the black line – it makes an otherwise common looking wall less so.


I am bummed with the kitchen floor tile. The installer said that installing the 2″x2″ square tile in the diamond formation I wanted would be too labour intensive. All that means, as everyone and their mother knows, is that he wants to charge more to do it. A lot more. I pouted and huffed and pouted some more and then I conceded. He is old school and the cheapest installer we could find and he won this round. Sometimes you need to back down. Most of the time you need to stick to your guns – this was not that time. I know it will bug me a little every time I look at that floor, but some battles are not worth it. That is the renovation process though: you are always elbowing people a little to get your vision of a space produced. Sometimes you are pushing your client to take a leap with you,  sometimes a contractor to properly fulfill your design, others a supplier to get stuff to you on time. And sometimes, a tiler pushes back. In the end it will look good, no one cares but me, and I am obsessing.

Sefi and Marc, my Lawrence partners, found a large 10’x 4′ stainless steel table with a maple butcher top at some random place in the country for 500$. They got it for the kitchen and Sefi mentioned there was a second matching table and I immediately told her to get it for the middle of the space. I always wanted a massive table in the space and I was at the point where I thought for sure we’d have to have it made, and then this one appeared. No pictures of it as of yet. It will hold merchandise as well as be a spot where customers can eat their sandwiches.

I wanted a really big lamp to go over the HUGE table and so I went back to lighting heaven, aka Lambert & Fils. This is the lamp I had in mind for that part of the room:


But now that it is going over top a stainless table (albeit with a wood top) it felt way too cold and lab like. So Sam from the shop agreed to paint it a sage-y green for me. We’ll keep the shiny interior and keep the green metal top but we’ll paint the aluminum. This will bring in some more of the metal green I want in there as the accent colour. I also chose a light for the outside entrance way. This means the main decorative lighting is pretty much done. We may need to add some extra lighting to the lunch counter area down the road, but for now I think we’ll be ok. Lighting: check!

Next we need to figure out the floor which looks like this now:


I don’t know if I want to stain it or give it a varnish. Epoxy or white wash or both? I need to get someone in that knows floors and  then do some tests. Really, I want it to look like this piece of plywood that was just lying on the floor:


The colour is right-very close to the Benjamin Moore Puritan Gray I chose for Lawrence. And I like that I can see the wood grain through the paint. Sometimes you get the answer in unexpected places…

On Thursday, I went over to my dad’s studio to prep my big daycare presentation. My father is not only a super awesome dad (Hi Dad!) but also a very talented and inspiring artist (Peter Krausz is his name). He has also taught art forever. He took one look at what I was planning for the kids and brought me back to the basic issue that these were three year-olds. Clearly. He suggested using pictures of actual couches, tables, chairs as opposed to the design template squares and rectangles that I was going to use, which totally would have seemed too abstract for toddlers. Once I started looking online, I found sketches of all the furniture items I wanted to use and then dad (again!) suggested the kids could colour them after gluing them down.

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So I spent a few hours finding, printing and cutting up 10 of each item. Then I went to Home Depot and picked up a bunch of colour chips for the kids to choose as the wall colours of their “mood board”. These were some of the results:


Pretty great, I think. I did however, underestimate how crazy long it would take for those little fingers to glue all those pieces down. Sooooo long. We never even got to the colouring part.

Another awesome byproduct from visiting my dad’s studio (other than my mother feeding me) is getting to look at his art work. I fell in love with this piece that was just leaning against a wall. I knew the work vaguely but had never really looked at it. It is from 2011 and it is 4’x 7′. It is a view of the train tracks just outside my parent’s loft and just down the street from our own house. There is just something about it – the light, the tracks, the snow, the abandoned industrial building. Now I want it for our home.

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And I want it to go here:


It seems made to go over this couch. Maybe we can “borrow” it and if someone wants to buy it, we’ll give it back. Maybe.


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