A Cozy Urban Cottage in the Heart of Halifax

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We are so excited to finally share this project in its entirety! This sweet Halifax home is one of our favourites. Working with this family over a period of a year and a half truly was a pleasure every step of the way. They appreciated and were excited about every part of the process. It brought a special warmth and mutual trust to the project that let the process evolve organically – the end result feels like an escape right in the middle of the city.

A few weeks ago our clients allowed us back in to take some photos of this beautiful home. They were so kind to take part in an e-mail interview so that we could share their story and their experience working with Sappho at Henhouse. We hope you enjoy!

What was your initial reason for getting in touch with Henhouse? 

When my husband and I first moved to the west end of Halifax, I was desperate to find furniture and décor that would tie in with our nearly 100 year old home. A friend told me about the Henhouse shop in the Hydrostone Market. I fell in love and wanted to take everything home! I was absolutely devastated when the shop closed, especially because I had planned to decorate my entire home with the treasures I would find there over the years. 

Fourteen years later, my husband and I decided that it was time to undergo a significant renovation. I knew I would need help with light fixtures, window treatments and paint colours for our kitchen and bathrooms. When I found out that Sappho had continued Henhouse as an interior design business, there was no question in my mind as to who I wanted to hire. I never even researched other designers. I knew that Sappho’s style was exactly what I wanted in our home.

How did things progress from your initial plans to where you ended up (with a whole home makeover!)

I truly believed that all we were going to do was renovate our kitchen and two bathrooms. Well, come to find out…that was just the tip of the iceberg! It became apparent during the demolition phase of the upstairs bathroom that we had old electrical and plumbing infrastructure that had to be replaced. We quickly found ourselves with a whole home makeover on our hands and significant work to be undertaken in the basement – a space we had not planned on tackling at all.

My husband and I have a daughter on the autism spectrum who presents with significant delays in development. We had always thought that one day we might raise the house and convert the basement into a legal apartment for someone to help us with in-home support for our daughter. ‘One day’ all of a sudden became ‘now’!   

Sappho came on board to help us design a beautiful living space on the main floor and the upstairs where the bedrooms are located. Once the house was lifted, and the foundation was demolished, Sappho then helped us with the finishing touches for the basement apartment and the exterior design features of our home. She literally helped us transform 90% of our home over a period of about a year and a half. We only have a main floor guest room that has yet to be redesigned. No doubt, when we are ready to tackle this final room, we will be calling Sappho! 

What would you say were the benefits of hiring Henhouse vs. trying to tackle it on your own?

There is no way that I would be nearly as happy with the results had I tried to tackle the design process on my own.

Before Sappho and I began working together, I had tried to choose light fixtures on my own. When Sappho asked me if she could see what I had chosen, she told me (very diplomatically) that every fixture looked the same. She was right! She put together a plan for light fixtures that offered more variety, but still all worked together. I was so impressed with her vision that I ended up hiring her to redesign our entire home.

Sappho also has a true gift for figuring out which patterns and textures work together in a space. Whether it’s throw cushions, draperies, wallpaper or bedding – she can piece everything together so that the space is layered perfectly. This is something I could have never done well on my own. 

Do you have any advice or insights to share with folks who are considering hiring a professional designer? 

Yes – hire one! I know we would have made many mistakes had we chosen to undertake the design and décor process on our own. I truly believe that going without a designer can cost more in the long run.

Sappho knows what is worth investing in and what’s not. Knowing when something is fleeting or if it will last the test of time can save you money. She also has access to suppliers that you may never even realize existed, and can often pass along cost savings to you.

Were there any aspects of the process or the results that went beyond your expectations? 

All of it! I really had no idea what to expect. I knew that I really loved Sappho’s style from what I experienced in her shop and from what I saw on her website and in magazine articles. What I didn’t know was how exciting and rewarding it would be to work with a designer of Sappho’s caliber.

Sappho helped me to see how my home could be even more of what I wanted. She really knows how to incorporate and pull together all the details. She sourced so many unique décor items and encouraged us to refinish family heirlooms to bring history and warmth to our home.

She even provided us with an education in art! We now have works hanging in our home from many talented local artists. Even though the renovation and design plan are complete, thanks to Sappho, we continue to have date nights visiting art galleries around Halifax and in the Annapolis Valley.

Do you have a new favourite space or something else about your home now that you are especially happy about? 

This is such a tough question. No kidding, I come home each and every day and think, “I can’t believe I live here!” The entire house is just so comfortable and inviting. It’s cozy, yet it has such amazing style. I feel like I live in my dream cottage in the middle of Halifax.

The kitchen/family room is definitely the ‘hub’ of our home. Our daughter loves spending time in the family room while her father and I putter around in the kitchen. I must say, however, there is something about the living room that I find so special and peaceful. All week, I look forward to the weekend to curl up on the couch with a cup of coffee and a book. Sometimes I don’t even get into the book as I am distracted by the wonderful living space – I still just love looking at all the design details in the living room and the adjoining dining room.

Both bedrooms are such calming and serene spaces. Although our daughter has very little language, when she saw her newly decorated bedroom for the first time, she could not stop smiling, swaying her head from side to side, and flapping her hands. It was her way of giving Sappho two major thumbs up! It made my heart so happy to see her so excited about her new ‘teenage’ bedroom.

Though I’ve been living in this space for over a year, it continues to delight each and every day. I’m truly so grateful for Sappho’s effort in making my home my ‘happy place’.

We are so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with these wonderful clients. It was a pleasure and it means so much to us that they love the results! Thanks also to Julian Parkinson for photographing this project.