Tuesday, August 5, 2014

An artistic chat with Julia McNeely

I have had the luxury of have many artists through my store but also through my design work....its actually been kind of fun watching my store transform in a unique way by the style of art that I showcase. I met Julia McNeely years ago when she popped into my Leslieville store and ended up buying several pieces of painted furniture. At the time I was not too familiar with her work but had heard positive things.
I saw Julia's oversize chickens and birds in a local art show - the colours were vibrant and fun - bold yet muted...scale was exaggerated and just playful.


It wasn't until a few weeks ago that I finally asked Julia to showcase some of her work in my retail space. We met ,she brought me large paintings, one oversize pig with true depth and soul, a solid black background which made the pig pop....a cool sheep and a really fun goat..

We ended up chatting and I asked if she would consider painting an oversize ostrich....a week or so later - Julia who seemed somewhat excited had painted a quirky and really awesome ostrich...she posted the image on facebook ....I was so eager and excited to get it into my store....but alas through the internet someone else snatched it up quickly......Julia happily painted another style for me and equally it excited me....48 x 48 in such an over scale size the piece spoke to me....character, colour, the tactile quality of the painting and I loved it...

It has been the first time in 14 years since I have had my retail space that I have had art that was so talked about.....everyone who walks in the door loves them - the ostrich has made such an impression that dialogue always begins when someone see's her....it is a true statement piece and such quirky yet modern appeal.......I decided to ask Julia a few questions...so that anyone who comes to my store and or reads my blog can know more information on Julia......so the following was a short little interview:

S: Could you please tell me about your inspiration for your work
J:  My inspiration for paintings is simply imagery - animals , people and places. Painting is something that I always do - everyday.
My favourite painters are Gauguin, Van Gogh, Degas, Rothko, Patterson Ewen, Peter Doig , Elizabeth Peyton, ...silly but I could go on and on. The image can be anything - it is the joy in which one paints that comes through. ( as long as there is strong drawing, design in the piece)
S: How long have you been painting?
J: I have been painting all of my life. I entered every fair art show in my childhood.
Took as many art classes in high school as I could, Went to the Ontario College of Art - graduated in 1986 - was recipient of W.O Forsyth award for drawing and painting.
I was raised in a family full of art and music - my Father and brother both painters.
Music, poetry, galleries, literature was all around.
I was exposed to art internationally thru travel. I caught the bug when i was 16 and went to Paris.
I went to art college in Italy ( off campus O.C.A.) where I remained for years until returning to Toronto to set up my studio in 1992.
S: Have you ever regretted selling a piece of your own work ( meaning is there anything you felt that was the best work you have ever done and fell in love with it but then sold it )
J: I have never regretted selling a painting. I love the process of painting - capturing a feeling or evoking an emotion or a memory. I love colour, brushstroke - full of energy or quiet and reserved . Paintings tell stories. Quite often the buyer has their own story so mine stays with me - they keep the art and I continue :)
S: What do you see for yourself in the future with your work
J: I have so much to paint. I cannot wait to paint my next. If I am lucky and stay strong I will be painting the rest of my life,
My next show is in Italy this Fall - 30 years later :)
S: How does being a single mother of 3 encourage you to paint?
J: I have been juggling painting and being a mother of three for 19 years - my priority is my children (three of them) but I can support them with my art - not only financially but giving all of us a richer fuller life. My children see the joy my work gives me as well as how hard I do work - I think this is a fine lesson.

I love how the art has transformed my space....I love the excitement it has brought and I love the fact that a talent like this can support a family on her passion....it is a true testimony to Julia....
Stop by my store over the next little while to see some of her wonderful art....Our son spoke briefly with Julia last time she was in the store and asked if she would paint a Hippopotamus......I can see it transform to a really cool piece of modern art if Julia has her way....

Saturday, July 5, 2014


I had the luck to be able to work with clients that I have known for years who had just purchased a cottage up in Lakefield Ontario on Lower Stony lake......the cottage was the original sheriffs cottage on the island and had several  guest bunkies etc as well.....the homeowners wanted a space that had looked lived in since the cottage was built, with collections of items, colour and an interesting feel.....It was a year long job that had an awesome end to it - please see pics below and pick up the latest issue of Style at Home magazine to read the story and see other pics of the main cottage itself...it was a pleasure to do this and I love how it turned out....photo credits are from Donna Griffith Photography.....many thanks to those who helped in this job, Scott Townson who built cabinets from the original wood of the laura secord homestead, other cabinets as well......Stephanie Hunter from Rekindle home who did custom chairs,, dressers, chalkboards, headboard....David Upholstery who did custom pillows, bedding, chairs etc....and the stores that we sourced from....

Main cottage bathroom

Main cottage bathroom - this green cabinet was actually left behind in the cottage and we used it for the vanity

Main  cottage Kitchen eating area

Main cottage porch detail

Main cottage addition Loft space

Main cottage boys room

Main cottage kitchen.....love this kitchen

Main cottage kitchen

Main cottage living room detail

Main cottage living room detail

Main cottage living room

Main cottage master bedroom

Main cottage master bedroom

Main cottage porch detail

Tuesday, June 3, 2014



Friday, May 9, 2014

Leslieville sale - Flik sidewalk sale

Join us Saturday May 10th from 9-3 for our super Saturday sidewalk sale and basement sale

Proceeds of the sale will go to the Red Door shelter here in Leslieville

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Classic Bergere broken and decaying turned into awesomeness......

I havent written anything in a while - not because I didnt want to but I dont want to be a person who writes about nothing....so I waited until some inspiration hit me.

I have been in business for sometime now - have had many upholsterers and was really quite happy to find the one that I currently have.

David of David's Upholstery has done work in Toronto for a couple years now - he studied in France working first on draperies etc, then apprenticing learning the trade of upholstery for a total of 7 years. His knowledge of fabric, furniture is awesome....he is great at what he does and I thought that I should toot his horn ( so to speak)

Years ago I purchased these early gilded french bergere chairs - I was excited when our picker brought them to our store and sold them to me - fairly inexpensively I might add. They were rough, well made and really quite wonderful. The original burlap was underneath and for many rentals was revealed.

Now keep in mind David has a very warped sense of humour - as you can tell in this first picture - he took the chairs totally apart and photographed them....Sick I know.

So....after seeing this pic...(which of course he knew would bother me....) the next pic was a little better. chairs now being reglued and reinforced.

We had decided to do the 2 chairs for Mari-sol's room - you know every 4 year old needs to have french gilded chairs in her room. I had sourced a fuscia cowhide from a supplier in the USA - found the fabric for the back from Designers Guild and was ready to watch the transformation.

David - takes great pride in his work - the chairs were resprung ( i think with the original springs) and redone on the bottom all of course by hand.
next step was to do the hide and decide if we wanted gold nailheads or a burnished version. I opted for gold to add some more sparkle and David hand nailed them in.

Getting closer to finishing I had gone in to make sure I loved the back fabric - I love the fabric itself and was concerned it would not work - but alas I did.....

The finished product was awesome - they came home today and are ready to go into Mari-sol's room - the feel of the cowhide and the contrast of the hide and colour against the aged patina on the wood is fantastic - the flower on the back from the fabric is equally as great.....

Yet again another job well done........so keep in mind if you live in or out of the city and need a fantastic upholsterer....David is your man......

BTW - you should see the orange cowhide ones he just finished for the store , I will add a pic in the next couple of days....


As you can see Mari-sol is very happy with her chair.....

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Colour of the Year 2012 - Tangerine.......

So the holiday season is behind us - and with the new year comes all the new colour trends, and guess what - Tangerine is the new Pantone colour of the year - Hooray...........while orange has been my accent colour in not only our home but also my store it is great to know that it is chosen as colour of the year.....It is a great pop colour in so many things that finally is recognized again.

"the color company pantone has selected 'tangerine tango' as the color of the year for 2012.
described as 'a spirited reddish orange', the colour 'provides the energy boost we need to recharge and move forward.'
popular this year among fashion and cosmetic designers, 'tangerine tango' is 'sophisticated but at the same time dramatic and seductive', explains leatrice eiseman, executive director of the pantone color institute.

'reminiscent of the radiant shadings of a sunset, [the shade] marries the vivaciousness and adrenaline rush of red with the friendliness and warmth of yellow, to form a high-visibility, magnetic hue that emanates heat and energy.'

our custom LV pillows in tangerine and chocolate
While Hermes orange is always going to be my favorite - Tangerine of course belongs in the same family and is happily recognized......... We will be showcasing Fuscia as an accent colour to go with tangerine and are currently working on some new upholstered pieces to show off both colours happily.

our new series of resin art
sneak peek at some of the new pieces....
Wishing everyone a Happy new year and a great 2012 with at least a little touch of orange.....

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Beginning to look a lot like Christmas - finally

So the snow has not fallen - the trees are decorated and the malls are getting full, but it didnt feel like christmas was coming near until last night in our household.
Being of German decent - we celebrate Nikolaus - on the night of the 5th - our children polish their shoes - or in this case their boots - leave them out at night and then have Nikolaus bring chocolates etc in them the next morning.

We wanted to also add a touch of magic and told both Mari-Sol and Ben that Nikolaus also brings the christmas tree... so last night brought in the Tannenbaum and started to decorate it. Last year Mari-Sol was so shocked their was a tree that I was hoping for the same reaction.
She came down the stairs at 7 am - turned her head and saw the tree - and was so excited - it is so wonderful to watch the reaction of a little one - she ran over to it and said how beautiful it was - she loved it.....so so sweet.

The ornaments are orange, fuscia, turquoise and the odd one silver , gold or white - some vintage, some even dollar store and big box stores - the colours are great on it.....so whimsical but also a touch traditional - almost like old world European. The rest of the house of course has orange throughout - but we added turquoise and fuscia to carry through. I added fuscia silk ribbon to my collection of Hermes Boxes
I found a fabric from Japan that was somewhat in the Holiday spirit - it has all the colours of our tree and decorations as well as a stag head drawing - so my uplhosterer called today and said he finished the pillows we had made and had them piped in orange silk ribbon - I saw them already and they are going to be a nice addition to the tone of the room
The old cabinet that holds all our white dishes was touched up with feather wreaths - vintage inspired and orange silk ribbon - also inside added some sparkly oranments and a moose and bird in mica - I love this cabinet - it is one of my favorite pieces in the house.

Last but surely not least on top of an old Swedish armoire we have the whole collection of steiff deer - they range from the early 1920's to the 60's and add the last bit of whimsical Christmas .

The good thing is that it is not overwhelming in colour - our kids love it...they were all pumped up today with excitment and it is so sweet to watch them stare at the ornaments on the tree....Now all we need is SNOW.......All the best for a Happy Holiday Season