Tag Archives: interior design

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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Design at Hannah’s House

As a celebration of finally getting our artwork unpacked and put up on the walls (and buying a new couch!), here is a photo of the frame cluster I designed for our living room wall… installed and everything!

The photo quality is terrible (thanks to bad lighting + the iphone), but it’s a collection of bits and pieces that are near and dear to our hearts.  Hope you enjoy!


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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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Colours: Coral and Teal

I was recently looking through several tile websites at work the other day, and came across this colour combo of glass mosaic tile from Daltile’s Molten Glass collection: Copper Mine and Midnight. I am really loving these two colours right now.  I find that peachy coral colour of “Copper Mine” to be so subtle, and very feminine without being overtly so.  I especially love it mixed with the tealish-navy that is “Midnight.”

I can see these colours in so many uses – interior decor, fashion (I have a shirt in the coral colour and I love it!), graphic design.  I can picture these colours on one the exterior of one the gorgeous Victorian or Arts and Crafts homes in my neighborhood – like in this picture, below:

Or what about in this vignette?  The copper colour comes through in the cedar siding and the various tones of teal and turquoise are brought out in the distressed door, dresser and window frame.  The balance of the reds and greens creates a very pleasing harmony, and the use of a variety of different but complementary blue-greens ties them all together while lending the scene a very casual, inviting air.  The use of colour here is very playful, but also very well-considered, without seeming so.

That is the thing that I love so much about colour – you can really get creative about finding uses for it everywhere, not just in one application, and in all sorts of materials.  The interplay between texture, colour and material is where design really starts to get interesting!

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This is a bookshelf.

This is a bookshelf.  I took the photo on my iPhone at my parent’s house on Texada Island, BC.  My dad built the bookcase and the books on it have been around since my very early childhood.  I can’t even recall the circumstances in which I took the photo – the when or why – but when I look at it, something inside me that gets caught up in my busy everyday life just chills out a bit.

This image might be a little tiny one – a phone photo – but it makes me pretty happy inside.  I’m reading “The Architecture of Happiness” by Alain de Botton right now, and a lot of his book centres around the idea that we are drawn to spaces, places and objects that “speak” to us of what we want ourselves to be.  We surround ourselves with scenes and items that remind us, somewhere deep in our brains, of what we believe in and the qualities and ideals we hold dear.  That’s a pretty small part of what the book is about, but it’s one that is capturing my interest right now.

Following this theory, then, what does this bookshelf say to me?

It reminds me primarily of the simplicity I seek in my life.  The bookshelf is unfinished fir, unpretentious and serviceable first and foremost.  The books speak to me about playfulness and fun – their jaunty colours and tilted angles seem casual and relaxed.  The book collection itself speaks to an unfussy air – the titles are anything from philosophy to history to children’s bedtime tales.  The two artworks on the wall are block prints.  I love the sturdy, steady nature of this art.  It grounds me, echoing the simplicity of this scene.  It reminds me to slow down in my life.  Take the time out to read the book titles, perhaps actually spend an hour reading with a cup of tea.  This bookshelf says to me, “Don’t forget about the basics.  Don’t get so caught up in wanting things and running around trying to get them that you forget about the joy in the little things, and taking time out to appreciate them.”

I think the message is one that is close to my heart, and says a lot about who the best of me is.  So thanks, bookshelf, for reminding me that joy is attainable in the details of the world around me and pushing me to be that better version of myself.

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