Over the past 4 months we have been working on a project that we have affectionately named #clientnapavalley. A classic American Colonial that backs on to a ravine, our objective was to bring the space back to its roots and refresh the palette throughout. We are thrilled by the transformation.
Our initial instincts directed us to the neutral palettes and layered spaces that Nancy Meyers has done so well in so many of her films. Its Complicated and Something's Gotta Give gave us a great foundation to work off of, and once we had a few key pieces, we let the space do the talking.
When we began the project the walls were all a butter cream that were in desperate need of a refresh. While our client's tastes are more traditional they wanted to bring a more sophisticated, elegant palette to the space. Here is a look at some of the rooms we have been working on. The living space, and the nook. We revitalized them by going with a richer hue.
One of the first pieces to arrive to the space was this fabulous area rug from E Carpet Gallery. We knew we were working with a cream colored sofa so we wanted to pair it with something that would lend itself to lighter accents throughout the space, as well as warmer wood tones, marbles, leathers etc. We were so happy with it when it came that we proceeded to order several subsequent pieces from them including many that now adorn our own homes!
When putting together a "lived in" space, you want to select furnishings thoughtfully. Our philosophy is to create spaces that tell a story, whether your budget is high or low. We want each room to feel curated carefully as each element of the design should serve a purpose. Throughout our extensive adventures to many consignment shops, thrift stores and high-end retailers we were able to pull together a cohesive mix of old and new world pieces which created a refreshing balance.
You will be happy know we brought that horse head, also note that we did not keep that marble based lamp in the shot with the wooden bar table. This is where we should talk about the importance of our role as designers. Sometimes when you are conceptualizing pieces you may think that the outcome or vision will be one way, when in reality it doesn't pan out. This can be due to a variety of things, in this case it was quality. We wanted to make the lamp work, but in the end we held out only to find another lamp that was perfectly suited to the space, and literally a 10th of the cost..... Our role is to think fast, be creative and be resourceful. Resilience is a very important part of the job, adapting to the space you are creating, and always keeping an eye out for that special piece. From one day to the next the job can change, and there is really no explanation other than as people there are certain things that we unexplainably love. When we find them, we must have them! Therefore projects are constantly getting tweaked. Isn't that what makes design so interesting though! Rules are so boring..... we love breaking them, and redefining them!
Never a dull moment in our design brains, we are always looking for inspiration! We found this in one of the most recent issues of House and Home Magazine. This next image gave us inspiration for the front window (also from House and Home).
As we were going for a transitional vibe throughout the home we did a lot of consignment shopping. Consignment is a great way to find antique, unique pieces without breaking the bank. A lot of the key room pieces in the living space as well as the nook are consignment. There were several moments where we felt like we hit the jackpot and tried to conceal our excitement as we were at the register. Which brings us to the importance of knowing where to spend vs save.
One of the most recent purchases the client made at their previous home was a big cozy Natuzzi sectional. As we didn't have to account for much more additional seating in the budget, we were able to allocate more towards accent tables, and cabinetry. As it turned out we ended up saving a lot via consignment purchases, which in turn allowed for a larger investment on the coffee table. The coffee table is one of the most important functions in the space and was proving difficult to find. In the age we live in the resources online are quite vast, but that doesn't mean there aren't tons of limitations, especially due to our location. Even though Toronto is a large design centre we are still behind in terms of international shipping and availability. A lot of the pieces we suggested were online due to aesthetics, cost, shipping time. As professionals we are comfortable making these decisions, but it can be a difficult pill to swallow for clients as they typically like to physically see large ticket items. We understand it can be incredibly frustrating to have limited access to pieces online, especially when there is a large investment expected on the clients side. At this point there is nothing we can do to control this, unless in some cases we have someone on the other end who will graciously send us real life images, but that only happens occasionally. Hopefully in the near future all companies will offer more access to their online inventory and have real brick-and-mortar locations available to the public. As fate would have it the couple came across a table they absolutely loved at a local retailer, and it really added an unexpected contemporary element. Another area we generally like to leave flexible is in the decor. While the couple had a lot of really interesting collected pieces, they were moving from a smaller more modern space. We acquired pieces that were complimentary to their preexisting collection, and always encourage adding to it over time- as the more collected the better (without going overboard of course). In one example we found a faux horn as seen below. It worked in the space, but when we went shopping with the client to William Sonoma Home, simply put, the other one BLEW it out of the water. It was just BEYOND. So we splurged, and knew we had a serious moment awaiting us.
Small details from online dealers also help personalize things, we loved this box, the burled tiger wood is always a yes, and we rarely turn away a great box, easy to stack and style.
And boy oh boy did it deliver...... Paired with the leather cabinet we found it just lit up. Speaking of which, once we had the horn in place we paired it with a candle stick lamp, but knew we needed to pair it with something else. We then found the perfect tortoiseshell lamp- and it saved the day. In this image we had a smaller mirror on display, which we also ruled out in favour of something more substantial. Occasionally we bypass an item the first time around, in this case we had come across this mirror when we purchased the leather cabinet, after testing out the smaller mirror we knew this one was just what the style doctor ordered. Luckily it was still available and we snapped it up!
As soon as we saw the nook we knew great things were to come. Flanked with windows facing onto the ravine we knew it would be a great opportunity to create a seating area that would be relaxing and we had visions of an English cigar lounge. Salon Drab dresses the walls, it is sexy and masculine and has a decadent old world vibe. We knew we wanted to do a gallery wall in this space, although there was already a lot of visual interest coming from the views outside, this was a fun excuse to create an installation in a common area. We went for pieces that had dimension. Collected mementos as well as items we sourced, it is a grouping that can be added to over time. We like to use 3D pieces to make the wall pop and turn it into a conversation piece. We also incorporated a midcentury modern wall mounted shelf to display books and odds and ends.
We laid it out in such a way that more items may be added as time goes on, but for the time being has multiple areas of interest due to the decorative accents. Before mounting on the wall we always lay out the gallery on a large surface and shift around until we get the desired shape. We wanted to add more layering with the driftwood piece, a delicate juxtaposition on the antique desk that belonged to one of the client's grandfathers.
Finally here is an overview of the living room, as time goes on we are sure things may be tweaked and added, but we are super happy with the result. The draperies from Restoration Hardware really tied the room together and showcased the windows beautifully. The quality of the ones we selected were unmatched by anything else we looked at, and had we gone the custom route we would have paid much more, for an end product that may not have risen to the occasion.
The room is beautiful and a perfect space to host guests and sit down with a hot chocolate in the colder months. We look forward to sharing progress as we continue working on the space in the new year. We hope to have the space photographed in the near future so we can share the full space vs. the fragments we have collected- hopefully in the meantime this will spark some excitement!