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From the beginning of the process to the end, this kitchen renovation has been a wonderful experience. Mostly thanks to you and all of your time, energy and thought.

Erin Kelly

Obsessions and Inspirations: Inject Spring into your Decor!

The warmer days are arriving in Nova Scotia and suddenly everything is bursting with life! As things start to grow and renew outside, many of us get that itch to freshen things up on the inside too.

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There are lots of ways to bring the energy and excitement of spring indoors and simple changes can make a big difference. Adding new artwork or using fun wall coverings or textiles are great ways to breathe new life into a space. Injecting colour with paint is a great way to add interest, or maybe even to highlight a garden view.

Here are some ideas and inspirations for bringing Spring in!

Floral Artwork

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Art enlivens a space and adds lots of character. I love these floral oil paintings by local artist Briana Corr Scott. They are rich, yet light and dewey. The soft light reminds me of Maritime springs.

If you live in the area, stop by Argyle Fine Art in Halifax to see these beauties in person.

Whimsical Wallpaper

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Kim Parker for Clarke & Clarke, Murals Wallpaper, Timourous Beasties

Wallpaper has made a huge comeback and is being used in many different applications. There’s a big trend towards using mural wallpapers to create a feature wall, like in the photo on the left. It’s an incredible and bold look – instant art!

The bold, bright colours in the wallpapers above evoke spring and summer vibes! If you’re not brave enough to commit to this daring look think about wallpapering the inside of a hutch or a closet instead.

Painterly Fabric

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Tonic Living, Bluebellegray, Liberty London

These abstract painterly florals are very on trend right now from fashion to interiors. It’s a nice way to evoke the prettiness of florals without the fussiness of tight ornate patterns. This look is airy and bright and can be incorporated with toss cushions, window coverings, and even used for upholstery.

Bold Trim

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Clean white walls have been very popular over the past few years. I love the look, but what I love even more is finding ways to inject colour to areas often overlooked.  If your windows or millwork are a special feature in your space why not have them stand out with a bold paint? It draws your attention to a focal point and frames pretty views.

I’ve seen some really beautiful approaches to this idea, from subtle greys and soft greens, to bright yellows and black. It’s easy enough to execute, and certainly worth a try!

If you’re feeling inspired to change your space but you need help choosing colours or fabrics contact me! A few simple updates can make a big difference, and I’d love to help.

North End Halifax Transformation!

Christopher and Christy have been working with the Henhouse team for about two years now. They are busy professionals and parents who needed help finding a way to blend their two individual styles and to create a sense of home.

What started out as a small storage solution project in their den has evolved to many other areas of the home including the kitchen, living, dining, den, master bedroom and basement!

Christopher and Christy were so kind to let us ask them a few questions about their experience working with Henhouse, and how they feel about the new look of their home.

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What brought you to the decision to hire a designer? Why Henhouse?

We live in an older home in the North End. Many of our friends have been buying newer homes in areas of the city we weren’t interested in. I thought maybe we should spruce this place up!

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We both love older homes and we are so happy in our neighbourhood.  With work, we’ve had no time to try to design things ourselves – and we probably wouldn’t know what we were doing even if we’d tried.  Hiring Sappho seemed like a natural choice – I loved the Henhouse retail store when it was in the Hydrostone (one of the best in Halifax – so sad to see it close!), so asking Sappho to come by to see our house was exciting for me.

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Can you tell us a bit about what the design process was like? Were there any conflicts that you needed help to solve?

Sappho is fabulous! Working with her has been such a fun, happy experience.

Our first project was relatively small; built-in shelving for our dysfunctional den. The shelving is exactly what we needed. It totally changed the look of the room, and tidied it up (which I like) and made room for all of our DVDs and video games (which Christopher and our son Finn like).  Even for this small project, Sappho gave us a sketch of her idea for the shelving then gave us samples of the wood so we could choose the one we liked best.

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When we decided to tackle more (it’s so addictive!), Sappho came in to our home, walked through it with us, and helped us prioritize which rooms to target first. We decided to get started on the den and the”fire room” (aptly named by our daughter, it’s the room with the wood stove!). Sappho gave us sketches, fabric samples, sourced furniture options and gave suggestions. It was such a fun experience to look at samples and sketches together – even the kids seemed to enjoy seeing the options

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We had no idea about types of “design styles” that we like, but Sappho somehow performed magic! She listened to us, showed us her ideas, and next thing we knew, POOF, the house is beautiful!  She has such a keen eye for design, visual appeal and aesthetic.

As for conflicts, it took some work convincing Christopher to get rid of the old blue couches, then the kids got on board about how much they loved them too… even the dog! All it took was one look at Sappho’s sketch and at some options for a new leather couch and he was sold (thank you Sappho!).

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You each have individual styles that are quite different! How did henhouse help you achieve a look that represented you both?

I tend to like anything floral. I’m torn between two very different styles – “big and bold”, and “soft and romantic”.  Christopher seems to like neutrals with bold statement pieces added in.

The perfect room to exemplify Sappho’s blending of our styles is the fire room. That room has the most beautiful floral curtains and the warm leather couch that Christopher loves. Together, the look is gorgeous, and it’s a room we’re all happy with.

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Before the renovations, what were the biggest challenges or what bothered you the most about your home? How were those issues resolved?

We have an older home. Although we love it, the room shapes are “off”.  We couldn’t figure out how to place furniture in our den or fire room to achieve the inviting look we wanted.

Sappho did that for us!  In addition to furniture, the fabrics and window coverings have really worked to transform the space.  From the blinds in the den and fire room (…sorry Christopher, they aren’t iPhone operated…) to the fun kitchen Romans and the beautiful fire room curtains, our house now feels warm and inviting – just the way we want it.

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How do you feel about your home now? What’s your favourite part?

I love everything.  Really.  I don’t think I could choose a room.  I love getting home from work and walking through the kitchen, in to the fire room, then sinking in to the comfy sectional in our den.  I swear I walk though the whole main floor to get to the den, even though I could just walk straight there.

Then there’s our bedroom, with the stunning wallpaper, new headboard, and the wonderful bedding from Bellissimo. Our bedroom feels like an oasis.

I love how the house feels and looks now, and coming home to it feels so relaxing in a way it didn’t feel before.

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Would you recommend this experience to others? Do you have any feedback for Henhouse that would help others have a fuller experience?

I have recommended Henhouse SO many times already.  Now that we will have photos to show, I’m sure they’ll finally understand why we like her so much!

Our daughter Stella often asks “why can’t you say no to anything Sappho says?”- ha!  Well that’s what happens when you are lucky enough to hire the best and then have her and her team transform your home in a way you couldn’t accomplish without them.

Thank you Christopher and Christy! It was truly a pleasure working with you!

On-Site: European Bistro Kitchen Reno

Our European inspired custom kitchen reno is almost finished!  We completed a master bedroom update for this client last year, and over the past several months we’ve moved on to tackle several other areas of the main floor, including the living/ dining area, the front foyer and a powder room.

Here’s an up-to-date look at what’s been happening behind the scenes.

Desktop8The photo above is the vision for the kitchen and dining area. The design is fresh and clean with pops of florals, and soft coral and turquoise tones. The space is narrow, so we chose chose a neutral palette for the wall tiles, paint and custom cabinetry  to keep it feeling airy and bright. Brass light fixtures, and jewel-like hardware add a bit of sparkle!

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Here’s a peek at the cabinetry during installation. You can see some before shots of the kitchen here. The original layout included a peninsula that separated the kitchen and dining areas. A peninsula can be a great solution in some spaces, but in this narrow kitchen it was cutting off the flow and it wasn’t the most efficient use of space.

For the new design we removed the peninsula, relocated the stove, sink and fridge, and added a custom island. The new layout provides more counter space and a better flow.

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Above you can see the new island awaiting its countertop. Our client dreamed of having an island, so we were determined to make it happen!

To make it work we designed a narrow island with open storage down below. It looks light and airy, like a furniture piece. It felt a bit risky putting it into this small space, especially after seeing the cabinets installed! But we trusted our gut instincts and once it was in place it actually made the space feel bigger!

Painted in Benjamin Moore’s Baltic Sea and finished with decorative brass knobs, it makes a nice statement and offers lots of counter space and storage.

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Above is the dining area in progress. We’ve painted the walls, and are in the process of painting the newly installed wainscotting. For the furniture, we’re chosen a tulip table from Attica and beautiful bistro chairs from Serena & Lily.

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Above you can see some fabric and paint swatches that are being used in the dining and living area. We just finished recovering an ottoman for the living area in the lovely floral fabric from Kravet on the bottom left. You can see a sneak peek on Instagram!.

Blog May2nd5-001The powder and foyer are also coming along. The photo on the left is of the wallpaper we chose. The large-scale floral paper is for the foyer, and the bold coral paper is for the powder room. On the right you can see the funky vintage light fixtures I found on Etsy and the newly retiled floor. You’ll have to check back in for the final result!

Be sure to follow us on Instagram and Facebook for more behind the scenes photos.

My Tips for Choosing Fabrics

Mixing and matching fabrics is one of my favourite interior design challenges. Using a variety of fabrics that compliment each other is a great way to add character and interest to a room. With so many beautiful colours, patterns and textures on the market, choosing just the right combination is no easy feat!

Here are a few of my tips and some examples I’ve pulled together of potential clients to get you started:

1. How will the space be used?

Textiles are an investment, so it’s important to be sure that the fabric is meant to withstand the amount of wear that it will be exposed to.

Do kids use the space? Does the dog love to sleep on that chair? Is this a high-traffic area, or an occasionally used space? These are all things to consider.

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Upholstery fabric is manufactured in different strengths. For sofas or harder wearing furniture pieces 30,000 double rubs and up is ideal.  A teflon coating will offer extra wear, and is a good idea for spaces where pets and kids like to hang out. For lighter use furnishings or toss cushions and curtains anything in the 9000 and above range will work well.

2. Choose a dominant pattern first as your jumping off point.

Before looking at samples it really helps to take a good look at the space and think about what the end vision is. What element do you want to stand out, which would be better left quiet. Have a rough idea of what you like, what you don’t like and what colours or style you’re after. A lot of my clients come to me with images they’ve collected from magazines or on Pinterest which is a great place to start!

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It’s also important to consider any fixed elements in the room. I always keep in mind any furniture or artwork that my clients want to keep in the space, the wall colour, rugs etc. Taking the time to get a sense of what you’re after will really help narrow down the endless options.

3.  Play with Scale and Pattern!

This is where things get tricky, and where a professional designer can really help. At this stage, it’s all about pulling fabrics, and playing around with scale, texture, pattern, and colour.  For me, this is the fun part!

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Oftentimes I’ll start with one fabric that works as a jumping off point for the whole palette. I look for something bold, or bright or large scale – something that stands out. Once I have this, I can start choosing the coordinating fabrics. I like to choose complimentary rather than matching. This can mean pairing a floral with a geometric, a large scale print with a smaller print and so on.

If you need help selecting fabric, contact me, I’m happy help with any project, from upholstery to accent pillows, window coverings and more! All fabrics above were selected from Bellissimo’s vast library.