Category Archives: Design Inspiration

Design at Hannah’s {New} House

So given that we moved in October, I thought it might be fitting to show another several pictures from the decoration that we (I directed, Marty lifted) did when we moved in to our new place.  I am posting these up in sets of before and after shots, because the before was a liiiiittle bit craaaazy…  It took me three days – two washes, sanding, dusting, three coats of primer and two coats of paint – to ensure that the raspberry red did not come through, and to get the very sharp tape lines softened out of the walls so the pattern wasn’t a major part of the decor any more.  All in all, I’m really pleased with how it worked out.


Before 3  Before 1


After 2  After 1

And when our landlady (our age, super lovely lady!) came back to say hello and check things out, she said how much bigger it made the room look.  Of course!


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Making Waves

Marty and I are slowly getting our house set up, and one of the most exciting rooms in the new place is the spare bedroom, where I have grand plans for setting myself up a stained glass studio. Right now it’s holding all our ‘where do we put it?’ junk, so it’s a little crowded, but I did manage to get my tiny light table set up.  Now all I have to do is put the legs on the work table and get a drop cloth to go over the carpet and I’m ready to go!  Ok, so maybe it’s a little bit more set-up than that, but I’m close…

In my excitement for stained glass action, and also for summer, I wanted to share some inspiring stained glass waves.  I think the wave would be one of the more difficult images to capture well.  I can image getting all the aspects of the glass – the colour, texture, path of the lines – to come together and make the wave come alive and really portray the power and noise and motion and experience of a wave would be a complicated feat.  Hats off to the artists and their work below for really nailing the heart of waves in their stained glass pieces.

Jacqueline Winch Designs

This piece really captures the rolling curl of a wave collapsing over itself.  I love the subtle combination of clear, white and turquoise in this piece, and how the motion in the glass is really captured by the many textures.  I’ve seen the design done by other glass artists, but I really felt like this rendition of it picked up the motion and carried it all the way around the circular frame.  To see more of Jacqueline Winch’s work, visit her website here.

Atmospheric Glass

I really love the delicate lines of the wave in this piece.  The edges of each individual piece of glass in this window are so organic, as if the artist has merely drawn each line instead of cut and soldered them.  I think the colours are bold and give the viewer a clear definition of what is wave and what is background, and abstracts the motion of the wave into a ribbon of flowing movement.  The clear grid of glass for the ground really works and complements and contrasts the organic line and colour of the rest of this work.  See more of Atmospheric Glass here.

Mary Tantillo

Mary’s stained glass is organic, considered and – in a word – stunning.  This piece reminds me of waves, ocean eddies and seaweed all wrapped into one gorgeous image.  The differing and changing weight of each solder line creates a tension that pulls the viewer along each line toward the centre.  The colours flow from one to the next, and I love that the swirling lines intersect and support one another, creating very interesting opportunities for contrast through colour blocking.  I’ve seen all these colours in the ocean, and they all remind of me each memory – ‘that time swimming over the sand dollars’ or ‘that storm we had in November’ or ‘that summer we built the raft’…  In addition to this amazing work, Mary has also done a 100 Days of Waves project, which can be seen on her website here.

I have to say, my inspiration energy is running high after these lovely images.  I’ll be back to post more inspiration again soon, and will have details of upcoming projects as I start working again…  Can’t wait!

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San Francisco: Fire Escapes

So on my recent trip to San Francisco, I got the idea in my head that I would take some series of photographs of things that I found in abundance, with variety and that I really liked to look at (and look for!) around the city.  My first theme?  Fire escapes, of course!  They are everywhere, especially in the downtown area.  Some of them are so ornate, I caught myself wondering if they were really up there for function, or just because they look so darn cool on the side of a building!

Here are some of my favourite photos, given an old-timey feel thanks to the ever fantastic instagram:

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Art Deco Inspiration

It’s been a while since I last posted.  I really felt like I was getting into a rhythm there for a bit…  Oh, well.

Lots has been keeping me busy lately.  A recent project is an redesign of the kitchen in a very charming, and very unique, Art Deco period home here in Victoria.  When doing some of the research for design inspirations, I found a few images that really knocked my socks off.  While Art Deco isn’t really a style that I gravitate to in my own taste, I can really appreciate the aesthetic and the huge momentum behind this style.  One of my favourite finds during my research on Art Deco and influences was the S.S. Normandie.

The SS Normandie was a French ocean liner – the fastest and largest passenger ship on the seas when it was launched for service in 1935.  The interiors were luxuriously appointed in the Art Deco style, and many of the passenger spaces on board the ship served first-class passengers from both France and the United States.

French architect Roger-Henri Expert was in charge of the overall interior decor.  The many grand spaces on the ship reflected both the Art Deco style of the times, as well as highlighting the glory of the largest and fastest ship in which they were appointed.  The stylings were modern and triumphant – a celebration of modern man’s conquering the seas and of the impressive advances in technology during this time.

The first class dining room used repeating geometric shapes and motifs, typical of Art Deco, to create a grand and visually dynamic space, likened to the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles.  The repetition of strong vertical lines creates an impression of height and of dynamic strength, both important underlying dynamics represented by Art Deco.  The lavishness of the design is both a nod to the abilities made possible by advances in technology, as well as a reaction to the severity of WWI.

Personally, I really love the repetition of the lighting in this room, especially the enormous “floor chandeliers” that line the walls and echo the shape of the chandeliers hanging from the ceiling.  The stepped form is reminiscent of  many art deco buildings, including the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building.  Art Deco on the whole relied on repeating motifs, and this repetition of form wasn’t strictly limited to any one facet of design during the time; many common Art Deco motifs can be found on the exteriors of buildings, as elements of interior design, in fashion and jewelry, in household items such as lamps and radios, and in the design of cars and other modes of transportation.  A shape or motif used in the design of a skyscraper can be found applied to a light fixture on an ocean liner as well.

I really found my research into this era fascinating, and it really helped inform some elements of the design of the kitchen I’ve been working on.  The pattern on the countertop, flooring, cabinetry details and hardware all have some element that speaks to the Art Deco style while finding a place in a modern, functional kitchen.

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Interior Love: Grey, White and Colour


I feel like there is something so calming about this interior, with its layered white-on-white walls and greyed flooring.  The bay window and dentil molding around the ceiling add interest and detail, but remain part of the backdrop through the monochromatic colour scheme.  It makes a great stage for the pop of colour from the furniture.  I love how the structure of the room is so washed out and pale, only to be contrasted with the punch of those saturated purples and reds.  The contrast makes a serious statement.

To see more of the interior of this home in Brighton, UK, visit the HouseToHome slideshow here.

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Interior Love: San Francisco

My sweetheart and I have recently been discussing a trip to San Francisco, one of my favourite cities that I’ve travelled to so far.  I spent a week there in 2009 and enjoyed every moment of every day.  I’m excited about heading back there again, and have decided to post today about a San Francisco design firm whose work I think is fantastic: Palmer Weiss Interior Design.

I really love the vibrancy of the interiors.  I think that Palmer Weiss has totally nailed the use of pattern, texture and colour, as demonstrated in the living room below:

There’s a lot going on in this space, but it all works together without being overpowering.  The pops of colour in the furniture and rug are balanced by the neutral cream walls and cream details in the rug, chair pattern and lamps.  Every little bit does its part in this interior, however.  The dark casing on the windows echo the brown squares on the rug, and the wood paneling on the far wall carries the colour through.  The hits of colour just make the design pop without overwhelming the eye, and the use of pattern makes this interior interesting while managing to avoid being busy.

This kitchen follows the same principles, but tones down the colour to the citrus yellow and amps up the texture and detail with the Bertoia-style wire chair reinterpreted as bar stool and the bocci pendants over the island.  The darker floor helps to ground the space, and I love how the colours transition from dark to light as you work your way towards the ceiling from floor to island finish to countertop to walls.  I think this is a simple way of visually stretching the space upwards, and it’s effective.  The sleek and un-fussy cabinetry and stainless steel appliances balance out the shapes and materials of the chairs, banquette seating and decorative lighting and artwork to create a really harmonious interior.

The last piece of interior love I want to point out is Palmer Weiss’ sublime use of the vignette:

When I look at all these pieces on their own – the orange creamsicle pattern on the chair, the sunburst knobs on the dresser, the stepped detailing on the drapery valance – it wouldn’t be my gut reaction to put them all together.  However, they come together beautifully to create a vignette that feels like midcentury modern with a twist.  I think the effect is cheerful and simple, but with enough detail (more than!) to keep it from ever being boring.

I’m excited about a possible trip to San Francisco, and also about my discovery of this talented designer.  To see more of her colourful and creative works, you should check out her portfolio!

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Exterior Love: Chicago

I came across this photo a while ago while surfing the internet, and put it away so I could look at it later.  This house exterior is a Chicago home designed by Vincere Design.  According to the portfolio bio, the house was inspired by many of the vintage co-op apartment buildings in the Chicago area.  The facade of this house is stunning, and detailed to an incredible level.  It seems almost imposing, with all the detail that runs along the vertical axis.  The charcoal accents that span two storeys high draw the eye up and up and up!  The effect of traditional severity is softened by the asymmetrical facade, however.  Setting the front entrance off to one side brings a casual element to the design that eases the impact this exterior might otherwise have.

The interiors are also a very finely balanced combination of formality with a hint of casual relaxation designed to create a warmth and comfort that might otherwise be lost with the high ceilings and super detailed molding.

The bright creamy tones of the walls are grounded by the warmth and depth of colour and texture in the hardwood floor.  The scale in the room is balanced by the horizontal molding detailing on the fireplace and the depth of the crown molding on the ceiling and the baseboard at the floor.  The heights of the interior trim create a sense of balance – high walls require tall trims.  Anything smaller than the crown in this interior just draws attention to how high the ceiling is by appearing unbalanced and out of proportion.

I also really appreciate the thought that went into detailing this kitchen.  Lots of stunning details make this kitchen welcoming and accessible, instead of overwhelming.  The crown molding is carried throughout the interior to bring continuity to the space.  The two doors on either side of the kitchen add visual interest – kind of like a sneak peek of what’s to come when you get through that passage.  I especially like the light that is reflected through them, as well as being able to see to a far window.  It reassures anyone standing at this point know what to expect (ah, there’s the end of this house), while still creating curiosity (I can only see a little bit of that next room, I wonder what it looks like?).  The professional appliance and marble countertops with solid piece backsplash is pure luxury, but the cabinets are kept at a reasonable height by the glass doors at the top.  It adds visual interest through detail and keeps the space usable on a human scale.

This home is truly a masterpiece of thoughtful detail, and is very well considered both in terms of creating that wow-factor through the luxurious materials and elements of design that are outside the human scale, but keeps it welcoming and functional by the use of those same details to bring the right elements of the design to the attention of anyone using the space.  Vincere has a great portfolio on their website, and is well worth checking out for their interesting and considered use of scale, texture and colour to create some really spectacular interior spaces!

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Design Inspiration: Newfoundland Bog

I spent a few weeks out in St. John’s, NL, a few summers ago for a cousin’s wedding several summers ago.  I am always inspired by the rugged landscape of the east coast, and I took this photo while visiting my aunt on the Bonavista Penninsula, while out walking her dogs.


I think the colours and textures in it are very deep and rich and earthy, and I created the basis for an interior with inspiration from this photograph.  I love the saturated green velvet of the sofa combined with the deep burgundy leather of the arm chair.  The combination of natural shapes in the lamps with the structure and detail of the furniture hits just the right note of wild and contemplative, I think.  The trunk coffee table picks up the reds and oranges in the speckled fall leaves, while the more refined side table lends a thoughtfulness that echoes my own feelings while actually there.  The bog was quiet and earthy, a very muted landscape, but with lots of details – moss, berries, rocky outcrops – that were apparent if you took the time to really look at the individual details.  I selected the rug for the mix of soft pale greens with the deeper reds and golds, to pick up the moss that just tucks itself among the branches and berries in the photograph.


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