Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas Decoration House Tour - 2011 - Crown Isle pt 2

Ok.. so where was I ?? Oh yes looking at the kitchen in the Crown Isle rancher on the Tour... and I was talking about the gorgeous ceiling.

Here in Canada.. well on the West Coast anyway, interior ceilings in all but THE most expensive homes [and even some of those] are covered in a sprayed on plaster finish called 'popcorn'..
It looks not unlike artex, which we Brits are all very used to of course. But unlike artex.. which is a flexible finish designed to disguise shrinkage and cracking caused by modern central heating, popcorn is a purely to disguise the taping and jointing required when sheets of dry lining [dry wall] are connected. It serves no useful purpose what so ever... it's just cheaper than finishing a ceiling smooth. It's supposed to be decorative, but most people hate it..
In this home however, the builder has created a sort of coffered ceiling with tongue and groove and molding, which has a much less formal feel than a traditional smooth ceiling with detailed crown molding would have had.

It softens the modern cleans lines of the rest of the finishes and also serves to draw the eye upwards showing off the mixed 8 and 11 ft ceiling heights to their best advantage.
The  different ceiling heights also help deliniate the one large space into zones, living/kitchen/dining.

None of which relates to the Tour or the decorations per se.. but these 5 homes are all SO much more than just a Christmas showcase.

Back to the kitchen then.. in the photo above you can see the mix of dark stained cabinets on the lower portion of the island and the solid Maple cabinets above.. but walk round the other side of the bar and...

I hope you can see from this shot that the lower cabinets on the other side are painted in a dark charcoal blue.. very French. A wonderful touch.

You can also see the stone clad fireplace... another feature that draws the eye. The design team suspended a few simple baubles, [using the decorator's best friend.. fishing line] in front of the chimney breast, in keeping with the white and silver theme..

Very easy, but extremely effective... and the joy of it is, you can use the cheapest old shatterproof balls, and because they are designed to be viewed best from a distance, no one will ever know. ;o)

The Dining room is open to the rest of the great room.. I've mentioned that already I think.. but the lower ceiling height and the 3 surrounding walls give it a sense of cosy which can be very hard to achieve in these big open plan rooms..

The mid century modern dining suite was set for four, again using a mixture of natural elements: with the greenery and the white narcissus...
and sparkle: from the silver ribbons on the chair backs and the glass candlesticks and silver chargers & cutlery.
There's an imaginative use of mirror in this area.. Not only the floor standing Silver framed piece you see in the first photo......

But also the substantial black framed example above the sideboard.. which the designers again adorned with sparkle..  Plus the cute and effective mirrored letters set up to read  H O M E  down the wall at the far end of the room.

Now, the real Narcissus' used were a lovely touch, but if you couldn't get hold of them I think real [or even fake at a push] Orchids would also look fabulous.. and of course 'bulbed' Orchids grown in a pot last for ages and would look great as the focus of any table setting possibly right through to the spring. 

There were several nice touches that I will take from this design..
The white fabric runner against the dark table cloth gave the effect of a tuxedo, very much in keeping with the hollywood glamour feel throughout the house.
Aside from the natural wood tones inherent to the home itself, only black, silver, white and glass accents were used. This created a monocramatic scheme which allowed all the natural greenery to really pop.
And I really like the use of the glitzy 'jingle bell' wreath on the mirror... and the silver bases on the table lamps. Sharp !!

Actually the lighting throughout the home was cleverly used, helped in no small part by the fact that when the house was built the pot lights in the ceiling were put on zoned dimmer switches, so light levels could be varied from area to area. That's a relatively small additional expense at that stage of building a home.. but boy oh boy it makes a huge difference.

Through then to the master bedroom suite, where again the designer used a shaggy white rug borrowed from Home Depot to brighten the space, and the hollywood theme was really punched home with the corner tree..

On our 'sneak peak' tour the night before the public event, the square hammered platter on this bed was one of my absolute favourite things.. and I wasn't alone in that.. was I Tony ?? ;o)

Another original idea that I think I'll pinch in the future can be seen on the tree..

Yes.. those really are old photographs.. and yes you do recognise the blonde lady in the middle..

Now I will be the first person to admit that a lot of
ideas that I and I'm sure other designers use are .. shall we say 'borrowed'  ;o) from magazines or photos or other rooms they have seen.
But this was a genuine stroke of genius apparently... and I'm certainly going to pinch it.

The design team harnessed a very literal interpretation of the glamorous theme and used black and white photography of old movie stars and incorporated them into their tree design..

Marilyn Monroe was an obvious choice since she epitomises everything associated with the word glamour... but the idea would work equally well with family photo for a more personal touch.

Looked gorgeous..

As did the ensuite.. which was really an all singing all dancing example of a private bathroom..

It had a huge shower with enough jets to make for a pretty good carwash ;o) and I'm sure all that plumbing didn't come cheap...
Plus a toilet that had enough gizmos on it that it probaly makes breakfast in the morning.
But again it was the accent pieces that elevated the room, because now that I have a chance to study the pictures, I can see that the finishes, whilst nice, are actually pretty run of the mill.

The tiles are a basic white subway.. nothing special there. The sinks are Kohler from Home Depot.. I know because I have them in both my bathrooms at home.
The vanity is nicely configured with a make up table between the sinks, giving both users of the room lots of space. But the slab doors are very plain and would not be expensive.. I know that IKEA has a range exactly like this for example.. and the mirrors on the walls are all plain, standard size, bevelled edged frameless mirrors available at any DIY store.

The cabinet hardware is very nice, and the taps were beautiful.. no expense spared there.. but the bath albeit a jetted example was a faily standard deck mounted tub. Also not a huge expense.. again I know because I have just done all the research before buying one myself.
Yet even though mostly very simple and unexceptional materials were used, the few expensive touches.. the taps, the quartz counter tops, the good hardware bring an enormous bang for the buck which make this room seem very special indeed.
Just goes to show that with home design.. you really DON'T have to spend a lot of money to make a good impression.

So there we have it.. the first of our Christmas Houses.

Love this glass and brushed nickel coffee table.. I must ask Sharleen where it came from.

I really enjoyed this home, and thought that given that most of the items therein were begged borrowed and stolen, that Sharleen and Bethany [with much assistance from clever local home stager and Tour committee member Alice East] did a marvellous job.

Alice was the driving creative force behind this home's Christmas design from last year's tour too.

More natural elements in the kitchen, these trees are made out of stripped tree bark..

Stylish simple and not over adorned works just as well when mixed with more glamorous accessories.


This last shot really sums up the essence of this home's decorative theme for me..
The warmth and comfort of the soft shaggy rug... the shine and sparkle of the glass and silver accents, and the outdoors brought indoors with the cedar sprays. Nice job ladies. ;o)

More to come... stay tuned.

Jo xx

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Christmas Decorations House Tour - 2011 - Crown Isle

This evening I've been invited to an afterparty for the Christmas House Tour, which took place last weekend.. so I thought I should get started showing you the homes that took part.

I've already admitted that it was an enormous amount of work, and I now understand why the professional designers who take part are loath to do it more than once every 3 or 4 years.
Plus of course I had familiar surroundings and objects to work with.. it must be so much harder when you are starting from stratch in an unfamiliar house with a client who may or may NOT agree with your vision. Which is why I so admire the other designers who worked on the project, both this year and in years gone by.

So if I'm ever asked to take part again it will be a totally different challenge.. but I'll take a year or two off first I think ;o)

Right.. let's start showing you guys some pictures... but where to start ??

Well I haven't got all the photo's yet, which is my own stupid fault.. We were taken for a sneak peak tour on the Thursday evening before the official Tours on Fri and Sat, and guess which daft cow forgot to take her camera.
Not a problem I thought.. I'll take them over the weekend.
Except that as it has transpired, two of the houses that I couldn't get to until Sunday had already been stripped down by the designers and/or homeowners. All is not lost though since photo's were taken by others and I've been promised copies to share with you guys soon.

So while I wait for them to arrive, let's start with the pictures I took myself.

Of the five homes that were decorated this first one is the newest... in fact it's only 2 years old.. and if you want to see it in it's naked state, which is an interesting comparison, it's actually up for sale, and the sales listing is here. It's worth a look because I could only take pictures in the dark, and the pouring rain meant I didn't get a shot of the front of the house at all. ;o(

Lots of lovely craftsman touches with this house, and cream and white carried throughout.

It's on the market with lovely local realtor Jane Denham, who Bill and I have met at several open houses over the last few years.

It's a bit of a hobby of mine to go looking at open houses, a passion I inheirited from my mum.. you never know when your dream house is going to come on the market, plus it's a great way to get ideas and to keep track of what the local market is doing. I sold houses for 15 years back home and it's in my blood, so you'll hear no apologies from me about it. ;o)
But I digress..
It's a beautiful rancher, on a local Golf course development called Crown Isle... and was decorated by Sharleen Whiteside and her design partner Bethany. Sharleen's website Waterfront West is a useful tool for people looking for waterfront property on Canada's west coast... and even if you don't have 3 or 4 million dollars to spend, the photographs alone make the site worth a visit. ;o)

The weather was vile the night I took these shots, but I wanted you to see the tree in the front garden..

Of course you can't see the movement but the lights in the tree, which were shaped like icicles, had strobe lights that ran down the shaft of the cover. It looked like blue rain drops running off icicles... gorgeous.. although Sharleen did tell me they weren't cheap. ;o)

Once inside there was a slate floored hallway with this console for keys and stuff.. I really liked the birdcages full of baubles. It's a simple idea but with great impact, and it's easy to mimic or re-jig for a variety of looks to suit anyones taste.

There was lots of simple but effective art used throughout this home.
The entrace opened into a fabulous 'great room', which for the Brits reading this means an open plan living/dining/kitchen combo which is a popular architectural style over here at the moment. Personally they aren't my favourite.. since if there are no walls there's no privacy either.. plus I've never been good at clearing up in the kitchen and I wouldn't want my guests looking at mess all night.

That having been said, the dining area of this great room was sectioned off, to create some deliniation, and the kitchen was truely spectacular, so I wouldn't complain too much ;o)

Sharleen and the team chose a cream and white theme with silver accents throughout the house and she had a lot to do since pretty much all of the furniture did NOT belong to the homeowner.

Begged borrowed and stolen from various sources the assorted pieces came together really well though, and the colour scheme worked beautifully with the rich wood floors throught out the house.
The huge shaggy rug in the living area was a particular favourite of mine.. and eveyone elses apparently, it came from Home Depot.
I know I've seen it in there before but never thought it could look as good as this... but I'm going to go back and look at it again now, because we need something like it for our family room.

Curly willow was a favourite material this year and several of the designers used it. In fact natural marerials of all kinds showed up over and over again. This was a lovely example, used to accent the work area in the kitchen.

The kitchen itself didn't need much adornment, since it is a thing of beauty, but some more natural materials [the greenery] just set it off and drew the eye up to what was actually my absolute favourite architectural element in the home.. the gorgeous tongue and groove ceiling.

Sorry to post and run half way through a house but I'm off to the thankyou party so I'll sign off for now.

There's loads more to see though so if I'm not too late back I'll post the this home later.
See yer
Jo xx