Wednesday, April 27, 2011


TRENDS..."the general course or prevailing tendancy".  What came first though, the chicken or the egg?  In other words, does a trend originate innocently with a concept that is followed because it is genuinly a great idea or are we manipulated to think that an idea is great due to constant barage of hype and it therefore becomes a trend.

Certainly in fashion, trends pop up every season on the catwalks in Milan and elsewhere.  They are designed and then endorsed ad nauseum, until everyone and their uncle is wearing the trend.

I remember in the late seventies, at first abhoring and denying myself the new fashion trend "cowboy boots". After being bombarded with this fashion fetish, I soon began to covet and idolize them to the point of being a serial cowboy boot lusterer...I had to have a pair, and eventually got a pair and wore them out...literally. I was totally caught up in the hype.

In decor, I can honestly say that I do not follow the current trends. As we all know, unless you have been sucked into middle earth, Pantone's trending colour is 'Honeysuckle'. I actually like 'Honeysuckle'...and it was very clever of Pantone to remind us that it does exist, but will I suggest it as a colour to use simply because it is The Pantone 2011 colour.  Never.
Two simultaneous trends I truly hope I never have to cast my eyes on again were the ever popular harvest gold and avocado green interiors of the late sixties and seventies. They are trends that should NEVER be allowed to poke their hideous chroma in our direction again.


I have been involved in several design chats lately and the topic of trends is often entertained. Some designers are enthusiastic and some are dismissive about trends. I truly believe that trends in decor are somewhat flippant and arbitrary. I'm not sure where they originate or why. Trends are here today and gone tomorrow, because trends are "the general direction followed by a road, river, coastline, or the like" and as we all know there are dips, twists, bends in the road, river or coastline.
The reason I tend not follow trends, is originality is often left out of the design/decor equation. Many times I've had a client decide that they want to go with or without a certain colour or finish because it is or isn't trendy. Their decision is soley based on hype and popularity not on individuality. I always strive to have a client's interior embody THEIR personality. Having said this, if a client choses a design or decor element that is appropriate and faithful to the project, but also happens to be trending...'s included.

Some trends, such as stainless steel appliances are expensive.  They have certainly stood the test of time and are still appropriate in certain applications. The problem is, choosing a trend at the end of it's cycle can sometimes become an expensive mistake and look dated. If choices are made wisely and trends are eliminated from the decision making, the life cycle of a design or decor project should have a longer life expectancy.

Finally, I read the other day that red walls are OUT. Well, I have a gorgeous red dining room that has elicited much praise and red wallpaper in our hall and going up the stairs. I am NOT going to repaint any of the red walls because a new trend espouses a different colour. Instead, our red walls are a testament to the colours we love in our home. is that simple.

Monday, April 18, 2011


Way back in February I wrote a post about my eldest daughter Michelle and her fiance, Jordan who were moving into their newly constructed condo. I mentioned that they are saving for their wedding and needed to decorate on a very... I mean very tight budget. I promised to reveal to you how they accomplished this.

As you can see, 606 sq ft does not allow for large, bulky furniture. In fact, we switched the designated living and dining areas by moving the table to the window and utilising the remaining living space more effectively.

Benjamin Moore hemp seed CC-578
Benjamin Moore turret CC-604
Benjamin Moore  athabaska CC-816
Previous to moving day, the ugly off-white walls had a face lift courtesy of Jordan and his Grandpa. Most of the walls were painted in hemp seed one of my favourite neutrals. The Sofa wall and the bathroom were punched up with turret and the bedroom was painted athabaska. I carefully chose these colours to coordinate with the existing finishes, also knowing what Michelle and Jordan had chosen in the way of window treatments.
aren't these beauts...but I must say....I've had some awesome naps thanks to these sofas
Michelle and Jordan were coveting a leather sectional for their new living room. It became very apparent that they could not afford that luxury. Instead, they used two FREE matching sofas which came from our finished basement/playroom. Michelle had taken them when we downsized 3 years ago for the apartment she shared with her friends. She was SO hoping that they would not take up permanent residence in her lovely new condo. C'est la vie. They are about 15 yrs. old and desperately needed an inexpensive facelift. The large coffee table which she also brought with her from her shared apartment had to go. It simply took up waaaaaayy too much space.
The only cost effective way to improve the look of the two sofas was to cover them in store bought matching slip-covers. Inexpensive and washable.  The window treatments Michelle and Jordan picked out together were the inspiration for the other colour choices in this open area. The two small lamps and two matching end tables from IKEA moved with Michelle from her previous apartment. The FREE floor lamp was gathering dust in my over-crowded office. We sourced the lidded bench/coffee table, scored a deal AND badly needed extra storage. The large print from Homesense was my house warming gift to the condo. The brown pillows were previously owned and the blue ones were super inexpensive.
This table resided in our porch before we downsized and again Michelle had used it in her previous apartment. They were keen to reuse the FREE table, as it looks pretty great. (It has already hosted a dinner party for 7 here).  They bought 4 chocolate brown 'leather' Parsons chairs, on sale, conscious of also being able to use them as extra comfortable seating when needed. 
Every stick of furniture in the bedroom is from IKEA and came from Michelle's and Jordan's previous apartments. The only items they bought, are the window treatments, room darkening roller blind and the white coverlet and shams. I have to confess that I bought the two prints, that I was going to sell at our garage sale, instead Michelle snagged them for FREE. Oh ya and the polka dot pillow on the bed and the two on the sofas....I made for this apartment...I had to, I couldn't help myself....and of course they have a punch of red in them.

This is the wall across from the sofa and coffee's screaming for help...right?....Well my 'going to be son-in-law', drew this on scrap paper and is going to make .....
.....a custom wall unit with shelves, drawers, with a dedicated space for the his spare his Grandpa's basement....when they have saved up the money to buy the wood. proud!!!!

Yes, there are a few areas in the condo that could still be tweaked. They still need to outfit the two closets with organizers. The bathroom needs a long narrow, colourful print as does the kitchen.  But what fun is there in getting it all at once.  Sometimes the fun is in the hunt....especially when you are decorating on a limited budget.

All photos shown in this post taken by Maureen Coates

Monday, April 4, 2011


February 2008 we downsized to a much older, smaller house.  I felt a connection to the new house the second I put my foot on the vestibule floor. I cannot describe how or why I felt the way I did...I just did. It was the right size, the perfect location and it was in the price range we sought. There were also some lovely elements to the house, the original hardwood floors, all the original doors and trim and the original plaster walls and ceilings.  It should be noted that the original bedroom trim and the doors on the inside of the bedrooms, were already painted white, which was fine with me.  I immediately began to visualize where all of our stuff would go. The house needed plenty of work.  A two storey addition was required which would allow us to enlarge the kitchen and add a master bathroom upstairs. We hired our contractor and had plans drawn up for the reno.

Flash forward to June 2008. The kitchen was designed, new windows for every room and trim to historically match the profile of the original had been orderd for the addition. All of the doors and trim in the addition would be painted white.  I began in earnest to start tackling every design and decorative decison that had to be made. I had determined that my indecision would not be the cause of delayng the project. And it never was. Budgets and timelines are always a factor.

However, I began to have uncomfortable feelings about some of those same elements that had so endeared me to the house in the first place. The original plaster ceilings in the living and dining rooms had to go. They were cracked and could never properly be repaired. Down they came. I decided coffered ceilings would add to the upgrade quotient, while maintaing the dignity of our Craftsman-style house added expense yes, but the right decision without doubt.
But my nagging concern throughout the entire renovation was the original reddish brown stained trim and doors. My husband would not countenance having them painted and I wholeheartedly first. They added an element of charm to the house. 

Over the course of our 3-4 month renovation, I was at the house every day. I was able to see the naked inside of the house with new eyes. Yikes, maybe this house was going to be a little too dark for my liking. Yes, the living room has a southern exposre, but the sunshine would be impeded by the covered veranda just beyond and the adjoining dining room faced north.  We were moving from a house that had charming white trim, chair rail and beadboard.  It was so clean, fresh and bright by comparison.

Eventually, l had to start talking myself into embracing the doors and trim. 'I will wait and see. If I really don't like them...I'll paint them later' or 'Once we get all our stuff in here, I'll probably really like the dark doors and trim'.  The problem is, I desperately wanted to want to keep the original doors and trim,  but for all the wrong reasons. Deep down I knew they had to be painted white. And this my friends is where I must stress.....DO THE RIGHT THING FOR YOU.....or else the ripple effect comes a knockin'.
This is the fabric I chose as the inspiration for every other fabric and colour choice.
It went beautifully with the original reddish brown stained doors and trim.
Every colour and texture choice I made for the living room, dining room hallway and adjoining kitchen was motivated by the original colour and ambiance of the trim. It was a huge factor in the finishes and the final look of all the ground floor rooms, the hallway, up the stairs and the upstairs hall. If I had done what I KNEW was right for us and our house at the beginning, I would have chosen colours, fabrics and finishes differently.

Late August and moving day arrived. The doors and trim remained as they were. After we settled in and most of the decorating was done, I still had this niggling feeling that my house was NOT my home. I knew I had made a mistake. I actually found our house depressing and heavy. We lived for a year without painting out the doors and trim and then one day I decided I just had to do it. So I did. I sanded, primed and painted two coats of white paint on every single remaining inch the of brown trim and doors, except the railing on the stairs...discovering along the way that it was not in great shape anyway. It took me five weeks.

Honestly, it was like I could breathe again. I was beyond happy with the end result. I realized, however, that I was not keen on the sofa colour I had originally chosen when the trim and doors were stained. If I had listened to my instinct and painted the trim and doors white, I would have then chosen a red fabric for the sofa. Due to my mistake, other colours and some fabrics choices had to be tweeked. The dining room was screaming to be repainted.  I chose red. 
I won over all the doubters, particularly my husband, as soon as the hall was finished. Not one person questioned my decision. I have learned a valuable lesson that I want to impart to you. Always listen to YOUR inner voice...YOUR gut feeling. It may be telling you to take a different direction than you anticipated, but guaranteed, it is always the right choice for you.

All pictures shown this post taken by Maureen Coates

Maureen at Modecor Muses: April 2011

Maureen at Modecor Muses