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  • OUR GO-TO WHITES

    We can't tell you how many times we've walked into a home where the trim was painted pure white, the kind of white where they didn't even bother adding colour to the can. I cringe just thinking about it.

    Although many may think that white is white, choosing the perfect hue of white is difficult since each shade has a subtle undertone to it, making it harder to see with the naked eye. However, once compared amongst each other, the evident undertones appear and the decision making comes to play.

    White should be chosen with caution, taking into consideration all of the other fixed finishes in the home, however here are a few of our go-to whites to help narrow down your process.

     

    SIMPLY WHITE OC-117

    Simply White was Benjamin’s Moore color of the year in 2016 and we understand why. It is one of our favorites because it is fresh and bright. It’s subtle warm yellow undertone, makes it a warmer, more appealing white. We typically use this color for our kitchen cabinetry and walls. This would probably be the whitest white that we would put on walls before the walls start to look too stark or sterile. 

     

     

    CHANTILLY LACE OC-65

    If you’re looking for a pure, bright white, Chantilly Lace is the one for you! It is best used for trim, frames, doors, mouldings and also kitchen cabinetry. Considering this color is the closest to a stark white, it will never look unclean in comparison to other whites. Chantilly Lace falls under the category of cool whites, due to its slightest blue undertone. 

      

      

    CLOUD WHITE CC-40

    Cloud white is loved by many designers because of its warm undertone that makes it a creamy white. However, if placed in the room as being the only white, it looks like a pure white. Cloud white needs to be used with caution when paired with crisper whites. It can very easily look too creamy. This is a great white when paired with more muted colours or neutrals with warmer tones.

     

     

    INTENSE WHITE OC-51

    Intense white appears slightly grey. It’s green undertone balances the warmth making it a great choice to use throughout an entire space. It gives off the perfect contrast paired with Simply White or Chantilly Lace trim. This is not however a colour we would use on trim. Albeit the name suggests it is a white, we would probably categorize Intense White as a very light grey.

    This feature wall is a combination of Intense White & Simply White, which really shows you how greay it is.

      

    In this example, the Intense White walls actually look white next to the concrete grey ceiling and lack of white trim. If you spot the baseboards, that's where you can see that the walls are in fact light grey. 

     

    THINGS TO CONSIDER;

    • Sample Viewing - Get a larger sample of your colour swatch! It is very important to see a larger scale of your color to help understand their undertones. We use 11" x 14" large painted colour samples that make identifying undertones simple and almost obvious - even to our clients who have no experience with colour.

    • Natural Light - Colours can vary immensely from room to room. Therefore, knowing which direction your room is facing can either pull out a warmer (south side) or cooler light (north side). This can play on how evident the undertone will be once painted.

    • Finishes - Make sure you pick the proper finish for your paint colors. Eggshell walls for a matt look, but somewhat washable. Doors, frames, and mouldings should be painted semi-gloss for dirability and washability. Finally, ceiling should be painted matte since matte hides most imperfections and will give you a seamless surface. 

    • All white everything - If your walls and trim are white, the idea is either to go one shade brighter on the trim to create some contrast or to keep the same colour throughout, however still in different finishes.

      

    Understanding and identifying undertones is important to create a clear flow within your home. Choosing colour can be extremely stressful - I get it - which is why hiring a True Colour Expert will give you the confidence you need when picking out the right colors for any space. If you are lacking confidence, we highly suggest to consult our website's colour page and ask for our expertise to guide you every step of the way !

    By: Melinda Recine

  • WINCHESTER BATHROOM RENO & DECOR PROJECT

    Every once in a while, we are blessed with an exceptionally easy client and this one is one of them. Our Winchester client was such a pleasure to work with and truly trusted our opinions which yielded some of our favourite results. The mandate started with the decor of her living room, master bedroom and her son's room and moved on to the renovation of a full bath.

    Although this old Westmount townhouse had beautiful bones, the challenge with this property was the crooked walls and working around the original plaster crown mouldings. Our trusted trades skillfully installed our designs without any hiccups.

     

     

     

    This bathroom renovation features a custom floating walnut vanity. The Carrara marble countertop is repeated on a sill in the shower and we've carried through the graphic Italian imported tile from the kitchen to this bathroom floor. We had fun playing around with a pattern for the floor tile that slopes right down to the linear drain in the shower. It took a long brainstorming session between the designer, the contractor and the tile installer to make sure our vision was feasible. The bonus in this reno was when we removed the heater cover to expose an original wall mounter water heater with beautiful detail. Our original plan was actually to remove it and replace it with a baseboard heater and a wall mounted heated towel bar. Instead, we ended up keeping the original heater exposed and slapping on a fresh coat of paint, which added to the character of this bathroom as we now see modern, clean finishes adjacent to an original element of the home. 

     

     

     

    By: Eugenia Triandos

  • ROSEMERE HOME RENO & DECOR PROJECT

    We're so happy with the results of our recently photographed project. This was one where we started with a major home renovation and ended with the decor of the main living spaces. When we first walked into this home, the kitchen was placed in the center of the house with absolutely no natural light and low ceilings. 

    The first step was to renovate. We turned a three season solarium into a home extension to accommodate the new dining room, tore down a few walls to extend the kitchen and refaced the fireplace in the living room. The result - an open common living space, flooded with natural light that carries through from the front to the back of the house. The focal point is the kitchen featuring a 14 foot island that runs through the center of the home and divides the living room and dining room. The outdoor space was impeccably designed which creates the perfect backdrop to the understated dining room with wall to wall windows. 

     

     

     



     

     

    All of the colours, fixed finishes and decor added to the overall light feeling of this home. We kept the theme going with lots of white, soft blues, warm woods and leather. The flooring is a natural walnut which was repeated with a waterfall countertop on the island and carried through to the fireplace mantle, the inside of the built in buffet and some of the furniture. 

     

     

     

     

     

    Phase two was to furnish the living room, kitchen and dining room. Our client really wanted to achieve a casual, comfortable feeling which kept the space light and airy. We opted for white slip-covered upholstery, a pale blue rug and a warm camel ottoman that can double as a coffee table with the right tray.

     

     

     

    In the dining room, we specified a stunning Ethan Allen dining table and our favourite upholstered Crate & Barrel dining chairs. The white Hudson Valley pendant over the dining table really stands out since it's surrounded by so much greenery. Our client’s existing outdoor living space became an extension of the decor since it incorporates all of the right colours; beautiful greens and blues. 

      

     

     

    The last step to any decor project is when we come in with tons of small accessories and stage the client's home to make it "photoshoot ready". Then our clients get to pick and choose the pieces they'd like to keep and we return the rest. It's the most fun in-home shopping experience and it allows us to see and photograph our interiors exactly how we envisioned them. A win/win that’s the perfect conclusion to any project. It’s always bittersweet closing a mandate of this scale - specially since we enjoyed working with these clients so much. Which is why we were thrilled when our clients told us they’d like to move on to their office and bedroom decor next and a full basement renovation next year!

     

     

    By: Eugenia Triandos

  • FLOORING FOR BEGINNERS

    Selecting new flooring can be overwhelming and although many adore hardwood floors and its timeless beauty, there are several different types of flooring that are quite comparable. We're no flooring experts but here's a bit of what we've learned from our trusted professionals along the way, that may help with you navigate your options.

     

    HARDWOOD

    Solid hardwood is milled from solid lumber.


    Pros: Easy to maintain and can be sanded down and refinished several times. Adding a sealer easily enhances the durability of the 
    wood and its resistance to water and staining without concealing the woods natural beauty. 

    Cons: Wood shrinks and warps in response to moisture, which usually makes it a bad choice for basements where humidity levels are hard to control. It also cannot be installed directly on a concrete surface so in areas where a subfloor is not possible, solid hardwood wood is an unlikely option.

     

     

    ENGINEERED

    Engineered wood is made up of a thin layer of solid hardwood on top and several wood plies (layers) that are fused together under heat and pressure at the bottom.

    Pros: Designed to reduce moisture problems that are associated with hardwood. It will not swell or warp, making it very strong and stable. Also engineered hardwood can go over concrete (great for condos). Aesthetically they are equal to solid hardwood floors, you usually can't easily tell the difference once they are installed, since the top layer is real wood.

    Cons: Veneers that are too thin will prevent sanding or refinishing. However, most engineered wood floors offer a thick enough veneer that allows you to sand and refinish 1-2 times. Engineered wood is a little more expensive than solid hardwood.

     

     

    These are the two main products that we use throughout a home. When considering solid hardwood or engineered wood flooring, you also have the option to go pre-finished, where the wood comes already coloured and varnished, ready to install. Or you can install raw wood planks and have them stained on site. Most contractors prefer the ease of pre-finished flooring. Sometimes we opt for unifinshed wood either to match an existing wood flooring that's staying in the project, or to attain a stain we were unable to find in stores. 

     

    LAMINATE

    Laminate is composed of several layers of fiberboard materials with an image of real wood printed on top with a clear protective layer.

    Pros: Inexpensive, durable, and very resistant to scratches

    Cons: Aesthetically, you can usually tell right away that a laminate is not real wood. It also doesn’t repair easily. If the flooring you choose comes in individual pieces, you may be able to replace each piece, but depending on sunlight and age it may not match entirely.

     

     

    VINYL

    Pieces of vinyl that are printed with a pattern that imitates stone or wood.

    Pros: Waterproof and very thin. Great for basements since it reduces noise levels.

    Cons: Subfloor must be perfect or imperfections show throughout. 

     

    Although what's currently available on the market has been greatly improved over the years, since laminates and and vinyls are made of a printed image, you may see the pattern repeat if covering a large surface. Another thing to look out for would be models that also have a texture where the texture doesn't line up with the printed image. These are both signs that the product is not a real wood and would determine how good of a replica you get. 

     

    Whether it's out of necessity or just for a change in look, new flooring can truly transform your home. We've really just scratched the (wood) surface in this post. You also have to consider the species, the installation technique, the stain colour and sheen. There's a lot more to learn on the hunt for your flooring product. We hope that this post answered some of your main questions and gave you some insight towards your decision!

    If you need help with the best choices for your individual needs, contact us today to shedule a consultation. 

    Blog by: Melinda Recine

  • PROGRESS POST: ARTOIS RENO

    In December of 2016, we were hired by a family to help them design and renovate their new home. Our clients were so special in the sense that they really knew what they wanted yet allowed us creative freedom to work around their style. This old home located in Saint-Lambert needed work - and a lot of it. We remember first walking in thinking wow - everything has to go, but our clients had something else in mind which resulted in a marriage of old and new. We kept the existing plumbing fixtures in the powder room, the exposed beams in the bedroom, the sliding pharmacy in the master bath and a decorative room divider that was repurposed and moved to a new location. The charm that these original fixed features bring to the overall design proves that new isn't always best. The space now has character and is a new unique version of itself.

    Here are some progress shots that we took today. We simply cannot wait for it all to come together to have it professionally photographed. For now, please don't mind our IPhone shots.

    Let's start at the heart of the home, this kitchen is a mix of warm walnut and painted white cabinetry. The hood and backaplash will eventually be wrapped in a Calacatta style tile and the counter will be dressed in a mat black Dekton surface, with a waterfall edge. 

     

    The entrance and powder room were dressed up with this fun, graphic cement tile. When working with small spaces that would otherwise be hard to decorate, it's interesting to add some drama through the fixed finishes and paint. We used Benjamin Moore Hale Navy on the walls in this tiny powder room and it really left quite the impact.

     


     

     

    Upstairs, we head to the master suite featuring custom wall sconces with a matching custom chandelier.

     

     

    The master en-suite was decked out in white tiles with black plumbing and accents. The walnut floating vanities bring warmth to the room and the playful hexagone tiles add depth. We're still waiting for countertops, a wall-to-wall mirror and the shower glass to be installed.

     

  • POIRIER PROJECT

    In May of 2016 we started working on a very unique project that was referred to us by one of our real estate agents. The clients, Eric & Jean-Francois were both living abroad when they reached out. We've offered virtual design services before but this was very different. This referral had yet to close on the sale of a property that they were interested in when they contacted us but their goal was to complete a major renovation virtually. Our clients knew what they liked and absolutely wanted to create a home fit for them (both over 6' tall), even if that meant coordinating from half way across the world. Originally from Quebec, where they met and were married, they then both moved away for work; one in Switzerland and the other all the way in Saudi Arabia. They were buying a property with plans to finally reunite and move back to Montreal after several years abroad. 

    We started by completing a walk through of their prospective home via FaceTime at which point we threw around some ideas and confirmed that what they wanted to do would be feasible. That gave them the green light to go ahead and finalize their purchase. We discussed tearing down some key walls, redoing the kitchen and all of the bathrooms, redoing the divisions in the basement, and finally the addition of a family room, full bathroom and laundry room over the existing garage. We also ended up having to redo the garage entirely for it to structural support the extension, and we had to change the majority of the exterior brick, at which point the clients decided to redo the front entrance. The flooring, interior doors, staircase, railing and all hardware was changed throughout as well. To say it was a big project would be an understatement, not one square inch of the home was left untouched. The challenge was completing this scale of a renovation without even having met the homeowners. 

    So, we got right to work. We took our measurements, drafted construction plans, electrical plans, cabinetry details. We met with the contractor to get quotes and to set up a timeline, all while keeping the client in the loop via FaceTime and getting approvals on the design through countless emails. Finally the time came where we met our clients, probably a month after we started working on their project! They were in the city for only one week, and they had a lot on their agenda. We spent a day together for the presentation of their finishes. We reviewed plumbing fixtures, tiles, cabinetry, hardware, lighting and even paint colours. Everything was finalized in one - long but productive - consultation. Happy with the design, we moved forward to placing all of the orders and waiting for demo day! 

    The major hiccups in this project were delays with city permits pushing the project's start day by several months. Once we got over that hump, it was smooth sailing for the majority of the reno. We had weekly FaceTime meetings every Tuesday where we would show Eric the progress and review details. We worked closely with the contractor, HMR Construction, and we saw the renovation through right to the end. 

    The project was just recently completed this past March, nearly a year after it was started. It's bittersweet since after having worked with these amazing clients so closely, they will definitely be missed, however we are very happy to see it come to a close. Had we not had such understanding and easy going clients who were completely comfortable trusting us with their space, this project would not have gone nearly as smoothly. Eric & Jean-Francois are now happily living in their new home and we cannot be more thrilled with the results! 

     

     

    By: Eugenia Triandos

    Photos by: Guillermo Castro

  • NEXT BIG KITCHEN TRENDS

    We missed the boat this year on our blog featuring 2017's trend prediction, but there's one that we're really starting to see in kitchens that is totally blog worthy. I'm not sure if this is really a trend - more a category of trends that all achieve the same goal. Given the rise in popularity of open concept kitchens, great rooms and small open concept condos, we're seeing more and more kitchens that blend into the rest of the living space. We've already seen it with flooring choices. When open concept kitchens first started becoming big, we were still installing tile on the floor, and keeping the visual room division since the tile would define the kitchen area. Now, I think we're installing wood flooring in 100% of our open concept kitchens.

     

     

    The wood trend is so big that its practicality is no longer a concern for homeowners and we believe that we're going to keep heading in that direction. Homeowners are starting to be more willing to sacrifice some practical elements of their kitchens for aesthetics since the kitchen is open to the rest of their living space and will therefore have a greater impact on the overall feel of their home. Here are the top kitchen trends that lead us to believe that we want our kitchens to blend in with the rest of our furniture.

    NO UPPERS

    We've seen it first hand with our clients that designing a kitchen with no uppers used to be unheard of. No one would even consider it since the main focus in kitchen design used to be maximizing storage. Well, in 2016-2017, we've designed several kitchens with either no uppers or very few uppers and we didn't have to twist anyone's arm either! Homeowners are willing to sacrifice a little storage to create a kitchen that feels more open, lighter and fresh. Having no upper cabinets allows for the use of a fun backsplash, a larger window or even a blank surface that can be decorated with art or floating shelves.

     

     

     

    PANELLED APPLIANCES

    Although this can be quite the splurge both in cabinetry and in the actual appliance, we're seeing a rising trend for panelled appliances. The brass trend may be influencing it since some people don't like the look of mixed metals which happens when you pair brass hardware with stainless appliances, but I'd like to think that it's because we want our kitchen tools to say hidden. By panelling the fridge, dishwasher and hood vent they just become another piece of furniture. So much so, that I wouldn't be surprised if panelled ovens will soon be available.

    PICTURE LEDGES/ARTWORK 

    Open shelving has been around in kitchens forever, but these days, we're not using the shelves for dishes. We're displaying art, books, accessories, anything unconventional that would steer your mind away from being in a kitchen.

     

     

    ELLABORATE BUTLER PANTRIES

    This one is definitely not for the master chef, but very practical for the entertainer or pro takeout orderer (I fall into this last category!). With open concepts, kitchens have become THE gathering point for dinner parties and cocktails. Everyone huddles around the island with a glass of wine and its even sometimes difficult to get guests to take a seat. As a host, the challenge is to keep our workspace clean and presentable since its visible to all. So much so, that some have built separate rooms, off the main kitchen that can be used as a secondary kitchen fully stocked with a sink, dishwasher and even an oven. Yes, you read right, they've built a "show kitchen" that is kept clean and clutter-free while the mess is being made in a separate room. Butler pantries are historically a room joining the kitchen and the dining room that serve as a prep space for the meals, beverages and dinnerware. Since most of us no longer have butlers, this room can be repurposed and used for a little more than setting plates and serving drinks. It also allows for more creativity with the design since it's a closed space.

     

     

     

     

    Whether you're looking for something totally unconventional or a traditional kitchen that will be a timeless addition to your home, we can help you with the entire process! Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

  • SENNEVILLE PROJECT

    A few months ago, we met with a client who recently purchased a new home in beautiful Senneville and needed some guidance along the way. She initially hired us for a colour consultation, where we assist in choosing the right paint colours for every room of the home. However, we clicked right away and since our client was considering several renovations for her new purchase, she decided to go ahead with our design services for her master bathroom. So exciting!

    Here are the three mood boards that we presented to her just a few weeks ago.

     

     

     

    We adored all 3 concepts, as did she, however one in particular instantly made her fall in love; Option 1.

    Our plan was to build out a wall and increase the square footage of her master bathroom, creating a larger shower with a linear drain, a custom vanity, and an overall more functional layout. However, as we all know for those who have been through the process of renovations, there can be unexpected costly repairs, which in our case resulted in having to make necessary cuts to our design.

    Here are the changes we had to make which helped bring down overall costs;

    1. Reducing the shower to accommodate a standard glass of 6 feet. A custom shower glass can start at $1000 and easily work it's way upward of $2000+. A standard store bought shower can quickly save quite a bit without drastically affecting the aesthetics of the bathroom.

    2. Keep existing plumbing placement as is. As most of us know, moving plumbing can get very expensive. What's more is that it sometimes opens the door to a snowball effect - specially in an old home. We never know what can happen when we open up walls and start shaking old pipes. 

    3. Keep existing centre drain instead of linear. Although a linear drain can be a pretty addition to any custom shower floor, it's priced at about $750 - an easy place to cut if you're not willing to sacrifice any of the other fixed elements in your bathroom.

    Although we offered her a store bought vanity to help reduce costs, our client was not willing to give up our idea of the custom vanity painted in our fave navy; Hale Navy by Benjamin Moore. The key to sticking to any renovation budget is balancing the expensive with the inexpensive. To do that you must first assess your priorities to figure out what's important to you and then figure out which improvements can make a great impact on the overall design and which are worth dropping.

    Renovations are never easy, and trust us - we've seen it all. When hiring us, we're there by your side to help find solutions for problems that may occur along the way. Whether it's budget restraints, unexpected surprises found during demolition, or unforeseen family events, we stick around to see your project through to the end. Give us a call today to schedule a consultation for your next renovation project!

    By: Melinda Recine

  • TOUR DES CANADIENS CONDO

    For most of our projects, a big portion of getting it right is understanding our client's needs and lifestyle. We need to learn details about how they use their space, what they need storage for, and what we can do to make their home work efficiently for them. We recently had the pleasure of working on a special project because it's not our typical residence that would be eventually occupied by our clients. This project was different because we were hired by a business and mandated to create an entertainment space where they can host their friends and suppliers as well as a stay for out of town guests and business contacts visiting Montreal. This meant that we simply needed to focus on aesthetics and we didn't have to take into consideration practical solutions that would otherwise dictate our design - like storage for example. The result; a high design condo that is light and airy. 

    Although storage and comfortable extended stays were not a high priority, nailing our client's design aesthetic still was. We worked closely with our client to understand how she wanted her condo to look and feel and we're both very happy with the results. Her tastes had us layering textures and patterns while keeping the colours scheme neutral. We incorporated black and brass accents throughout and played with furs, knits and cowhides. 

    Our clients purchased two units at the Tour des Canadiens condos downtown and played with the layout to create one two bedroom condo that is open and roomy - both hard to find at the well-known Canadiens development. 

    We start by walking into a large entrance that we filled with elements that set the tone for the rest of the decor. One of our favourite rooms in the unit, this expansive vestibule was furnished with seating, a warm rug and a long console that fill the long hall perfectly.

      

    Check out this beauty of a rug that we're slightly obsessed with!

     

     

    The small kitchen is perfect for its intended use, therefore it was left untouched. We created an environment for entertaining by adding stools by the island and a bar that can be filled with refreshments for guests. Because the building is linked to the Bell Center, where the Canadiens hockey games are held, hockey had a small influence on the art selected. We found these great hockey patents on Etsy that we had framed locally.

     

     

    The dining room and living room are both simple and understated, allowing the view from the 38th floor to take center stage.

     

     

      

    The master bedroom is another favourited room in the condo. We had enough square footage to create a cozy seating area by the wall mounted TV, and just enough room to squeeze in a king bed with two small end tables.

     

     

     

    This was truly a turn-key service that we provided to the client. Our client actually never saw the progress until we handed over the keys on the day of our photoshoot. We really took care of everything from A to Z. We were there to schedule and supervise the trades, accept all deliveries, to place the furniture and hang the art, even to run the laundry and make the beds. We sourced everything you need to stay the night - we even fully stocked the kitchen. It was a wonderful experience to work with such easy going clients who knew exactly what they wanted. Amazing clients truly do yield amazing results and we're excited to work with them again! Check out the full project on our portfolio.

    Are you looking for a full service design firm to take your project to the next level? Contact us to book a consultation!

    By: Eugenia Triandos

  • DRESS UP BARE WALLS WITH A FRESH OUTLOOK

    Wall treatments date back as early as the 1400’s and most of us will agree that they remind us of our grandparent’s house; outdated. However, it continues to evolve into modern day society. Wallpaper can definitely make an appealing decorative statement, but at the same time can direct you towards a certain style. It helps warm a space, create a statement, or simply add some depth to an otherwise lifeless wall. While you can use wallpaper almost anywhere, we love using them in entrances and powder rooms. These are two rooms that usually don't have much space for anything else decorative, so our solution is usually to dress the walls. 

    In smaller spaces, adding a bold pattern or color as an accent really enhances a room’s design. Using geometric shapes such as linear patterns, hexagons, triangles, etc., adds a visually appealing aspect to your home while keeping it timeless. There are many creative ways to freshen up your home even if that means simply repurposing the back of a bookcase with decorative wallpaper.

    Here are a few pro tips;

    • For every design, our rule of thumb is to keep the pattern fun yet moderate. We never want the wallpaper to take over our design. 
    • Always confirm quantities with your installer before purchasing. Pattern repeats and different widths make wallpaper difficult to calculate on your own and expensive if you get it wrong.
    • Hire a professional installer. For the price of the paper these days, you definitely don't want to take a chance in having it installed poorly. Save yourselves both the headache (it's not easy) and the cost of having to start from scratch. Trust us - we've seen our share of DIY's gone wrong.
    • Lastly, don’t be afraid! That outdated wallpaper has now evolved into something current and elegant. So dress up those bare walls with some creativity to create an impactful statement within your home. 

    By: Melinda Recine