architectural transitions

I remember back when I was in interior design school our professors (who were all architects by training) always asking us to consider the "transitions". To be honest, I couldn't really understand their fascination with how a stair was detailed, or how the inside and the outside of a building were connected, or how a countertop intersected with the cabinets in a kitchen. I wanted to choose paint colours and furniture and materials and all of the other fun things we normally associate with interior design. The last thing I wanted to do was spend six hours drawing a detail of a stair tread!

Well, I'm happy to say now that I get it, I really get it! It is about the transitions. The ways in which spaces are connected together really does make a difference. It took awhile for it to sink in but I'm fully there now.

No where is this more true than in new buildings but it is also very important when bridging old-historical and contemporary together. Some of my favourite transitions are modern additions added to the backs or tops of traditional houses. (Perhaps, because this is what I dream of doing to our own Victorian some day.)

Even if you are just renovating your house room by room take some time to think about your doorways, hallways, stairs and mouldings. All combined the look of these things will make a big difference to your home.

So tell me the truth, do you take these things into consideration when designing your home? I know it's hard to spend money on a door when you want to fill your house with furniture and redo your bathroom but I think it might be worth it. Would you agree?

If you need more convincing you can check out the rest of my Transition pins over on Pinterest!

Image credits:
1 - Shim Sutcliffe Architects - James Dow photo
2 - Shim Sutcliffe Architects - Bob Gundu photo
3 -
4- Carr Architects
5 - a note on design tumblr
6 - Lynda Reeves home - House and Home - Michael Alberstat photo
7 - Architectural Digest - Pieter Estersohn photo



homework - getting started

Ugh, homework! Whose bright idea was it that I start this? Oh right, mine! The hardest part is figuring out where to begin. When I work with clients, the first thing I normally ask them to do is to gather a file of images full of ideas and inspiration. I ask them to grab anything that speaks to them. It doesn't matter what it is. It could be a fashion related, or a bouquet of flowers, or an image of their dream kitchen. Once they've gathered all the images, I ask them to take another look and be ruthless about what it is they like, discarding images along the way. By the end, we usually have a pretty good idea of the look we are hoping to achieve.

I also have one of these files where I store away images that I love. Before I started blogging and collecting images digitally, I would comb through magazines and tear out pages of homes that really spoke to me. I thought it might be interesting to go back to this file and see what I had collected. I guess I'm hoping I will find some clues that will point me in the right direction. I have to say (and I think Michelle alluded to this in one of her posts) that when your working with design images on a daily basis it is easy to become distracted and totally overwhelmed by choice. Going back to the beginning, so to speak, seemed like a good start.

Bedrooms - With the exception of the yellow four poster bed (that might look very familiar and hey, are those the DwellStudio stripe sheets as well!) the rooms I tend to favor are fairly simple with little or no pattern, neutral walls, white sheets, a little bit rustic, natural organic elements, modern, clean lines and comfortable. As you can see, I was heavily influenced by the yellow and grey bedroom for my current bedroom which is maybe not a true representation of what I like.

Bathrooms - Black or white walls again, warm textures, organic elements, historical accents like old radiators and clawfoot tubs, and a little bit rustic. These images seem on track with the majority of the bedroom images.

Living and Dining Rooms - Ok, what do I see hear? Again a mainly neutral palette with a preference for solid colours over pattern, lots of textural, organic elements like sheepskins, cowskins, antlers and carved wood, big prominent art on the walls, mainly low, modern furniture, sculptural lighting, a touch of the antique through old mirrors and chandeliers, slightly bohemian, informal and casual in feel.

Kitchens - The first things that jumps out at me here is wood whether it is rustic and rough or painted or beautifully crafted oak. Again, the palette is warm and neutral with a touch of the industrial, elements like the counters and backsplashes are made of natural materials, the kitchens looked lived in with some things on the counters and open shelves. There is a sense of history with the paneled doors and candlesticks.

Amazing, don't you think? There actually is a clear message being told here. Sure, there are a few exceptions but those are the ones you throw out!

I think if I had to put my style into words it would be something like this: A laid-back and neutral space with organic and historical elements and a touch of bohemian yet spare and modern. Ok, that's a bit of a mouthful but it's me. A layered room is always much more interesting anyway.

The next step in this process is to take a look at each of my rooms individually and see if they fit into the description above. I already know that some of my rooms are going to be in trouble! We'll see what makes the cut and what doesn't next Monday.

Image credits:
1) via Nice Room

put on your wellies

Last week, I mentioned that lately I've been drawn to images of large country houses that have that lived in, bohemian feeling where old and new come together in surprising ways. The places I'm inspired by are ones where nothing seems too precious. Children and pets cavort over worn kilim rugs, past century old antiques to a warm farmhouse kitchen. It's all about the mix where your history is proudly on display but contrasted with some recent finds. The Brits are very good at doing this perhaps because their country lifestyle where horses, dogs, children and wet weather mingle together demands it.

There seems to be a trend towards all things British at the moment, especially in fashion. On Vogue's website last week, they reported on the sudden rise in popularity of the classic English Barbour coat. Apparently, Alexa Chung and one of Sting's daughters have been wearing them.

On the same site, they had an article about an eco-escape to the English country side complete with a visit to an authentic, environmentally friendly refurbished castle. All of this is to say that if it's happening in fashion we can probably expect to see some form of it in interiors soon as well. The question is what form will it take?

What do you think, will this be the trend to watch in 2011?

All images by Francois Halard.

cast your vote: chair update

A few weeks ago I posted about wanting new chairs for my dining room. Nothing has changed...I would still love a new set of seats for myself and our guests. But there are wish lists and there is reality. After having snapped up one to many rugs at the antique market last weekend (did I fail to mention in my previous post that I bought three rugs that day, oh yeah...) I had to get creative. With Myles' parents arriving from out of town and two of our dining room chairs loose at the hinges I had to look around and see what I could come up with. Then I remembered that we had some Eames fiberglass shell chairs in our basement. (Watch this very cool video from the 1970s showing how these chairs were handcrafted. I love my chairs even more after having watched this.) We had bought them for our first place here in Toronto and have used them mainly as outdoor chairs ever since. I brought them upstairs, laid one of the new rugs on the floors and ta da...not bad.

I'm contemplating purchasing some wooden dowel bases to update the Eames chairs.

via Apartment Therapy

What do you think?