G: How does one go about designing their home when first embarking on making a new home your own? What are the steps you recommend?
Marie-Josée Leblanc: STEP 1. INSPIRATION & STYLE
Looking to breathe new life into your home? The first step is to seek inspiration. I personally turn to digital inspiration boards, such as Pinterest... Create your own moodboard, depicting what you like in terms of atmosphere, materials, fabrics, colours, furniture… before moving on to the shopping phase. Visit the shops and websites of merchants in your area, or your neighbourhood, for your initial scouting; especially for your larger furniture pieces, which will represent the bulk of the decorating budget, as well as some of the most important stylistic anchors in your space.
Do not neglect the resale market, on sites like Kijiji, Lespacs, Marketplace... there are some surprising finds; and, in many cases these can be pieces which could never be found new. 🙂
STEP 2. PREPARATION FOR SHOPPING
After having established your direction, and before going in store to make purchases, I strongly recommend taking measurements of the rooms you are planning to decorate. For example, will the beautiful sectional sofa on your moldboard actually fit well, or at all, in your living room? Also, make sure to check the dimensions of the accesses for the delivery of large furniture (front door, patio door, basement stairs, etcetera), in order to avoid costly delivery logistics, or unexpected issues or disappointments at the time of delivery.
The dimensions of walls, and accurate square footage, is also required for the purchase of paint, or your new floor coverings, or the ceramics for areas such as washrooms, and backsplashes.
STEP 3. IN-DEPTH RENOVATIONS
Do not hesitate to hire skilled professionals for manual tasks you are not particularly prepared for. Ask around for referrals. It's always reassuring to hire a referred painter, as quality can vary widely, especially among painters, as this is the final dressing of your walls, and results depend on the level of care taken by your painter. Otherwise, ask for references, and do not hesitate to contact the former clients of your future contractors, where you can.
STEP 4. DECORATING
Very often my clients tell me that they can't quite match colours, styles, etcetera. Know that this last step is the one that will require patience, and a little trial-and-(sometimes)-error. Creating a living space that resembles our self-conception, and expresses our needs and desires in a pleasurable way, requires the patience to find certain “wow” pieces!
G: In an industry that is constantly dishing out trends, how do you approach accumulating and collecting art, decor, and objects, with an eye towards timelessness,
and in consideration of the recurrence of
M-J.L: As with clothes, before buying a new piece of furniture of any kind, don't hesitate to sell or give away the one that the new one will replace. Also, people often forget that it is possible to give a second life to existing furniture. For example, changing the handles or even the doors of an old chest of drawers, upholstering an already loved and comfortable sofa, or just changing the cover of your chesterfield; these are great options not necessarily requiring a substantial investment.
G: How can the design of our living spaces influence our moods, our well-being, and our lifestyles?
M-J.L: This is an excellent question, especially in these times of sporadic confinement. In my opinion, a home, like a cocoon, is an extension of our personality, and ultimately requires us to feel good, safe, and in harmony. Between telework, and leisure, both taking place in the same place (in this case the home), it is important to distinguish, and create, a stimulating workspace, as well as a relaxation space. It is wise to separate work and leisure spaces, either through actual separate spaces, or through flexible design. Whether you want an office area for teleworking, daily work, or simply a space dedicated to managing the administrative aspect of your every day life, the important thing is to meet your specific needs. When planning your home office, start by evaluating everything you will need. First and foremost, your office layout should allow you to work comfortably, and productively. So, before you start thinking about colour schemes, and decorating ideas, you'll need to focus on the following must-haves, which will ensure you create an optimized office area.
Some ideas to create your ideal office area:
º If you set up your desk in your living room, choose non-contrasting colours to match the rest of your decoration, and make sure you can tuck the most “office” elements out of sight at the end of the productive portion of your day.
º You can warm up, and create a separation in your space, by adding a rug.
º Go for low storage units, to fit under your desk, to create minimal physical, and visual, clutter.
º Utilize vertical space with wall storage for your papers, notice boards, and shelves.
º Free up desktop space by reducing the number of “persistent" objects on top.
º Opt for a folding desk you can fold away when not in use.
º If possible, choose a location with plenty of natural light, and regardless of available natural light, consider lighting design as a must. Do you prefer warm yellow light? Do you require cool light to stay alert? Do you prefer a crisp modern white lighting scheme to appreciate your space’s visual presentation when not in use? Do you require a blending of spaces, through a consistent lighting scheme?
º Plants are the secret weapon of any design: They create a calming atmosphere, while refreshing the air in your office space. In addition to their natural vibrance, they can become powerful objects of design by selecting artful containers, such as handmade ceramic planters, or colourful sculptural pots. Treat yourself well, by treating plants as more than functional!
On the importance of ergonomics:
Ergonomics is about adapting work, tools, and the environment to humans, and the human form (and not the other way around).
Contexts, spaces, gestures, organization, tools, products... Ergonomics brings together the interactions, workflows, and the fundamental mechanics between humans and “objects”.
Here, let's take a look at our homes… The kitchen for example: An ergonomic kitchen includes variable counter heights, built to accommodate different functions and needs. Thus, the height of the counter where meals are prepared standing should not be the same as that of the counter where meals are served and seated.
The shape of the kitchen should allow you to move around easily, without covering large distances (large distances can mean as little as a step or two) for the most common and repetitive tasks, while having easy access to small appliances, dishes, foods (cold and dry), sinks, and large anchoring electrical appliances like sub-zero, or stove and oven. The choice of the shape of the kitchen will depend on the space you have, and the number of people who will circulate in the space, so that everyone enjoys spending time in this alive room.
For example: Between the stove, and, say, the island behind you, a space of at least 36 inches is required for you to work there comfortably, and safely. In fact, you may know when someone says to someone: “You are in my bubble!" This famous bubble is also an ergonomic benchmark. Yes. Yes... Our famous bubble is 36 inches, exactly the minimum standard space for, for example, a corridor, a movement or passage area, an entrance door… Sounds complicated, but a simple set of rules-of-thumb make it all very manageable. That’s ergonomics!
G: What if one just does not have the decorator's touch?
M-J.L: Of course, it is always advisable to hire an interior designer, or an interior stylist, even if it is only for a little support, and the “designer discounts”. If not, don't hesitate to ask questions of an advisor at an interior design shop. Advisors, as their name suggests, can guide you through development in style. And, above all, when starting a decoration project, know how to be patient, because the most interesting spaces often take months, or even years to fully put together. It is a question of finding the elements to blend perfectly, seamlessly, from room to room, throughout your home, whether house, or condo.
Finally: Be curious. Visit Youtube. Explore; have fun. There is no “correct” design, really; the best design comes from personal obsessions, and interesting juxtapositions. Be eclectic, as this process is a personal expression. 🙂
* Lit baldaquin (sur-mesure) | Canopy bed (bespoke): Fabrication MF
Tables de nuit en noyer noir | Black walnut night table:
Meubles Retro Deco
Banc pied du lit | Bed-foot bench:
Trouvé dans les petites annonces sur
Marketplace: 35$ avant restauration; restauration 100$.
Discovered through Marketplace, for $35, with $100 added for restoration.
Commode | Chest-of-drawers:
Marketplace de particulier à particulier 400$.
Found through a personal sale, for $400.
Literie, rideaux, accessoires déco… | Bedding, window coverings, accessories:
Haus Mode Maison, Zone Maison, La Baie, Linen Chest, Simons, Urban Barn