March 31, 2010

Room Infidelity: It’s an Epidemic!

03202010heathIf you dropped into DesignTies last week you will have read my admission of Room Adultery. I was melting over this tile and the overall mid-century look it gives the kitchen it graces.

I invited our readers to admit their room infidelity and I had some great responses… along with links to some drool-worthy rooms & homes!

The first post comment I received in response to my challenge to our readers that they - like me - admit their lust for a room (or rooms) other then their own was from Tareq, Qeratfantastic furniture designer and blogger from Qerat. He wrote:

If you don't cheat on your rooms you would not be a designer !! right?? :)

Tareq… you’re absolutely right!!

Now that we have permission to cheat (haha!)… let me show you what some of our readers said and shared.

Kathy: Creative Home Expressions

I always like the "rooms" Ballard Designs puts together for their catalogues. I just love their stuff and I don't think they've done a set-up I haven't liked.

I chose these Ballard Designs images because they reminded me of Kathy’s style… especially the living room because she’s currently re-decorating her room in a similar palette (well… black and white). What do you think, Kathy? Have I captured your style?

Ballard Designs

Ballard Designs 2

Ballard Designs 3


Susan: Moving Designz

Cheating on a room? Hell no I'm cheating on my entire house.
I was at
Susan and Shane’s project last week. It's almost done and I absolutely love it. It made me sad driving away as everything on my "what if" list, is in that house... including the view.

Here’s a photo of Susan & Shane’s house… Susan is doing a wonderful job on the interior! Be sure to follow the transformation as it unfolds on Moving Designz.



Karla: Kerrisdale Design

I had a good laugh over your post this morning Victoria! And isn't Qerat right, don't all of us designers "cheat" on our rooms? To continue with the theme of kitchen lust, here are two beauties I saw on Decorpad yesterday:

DecorPad DecorPad 2



Haha, I have affairs with rooms that aren't my own every single day!
I'm definitely mushy about this gorgeous bedroom:


I pulled this image from Linda’s blog – click the photo and head over to to read all about her love affair!


Sundeep: Designwali

Totally have had a long affair with (fashion designers) Joe & Kimberly Mimran's house. Sigh...

Canadian House & Home shared the Mimran’s home in a magazine issue… but you’ll find all the photos on their website too. Here are the ones I would gladly cheat on MY home for!

JM chairs




Angela: Angela’s Peony Patch

tassel1_thumb1I'm not having an affair just yet. However, I am hoping to sooner than later get new granite countertops, a tile backsplash, and an island in my kitchen. I would so love some advice when the time comes!! I'm torn because nothing else in the room will be changing! I'm going to start buying and researching out kitchens soon!

Angela is so talented! Check out the tassel she made for Kelly, all purple and glitzy!

I love solid surface counters, Angela… I can’t blame you for being excited! I wrote a post about natural stone. Why not start that research right now! ;-)


Nancy: Marcus Design

While Nancy didn’t identify a specific space that she’s cheating with, she did admit to room infidelity! Scandalous!! Ha!

…I agree with Susan, I cheat on my entire house all the time. That backsplash is pretty amazing, I admit that I swoon for it too :)

NancyI find that I love so many different design styles, and even though I kind of know what style I want to be surrounded by every day and always seem to gravitate towards the most, that doesn't mean I don't absolutely drool over things I may not usually choose.

Hey… I covet HER family room fireplace & bookcase transformation! (pictured here)


I also received a few comments that were kindly meant to bring me back to reality – comments that reminded me that I had a lot to love in MY lovely kitchen ;-)

Danica: Redesigning Danica

Honestly, Victoria, I find myself lusting over your kitchen. Every time I see a farm sink, I think I love them more. Plus, the warm chocolatey browns make the DSC01862kitchen all the more cozy!

…another super wonderful comment:

BTW your kitchen is gorgeous! What a fantastic makeover! This should be "the gorgeous kitchen makeover blog" lol!


PS: I absolutely love your kitchen makeover, you did such an amazing job, it doesn't even look like the same house :)

Thanks everyone… you’re absolutely right!! (click on my range if you want to see the before and afters photos of my kitchen). I love my kitchen!

Next time I’m overcome with lust for a room I promise to share it with our DesignTies readers… and I hope that, when I do, you’ll share your room infidelity too. Why? Because it was so much fun to see the rooms you were loving AND even more fun to write about it!!


March 29, 2010

The secret to Candice Olson’s awesome rooms ~ Brandon Barre!

new_logo Do you ever look at rooms decorated by Candice Olson and wonder how she makes them look so good?? Well, I know her secret… photographer Brandon Barré!!

Well, OK, I guess maybe Candice gets a little bit of the credit with her amazing talent and eye for design ;-) But even the best-decorated rooms need to be shown in their best light to really shine. That’s where Brandon Barré comes in.

Brandon is based in Toronto. His impressive portfolio includes photos of people, including Canadian designers…

candice jane   sarah jay

OK, Jay Purvis isn’t Canadian and I’m not sure if he’s actually a designer, but he’s cute, so his picture made the final cut :-)

…fabulous rooms…

candice LR



…and scrumptious-looking food & drink photos…


Want to know the secrets behind Brandon’s work and how he got the gig photographing Candice’s rooms?? Well, you’re in luck — here’s Brandon with the scoop…

polaroid not empireWhen did you realize you wanted to become a photographer?

I probably first picked up a camera at the age of 6 or something like that. My mother was the family "photographer", so there was always a camera filled with slide film or the giant Polaroid camera kicking around!

kodak bellows herron 50megs Do you remember your first camera?

One of my most memorable cameras was an antique Kodak medium format of my mother's from way back in the day that that had expandable bellows — so cool, I still have it!

What camera(s) do you use now?

I shoot 90% of what I do on a Canon 1DS Mk III (22 MP), more than enough res for a 2-page spread for example (even billboards, really) and relatively quick to use. Speed and efficiency are paramount when shooting in people's homes, and I usually need to cover one room in about 4 hours max.

candice LR 2

How has photography evolved from the days of film & darkrooms to digital? What effect has it had on your work?

I have to say I was a real holdout in the film world and reluctantly switched over to digital for the speed, ease, and control. (I used to scan every frame of film I shot so I could retouch my work digitally — talk about time consuming...) I love digital now — it's come a long way from the early days, say 8 years ago or so.


How do you achieve such amazing sharpness and richness of colour in your photos?

I am quite a perfectionist with lighting (just ask my VERY patient assistant, Gill!), and I always use state of the art lenses. These are two areas to never skimp in photography.


Your portfolio includes photos of interiors, portraits, and food — do you enjoy all three equally, or is there one subject you like best?

At the risk of sounding wishy-washy, I'd have to say I enjoy all three. I think I'd get bored just concentrating on one subject only. (Shooting people can be somewhat difficult in that they rarely do what you want. Yes, I do have control issues!)

berries  colin justin tub model

Your food shots are amazing — is there a secret to taking good food shots? The food in the pictures I take never looks very appetizing!!

Ahh yes, food... I started in this field with a lot of inspiration coming from my heroes in this genre — the great food photographers of Australia, the UK, and France (have you seen the ELLE food and drink mag from Paris — hard to find here, but amazing photography!)


How do you prepare for a photo shoot?

Prep for a shoot really varies from client to client. It comes down to doing my best to deliver the client's vision by showing off their product in it's best light, whatever it may be — interiors, food, or themselves. There are clients I've had for years — Candice Olson, for example; I've shot every single room she's designed for the last 8 years, and together we've established a particular style that best reflects her casual take on opulence and incredible talents with lighting.

candince LR

Do you do a lot of traveling for your work, or do you mainly work in Toronto?

While I've shot all over North America and have clients in New York, Chicago, Seattle, etc., the bulk of my work is right here in Toronto.

brown bedroom

How did you get started photographing interiors?

Once again, it comes back to Candice! I had shot all of her publicity photos for her then- upcoming show, Divine Design, and the production company called me to ask if I shot interiors and would I shoot the "afters" for the show. Having always been very interested in interior design, I thought it would be a perfect fit and proceeded to mess up the first few shoots as I felt my way through very different territory than shooting people! This is where my retouching skills really came into play, as I "corrected" all the mistakes I made on those first couple of shoots!

candice kitchen 3

Do you work with the designer to come up with the best shots of the room?

The shot list (choosing angles, vignettes, etc.) is generally left to my own judgement.

candice tub

What’s the most challenging photo shoot you’ve done?

Ha, ha! Good question. I've crouched inside fireplaces, squatted in showers, and surely defined some new Yoga moves shooting room interiors. But the most challenging situation I think is shooting people that don't particularly enjoy having their photo taken. This can happen sometimes on a publicity shoot, and it then becomes my job to essentially trick whomever I'm shooting into an unguarded moment that doesn't in any way register their discomfort. It can be quite a feat when you're also thinking lighting, composition, f-stops, etc.!


What’s the most fun photo shoot you’ve done?

I have to say I LIVE for client's reactions, and all of the oohing and ahhing around the monitor on a food shoot is totally inspiring! Can't go wrong shooting Candice O. for a magazine cover either — always lots of laughs and high energy!

french toast candice cover

What publications have featured your work?

I've had work published in all of the shelter (decor) mags in Canada, as well as a few in the States, as well as the UK (for Colin and Justin).

colin justin LR

colin justin bed

colin justin LR purple

Are there any books or magazines you would recommend for people who want to improve their digital photography skills?

Really study images that are out there. Define your personal likes and dislikes. For example, put an average real estate magazine next to your favourite shelter mag (I personally love Livingetc and sometimes British Homes & Gardens) and study what you like and dislike about the images and what makes the "editorial" content beautiful and the real estate photos just so so (OK, I'm being kind — they're generally pretty terrible). Big difference of course is the subject matter, but 9 times out of 10 it's also the lighting, which you'll find radically different between the two.

candice kitchen

Five tips for how anyone can take better pictures of their homes:

candice LR 3 1. Daylight whenever possible. Which means longish exposures on a tripod. Artificial lights yellow the environment and "scream" real estate photo. (Of course there are exceptions to the rule. I'll use multiple exposures or cinema gels on the windows to mix daylight with artificial and avoid unpleasant colour casts.)

2. Take your time to get it right. We're constantly moving "props" an inch this way and that to create more pleasing compositions. For this it helps to be tethered to a laptop if you can, so you can really see what you are doing.

pink chair 3. If it's still too dark even with a time exposure, bounce a flash of the ceiling for general "fill" light. Don't worry so much about severely overexposing (blowing out) windows. It backlights the space and creates mood.

4. Try to replicate the compositions and light you see in your favourite shots. It's the best way to learn.

5. Invest in a decent camera, reasonably wide angle lens, and tripod. You need to be able to take longish (1 second or more) exposures, and handheld just won't cut it.

So there you go, the secret behind Candice’s beautiful rooms :-) Thanks so much to Brandon for sharing his photographs, work experiences, and tips with us. Be sure to check out Brandon’s web site to see more of his beautiful photography.

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Photos of Colin & Justin’s rooms from Colin & Justin

Unless otherwise noted, all other photos from Brandon Barré Photography

March 27, 2010

A little bit of this and that

1. Thanks for the award!!

beautiful_blogawardThe lovely Mrs B at Decorating a Modern Home recently gave DesignTies the Beautiful Blogger award.

It’s always an honour to receive an award from a blog buddy. Sometimes the blogging mojo needs a bit of a boost, and receiving an award for what we do is a great mojo booster!! Thank you so much, Mrs B — we love reading your blog and following the progress of your beautiful home :-)

Now we’re going to pass this award along to some other beautiful blogs… so hard to choose, because we love so many great blogs!! We’re going to take this opportunity to share some of our favourite blogs that are either new, or that don’t have a huge following but should!!

dh designs, Lisa Goulet Design, and Sonya Kinkade Design: These three Ottawa ladies are smart & sexy & sassy — not to mention talented decorators :-)

Diane Schuller Lifestyle Photography: Diane’s beautiful photographs will capture your imagination and make you want to pick up a camera and do what she does :-)

Marcus Designs: Nancy is a new blogger in Vancouver. Not only does she have great home decor ideas, she’s also an extremely talented artist. Be sure to check out her art portfolio when you visit her blog.

Moving Designz: If you haven’t checked out the gorgeous projects that Susan is working on, you don’t know what you’re missing!! PEI might be our smallest province, but it’s super-big on talent!!

Hue: Rachel always comes up with the most interesting colour-related topics. And she has not one but TWO purple sofas in her living room!!

LiveYourStyle: Do you know where Mauritius is?? Sharon can tell you, because she lives and decorates and blogs on this beautiful island.

qerat: Quite possibly the most beautiful furniture. Ever.

theLennoxx: Every time I do a search for pictures to include in my blog posts, I end up at theLennoxx. Linda and I must share a home decor brain ;-)

2. Make that seventeen colours

Kathy from Emptynester left a comment on my Colours of the Sweet Sixteen post and mentioned that she would have been interested to see what room I would have come up with for the University of Texas. Kathy, this is for you!!

texas longhorns logo luci's droffice schafer traditional-building

3. The new JAX Decor & Design web site

At Kimberley Seldon’s Business of Design seminars earlier this month, one of my “take action” tasks to complete before the end of the month was to update my web site for JAX Decor & Design with my revised services and rates. I also had to update my portfolio. Well, I finally got my butt in gear and did it!! I’d love to know what you think :-)

JAX web site

4. Don’t forget Earth Hour!

earth-hour-logo-thumb-250x223 At 8:30 tonight (Saturday, March 27th), don’t forget to turn off your lights for one hour in support of Earth Hour. Help support the campaign for climate awareness!!

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