less, but better


Hello friends. Dropping by to tell you the big news. Some of you may have gleaned from some of my social media posts that change is afoot for the Austins. No, we aren't moving to Tweed or PEI, as some have asked, but yes, we are moving. We are very excited to be embarking on the new adventure of making a home for ourselves and our small dog in a condominium on the West side of the city in the Swansea neighbourhood. (I'm quite superstitious about numbers and names and love the sound and feel of Swansea. Hopefully the reality will measure up.)

After the questions about where and what the place is like (more on that in future posts), most leap right into Why? Today I quickly answered that question with "This winter." Shoveling, cleaning cars of snow, shepherding our home though a potentially damaging (though thankfully not) ice storm...it was a tough one. But the fact is, we've been talking about this for quite some time. Long before this winter. It's part midlife crisis, partly the realization of what really matters after having experienced health crises and loss, partly just time for a new property adventure.

We are in the thick of it now. Prepping a house for sale ain't an easy breezy reality show. It's hard work, and it's a rollercoaster of emotions. There is no magic crew of people that sweep in to tart things up and boost your selling price by thousands. It's the two of us and a helpful neighbour or friend pitching in here and there to make this pretty little jewel shine. I really really love this house. Leaving it will be difficult. But I'm very sure this is the right time and the right thing to do. I'm very excited about what lies ahead. Here's a fun fact: the new condo is actually larger in square footage than the main floor of our house. That said, the basement here doubles that livable space and, take my word for it -- it's FULL of stuff. Or at least it was until last weekend when we did our first push to declutter and sort and purge and edit and organize and pack. 

I can't wait to tell you more about the new place. I redesigned the entire kitchen and priced it out before we even put in our offer, since a complete overhaul was a must in my books. Another fun fact: I will be replicating the IKEA Applåd kitchen from this house for the new place with just a few tweaks that make it right for time and place. I'll fill you in on all the plans, but right now I'm obsessing about what type of faucet to go for. In the runing are: 

1. keep it simple, modern, low profile and in a timeless finish like chrome.

2. matte black. mmmmm, matte black. yum. but too trendy? 

3. something sexy in polished nickel -- all time fave finish. Forever. Always. (BTW, shared today at an industry lunch that brushed or satin nickel are on my NO NEVER list. Loathe those. Partly because normcore. Partly just, ewwww. No. Never. Ever. Not for me.)

4. an old salvaged faucet in copper or brass with heaps of patina. This is the only way I'd go into the warm metals for a faucet -- authentic, old, beat to hell. Could be very cool with an über modern kitchen. Husband is not convinced...

Meanwhile, to wrap up, here's a note about the title of this post:

I stole it from one of the people whose work I have been studying to help with this transition. "Weniger, aber besser" is a guiding principal of German designer Dieter Rams. Do you know is work? Yes you do. I didn't even know until I started researching it that I actually own some of it (and if you own any Apple device you own some of his aesthetic. It is widely agreed that Apple designers borrowed from his vision and it doesn't take a design genius to see the parallels.)

Here's our Dieter Rams original. We received a Braun Aromaster coffee maker as a wedding gift. Love it. 

In 1976 Dieter Rams made a speech in New York urging designers and consumers to take responsibilty for a world of finite resources. Here's the killer quote that I've been mulling over:

“I imagine our current situation will cause future generations to shudder at the thoughtlessness in the way in which we today fill our homes, our cities and our landscape with a chaos of assorted junk.”

You can download the whole speech in a pdf link on the Vitsoe site.

And if you need any more convincing of the enduring brilliance of Dieter Rams, here he is in his own home with his wife Ingeborg Kracht-Rams. I mean, come on. Could these two be any cooler?? No. They could not. See more of their house here. I may need to propose to Kevin that we henceforth clothe ourselves only in grey, white and black.

So, stay tuned for more news here, on the Twitter and Insta. And if you know anyone who's looking for a darling bungalow with the coziest real wood-burning fireplace, have them contact our lovely realtor, Peter Lamy.

Paulistano and Locksta

Meet the Paulistano chair. It was born in 1957 in Brazil, but only made available in North America in 2006. I spotted it on the Interwebs a while back and marvelled at it's simplicity. I love simple design. Just enough. Not too much. Design that looks like utility. And then, just a few weeks ago I spied it on the floor at the Design Within Reach showroom just a few doors down from the office. I dared to sit in it. Oh my. It is so unbelieveable comfortable. It is also astronomically expensive. What you see above is a 17ft long piece of steel bent into shape and welded in one spot. The sling style seat is made of canvas. The price as shown:

US $1,062.50

OK, take a breath. Now, I've been at this game a while. I've learned what goes into great design and quality materials and construction. I've seen cheap knock-offs and the real deal up close and personal. I get that not everyone can afford originals (I am mostly one of those people). But I gotta say, I just do not get the price of this thing. It's a chunk of canvas and a metal bar. I recognize it as an architectural wonder, but still isn't the cost associated with that mostly tied to prototyping. I mean, once you've figured out the angles (which they did in 1957!), how complicated can it be to make? More. Than. A. Grand???

And just FYI, it comes in two different metal finishes - black or white, and in several different fabrics: 10 different colour/finish combos for an outdoors version, 4 combos of the indoor version and 4 versions in leather (the leather ones ring in at $1,317+).

Safe to say I will never own a Paulistano.

Meet the Locksta easy chair. It is a newborn, just in at your local IKEA (of course). It has a steel frame, which comes in several pieces and requires assembly using screws. The fabric is polyester. It comes in these other two colours:


Locksta price as shown:


So, I'm thinking it's time for an IKEA hack: spray paint the steel frame white, have a new white fabric seat made (frig, I could even make it myself using the provided one as the pattern). Conservatively that hack would bring the investment to $80.

I see new chairs for the PEI cottage in my future because (confession) the white faux bamboo ones we have are murderously uncomfortable and must go. 

Flights are booked for the long weekend in May - YTZ to Halifax and then road trippin' it to the Island. So 'cited.

new at IKEA

From time to time around here I share my picks from the newest crop of goods being offered up at IKEA. I'm not sponsored by IKEA in any way. I'm just a fan. My duties take me to IKEA frequently. So frequently that I'm now able to distinguish the new SKUs from the throng of product. Of course, IKEA makes it easy to id the new products on its web site by categorizing them under a section cleverly called "new". But that's just so obvious. Anyhoo, here are my top 4.

This is the Storsele rattan chair, $99. I have a serious case of the wants for a pair of these. I searched high and low for chairs like this for our little cottage in PEI, but had no luck finding some in time for the mag photo shoot. Sigh. As a backup, we coordinated a quick makeover for a pair of pretty little faux bamboo tub chairs we already owned. They look great, but are utterly uncomfortable. So tragic. I REALLY want to swap them out for a pair of these. The complicating factor of course, is the logistics of getting a pair of chairs from PEI to Ontario and getting these from Ontario to PEI. Fun times, but I guess that's what we signed up for. OK, back to the chair. Here's what I REALLY love about it. The guiding principle in the design of this thing was to ensure it was comfortable without any cushions. That's a stroke of brilliance for a piece of rattan furniture. Do you think they do that at McGuire? Hmmm, not sure.

This is the Sigurd dining chair, $69.99. To me this is elegant simplicity. However, I'm already imaging a million ways to hack this thing. It's a blank canvas waiting for interpretation. Off the top of my head, I'd love to add some padding and upholstery to try to boost its comfort factor. Would love to see it in a Joseph Frank fabric.

I think Mr. A would have a canniption fit if I came home with this. The current count of cream throws chez nous is in the neighbourhood of 5 or 6. But, as I have argued before, I am a stylist, and a stylist can never have enough cream throws. This one is all cabley and soft cotton perfection. The Ursula for $39.99.

it's white, it's an amazing shape. It's the Tisdag work lamp. It's $69.99 and it will be finding a new home at my office soon. Oh, and PS. it's LED so uses 80% less power than a standard work light.

That's it for now. Have a great week and if I don't talk to you again before the big day, have a wonderful Holiday.

forgotten furniture: secretary

Oh I love a secretary. I file them under the heading of forgotten furniture because you just don't see them used very much. Pity. I don't think a more multi-functional piece of furniture exists on the planet. Take for instance the Hallings Secretary (above), designed by the delightful Thomas O'Brien. That beauty could hold silverware, serving pieces and table linens -- or even out of season sweaters -- in the drawers, while the fold down desk part could host a day's work, the writing of thank you notes or a complete bar setup, as needed. I love that a secretary doesn't give away all its charms in one glance. It invites interaction -- the opening and closing of drawers and compartments. Such a showcase for the cabinetmaker's art. I spied so many lovelies today on my brief search. All hail the secretary.

c. 1900 petite French ladies secretary, Antiques on Old Plank Road, 1st dibs

the Ethan Allen Newport. Repro but still very attractive.

the American Artisan Audrey also from Ethan Allen with a beach house feel.

simple and white Alve, with the option of having a top cabinet or not from your friends at IKEA.

the Eastman from Ballard Designs. Love the grey interior. Dang I wish they'd ship to Canada.

secretary no. sixty three from the next big thing in furniture, The New Traditionalists. visited the showroom recently for the Rue Issue #3 launch party. Incredible space in soho, gorgeous furniture and great party.

another 1st dibs classic. this one a Sheraton mahogany from Schwenke.


french bulldog tea light holders

I am kind of a crazy dog lady, but I really try hard not to cross the line. You know the line I mean. The line between having dog stuff that's tasteful and in a quantity that keeps me off Hoarders and, well, the other side of that line. I think the other side begins with mugs and custom Ts and totes and ends in a downward spiral of figurines, needlepoint pillows other other affronts to good taste. But opinions on the line vary. So how's a girl to know? Me, I do a bit of a gut check. When I see an item like these little French bulldog tealight holders I spark up an inner dialogue that goes something like this:

Me: "Oh, little Frenchies, aren't they so cute!?"

Me again: "Hmmm, not sure, the front legs are weird and I kinda don't get the design concept behind putting a tealight on a wee doggy's back. The form is not enhancing the light quality in any way (as the lovely crosshatched design of the cups is)."

Me: "But I love the chalky white finish and the classic grumpy bulldog expression on their faces. So fun."

Me again: "But does the world need another tealight holder? Remember Margot, you pretty much resolved a few years ago that the IKEA Galej or a similar versions in mercury glass fulfill the form and style requirements for the category of tea light holders, rendering all others redundant. Do not buy these." 

Me: "You're right self, I don't need these. I don't want these. Plus, when's the last time I lit a tea light? I prefer poured scented candles or tapers anyway."

I feel I have made the sane style decision by not buying them, but I only got there by talking to myself...but I assure you it wasn't out loud. 

bertie bulldog candle holders, graham & green