Andrea wrote to me about a month ago asking to take advantage of my one-hour consulting service. I was delighted as I’ve known Andrea for years (although we’re never really exactly sure when we met – maybe in the early 90’s?) and I’ve always enjoyed her energy and sense of humour.
Visiting Andrea it became very clear to me early on that she needed help! In many ways she reminded me of someone with Stockholm Syndrome. You know the type- they’ve been prisoners in their space for so long they’ve began to identify completely with their captors. In Andrea’s case she had been living so long in an uninspired space she all but believed it was normal. But there was hope! As she noted, “It can’t quite be working for me or I wouldn’t have contacted you.”
Andrea took me on a tour enlivened by her terrific sense of humour (riddled with self-deprecation). She thought she needed maybe just a dining room light or some paint or…’something’. I nodded and listened all the while feeling an incredible need to begin right there and then! But, instead, I recommended that, if she had enough trust in me/our team that we would come in and fix things while she was at work one day.
Andrea said yes, and what follows is the story of our 8-hour design makeover.
BEFORE ENTRANCE /DINING AREA:
The dining area had dated lighting (‘nipple lights’ as I call them) and had become a catch-all for bags and papers. There were more trinkets collecting dust on the table than you’d find at a stall at Rhoda’s Flea Market!
“How often do you eat here?” I asked.
Never. Clearly however, her cats Cid and Donovan dined here daily (see bowls below right).
The kitchen was cramped and nondescript; purely functional – a “get in and get out” space that needed a splash of colour.
The mirror over the sink really made little sense to me; I wasn’t sure what it was reflecting.
Andrea casually announced to me while taking me on tour that she hadn’t done anything with the bathroom space in – wait for it – nine years!
The roses and flowers, to say nothing of the toilet seat cover(s), HAD TO GO!
This office was the breaking point for me. My heart actually sank when Andrea told me that this was her living/working/computer space. She even painted her nails in this tiny office with no light; she essentially spent hours of her life in this dark corner of a spare bedroom. What you don’t see pictured is a Treadmill and two kitty litter boxes in the closet.
“How much time do you spend in here during an average week” I asked.
“Pretty much every hour that I am home’ replied Andrea.
>>> Insert audible GASP here. <<<<
“But you have all that open space in the Living Room with lots of natural light! Why wouldn’t you give yourself all that space and make use of that unused room?” I asked, slightly gobsmacked.
“It never occurred to me,” laughed Andrea.
At that moment, I knew I had to literally save Andrea from this room and this way of life!
BEFORE LIVING ROOM:
Andrea’s living room beamed with potential. White walls (yes, I was delighted) and large open windows showed great promise.
However, it became quite obvious while listening to Andrea that the only ones inhabiting the space were her two furry friends.
Large furnishings were covered with even larger blankets and it appeared that basically a mishmash of art, decor and small pieces of furniture had pretty much just landed there 9 years ago and hadn’t moved since!
A collection of ‘things’ gathered at the entrance. I couldn’t wait to ‘EDIT’ this space!
I knew I had limitations. The first was, there was no budget for any new furnishings and even less budget for decor items. I’d have to work around her existing furniture.
I gave Andrea some homework. I suggested she purchase a new “ALEX’ desk from IKEA as well as purchasing some plain white curtains for her living room.
I then asked her to ‘trust me’ and let me come in to her space while she was at work. In the meantime I booked Mike and Mike from Duncan’s Electrical and Josh and I put together a design plan for her space.
All the items we brought in (with the exception of her desk) were locally purchased. We worked with what Andrea already owned, edited a lot out and added a few decorative items.
AFTER DINING AREA:
We simply edited a lot of clutter of the top of her table and also removed two stools that were never used.
We created a focal point both over the table (courtesy of a new light) and used a print she previously had in her living room.
The dining space now has ‘breathing’ space, a welcoming spot to chat with friends.
We rejuvenated her table by dressing it with Toma’s XO Cork Trivets, a Chilewich Retro Placemat, Bee Napkins, and new Trigg Wall Vessels from Umbra. To pull it all together a stunning Normann Copenhagen 06 Pendant Light was hung above the table. (All items from TUCK STUDIO with the exception of the succulent and the yellow pot).
Colour was introduced to Andrea’s kitchen through a Chilewich Multi Stripe Rug, Sagaform’s POP Coffee Mugs & Cafe, and Artecnica’s Themis Mobile. The playful Mini Black Triangles from Ferm were an easy way to create a backsplash. Finally adding organic elements such as the small succulents sitting on Umbra’s Showcase wall shelves, and the Swaine Street Woodworking Antler Butcher Block brought natural elements and warmth. (All through TUCK STUDIO). These pops of colour give the kitchen a fun and inexpensive makeover. And, let’s face it – Pellegrino Bottles make any space look awesome!
We removed the mirror and added a very simple greenery display!
The Themis Mobile is a wonderful ‘splash of colour and movement’ for any space!
Remember that nine-year-old bathroom way back at the beginning?
By adding neutrals (black and white – my favourite!), subdued artwork (David Hayward)and simple key decorative items for the back of the toilet, this space now has a sophisticated and relaxed vibe.
AFTER LIVING ROOM:
(reminder to click on the pics to get larger image.)
Remember that small, dark room Andrea used to inhabit? Welcome to her new office and living space! We’ve reclaimed her living room and now she’s living where she should be!
Knowing we had to keep the existing furniture we decided to accentuate and complement the big large chair by adding a few pops of colour. The font prints all belonged to Andrea, we just moved them in a different configuration onto a Gus* Modern Shelf and added a red raven!
We moved her large black sofa out of the corner and anchored it on the wall.We then limited the artwork on that wall to the existing dyptych Andrea owned. We added a YSJ pillow of course because really, who loves this city more than Andrea?
I have to tell you, the kitty key chain was going to be the first thing I removed. And, we did! We replaced it with a more substantial key hook and minimized all the clutter that had been on this table.
We also took her new white curtains and brought them to the top of the ceiling to make the window wall for larger and more elongated.
Ihanna Krummi Bird Hangers in Red and Blue add colour to Andrea’s living room. Andrea’s existing art prints, featured on a beautiful Gus* Modern 5′ Picture Rail, go nicely with a Nicole Tarasick YSJ Cushion.
Defining the entrance we combined one of Andrea’s existing tables with a Toma Shoe Mat and the blue Ihanna Krummi Bird Hanger.
THANK YOUS AND KARMA:
A very warm thank you to Mike and Mike from Duncan’s Electrical Ltd. for being part of our surprise makeover for Andrea! Always a fun team to work with and they even fixed a few things along the way for Andrea without saying a word!
Mike Duncan on the left and Mike McNamee on the right!
As always a large thank you to Joshua for being such a great work companion!
This was a ‘pay-it-forward’ moment for both me and for Andrea.
We surprised her in the end by leaving a note saying to her that this was our gift to her! I explained how many people over the course of my life had done many kind things for me and so it was my turn to return that kindness — and she was the recipient of that good karma.
Andrea took the money she was going to pay us and in turn gave it to the SPCA Animal Rescue League. A true win-win for everyone, including our city’s furry citizens!
Happy surfing, entertaining and, yes, living in your new space, Andrea Cyr!