Monday, March 26, 2012

...A HOUSE / A HOME...

I drove by our former house last week. It's been almost 4 years since I had the inclination to do so....couldn't bring myself to do it before. We had lived at 1169 R.... B... Cres. for 19 years. Our home had been witness to the growth of our 3 daughters....scraped knees, lost hamsters, bike riding lessons on the front lawn, countless birthdays, huge Christmas parties, first boyfriends .... and perhaps a ghost (would necessitate a very different post.

I very much disliked the house when we bought it and protested (not vocally enough obviously) that the kitchen was ugly and awkward, there was no family room, or gorgeous ensuite bathroom... the three top 'must haves on my next house wish list'. The house sat on 3 acres, in a quiet, 'country' neighbourhood. It had some fabulous entire fireplace wall of reclaimed brick in the kitchen, medium toned oak hardwood floors, 4 huge bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, tons of Tamarack trees. This house also sported seven...yes seven deep dormer windows which from the outside looked charming, but on the inside were awkward and the bane of my existence. The kitchen had the requisite almond melamine kitchen cabinets with oak trim....cue the late 80's,  and disgusting off white vinyl flooring.

All of this could have been a deal breaker for me except the price was right. A compromise was struck...we would buy the house, but by golly we would renovate within 5 years, no IFs, ANDs or BUTs mister.

As a stay at home mommy/ frustrated wanna be decorator...I wanted it all done NOW. I came to understand that very few of us can realize that immediate satisfaction. Over time, we managed to  renovate the kitchen and four bathrooms, add built-ins to the study (which became our family room), added window seats to the dormers (what a difference), a screened in porch (an absolute necessity in the country during mosquito season), a pool and a deck, not to mention the window treatments, duvet covers, painting jobs and the decorating I undertook. Our house eventually became our home and in fact ... to me, a living entity ....watered, fed, and clothed. and deeply cared for.

When we downsized 4 years ago. It was the right decision as, our family of five was heading off in different directions. I did not look back, not once, until a few days ago.... and I wondered why the disconnect?
I realized that home is where your 'junk' is. It's not the outer shell, it's the meaningful possessions, the memory makers we choose to live with. The books, a favourite chair, a snuggly blanket, the kitchen plates and cutlery we eat off of everyday, the twisted rug in the hall with the countless winter boots, (OK...maybe not the boots)  the picture of Grandpa with all the grandchildren, an artisan bowl bought on a fabulous trip to Italy. When we packed up the boxes, we were packing our home .... it was the house we were leaving.

I'm no different when working with a client than I am when making my own decor decisions. I want to know about their 'junk'....which doesn't mean I necessarily want to utilize it all.... I just want to get a handle on the family. Do they have collections, meaningful art, photos, furniture that simply cannot be parted with. My job is to interpret their needs and include them in my design for their space.The process of turning a house into a home can sometimes be long, tiresome, dirty, frustrating. but when done right, you can bet my clients also feel the innards of their house, their own living, breathing home.

Saturday, March 17, 2012


I was tidying up my photo library and came across some photos of food I had prepared. I guess I thought they looked pretty after I had plated them. As in design, or art, I obviously thought the texture, proportion, layout and colour combinations were photo worthy. I also realized, with a few exceptions, that all of the photos featured food with low carbs. 

Baked  chicken with sautéed veggies and fiddleheads 

grilled portobello mushrooms  stuffed with tuna, topped with parmesan cheese and broiled, served with spring greens, grilled tomatoes and vinaigrette

Lianne at Christmas made homemade turkey soup with tomatoes, chick peas,
 quinoa and spinach 

 New Years Eve assorted cheese platter with grapes, dark chocolate, walnuts, pistachios, almonds  and homemade biscotti...this is the low carb exception

fruit salad topped off with toasted walnuts, pomegranate seeds, cinnamon and lightly
 drizzled with agave syrup

 baked chicken in apple cider vinegar, carmelized onion, mushrooms, green beans and yellow
 tomatoes, served on bed of crisp romaine

thinly sliced red and green apples, blood orange slices lightly sprinkled with cinnamon and 
served with pomegranate seeds and greek yogurt with agave syrup...BTW, this is one of the
 easiest and most crowd pleasing desserts EVER

...and in case you are wondering about the title of this post....Wine IS Food!

Monday, March 12, 2012


I had a fabulous day in Toronto last Thursday. Not only was it International Women's Day, but I was fortunate to attend DELOITTE  WOMEN OF INFLUENCE LUNCHEON SERIES with 900+ women in the ballroom of The Royal York Hotel.


courtesy of Lynne Knowlton 

These are not photos of the Ballroom, but instead are photos of the Royal York Lobby, which will give you a fairly good idea of the decor and ambience in the Ballroom. 

courtesy of Lynne Knowlton

I attended the luncheon with two Toronto Tweeps. Here I go again, extolling the virtues of twitter, but it happens to be true. I met Robin Siegerman, a Toronto Interior Designer, on twitter a year ago and IRL a few months later. I'm beyond impressed and certainly influenced by Robin because since I met her, she has  authored  RENOVATION BOOTCAMP  a fact based, humorous look at renovating a kitchen from her own professional perspective.  This is a MUST read for anyone who is about to undertake the daunting task of a kitchen reno. Robin also hosts a  Web Talk Radio Show  interviewing other pros in the design and building trades, and garnering valuable information on all aspects of home design and renovation.
My other friend Lynne Knowlton, also an Interior Designer is known on twitter as 'The tweep who lives in a Treehouse'. Lynne pens the blog  DESIGN THE LIFE YOU WANT TO LIVE ... a blog about design, travel...and a treehouse...tons of photos and oh so much more, written with a hefty dose of reality, sprinkled with tons of humour, a full cup of strength, and iced with with pure honesty....a true JOY to peruse!  FYI... Lynne was kind enough to allow me to use five of the photos she took at the luncheon, in this post.
I realized I was sitting in the presence of two very INSPIRATIONAL women... (cue the AWE...really and truly)...and that was in advance of the guest speaker being introduced....

....Sarah Richardson....

courtesy of Lynne Knowlton
SHE IS WOMAN... and I've been watching her ROAR...from a pixelated distance, since she designed and sewed her first cushion cover on 'Room Service', and have followed her career path from Design Inc through to Sarah 101. She and I have chosen the same career,  design and decor,  and you can bet that her aesthetic has at times influenced my own decor choices, but I was most impressed yesterday with her story of her humble beginnings.
Sarah has a degree in Visual Arts, but it was her determination to improve and decorate her fellow students' dorm rooms that eventually landed her first paying job as a behind the scenes prop stylist on CTV.  She didn't shy away from being underpaid, working serious overtime and grunt work ... I loved hearing this. After appearing on several home design based TV shows as a guest, she became host of FIVE...count 'em FIVE television shows. Sarah also designs several product lines and has her own signature Para paint collection available at Lowes.

Sarah was funny...Sarah being 'Sarah' explained that the Ballroom luncheon decor would have to be tweaked with her own branding....therefore paint cans filled with tulips on fresh, spring green tablecloths and freshly painted white chairs adorned each table of ten.
via twitter  @PARAPaints
courtesy of Lynne Knowlton

Sarah was honest.... "'that's good enough', will never be good enough for me" mantra as well

Sarah was sentimental... she credited her Mom with being the most influential mentor in her life

Sarah was blunt... 'it's not WHAT you's WHO you know! Your social network!'

Sarah IS influential... "winning the work-life balance is all about perspective"

If I wasn't already Sarah Richardson girl crushing ... I certainly was after her down to earth speech.

Yes indeedy, last Thursday was a great day, in the company of smart, ambitious, multi-tasking, bright and funny women. And we all, who thankfully do not take ourselves THAT seriously, managed to enjoy this heavenly chocolate mousse.

courtesy of Lynne Knowlton

Maureen at Modecor Muses: March 2012

Maureen at Modecor Muses