Breaking up the squares

Round table versus square

Breaking up the squares? What am I talking about? And exactly what does shape have to do with design? Well, actually a lot. It is one of the things that we unconsciously notice in a room and it can either make us feel at ease or uncomfortable.

Think of a room that you may have been in, that is all rectangular and square furniture. A large rectangular sofa together with square armchairs and a square coffee table and end tables. Add the square or rectangle shaped art and perhaps even an area rug that is, you guessed it, either a square or rectangle. Often you’ll see institutional waiting rooms, like hospitals, schools, community centres which are decorated like this. This doesn’t help with our sense of unease or make us feel like we want to stay awhile. Everything feels hard and well….not so friendly.

Now, think of a room that has rounded or curved furniture. Typically you may see this in spas, bars and coffee houses. Round tables with chairs, a cute curved banquet to sit at or a friendly furniture arrangement around a round coffee table or ottoman. Now don’t you feel more comfortable and want to stay awhile?

It is the same way with our homes. Too many squares and cubes like armchairs and sofas? The remedy is simple. Round, oval or asymmetrical accessories or furnishings. Ottomans, coffee tables, end tables or mirrors in a rounded shape are the perfect way to counteract all the squares and rectangles that are so common in our fixtures and furnishings. An asymmetrical piece like a cowhide rug or even artwork will also help break up all the squares. Even by adding in a round vase, pendant or table lamp can change your room’s feel. This is definitely one of the most common things I suggest to a client during a consultation.

Another benefit to using oval or round furniture is that they often help with traffic flow. If you have a tight dining room consider swapping out your rectangular dining table for a round one. All of a sudden the flow is better and it is more conductive to table talk. Same thing goes for a round coffee table.

This is the before of the kitchen above. A kitchen is obviously primarily square due to all the cabinetry, sink, countertops and appliances. Add that to the fact that they are all hard surfaces. Just by changing out the rectangular table for a round one in this example served two purposes. It breaks up all the squares and it makes for an easier traffic flow to the sliding door. To read more about this renovation, click here.

Rectangular table versus round

Ahh..now that’s better.

So consider even adding in a round pendant light or mirror to your room that is full of cubes, it will definitely help to break up all the squares!

 

 

Furnish a room in 6 easy steps

Are you looking for help to furnish a room? Here’s my six steps that you can follow to furnish your perfect space. I’ll be using one of my client’s living room as an example. Click here to see the original post. 

Here’s the before so you can see where we started from.

So you can see from the before pictures that we were basically starting from scratch the only thing that we kept was the television.

FUNCTION AND FEEL

The first thing I asked this client was questions on how she wanted the room to function. This is key to having a room that works for you and your family. Form always follows function.

For this client, she wanted space for her and her son and to entertain guests. She knew she needed more storage, better lighting and comfortable seating. She also wanted to address the drapery treatment and was already planning to put in hardwood floors.

I also ask my clients how they want the room to feel. This really helps to fine tune your design choices. This client wanted fresh, beachy and bright. So take a moment to think how you want your room to function and feel.

LAYOUT

So once you have the function question answered, draw up a little sketch or use an online program of your space. I use the paid version of Room Sketcher but they do have a simplified free version available here . Better Homes and Gardens has one as well. I haven’t used it but you can click here to go to their site.

Play around and see what works. This is the key step you need to furnish your room. At this point don’t be too concerned with colours, these design plans often have limited colour choices, right now you are most concerned about what will fit.

If you are looking at your family room and you need seating for 4-6 people. Well, now you can decide whether you want a sofa that is long enough for napping, with a love seat and a chair. Or do you want two love seats and two chairs? This is where you will see what will actually fit and what won’t. Keep in mind that you need a minimum of 3-4′ of space for traffic flow areas and that coffee tables should be at least 18″ from sofa/chairs to be useful and comfortable.

FOR EXAMPLE

Here’s what the living room and adjoining dining room layout looked like for this client.

Living room and dining room layout

Living room and dining room layout

If the program has 3D rendering it will really help you visualize the space. I find it very useful to help clients visualize and for deciding on item’s heights. This is also where I focus of the shapes of items. Since most furniture is square or rectangle I try to incorporate some round, oval or irregular shapes to balance the design.

Living room 3D rendering

Living room/dining room layout 3D

A sectional worked well in this small living area and maximized the seating as well as comfort factor. A colourful occasional chair adds some pattern and can be pulled up closer to the sectional when company is over or even used at the dining table when needed.

A television console with cupboards, a large coffee table with drawers and shelves and a dining room buffet situated between the living room and dining room offers storage for both rooms. It also gives her a place to put a larger table lamp and add in a small gallery wall.

My client ended up going with a sofa with a chaise lounger at one end instead of a full sectional as she didn’t want to block too much light from the window. The key here was she knew what size of sectional/sofa would work and then she went shopping. She also decided to wait on getting an area rug and see if she really missed having one or not. Design is fluid and often Plan B or Plan C is utilized as you go along.

FURNISH

Now make a list of the pieces you will need to furnish this room. Perhaps you will be using something you already have. Just make sure that the dimensions work in your layout. Remember to measure everything so that you don’t have any unexpected surprises. It’s also very important to measure your main door frame or any stairs to ensure you can get any larger pieces of new furniture in your house or up or down the stairs!!

This is also where you want to think about window treatments. Do you need blinds and drapes, or just blinds. Is privacy or sun protection an issue? If so, you definitely want to ensure you have blinds or at least lined drapery.

Furnish a room in 6 easy steps

Also don’t forget the lighting and smaller case goods, like end tables, foot stools, night tables, etc…. This is the best place to play with placement and see if you can fit in a floor lamp or perhaps even a large house plant in that corner.

Here is the mood board for this project. This was done up together with a list of items to be ordered/purchased and their costs.

Mood board living room and dining room

BUDGET

We can’t forget the budget. It really does make some decisions for you. I am a splurge and save kind of gal, as I love a few luxury pieces but then my practical side comes in. I LOVE to find a bargain or perhaps repurpose or reuse an item.

Make up a spreadsheet with the list of the items you need to purchase/find on the left and then start sourcing with your budget in mind. As you go along you will have to decide where to splurge and where to save or perhaps plan for a larger purchase over time.

Furnish a room in 6 easy steps

COLOUR SCHEME

Now this is where the colour scheme comes in. Are you using some existing pieces? Use them as your guide. An area rug, art piece or even the fabric on a throw cushion can be your jumping off point for the colour scheme. Keep in mind the colours in the rest of your home and how much light this room gets. If this is a main room, you want to ensure that it won’t clash with the hallway or other rooms adjacent to it.

If you need further inspiration or are starting from scratch, look around your home, what is your favourite room? What colours are in there? Or do a Pinterest search and just start pinning rooms that you love. A common colour thread will emerge quickly.

Once you have decided on the colours of all the major pieces you can now choose a paint colour. Paint colours should always come last. As it is much easier to choose a paint colour to go with your sofa fabric than the other way around.

Furnish a room in 6 easy steps

ACCESSORIES

Once you have made all these decisions and ordered your furniture you can start the fun part. Accessory shopping! You can either shop your home or hit the stores for the finishing touches. I like to keep at least 10% of the budget for accessories. Don’t skip this step, it gives your room it’s personality. Buy more accessories than you think you’ll need so that you can try them out in your space. Just make sure that there is a good store exchange policy so that you can return the items that are not needed.

Furnish a room in 6 easy steps

That’s it you are done!

Now sit back and enjoy your perfect space.

And if all of this seems way too complicated or time consuming for you, just contact me.

I’d be happy to help design your perfect room.

Whether from start to finish or by just giving you the design plans to do it yourself. It’s entirely up to you.

Designing a modern cottage bath on a budget

This is the second in a series I’m writing about the renovation and makeover of my country log cottage. Here’s how I gutted and designed a new modern cottage bath on a pretty low budget.

Modern cottage bath with subway tile and repurposed library table as vanity

It is a little scary but it started out like this.

Before photo of bath with details on changes

If you look closely on the above picture, you can see right where the shower base meets the floor, there is a large crack.  That’s where the floor was totally rotten. Like I mean so rotten, I was scared whenever someone used the bathroom that they would fall through the floor. You could actually see the basement through the crack.  Yikes! Obviously we knew this before we bought. So, this bathroom was pretty much the first job we tackled once we had possession. We basically had to take everything out and start over. Even the side of the cabinet had significant water damage as well as the wall so everything came out.

Like the cottage living room post (click here to read it), I’m showing you on the before picture what the plan was and how it was executed. So, here’s a visual breakdown of what we did for our modern cottage bath.

After bath photo showing some of the changes that were made

First, we gutted everything. Next we put in a completely new subfloor, installed new water resistant drywall and used the Kerdi shower system to ensure that the shower would be completely waterproof. Hubby got to work on all this nastiness and I got to go shopping. Not quite fair, I know.

I wanted an interesting, inexpensive vanity that was open on the bottom to help make the tiny bath feel more spacious. I had previously used an antique dresser in my powder room at home so I thought potentially something like that but without the drawers, some kind of table. As luck would have it I found an antique library table when I went with some fellow designers to the Brimfield Antique Show (you can read that post here). I knew it would be perfect, once I figured out how to raise it a few inches since it was a little short.

Before of the antique library table used as a bathroom vanity

Once I found this piece, it all started to click together. I wanted to highlight the barley twist legs so I decided that I would paint the legs. I had recently heard about the Canadian paint company, Fat Paint, so I contacted Victoria the owner, and told her what I was looking for. She offered to customize a colour for me so I just needed to choose one.

I know, this is where everyone wonders how did I choose a colour? It is actually quite systematic. I went shopping for flooring tiles, as I would need them sooner rather than later. I was also curious to see what I could find. The tile I settled on looks like wood but it isn’t, it is ceramic. We also ran it into the hallway outside the bathroom and in the nearby laundry room. Well, this floor went with the nearby slate floor and it had the slightest touch of turquoise in it, so it became the jumping off point for the colour scheme. I decided on a darker turquoise for the vanity that would really highlight the carved legs.

From here, I chose the shower wall tiles and the river rock coloration, then lastly I chose the wall colour, Benjamin Moore’s Woodlawn Blue, a soft version of the vanity’s legs. This is exactly why you always choose paint last in your renovation. So much easier to choose a paint colour to work with your fixtures, as there are endless colours of paint in comparison to tile selections.

Modern cottage bath with painted open repurposed vanity and square sink

Once I had decided on the vanity colour, I got in touch with Victoria and she automatically offered to mix me up a custom colour and ship it to me free of charge so I could try it out. Talk about service!

I found some prefab wood legs at my local Home Depot that I figured would work as extensions on the bottom of the table. So my husband, attached them and I set about painting the base. You can barely tell that the bottom six inches or so of the table is not original and I’m sure if I hadn’t told you, you would never have noticed. If you are thinking of painting a wood piece and want to do minimum sanding and prepping, check out my post here about how Fat Paint works. It saves you so much time.

Last but not least, I refinished the top with quite a few coats of durable polyurethane so that it would stand up to some splashing.

I loved that the library table had a nice little lower shelf as I was planning to pick up some baskets for storage. And those baskets would also help to hide the necessary plumbing underneath the sink. Since this is the main floor bath and acts as a powder room most of the time, I knew I wouldn’t need closed storage.

Close up of repurposed library table with painted barley twist legs

Next I chose a rectangular sink because I wanted it to mirror the shape of the table itself. I love this one from Kohler, it’s timeless, works perfectly with the square base of the Delta Dryden faucet and gives me that modern cottage bath feel I was after. BTW – Another great cost saving for me was Delta offered me the shower and sink fixtures free of charge for an honest opinion of them.  You can read my original post here.  

The lilypad artwork in the above photo is actually a photograph from a local artist. I love picking up original pieces from the area. My husband loved it and it was the perfect colours and feel for our modern cottage bath.

Library table turned bathroom vanity

Photo credit Melissa Kew Photography

For the shower I had my heart set on river rock tile. How perfect are they for it a beach front cottage? To offset the cost of them, I used simple grey matte oversized subway tiles on the rest of the shower walls.

Grey matte subway tile subway with bronze fixtures and river rock floor

I added a border of marble and glass tiles 2/3 of the way up that ties in the bath colours. My husband, figured out that he could run the subway tiles vertically above the border, so we did just that. This is called a soldier’s course, in case you are interested. This also has the added bonus of making a low ceiling feel higher. In this low ceiling bathroom that was a huge plus.

Close up of subway tile and border tile with bronze shower fixtures

I love the square Dryden fixtures and they add the right amount of masculinity to my modern cottage bath. Below, you can see the little niche for shampoo and soaps, he did with the river rock tile.

Shower niche with river rock tile

We removed the second shower head and raised the remaining one up to a proper height, since it was low. A great cost savings on the shower was the fact that we reused the shower glass and door. We just ordered new bronze trim and a handle to match the shower and sink fixtures. And thankfully we didn’t break it removing it and reinstalling it. We did sweat that alot!

Round reclaimed wood mirror with bronze bath faucet and lighting

Photo credit Melissa Kew Photography

A new toilet was installed and I sourced an oval mirror, to balance all the squares and rectangles in the space. It’s made from repurposed wood and has a nice rustic feel for a country bath. I had two sconce lights placed on either side of the mirror to replace the one hollywood strip. Did you know that being lit from each side is eminently more flattering than overhead lighting aka Hag lighting? The sconces themselves are simple and slightly industrial with a dark finish to match the fixtures.

Bronze faucet with repurposed antique library table vanity and reclaimed wood mirror

We also installed a few of these cute little deer hooks so that hanging up towels is quick and easy.

Shower with subway tile, river rock floor and bronze fixtures

My husband, was a huge part of this renovation. He did all the demo, all the tile work, all the installations except where we needed professionals. So obviously if you can do some of the work yourself that will be a great savings. Just remember though, that you should know what you can or cannot tackle. Sometimes DIY leads to even more expense when you have to call in the experts to fix a wrong.

All in, this renovation cost us under $8,000. Which is actually very reasonable as an average bathroom renovation costs around $20,000 and quickly goes up. Keeping everything in the same footprint in this tiny bathroom helped to keep the cost low. The majority of the cost was definitely the Kerdi Shower system. We didn’t want to skimp on that as we didn’t want a repeat of the water damage that had happened.

So there you have it, our modern cottage bath.

Modern cottage bath with unique vanity and river rock shower floor

So when can we start working on your bathroom renovation?

Published and made the cover!

Published and made the cover!

Published and made the cover of Ottawa at Home magazine Summer 2018

Such exciting news for my small business!

If you are in Ottawa you can pick it up at Farm Boy, Bridgehead Coffee, Tagalong Toys, Tamarack Model Homes, Chapters, etc… and also apparently it is in the Globe and Mail as an insert.

Click here to read it online.

I’ve also written a few posts with more detailed information on our renovation of the cottage. Click here to read about the living room transformation and here for the bathroom reno.

Exciting news

 

modern cottage kitchen

Photo credit: Melissa Kew Photography

This kitchen will soon be featured along with the rest of my log home cottage in a local magazine. I’m so excited. Once it’s published and available I’ll let you all know.

And did you know that it was an award winner? Click here or on the picture below to see the DDA video showcasing it.

2017 Silver award Kitchens DDA

Lisa