Image Details (L to R): Hillhurst Kitchen Renovation, Hillhurst Kitchen Renovation, Feature Contributor: Avenue Magazine – Hiring for a Renovation, Panel at entry to Hyatt Stillwater Spa, Beakerhead 2015 Installation, Peace Bridge by Santiago Calatrava, Ice Heaving on Lake Windermere, BC, Planning, Wonderland by Jaume Plensa.
A year can feel like a long, unproductive, slogging time. Seeing it compressed into nine standout images is a great way understand how much gets accomplished and how the seemingly unconnected pieces of a puzzle form an image.
It’s also a good way to understand the spirit of something. I spend a good deal of time thinking about placemaking. When I work with a client on creating a home that they love, I am designing an environment unique to them. Seeing Calgary’s efforts at placemaking reflected so clearly in my photographs is great.
Designing a business, a life, or the inside of a home is very much like that process, too. It’s the details you fill in that create the character.
How those details are selected, collected and presented creates an energy and feeling in the space. It’s a process and a skill.
Calgary is on a very exciting journey in this respect and has made giant strides in recent years.
One example is the Peace Bridge. I’m a big fan. I know that’s not always a popular viewpoint, but I am.
It’s an iconic design.
It’s a tourist attraction that enhances one of the greatest assets in the city, the Bow River Pathway system.
It’s functional and necessary to creating walkable infrastructure. Anyone who walks or bikes knows eliminating a few kilometres on a trip makes a rather large difference, especially when it’s below zero.
The cost is a (highly visible) rounding error on the annual infrastructure budget and what the bridge contributes in terms of elevating and identifying the city is immeasurable.
It’s not just a bridge and I think many miss that point.
The second thing I love (aside from that kitchen reno project) is the nighttime image from Beakerhead.
We are so lucky to live in a talent-filled city where people can imagine, create and produce experiences that the entire community can step into. It really gives me hope for what we can become with that kind of heart and vision.
Placemaking is a process in that way. The elements that make up the whole come to define the city over time.
Individually they can make you shrug, but in collection – wow.
That’s what the 2015BestNine brought out for me.
Did you take a look at yours? What did you notice?
Thanks to the magic of LinkedIn, I have just learned that Form Interiors is celebrating its fourth anniversary. Four years!
I remember in the early days of this business looking ahead at all the work to create and build a design business and feeling a little queasy. You know what? It’s been a blast. There have been some really great days. Like client installs. I think I’ve mentioned before right here how happy these days make me. Winning Best of Houzz for Design and Service was pretty great, too.
There have also been some really low, lows. The day a shipper lost the truck carrying a client’s custom rug and couldn’t tell me for over a day where it was or whether they would find it was one. Seriously, they lost a truck! Did I mention it was carrying a custom rug? So. Stressful. I’ve learned a lot of grace when holding it together and handling those situations.
Mostly, I’m just blow away at how fast the time has gone and how many projects have been completed. I’m excited, too.
There are lots of new things on the horizon. We are kicking off a couple of very fun new projects. There is a new website in development for January. And, it’s looking like there may be some new faces on the team, too.
A million thanks to the great clients who have made it possible and the wonderful roster of suppliers I’ve been able to build. These are the people that make this work so rewarding.
I think I’ll have a cupcake and celebrate. Happy Fourth Anniversary!
Last week I spent over an hour waiting for an installer to show up for a scheduled and (twice) confirmed appointment. It happens. Not often, but it does. I entertained myself taking selfies of my new metallic Kate Spade kicks — as shown above — and hitting refresh on my email looking for an update.
While I waited the next trade arrived to do the work they could only complete after the first trade was finished. Except, when the second trade arrived the work was not even started because the first person was now over an hour late. Among all the waiting the homeowner arrived back to the house.
When the installer did arrive — with apologies for the circumstances beyond her control that lead to the lateness — she got to work. Myself, the second trade, the homeowner and the nanny all watched as technical challenges developed with the install. Awkward. They were eventually resolved, but it made for some tense moments.
The client thanked me for being there to ask the right questions and problem solve. It reminded me that the work we do as designers — holding the client’s vision and creating a design and path to achieve it — is a specialized expertise.
We understand how the industry suppliers work, who is responsible for what elements of a job, what effect and function will be created with our decisions, how to communicate what needs to take place and how to evaluate the quality of the work and project manage it to completion. Oh, yes, we also make it look good.
Occasionally, I question whether I really need to babysit the details so closely.
Last week reminded me, I do.
If you’ve been reading the blog for a while you know that I’ve been looking at the various elements of design. The one I want to start the year off with is scale and proportion.
This element is the most important in terms of functionality in a space. It’s what makes a space flow well, feel comfortable and work for your lifestyle. When you get scale and proportion right, a room looks balanced.
The terms scale and proportion do have slightly different definitions, but they are often used interchangeably. A simple way to remember the difference is that scale is the size of something, and proportion is the size of something relative to something else.
I’ll give you an example. Several years ago my family rented a beach house for vacation. It was built by the owners and they were very tall so they had adjusted the cabinetry so the counters were raised up above the more common height of 3 feet.
It was scaled for the size of the homeowners, but our family is not as tall. We felt like we were navigating a space built for giants as we chopped vegetables at chest level and grabbed stools to reach the upper cabinets. Also, the higher cabinetry closed in the room making it feel much smaller. We felt a bit like hobbits who had left the shire.
When correct scale is observed a space works well and feel comfortable and un-cramped.
Proportion is less about comfort and more a tool for creating emphasis, variety and energy in a space. It’s also incredibly easy to get wrong and the best place to play around with it is with your decorative accents like art, lamps, mirrors, rugs and vases.
A formula that can be easily applied to determine the perfect proportions for one object in relation to another is the golden ratio of 1.62. Yes, it’s math. If one item is 1.62 times larger than another, they will look good together. It works.
However, don’t think that every object must be exactly proportional with the ones around it. This is a recipe for going crazy. Rather consider it a tool if you are stuck and need to decide what to do.
Here are some rules of thumb for getting scale and proportion right in your space:
>> use oversize accessories or accents to draw emphasis to an area like a table, hallway vignette or kitchen island
>> match the scale of your furnishings to one another, not necessarily the pieces, chunky sofas go with chunky accent chairs and delicate side tables need delicate lamps
>> match the scale of things that need to balance one another out like the sidetable and the lamp that sits on it, or the sofa and the accent chairs
>> mix it up a bit because when everything is the same size nothing stands out and that is what gives a space personality
>> too much variation starts to look like clutter, you can instantly improve a space by grouping items of like size or material together so they give the impression of being one object instead of many
>> a common trick to create more impact in a room is to hang the drapery at the height of the ceiling instead of the windows to give the illusion of height, or to run drapery all the way to the edge of the walls even if the window is not that large
>> when working with scale start with the largest item in the room and build out from there
I’ve created a pinterest board with a few examples of scale and proportion in action for you to check out. What do you like? What are your biggest design challenges when it comes to scale?
You can read my other posts on design elements here: