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.

before photos...and...

Well, my lovelies, this has been a long time coming. I mentioned in an earlier post the fact that I was not yet able to share images of our finished Whale Cottage on Prince Edward Island. You see, a magazine held the rights to the images taken last summer by the super talented Michael Graydon. It was my understanding that the magazine story would be published some time this summer. In good faith I did not reveal the finished space, expecting to see it in print. Mr. A was interviewed. Sources were submitted. Follow up questions were answered. But the feature did not run. Summer is drawing to a close. But I, for one, have not stopped thinking about peaceful sandy beaches, seafood feasts, bike rides and bonfires..and our little getaway on the East Coast. So...(gee, wish I knew how to find and upload a drumroll gif. I don't, so ellipses will have to do)....here, my friends, are the before photos, followed by a link to the Big Reveal.

Entry vestibule before: red painted wood floors, white trim, tan walls, nasty polyester lace curtains. All ugly but the very existence of this space was a bonus - so great for rain gear, sports equipment and beach stuff.

Living area before: loved the wood floors, tongue and groove wainscotting, beamed ceiling. Disliked the combo of paint colours and the missing door to the utility room, leaving the water heater in full view. Also, the space is teeny so I knew it would be a challenge to furnish.

Kitchen, north wall: loved the sink, faucet and wood counter. Cabinets - a bit makeshift, but I knew a coat of paint would make a world of difference. Also noted: no dishwasher...

...and a gander to the other side of the "kitchen" reveals in fact no appliances at all. Bummer. 

The utility area - I won't call it a room since it had no door - featured beige walls and a fetching shade of purple on the trim. That's right, purple trim. Oh yes, and knotty pine floors and no door (did I mention that?) and an exposed water heater. Nice.

The bathroom, wedged under the stairs and off the utility area was just large enough to hold tub, toilet and this sink. No window. Some rust and mildew. A broken sink cabinet. No room to turn around. Eeeww. P.S. there's an eyeful of that purple trim.

At the top of the stairs, the snug: loved the west light flooding this space when we saw it first in late afternoon. Yellow floors, no. Blue-grey wall colour, yes. The twin bed frame and table: scooped from the curb almost as fast as we put them there. 

The main bedroom: loved the angled ceiling, the beadboard on the ceiling, the gentle cross breeze between this window and the one in the snug across the way. This double bed frame fit in the Snug so we upsized to a fancy pillow top queen for this room to make it feel like a resort. Carpet: ick, gone. Vanity: to the curb. Space heater: in storage awaiting our first cold-weather visit.

And now, enfin, the finished project (click the image to watch the vid):




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.