Saturday, February 20, 2010

Mosaic's: Today's Timeless Reminder of Our History

With shelter magazines we've loved and lost still a tender spot for myself (I just this week, in the mail, recieved 'the post card' from Metropolitan)...I wanted to share with you a publication I did not know of until this evening.

Mosaic Art Now has published it's 3rd Edition. Please click on the link and take a few minutes to read about the Five Sisters collaborative work by Emma Biggs. It is a 35 foot long mosaic titled 'Clay End' that will/or did only exist for 6 months.

The process of discovery for the artist is so illuminating and even more so, so very inspirational for our work and the hurdles we some times must see this publication! I won't give away any really must read this awesome article.

I can not believe that a coffee book publication of this quality is only $15. Please join me and support this wonderful publication.

Thank you so very much to Paul Anater over at the Kitchen and Residential Design blog for introducing me to the mag.

All sources Mosaic Art Now



It Only Takes One Visit

I've mentioned in earlier posts I've been on a thrift store hunt for a couple of credenzas or dressers. I've been hunting for a good 4 months hitting every thrift store on the East side of Toronto...takes an entire day...literally. I've on occation found peices I liked but none of them jumped out screaming to come home with me.

My son is in desperate need of one in his bedroom, but I refused to settle, and I really wanted one for my dining room.

A little info on my dining room: it was the kids 'craft' room until early December when I stumbled upon antique Louis XV style dining chairs (4 side & 2 arm) and a Louis XVI dining table. I found them on Kijiji (much easier to search and just as popular as Craigslist in Canada). Kijiji is my fix for when I can't hope in the car to search the thrift stores.

This came as a surprise to dear Steve. One day he comes home from work to hear he's driving me to pick up the table and chairs for the 'dining room'. I got a blank had been a 'craft' room for well over a year with nigh a mention of ever being anything else.

Now I have to add here that I'd been trying out different paint colors on the walls for about a year...and had an inspiration photo taped to the wall...but apparently that does not say 'plans'. I thought it was evident.

So the beautiful table and chairs, turns out, have a history. I met one of the easiest people to be around when we went to get the set. Emmanuelle and her family had moved to Toronto from Paris...via Brussels and Washington D.C.

The dining set had been in Emmanuelle's family in Paris for generations. The chairs are antique reproductions 'in the style of'...hand carved I might add but the table is on original. I *love* them.

I've been to Kravet and Lee Jofa numorous times looking for the perfect fabric to cover the chairs in. Each time I find the perfect fabric I'm told they are on back order. It is now mid-February and I've no fabric to cover the chairs...can you say depressing?!

 Yesterday however, I did find 2 credenzas. What luck! And they were both in the same Salvation Army for $25 each. I'm so happy. I couldn't stop talking about them and grinning last night after Steve got home from work and helped me unload them from the truck.

I now have a lovely bar area in my dining room with a felt drawer for the silverware from my Grandmother. 

So now my dining room looks like a dining need up work but it looks like a grown ups room not a kids paint and play-doh mess. My plan is moving forward, snails pace for sure, but as I like to tell my kids 'slow and steady wins the race'!

Some day I'll find liming wax and refinish the credenza, get the walls lacquered in F&B's Mahogany and get the chairs covered. The room will be stunning. Some day. For now I'm quite happy to have the pieces of the puzzle.



Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Wine Pairings and Wine Cellars - Match maker, match maker make me a match!

The wildly popular wine pairing mobile application 'NatDecants' now has a free version.

This useful app is brought to you by Natalie MacLean. I've shamelessly ripped a paragraph from Nat's Bio because I don't think it could be written any better:
I would so love to hang out with Natalie @ a wine bar in Manhattan after a day of hitting thrift & an a wine bar in Manhattan after a day of hitting thrift & an a wine bar in Manhattan after a day of hitting thrift & an a wine bar in Manhattan after a day of hitting thrift & an a wine bar in Manhattan after a day of hitting thrift & antique stores shopping for old wooden wine crates. Of course with the occational carafe of vino for inspiration throughout the day.
"To fund her late-night vinous habits, Natalie MacLean holds down day jobs as a wine writer, speaker and judge. An accredited sommelier, she is a member of the National Capital Sommelier Guild, the Wine Writers Circle and several French wine societies with complicated and impressive names. Funny, brainy and unapologetically tipsy, her goal in life is to intimidate those crusty wine stewards at fine restaurants with her staggering knowledge." -
Some features of NatDecant's:
  • Find 380,000 food and wine pairings
  • Access thousands of wine reviews
  • Search by winery, price, score, region...
  • Track your wines in your virtual cellar
  • Search a directory of 10,000+ wineries
  • Find thousands of tasty recipes
  • Look up definitions for key wine terms
  • Share on Twitter, Facebook with friends

Natalie is also the author of "Red, White and Drunk All Over" which recently won for Best Wine Literature Book in the English language at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards.

Now that you have an encyclopedia of wines...time to get inspired to start a collection!


et *bisous*


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Low Country in the North Country

A beautiful canopy bed at {this is glamorous} led me a to a post at Beautiful Things to Share about a home Photographer Ashlee Raubach shot and blogged about.

Be sure to check out these posts.

I was inspired to showcase a home I fell head over heels with which was in the February 2010 issue of Canadian House and Home magazine.

On the Ganaraska River's edge in Port Hope, Ontario Alan de la Vigne found a ramshackle 1830's home which had been butchered over the years by bad "fix up's".

Obviously Mr. de la Vigne is a man of vision...and style!

This outstanding home looks like it was taken from downtown Charleston SC with the beautiful loggias. 

I miss the Low Country. I'm definately a Southern Girl at heart.

The interior is not to shabby either.

Thank you House and Home. You never fail to inspire me with each and every one of your editorials.

Be sure to subscribe to H&H's digital issue! I gaurantee it will be a worthwile investment. And you'll get to see the rest of the de la Vigne home's interiors.



Saturday, February 6, 2010

Limitless Inspiration: Interior Design, Fashion and Lifestyle Blogs

I just want to urge anyone who happens on to my blog to spend a bit of time cruising the blogs I'm following.Dane

These bloggers will have links to so many other bloggers with incredible blogs which will whisk you away for *hours* inspiring you to new heights and providing many good laughs.

You will find within their comment an incredibly like minded community full of irreplaceable advice and suggestions.

These bloggers provide limitless inspiration and constant support for your projects be you a DIYer, designer/decorator or purely an enthusiast of style.

I encourage you to grab your drink of choice, be it tea, coffee or wine...look to the right of this post and scroll down to my favourite bloggers and get lost in the best of style.

It's the owe it to yourself!


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Thrift Store Finds to Pass the Time

'm between clients and going just a wee bit bonkers so I've been hitting the thrift stores. I've got a few items on my wish list to find for next to nothing...don't we all?

Of course I didn't find the credenza nor the dressers I could restore and lime (cerused).

I did find a chair I can turn into a nice conversation piece while I wait for a call from a new or previous client! waiting....

I wanted to see if there was anything (special) around the house I could use to cover the back of the chair with and found an old skirt I've been keeping despite the sad fact it hasn't fit me since I got the 'momma hips'.

It will *just* fit across the top and is long enough. I never noticed before, but the label says the skirt design is it's ART!

Perhaps the chair will be inspired by Stephen Sprouse's Tuxedo Jacket Cher wore when she sang "I Got You Babe" with Sonny, one last time, on Letterman. I totally wanted the jacket...still do but would *have* to lose those shoulder pads.

Looks like this chair will be a fun piece! I will, of course, do a reveal upon completion.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Business of Design: Not So Pretty

Today's post is about a current gripe I have. I don't consider it a rant...more like a complaint but having no one place to file the complaint with.

I know I always have to be setting up new accounts with suppliers as one supplier cannot be a one stop shop for us. But I hate doing it. It takes away from being creative and totally bores me.

I don't like any part of filling out the applications (can't I just create my own template with the information everyone wants and send it out...what a waste of energy with all the duplicate info!) and I abhor negotiating fair discounts.


Unfortunately I've found with Bath and Kitchen suppliers I have to constantly be on my toes getting multiple quotes, asking for better pricing on those quotes and then get those prices 'matched' in an attempt to:  

  • Get the best price for my clients
  • To get any profit for myself
To begin, I love what I do. I think about very little else if I have a choice. But I detest the business of design.

A recent example of the business end of design: I received a disappointing price from the sales rep at Taps (lets call him Gopher Guts) in Toronto for a Toto toilet (for my own bathroom reno). On the Toto website the toilet retails at $690 with seat. Anyone can order it directly from Toto US for that price. The toilet is manufactured in the US so I believe it is exempt from Duty due to NAFTA.

My sales rep at Taps gave me my discount price as $730 stating the retail set out by Toto is $960 plus the cost of the seat. I was shocked and more than a little disappointed. I contacted Toto US who promptly provided the addresses of some Buffalo retailers where I was assured I'd get a much better price as a designer.

Now, I didn't want to take a 2 1/2 hour drive for a freakin' toilet but if you knew me you'd know how stubborn I can be. Luckily, a week later I was with a client shopping at Elte and we decided to pop in to Gingers Bath just across the street.

To my total surprise I found THE Toto toilet clearly priced at $789 Retail including the seat. This means I would naturally get a better Designer Discount price and a far more acceptable price for clients.
the offending toilet

Gingers retail price made sense taking into account the strength of the CDN dollar. Naturally, I contacted the sales rep from Taps to let him know just how disappointed I was with Taps (this had been my previous experience with Taps a few years ago...but hoped I'd found THE sales rep who'd provide honest pricing).

Rather than accepting I was not purchasing through Taps he was angry and rather rude. With the HUGE gouging Taps was trying (unsuccessfully) to pull on me...a business 'partner' no less, I tried explaining how it reflects on my business if I was to charge a client Taps' (inflated) retail price only to have them walk in to Gingers and find they could have saved about $230 plus the taxes on that difference on their own. He was too dense or didn't care...perhaps both.
meet greasy grimy gopher guts

I've learned in this business I'm not the only one who can be stubborn! But I'm always the one who's right...naturally. It would be way too embarrassing to be stubborn only to discover I was I know when to push and when not to. Besides I don't like to be wrong...just ask my husband Steve ;)

I'm not an extremist that was the 'old Dane'!
A couple of weeks later after a morning at a client's place in Woodbridge I thought I'd stop in to Canaroma, a bath and kitchen retailer, as an experiment, to see what kind of prices they'd give a 'housewife'.

Guess what? I got great pricing with little effort :( I got great prices to start with then asked for a better price...and finally proceeded to quote the remaining better price I'd gotten from a competitor on the bathtub spout.

BTW, I was shown the Toto pricing catalogue, while at Canaroma, with the 'MSRP' for Canada...and the toilet that started this whole oddyssey was not what the Taps sales rep told me it was. Gingers was spot on for retail pricing; Taps...NOT.

As a housewife with a little negotiation I'd gotten the same discount I'd have received had I set up a business account...and I didn't have to fill out their paperwork. I didn't expect to be buying the fixtures that day...this was an experiment:  I placed the order and Canaroma got my business.

As a consumer Canaroma gave me faith in at least one Retailer.

As a Decorator I am now totally pissed with the plumbing fixtures industry. Builders, Architects, Designers...are not getting the respect and pricing we deserve as business partners as we are forced to go through Retailers to get 'discounted' prices.

Therefore we have to spend countless hours negotiating prices with multiple businesses making any profit none existent. If we don't get multiple prices we won't get the best price for our clients.

don't say anything to anyone about the horse (or elephant)

Hello design associations...are you listening? I don't need you to get me a piddly discount on my gas (big whoop) or business insurance (can you say State Farm beats your 'best rates'?) I need you to earn your fee and get me wholesale pricing from the manufacturers for my finishes as well as hard and soft furnishings. 

But that is for another blog I'll write on the business of design.