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 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.

Delphine Krakoff

Man, I love this chick's work and it doesn't hurt that I think her company name is fantastique: Pamplemousse design. Pamplemousse - my favoutie French word. I call her look French New Yorker Modernist Preppy. Rolls right off the tongue, don't you think? Of course she married well. Her beloved is Coach creative honcho Reed. But clearly she's got her own thing going on. I'd like to see more of her work. I think that's all for tonight - my brain is half melted from the heat. It is making me utterly miserable. You?

chair crush: saarinen executive

Here's a chair I quite like. It was designed in 1957 by Eero Saarinen and is called the Saarinen Executive chair. I've seen it many many times in print, but only just recently experienced it in real life. The other day I enjoyed a lovely lunch at Mildred's Temple Kitchen here in Toronto. The dining room features a flock of these lovelies.

The lunch company was excellent -- a very charming exec from Benjamin Moore and her crackerjack NYC PR team. We lingered and lingered and lingered. I assure you that in a business as crazy and deadline-packed as mine is, long leisurely lunches are by far the exception rather than the rule. Fact is, some days I'm lucky if I can choke back a peanut butter granola bar while fighting cross-town traffic scouting. But I digress. The point I'm trying to make is that I think that the comfort of the chairs played as much of a role in the enjoyment and length of this lunch as did the excellent food and company. The comfort of a dining chair is no small affair. Interestingly, as you may have guessed from its name, the Executive was designed for the workplace. Can't you picture it in the offices of Sterling Cooper?


It's an incredibly versatile design. The Exec fits our modern preference for a fully upholstered dining chair.  It has clean and simple lines but is heaps more interesting than the ubiquitous Parsons. The armchair version is easily moved from dining table to lounge area and back to suit the occasion. And speaking of moving, the little peak-a-boo in the back is no accident -- it's the most discreet "handle" ever designed -- he was a smartypants that Eero! And not to worry if metal legs are just a little too chilly looking for you, wooden versions are an option. And if you did want to keep it in the office, it also comes in an adjustable version with wheels. What's not to love? 

sources: 1, 5: knoll studio. 2: mildred's. 3: dwr. 4: met home via elle decor.

chair crush: bertoia

Just used a Bertoia chair in a shoot and I am newly enamoured of this modern classic. Heaven knows I have a weakness for a well-designed chair, but I hadn't given Harry's creation the time of day till now. Feel like I've been missing out. I like it best in white. Here is a small ode. These are well-circulated pics (first 2 from the ubiquitous Domino; the last, Living Etc.) but I still like seeing them all together in one place. Yum.


Milan picks. I didn't go to the Milan furniture fair. In fact, I have never even been to Italy -- crazy, I know -- it's on the list...Meanwhile, I was poking around looking for news on the recent design event and found these lovelies.

From Tom Dixon's brilliant mind -- cast-iron and marble screw tables, $1,260 and $1,700

The chicest camping furniture -- leather and beech -- you've ever seen -- Jesper Thomsen for Normann Copenhagen, $1,700-$3,500. Blond wood is really having a moment now. I'm seeing it everywhere -- Blond post to come soon...