Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Gail's Kitchen Reno: Post #2 - Customizing Ikea

Gails' kitchen and family room renovation is a project of mine that's currently in the early stages of construction. I first posted about this kitchen and family room renovation a couple of weeks ago and if you missed it, you can go here to see all the before pictures and read all about the objectives for the redesign and the process behind developing the final proposed layout.  Here's another look at the new floor plan....

Its quite an extensive renovation with lots of new construction and reworking of plumbing and electrical so one of the ways to achieve everything on the wish list (quartz counters, high end appliances, all new floors, additional sinks, new fireplace etc. etc.) and stay within the clients conservative budget range is to use Ikea cabinets as the basis for the kitchen design.  In this post I won't bother going into all the reasons why this makes so much sense as I've written about all the reasons Why I love Ikea Kitchens here, and its for all those reasons why my client and I came to the decision to take this route for her new kitchen.   Also in that post you can find a list of my favorite ways to customize Ikea cabinets and give it a bespoke look - I'll be implementing all of those tricks in this installation too.   

When planning a kitchen based on Ikea cabinets I treat the base cabinetry like building blocks,,,or legos and configure them in any which way I need them.  There's really not too many limitations as they offer such a wide range of cabinet sizes and styles.  Since this kitchen will be more on the relaxed trad side than the modern side,,,,,I recommended the Tidaholm door style which is a simple shaker style door in natural oak.  As I've mentioned previously I prefer this door style over their other shaker door style the Adel, because the Tidaholm has a cleaner squared edge shaker profile and joinery corners.  Also its key, if you plan on painting the doors the oak doors take a new paint finish better than the Adel door style which is a synthetic polyester finish.  And for this project, we definitely intend on painting them!

The Cooktop Wall:  Essentially this is the main wall in the kitchen which houses the rangetop, exhaust hood and wall ovens.  This was a major change from the old kitchen layout which had a cooktop poorly (and dangerously) located on a narrow island.  I always place ranges or cooktops against walls where ever possible and try to allow counter space on either side.  In this configuration we have lots of extra deep drawers which will accommodate pots, pans, small appliances, mixing bowls, cookware, as well as spices, seasonings and utensils and knives.  The open shelves will house most of the dishware with additional pieces in the glass fronted hutch.  The shelves will provides easy access for Gail (who is a chef) who's always cooking for a crowd.  I've incorporated a desk space for her laptop, cookbooks, messages, and household bills.  I'm on the lookout for an old antique wall hutch that we could use above her desk surface but its not something you can easily find on a deadline, so in this elevation I've illustrated the backup plan which will be new glass fronted wall cabinets with a blue accent colour painted on the inside.  The range hood canopy will be custom built and we're planning on cladding it in an antiqued distressed copper,,much more blackened in appearance than shiny new copper.  (sorry but the colours depicted in this renderring are not quite accurate, the walls will be a very soft fresh pale yellow, all the cabinetry a warm ivory white).

The Island:  The sink side of the island is of course directly opposite the cook wall and despite how large the island is, I still couldn't fit everything in that Gail ideally wanted, but we're as close as we could get.  They'll be a Shaw farmsink, a second prep sink (that was a must!) and a set of refridgerator drawers.  Its these fridge drawers that really make her prep zone and cooking zone work efficiently, she can keep all her dairy and veg here, where they'll be right at hand instead of in the large main fridge.  The biggest challenge about this island has been trying to light it, you can't help but notice it only has a ceiling over half of it! The ceiling goes from 8' in the kitchen area opening up to 20' in the breakfast nook area so its a bit a challenge.  The situation just became more challenging when last week we discovered a new beam would need to be dropped exactly where I've got the light fixture hanging........

The Island:  On one end of the island they'll be another set of wide deep drawers and the other three sides of the island will be clad in a combination of operable doors and fixed door panels all finished off with a baseboard treatment around the bottom instead of a toe kick.  On the seating side of the island I'll be supporting the overhang with some simple corbel style brackets and also adding a small bookshelf unit with beadboard backing.

The Pantry & Bar:  Like the island, this section of cabinetry will be tricked out with additional trimwork to give it more of a furniture look, so in addition to the Ikea base cabinets the contractor will be installing beadboard back panel,,,corbel brackets and corner block details to the base, and built in recessed puck lighting.  I have to admit this elevation is a moving target right now,,,,its actually been changed several dozen times, probably 2 or 3 since this version was drawn.  The size of the wine fridge was the subject of many debates between my clients and my recommendation for a tall but narrow unit ultimately was vetoed for this double door style.  As for the cabinetry, Gail's been quite conflicted as to how much open vs. closed storage she can live with and I predict we'll be going back to one of the original pantry configurations I proposed which had more upper cabinets, less open shelving which will be more practical.   Right after this is posted I'll be working on one more variation of this wall.

Coming up next I'll share some images of the concept board for the space illustrating all the finishes and fixtures I've specified for the space along with some updated site photos.  

Next week I'll be writing a separate post outlining my tips and advice for painting your newly ordered Ikea cabinets based on the process I've used successfully.  I've had several people inquire about this so please know I havn't forgotten and I promise you'll see it next week.

All Images:  Carol Reed

Saturday, May 22, 2010

From the Garden: Purple Irises

We have a few types of flowers  that grow in the yard on our property and I wait anxiously for each any every bloom, like a kid awaiting a trip to the candy store.  For me, nothing beats using fresh cut flowers or branches from my own garden throughout the house - its heaven (and they're free!!!).    The first to bloom were the daffodils and I enjoyed a few weeks of that vibrant bright yellow scattered around the house.   But next will be the tall regal looking Irises,,,,we have two huge patches and they look like they're about to bloom any day now.  They usually burst open just slightly ahead of our absolute favorite!  

What I love about the Irises is the colour, I'm really not a fan of purple when it comes to paint or fabrics or carpet but when I'm selecting fresh flowers for a room, second to white flowers purple is my next favorite, especially rich deep purples.  Purple blooms work so beautifully with browns and greys especially, and in light neutral spaces the purple not only adds a dark contrast but its also a less feminine hit of colour than pink so I like that its gender neutral burst of colour.

The above photos are pics I took of our Irises last year just as they bloomed and the timing couldn't have been better.  On June 3rd I was hosting a 25th wedding anniversary for my eldest brother and of course, I had to find an inexpensive way to deck the venue out with fresh flowers without breaking the budget - so I brought bundles of these fresh cut Irises and placed them in tall glass vases along the bar and in a few niches in the old brick walls.   They looked stunning, the effect was so dramatic.  Unfortunately I was so busy hosting that I didn't take many photos, but here's a couple that I found that show a glimpse of some of the flowers.  You can see a couple of the Iris arrangements on top of the bar along with some palm leaves......

For the tables, I had purchased a couple dozen cream coloured gerber daisies, they were in keeping with the theme of the invites which also had daisies on them but mainly I wanted to do a single bloom arrangement because I could do multiples of them for high impact and it wouldn't cost a fortune!  Here's where I had to get creative in an instant, when I called the restaurant earlier that day to see if they had bud vases I was told that they didn't - aaaggghhh.  I didn't have time to go and buy 20 vases so I asked them if they could set aside some empty bottles for me.  But when I arrived at the venue the recycling bins had been emptied earlier that day so there wasn't a lot of to chose from.  I managed to find 20 Perrier bottles (actually,,,,we only found 16 so we had to drink 4!) and then I added a gerber daisy and sprig of tall grass to each one and placed one bottle on every table.  This took about 10-15 minutes to do and it really gave the space a joyous summery feel, in fact, the staff all said they liked it so much they were going to start doing that for future bookings.  

A word of caution about brining these large variety Irises indoors though, if you do - be careful to keep an eye on them, remove them as soon as they start to wilt - once they start to expire the droppings from the flowers are like ink and will stain any surface they fall upon.    When I bring them inside my house, I place them in really tall cylindrical vases so they're completely encased in glass, this way anything that falls off stays in the vase.  Otherwise if using them for a table setting for a special occassion remember to remove them after the party!  Or,,,,for that hit of purple try other varieties like tulips or hydrangeas....

Its a cool an overcast rainy day today so I'm procrastinating the trip to the garden centre,,,,,I was hoping that the photos of last years flowers would inspire me to get out of the house and go get all the plantings I need to fill up my planters.   But its not working yet........I need sunshine.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

How To Swag A Pendant

Its a simple pendant, a large round clear glass sphere with a polished chrome canopy, suspended by a thick black cord - evoking a bit of a modern industrial look.   Its the globe pendant from West Elm, its super stylish and super inexpensive, what's not to love?  

Way back in January when I was just beginning to source items for Brian's Condo, I knew this would be the perfect fixture for  his place, specifically for over his small dining table in his open concept dining/living room/kitchen.  Unfortunately, hundreds of other people love the stylish good looks and low price of this fixture too because the West Elm Toronto store was completely out of stock with the next shipment not expected until mid to late March (completely sold out when it did arrive btw).   Aaaggghh.  But I was determined to get my hands on one of these globe pendants, somehow, someway, afterall there were two of them hanging in the showroom and I only needed one.  But no matter how much begging and pleading and negotiating I did (why do you need two fixtures on display??)  they wouldn't sell me one of the floor models despite how much money I spend in their store and how desperate I was to meet a looming deadline.  

With my trade account I did manage to order one of these lights from the states but it was no easy task.  Don't ever attempt to order things from West Elm online because in Canada you'll get nowhere online ordering without a US shipping address and a US credit card. No problem, I had a US shipping address I could use so next I arranged for payment thru my trade account.   Good news, the fixture was in stock and arrived at my US destination within 2 weeks.  I make regular shopping trips to Buffalo so I picked it up the next time I crossed the border,,,,unfortunately due to my crazy schedule I didn't make it to Buffalo until March but at least I knew the pendant was sitting there, waiting for me to come and get it,,,,so much for my deadline.   

Picking up the fixture was an experience in itself, it involved an unmarked warehouse, surrounded by barbed wire and surveillence cameras, hidden amongst a quite residential side street.  The transaction goes something like this,,,I walk in thru the black windowless metal side door and say to the guy behind the plywood counter, 'Hi, I'm Carol,,,,,,,do you have a package for me?"  He clicks away on his computer, says yup, wait here a minute,,,he comes back a few minutes later with a big brown box from West Elm.  I say yup, that's it, I pay him $4.75 for storing it for me all this time, he thanks me for doing business with him,  and head out the door, we're done - no showing any ID,,no paperwork,,,no signing for anything, nothing!  My friend was stunned speechless, staring at me like a junkie who had just witnessed a drug deal and now she wanted me to hook her up,,,,,,,she begged me for all the details so she too could start ordering things from all those places that won't ship to Canada!  Honestly, I explained to her I didn't ask a lot of questions so I'm not even sure that its all legit (I mean,,there wasn't a trace of paperwork) I just grabbed my goods and ran for the border.   It was actually a client of mine who put me on to this place and I owe her a big thank you - its an AWESOME service.   So anyways, now safely back across the border with my West Elm globe pendant (after paying duty and taxes of course), the next challenge was arranging to get it installed at Brian's place.

Back at Brian's place he'd gotten used to not having this light fixture and he wasn't planning on hosting any dinner parties anytime soon so there was no panic for it - good thing!  Before we could have it installed I still had to pick-up a filament light bulb for it, these are perfect when you have a completely exposed light bulb and you want that vintage industrial look.  This proved a bit challenging to find as they weren't available at the usual lighting showrooms (go figure?), but luckily I did find a selection of filament bulbs at Morba who always have a great stock of decorative bulbs.  

The joys of driving in Toronto, a quick stop at Morba to pickup this $24 light bulb ends up costing me $54.......grrrrr.  Not so bright on my part.

Next Stop, Home Depot.  I needed to find something to use to swag the pendant over the dining table.  Normally I try to avoid having to swag any light fixture but there are many circumstances where its just unavoidable,,,,condos with concrete ceilings mean you can't relocate junction boxes and often times in houses there are ceiling joists or ductwork in the way, othertimes its just not feasible to make new holes in the ceiling so the light has to be swagged.  I've decided its better to live with the 'swag' then to not have the light fixture where you need it.   Swagging a chandelier is fairly easy, chandeliers typically hang by chains so you can simply install a hook in the ceiling (reinforced to handle the weight) and hang the chain from the hook.  I've never been able to find a good looking hook though, all you can ever find anywhere are the same ugly ceiling hooks they've been selling for 40 years.

Ugly ceiling hook.

This type of ceiling hook wasn't going to work for Brian's pendant.  Never mind the style, this type of hook just doesn't work with pendants because they're normally suspended by cable wire, or a plain electrical cord - there's no chain link to loop over the hook, a plain cord swaged over this type of hook won't hold the fixture in place.  This is a problem I've come across several times but this time I was going to find a solution that would do the job and look good!   I spent a good hour and a half scouring the hardware department at Home Depot in search of something,,,,,,,,the sales associates were not of much help, they directed me to the 'ugly ceiling hook' shown above.  Finally I came across a little device which in theory seemed like it would work so I was all set to give it a try.  My handyman was not as optomistic,  he bought the ugly ceiling hook too just in case (?!), he figured if all else failed he could just loop the cord around the hook.  Ummm,,,,,no he wouldn't I thought, not on my watch.  

This was my solution.  Sorry, the only picture I have is the empty packaging because the installer got ahead of me,,,but I found this device where they sell rope pully's and rope connectors.  I don't know if there's an official name for them, as the package states they're called wire rope clips and are available in various sizes, the 3/16" works perfectly for a pendant cord.  The package comes with 3 pieces, a bent metal loop and 2 adjustable u-shaped clamps.

Here's a photo of the pendant cord with the device attached, you can see the reason for using this is that is creates a loop out of the cord and the clips secure the looped cord in place.  The stainless steel colour of this metal happened to work well with my Globe Pendant because the cap and the canopy on the fixture were polished chrome.

The package comes with 2 of these threaded fasteners but I only wanted to use one and it worked well.  Once the washers on this clip are tightened up, you have a secure loop ready to hang.  This step took about 30 seconds.

Here's a look at the hook we used in the ceiling.  Its a simple metal cup style hook.  The ceiling is concrete and a plug was used to ensure the threads of the hook would hold securely in place, because the plug was red and there were no canopies available for this type of hook we just painted out the end of the plug with white paint and it disappeared.

And voila.  Here's a shot of the installed pendant.  You can see there are still some slight kinks in the cord but those will relax over time.  This Iphone photo actually doesn't do justice, this looked even better in person and the entire loop and hook assembly looked like it was all part of the light fixture's design.

So there you have it, this is my new favorite way to swag a pendant.  I don't suggest this type of hardware will work with all styles of pendants but I think this method works perfectly with an industrial style, or rustic type fixture.  I'm happy to say that Brian is thrilled with his newly installed dining room light,,,,,but wasn't the least bit interested in hearing about how I got done!  

All Photos:  Carol Reed

Monday, May 17, 2010

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Friday, May 14, 2010

Archives: Family Bathroom

This family bathroom I designed 3 years ago,,,installation was completed about 2-1/2 years ago,,,and these photos were taken back in the fall of 2009.  We've added some more accessories since this picture was taken (its true, a room is never done!).  The project was a back to the bricks complete gut and reno, I designed and specified everything in this bathroom right down to the custom vanity and window coverings.  To this day it remains one of my favorite bathrooms..... but I wish I could capture the etheral 'feeling' of this room on camera.  There's something about the natural light and the colours and the materials, I find the combination is so serene and calming. 

Happy Weekend!

All Photos:  Carol Reed


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Upload: May 12, 2010

I take a lot of photos every day and typically I upload them onto my laptop 2 or 3 times a week, sometimes hundreds at a time.  Collectively the photos are a snap shot of where I've been, what I've been sourcing, job site progress, what I find inspiring, things I love,  and things that I find interesting and worth keeping on file for future reference.   Here's a sampling of the latest images uploaded from my camera.

I found these two tile options for a fireplace I'm designing, one is made up of river rocks in resin which I thought was a great way to use river rocks in a more contemporary way.  The other is a beautiful marble with these fluid horizontal lines in soft bluey/greys and soft yellow tones - it reminded me of the sand and waves. 

I was on the hunt for a pair of twin cows and after an exhausting search (finding a pair of anything is always a challenge) I found a pair, not identical twins but closely related!   They'll be used to upholster a pair of custom benches.

I'm always amazed at the treasures stored away in my clients basements and attics.  This chair was found in the basement of my clients mom's house, inherited from her sister when she passed away.  I think it's a wonderful fit with this antique vanity I found for her back in January, some new fabric for the seat or a short slipcover skirt and its will be perfect!

Also stored away in the same basement, a pair of early 1900 antique lamps bought decades ago in Paris by the same Aunt.  They have solid brass bases with hand painted fabric shades and silk tassels.  Rare and gorgeous family gorgeous do they look on the little girl's vintage dressing table!

After hanging a series of botanicals in this same little girl's bedroom, the only thing now left for them to do is fill the bookcase up......

A favorite fixture I use a lot, its a bargain at less than $34.  Its perfect in character style homes and is great in hallways, laundry rooms or mudrooms. (from Lowes)

I was considering this large metal sphere pendant for a huge tall cathedral ceiling in Gails' Kitchen.......

But this one is the one we're going with, well almost like this - we're having this made taller, wider and with 8 lights instead of 4.  I love the distressed finish and the fact that its handcrafted by a local artisan.

My search for a 3 light island fixture came up short,,,,we have to have 3 lights but can only have one central junction box so a multi-light style fixture is the way to go.  I'd like something like this but not in this metal colour.

I like the colour of this metal and the vintage look but I'm looking for something with glass shades to give both up and downlighting.  But this fixture was a steal at only $499 (Union Home).

I liked the heritage style of this one and the glass shades but still hoping to find something more industrial or utilitarian looking.

I think I take a picture of these candlesticks everytime I'm in Crate & Barrel,,,,,they're hand crafted and I love them - they're on my own wish list!

Some modern style planters found at Loblaws garden centre.  3 sizes and 3 colours, but I realy wish they had them in white....

Accidental self portrait.  So whenever I upload my photos there's always about a dozen pictures likes this,,,,,me putting my camera in my bag. The touch screen on my Iphone drives me crazy!  In addition to daily shots like this, I also have a series of blurry photos of my feet and dark shots of the inside of my pockets.

A stack of vintage crates makes an instant bookcase, Queen West Antiques (next 6 photos)

I was crazy for this vintage bookcase, the flip up doors were missing the knobs but that's an easy fix.  I LOVE that the glass doors make each shelf like a display cabinet and its so practical for keeping the dust out.  I had to plant myself in front of it and email my client photos on the spot as someone else was inquiring about it at the same time as me.  Unfortunately,  it was slightly over this clients budget so I had to pass on it. : (  But I really regret having to do so, pieces like this truly make a space.

I'm seeing lots of vintage industrial style pieces popping up everywhere, and I love them.

Chair, Desk, Lamp.  Yes. Yes. Yes.

If I had an office to plan, I'd scoop up this modern classic cabinet in a heartbeat.  The amount of storage was fantastic and there were drawers inside drawers, and pullout shelves....

For the cool kids.....

Yes, I even take my camera to the ladies room with me - you never know when or where you'll discover some design inspiration!!  This bathroom was worth a second visit, it was so well done - i think it was the unexpected tree branches, so sculptural and organic and the combination of all white with the warm natural wood - always a winner with me.

The stalls were all wood and the full wall of mirror was perfectly used to create the illusion of depth and repetition.

Directly centred over each w/c was a pot light, you can see how dramatic the effect was....(not something we want to do at home!!).

The artwork was behind glass on metal standoffs.  The wall tile throughout was all white but was an interesting 3d basketweave pattern that had lots of texture.

A salvaged door with the most beautiful patina, I blogged about this door last week and the different ways I could imagine repurposing it.   Some smart ass commentor, who shall remain nameless, asked why I wouldn't just use it as a door!?  Well, because that would be EXPECTED.  ; )

I know a curler or two who might be interested in this!  What a beauty.

A visit to The Door Store (2 photos above, 8 photos below) is always inspiring - the store is full of the most gorgeous vignettes and full of examples on how to beautifully display collections.  Look at these old balusters, at only $20 ea they would make stunning pillar candle holders or simply displayed as is.

These beautiful vintage tiles were so pretty, i think they'd be wonderful mounted individually in frames.

Can you spot all the scottie dogs,,,,,,I love this display. : )

A collection of old pudding molds.  I think they look amazing displayed on this marble topped chest, a grouping of anything all the same has great visual impact as do a pair of lamps,  and nothing makes a statement like a pair of black shades, always a favorite of mine.

I think this was one of my favorite displays, a collection of old plaster moulds from a picture frame company hung above a fireplace.

Vintage blue glass jars - I'm picking up several of these for Gail's kitchen...

Industrial drawers - these are hot right now!

Hand made pottery, nothing over $20,,,,,

I think I could have done several blog posts just from this upload alone but I don't think I'd be able to write them fast enough to keep up with all the new daily images I have.  I'll have to start uploading photos more frequently i think....

My favorite photo of the past two weeks,,,,,construction underway on Gail's Kitchen!