ArchivesCategory: design basics


I must have been feeling dark and moody this week. Most of my pins are in the neutral zone – with the exception for a few unusually bright things. It feels sort of right for the moment though doesn’t it? A hope for spring on the horizon?

Follow me on Pinterest here.

Living on The Chic ]

Desire To Inspire ]

{ Remodelista | Contemporist ]

Wit & Delight ]

[ Brittany Bass on Etsy | Coco + Kelley ]

[ Blissful B | The Designer Pad ]

A Pair and A Spare ]

If you are looking to give your space a dose of style- whether you are splashing out or on a budget – drop me a line. Check out my Hire Me! page for more details.


I haven’t done a Pinterest post in a while – which is kind of odd, considering I pin things there daily! So I think it’s time to rectify that. Here’s a look at a few of my recent pins. And of course if you want to see what I’m pinning in real time, follow me on Pinterest here.

{ Small Shop Studio | La Masion d’Anna G }

Desire to Inspire }

The Kitchn }

{ Family of Farmers | That’s Like Whoa }

Remodelista }

Amber Interior Design }

If you are looking to give your space a dose of style- whether you are splashing out or on a budget – drop me a line. Check out my Hire Me! page for more details.


Last week I was reading an article on White Hot Truth (which is a brilliant daily read by they way. You can get started with this series in particular: parts one and two) when something resonated.

To quote Danielle: “Earn your money doing something you’re passionate about, and pay people to do what you’re not passionate about but needs to be done for you to fulfill your mission. D-I-Y is like, not part of my driving strategy.”

Can I get a hells yeah? I totally love this statement, especially as it relates to DIY and design. We have all been drinking the Martha Stewart juice long enough to believe that we are all perfectly capable of doing anything and everything to our homes. And sometimes we are. I am a lover of creativity, art and craft and I really do love making things myself. I can paint. I can hang pictures and I can assemble my Ikea furniture.

This isn’t about whether or not you can do something. It’s about whether or not you should.

There are a ton of bloggers out there doing it for themselves and I have nothing but the utmost respect for their talents, thriftiness and their hours spent at the grind (and that is exactly what I think gets lost in translation the most – the hours!). But do I recommend following in the same footsteps for you?


Not everyone is a designer. Not everyone has a love of colour or even a gift for imagining the possibilities in a space. Similarly, not everyone is (or should be) a tiler, an electrician, a plumber, drywaller or mover. I am telling you that it is absolutely one hundred percent okay. Do not feel the pressure to do it yourself just because it seems like everyone else is doing it (or worse – that others will look down on you for not DIYing). Focus your time on what you do best (whether you are a nurse, accountant or full-time mom). It is absolutely one hundred percent okay to hire someone to part or all of a project for you. In a lot of cases you will save yourself the money of paying for something twice because of a mistake (there’s that pesky learning curve) – or the headache of looking at your handiwork for years to come and being able to see every little (or not so little) flaw. By all means, go on ahead and pay a professional or barter with friends or relatives for services.

So when should you attempt a DIY?

– when the money is absolutely too tight to hire someone else
– when you are sure that you feel the project is totally manageable or you have had experience with similar things
– when you are planning on doing multiple similar projects in the future
– when you are armed with a strong sense of adventure and willingness to learn

{All photos of the Fisher/McLaughlin renovation and addition done by Cottle and Khan Architects}

Just make sure you are realistic about how much time you have to devote to a project. Two hours a week of your time will make your bathroom renovation take months to complete. Are you willing to wait that long for results? Are you willing to endure the renovation chaos for that length of time? In the end, if you are totally honest with yourself about your skill level, confidence and pocketbook, you will be able to figure out if DIYing is the right thing for you. And then get back to doing whatever it is that you do best.

If you are looking to give your space a dose of fabulosity – whether you are splashing out or on a budget – drop me a line. Check out my Hire Me! page for more details.


{Vancouver Special project by Iconstrux}

Recently I’ve had a few conversations with totally different people in which the real costs of
renovating have come up. People are always shocked – terribly comically shocked – when they find the real costs of various items or installation. To be fair, most of what people see about renovating is on TV which never addresses the real value of anything (or real timelines for that matter). And most designers or renovators don’t share this upfront because they don’t want to scare anyone away. This becomes a vicious cycle, because the real numbers then actually do scare people away simply because they’ve never had to consider them before.

Ugh. Reality is such a bitch.

I think it’s important to keep some figures in mind. (And some other designers agree – Ramsin Khachi for example – and I’m sure there are others out there.)

{Vancouver Special project by Iconstrux}

The costs of any given project can range hugely. So here are a few ball park figures:

tile – basic ceramic tile – $5 sq.ft., slate – $20 sq.ft., glass mosaic sq.ft. $25+
quartz or granite countertops $100-$200 per linear foot
sink faucet – $300 (low) to $3000+ (high)
recessed light & installation – $100+
pendant light – $80 to $3000+
Kitchen cabinets – low $3000-$6000, midrange – $6000-$15,000, high $15,000+
Bathroom vanity – $400 (Ikea), $3000 (premade but nicer quality), $6000+ (custom)

These would be material costs alone. You still need a qualified installer or your expensive hardwood floor might end up shrinking away from your baseboards because it wasn’t climatized correctly (a total nightmare).

Obviously there are different levels of quality out there, and there are ways to get “the look” for less. But at the end of the day if you want a luxury kitchen with a built-in Subzero, marble countertops, and custom cabinetry be prepared to pay $100,00+ for your beautiful dream to come true. I’m not suggesting that everyone needs to spend that much on their renovation by the way! I’m simply saying that if nothing but a marble countertop will do, make sure you get yourself a good one and be prepared to pay for it. The same things are true no matter how much money you spend.

{Vancouver Special project by Iconstrux}

With careful planning and quality workmanship, you will still love your project when the stressful renovation period is finally over. In the end, it will have been worth it, because everything was carefully selected by your designer to work together and everything was installed properly by qualified tradespeople. These are the “extras” that people balk at paying for, but believe me, seeing your new glass mosaic tile installed incorrectly is not a mistake that you want to make.

The bottom line is, like with everything else in life, you get what you pay for with your tile, your appliances, your contractors and especially with your design advice.

If you are looking to give your space a dose of fabulosity – whether you are splashing out or on a budget – drop me a line. Check out my Hire Me! page for more details.


Contrast is a principle of design that can be illustrated in many different ways. This is one of the most important design principles to me because it creates visual tension (my favorite!). It is the polar opposite of harmony, another design principle (which I will expand on in a future post). Often when you look at a room and it is missing a certain something it’s because it’s lacking in contrast. A monochromatic room in sleek fabrics will look all the more interesting with an extremely fuzzy pillow or rug. Contrast keeps things interesting and keeps your room from sliding into the realm of the boring and unimaginative.

There are four different ways to achieve contrast in the design of a room:

{Room by Massucco Warner Miller via Centsational Girl}

The most obvious form of contrast, of course, is with colour. Opposing or complimentary colours on the colour wheel are a perfect examples of this. These colour combinations are design classics for good reason. Think of Christmas classic colour scheme red and green. Or blue and orange, like in the room above.

{via Holly’s View}

{Room by Kristan Cunningham via DecorPad}

Value is another way to show contrast. My favorite colour scheme – black and white – is a perfectly graphic example of this. Any really dark colour with a really light colour achieves the same thing (deep blue and ivory for example).

{Oversized headboard via Apartment Therapy}

{Barcelo Ravel restaurant interiors by via Chic and Chivalrous}

Size is a third way to achieve contrast. I love the contrast of this purple oversized headboard, with it’s oversized graphic for even more impact. The rest of the room is totally neutral to let this piece stand out. Similarly, the oversized lamps at the restaurant in the Barcelo Raval hotel in Barcelona are also hugely over scale in comparison to the rest of the room. Interestingly, the rest of this particular space is pretty busy, and the scale of the fixtures allows someplace for your eye to rest.

{via Neat Home}

{Room via We Love Domino}

Type is the last way to achieve contrast. I can think of a million ways to illustrate this one! Old vs. new, sleek vs. ornate, smooth vs. textured, curvy vs. angular, round vs. geometric. If there is too much of one just one thing in a room your eye won’t know where to go. Add something – almost anything – different to a space and suddenly the whole room will sing. Both rooms above play with sleek vs. ornate in opposite ends of the spectrum.

Contrast (like I said with rhythm) is probably something you already inherently play with when putting together your space. But if you find that you just can’t make a room “click” it’s usually helpful to review some design basics to see what is missing. I hope these mini design lessons prove useful in your decorating adventures!

If you are looking to give your space a dose of fabulosity – whether you are splashing out or on a budget – drop me a line. Check out my Hire Me! page for more details.