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Hi!

Welcome to my blog. As an interior designer, design is in my blood. Design affects how we live, how we function. It can have a profound effect on our happiness and productivity.  I wish to inspire you with my stories about great, good and not so good design. About exteriors and interiors. About colours and art. In short, the things that we surround ourselves with. 

Two Challenges

Two Challenges

I mentioned in an earlier article that I had joined an October blog challenge which encourages its participants to post one article per day for the month of October. I also mentioned that I fell off that wagon and that I now write less than each day but more than once per week.

Today’s suggestion in this challenge talks about overcoming challenges. And, like the presentation on Vivaldi and Interior Design of last week, I can write up something about this topic without having to do a lot of research so it will take less time. We can all relate to overcoming challenges, can we not! After all, we all have to get them. That’s what life is all about. Agreed, some more than others, but we all get them. My mother used to say (in Dutch, of course) “Elk huisje heeft zijn kruisje……”. In English this means that each ‘house’ (or family if you will) has its cross to bear, and she would continue to say that if there were no cross there, nobody would live there.

At the moment two challenges come to mind for the moment.. One applies to a design problem I encountered and the second one is of a personal nature. One is in the far past, the second one is a recent one.

 Whistler, BC

Whistler, BC

Quite some years ago I was working on the redesign and refresh of an executive retreat in Whistler, BC. Whistler is known for its fabulous skiing opportunities, its breathtaking mountains and fun après-ski entertainment. Whistler is about an hour and a half drive from Vancouver. The drive itself is so beautiful, going from the ocean deep into the mountains in such a short time.

Now, I don’t remember quite all the details, but one things is clear in my mind: the master ensuite in this exclusive, ski-in/ski-out townhouse required a lot of work. The existing suite had the tub in an awkward location. The tile was outdated. The plumbing fixtures were still old brass ones…. There was not enough lighting. The wc and bidet were taking up far too much space. I could go on and on. The client, a company, thought the room too small for its purpose. They wanted more of a spa-like environment in keeping with the exclusivity of the townhouse’s location and purpose. We made the space larger by taking out the walk-in closet (after all, since when is a walk-in closet required for an executive retreat which is only occupied limited times of the year. People do not show up with their entire wardrobe for a retreat). A large closet was not needed in my view. Instead we incorporated a steam room for sore muscles…

 I found this old drawing showing the new tub location and wall application. It gives an idea of what I was planning. The tub’s new location is in a dormer-like section of the master ensuite. Removing the glass block in the upper section of the exterior wall and replacing it with a large window was not part of the design program at that time.

I found this old drawing showing the new tub location and wall application. It gives an idea of what I was planning. The tub’s new location is in a dormer-like section of the master ensuite. Removing the glass block in the upper section of the exterior wall and replacing it with a large window was not part of the design program at that time.

We wanted a large soaker tub in a prominent location, not the rather plain looking standard one that was already there. A large tub is a wonderful thing after a long day of skiing. Soaking with a glass of wine, some candlelight and soft music in the background is relaxing after a day on the slopes. We were limited with the location of the plumbing in this ensuite, so we took out the outdated tub and dropped in a modern rectangular model switching the wc and bidet locations, a marble tub deck framing the new tub. I had sourced a beautiful Dornbracht set of deck faucets for this tub. They were ordered from New York at that time. The delivery took quite a while.

Dornbracht is a German line of plumbing fixtures, faucets and shower systems exquisitely designed and manufactured with, of course, German craftsmanship and detail. Dornbracht product is expensive and mostly used in high end homes. It was not readily available in Canada at that time. The tub set arrived after some delays. I was excited to see it installed.

And, then I received the ‘dreaded’ call: the tub faucet could not be installed on the deck. The spout would not reach far enough for the water to drop into the tub. There was nothing wrong with the product itself or the design of it, but it the spout did not clear the rim of the tub enough for it to function as it should and to look good. The spout’s height was too low. We could not return the item since it was a special order, nor could we wait for a new faucet to arrive. Winter was fast approaching and the chalet was going to be used for executive retreats soon. I had to find a solution fast. It was quite stressful. I was put under a lot of pressure.

I reasoned that if the faucet stood higher the spout would clear the rim properly and that this would solve the problem. I sourced some local machine and chroming shops and took the unit to be modified. I designed high narrow sleeves for the original the water pipes to fit into. The sleeves were made of brass, like the original faucet and subsequently chromed to match the original design. They were then fitted around the faucet’s water pipes and voilà, the unit was modified and stood higher. I was concerned though that it would not pass inspection after installation since it was a modified plumbing fixture which is typically not allowed.

After the faucet was mounted on the tub deck the entire set up looked great. Elevating the faucet was just what the design needed. It looked so good and it worked perfectly fine. And, yes it passed inspection. Pfew….I was relieved. The client was happy and there were no delays in the construction schedule. The cost of the modification was minimal in light of the overall budget of this bathroom. A good ending.

My second challenge occurred a few months ago.

My son and I had discussed my move from Vancouver to Toronto a couple of years back. My business was slowing down, partly due to the economy and partly due to the flood of new, young designers entering the market. Designers much more savvy in the technological aspects of design! I would have to do some serious marketing after a decade or two working on a referral basis only. I was so not looking forward to that. Marketing is not a strong asset for me. After nearly twenty five years in business in the Vancouver area it seemed a good idea to move to Toronto, take it easy and slowly build up the business there. After all, if I had to market myself again, I could also do that in the Toronto area. So I moved. Across country. I stayed with my son at that time until we found a better solution.

When my son married a short while after my move, we decided to split up. The young couple wanted to stay in Toronto and I wanted to move out of Toronto. I really did not like the city at all. The traffic is horrendous. The people (as a broad generalization) are not nearly as friendly as they are in Vancouver. For the third time in my life I was experiencing a form of culture shock (the first one being my immigration from the Netherlands to Canada in the late seventies; the second one my move to Florida with my family in the mid nineties…..). I did some research into surrounding towns and settled on Guelph, which is about 85 km west of Toronto. Close enough for a visit to my son and his wife, but far enough not to have to deal with Toronto.

In January 2018 in the heart of winter (it was -28 Celcius) I moved to downtown Guelph. From a townhouse into an old apartment building between two music venues and a river running behind it. I was excited about living in a downtown area where I could walk to stores, the bank and all the coffee shops! Guelph is small enough to drive anywhere within 15 minutes. Comes in handy! The town has old architecture to admire, loads of parks and enough amenities to keep a person in town. Except for higher-end shopping. Not available here. Guelph is considered more like a hippie town. You know, long haired youths, Birckenstock sandals, and now legal weed…..that stinky stuff! There is a beautiful university known for its veterinary education, although animals are not my ‘thing’!

I knew not a living soul in Guelph. Not. One. Zip, zero, nobody… Moving to Toronto was not easy, but at least I was close to my son, but moving to Guelph was on a whole new level of unfamiliarity and unease. I was now older and more set in my ways than when I first immigrated. But I did it and so far I am doing fine. I zoom and FaceTime a lot with family and friends though. I have met a few people, a couple of which are slowly becoming friends, which makes me happy. I plan to join the local synagogue in the next few weeks to meet more people. And, I got a dog, a puppy, to keep me company. It is really nice to come home to a living being in the house again! Tiki (which means ‘hope’ in Hebrew) is now 17 weeks old. Sometimes I call him Tieks. We are getting used to one another.

 Introducing Tiki…at about 9 weeks old. He has grown almost 3 times his size since then.

Introducing Tiki…at about 9 weeks old. He has grown almost 3 times his size since then.

Since my mother’s death last July I have more or less retired my interior design business in the sense that I am no longer actively marketing my services. I will still work with clients on request. My main focus now is blogging and bringing my expertise to the general public. I am working on a design course or two for those who want to learn hands-on about design and I am writing a book.

There is always hope, right?!

What about you? Any major moves in the past? Any moving plans? If so, we can compare notes.


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