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Monday, March 23, 2009

'DESIGN BY 5'- Housewears chats with HGTV's Sarah Richardson

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing 5 well-known designers in Toronto from Canadian media: HGTV, Canadian House & Home Magazine, and CityLine. I had a couple of burning questions for each of them, and I'm happy to be able to share their comments with you. I'll be featuring a new designer each week for the next 5 weeks.

Sarah Richardson and I at IDS09 Opening Night

First up, HGTV's Design Darling, the Gemini award-winning Sarah Richardson, star of the popular television series 'Sarah's House' and 'Design Inc.'

Both shows air back to back on HGTV Tuesdays at 9pm ET, and on Fine Living in the U.S.. Sarah's House is currently ranked the #1 television show on HGTV Canada. Sarah is a very busy girl- she also runs her own design business, writes a weekly column for The Globe & Mail, designs signature indoor and outdoor furniture lines, is featured in Canadian, U.S. and U.K. design magazines, and is a wife and mother of two. Her television shows are seen in 50 countries! She received the Caldwell Partners Award for the Top 40 Under 40, and was named the youngest Stylemaker in Canada by Canadian House & Home Magazine. Sarah is known for an elegant, modern, yet classic style aesthetic. Here are a few stunning photos of her work (photos courtesy Sarah Richardson Design):

The Carlu, Toronto's historic event venue was remodeled by Design Inc.

Oceanfront home, featuring a piece from Sarah's upholstered furniture line, the Quinn daybed.

Park Hyatt Toronto suite done in pink for Breast Cancer Awareness the room to spend the night!

A designer, in my view, should look the part. On Opening Night at IDS09, I met a friendly and chic-looking Sarah in black, wearing a slim black mini-skirt and tights, punctuated by gold jewelry and a pair of stunning chunky calfhair pumps in magenta. This lean, fit Sarah was just coming off maternity leave for her second daughter, Fiona, and she looked fabulous!
Calfhair magenta pumps from Eileen Shields.

The Interview:

Housewears:As you know, Revenue Canada has introduced the HRTC (Home Renovation Tax Credit) to save homeowners up to $1350 on a $10K renovation this year. What do you see as the most impacting changes a homeowner can make to give their home some 'wow' factor?

Sarah:I don't think it's any one thing that can create the 'wow' factor. I would rather see everything done in a room as opposed to just one thing; you can actually do alot on a budget of $10,000. I just did an entire kitchen renovation for $11,000 in the most recent house we did for this season's Sarah's House. (Photos of this $11,000 kitchen are below).

Housewears: That's amazing. Can you elaborate -how did you do that?

Sarah: We went with in-stock cabinets rather than custom, they were from Ikea, which was huge savings, so we were still able to do everything else. We sprayed some of the cabinets for a custom look and added hardware, the appliances were stainless, but well-priced, not restaurant quality high-end. (See below, photos of another kitchen by Design Inc. using Ikea's Abstrakt and Rubrik cabinets.)

Housewears: So you would recommend shopping at Ikea?

Sarah: Not necessarily, it really depends on the home. I think you need to stay true to the house. If your home is high end, then you need to do a high end renovation. If it's a moderate home, then in-stock cabinetry from places like Ikea is a great option because it allows your budget to stretch so you can afford to get everything you want, the complete look.

Housewears: If someone is in a high end home, what can you recommend they do on the 10K budget?

Sarah: Paint is always a cost effective option and a great way to make a huge impact, and definitely things can be made more dramatic by painting cabinets and changing a backsplash for a kitchen. (Sarah is known for creating interesting backsplashes and tile configurations.)

A lottery home done by Sarah Richardson Design -note the drama created with rich purple paint. Photo courtesy Sarah Richardson Design.

Two types of tile are used to create a striped pattern on this backsplash. Photo courtesy of Sarah Richardson Design.

Housewears: Speaking of paint, can you give me a current paint colour or paint chip you love right now?

Sarah: I'd have to say I really like green. We just painted our office a gorgeous green from Farrow and Ball (Pea Green 33) that is rich and intense and fresh.

Photo courtesy Farrow and Ball.

Another favourite colour right now would be apricot.... I really like apricot.

Design Inc.'s renovation of a dining room, using apricot hues (Farrow and Ball #232 Loggia). Photo courtesy Design Inc.

Sarah's use of green makes this child's bathroom look fun and fresh. Photo courtesy Sarah Richardson Design.

Another hit of green adds drama and freshness. Photo courtesy of Sarah Richardson Design.

Hits of apricot add drama to this bedroom. Photo courtesy Sarah Richardson Design.

Thanks so much, Sarah, for your answers!
Be sure to tune into 'Sarah's Cottage', which premieres Tuesday, March 31st at 9pm ET on HGTV for more great ideas and inspiration, as Sarah gives us a look at the renovation process of her own cottage.
Enjoy some more fabulous photos from the talented Sarah Richardson: (all photos courtesy Sarah Richardson Design).

Be sure to check in to find out what next week's featured Designer had to say in my 'Design by 5' series, or better yet, subscribe to Housewears blog via email so you won't miss out!

Please visit Hooked on Houses for Hooked on Fridays, and Fifi Flowers for Fashionable Friday!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Designer Interview: Jennifer of Design Hole

I had the pleasure of interviewing a friendly and talented designer, Jennifer Mitchell, of Design Hole - Jennifer is based just across the river in Grosse Pointe, Michigan.

Photo courtesy Design Hole
Here is a photo of Jennifer with 'Misterarthur' (a regular guest blogger for Design Hole) at the Junior League of Detroit Showhouse opening night. Jennifer transformed a powder room, adjacent coat closet and dressing area into a chic space dubbed the 'Gentleman's Club.'

1. In a nutshell, how would you describe your personal style?

My personal style is a bit eclectic. Truly, if I could have my way I’d own several houses and have one that was super modern, another that was a beat up beach shack, and a third house in a mish-mash of styles which would require a bed with a canopy. I’ve always wanted one of those. Maybe it could be sort of Indian. I’m into that a lot right now.

Photo courtesy Domino Magazine

2. What/who has been the biggest influence on your design style?

I’d have to say that it was learning to look at all sorts of things to find inspiration. That’s where design starts for me. Expanding my knowledge regarding where to go when I’m feeling stumped or when I’m looking for something fresh allowed my creativity to truly break free.

3. What is your favourite design trend?

Right now, I’m loving ethnic patterns from India and Africa. Suzanis are great. All the tiles, textiles, and colors are gorgeous. I have a special affinity for color and love to work with it when I design. So styles from those countries are a trend I see taking off.

Photo courtesy Gorgeous suzani fabrics!

Photo courtesy A suzani upholstered ottoman

4. What is the most annoying decor/design pet peeve you see with clients or in general?
I have two pet peeves. One is clients who know everything they don’t like, but nothing they do, and are not willing to do any homework. The first place to start when working with a professional is the bookshop. Start a collection of images you like, colors, furniture, over all looks, anything that appeals. This not only helps a client to think about what they like, it a great way to communicate those likes to a designer.

The second is paint. So many times I get to a prospective client’s home and they’ve already painted. I like to remind my readers at Design Hole to always choose the paint last. You can mix a can of paint in any color imaginable. But your carpet, your curtains, all other color-related elements come in a limited palette.

5. What is your current favourite resource/store?

Any good designer shops in lots of stores because each job is different. Each look is different. However, Royal Oak is full of great home stores. Shine, Vertu, and R2Home are some favorites. And, of course, there’s Mezzanine, which is owned by a friend of mine. He sells amazing things and great accessories. Plus, he can help me find things and makes great suggestions.

Photo courtesy Detroit Metro Mix

6. What is the simplest design-related thing you’ve done that has made the biggest impact?

I was finishing up a room for a show house and I had about an hour left before my deadline. I realized that the room was screaming for an additional art work and, to my perfectionist’s eye, would be a failure without something. Eureka! I ran home, where I had the perfectly sized canvas. I whipped out my paints and created my own Rothko–inspired masterpiece. Even a solid block of color on a wrapped canvas can work wonders in a room. (See the actual Rothko painting below).

Rothko painting photo courtesy

7. In this ‘economic crisis’, how do you feel your clients and people in general may change?

Geez, that’s a tough question! I think it started with people not moving and fixing up their existing homes. Now, things are worse and folks are looking to do things themselves. I’m doing a lot more consulting work, as opposed to full-on design work than I used to.
But clients still want quality products. I think if they can paint a room themselves, they’ll save money by doing that so they can afford the furnishings they really want.
I also recommend that, if you see something you like, don’t be afraid to ask for a discount. Everybody's hurting and everyone needs to make a sale – even if it’s at 10% off.

8. What paint colour did you paint your office?

I don’t remember! It’s a sort of sage green with more blue in it than yellow.

9. Name 2 favourite items you currently wear that you love.

I bought a really cool pair of Navy pants from Max Mara that I’m looking forward to wearing this season. They’re high waisted and have suspenders. I love those. I bought a great black Jil Sander dress with a metal zipper up the back. Now I need a party to go to!

10. What could someone identify as some trademark elements of your designs?

I like the color red, to paint ceilings a color and to mix contemporary and antiques together.

Photo courtesy Design Hole
A photo of Jennifer Mitchell's Junior League Showhouse Design. I love how she has used red and black!

11. Please answer : If I could be anywhere right now, I’d be...
.... in Paris reading Emma Who Saved My Life, staying at Le Relais St Sulpice, with plans to dine at Benoit.

Photo of Le Relais St. Sulpice, Paris
Photo courtesy Michael Piazza

Thanks so much Jennifer, for your great answers and your Junior League photos! Be sure to check out Jennifer's blog

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Mellow Yellow

Bedding from Dwell

Yellow perpetually evokes warmth. It is symbolic of the sun, and the colour of optimisim and cheer. Certainly, we need to be optimistic and cheerful during the tough times of this recession! As I have mentioned in a previous post, the Pantone colour for 2009 is Mimosa, a yellow-orange hue. Yellow is energizing and when saturated, it demands attention. Here are some inspirational photos of yellow used in interiors, as well as current yellow accessories.

Photo courtesy Patricia Gray Design
Neutral tones with an injection of yellow keep this space looking current.

Photo courtesy Western Interiors via Katiedid
This art makes a statement. Art and accessories are elements that can be changed when colours or trends change.

Accessories from Global Views Catalog

Goldenrod Garden Stool from Gumps' San Francisco.

Kelly Wearstler's Imperial Trellis fabric in Citrine by Schumacher

Romo's Kimura Wallpaper

Photo courtesy Apartment Therapy
Black and white with yellow is modern and elegant.

Photo courtesy design shrine
The sleek Saarinen table is punctuated with the simple yet vibrant variation of yellows.

Photo courtesy Elements of Style
Resembling bamboo, this subway tile layed vertically adds a modern island feel to this white kitchen.
Photo courtesy kwid
Kelly Wearstler takes black and white to new heights with a burst of fresh citron yellow.

Photo by Mickael Mynet
Yellow works well with natural wood tones. This chair and accents add to the warmth of the wood.

Photo courtesy Jubella
The dark backdrop and traditional seating becomes contemporary and bright with yellow.

How great is this? Hit the used book store to add National Geographic issues to your bookshelves for a fresh punch of colour, as designer Jeffery Bilhuber did in this room. This year, add a touch of instant sunshine into your space with a hit of yellow: pillows, books, a bowl of lemons....but yellow should be used with care, as too much can be overkill, just as too much sun will burn! We all need a little bit of optimism to brighten our days as the first day of spring approaches!