A Gorgeous Modern Home Reno in Halifax

It’s been quite a while since we did an update on here! As the year is quickly drawing to a close, we’re grateful to be able to say that 2020 has been very busy for the Henhouse team. We’re looking forward to having a bit of time to share what we’ve been up to this past year. We’ve completed some really exciting projects that we can’t wait to show you.

We’re also excited to announce that we’ve added to the Henhouse team! Designer Christine Buiteman has joined us and we are so glad to have her. You can find out more about Christine here, and follow her on Instagram @christinehenhouse.

Let’s kick things off with this recently completed project in Halifax. This was a renovation project designed by Henhouse for a home in Halifax’s South End. The homeowners had previously worked with Nancie Theakston Phipps for most of their interior furnishings and overall decorating scheme and after a small kitchen fire, the Henhouse team was brought in to redesign their builder basic kitchen and tackle some other areas of the home while they were at it.

Sappho and Nancie have been friends for many years, trading design and business advice and working alongside each other on a few projects. We got to chat with them about this project and the benefits of working cooperatively in the design industry.

Sappho and Nancie first worked together when Sappho was updating some lighting in her home. She had heard of Nancie through a mutual friend, and wanted another designer’s perspective: “Nancie pushed me to take a risk on the lighting and I’m so glad I did. Many years and a move later, I still have that fixture we chose hanging over my dining room table.”

Over the past ten plus years, the two have kept in close contact, trading industry advice and working on a few of the same projects.

For this renovation, Sappho and Nancie worked separately, taking on different aspects of the project. Nancie had previously worked with the clients selecting new furniture, decor and wallpaper. Unfortunately, soon after the work was completed and everything was in place, a small kitchen fire caused extensive damage through the main floor and basement.

Renovations were in order, and Henhouse was contacted by the clients to create the design plans and manage the project.

Sappho designed a new custom kitchen, which included selecting the finishes and hardware, creating designs for the cabinetry and millwork, and helping to select appliances. She also created plans for the basement bathroom, a fireplace design for the main floor living area, and selected all new flooring for the main and lower levels. The renovations were executed by Kestrel Builders.

To create a seamless design, Sappho took cues from the work that Nancie had done before the fire. The style is modern and clean with a fresh and timeless feel.

In the kitchen Sappho chose to integrate the appliances into the cabinetry and countertops to create a streamlined look. The new layout is very similar to the old kitchen, but by creating a built-in fridge, and installing a drop-in range with a wall-mounted oven the space feels much less cluttered and suits the modern aesthetic that the clients love.

Sappho and Nancie get lot of value from each other’s unique perspectives and skills. Sappho says “we’ve always admired each other’s eye for design. There are parallels in our work, but also differences, and that’s what draws us together. We can pull each other in different and new directions, and get each other outside of our comfort zones.”

Nancie says that she appreciates Sappho’s business sense and her ability to envision the potential of a space. She says, “Sappho is really fab at being able to see a space before it’s created,” mentioning the built-in bar as an example of Sappho’s ability maximize on space.

Before the renovation, this area was a plain wall that contained a too-small walk in pantry. Sappho saw the opportunity to open up the wall, and give the clients the entertainment area that they had always wanted.

Once the renovations were complete, Nancie restored her original design plan, reordering and replacing nearly all of the same decor and furniture that she had chosen.

For Sappho, it’s Nancie’s drive to push boundaries in her work that she appreciates: “she doesn’t settle for just ‘looking nice’ she goes for ‘spectacular’. She creates that edge in her designs that makes for interesting tension.”

Both designers love to create soulful, timeless spaces that speak to their client’s lifestyle and tastes and they say that listening to the client is key. “We both listen to our clients. It’s one thing to just create something, but it’s so important to really listen” says Nancie.

Though they worked separately on this project, Sappho and Nancie’s work blends together beautifully. They believe that the results are better when designers can come together rather than compete – whether it be a collaboration, or just having a friend to call on for advice. “We’re all different, and there is room for everyone” says Nancie.

Thanks for following along with us! We have lots to share in the coming months, so stay tuned. Make sure you’re following us over on Instagram @sapphohenhouse and @christinehenhouse for regular updates and behind the scenes goodies. And for even more juicy design inspiration, follow Nancie @theakstonphippsinteriors.

Thanks our photographer Julian Parkinson, and to Nancie for her fantastic styling.

Historic Charm with a Modern Twist – Whole Home Reno Reveal

We’re excited to share with you the final results of this historic charmer in Halifax! A few weeks ago we shared this sweet Halifax home when it was nearly complete (see before pics and in-progress pics here!).

The home was newly purchased by a young couple, who had fallen in love with its charm and location but knew that it needed some updates. They hired Henhouse to create a full design package for the entire home and once those plans were complete and approved they oversaw the renovation process themselves. The homeowners hired Bromax Construction and handled any changes that came up through the process, but overall they stuck very closely to Henhouse’s design plan.

The homeowners were so kind to participate in an email interview for us! Read on for the full story about their new home and some insights into the design and renovation process.

Tell us about your home — what was it like inside before you renovated, what drew you to it?

One of us grew up in this neighbourhood, so when the house popped up for sale we couldn’t resist. Most of all, we loved the neighbourhood and having family close by was really important to both of us. We have have family who live right across the street — that sealed the deal!

The house was built in 1948. It has really good bones and was well cared for over the years. Before the renovations, the inside of the house had a lot of wallpaper and the hardwood floors had been covered with carpet for years, but the stand-out feature was by far was the barbie pink enamel sink/dishwasher combination in the kitchen! Lol…

We loved the charm of the exterior, the round front door and window, the high peaked eaves; the house had a cottage feel. Even before the renovations, the interior had lots of appeal. The original hardwood floors and staircase, the fireplace and large windows were all great features, but it was clear that we would want to make some updates.

Henhouse designed custom built-ins in the kitchen area for extra seating and storage.

When you were house hunting, was it in your initial plan to buy and then renovate or did you make that decision after choosing this house?

No haha! We weren’t even planning to house hunt until about 6 months later. It was all very spontaneous at the start, but we quickly realized how invested we were. It was unlikely that another house like this was going to pop up in the neighbourhood in the near future.

We had specifically discussed not taking on a complete renovation. At most, we thought maybe we’d purchase an older home that needed some paint and minor updates that we could do ourselves over time. We never intended to search for a complete gut-job. It was a whirlwind walking through the house with various contractors and architects before we made an offer to get a sense of what was possible.

Once you decided that you wanted to tackle a whole home renovation, what prompted you to get in touch with Henhouse?

Our family has experience with renovations and they recommended we get in touch with a designer as they found it very helpful for their own projects. We searched online through Houzz Halifax and discovered Henhouse.

There are many talented designers in Halifax, but looking through Sappho’s portfolio we were super impressed with her range of style. Her portfolio has a mix of modern, traditional, coastal, and farmhouse-inspired interiors. I loved how each one of her projects oozes with style, charm and warmth.

After meeting with Sappho in person we knew it would be a great fit. We initially wanted her help with our kitchen and master bath, but decided to opt for a full design plan for our home.

The main floor powder room features a hand-painted gingham wall treatment.

Can you tell us a bit about the design process? What were some of the steps along the way? Did you have a vision in mind for your home, if so, how did Sappho help to bring your vision to life?

Sappho made the initial design process very smooth. We simply sent her some inspiration photos for each room, so she could get a sense of our style and provided her with the floor plans from our Architect. We then discussed our budget and from there she created a room-by-room design plan, as well as a complete list of selected finishings and fixtures for each room (tile, trim details, plumbing fixtures, lighting, etc). We met with her to review the design plan and went back and forth with some edits until the plan was finalized.

In the front entry way we kept the original door and painted it black to give it a modern look.

We definitely had a vision, but we had such a mix of styles that we liked. Our inspiration photos included traditional, modern, farmhouse and Scandinavian designs, so having someone skilled to ensure it all flowed together was very reassuring. Sappho not only brought it to life, she made it so much better! It’s incredible the value a designer can add to your project.

The mudroom features custom built-ins with loads of storage.

Was the design package what you expected and was the process straightforward? Is there anything you think that could improve the design package or process?

The design package was more than we imagined, it added so much character into our home. Initially I thought we were hiring someone to help us select flooring and finish details, but it was much more than that. We also believe Sappho pushed us outside of our comfort zone, which ultimately gave us a much better result in the end.

Bring on some drama! The second floor bath was painted a bold dark green, creating a modern edge and an element of the unexpected.

The level of detail in the design package made it easy for us to work directly with our contractor throughout the entire renovation process. Sappho was there for any questions or issues that came up, always finding a solution to make the process as smooth as possible. Ultimately, during a renovation there will be issues that pop up, it’s part of the process, but having experienced professionals involved who can provide expert advice makes it much easier.

Master bedroom. Painting from Bellissimo, gold vases and euro cushions from Attica

What was one of the most dramatic or exciting changes that you made to the home?

The addition (kitchen, mudroom and above master suite) was by far the most dramatic change to the existing foot print of the house, especially on the main level. It was very exciting to come home on the day that the wall separating the addition and the existing structure was removed, revealing an open concept floor plan. Sometimes it’s hard to know how a space will feel having only seen it on paper, so that was a very memorable moment for us.

The new master bath is a bright spa-like sanctuary.

Do you have a favourite design element or a favourite space in your home? Tell us about it and why you love it so much.

All of it.

Our master bath is my favourite space in our home. I love every design element from the funky mirrors and black fixtures, to the natural looking floor tile. It has a spa vibe that feels relaxing and calming. It’s the perfect place to unwind. We also love the new design elements that incorporated some of the character from the original home.

Thank you so much to the homeowners for letting us back into your home to take these stunning photos. Once again, our photographer Julian Parkinson did an incredible job at capturing this space for us – thank you Julian!

Whole Home Reno Reveal! Modern Lakeside Home in Tantallon.

Hello dear Henhouse friends. We hope you’re all doing well out there during this very unusual and challenging time. It can feel a bit odd to think about home renos and decorating right now, but we want to keep sharing our work with you in the hopes that it will inspire and energize you and bring some lightness into your days. This could be a great time to inject some new ideas into your own space — move things around, do some painting or tackle long forgotten projects, bring some clippings in from your yard and welcome spring into your home!

If you have any larger projects in mind for your home this could also be a great time to start to brainstorming and planning. Henhouse will be keeping busy this spring and summer with ongoing projects, and we will continue working. We are beginning to book new projects for this fall and winter so please contact us if you have renovation plans you’d like to get started on.

Now let’s take a look at the final results of our Tantallon home reno!

Tantallon Whole Home Reno Reveal

In our last blog article we shared two whole home renovation projects in progress (find that article here). We’re so excited to share the final results of our Tantallon project with you!

When Henhouse was contacted by this young family they had newly purchased the home, and construction was slated to begin very soon. The homeowners had fallen in love with the beautiful lakeside location, but the house was quite dated inside and out. They envisioned a fun, modern and sleek aesthetic, with a more open concept floor plan, where they could enjoy the views and entertain friends and family.

With move-in dates on the horizon, and construction about to begin, the Henhouse team got right to work. Designing in phases, and working in close collaboration with the contractors and homeowners, we came up with a plan to take everything right back down to the studs and start fresh with a nearly blank canvas.

Our first phase in the design process was coming up with the new layout. We decided on floor plans including locations and dimensions for the windows and doors, and millwork specifications for the interior built-ins. The second phase was elevations that included more detailed millwork specifications, sourcing materials for flooring, tile, plumbing, off-the-rack vanities and counter surfaces. The final stage was sourcing and installing the more decorative and finishing elements like lighting fixtures, furnishings, wallpaper and paint.

The new kitchen, living, and eating areas are all open to each other now and are the heart of this home. The homeowners love to entertain, so this was an important feature. The cabinetry in both the kitchen and in living area are custom built to suit the homeowner’s needs.

In the kitchen, all of the cabinetry was designed for maximum storage. As a busy young family of three with one more on the way, they needed lots of pantry and storage space. We included a coffee station hidden within the pantry to help keep clutter at bay — an important consideration for a design that is all about clean lines and simplicity.

The custom wet bar is a great place for the homeowners to store and showcase their fully stocked bar and glassware, and includes a keg hookup that runs all the way to the basement where the keg is stored. The cabinetry was custom built in walnut which ties well with the modern aesthetic, and to the woodland views.

Another special feature on the main floor are the large sliding glass doors that open right up to the deck. We wanted to capitalize on the amazing views and make better use of the exterior space. The homeowners were inspired by the indoor/outdoor living spaces that are popular in southern climates, and wanted to have that feeling for their home during the warmer months. We designed a new deck that leads down to a hot tub, offering even more space for living and entertaining.

The overall look for the home is modern and clean with fun pops of personality and colour. We also wanted to infuse elements that feel more natural to help balance the look, connect it to the landscape and create warmth. To accomplish this, we used lots of natural materials in the finishes and a soft, more natural colour palette.

For the flooring and kitchen cabinets we chose white oak and contrasted it with darker tones in the walnut bar cabinetry and the dark soapstone on the kitchen counters. The tiling throughout the home was selected from Ceragres. and has a matte, raw look offering an organic and natural feel.

Most of the paint colours through the home are soft and neutral, except for the playroom/den area. This space was created primarily as a hangout for the kids, so we wanted to make it feel more playful.

The artwork for this space was a jumping-off point. These paintings were created by a friend of the family and we love the bold colours. We went with a dark and dramatic wall colour here which works well with the saturated colours in the artwork, and also balances out the bold blue fireplace surround at the opposite end of the main floor. To tie it all together, we chose an array of colourful toss cushions for the sofa.

Upstairs, the soft and natural palette continues in the paint colours, flooring and finishes. All of the windows through the home are newly installed. Every room of the house now has the most incredible views. The property is so private that window dressings aren’t a concern, and with these views you would never want to cover them! To even farther emphasize the scenery, we went with black panes which create a bold frame to the outdoors and also have a modern feel.

This project was so much fun and a bit of a different challenge for Henhouse. Because of the tight timelines we had to design of the fly, which can be very exciting but doesn’t leave as much time to let ideas percolate. What made this project a success in the end was the unwavering trust of our collective team and everyone’s commitment to a positive outcome. The contractors from Blue Print Construction, the homeowners and I worked very closely together and always had each other’s backs through every step of the way. This was such a great experience, and we’re so happy to see this lovely family settled in and enjoying their beautiful home.

Thanks again to the homeowners for letting us return to your home so we could get these shots. We also want to thank our photographer Julian Parkinson who always does an incredible job at capturing our work.

Two Whole Home Renos, Two Different Approaches

Hello! It’s been quite some time since we’ve updated everyone here on the blog. 2019 was a very busy year for Henhouse, and 2020 is shaping up to be the same. With lots of projects in the works, and several nearing completion, you can look forward to some exciting updates in the coming months!

Let’s kick things off with two homes that were completed last year. Though every project is unique, it’s often the case that projects with similar requirements are tackled in a similar way. Not the case with these two homes! Both homes were newly purchased by the respective homeowners, and both underwent whole home renovations. However, there were big differences in each process. We think that sharing these two renovations side by side is a great way to show how Henhouse is ready to meet our client’s project needs.

Lakeside Home in Tantallon

This home, set in an idyllic landscape, needed a number of updates. The clients are a young family who were looking for a fresh modern style. They had purchased the home and hired their contractors, Blueprint Construction,  just before getting in touch with Henhouse. The contractors were slated to start work very soon, and the homeowners had an impending move-in date, so we had to get started on the design work very quickly.

Even though it is ideal to have more time for the design phase, it’s not always the case that we get that luxury. This wasn’t an issue for the Henhouse team! We worked very closely with the homeowners and the contractors to come up with a whole home renovation plan that suited their needs and timeline.

As you can see, the house had great bones but needed a modern update to suit its new owners. We came up with a full plan for the exterior, some of which you can see in the concept above and plans below.

Henhouse also created plans for the full interior;  including new layouts, new stairwell, new window and door configurations, new kitchen, all new flooring, lighting throughout, bathroom plumbing fixtures and cabinetry, and paint colours. We also created a plan for the exterior including finishes, colours and decking material. Above, you can see the elevation drawings for the exterior, and for the main floor.

In the kitchen, we designed a new layout, all new cabinetry, flooring, finishes, fixtures and lighting. We removed the wall between the den and kitchen, and installed a nice big island with fun modern lighting overhead. The space is now fresh and open to the incredible views, thanks to two huge new 10-12ft sliding glass doors. It’s a great spot for gathering and entertaining. Above are some images of the kitchen and den before and in-progress. 

Above, we have some more before images of the interior – we replaced the existing stairwell, and installed all-new flooring throughout. The transformation is pretty remarkable! Because of the tight timelines, design and construction were happening simultaneously. Close communication with the contractors and the homeowners was very important throughout the process, and we had many on-site checks. It was a very hands on and personal approach, we really enjoyed it. 

The final stage of this project is furniture and decor accessories. This phase has also been a collaborative effort. Henhouse has been sourcing items, and consulting with the homeowners as they source items themselves. It’s nearly complete and almost ready for the big reveal. We’ll have some after photos coming soon!

Historic Charm with a Modern Twist in Halifax

Our second whole home renovation was quite a different process. This sweet charmer in the South end of Halifax was also newly purchased, but in this instance the homeowners contacted Henhouse at the very start of the process which gave us lots of time to create a plan before construction. The homeowners had already hired an architect to rough out plans for the addition, and hired Henhouse to design all the interior details and specifications.

For this reno, the homeowners were keen on managing the project themselves. Once Henhouse’s design plans were completed and approved, the homeowners purchased the plan and executed it themselves. They hired Bromax Construction, and handled any changes that came up through the process themselves. Henhouse had minimal involvement during the construction phase with only 3-4 site visits.

In the images above you can see some of the concepts that we created alongside the before pictures, and various stages of progress on-site. The new look has a modern farm house feel. It’s cozy with lots of charm with a bit of modern edge to keep things feeling fresh and young.

We are really excited about both of these projects, and we will have some great images to share of the final results in the coming weeks. If you’d like to keep up with us on all of our design adventures be sure to follow on Instagram @sapphohenhouse.

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