Happy long weekend! We hope you’re out enjoying winter or curled up inside with family and friends.
“How can I turn my house into a beautiful, layered home?” It’s a question we get asked a lot. (Seriously, a lot.) And it’s a relatable feeling. Many of our clients have what we call a great envelope — well-proportioned rooms, nice floors, good light — but the house doesn’t feel quite finished. It’s not a renovation that’s needed, it’s a refresh.
One of our favourite clients from 2023 had already done all the design “heavy lifting” when building her beautiful home in Halifax’s South End. She’d overseen the floorplans, chosen gorgeous light fixtures, installed some classic wallpaper in the dining room, and started acquiring some chic furniture pieces. But after all that work, she’d run out of steam. She wanted some fresh eyes to help elevate and finish the rooms so that she and her family could truly settle in.
Enter Henhouse Founder Sappho Griffin and Senior Decorator & Stylist Beth Hitchcock, who love nothing more than finding unique pieces with lasting impact. “Every house needs some patina and quirk, especially a new one,” says Beth. “It’s part of the whole ‘Slow Decorating’ approach — we keep an open mind and take the time to source special things that really give a home wow factor.”
Let’s take a tour, shall we?
We loved our client’s rustic table and wall sconces, but added an antique French mantel mirror — a find hidden in the back room of a local dealer — an antique kilim runner, some vintage trunks, and a marble bird bath turned into a planter.
The kitchen had spectacular architecture, millwork and finishes. That meant we got to play with styling. Three-quarter height café curtains in an olive ticking stripe helped soften the black window frames. Sappho spotted the vintage kilim runner in an online auction and snapped it up, knowing it would be ideal for the space. “It adds movement and interest, and the red accents speak to the iconic red knobs on our client’s range,” she says.
The living room needed more scale to fill out its generous proportions. That meant a new rug, longer sofa, and two chunky square coffee tables that pull together all the wood tones throughout the home’s main floor. Our client had great art, so we selected some bold toss cushions and accessories to make it pop. One fun project involved converting an antique wooden church candlestick (pictured in the left corner of the living room) into a lamp, complete with custom lampshade. In the dining room, we reupholstered two of the client’s existing chairs in deep green — to add freshness and refer back to kitchen café curtains — and added a nailhead detail.
The cozy main floor den just needed some finishing touches. Rather than suggest an expected mirror or painting, Beth found a vintage Belgian shield to hang over the fireplace. “It’s fun and almost feels as if it could be their family crest,” she says. The room’s other showstopper? Full-height linen drapes at either end of the room in a sophisticated palette of blue, rust, green, and mushroom, which create an enveloping mood — especially on a cold winter’s night when the fire is glowing. Other new touches include new and vintage rugs, coffee table, leather stools and pretty toss cushions to tie it all together.
Two transitional upstairs spaces — the lounge at the top of the stairs, and the hallway within the primary suite — got the full wallpaper treatment. The client had already installed some texture with wainscotting, so we suggested building on that with print and colour above the chair rail. The leather club chair, previously in the living room, was relocated to the new upstairs reading nook. We completed the space with drapes, a rug, and a contemporary wall-mounted reading light. In the hallway to the primary bath, a vintage runner leads the eye to a carved wood chair, which acts as a piece of sculpture.
A new rug provided the jumping-off point for the primary with soft blue and caramel tones. Beth and Sappho spied the antique carved armoire at a favourite dealer and knew it would be the perfect piece to visually anchor the wall and provide a hit of warmth as well. We also added a vintage metal mirror, all new lighting, a reading chair with ottoman, a vintage wooden bench, and new bedding.
Last but not least, the primary bath, which was stunning but a little sterile. Once again, we turned to one-of-a-kind vintage pieces, from a rug to a coastal painting and wooden urn and plinth. These additions invite the eye to roam, and make the room feel like a decorated space that’s cohesive with the rest of the home.
We hope you enjoyed seeing how the Henhouse team was able to take this home from very good to pretty great! It didn’t happen overnight, but when we’re fortunate to work with a patient and collaborative client, well, that’s when the magic happens. If you’re facing decision fatigue with a new build or have some rooms that could use a refresh, please do get in touch. Our team does it all, and we love decorating just as much as we love building and renovating!
If you’re intrigued and would like to see more of our most recent work, please check out the newly refreshed “Portfolio” section of henhouse.ca .