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  • THE BEST PART ABOUT BEING IN A TEAM

    Before joining forces with my partner Korina in 2015, I had been working on my own since 2008. I knew the struggles of going through all of the ups and downs on my own, figuring out difficult concepts and layouts without having someone to bounce ideas off of. I felt the loneliness of working by myself with only my trades to count on as colleagues and the self-discipline needed to get to work without a team depending on me to show up and get the job done. All of these struggles solved themselves when we became a team of two and then a team of three when we hired Melinda. There was one advantage that I didn't predict before Hibou Design & Co was formed. It was the creativity and growth that comes with having a team - and it's the best part.

    With the creation of our design firm, our capability of taking on so many projects per year allows us to experience a greater variety of obstacles, clients, and spaces. It allows for a rapid growth as designers since the projects that we each experience individually are shared amongst the group on a day-to-day. We learn from each other's mistakes and from all of our obstacles. 

    I also feel like it has given us the opportunity to become more creative. With over a hundred clients a year, we have to think outside the box when specifying product so that not all of our projects look the same. It pushes us to stay on top of the trends and what's new and exciting within our industry. The creative energy is always flowing in our office, we're constantly exchanging inspiration photos and products. 

    This topic came up because Korina and Melinda celebrate their birthdays only one week apart this month and it got me thinking about the team we've created over the last few years. I cannot be more grateful for the efforts and commitment these women have put into Hibou and the dynamic we have between the three of us. Happy Birthday, ladies! 

  • THE TRUTH ABOUT PROJECT TIMELINES

     

    When clients first reach out to us, part of the very first communication by phone includes an overview of when they are hoping to complete their project by. Some call us well in advance, some contact us when they want their project to start and some reach out only after they've started demolition. One thing is for sure; everyone has very different presumptions about how long the process takes, and today we are going to try to set some realistic expectations.

     

    The very first step is to schedule the first consultation with us which depends on how busy our schedule is, but can be up to 4 weeks out. From the time we initially meet the client and have them confirm our estimate, it takes us about 2-3 weeks for us to develop the conceptual work. This window can also vary based on our workload. During the time allotted for us to complete our conceptual work, we're drafting plans, doing research, sourcing finishes, gathering samples, and assembling our presentation.

     

    After we present, we allow 7-14 days to finalize the details of the design and adjust any changes that need to be made as per the client's request; changes to plans, sourcing different options. It is also during this time that we receive quotes from contractors and trades.

     

    Up until this point, the process is pretty similar for both decor and construction project. So, realistically, orders only begin to be placed two months after we receive that first call. From that point, both decor and renovation projects can easily take three months to complete for different reasons.

     

    For decor projects, we have to allow up to twelve weeks to receive any custom furniture before we can schedule our Transformation Day. We're not talking about build-it-from-scratch kind of pieces (although they also take up to twelve weeks). We're referring to any item where you're given a choice of finishes or fabric, which is quite common in all of our projects. If you're on a tight timeline, you'll have to limit yourself to stock items, in which case the project can be completed in a few short weeks - but probably not at the same quality. 

     

    Twelve weeks is also a good amount of time to budget for most construction projects. (Bathroom renos usually take up to four weeks.) It's not because a team will be working all eighty-four days straight. In fact, renovations always start by progressing super quickly during the demolition phase and then we notice a huge drop in pace when the professional trades start coming in. The long part about renovations is that all of the trades can't work at the same time. They are all dependant on each other and in order for each of them to be scheduled, the previous trade has to have completed their job. When we're referring to kitchen renovations, for example, we have to wait for the walls to be up before the cabinet maker can take dimensions. From the time dimensions are taken, to the time the kitchen is installed is usually 6-8 weeks. Only once the cabinetry is installed can the countertop be measured, cut and supplied a week later. Everyone is dependant on each other and this is where hiring an experienced contractor to manage the project makes the world of a difference. 

     

    All of our projects last between 3-6 months from the very first communication to the photoshoot. If you're thinking about hiring a designer, the best advice we can give you is to determine which one is right for you and to call them early. The earlier, the better, to at the very least inform yourself about their processes and their workload and to set yourself some realistic expectations.

    Are there any other interior design / construction / decorating mysteries to you that we can answer? Let us know in the comments below!

  • ARTIST SPOTLIGHT

    Art is a tricky one for us. We often get asked to source artwork for our clients and although we LOVE the idea, it is very time consuming and difficult since art is so personal. We can nail every aspect of a decor project but sometimes our clients vision of good art and our own simply don't align. Our concept boards usually include some inspiration prints to set the tone for the decor, which sometimes give our clients a direction to take when choosing their artwork, but that's as far as we'll take it.

    Now that you know we aren't art pros, let's make it clear that we totally appreciate beautiful pieces and we can spend hours browsing! Here are some of our top artists and photographers. You can thank us later!

    1. Georgianna Lane

    A photographer who has a passion for flowers, travel, and paris who creates stunning pieces of art. She has a natural talent for capturing the beauty in architecture and nature. You can find her work here.


    2. Ashley Woodson Bailey

    A self taught photographer who captures the beauty in flowers. Not only does she sell art prints, but wallpaper and fabrics as well. Visit her website here.

     

    3. Lysa Jordan

    A local Montreal based artist who creates beautifully hand painted abstract art. Visit her website here.


     

    4. Gray Malin

    A popular one but oh so good! Gray Malin is well known for his aerial beach shots. We love the whimsical feel in his shots and all of saturated or muted hues. He really has a unique eye for capturing something special. You can find his work here.

     

     

     

    4. Kristi Kohut

    If you're into bold, saturated colours, this is the artist for you. Her work feels playful and fresh and it's so simple but there's just something so eye-catching about it! 

     

     

  • BASIN STREET PROJECT

    Our most recent project came to an end just in time for the holidays. We first saw the condo unit prior to the completion of the construction in mid-August, which allowed our clients to give us a clean slate to work with. Starting a design with a blank canvas is always fun because you can let your imagination carry you.

    Our clients fully trusted us with everything that was presented, making very few adjustments to our initial concept. Their only request was to have a pop of colour in their decor. After our first in-store shopping day, we were able to finalize 90% of their home.  What a success!

     

     

    The warm tones of the kitchen created a perfect backdrop for these stitched camel leather stools, that remind us of a baseball glove.

     

     

    Thin black metal details were carried throughout the open concept. Scaling back the kitchen pendants allowed the sculptural, oversized lighting in the dining room to take center stage.

     


     

    The jewel-toned teal, found in the dining chairs, was the client's choice for the pop of colour. We then carried that same palette throughout their living room by incorporating the accent colour in the throw cushions and a faux-fur throw.

     

     

    The white walls gave us contrast in order for the bold shades of teal to pop, in addition, we used a black wallpaper accent with gold metallic detail to complete the space.

    With such a modern and more masculine living space, we felt the need to let our client have a little fun in her bedroom… and what a great husband, he gave her the go for PINK!

    Soft and girly was our main objective for the bedroom. We opted for hanging pendants as opposed to traditional table lamps. The marble-topped nightstands with light oak drawers and a creamy headboard brought everything together.

     

      

    This project met completion within 3 months of our first encounter with the clients. Usually, there are back and forths with decisions on design, but they made everything so simple! Trusting our expertise, they were able to enjoy their new purchase ever so quickly. We hope they love living and entertaining in their new home! To see the full project, head over to our portfolio.

  • OUR CRAZY WEEK OF INSTALLATIONS

    This week was a busy one out of the office which means we have a lot of emails to catch up to! 

    It started with an installation in TMR for a living room, dining room and master bedroom, the following day we had an early morning mini-installation, just to bring over a couple last accessories and a rug that was delayed. We also had a photoshoot that same day for our Basin Street Project which we'll be sharing with you soon.

    We ended the week with the first consultation for a new construction project in TMR and the installation of a living room and dining room in Ville St. Laurent.

      

    This Brunet Street decor project consisted of a total overhaul of the open concept living space at our clients home. The homeowner wanted to change it all, although some of it could have been reused since she does have a good design sense for sure. Sometimes, we all just need a change and so that's what we gave her. We replaced her existing dining table that was too small for the room with a larger round table that would accommodate seating for six. 

     

     

    Like with so many open concept living room/dining rooms, we were faced with an awkwardly long space, where it's also too long for two rooms but not long enough to squeeze in a third. Our solution, in this case, was to opt for the larger dining table and to use the space in between both rooms for a buffet/bar. We anchored the Casement buffet from Crate & Barrel with two large table lamps and some art, to make sure it didn't feel like an afterthought.

     

     

    Our client is pretty design-savvy and is able to appreciate many different styles but because of that, she kept changing her mind about the direction we would take with her home. Although shifts in our concepts often occur, our job throughout the course of this project was to bring her back to her initial vision. She had asked us for a bright, airy, open, white space. She was a fan of pale colours with not much contrast and so that's what we pushed to give her, while still creating depth through textures and layered neutrals. The raw, live edge table in the living room paired with the camel leather of the armchairs do wonders in warming up the room against the white, crisp palette.

      

     

  • ROCKY CONDO PROJECT

    Today we're sharing some photos of a condo decor project that we recently completed. Our client initially hired us for a simple colour consultation to help with the paint colours for her new home and she ended up moving forward with the decor of her living room and dining room. We don't professionally photograph our projects unless we designed every aspect of the space or if it all falls into our general aesthetic. Because our client opted to keep the existing stone wall and stainless fireplace, we didn't totally think it fit in our portfolio, but we love the results anyway and this one is totally worth sharing!

      

    Let's start by giving you a bit of background on the homeowner. She recently moved out on her own so she was starting from scratch. It's her first home and her first project of this scale of course so she sought our help in bringing it all together and making it look all cohesive. To be completely honest, our presentation was totally out of the norm because it was the first time that our client was not thrilled with what we were showing her. She didn't grasp what her space would feel like from our concepts and she was very unsure about what she wanted. We knew in that moment that this project was going to take a bit more work but we were determined to make our client happy! We scheduled a day of in-store shopping to browse pieces that would catch her eye to gain a better perspective of what our client's aesthetic would be. During that process, we both were able to narrow in on what she liked and disliked. It was a step that we had to go through, in this case, to help our client understand her personal taste and to help us provide it to her. 

      

    She was ultimately looking for punchy accents, sophisticated lines, and colour. We explained that colour is only really appreciated and seen against a solid bright backdrop which is why we opted for a white rug and coffee table. The couch was finished in a stunning navy velvet and we brought accents of blush pink in the throw, pillows and dining room bench (which is not shown here). We didn't want to move the electrical and since the pendant in the dining room was placed so close to the wall, the only solution was a bench on that side of the live edge table. The stunning custom light fixture hanging over the dining table is accentuated by the two large, round mirrors that reflect it and bring in some light. The view from this unit demanded that we leave the windows bare. With no need for privacy or to block direct sunlight since there is no TV in the room, this was a no-brainer. 

     

     

    Despite our rocky start, the client is happy with the results, as are we, and we're pleased with the experience it provided. It's easy for us to always share our best projects, our happiest clients and all the fun stuff that comes with being an interior designer, but that's not reality. We also have our "Oh no!" moments and they've always been a huge part of our growth. With this one we've learned that if we can't wow our client during that first presentation, we can always work through it to make sure our clients get exactly what they are looking for from our services.

  • A LESSON IN CUSTOMER SERVICE

    Over the years, we've had to deal with countless suppliers and trades on the customer end. We've also had our own run-ins when dealing with issues with our own clients. The lesson has always been to make sure the last impression is a good one. Yes, some clients are more demanding than others, which is why setting expectation is crucial but where we really see a divide in customer service, is how errors or disappointments are handled. When we mess up, we fix it. Even if it's at our expense. Even if it costs us a good portion of the profit made on a job. It's just part of doing business. We set a standard for ourselves and we expect the same from our suppliers. We've gone through dozens of contractors, hundreds of retailers and sales reps and the ones who we work with today are the ones who have always provided us with good service and who have always owned their mistakes.

     

    "A satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all."

    -Michael LeBoeuf

     

    Article recently pulled through on an issue I had with my own couch, where after 9 months of using it, they offered to replace it. This obviously comes with a big loss for them but it's worth them being able to save the client who will ultimately refer them. The sofa I ordered from Article started to look very frumpy and although I was fluffing the cushions regularly, the back cushions shrunk down to half their size and we were able to feel the frame through the seat. The customer service rep assured me that they had only had this complaint once before and offered to replace the sofa. Within 7 business days from the interaction, a professional delivery service came to take back my sofa and leave us a new one.

      

     

     

    We have so many stories like this where retailers, suppliers and trades have impressed us by offering solutions and it's their positive attitudes that have kept us as clients. However, it takes one bad mistake to leave a sour taste in our mouths and it's the same for all customers. We've refused to work with so many stores because they haven't had good customer service. Of course, we'd like to consider ourselves reasonable, but when you're waiting on a product for six months only to be told that it's finally been discontinued, it's hard for us to risk having that happen again. Or when a contractor takes twice as long to complete a project for 30% more than what was agreed upon, how can we possibly refer them ever again?  The companies we choose to do business with will reflect on our own service, even if we are totally separate, even if it's stated in our agreement that we cannot take responsibility for mistakes made by our referrals. It's still something that we have to be super careful about and conscious of when choosing to specify a product or refer trades.

     

    We're happy to have reached a place where we're finally content with the suppliers and trades we use. We've been able to filter through the bad ones and we feel confident when offering a service or a product. To set the right expectations, if ever we offer something new, it always comes with an honest disclaimer and if ever we're giving a trade a second shot, it also comes with a disclaimer. It's an added service to our clients for them to rest assured that their project will run smoothly and if it doesn't, we luckily work with awesome individuals and companies who will take ownership and do everything in their power to fix any hiccups along the way.

  • HOW TO INTRODUCE COLOUR

    One of our main goals at Hibou Design & Co is to create a design that is timeless. Our idea of a timeless design is to design a space with a neutral colour palette. However, we always like to incorporate colour in a way that isn’t too overwhelming. We notice that some of our clients are scared of colour. Will it be too much? What if I don’t like it? So, we decided to list some of the ways we like to incorporate colour into our designs.

     

    1. A rug - an easy way to incorporate a colourful pattern or detail.

    (“Parade Home” by Studio McGee.)


    We love how Studio Mcgee incorporated this beautiful blue patterned rug in this very neutral colour palette. It definitely is bright and airy with the perfect combination of colour in her accessories.

    2. Accessories - The perfect, non-permanent way to bring in your pop of colour. You can have one accent colour or a grouping of several. These can be from pillows, to throws, and a variety of small objects.

    (“Project Impressed” by Jacquelyn Clark.)

    The perfect example by Jacquelyn Clark of how to accessorize your space with different shades of the same colour and have it tie within two spaces!

    3.Art - Let your colour take charge and create a conversation starter with one of your favourite pieces or if you're not bold enough, start with muted colours to incorporate your desired colour.

    (“Olympic Drive” by Hibou Design & Co.)

     

  • BABY FEVER

    Since the birth of baby Liam, Korina’s newest addition, we’ve had a bad case of baby fever. So we decided to round up a few inspiring nurseries for our readers to join in on our excitement. Listed below, are 5 nursery designs that will help you get ready for the big day!

     

    1. The thematic design

     


    (Designed by TOUIJERDESIGNS. Photo via Project Nursery)

     

    Have fun and explore the possibilities of creating a theme for your nursery. This theme is based on outdoors and adventures. We love the painted mountain peaks and the use of different hues in order to create depth. Creating a focal point allows you to keep the rest of your furniture neutral. Note that the theme is still very subtle. The worst thing you can do is overload on Winnie the Pooh decals! 

     

    2. Gender neutral

     

    (Designed by Akin Design Studio. Photo via HGTV)


    Keeping your main furniture pieces white and adding soft colours will keep your nursery fit for both genders! Perfect for those who decide to keep the gender unknown until birth.

     

    3- Colourful nursery

     

    (Designed by Inside Out. Photo via Tinyme)

     

    A modern and eclectic take on a nursery design. This design style is fun for all ages to grow into because of the use of many different colours. Instead of keeping your furniture pieces neutral, this a great way to keep your walls neutral and have fun with colour in your decor!

     

    4. Baby girl

     

    (Designed by Ivy & Stone.Photos via Style me pretty)

     

    If there’s ever a time you wanted to pair pink and floral together, when having a baby girl, you can! The colour pink tends to be feminine and therefore is considered girly, which gives us the perfect opportunity to go all out for a baby girl’s room. With soft pinks, whites, and warm wood tones, this nursery design is every mother’s dream to have.

     

    5. Baby boy

     


    (Designed by Hibou Design & Co.)

     

    This little boy’s nursery has the perfect combination of soft colours and warm tones. We love painted designs or wallpaper on a crib wall because it fills the empty space without any additional furniture.

     

    Expecting a child on the way is always a stressful yet exciting moment. Therefore, I'm sure you have many ideas for designing your baby's room and we hope these have helped make a decision in which direction to take!