Just Launched: Prague Restaurant in Toronto

I was honoured to be a part of developing the aesthetic for the Prague Restaurant in Toronto. It was especially special to me as I had visited the old restaurant as a girl, and my Czech culture is something that has played a large part in developing my aesthetic.

Have a look at their site that I designed, and visit my site to view a few of the interior design options we played with.

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Behind the scenes with the Coton & Bonbon rebrand in Montreal Qc

When approached by Johanna & Georges to collaborate on Coton et Bonbon’s  branding the answer was immediate. Absolutely.

The take was a fresh approach to the Traditional Candy Store. Visions of imported chocolates, gourmet candies and brightly colored treats from exotic locales where the inspiration for the logo.

Stylized fonts, a vibrant pallet coupled with vintage motifs began to tell the story that the company will now write. Effortlessly elegant and cheerfully nostalgic, the C&B branding provided a solid platform for what will surely be a destination for local Montrealer’s and visitors alike.

The Tales of a Designer- Renovating Right. Where to Splurge and Where to Save

1.Invest where it will make an impact.

So you’ve compiled your inspiration photographs, you’ve planned out what will be happening with the space, and you’ve compiled a budget. Now to decide how much to pay for what?

My rule of thumb : every Reno has a focal, something special to set it apart from the thousands of other homes . This is what you spend that little extra.

reno 2

Found on domaine home

Whether it be a gorgeous fabric for the window seat, authentic barn wood for the beams or even that embossed detailing on the fireplace mantel.. Its those details that are going to wow.

This does not mean skimp on building materials. It means investing into that special piece. Hint. It’s rarely the faucet or laser cut furnace vents. Purchase honest, good quality materials, however remember that if your splurging on a piece, it better be ah-mazing.

  1. Think long term

You never know what life will throw at you! (my parents had 7 kids. Enough said.) this house may not be the forever home you where dreaming of. So maybe rethink that built in BBQ grill with the faux stone finish (yep seen that one too!) There’s something about a well designed home that appeals to everyone, even if its not their specific style. It’s the balance of line, form and texture that really makes a renovation come together- and should you decide to resell- boost property value.

If this is absolutely going to be your nest for the next 10-20 years of your life- your going to want to invest in quality, durable finishes. This may mean doing a bit of research as to the longevity of what you’ve chosen and staying away from anything too trendy.

reno 4

Found on desire to inspire

A few tips to keep your new Reno looking fabulous longer.

  • When choosing stone for your countertops- stay away from soft porous stones (marble, slate etc). Instead, go for engineered quartz! or granite that’s been filled and treated.
  • Choose a light flooring with a textured grain for your flooring. Not only will it bring warmth and texture to your space, it won’t fade or stain in the sunlight as darker wood has a tendency to.
  • Pick a backsplash that is simple and not too trendy- as it’s the backsplash and bathrooms that tend date a Reno.
  1. Work with your existing space.

I’ve recently been seeing a lot of beautiful old homes have their entire first floor walls torn down and “opened up” to give a very city like feel.

This usually means adding a enormous kitchen, a entry way, living room and… well that’s it. Often older buildings where built on a smaller foundation, walls would clearly separate the rooms and housed a miniscule kitchen to save space. Now, with new renovations we are seeing some painful loss of space due to poor planning.

reno 1

Found on La Dolce Vita Blog

Things you can do to work with your space

  • look at the flow of your space and separate it clearly into the sections you want to include (dining, living, entry, kitchen etc)
  • find furniture that fits with your space – stay away from the sprawling sectionals, and opt for something more compact that works with the space you have.
  • Invest in storage. There are so many unique and innovative ways to personalize your kitchen with storage. Take advantage of every spare inch go for a gallery or a U shaped kitchen and never underestimate the power of a lazy Susan!

4.Save a bit for later

Is your budget tight? Set aside something that can be completed at a later date.

I often see clients make compromises on pieces just to have the project wrapped up and completed. Good things come to those who wait! in the long term it’s the details that will separate your space from the sea of rushed renovations out there.

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Profile- Artist and Decorator Kelsey Auger

Artist+Kelsey+Auger

meet kelsey

Meet Kelsey! A talented visual artist and interior decorator living in Toronto, Canada. We where lucky enough to interview her for this months small business feature – where she opened up about what exactly it means to be a independent artist in North America.

What first brought you to the visual arts?

I remember loving the arts for as long as my memory goes back. I like to think this stems from my mom; she was always having us do crafts, so that got me started at a young age. All through school my favourite class was Art (though there was never enough of those classes in my opinion!). When I got to high school, I was actually turned off from visual arts for a while, partly to do with certain teachers and partly because I wanted to try new things. Needless to say, I was pulled back into it, and full steamed ahead into getting my degree in Visual Arts, which then lead to a diploma in Interior Decorating.

 

 

How do you blend interior decorating and visual arts?

I think they’re actually closely related. Many interior decorators look for original artwork as inspiration for a home design. I do the same when I’m created a decorating concept for a home. Sometimes I will use my own paintings as a starting off point, if I think it will work for a client. Other times, I will look for another artist that would be a better match. Having artistic skills helps me navigate both worlds. I can choose work that will really match a client’s personality and home.

 

 

Where do you find inspiration?

Many people ask me how I got started painting African animals. Back in University I was doing a project and looking for inspiration. My dad had just gotten back from a trip to Uganda and had a ton of great photographs from his Safari experience. It just seemed like the perfect thing to paint. It felt right, and I felt a connection with these animals that it really felt like I was painting a part of my soul (sorry for the cheese!). Those photographs prompted me to do research of my own into these animals, how many are endangered, in zoos, and just the way they might live their lives. I just went with it and it hasn’t stopped feeling right yet to paint them as my main subject matter.

Now, I look for more inspiration from other artists that I generally find on social media: Pinterest, Instagram, the blogosphere. Looking at other work makes me consider what I could do differently: try new materials, new tools, new techniques, or even new subject matter.

 elephant under a tree breath of air

 Shes clearly doing somthing right.. Amazing!

the technique

What’s your normal process in terms of technique (for the art junkies)

It’s not always the same but generally my process goes something like this:

  1. Once I know what I’m going to paint I start looking for reference photographs. I usually find these on Pinterest or just simple google search. I always find several images as references. For example, if I am painting an elephant in a field, I would find an image of an elephant in the correct position and angle (or as close as I can get). Then I would find an image of a field that seems right. Then I might find an image of a sky with clouds. Then I might find a completely different image that has a similar colour palette to what I’m going to do. I might even find a few of each of these. This way I can take the element I need from each reference and create my own unique painting.
  2. I prepare my materials. I find the right size canvas. I typically use oils (though sometimes I switch back to acrylic if I need it to go quicker) which require a lot more preparation. Instead of water, I need paint thinner. I always use mineral spirits for this and combine linseed oil, and damars varnish to add sheen. This mixture thins out the paint to its easier to manipulate but also adds body back in the paint. I also however, use straight mineral spirits. This thins the paint without adding any body back into it, making it prone to dripping.
  3. I start with laying out the piece.

Side note: I don’t use pencil – ever! What’s the point? You can always paint over something if you make a mistake, and I personally think that all those “mistakes” only adds depth to your work.

I do quick sketch paintings of where the elephant goes, where the skyline is, where the mountains will be (you know, if there is mountains).

  1. I block in colours with a wash technique (a thin paint) that usually is quite “drippy”.
  2. After waiting several days for this layer to dry, I will start building up the piece. I add layers with my brush, with my palette knife, and sometimes add more “dripping”. I feel the paint and how I connect with it, and just let my hand do the work without thinking much about it.
  3. This layering process is the body of the work and can take a day, several days, a week, or several weeks. Since it needs time to dry between layers (or just partly dry), it usually takes more like several weeks to complete a piece.
  4. I sign the work and touch up the sides to it’s nice and neat. Then I take a ton of pictures of it in good, natural lighting.

Again, this is a very general process but most of my pieces usually follow this guideline!

 

What is the hardest and most rewarding parts of visual arts/decorating?

The hardest part is definitely finding people who appreciate your work and the time and effort you put into it. A lot of people don’t realize that an artist puts their soul into their work. Finding those clients that love the work you do makes it all worthwhile!

This goes for decorating too! Coming up with a design concept, a shopping list, and renderings take a lot, a lot of time and dedication! Often, (especially when you’re just starting out) you are not being paid for all the time you are putting in. The most rewarding part as a decorator is seeing your clients actually apply your concepts to their homes, and be thrilled with the results!

 

How can we buy your paintings/ where can we find you?

I actually just launched a new website dedicated to my art! So recently, in fact, that I haven’t even announced it on my blog or social media yet. Lucky you! Be the first to check it out at

www.kelseyauger.com

Alternatively, my online decorating site is still in business at

www.directionaldesign.ca

If you like something you see, get in touch on my contact page on either site or email me at kelseyauger@gmail.com

My original paintings are all for sale as well as prints at Society6 . And if you can’t find something that quite fits your home, I do commission work as well. So lots of options for you!

say hello
Want to follow Kelsey on social media?

Instagram/Pinterest/Twitter: kelseyauger

Facebook: DirectionalDesignStudios

Kennedy Gallery (St. Catharines, 2012)

Art Battle (Toronto, 2015)

RAW Artists Showcase: Glimpse

and upcoming…I’m gonna have a booth at the Leslieville Flea Market on Sunday, September 20th

 

Introduceing – The Nursery Collection

The Nursery Collection Logo

the concept

I got the idea while trying to find decent artwork for a baby’s room I was working on, frustrated by the unbelievable price tags (looking at you Restoration Hardware) or the gaudy colors I finally decided to go DIY on them. I’ve been working on art independently for a while now- mostly contemporary pieces.. So capturing something fragile and innocent required me to draw inspiration from nature. What better way to welcome a new life than embracing them with a organic pallet with cheerful accents?

the design

I was thinking Scandinavian style, with a clean white background, a set of 4 with a gleaming white frames…cant help it! It’s the Interior Designer in me!

fox 3 fox 1

the price is right

My next concern was price. Custom art often is sold at a price point that makes it unreachable to young parents. So after giving it careful consideration- I priced them at 25.00 CAD each. Unbelievable amiright.

Painted with watercolor and acrylic on heavy canvas paper I ship internationally (but the price will vary).

say hello

Don’t hesitate to get in touch !

debbiejehlicka@gmail.com