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Busy bee

These last few days seem full to bursting: between the babies, the jobs, the house, the friends, the hubby (and a little time left over for me), I feel like I’m running a marathon – me and every other working mom, I bet. That being said, the things occupying my every waking moment are all really good things. And honestly, taking the time to write this all down and review my process for the various projects I’m undertaking is kind of relaxing. Even therapeutic somehow. So here is a rundown of my professional life in the last week or so…

First: The second HGTV post is up!  The advice I gave Genevieve in this blog post is advice I often have a hard time adhering to (i.e. if you don’t know where to put it, put it back). But, I have to say, having kids has made me a little more restrained – I no longer buy every shiny, pretty thing that catches my eye. That is, I no longer buy every shiny, pretty thing that catches my eye for the home – for the kids is another story altogether! This was actually the funniest part about shopping with Genevieve, my client and also a mom to an adorable toddler: whether we were at the grungy flea market or at Ikea, finds for our kids always stopped us in our tracks. Always. Still I kept her (and me) in check and didn’t let her buy the thousands of toy trucks she wanted. I think our haul was pretty great. We kept our colour scheme pretty strict: red and black for the upstairs playroom/guest room (no cliché baby colours here). And for the downstairs office/guest room, the colours we wove through were those in the map that she wanted to put up on the wall: turquoise, orange and green. I tried to throw in some white in both rooms, so as to avoid getting too matchy-matchy and to brighten everything up. I must say that shopping with this client was super fun.

Below, some of our finds:

Winners Homesense

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Flea Market

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Ikea

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Butcher shop update: We have chosen our tile. The challenge was that the kitchen is visible to the customers so it needed to be pretty. However, it is a production kitchen, which means it will get messy and so needs to be hyper resistant and absolutely non-slippery. It is surprisingly difficult to find pretty, commercial grade tile that fits within our mini budget. And speaking of mini, I really wanted to do a small tile – a hex or penny round. Because we couldn’t find one we could afford that wasn’t risking our employees lives with its slipperiness, the compromise was the 2″x2″ dark grey tile pictured below.

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And because it looked a little bit boring, I think we’ll install it like this:

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Way more visually interesting, no? The tile is from La Tuilerie. A place with some great, cheap options. If you go, ask for Vincent – he was THE best.

Then we went on to choose the wall tile. This was solely for the kitchen area at the very back of the space, but definitely something that will have an impact on the aesthetics. I wanted to go super bold (red floor to ceiling tile or oversized honeycombs, something striking) but Sefi reigned me in: it is a butcher shop, a production kitchen. It needs to look clean and almost cold. She wanted a subway tile. Now, I love me a subway tile, but lately it’s all I see anywhere. The happy compromise was a larger subway tile, 4″x8″. We wanted cream but settled for white (not an ultra white, a softer one). I also added a stripe of black subway going through the room to add something visually interesting. Though still a classic look, going bigger with the size of the tile means that we are modernizing it and also that we aren’t competing with the brick wall running through the space. The wall bricks are long and skinny and uneven so maybe a more standard 3″x6″ would have seemed jarring.

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Finally, we chose the tile for the basement bathroom and hallway. Given that customers will be using the bathroom, it needed to be pretty. And it is: a 1″x1″ black hex tile with mat and the occasional glossy bits.

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The hex as well as the subway tile are from Ramacieri Soligo, my favourite tile spot in the city. They have gorgeous tile, sinks, faucets, etc. This is almost always my first stop in the design process; I get inspired every time I walk through their showroom. My lady there is Annie – she is super nice and very pretty.

Also we met with one of my favourite Montreal characters/trades: Mr. Dave Arnold, a.k.a Mr.Sign. He did our Lawrence sign, which I love – so simple and true and right! And when I was hired to spruce up/redesign the vintage shop Annex Vintage, I got Dave to do the sign too. He is super talented, a blast to work with, all-in all pretty rad. So, he will be doing the Boucherie Lawrence sign too. Very exciting and ready next week!

The Lawrence sign

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New client:

I was hired by an acquaintance to help out with the new home she bought. It is a duplex and she and her partner (and their baby, due in the fall), will take over the ground floor. They will have tenants upstairs. They plan to live there for a couple of years, move out and then use it as income property, renting out both floors. My first question to a client when it comes to renovating their place is: “Is this your forever home?”  If the answer is yes, then I allow myself to picture the dream scenario. If it isn’t a forever home then why blow all of your savings on something you will not live in for long. I mean, maybe if you have tons of money but that is rarely my customer base!

This is not their forever home, but she needs to get it to a decent, liveable place. Specifically, she wanted a consultation about the kitchen. They were originally going to do a massive renovation to the whole house but now that they are expecting, they have decided to simplify. My involvement: I went to take a look and modified the layout to make it more logical, user friendly and hopefully, prettier. Not hard as the existing tenants have the fridge blocking part of the window. Never block a window with a fridge! That is totally unacceptable. I quickly sketched a new floor plan and Ikea will work its magic with the cabinetry and counters. When you don’t want to spend a lot of $ on a kitchen, I don’t think anywhere in Montreal can beat Ikea.

Daycare: Somehow in the midst of all of this, I agreed to do a presentation at my son’s daycare about the work that I do. I am surprisingly terrified of speaking to 8 three and a half year olds. But it is of vital importance that I do this because when my son was asked what his mommy does for a living, he said that I drive his daddy to work. Seriously.When pressed, he said I also take care of him and his sister. Oh boy. So just to complicate my life further, I have been wracking my brain and I will attempt an activity with the kids. I have been looking for furniture/floor plan templates that I will photocopy, cut out and then let each child glue the furniture down where they think it could go on a floor plan.

something like this?

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I’ll also go to the paint store and get them a bunch of paint chips to choose from. Maybe show them some tile samples? Probably a disaster but I can’t think of anything else. Basically, Oscar, your mommy goes to people’s homes and businesses and tells them what colour to paint their walls, where to put their furniture, what fabrics to choose, what tile to buy. Somehow, that doesn’t seem to cover it all…

xa

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Next up: this little piggy…

My partners at Lawrence have decided to open up a butcher shop a couple of doors up from the restaurant: Boucherie Lawrence. We’ll be selling organic meat from local farms – the same producers that supply the restaurant.  We’ll also sell our bread (so yummy!) and eventually the eggs and butter that we use as well. I am designing the space with the strong input of our partner Sefi Amir, who’s pet project this is. I want to try to blog about the shop as the project evolves. I think it will be interesting to see the space develop bit by bit.

I love working on commercial spaces. The challenges are different from a residential contract – it needs to be user friendly, durable, cool, have personality, and make sense for the people that work there. Actually, not all that different from residential jobs after all – just substitute “work” for “live” and it’s pretty much the same mandate.

The space we found does not scream butcher shop, though it was once a chicken processing plant. Lovely !

It is HUGE. There is a long brick wall that the landlord won’t let us paint (bummer).

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There’s newly installed hard wood in the front area. Tile that we’ve been shopping for will be installed in the open production kitchen. The ceilings are new gypsum and the whole thing has just been plastered.

There is an enormous basement with a large washroom and closet space.

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Future washroom…

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The place is not a small, intimate, old time-y shop but a new, glass fronted cavernous space. In fact, the space is so big for our purposes that it has made us modify our plans. We will now also create a lunch counter area where people can have sandwiches – you order your sandwich at the counter and grab it wrapped in brown butcher paper. And then you eat it standing up. No frills. No stools. No wait staff.

Challenge #1: fighting the space a little by creating different areas – lunch counters, cash area, waiting area (?), deli fridge, a large table through the middle to hold the baskets for the bread and other merch, a table that eventually could seat people if the need arises and if we can afford chairs. Which leads to…

Challenge #2: as usual, very little budget. The rent there is expensive. Starting a business is expensive. Renovating is hell of expensive. We are not starting with a finished space (which poses it’s own challenges). We are starting with an empty box. An empty box which needs to be filled. And though the landlord has been pretty great, he is also making design choices that we wouldn’t necessarily have made (weird giant glass front door , accordeon door on a closet.)

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Challenge #3: giving it a Lawrence flavour without mimicking my other design. Sefi suggested doing a hanging light montage like I did over the Lawrence bar, but instead of using milk glass using a different material. Brilliant idea! This basically sparked the look of the rest of the room. It influenced every choice we’ve made since.

Lawrence lights

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The lights I found for over the deli counter at Boucherie Lawrence, from Lambert & Fils, my favourite lamp shop in Montreal.

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Challenge #4: the BRICK. Not pretty. Very orange. Which means that the Lawrence trifecta of grey, off white and red doesn’t work. I’ll keep the main colours of grey and white but add black and maybe an accent of dark/metal green. Like in the image of the chair below. I think…

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Regardless of all the challenges, I am really excited for this project. I think the business idea is a good one. I’m proud of my Lawrence design and I think that this can be a good little sibling to the restaurant – part of the family but it’s own unique being. It can be pretty, even if we’ll be selling offal. Right?

xa

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So, this happened.

I was recently contacted by a fellow Montrealer and fellow working mom for decorating help in her home. Then she wrote about it for HGTV.ca.

Crazy.

This is the project:

#1 converting a guest room/office to a playroom/guest room

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#2 make a basement office/ guest room now hold two separate work spaces and still be a potential guest room.

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The main challenge: not much of a budget to speak of. We will need to (for the most part) make use of what is already there. We will need to modify existing pieces and think small rather than BIG.

And that is the hardest part for me. Not the mini budget- I’ve done plenty of those. And not the fact that we will be mostly working with what’s there- I do that all the time. It’s knowing that the work has the potential of being seen by a larger audience: my instinct is to go big, go bold, make it a real “reveal” like they do on t.v. But that is not the mandate. I need to respect my client’s budget, accept the job’s parameters, do what I would do on a normal contract. I basically need to pretend that my client isn’t writing about this. Even if I do.

xa

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Love this tile!

Check out this beautiful ceramic tile that I stumbled upon at Ciot back in the fall.

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I know it may look crazy in this close-up a shot but it is absolutely gorgeous and unique and reminds me of a Missoni sweater that I could never afford. I have been dying to use it since and luckily my current clients in Point St-Charles were game. We are using it in their basement bathroom for the walk-in shower. We are pairing it with a square white 2″x2″ tile which we will use for the whole bathroom floor and for the vanity and toilet wall.

I just love the pop of colour the pixel tile provides, especially as an accent to an all white room. It definitely falls into the more colourful esthetic that I’ve been attracted to of late. Less industrial chic and monochromatic- more eclectic with bright colour bursts. And the fact that the pattern is so small means that it somehow almost becomes a neutral. Almost.

xa

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Blog post #1

People have been telling me that I should blog for a while now. I have been super resistant mainly because I am a technophobe – I’d say 50% terrified of the technology, 30% being crazy busy with babies, jobs and home, 20% being super lazy. Ok, maybe not lazy, but if I do have a minute to myself I want to decompress and watch TV, or return a phone call, or (really) go to sleep. But all it took was a great work opportunity popping into my life, and the looming prospect of my youngest baby starting daycare, to make me jump off this cliff. I cannot promise that I will blog often or well. I will definitely try to post at least once every week for now, maybe more. Sometimes I’ll write lots and sometimes I’ll just post a picture of something I’m loving that day: an object, a paint colour, a tile, or even my nail polish which I am really digging right now. Welcome!

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http://www.sephora.com/color-charged-graphic-lacquer-P377697?skuId=1489723

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