Saturday, July 12, 2014

12 Terrific Summer Decks to inspire you this summer!

Living in a northern climate has its challenges doesn't it?
Having Mediterranean blood running through my veins makes it doubly so. 
I adore the summer months when you can smell the flowers, freshly cut grass,barbecues
sizzling and small dinner parties in the backyard! With Canadian winters being long and hard,
 I try to take advantage of the good weather whenever possible. Evenings in the outdoors 
can be even more challenging of course, given that the chilly air sets in as soon as the sun 
starts to set. Today's entry is about how to create these warm
 environments in your own backyard, by giving you some delicious snapshots to give
 you direction and inspiration.  Don't be discouraged, you don't have to spend a bundle to
 create a warm ambiance. Remember you can purchase a fire pit, or build one, or even
 buy a small propane
 gas fire candle as large as a hurricane lamp.


Above, the chartreuse and grey furnishings are cool and soft with pillows in combination of
 smaller prints in coordinating colors. The coffee table does double duty as both table and foot
 rest when the tray is removed. The sleek low gas fireplace runs the length of the terrace. 
Note how the facade of the fireplace is unobtrusive even thought it towers above the
sitting area.


This is a terrific example of how to create intimacy in tight spaces. The sleek furnishings 
on teak flooring on the rooftop are warmed up by the concrete gas fire pit. You can create this
look in an instant! I would love this look for my own urban terrace.


This is a great example of how you can create even more seating than you might ever
 need, by building a ledge seating of concrete. The ledge actually creates the designated 
area of the seating area. In this garden, the shaker style table is low key, the outdoor wicker
 chairs are great for taking a beating in the hot sun, or rainy days. The sleek concrete 
wood burning fireplace is the showstopper.

The scent of wood burning on a chilly night? Nothing beats that!


If more exotic is your fancy, this is a great mix and match setting. The director chairs in
 chocolate brown, wooden recliners, zebra print pillows and rug, along with the middle 
eastern fire pit, create a very tribal look and feel. Here again the fire pit is a wood burning one. 
You CAN have it all on a budget!


A modern concrete facade dwarfs the seating area in this lush backyard. The black and white
furnishings are awarded a pop of color with the garden seats in vibrant citrus colors. The fire
place is also flanked by tall planters that soften the harsh look of the concrete.


Hankering for a more classic look? Nothing beats black wrought iron, a staple for every
 classic garden! This beauty has flowing ferns that flank the fire place.
A similar setting with a twist shown below. Love the pea gravel underfoot.


My favorite one of all here! The huge facade of the fire place looms above, but the fire is low and
 close to guests seating. A Scandinavian style is created with the light-colored wooden chairs. 
The circulametal table breaks with conformity and also allows guests to circulate easily
 around the space.


A slight variation on the setting above, this one is created using a fire place created in the ground.
 The ceramic outdoor tiles are lovingly separated by low shrubbery. Great for intimate chatter late into
 the night.



The minimal feel here is still inviting, despite the stark look.


For those of you who can't do without the soap opera, reality television or CNN,this setting 'rocks'! 
A mix and match setting of different textures in the chairs and sofa is cohesive none the less, 
because the neutral colors pull everything 'together'!

Whether warm and embellished, zen and calm, or modern and minimal, the fireplace
adds the warmth to each of these looks and settings, and the beauty of it is it can be had
 irregardless of your budget.


10 Design tricks for your city terrace!

If you’re an urban city lover, then like me you have a very limited space to enjoy on your city
 terrace or balcony.  Yet, small doesn't necessarily have to mean drab.  With a larger space the challenge
  is creating the intimacy.  The small space already has this to its’ advantage.  
Creating a cozy , warm intimate ambiance is a cinch in a tight space.  
This is exactly what you should
 be shooting for, irregardless of the limitations of the space.  
When my clients say I don’t have 
enough space, my first challenge is to help them to use their space to their advantage!

Think vertical!  Here we have an ingenious inexpensive way of creating a trellis
 overhead, a way to create shade, and green space!  Easily achieved by stringing together some
 bamboo rods and flexible slats of wood or plastic that you can easily buy at a 
renovation store.  Thinking outside the box can generate terrific results!

Container gardening is another way to put your limited space to good use.  
Not enough space means using every inch as shown here, where the owner used the walls to house pretty pots.

Love the scent of herbs, well you’re in luck cause they can do very well in a sunny 
environment as long as they have enough water.    I love this idea of the ‘pockets’ housing herbs
.  Snip with a pair of scissors and you have a great pitcher of lemonade with mint leaves,
 or a salad with cilantro.  Ingenious don’t you think? Yum. 

Don’t let the concrete jungle intimidate you either, you can easily camouflage a concrete 
balcony with ceramic tile (glued to sheets of wood so that you can easily bring it with you 
if you’re renting!), or slats of wood that interlock as shown here!  Again the slats weren't
 limited to the floor, but were used vertically to house plants.  

 Don’t let everybody else dictate what you want your space to be!  Below, the entire space
is taken up by this round lounger!  And why not? It should be what suits your comfort level, 
budget and lounging style!

Below also the interlocking wood slats were used, creating a clean surface for the throw
 pillows.  Why not create an additional ‘living area’. Have an old piece of furniture? Bring
 it outside and with a bright hue it will set the mood for summer living.  

Seating that is easily hidden away means hammock!  Hanging to the right is a bright
 fuchsia hammock. Now there’s a way to take advantage of a tight space.  Put it away
 once you’re done with it, otherwise swing and sway in it any time of the day or night!  
Notice how the plants are kept off the floor and draw the eye upward so that there is 
still a feeling of lush greenery in a city setting?

Get down!  This is the idea behind having low slung furniture and pillows.  
Everybody enjoys getting down to basics in tight spaces after a few drinks, when the
 stars are out, whether over mint tea or mint juleps – this setting is ideal for cozy evenings.

Take advantage of your ‘walls’ even if they’re shared with a a nosy neighbor.  
Here every inch was put to good use by putting a ‘backless’ sofa up against the
 wooden separator as shown above and below.

There is nothing like a little surprise when entering an enchanted garden setting.  
Think unusual finds, or even junk.  Here we have an unusual piece of furniture
 probably a discarded medicine cabinet which works like a terrific terrarium!  These 
types of pieces are easily found at flea market, thrift stores, or even on the curb. 
 Think outside the box and take a leap of faith.   Every time  I have done this it has turned 
out to be a conversation piece, with people always amazed at what I find in the trash!   

Play a game of high low, one inexpensive piece of ‘trash’, next to terrific lush fabrics
on your pillows or throw cushions, or even a rich rug underfoot.  
One works off the other, to create an interesting non cookie cutter look.  Be unique, 
take hints from magazines that make you see things through an unusual lens.

The ingredients of these simple balcony recipes, can make every space come alive,
 potted plants, a colorful rug underfoot, some mix and match cushions, chairs, coffee
 table or pedestal table, an umbrella for shade.  In each of these settings you can see
 how the simplest space comes alive by mixing with the appropriate items.

Always dreamt of having a picket fence?  The city life can't stop you from having that - 
as shown here!Don’t let color intimidate you, a sweetly patterned rug,  a turquoise set of
 pillows stand out, summer is short, take advantage of it!  Here   a few colorful  rugs are 
thrown atop each other to create a sense of ‘kasbah’ in the city.

Take cover!  Don't have the luxury of the upper floor creating enough shade from 
the harmful and scorching rays of summer?  Here we have a twist on the run of the mill 
awning with it's billowing lats it allows for more of a relaxed feel and allows for air as well to circulate.
  Take a cue from above also for the use of trellis boards to create not only privacy, but
 some shade if paired with eager growing plants that like to ramble.

This vibrant colored water feature is a fabulous way to create yet another layer and
 also to tune out the traffic from nearby boulevards or neighbors as well.  It is as easy 
as purchasing a small pump and a pot that will hold water.  Any home renovation shop
 can tell you how to  achieve this.

Don't let summer run away from you - keep it in your tiny terrasse for as long as possible!


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Myra Hoefer - Intimacy in large open spaces

Large spaces are often sought after yet can be a challenge to be brought to real life.  
Creating intimacy in this cavernous spaces is a struggle for most people, but these designers did a great job.  The trick?   
Creating little vignettes and intimate settings throughout the great room,such as the stunning glazed 
pot on the rough table set in one corner of the room, the dining table in the other, and two fantastic sitting areas that speaks volumes
in this voluminous space.

The great living room – with its' monochromatic palette makes it easy to mix and match especially given the wealth of textures.
One of my favorite pieces is the Oly cast resin coffee tables that look like wedding cakes.    Note the Bora Bora jute rug with it thickly
 braided pattern, snow white throw pillows and volumes in piles next to the sofa enable easy reading and reviewing of interior design books.

The butterflies floating up the walls are an art piece made from salvaged beer cans by artistic Paul Filinski.

Myra Hoefer, owner and designer of this fantastic abode says it’s an open, casual house to being with and her first take on it was that
everything should be white!

The results are a smashing idea!  She says she wanted the the whole place to look like the color of bones and to let the furnishings
 be monochromatic very soft and subtle with lots of pieces that they had bought in France.  The backdrop was to be clean, and
 chalky white, like powdered sugar on a cake.  With layers of depth and movement.

The armoire and is left rough, exposing its' weathered wood, juxtaposed against the French provincial buxom side table.  White dining chairs
 with gorgeous claw feet look like chess pieces against the grey dining table.  The room is adorned by pieces sparingly allowing its' structure
 and volume to take central stage.  Dining chairs by Oly, armoire and dining table by Astier de Villate, chandelier by Ironware
 International. Bombe side table antique.

Hoefer created a delicious masterpiece with her simplicity and her flair.  Note how none of the furniture is pushed against the wall,
there is so much space, there is no need to, and it’s the number one thing you’ll find in most spaces.  The overscale pieces allow for
 touches of grandeur so you don't feel dwarfed by the celestial ceiling height.  She manages to mix together Napoleonic mirrors,
 cast resin tables, Louis the XV chairs and molded plastic, and yet it all fits together.  When asked how she does it she says it has to
 do with keeping the tones in the ivory and caramel grey stone pallet, anything else would be jarring and too sharp to fit in.

In the bedroom a fantastic four poster romantic bed brings the eye upwards to the gorgeous steeple shaped ceiling with
exposed wood work.The roughness of the ceilings planks works well with the cream tones of the bedroom furniture.
The Patricia Edwards ottoman is covered in a white cowhide.   Brings another texture into the mix.

Even if you’re not the principle cook in this family you would love to take up a baking 
challenge in its' welcoming setting.  The subway tile in its' fresh white, huge overhead vent.

The dining area is a juxtaposition old shaker style table with Verner Panton molded plastic chairs from the fab furniture provider
Design Within Reach.
The stools were designed by Hoefer  “A la Reine” which translates to Queens Style – with goat’s feet!  Love them!
 The French Patio doors let the light and the greenery inside.   Light and dark, old and new, inside outside blend perfectly in this setting.

The fireplace is faces in plastered with marble dust.  This adds depth and texture.   The column in the middle of the room was an eyesore,
but they beefed it up and made it more classic and now it’s turned into a beautiful piece of sculpture instead of an ugly thing to deal with.

The bath is sleek yet welcoming, with its’ carerra marble in grey tones.  The house is bathed in light greys, creams,
whites and natural wood tones.  Surrounded by windows yet it affords privacy given its' remote location.


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Architects, interior designers, and more ∨

Find contractors, builders and design build firms that can help you with house designs for your dream home.
Collect and share photos of bathroom tiling, vanities, unique shower curtains and bathroom vanity mirrors to create your perfect home decorating style.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Luxe Loft - featured on Houzz

Most recently my very own home was featured on - and I was oh so flattered.
A very lovely local photographer and designer, Laura Garner,
 picked me out of oh so many Montreal homes to feature.

So, now you know how I live too!

The credenza above, was purchased at the Sears Liquidation Center for only $400,
 because it was slightly damaged.  Can you see it? Neither could I so I bought it on sight!

Floor Lamp from Winners for only $30, and photographs shot by me in Maine, USA,  a few years ago
are housed in IKEA frames, for the best purchase in town.  I periodically change these photos,
inexpensively by printing them on plain paper at a local printer on proper paper color format,
 costs less than a dollar a photo and for the non discerning eye, does the trick!
Keeps the home fresh looking, and creates a gallery that is forever changing.

The Living Area

Coffee table was also a 'find' when travelling in Boston.  I didn't like the dark top it originally
 had, but replacing it with a marble slab was going to cost over 400$ so, I took a can of para paint
 and spray painted it.  I messed up a bit and rushed so the finish wasn't ideal, but in fact, it ended
 up being even better than I originally planned cause the waves in the paint created a texture that
makes it even more unique!

 My sofa is comfy and chocolatey brown, allowing for dirt to accumulate on it without having an impact
 on my lifestyle.  I believe in really using your living space and home, and using your good
china and linens.  I tell every client to surround themselves by things that they love
 and treasure.    The yellow acrylic artwork by friend and fabulous Quebec artist Pascale Poulin.

I am a budget person, living in a great neighborhood!
Luckily I purchased my loft just before the market went haywire, and that was all pure luck,
 nothing to do with me being savvy.
However I cannot say that I am not savvy about picking and choosing how to
style my place on a really really tight budget, allowing me to spend my money wisely,
 making things look snazzy, hip, cool, and yet I am thrifty and imaginative!

You can do it too! I often find junk in the alleys, or even the garage of my condo building,
where people will toss things that they don't value any longer, and turn them into my treasure!
This gives me immense pleasure and a sense of accomplishment.


My bedroom is huge!  So filling it up with costly large pieces was not an option.  Instead I opted
to get a piece of wood, screwed those large planks together, and with the help of my best friend
Maria, we sewed some material together, created a padding for the back and staple gunned the
 piecing taut to the actual headboard.  My brother-in-law then mounted the headboard to the wall,
 allowing it to be sturdy and not budge!  Cost?  Less than 200$, depending on your fabrics
and materials.  

The piece above also on liquidation from a low end furniture store in Montreal was also
 bought for under $500.  I love it's shape, bulk and height!  The artwork, done by me, using a
stretched canvas I made myself following instructions from an artist friend of mine Pascale Poulin.
The yellow artwork in the living room is hers! I adore it!
  I then used left over house paint to create the swirls.

 I think this was the most intimidating project of all, expressing your inner child!
Also inexpensive and do-able.  Even if you projected an image onto the canvas you can
 easily accomplish a unique piece of art for your home!

The lamps were my parent's, housed in their basement from the 1970's.
Mom kept them stored away in the attic. When glass lamps re surged a few years ago,
 I asked her for them, bought some inexpensive shades and voila!
The side tables were also Winners finds for 250$ a piece. Wow!  Great find!
A discerning eye knows a good deal when it sees one!

The chaise lounge was a second hand buy for 60$.  I found it at Village des Valeurs
(salvation army style shop) and hauled it back home.  I re-upholstered it with a sewing
 machine, a book on upholstery and a staple gun!  Cheap, and ideal for lounging by
 the patio door.  

The white chess piece also slightly damaged was purchased again at Winners for less than 40$.  
Yes, the telephone works, it was purchased at Crate and Barrel years ago.

The Zen Den

The room a friend coined the Zen Den, is where I mix and match anything ethnic.  I love this room.
  It is chock-full of things like these old plates hand painted from the island of Rhodes.  
The crowning one was won by my parents during a dance competition when 
they were engaged at the club Elli in the 50's.  I adore it.  Some of these are no longer being made.

The armchairs  are from the basement where in the 70's we lounged around in them when teenagers.
 They have a classic  tuxedo shape.  The rug - found in the trash - 100% wool and clean as a
 whistle.  The piano stool also a trash find!  Mementos are everywhere in this room.
It hugs you when you're in it.


I spotted a mirror like the one above in a fancy furniture shop in Montreal, on St. Denis street. 
 It was priced at over 800$.  I was determined to make it happen on a dime.  
When I found these old ceiling tiles at 10$ a piece I bought them on the spot while in the Laurentians. 
 I then created his mirror, with screws, paint and a mirror cut to size.  
Cost?  Less than 140 dollars!  

More beautiful images from Maine inexpensively framed in the bathroom.
I hope I've inspired you to find your ways of designing on a dime!

For more on the article on Houzz  visit Exotic Luxe in Montreal Loft.

Enjoy and get inspired!