Craving Diversity

I have a housing dilemma! My husband and I are planning to move from our quaint little 850 sq.ft. house in St. James to a new home within the next 3-5 years. Being a designer, who works primarily in the residential sector, I am constantly watching real estate listings and looking to see what is out there. We have the basic wish list that anyone starts with when looking for a new home…

  • Itemized spaces (kitchen, dining room, 2 bathrooms, master suite + 3 bedrooms, etc)
  • Area (good neighbourhood, close to amenities & parks)
  • Quality of craftsmanship (architectural details, solid foundation, etc)

When I watch the real estate market I get frustrated by our world of mass production and the repetitive rows of houses built from the same footprint. Older communities are slightly camouflaged by the renovations & changes that have been made over the years by previous homeowners.

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My frustration sets in with the lack of diversity and character within the housing market. I want friends & family to drive up to our house saying, ‘of course this is where Travis & Carrie live.” I crave modern clean lines, custom design details, and a unique and intriguing layout of the house that is outside of the box. My husband is more of a vintage man so our ideal house would likely be a revival of a 1950/60s mid-century modern gem.  The last thing I want is to move onto a street where the house next door is the exact same model with a different paint finish (insert gagging sounds here).

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So here are our options:

  • Build New within the communities popping up on the outskirts of the city
  • Find an infill lot & build new
  • Find an older home & renovate

Likely we will end up choosing option #3 as we don’t want to live on the outskirts of the city where the neighbourhoods are not developed and are far away from downtown core where we both work. Building on an infill lot is intriguing but difficult to do and often expensive & your options are limited. So option #3 seems like the best fit although in the past couple years I’ve come across 1 maybe 2 houses that would actually fit our list of criteria & would be adaptable to our style.

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So I am left questioning, I am the only person in Winnipeg that feels this way?

How many other home buyers are facing the same obstacles?

So if you are like me, I will leave you with a challenge.  Never settle. I challenge home buyers to expect more, not to be OK with a standard model. Be Bold! Be Daring! It is my opinion that it is not OK for us all to live in the same spaces. We are all individuals with different passions, interests & ways of life. Take the time to shop the market or build a custom home. Never take for granted the value of your homes personalization and character and if you don’t know how to achieve your goals give me a call.

Carrie

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Would You Take Out Your Own Appendix?

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I was having a conversation the other day with my sister-in-law; a physician working in a rural community where their clinic is over capacity.  She is on the committee that is looking to renovate the facility and has been given the responsibility of compiling ideas for the new design.

My first reaction was (and I’m thinking this in my head):

“This is crazy!!  Why is a doctor trying to redesign a clinic??  I wouldn’t take out my own appendix!”

My more diplomatic response was “have you considered bringing in professional designers to look at your space?”

The conversation made me think about the ‘Do It Yourself’ society we live in.  Now don’t get me wrong, I like to DIY with the best of them (I’m a Mennonite girl, so if I can get it done without outside help, I can save some money…), but I’ve slowly come to realize the value in utilizing the expertise of others.  The reason why we have experts is because the problems we need to resolve are more complex than we realize.  And often the result of doing it wrong results in wasting our time, money and feeling frustrated when the outcome wasn’t what we’d hoped for.

The built environment, for example, is extremely complex.  There are physical, social, emotional and mental elements to consider. Not everything is tangible, but in the end the intangible has a massive effect.  How will people use the space?  How do you want them to move through it?  How do you delineate public and private areas? How do you accommodate for individuals with physical limitations? How do you want to direct behavior? How do you want people to feel? How do you design spaces that contribute to wellness?  Believe it or not, these are some of the questions that professional designers ask when starting a new project.  And if we’re not, then we should be.

Food for thought.

Tracy

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“A great building must begin with the immeasurable, must go through measurable means when it is being designed, and in the end must be unmeasured.”

– Louis Kahn

‘Resimmercial’ Design

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This past June I attended my first NeoCon, a commercial interior design trade show that takes place each year at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago, Illinois. It was an experience filled with inspiration, new ideas, and hours and hours of walking!!  As I wandered through the 4.2 million square feet of showrooms, I discovered that there was an interesting theme taking place.  It was this concept of combining residential + commercial design elements within the workplace.

Referred to as  ‘Resimmercial’, this idea incorporates the familiar, comfortable elements of home into the office, addressing our growing need for comfort and well-being in the workplace.

Here are the key features of ‘Resimmercial design’:

 

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1 – Warm & soft materials & finishes. Wood, wood and more wood! From workstations &  desks to boardroom tables and accent furniture wood was being used everywhere to warm up the office interior. Other warm & inviting materials commonly used were felt, cork, and even velvet!

 

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2 – Casual, collaborative spaces. The idea of taking the home office out of your home and bringing you back into commercial space. Done with casual, relaxed seating areas and interactive collaborative spaces. Many of the vendors also showcased the concept of providing space for amenities within the office. I saw many coffee lounges, and social spaces that resemble your living room.

 

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3 – Residentially inspired furniture pieces. Say goodbye to square edges and harsh corners, the ‘Resimmercial’ office has lots of tables with curved edges, and meeting room furniture that looks like it belongs in your dining room. Tired of the typical metal filing cabinets and metal shelving, why not introduce office storage that looks like it belongs in your living room?

 

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So if you looking to warm up your office interior this winter consider introducing some of these ‘Resimmercial’ design elements into your workspace. Let’s make your office feel more like home.

Janine

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Get Me Out of the Office!

Sometimes you just need to grab your laptop, a cozy sweater and a bottle of wine, and get the heck out of dodge!

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That’s just what we’ve done. My lovely ladies and I spent a few days last week at a cottage out on Lake Winnipeg, taking time away from the office to…well honestly…get some work done! Some things just don’t seem to accomplished when you’re sitting at your desk downtown where the ‘dings’ of your email and phone are never ending. So we decided to pack our bags and get out into nature for a few days.

 

Road Trip!

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We so often talk about how we can improve our clients’ spaces by integrating more daylight, by bringing that natural environment into their living or working spaces, and by really just connecting them to nature. Honestly, these past few days have been a testament to these intentions. The moment we arrived at our cozy little cottage, and stepped out onto the dock, we were greeted with the most beautiful view of the lake and forest. We took a deep breath of fresh, crisp, November air and all of a sudden, we were one with nature.

So why do we as humans want…no, CRAVE this connection to the outdoors? Well, essentially we’re biologically pre-programmed to seek connections with the outdoors and other forms of life. It’s intuitive. It’s how we started out on this planet and it’s how we were meant to live. Here are a few benefits from connecting with nature…

  1. people are healthier, happier and perhaps even smarter and more creative
  2. children with ADD, asthma, obesity and stress feel positive effects
  3. adults in workplaces connected to nature are more productive, healthy and creative
  4. patients in hospitals that have a view to the outdoors have faster healing times

These few days away, sitting on the edge of the water, surrounded by the beauty of nature, has sure made us a lot more relaxed, focused, creative and seriously productive!

Other than work, we had loads of fun just getting away from our daily grind. Took walks in the woods (I totally thought Tracy was taking us out there to … maybe… streamline the company…). Tried to make a fire…with wet logs…and an old issue of Cottage Life from 2004. It did not go well. Don’t ask Carrie. Or ask where the bottle of paint thinner ended up.

Here are some of the highlights of the 1st Annual S3 Retreat!

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Get outdoors people, it’s good for the soul!

Until the next S3 Retreat!

Elaina

Elaina S3

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Charleswood Home Makeover

Our residential team was hired to update an existing home in the Charleswood area. The house was originally designed by an architect and has some beautiful character & charm that the clients didn’t want to sacrifice. They were looking for a way to enhance the existing beauty of the home while complimenting the characteristics that they already loved.

The main areas that we renovated for this project were the mudroom, great room, & powder room. The living room & dining room were spruced up with decorative touches.  We set out to come up with a great design solution that included the following:

  • Remove existing fireplace and create new modern design
  • Maintain the existing oak paneled walls
  • Update the banister from the kitchen to the great room
  • Renovate the existing mudroom/laundry room to incorporate added storage space
  • Coordinate new furniture, artwork & accessories for the living room, dining room & great room
  • Update the existing powder room for guests to enjoy
  • Install new retrofit LED lamps for brighter illumination and energy efficiency with the space

The Space Before the renovation:

Design Solution:

The Mudroom

The clients didn’t utilize the existing side door so we sealed off that entrance and utilized the extra square footage to build in millwork lockers for the family. We also removed the existing closet to create one seamless elevation. White cabinets were installed to complement the dark oak in the rest of the house and to match the millwork in the kitchen for a cohesive aesthetic.

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The Powder Room

The existing vanity was replaced with a new floating vanity from Ikea. We painted the bathroom a natural green, installed a new mirror & dropped pendant lighting to the side of the mirror for a soft and inviting atmosphere.

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The Great Room

Our feature wall, the fireplace, is the main focal point in the great room and we had a few goals in designing the finished product. The clients were looking for a balanced look that deviated from the existing symmetry with shelving for their soap stone collection, and storage for their media components. We wanted the finishes were chosen to help make the space feel light and modern.

We used a fresh white 12” x 24” tile to make the fireplace pop out & lighten the room. In addition to the tile a modern stacked stone was used to complement the tones of the surround wood walls and balance the asymmetrical design by cascading the stone down the wall and across the front of the hearth. Dark espresso cabinetry was used for the shelving & media drawers to ground the elevation and bring emphasis to their sculpture collection. Integrated lighting & hidden conduit was also designed to eliminate any cables & wires for the T.V. & stereo.

On the other side of the room we removed the banister and created a very shallow tiled step to highlight the sunk in living room and open up the kitchen to the great room. The finished product is fresh, modern and timeless which suits the character of the existing home.

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Carrie

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