Kitchen renovations still reap the highest rewards for your remodelling dollar but convenience, comfort, practicality and personal preference should be the primary reason for undertaking a kitchen remodel.  And your budget must be the deciding factor.

Granite is still the most popular choice, for the current home owner and to attract future home owners.   Quartz is also popular because of its low maintanance, durability, and expanded colour choice.  For those wanting to do their part to protect the environment, recycled glass has come on the scene in the last couple of years.

Wood floors and cabinetry remain fashionable; stain colour and finish change with the seasons.   Both wood surface areas can remain beautiful over many years if properly cared for.  It is best to choose a mid-priced cabinet for resale, as not everyone is willing to pay the price point for luxury.

An island built into the space plan helps to maintain the work triangle,  as recommended by the National Kitchen and Bath Association, and it’s a great place for friends to gather while the cook(s) prepare the meal.

Stainless steel kitchen sinks in a variety of sizes, shapes, depths and style are still the first choice of most homeowners.  

An additional sink, in the island or at a bar, is a must for a busy kitchen.  I particularly like the ebb and flow of the fete kitchen sink by kohler, and the gentle curves of the Elkay Mystic Undermount Sink (now in copper) for their art-felt functionality.

Storage is important in every room of the house – but more so in the kitchen.  Storage areas need to be handy, tidy, well lit and well stocked.   Butlers Pantries, the elite of pantries, aren’t just for the kitchens of the rich and famous any more.  Turn an unused back entrance enroute to your kitchen into a well lit wall of upper glass display cabinets  and use the lowers to store large or out of season wares, add a counter with unusual flair,  and voila – a Butler’s Pantry.

I am about to tackle my own daunting kitchen renovation, but alas, not all these great ideas can be incorporated, there just isn’t the space or the budget.

Colour Sensibilities

May 15, 2009

Recently I was invited to Carey House in Burlington (ON) to select colours for a whole- home make over.   Carey House is a supportive housing project providing affordable, accessible housing to 10 adults with physical disabilities. 

  

This home, in the heart of historic old Burlington, was purchased in the 70’s for the same purpose that it continues to serve today, and with the financial and building assistance of community groups, over the years, has almost doubled in size.  A prodigious addition in the late 80’s gave the residents the space they required to prepare meals in the kitchen and sit comfortably together at an oversized table.  There is also a parlour, four bathrooms, laundry facilities,  and a bedroom for each resident.

 

On this evening I was introduced to several of the Carey House residents, but I worked closely with just one, Brenda.     I learned that Brenda has been continuing her education at McMaster, and has written two books, one of which she had published last summer,  and now she can add colour consultant to her list of notables.  It was my pleasure to spend the next couple of hours with Brenda, exploring the rainbow of paint colour options.   With Brenda’s refined eye for colour we were able to narrow the selection down to a powerfully earthy brown and intense grassy green, deep masculine blue and a complementary hearty burnt orange, all tamed by the soft creamy version of white to be used as an accent.

 

I think, all who call Carey House home will be both impressed and honoured by the love that Brenda invested in choosing this medley of paint colours for the common areas of their home.  I can’t wait to see the finished product.

Sweet Yoga Suite

May 10, 2009

A 60’’s basement is reborn …..  into a tranquil yoga suite befitting a dedicated Iyengar Yoga teacher.

 

In December 2008 my yoga teacher, Nadia, hired me to turn her 60’s basement ‘rec-room’ into a metropolitan yoga suite befitting her dedication to the practice of Iyengar yoga.  I was up for the challenge.  

 

I knew the old space intimately as I have been a student of her hands-on, one-to-one teaching techniques for the past several years.  Nadia has a small but dedicated group of students.  She felt she owed it to these true students of the art to provide a space reflective of B. K. S. Iyengar’s teachings.

 

I worked closely with this client.  Travelling to the Toronto Yoga Centre, where Nadia has been a dedicated teacher for 14 years, I was able to get a feel for what she wanted to create on a smaller scale,  by observing the space in use, understanding the purpose of the ropes and other equipment,  photographing the space and speaking to other instructors.   I then carefully reviewed her plans for the space, and discussed the possibilities, as well as probabilities.

 

It was important to start with a clean slate by tearing out and disposing of all remnants of the sixties in this basement including the orange shag carpet, stucco and panelled walls, wall paper, and drop ceiling.    Working from photographs of The Toronto Yoga Centre, the contractor, Peter from @Your Service  was able to replicate the wall of ropes and create a tranquil atmosphere befitting yoga and meditation. 

 

The pièce de résistance was the stained plywood secondary wall, built in front of the stud wall to conceal the anchored ropes, used for standing poses in the yoga suite.   

 

 

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This client was, and more importantly has remained through this process, my friend and my yoga teacher.  

 

To practice yoga in this new tranquil environment call to schedule your class at ‘Yoga with Nadia’, in Mississauga, Ontario.

Does Thread Count?

April 26, 2009

…It does to the four sisters with textile backgrounds (primarily fashion) that developed Threadcount Textile and Design.  This boutique textile company prides itself on its luxury natural fibre fabric offering.   To meet the demands of clients for colour and texture, the owners look to partner with textile mills from around the world.   One such company that Threadcount has partnerd with is Clarke & Clarke of the UK, offering collections of fashionable prints and textured wovens in contemporary colours for residential and contract applications.  My personal favorite is “chandelier jet”.

Threadcount is located in the Castlefield Design Centre, where the full product line is displayed.   The design centre houses numerous suppliers to the design trade, like Au Lit Fine Linens, Horse Feathers, Inside and Out Marchand, Missoni Home, Viking Appliances and  Weavers Art.

My dream might be – to be chosen to work as a member of the crew of Sarah’s (Richardson) Cottage, TV show, but if you are fourteen years old there could be nothing more important than to be on the red carpet for the premier of Miley Cyrus and “Hannah Montana – The Movie” in London (UK)  or standing shoulder to shoulder with Demi Lavoto, camera’s flashing, after winning Disney Channel UK’s Camp Rock competition.  

Yes, it is official, I can proudly announce that my (our) niece, Holly-Anne HULL, has won the UK competition.  I am sure that much of it has been a blur for Holly-Anne and her loving family.   It is exciting enough for this part of the family, thousands of miles away.  Where this is going, no one knows for sure, so  we should all (Holly-Anne and fans) just enjoy the ride.

Bragging Rights

April 14, 2009

Creating a great interior design – may give me bragging rights.

Having a great niece who just happens to be a great singer – lucky enough to have terrific support from her super great brother and sister (and mom and dad, of course) – definitely gives me bragging rights.

Whatever is this interior decorator talking about? Art in the form of decorating, painting, and singing – is a gift.

My (our) 13 year old neice, Holly-Anne Hull, is a gift.   She is a finalist in the Disney UK search for the next Camp Rock star.  Holly-Anne has been singing in West End Kids productions for the past couple of years.    I have never heard her sing, except on clips from West End Kids ( see Holly-Anne perform by selecting the second video Holly-Anne Hull singing “Here’s Where I Stand”) because she lacks the bragging gene that I boast today. It seems she is just too shy to sing for her adoring Canadian relatives but sings with superb ease for a packed auditorium. Watch her video, I am sure you will agree.

We, here in Canada, are so proud of her and wish that we too could witness this young starlet in her premier performance live from London on Friday, April 24th, 2009, alas we can not. But nothing prevents me from getting the word out to those who can watch.  Check out the promotional video on the Disney Channel (select “My Camp Rock This Friday” Holly-Anne is pictured at the end of the clip singing the background song).

Beginning Friday, April 3rd, at 5:30pm and continuing for the weeks leading up to the final performance, the Disney Channel is airing a half hour show featuring the lives of the top performers.  Following the live performance on April 24th, the public will be invited to vote on line (more information regarding voting will be posted).  Those lines will open at 17:50 hr’s in the UK, and remain open until 18:20 hr’s (for us Canadians that will be 12:50 to 13:20 hr’s).

VOTE, VOTE, VOTE.  Maybe yours will be the vote that launches the next Miley Cyrus – UK style.

Good luck Holly-Anne. We love you.

Heather Clark Smith Design and Victoria’s Secret are structured on satisfying the individual needs of women, and men.  The style that suits may be glamourous and sophisticated; simple and comfortable.  Both entities offer smart advise for looking the best.  The value added is – great customer service.

As the owner of Heather Clark Smith Design I liken my business model to several successful customer service based businesses, like Victoria Secret and Apple.  I frequent both these enterprises, and happily recommend them, not just for the product they sell but more because of the positive attention I consistently receive.   As an added bonus, both (Apple and Victoria’s Secret) are taking steps to reduce their impact on the environment.    

True value can be found in a business that places importance on their customers satisfaction.  Whenever you are shopping for the ultimate value for your dollar, whether it be for lingerie, electronics, interior decorating, consider that value is not always found on the price tag.

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