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A Fresh Start for Spring!


Happy Easter, and warm greetings from all of us at Henhouse! With all the new growth around—flowers poking up from the ground, birds chirping, sun showing up more frequently—we couldn’t resist sharing some budding news of our own. After almost two years of meetings, phone calls, drawings, and site visits, we’re closing in on the completion of our first start-to-finish build. It’s the first of many, we hope, thanks to Lead Designer, Sappho Griffin, Architectural Designer, Matthew Dick, and the talented team at Blueprint Construction.

To say it’s been a dream assignment is an understatement! It’s long been our goal to deliver complete homes that showcase the best of what Nova Scotia has to offer. You know, the kind of dreamy images you’d put on your Pinterest board. Think: shingles and clapboard, historic charm meets modern convenience, stunning ocean views, and beautiful light—in other words, coastal homes that feel as though they could exist only here. By teaming up with Blueprint and approaching this project with our combined points of view, we’re excited to share our new vision for what a Maritime home can be.

But wait; Before we skip to the end, let’s go back to the beginning.

This house—a getaway for an Ontario family—is a story about location, location, location. The land was adjacent to property owned by our clients’ family and sits high on a knoll with expansive views of St. Margarets Bay. You can imagine the appeal; our clients made an offer before even seeing the house in person. “It’ll just be a light reno,” the homeowners said when they got in touch in the summer of 2021. On the initial site visit, we agreed. The shingled house did have a rustic, weather-worn appeal. But once our clients started listing all the layout challenges and ’80s features they wanted to change, the path forward became clear: Start fresh!


One of the main problems was that the previous two-storey house didn’t sit comfortably on the land. We envisioned a dwelling that felt natural and quiet, rather than big and imposing. By keeping the original foundation and adding some new square footage we could reimagine this house as one that reflects the rich tradition of Maritime architecture while offering up something fresh for today. The process started with eye candy, as we collected images with wow factor that captured the mood and quality of the project. Our official concept line on the brief? “A contemporary dwelling with heritage coastal references to the Atlantic shores.” Here are a few photos from our early inspiration file…

With that jumping-off point in mind, Sappho and Matthew designed a home that celebrates the ease of one-level living with a cottage sectioned into three pods—living, primary suite, and a kids’ wing—the first two being connected by a breezeway. The house will sleep 12 and when it’s not in use, the owners love the idea of offering the space as a location for creative retreats. For the exterior, classic clapboard siding in weathered grey, bronze windows, and a steel grey standing-seam roof serve as nods to the traditional architecture found throughout the province. The new layout is configured to make the most of the ocean views and deliver the indoor-outdoor lifestyle the owners crave. “The house is a mix of the historic Nova Scotian aesthetic that we love and admire, with simple and high-quality interiors that speak to how we all want to live today,” says Sappho.


As construction began, Sappho started work on the interior concepts. Our clients asked for a light and bright interior palette with a neutral backdrop, a soft infusion of blues and greys, and strong black accents for definition. Mood boards helped us to build a cohesive look that would flow throughout the home and allow the owners to say, “Ahhh!” every time they walk through the door. All the rooms are designed to feel simple and serene to complement, but not compete with, the natural surroundings.

Once everyone was on the same page about the fixtures and finishes, we moved to the rendering stage—a chance for the homeowners to really be able to envision the look and feel of the colours and materials, both inside and out.

Progress is happening at a fast clip now, and every week we’re getting closer to the finish line of having the home move-in ready for summer. Stay tuned to our IG page and stories to see the progress—there’ll be plenty of show-and-tell for you to enjoy!

In the meantime, if you or someone you know is considering a new build, please get in touch. Our passion is for creating approachable homes with amazing layouts and a fine-tuned attention to detail. We’re just getting started!

We’re Hiring: Design Assistant and Operations Manager

Henhouse Design, a leading Halifax-based design firm, is seeking two organized and creative team members for the newly created roles of Design Assistant and Operations Manager.

Established in 2001, Henhouse is a full-service firm dedicated to high quality, thoughtful design — from whole-house renovations to interior decorating and styling. We’re a small but mighty team with big plans for the future, so upbeat energy and personality fit are important to us.

If either of these positions sound like you or someone you know, please get in touch at — we’d love to hear from you! 

Design Assistant
We’re looking for someone with a genuine love of design and decorating, and an attention to detail that will help make our projects shine.

Key tasks for this role include:
• Create mood boards for clients with direction of Senior Designer
• Source products online and at local retailers
• Build and update budget spreadsheets
• Maintain relationships with a variety of stakeholders, from suppliers and clients to trade partners and the Henhouse team
• Compile sewing and upholstery workroom documents
• Assist with styling of photoshoots and project installations with direction of Senior Designer
• Pick up and return items as requested; a car and valid license are a must.

Operations Manager
The ideal candidate is extremely organized and self-driven, with sharp project-management skills and an ability to anticipate next steps and help us stay ahead of the process.

Key tasks for this role include:
• Streamline and manage the purchasing and tracking system for a variety of projects with immediate and long-term turnaround times (this includes arranging pick-ups and deliveries, tracking client orders, and updating budgets)
• Organize and cross check all purchase invoices with Senior Designer for end-of-month invoicing
• Complete light bookkeeping
• Maintain and warehouse inventory with information and photos for team (including costing and mark-ups)
• Follow up with sub trades and vendors to maintain project timelines.

What Henhouse offers for both roles:
• The opportunity to join a creative and passionate team, and contribute to a growing business
• The ability to work from home and keep regular business hours (average of 20-30 hrs/week; max 40 hrs)
• Flexible vacation time (4 to 5 weeks/year), depending on team/client schedules
• Attractive hourly rate commensurate with experience

Henhouse is Growing!

After a couple of years’ hiatus from the blog, we are back in full force with some very talented additions to the team. The last two years saw us navigating a changed world with a busier-than-ever project schedule, but we’ve persevered with creativity and gusto in spite of the challenges! 

We’re also excited to share some news: Henhouse has expanded, and we’ve organized our internal structure with more distinct job titles and improved systems to streamline our process. The result is a more full-service experience for clients looking to create the personal, authentic home they’ve been craving. 

Curious to see what can accomplish together? We’re currently booking projects for 2023, so please reach out to us through our new contact form here!

Meet our Team!

Sappho Griffin – Principal Designer, Founder & Owner

Sappho started Henhouse in 2001 as a retail shop offering unique decor items and custom designed hand-built furniture. Over the past 22 years, Sappho has thoughtfully nurtured Henhouse into what it is today — a design firm that offers unique and personal design and decorating solutions for your home.

Over the last few years, Sappho has been focusing on larger, more complete renovations and new builds. Her work includes creating detailed plans and specifications for both interiors and exteriors, and calling on the expertise of other team members as needed to complete the vision.


Christine Buiteman – Designer, Project Coordinator


Christine joined the henhouse team in 2017, focusing on small to midsize renovations and decorating projects. Christine brings more than 15 years’ experience planning and executing projects and events in the creative industries. She combines her love of timeless design with an ability to create warm, inviting spaces tailored to each client’s needs. Christine shares Henhouse’s passion for authenticity in design, often incorporating antique and found items into her plans. 

Alyssa Chapeskie – Design Assistant & Operations Manager

Alyssa has been working with Henhouse since 2011, both in the Henhouse retail retail store, and behind the scenes. When the Henhouse retail shop closed, Alyssa continued on assisting with decorating projects as well as sourcing, styling, and writing the Henhouse blog. Recently, Alyssa has advanced to the role of Design Assistant & Operations Manager, and we’re so happy to see Alyssa grow into her new role.

Beth Hitchcock – Senior Decorator & Stylist


We are delighted to announce the addition of
Beth Hitchcock as Senior Decorator and Stylist. As a veteran of the lifestyle and design media industry (most recently as Editor-in-Chief of Canadian House & Home magazine), Beth offers an experienced eye, and loves nothing more than sourcing the perfect rug, light fixture, or piece of art to elevate a space and make the mix feel both comfortable and current. She’s especially passionate about picking paint colours, and the transformative power of textiles and wallpaper.




Newly Refreshed Website & Celebrating 20 Years!

Last year Henhouse turned twenty! In conjunction with celebrating this big milestone, we’ve updated our website to better showcase our work, our team and, most notably we’ve added a new FAQ’s section and an intake form. These new features are meant to help potential clients understand our process, and to streamline the intake process for the Henhouse team. We really look forward to hearing from you!

What have we been up to? Here’s a look at some project highlights:

Lakeside Whole Home Renovation
Fall River, Nova Scotia

2021 – present
Lead Designer: Sappho Supporting Designer: Christine
Project Scope: Henhouse was hired to customize a 1990s builder-basic home located on a two-acre lakeside property in Nova Scotia and transform it into a Muskoka-inspired oasis with Craftsman details. The project included an all-new exterior: exterior material selection, windows, doors, architectural details, hardscaping, the addition of a dock house and screened-in porch. Henhouse completed extensive interior renovations including all-new cabinetry, a full renovation of the basement level to create a bar/ family area, a refurbished primary suite,  and all-new lighting, furnishings and styling.

Detail-Filled Dream House
Halifax, Nova Scotia
2019 – 2021
Lead Designer: Sappho 
Project Scope: This was a large-scale new build project brimming with custom details. Henhouse was involved from start to finish: architectural, lighting, and switching plans; selection of all finishes and fixtures; tile designs; millwork designs for walls and ceilings; cabinetry designs; custom furniture; and all interior furnishings. This was an incredible opportunity to build a one-of-a-kind home for special clients.

Historic Italianate Mansion
Halifax, NS
2021 – present
Lead Renovation & Custom Cabinetry: Sappho Lead Decorator: Beth
Project Scope: An historic downtown Halifax mansion is getting a refresh from top to bottom thanks to Sappho and Beth. Though the house maintains many of its original features—like gorgeous trim and baseboards, beautiful plaster corbels, and antique fireplaces—it needed a new perspective to suit its owners’ modern needs. Henhouse delivered custom cabinetry for improved storage, selected paint, lighting, and furnishings, and worked with trades to refinish the floors and install new stair runners. This project is nearing completion.

Elegant Family Abode 
Halifax, NS

2020 – 2021 
Lead Designer: Sappho Photo Styling: Beth
Project Scope: This whole-home renovation project included a new main floor and basement layout, new primary suite layout and kids’ bath layout as well as all-new interior finishes and fixtures. Henhouse designed custom cabinetry, architectural millwork, a new stair rail, and tile layouts. All window treatments, paint colours and wallpapers were also selected by Henhouse. You can see the final images on our portfolio page.

Sleek Ensuite
Hubbards, NS 
Lead Designer: Christine Supporting Designer: Sappho
Project Scope: Henhouse was hired to create a principle ensuite in an under-utilized room off of the master bedroom. One of the challenges of this space was incorporating the pitched roof as well as a dormer window. Christine designed a layout that would accommodate the required clearances and satisfy the client’s wish list. Taking cues from the home’s colour palette ensured that this new space would blend seamlessly with the other rooms throughout the charming home. 

Open Concept Kitchen
Halifax, NS
2022 – present
Lead Designer: Christine
Project Scope: The main goal of this renovation is to open up the home’s main level and create the client’s dream custom kitchen. Henhouse came up with a plan to expand the kitchen into the existing dining room space and include a large-scale island. As work began on the kitchen, a surprise I-beam was discovered that required some swift revisions to incorporate the structural support into the design plans. Christine’s solution was to clad the I-beam in wood and transform it into a decorative bulkhead. Hardwood flooring is now being installed throughout, as well as custom-cut tile in the entry, laundry, and powder rooms. Furniture, window treatments, lighting and styling are in the works and we can’t wait to admire the finished spaces by year-end.

Thank you for following along and having an interest in our work! We have lots more to share here on the blog, stay tuned! If you’d like to receive our quarterly update in your inbox please sign up at the bottom of the page. 

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.