Tuesday 5 August 2014

Small Modern...The Schematics

When I think about designing and living in my next home, I think of something on one level, maybe a studio walk out with basement storage under, on a gently sloping acreage. So, I have been starting to throw some ideas around...how the open living will function and feel during different scenarios; family gatherings and holidays, small dinner parties and also how it will feel when I am there by myself. 

Living in a smaller home means editing the things you have collected over the years. It never means starting from scratch.

It's not something you jump into quickly, and I am enjoying the schematics of it all ;)

 The Master Bedroom...Brent Comber Disk and Hudson Bay Blanket in a new setting. Heated concrete floors, white walls and millwork keep things modern and natural.

 The Front of the Home - will either be horizontal fir or cedar. I like black framed windows and doors. To save some money, I may use clerestory windows above 6' 8 doors. Will definitely consider good outdoor lighting. The plan calls for a flat green roof, but I am thinking a shed roof to get 10' clgs on the glass side.

I think the Dining Room area will feel more open with leggy chairs...I may reconsider my slipcovers this time in lieu of a more open feel. Not sure about bookshelves...may go with 6 equally spaced canvases. I have had a love affair with Propeller Lighting's Mylocgic Chandelier...it's walnut with tiny LED's recessed. Skylights are necessary. I may need lots of them, with the grey light and overhang on the walkway/glass door wall.

Wednesday 26 March 2014

Fox Trot Chic Kitchen

I never thought I would tire of minimalism, but I am swinging back to the "more is nice too" look. I have seen so many white kitchens of late, I wonder what's next.

I was thinking about colour...my favourite colour outside the neutral family...red. A pair of antlers and Wolf range dictated the next direction, which is what I am calling "Fox Trot Chic". One where slow food movements and growing your own food weren't trendy, but necessary. A barn kitchen, with an open fire to warm you while you shell peas. I picture a vegetable and herb garden, maybe a few goats.

There had to be metal work, like artisans of old, so I used it in the table trim. Also, artisan pieces like the Wishbone chair which were handed down from generation to generation, like in the homes of England, France, Italy or Scandinavia.

You require today's luxuries as well; the wonderous Wolf Range, the cast enamel Creuset dutch oven, Ann Sacks tile, Dulit toaster and the luxury cutting board by Ariel Lasko.

Half built in, half free standing, this kitchen was meant to inspire the Jamie Oliver in all of us; tough enough to clean the occasional wild fowl or sockeye salmon. One in which your family and friends can enjoy for years without worrying about a dent here or there...the more lived in it looks, the better.

The apple pies are cooling on the window sill.



Sources: Toaster: Dulit, Linens: Madison and Muse, Dutch Oven: Creuset, Knife: Wusthorff, Board, Ariele Lasko, Art: 1st Dibs and Art.com, Linen for Blinds: Romo, Wall Tile: Ann Sacks, Paint: Benjamin Moore, Range Hood: GE, Wishbone Chair: Carl Hansen, Range: Wolf

Wednesday 26 February 2014

Finally! The Lakehouse- Before and After

This house has been a challenge and a joy. While I loved the openness of the living area, most of the finishes were already feeling dated - and it came bare bones; no extras- millwork, appliances, the kitchen wasn't complete, and there was no kitchen in the suite downstairs- so it had been on the market for a couple of years. Also, it only has two bedrooms in 3500 sq ft, but did have a space for guests, my work, a den for Brian and it felt really private, even know it's within a pretty tight neighborhood.

But the views...oh the views. Actually, my first client out of school was in this neighborhood, so I knew the views were spectacular. And it was new; I had never owned a new home before- nobody had lived in it. 

When we came around the corner, the red exterior took me by surprise, and it's still growing on me, but as soon as you get to the top of the stairs inside, the view and the light demand your attention. Didn't matter about the red floor, granite, fixtures or the lack of yard space. I could work with them- I needed to have my Nespresso, facing that lake and that mountain range.

Starting in the Living Room we moved and changed the lighting over the dining table (that area was relocated). We needed to add blinds throughout because of the southern exposure, so I chose standard  roller solar shades in an 80% opacity. When the shades are down, you can still see the view. I liked the idea of see-through, so the dining room fixture from Vistosi works great; I used Restoration Hardware filament bulbs; I they work nicely together  :)

The corner fireplace is one of my peeves (as well as corner bathtubs)...I dislike them so much...and this one has no breathing room...the windows but right up to it. I tried not to crowd it too much, not to draw attention to it. I plan on doing a wood palette type treatment to the face soon, as I am not a fan of most granite.


Adding on to the kitchen made sense of the wall (and a half) of nothing that the builder left us, claiming it was because then we got to choose what we wanted. lol...I love that one. It really means, I ran out of (or didn't want to spend) money. The hood fan was so 90's - I found a design similar to this new one on Houzz, just a simple sheath of stainless steel I was able to wrap around the existing fan. 
It was no easy task to add that one cabinet to the existing kitchen wall...there was a junction box and a heat vent. One wonders if that's why the builder didn't add it himself. The added wall of drawers and shelves were stained the same as the existing (would be way to expensive to change that), The new upper shelves were painted in the wall colour for an open feel. I have lots of white stuff. (oh, and a electrical outlet in my cabinet)

The house didn't come with appliances (well, one black stove to match the black faucet and sink), so we purchased and had installed my favorite Fisher & Paykel dishwasher and fridge along with a Kitchen Aid commercial style range. I had to live with the kitchen lighting, which are large pots, putting the budget into millwork and appliances instead. I may do retro-fit LED kits one day. Not only are the recessed pots large, but also, they don't line up with the cabinets...enough to drive a designer to drink! 

I just couldn't bring myself to install more granite, so I will replace it in a couple of years; I chose a Cambria solid surface for the kitchen addition, which I will eventually use to replace the granite.

Downstairs we also installed a full kitchen with appliances, with quartz counter-tops to create a finished suite. That's six kitchen appliances plus hood fan fabrication and installation...ouch said the checkbook.


In addition to the kitchen drawer wall, I added a pantry to hold larger items and then had it all run into a custom banquette. I finished the banquette in a similar dark finish and did custom upholstery with a Robert Allen Contract fabric. I replaced the nook fixture with spots and wide beam spreads on a dimmer (I installed dimmers wherever I could through the house) to flood the space with light. Most homes on the lake offer great views, so I wanted to raise my but up high enough to see that view from the short windows; raising the banquette height to 19 inches. 

The Bemz slipcover on the desk chair was one I ordered to try around the dining room table, but I didn't like the quality of the Nils chair for guests to sit in through a long dinner party, so I went with RH Track Arm Chairs in Sand. I bought the desk from my designer friend Karla Amadatsu; it just so happened I was looking for a black desk in these dims, and she had one...I love it! When she sent me the photo, I thought the whimsy of the legs would work with my other pieces. It's a place to use the ipad, make a list, and gives me a place to display some of my favorite things. I got the lamp from Layers and Layers, it's from Arteriors. Layers and Layers also did my drapes in a sheer Joanne fabric and I bought those rope cloches when they were on sale through them and Arteriors.

I had to work with the floor and the tile, and I decided some teak pieces would tie into some of the tones of the floor; actually the sun has faded it a bit over the four years we have been here, so that's good.


The Master Bedroom has some of the best views in the house, but to sleep I installed custom grass blinds, lined with blackout. The spec lighting had to go...please if you are listening contractors, stay away from those 20 dollar flush mount domes...ugly. Also, I changed out the frosted glass dated sconces, which were a match to the entry, nook and powder room fixtures...all gone. We also changed out the lighting in the Master Bathroom, and installed a matching blind over the tub. Don't you love the typical real estate staging..it's like.."look, a queen air bed can fit here...I am inviting". Why bother? That's not why we bought the house...lol.

I don't love the slate inlay- kind of Whistler, and a little dated, but when buying a house, you buy it as is. Here's where a finish dates quickly; be careful you don't follow trends when choosing tile. I painted the wall behind with a gray from the floor and changed out the lighting to highlight my Brent Comber disk. I love the size of the entry, but dislike the wood handrails...they should have put the money into wrought iron; they are flimsy. After moving in, and lots of trades going through, the walls got pretty scuffed up, so we painted Cloud White throughout the house. 

I didn't want to repaint the bathroom, I wanted to give it some interest, installing this twig paper from Crown Wallpaper. The sink and toilet were pretty standard, so they stayed, but I changed out everything else...the hardware, towel rack, lighting, installed decorative and also functional blinds and changed out the mirror. Yes, this room too, had that wonderful builder "set" of frosted glass pendants...was there a special deal that day at Home Depot? 

I think the trick is to try to live with the items that would cost to much to change- working with and adding things that will take the focus away from them.

So I am already thinking of my next project...stay tuned!

After Photos by Tracey Ayton Photography

Sunday 5 January 2014

Rustic Pacifc Alfresco

I'm a west coast girl with wanderlust, and I like the ritual of dining outside, or bringing your furniture to street level, like Europeans do; one easily adapted to our mild climate, and unique natural landscape. Pass the BC Pinot and Sockeye Salmon please!

Designed and Rendered by Michelle Morelan

Plan a Big Night or Babette's Feast of of your own...engage all the senses, using music, lighting, food, wine, and watch your friends and family linger over warm candlelight. Use colours from your natural outdoor palette like soft blues, and greys. Add texture- linen, ceramics and wood. Mix the lines and styles of your seating, flatware and stemware, like you just threw it all together.

Don't have a large enough table? Use sawhorses and long planks of wood. Mix your good french dishes with rustic bowls, and lots of variety of shape. Nod to history with simple lines of glasses, dinnerware, cast iron dutch ovens, handmade cutting boards and spoons. Add softness and warmth with blankets and pillows.

Layer lighting with battery operated tea lights within a woodpile, and hang lanterns or patio lighting from fences and trees- or from a great pergola like this one of greyed cedar and metal fasteners.
Cook it all ahead, and enjoy. Don't fuss, it doesn't go with the theme ;)


Brent Comber's Tafoni 2 bench celebrates west coast weathered rock formations, and is one of my new favourite things! I always imagine his work, not newly sculpted, but after the elements have loved it.


Flatiron dining table by Restoration Hardware; works because of it's rustic nature and industrial, portable like base. It's like you pulled it out from inside.


Beautiful handcrafted spoons and boards by Ariele Alasko; what can I say, I saw her work on instagram and I was smitten. You will be too. Go visit her here:

 Dutch Ovens

A great pot of stew or soup in Le Cruscet's cast iron pots like I have seen in foodie movies like Russel Crowe in "A Good Year" or "A Big Night" I like the dune, fennel and truffle colours


The linens from Restoration Hardware are heavenly, and come in such a wide range of colours. The drape and ease of cleaning make these my go to napkin. They also make cocktail napkins and larger European size lap napkins.



This bistro chair from Country Furniture is classic and rustic, easy to transport outside when your outdoor feast is ready.

Stunning walnut chair by O&G Studio through Bespoke Global has a nod to history, but more modern lines for today. Bespoke Global is worth a website visit; I'm in awe of their product and artisans.

 The Wishbone chair is another classic chair; mix the lines with other, less expensive seats like the bistro chair.

Bespoke Global's Foxpoint Chair by O&G Studio...historical and rustic.


Pillow Fabric

This linen by Lauren Liess is is perfect for the pillows; the pattern isn't overwhelming and I like the repetitive nature of the geometry, it's like a texture when viewed from a distance. I would use it for throw pillows for some of the chairs in a lumbar and also a square shape, with a foam insert and down outer. I like the idea of all the design choices being based on relationship to nature.


The Fez Lantern by Pottery Barn has a great finish and I love the simplicity, yet detail of it...just enough, but not too frilly for a "node to nature" feast.


This bamboo throw from West Elm is soft and cozy for those with less Pinot in them ;)


The Hampshire Chair from Restoration Hardware in this faded grey is comfortable, classic and the lines work with the mix of chairs. Every space needs the texture which wicker provides. It could be in Italy, Hawaii or BC, placeless, timeless.


The ARV setting by Ikea has a European feel, at a great price. Don't be afraid of something traditional mixed with something more modern...if the lines work, and they play well together, then go with it. This pattern reminds me of a much more expensive french one I have seen at ABC in NYC and also Chintz and Company.

This Eclectique set by Williams Sonoma is pricey but lovely; a high option to the low above by Ikea. I like the different textured edges, and the way it works with other alike tones.

Salad Bowls

The Prescott Bowl from Crate and Barrel is large at 17" and the dark walnut colour  and soft graining complement the table and setting. It's a crowd pleaser, and I have featured two of them, along with other bowls of natural materials and glass.


 Love this Roscoe bowl from Crate and Barrel; it's organic nature and traditional, yet modern shape is oh so West Coast. The matte finish and gorgeous colours mimic the outdoor palette, and add the element of proportion. Perfect for your Grandmother's Potato Salad.


 The Pokal Series of glassware at Ikea is durable and versitile; perfect for an outdoor event, and you can buy them cheaper than you can rent them. It reminds me of Italian lingering lunches alfresco, so let's throw it in our mix. It comes in red wine size, white wine size and sparkling water size. *do you see where I'm going with this?

Next Month..."Surfer Shack Chic"