My studio

My New East Coast Home

Without a doubt, this is the most exciting and all time most favorite project of my designer life, to date.  I've been an interior designer for 19 years (gasp!) and nothing can match the passion I have for this project - my own house. This is my new old house on the beautiful South Shores of Nova Scotia.  The search for this, our 'next' home has been a looooooooong loooong time coming, a search that's taken us to small towns all over the vast rural countryside of Ontario to the far shores of Nova Scotia.  We've travelled back and forth frequently this year as our search narrowed on the East Coast.  This July 1st long weekend, we flew out east again to proceed with an offer on this century old carpenter gothic.  On August 1st, we drove all the way out there non-stop to collect our keys.  

Here I am trying out the first set of keys!

She's a charming beauty, sitting on 5 acres adjacent to a mile long white sandy beach.  You can't actually see the beach from the house (unless we clear some trees)..... but the loud roar of the ocean rings in your ears, the smell of the sea air is dense, and the cool ocean breezes flow thru the open windows.

Little did we know during our visit to the area this past March, that a morning stroll on this beach would become our new morning routine.  We didn't know it then, but we can see our *new* house from this very beach, this beach and nearby town that we were so taken with as we scouted out potential properties.

When visiting in March we took this boardwalk from the parking lot to the beach.....

Now we have our own path to the beach, its just thru the trees to the left of this grand old chestnut tree on the front lawn of our house.  I fell in love with this giant chestnut tree and its rope tire swing the instant I saw it.  Its huge and majestic and there are beautiful views of it from inside the house.  I can't wait to hang a fresh new tire swing on it.  

Besides the views of the beautiful chestnut tree, the inside of the house doesn't have much appeal. But that's not why we bought it.  I wanted this house because when you walk down that hidden path beyond the chestnut tree,,,,,,you arrive here....

The ocean.  Every moment of every day the scene changes as the tide comes in and out, and the mist rolls in and then suddenly out again,,,,and the wind changes from a breeze to gushing and then all still. Always a changing palette.

We have only one neighbour near our house, he's a fisherman.  He keeps his dory boat tied up here which its used on the weekends to row out to his fishing hut on a nearby island.  He's promised to make a bluenoser out of me yet and teach me how to cook lobster.  Already he's corrected me on the pronounciation of scallops - apparantly its pronounced "scaw-lups"!?  He's shown me where he keeps the oars and explained how to roll the boat out into the water (aka the open ocean), so I can take the boat out whenever I want.  LOL,,,,,,,um, I laughed and asked,,if he had flares on board.

I much prefer to gaze at the open ocean from the safety of the shore!  On Canada Day I enjoyed a long walk on the hot sandy beach, in awe of this beauty.  This was our third visit to the house and I had only gone inside it once.  Did I mention I wasn't so interested in the inside of the house?   Ok, so I love the houses charming exterior character, the chestnut tree and the 'next door beach',,,but here's the real reason I wanted this house.... comes with a barn.  A century old, sturdy, stunner of a barn complete with shake shingles.  Our first visit to the house I went straight to the barn to see it first.  And I was ecstatic at the sight of the all original interior, both floors of it.  I love its geometry.  Its got beautiful bones and I have plans to make good use of them. : )

There I am opening 'her up moments after getting the keys.  These side doors of the barn will be the doors to my future office and studio space, the new East Coast home of Carol Reed Interior Design Inc.

Here's a peak at the back half of the second floor, this 2nd floor barn space will eventually be converted into a guest apartment.  But for now,,,my priority is to renovate the interior of the house.  Sadly its lacking any trace of original character as a result of whats probably an 80's reno.  My work is cut out for me.

After getting the keys to the house, we spent a couple of days getting things organized before I flew back to Toronto where I'll be for the next several weeks.  I had to leave BF there with not much more than a cell phone and a list of local contractors.  Its been a bit of an adventure for him but he's doing better now that we FINALLY have internet service.  Whew.

The question everyone is asking me, "will I be moving there?".  Well of course we'll be moving to our new house but we'll always have a place in Toronto too (and I'll continue to work here too).  Not our current place which we'll be vacating next month but after things have settled at the Nova Scotia house, a search will begin for a smaller secondary home here in Ontario.  In the meantime, I'll be commuting back and forth on a regular basis as I continue to work on existing projects and start on some exciting new ones.

As I said, I've got my work cut out for me with this renovation, demolition started inside the house this morning and I've barely started the design plans.......

All Photos:  Carol Reed

Goodbye Summer....

My Living Room, August 2009

As of 5:18pm today, summer was officially over and tomorrow will be our first full day of fall.

This means in the coming days I’ll be making some small changes around the house to make it feel more cozy and seasonal, in fact I started last weekend.  Just subtle changes,,,like putting away some of the summery feeling accessories.  Below are some shots of the way the living room looked mostly towards the end of summer - I’m always changing up things even throughout a season.  Simple things like changing the covers on the toss pillows to a watery blue/grey,,,switching out the coffee table books to more summery ones in both colour and subject,,,,adding summer flowers, light weight throws, sea shells and hurricane lanterns.  Even though we live in the city, we also live by the lake so the house lends itself to a casual lakeside feel, our furniture isn’t so much that look,,,,but I think just a few touches were enough to create that mood.

This is a rental house that we moved into during the summer of 07 immediately after selling our condo.  Like most rentals, the house was not in the best of shape, it was pretty nasty in fact,,,(the exterior still is!) but a good cleaning and a fresh coat of white paint throughout the interior did wonders.     Even though we had all of these things when we moved in,,,,,the placement of the artwork and smaller accessories took some time to fall into place.  But overall, I love how our existing furniture from the condo seem to just fit right and at the same time,,take on an entirely new look in this space.   I didn't care that we were only going to be living here for a year or two,,,I was determined to make the place looked like we had always lived there and to make it comfortable and welcoming, and without buying anything new for it.  It was a great excercise in 'making the most of what you've got'.

The house had two features that i fell in love with immediately (aside from its location),,,,a wood burning stone fireplace in the living room, and a large 2nd floor loft space with cathedral ceilings, loads of natural daylight and a walkout to a second floor deck - the perfect home studio.   I knew instantly that i would fill one complete wall of the loft with Ikea expedite shelving.  I had some of these in our condo (which we built-in) and couldn’t imagine living without them, and coincidentally the height of the units fit perfectly in this loft space on the low side of the sloped ceiling, like it was meant to be.

Reference Library in my loft studio

Ikea's Expedit shelving, wall to wall

I'm not fond of corner windows but I grew to really like this one, its placement gave us great views of the lake and it has a big deep sill that makes a perfect spot for the cat to perch and he spend a lot of time there.  The landlords horizontal blinds are pretty unattractive but I keep them up most of the time so they really weren't an issue and besides there are just way too many windows in this house for me to start changing the window coverings! 

This was our last summer in the house as we’re currently searching for a permanent home that we hope to find sometime in the next few months.  But in the meantime its still home for now and I’ll continue to feather my nest here until its time to pack.  I can’t say i’m going to miss summer, because I LOVE fall,,,,and the changes that will come with it, but I’m really going to miss this fireplace, my wonderful lightfilled and spacious loft studio and the sound of the waves lapping against the shore......

All Photos:  Carol Reed