Watch Out! Pattern is Back!

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Oh Dear, I’m having a pang of Slavic guilt again, because I feel that I been negligent of my readers lately…To tell the truth, this chapter in my musings with that intrepid designer Aurélien has been brewing for several weeks.  This title was really determined by my lively and totally serendipitous encounter in Toronto recently.  I was packed into Aurel’s carpet bag for the voyage to visit the “Out-laws” and to tour the new additions to two of the most important museums there: the Crystal excrescence metastising out of the elegant brick-work of the Royal Ontario Museum; and the warm curves of Douglas Fir that enhance the severity of the Art Gallery of Ontario.  Can you tell which Aurel and I prefer???  

 The second day there, we were exploring their rapidly gentryfying Leslieville area, when we encountered a lady walking a large multi-spotted white bulldog. The dog was very genial in spite of his name: Shredder!, and his owner was introduced to us by Aurel’s brother-in-law as Joanne Purchase. Our subsequent conversation soon centered around Interior Design, when we discovered that she was a publicist and writer-researcher for the Wallpaper Council of North America….  As you can imagine, when she showed us her back garden Pavilion created entirely in charcoal, white, green and magenta; Aurel started taking photos for an article.  We were introduced to her husband Will and creator of the Pavilion out-door living room  Aurel set a date for the following afternoon, and over some lovely Martinis and delicious melon-proschutto wraps, we were shown the very latest in wallpaper patterns and new printing techniques.   

  So, my dear Design Fiends, here’s the lowdown on a subject that has been niggling in the lower-back of my cerebellum for several months now: PATTERN IS BACK WITH A VENGANCE!  The new collections that we were shown confirmed my suspicions…  The twist on all of the 60’s and 70-‘s styles are referenced with new colour schemes, the modern technology of  computer aided printing, and marvelous mixing of scale sizes that were never seen in the eras past. I have heard several names for these new trends, and the one that fits for Aurel and me is The New Baroque.

So, my dears, let Aurelien and me tell you a bit more about these new trends that were so well illustrated by the special portfolios collected by Joanne Purchase:   the old English and European Damask patterns from the late 1700’s and popularized with the Museum reproductions of Williamsburg and other collections and restorations of antique furniture and fabrics are pared down to their essential shapes, but they are cleaned of extraneous details and then the nuance of several similar colours woven or printed together is changed to high contrast colour combinations like the late 70’s pairs of cream and expresso, and aqua and chocolate, pearl grey and charcoal.  The scale is also greatly changed to larger repeats of 10” to 30” sizes, rather than the original sizes of 8” to 12”.  The old mix of “sea” colours like aquas mixed with lime green and clear blues, or the “harvest” series of  avocado, gold and burnt orange is very much back.  (Between us mature design connoisseurs, those new Gen X & Y babies think they are new and fresh, since they have not lived through them!)  

The other influences I have noticed are the new types of printing with embossing, pearlized and opalescent inks, and new types of removable and re-positionable glues.  That means in these less stable times, you are able to move the new wallpaper with you!  I recall the horror and expense of scraping off the old plastic chrome mylar vinyls of the disco and psychedelic eras… I must also tell you that most of the new papers and inks are becoming increasingly more eco-friendly, with low VOC’s (that’s organic volatile compounds…otherwise known as that terrible smelly chemical odour that used to last weeks) .  The papers and vinyls are now becoming bio-degradable and recyclable.

Dears, we must be ever more sensitive to the future generations and our legacy is still precarious. One last thing, before I must go, I would like to leave you dear readers with the following list:  Bronze and copper are the new Stainless steel; Pearlescent  and brushed finishes are the new chrome and mylar; Magenta and roses are the new rust and terra cotta,; and flocking is back, but it will glow from the new electro-luminescent  (what a word!) inks… I”ll tell you more next time, so you can know how to mix and match the new patterns easily without giving the family a collective migraine headache, and you won’t need a double Martini to survive the newly trendy living-room that your best friend just did over!  Do let me hear your comments.  All of My Tasteful Best for enjoying our short summer,  your dear Greta vonSchmedlapp, Design Sleuth.

Greta discovers chiaroscuro & negroni

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Buon giorno, my loyal readers. We hope that you are inspired by ideas about luxuries since our last column. Remember: Luxury is not related to money or rarity. If it resonates with your soul then it’s luxury to you!

Now to the task at hand, which is to explain two special words. I don’t want to be condescending about your “collective vocabulary” out there in the  broad field of the Indie‘s readership, but perhaps an enlightenment is a better approach.  

During our recent trip to Italy, we are are now home and still inspired by things Italian. I’ll share with you our two discoveries with which we became intimate this last trip: Chiaroscuro and Negroni. The first is an approach to painting with contrast between the light and dark areas. It’s  as if there is a narrow beam spotlight on the subjects.  No one has illustrated this word better than the brilliant comet that was Caravaggio, who painted  all of his  short, tempestuous life using this technique of lighting for the subjects of his paintings.  He was in Rome, and all around Italy from 1573-to his sad demise in 1610.  He played an early form of tennis called “Paume” in his favourite Piazza Navona before Bernini created the astounding Fountain of the Four Rivers, which was erected in 1651.  

We were blessed with special circumstances to have a luxurious twilight tour of his 400th anniversary celebratory exhibit near his Piazza.  Neither Aurel nor my art history books prepared us for the experience.  After seeing lots of the earlier Mannerist period preceding him, Carravaggio’s paintings are still striking after these last four centuries! The immediacy of the events depicted in all of his paintings is a major characteristic.  The people are real, genuine, local neighbours of his.  The focus on their expressions, caught as if with a camera, and his honest depictions of the clothes and homely life have a liveliness that is totally contemporary today.  

The other major artist associated with Chiaroscuro is Rembrandt, somewhat better known to us Canadians. Though he was from a later peiod (1606 to 1669) and from a very different culture, he used the lighting style with his subjects also, albeit with entirely different painting techniques.    

Now, my faithful design fiends, why have we chosen this word for your “consumption”?  Think of using this lighting style in your own home.  Aurel tells his clients time and time again:  We must plan the lighting with the idea of the room – and with the special elements that make up the room. Are there any architectural details to highlight?  Any view, fireplace, sculpture, paintings to emphasize?  Remember, an electrician is not always a lighting expert, and four or six pot lights evenly spaced on the ceiling is not necessarily the solution!   The idea of Chiaroscuro lighting is to add drama and show off the special features of a room not to show off all the dust!  Totally even lighting is for a laboratory not a home.   So, even if you don’t have a grand budget, a few specially placed spots will instantly perk up a room. Light and colour are the cheapest and most effective techniques to personalize a room. So my dear Design Fiends, don’t hesitate to track down Montreal Lighting & Hardware   over on Paré for Freddy Naimer, his sis Andrée or son Daniel for an educated solution.

I must now tell you about the other word of the week: Negroni.  This is a Venetian creation reputed to have been invented by the renowned bartender at Harry’s Bar in Venice in the 1920’s.  Aurel and I visited the outpost island of Giudacca that faces the Grande Canale at Harry’s Dulce, and started the most luxurious lunch of our holiday with the definitive apéros.  I sipped a peach nectar and Prosecco cocktail, (the Bellini), while Aurel savoured his Negroni – an intense blend of Gin, Campari and Red Vermouth in equal proportions served with a slice of the local blood orange. When our friend remarked that it was all  alcohol, Aurel retorted: “It’s only 40 percent alcohol!”  We enjoyed several more during the rest of our trip, but somehow, it’s almost the same back here in Montreal, at the recently opened offspring of Vago on Greene:  Bacaro nearby on St Catherine-see you there!.  I guess I will return to my loyal fave: the classic gin martini.

I must sign off now, my dears, and recuperate from this historical diatribe with a freshly constructed one, garnished with a large Italian olive.

Ciao, your Greta von S.

 Don’t forget to send your idea of luxury for the contest ““the best of the best luxuries” to XX.


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Well Hello, My dear Design Friends & Fiends!!  

Now, about when I met Kelvin, I must tell you all it was amazingly serendipitous. Please do understand, this Kelvin is not at all related to Calvin Klein, and nothing to do with expensive Men’s briefs…this Kelvin is soon to become your best boyfriend in understanding today’s lighting.   As I always say:”Play ball on the Home Court”  If we can’t look georgeous in our own abode, where can we?   

So, My dear design fiends,  here is some vocabulary for you – degrees Kelvin refers to the temperature of the Sun.  Let’s condense all the details: 2600-3600K is warm, flattering light, good for skin tones, similar in effect to those antique incandescent bulbs; while we venture upwards to 4500K, we enter into blued, airy, on the techno side, not flattering for skin tones, but good for seeing details.  The warm/cool degrees Kelvin will be mentioned somewhere on the bulb box.. the best places that sell lighting will have a lab display  – and a trained, cordial sales staff to help clients with the new technology.

All these acronyms!  OMG, may I add? The most important word that is totally changing lighting today: LED!  It means Light Emitting Diode, and is hugely efficient in turning power into light, with little heat production; especially when compared to those old Edison ones.. Another important techno term is CRI – that’s the Colour Rendering Index of the light source.  The higher the Percentage, the closer to the actual spectrum of the sun…where we always see with the best clarity and low colour distortion.  Those nasty old fluorescent tubes, cast a sickly greenish yellow, because that part of the spectrum gave the most light output..  but with a CRI of  only 65 %!!  Whereas the new Compact Flourescent Lamps – CFLs have a much higher%, therefore less eyestrain, and little colour distortion.  Dear friends, I hope your tender brains are not too bruised with all this scientific talk!

All right my Dears, that’s enough of serious talk now,  how about some Local Design News  about modern lighting shops??  Arevco, that bastion of chic, European lighting in Westmount since ’79 has moved around the corner to St Catherine… they will still have all those esoteric European bulbs, Halogens, and a different new selection of lamps more with LED , truly SiFi.  Across the Mountain to St Hubert and visit the huge expansion of C&M Textiles, now with new super colour corrected lighting with very little colour distortion..Their drapery & upholstery section finds many top designers shopping for their clients..Worth a visit.. You might even run into Greta Herself there.! ..

Now, for the biggest lighting news in the Décarie/Jean Talon Design Junction, look for the huge  Montréal Lighting & Hardwear shop at the end of Paré.  Fred Naimer, and sister André have re-invented the way to see all the new lighting, as well as on-line and special order shopping,  I believe all their new team knows Kelvin very well, and will help you find the right light!    Greta & Aurélien will continue reporting on all sorts of finds in Today’s Home

Soon after, we will present our new podcast of the 102 half/hour radio broadcasts from Knowlton, in the Eastern Townships .  The voice you will hear is my long-time associate Aurélien Guillory.  His series is called Living Colour, for pragmatic home design, colour ideas & commentary.. We often see eye-to-eye on many interior design areas, as well as Special Researching good Martinis found in Montreal. We will keep you posted here and on facebook & linkedin,     

Bye for now, do keep sending me your comments and desires..

We will have a lovely 2016 together!  Hasta Pronto!

Your Design Sleuth , Greta vonSchmedlapp.      


Loving the new Patterns!

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As usual, my dears, your dear flakey Greta must apologize for the delay. I have been touring the Townships, soaking up some of the local culture and delicious local foods…I still haven’t found the best place for a Martini. So, if any of you loyal readers who know things about the Eastern townships are willing to share your source, please do give me a good electronic buzz via Aurel’s e-mail.

I am now remembering the special visit we had to the charming Ontario area west of Toronto that I am calling “Kitcherloo”…(I’m certain that you can figure that out, my dears…please pass it on!) Aurel was invited to a veritable convocation of all of the “out-laws” , including Vancouver, the UK, and Abu Dabi; so he agreed that the trip warranted interrupting the country idyl. He thought that your dear Greta would get a few design ideas during the trip, so he agreed to haul me along. We were beautifully wined and dined at Langdon Hall, and the families did a super barbecue, with some scrumptious Pacific red salmon and Angus steaks.

But my point ! (and I do have one) is that while enjoying the company of the Kitcherloo connection, we were given a tour of the house since the kitchen and dining renovation. What a heavenly difference! As Aurel always says: “To effectively design a kitchen, one must talk to the Chef.” The talented chef and mother of 3 young adults had planned meticulously, and the results were both practical and elegant. The youngest, Anabell, now 16, has an eye for colour and pattern that her Great Uncle Aurel had noticed in her early years.

We were treated to visit her newly redecorated bedroom, where all of the best examples of “The New Baroque Style” were combined to make a remarkable reflection of her style. She wants to be a fashion designer, and has had early on a way of mixing patterns that belies her youth. As a well traveled design sleuth with Aurel, I really loved her room, and Aurel’s analytic eye said that the basic principles were intuitively understood by his Niece.

First, he said, keep to a simple colour scheme, using one major colour, with a tint and tone of it. In this case, it was her favorite : Purple – she used a medium grape purple for accents, with a deep tone of Aubergine for the small arm chair near a chrome floor lamp with a steel 16” round table. The ceiling is not the usual white, (that Aurel is always calling a cop-out!) but a lovely pale lilac.

Secondly, the general neutral for the carpet and walls is a silvery grey, with the shaggy charcoal 50% darker than the wallpaper. Yes, my dear design fiends, both shag and wallpaper are having a grand resurgence…just ask my favorite Anais at her shop up at Empire on Park Avenue just below laCite. Aurel swears that she has saved several marriages with her keen understanding of her vast choice of wallpapers.

And, Thirdly, not at all least, Anabell understood intuitively that the mix of patters is well controlled when the scale of different patterns is either half or double the others used in the same room. She had selected a large 24” high silver-on-steel damask print foil wallpaper for all the walls, and had painted all the door, baseboards, and crown moulding a very similar silver that Empires paint department whipped up. The bedspread was flocked (yes, flocking is back too!) in a 10”-12” deep charcoal, mauve on silver grey poly taffeta, and the pair of tall windows was hung with a deep aubergine and black thin stripe on the same silvery taffeta that she hung from a pair of rods with silver ball finials at the ends –found at Winners! Aurel and I have seen several top designers incognito at the Montreal branches, and Anabel’s mum was thrilled to find not only the curtain rods but the table and floor lamp there at the Kitcherloo outlet…

Please remember your dear Greta, when she says that good design hasn’t got to be expensive… it’s all in the plan and the mix. I do regret that we don’t have room for a photo here in my column. But as you can imagine, the Niece now has a classy and inventive room that is a special reflection of her taste, and the envy of her friends!

So, my dear readers, I must go now, leave Ontario and scoot back to the Townships to visit the vineyards of our beloved Westmounter Henrietta Antony. Aurel and I are planning to taste her son John’s new white wine at their Chapelle Sainte Agnès. Do visit them soon near the hamlet of Sutton. Our next visit with you here at the Independent will relate more about the new trends in the décor business, and perhaps a mention of other places of interest to help you achieve a special mood at your home.

Please do tell me about your favourite Martini-maker in the townships…I hear that those people over in Knowlton know a thing or two about my favourite poison…Please help me find the best! Yours in design, your Greta.von Schmedlapp.

P.S.: Aurelien’s e-mail is aurelien@colorsbyaurelien.              

Greta’s Mythical Beginnings…Interior Designer

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She began as a vision, shrouded in Mystery…Aurel was finishing teaching the mid- term interval of his 20 lecture series at the Saidye Bronfman School of the Fine Arts (Beaux Arts)

            His usual student requirement for the Holidays is to create and draw to scale the challenge of a poorly portioned Vestibule, Living, and Dining room. With elevations of 3 walls to show window treatments; floor plan to show the seating, lighting, colours and style of all furnishings for entertaining 6 adults.

            Usually, Aurel’s Interior Design clients do have budgets restraints, special furniture, and a bias towards certain colors and styles. For the class, he did not want to inhibit their creativity. Rather than talking about Mr. and Mrs. Smith or M. and Mme. Chose, Aurel chose to remember one of his clients who had a colorful family history (including Columbian Emeralds the size of a postage stamp). In her memory, Greta vonSchmedlapp was born.

            She is also the foster child of certain ultra-discreet clients and friends. Aurel continues to include their bias and knowledge of the design world into Greta’s correspondences and chronicles.

            The word Zealot has been mutated these days with our current world’s strife. Greta is a true design zealot in the slightly obsessive and overly enthusiastic way, vain to a degree, but with a knowledgeable and educated eye. Her coterie of underground girlfriends and distant relatives allows for a grand scope for netting design nuggets. We will be happy to share most of them with our friends and fiends of Design and the related Beaux Arts.

            Greta and Aurel have collaborated in setting up her new blog for your design satisfaction. These will be a mixture of her published musings from the Westmount Independent Newspaper starting from 2007; and current updates of design, and commentary with the vast changes in the design industry due to the technological revolution.


We are interested in new products and ideas in the design world. Please feel free to communicate your interests and sources that you wish to share.


Colourfully yours,

And a chilled Martini toast to our continued rapport.

Aurélien Guillory

Greta Struggles With Editing!

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Well Hello & Bonjour, my dear Design Friends & Fiends. Your dear Greta vonSchmedlapp has been dreaming of tropical climes. Recently, this Snowy season has felt longer than usual. Aurel & I have been stewing over the whole concept of editing…especially as we are praying for an early Printemps!..We must deal with the usual accretion of “stuff” since the pagan festival of the Winter Solstice. We are casting a somewhat glazed eye around his abode, and simultaneously using psycho-analytic techniques for several of his clients …They have called with various versions of “Help!” “Au Secours” “We feel stuffy” “the place looks tired”… “what can we do without damaging our budget?”…So here goes…another brainstorming session has started. We will let you in on several conversations.

First lighting!!! Remember, Colour & it’s best companion Light are the fastest and believe me, cheapest solutions. Recently, Aurel had his best electrician Guillaume change the under-cabinet lights on a downtown Galley-style kitchen…The old Halogen spots kept scorching & burning out. The heat from these now-obsolete fixtures were sufficient to raise bread dough! They were quickly replaced with the newest techno LED strips. No heat, low Hydro costs, and the colour rendering is close to the 90%, so no colour distortion and no eye fatigue with strange shadows… What a difference ! the husband was especially happy with the lack of glare, as he is the steak specialist.

Editing also means being careful with controlling the various Themes of your home! I remember when Aurel returned to his office, poured his requisite Martini and sat down to his confession: a potential penthouse client out on Nun’s Island had toured her condo with him. His harried face was explained with his next sentence: She wanted to keep the “Eclectic Mix”, as she called it. Please brace yourself: the public areas were in a style I call Hungarian Baroque, the powder room and kitchen was full of Yucatan souvenirs in bright glossy colours; and the master suite tried to be Art Deco Japanese!!!
We don’t remember anything else. Aurel tried to ascertain her colour and pattern sensibilities, to no avail. All of her various collections must remain… there could be no editing of the dusty baroque porcelains, and essentially he said that she needed to find some compromise with the various wall colours. She was basically wanting him to approve of her Mélange… Aurel always sees himself as an interpreter of a client’s life style, but here there were 3 different conflicting aesthetics, with no way on bridging them. He wished her the best, and escaped.

Speaking of the clutter factor, please control your Objects de Vertu:   Display & arrange them on one wall, over the buffet or bed. or a special cabinet. Don’t play “Hunt the Easter Egg”—with them scattered throughout your home… Once, after an initial tour, Aurel remarked that the client must like birds. Madame had not realized that various photos, porcelains and paintings had birds as a theme. When they were grouped over the sofa on their Study, they were surprisingly interesting. Her friends and family were surprised with the “New” collection- that was there all the time!

Another way to freshen a tired home is to re-think the colour scheme. Start by looking at the special elements of art, carpets, hobbies and finding a consistent colour that links them. Then use a warm tone of this for the vestibule or entrance area. The favourite Master bedroom painting will supply the major colour for the background of the wall where it is hanging. Always paint the end of a long hallway with a strong warm colour. Using a bland or cool colour there will visually lengthen it.

Don’t forget wallpaper! The new versions and technologies are quite different from the stodgy past. My best experts in finding the solution that is needed to solve an atmosphere problem are always found by Anaïs and her assistant Nadine at Empire Wallpaper & Paint over on Park Avenue. Since they are passionate about their métier, they are always finding the best new goodies. When Aurel & I saunter in with a vision, they help it become reality! One of their new Abstract small murals can make a vestibule or Dining room area become fresh & modern, especially if it picks up the major colour and mood of the space…

Finally, on a much smaller scale and budget, try re-thinking those accent pillows on the sofas, the towels in the bathroom, the serviettes on the tables. A new colour approach there can make a huge difference, and not cause a budget trauma.
After this new chronicle to you my dear loyal readers, I must climb out of my Macbook and over to my favourite chair and dive into a Martini to recover.
May the Muse be with you all. I will return soon.
All my best in your endeavours in Design…
Colourfully Yours, Greta von Schmedlapp

Greta & Aurélien combat the Winter Blues!

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Have you-all started suffering with the Blues? It’s  quite understandable, what with those bills from the Holidays arriving, and some shattered memories – was it really worth it?

Well, my darlings, as Aurelien and I will show you, You don’t have to go to Merida on the Yucatan  to get cheered up! Simply cast a critical eye around your dwelling, and decide that you will listen to our sage advice.

First, spruce up your lighting. Remember that I made you promise to work on lighting first!  With all this talk about Green lighting, and our poor tattered world, please read here these ideas that will help you:

Look good at home. Play “ball” on the home court! – if you can’t control how you look and feel at your own home- where can you?

Here are a few key ideas that are crucial to understand the new fluorescent  low-wattage bulbs:  CRI=Colour Rendering Index is the very important concept of how this light bulb does or doesn’t distort colour in relation to our best perception of colour -Sunlight. A CRI of 65% is often like the old cool white fluorescent tube…most often too much yellow-green -never flattering on any skin tone, whereas another bulb of a 98% CRI will mean that the colour balance is closer to the sun and doesn’t  distort  your  lovely hair and those stunning eyes!

NEXT, Degrees Kelvin: the scientist , obviously Dr. Kelvin, decided to measure the colour temperature of the Sun and rate various light bulbs, incandescent, halogen, or fluorescent according to their light colour. So, a low2000 degrees K. is warm light similar to those old-fashioned incandescent bulbs that produce more heat than light, and use lots of power. Remember , wattage does not equal brightness, or Lumen power as it once used to, so we save on heat output, and gain in brightness with the new compact fluorescents…A high number of 3500 or so, will mean a cooler, clearer, airy feeling, especially good for kitchens and work rooms…

Now,  back to those Blues we mentioned. Have you ever heard of SAD? that’s Seasonal Affective Disorder – we Canadians and other “inmates of the North” like Scandinavia, are subject to varying degrees of depression when we are deprived from the vitamin  D and other wonders of sunlight on our Pineal gland, and Melatonin production.

You can find a special fixture that will expose people suffering with SAD to the proper spectrum of light- simulating all those days on the Mexican beach you just can’t get to right now..;  It really works, as Nathaniel and Aurelien will tell

you. We have mentioned this device often for years – especially to office workers who don’t see the sun often in the winter (those poor suffering ones in Vancouver and London!)..

Well my loyal readers, please forgive me for being too clinical and technical this time, but Aurélien and I do try to respond to our readers, and at this time of year, what could be more timely? Do watch our for too much texture in your lighting, try to bounce your light off a wall or ceiling, because it’s soooo much more flattering!.

So- Save a good martini for Aurel and me to celebrate your happy lighting experiences.  (Have you tried Blair’s Martinis with Hendricks’ Scottish Gin at Liverpool House on Notre Dame in Montréal}?

I await your report,. as always, colourfully yours, Greta vonSchmedlapp.  Do keep your comments coming: catch us at

Greta’s Dream Closet!

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Hello My Dears. Your Design Sleuth Greta von Scmedlapp, has been living in the townships most of the summer, and has been very lax about writing. I do promise to be a more disciplined “researchiste” this Fall, as the marvelous Editor Kristin has encouraged me to send her a design episode monthly!

So, now it is time for true confessions….Dear design friends/fiends I must tell you that it is true about the old adage about the Shoemaker’s children having neglected shoes.

I have always helped Aurel’s clients with a womanly viewpoint when he is asked to design the master bedroom closets. I always insist that well thought-out closets are NOT a luxury. A good closet allows dressing stress free in the mornings’ rush to work…and helps them to find the best, most inventive combinations of their clothes for those special dinners, concerts, and outings with friends.

First, please measure your closets, and see if there is a way to borrow a few feet from an adjacent room or hall. I agree with Aurel that he is obsessive about measurIng ALWAYS first. Do not believe the sales people at the condo office with their drawing of the space. We have discovered a difference of over 100 square feet several times when we have measured on site for Aurel’s clients. Once, when he was moving a client from Roslyn to Westmount Square, he discovered a surprise 8”x 12” plumbing box right where the husband’s chest of drawers was planned! The “standard” floor plan for that shape of apartment did not have that floor to ceiling box! We visited others of the same size on other floors –NO box!! So, that was a big disappointment and resulted in completely re-planning the bedroom to accommodate his chest…

Another client in Outremont bought top quality closet fitments for the children and guest bedrooms from California Closets (still one of the best) and had his nephew sweat over assembling Ikea closet fitments for their Master suite!!! The drawers rattled and did not open fully! After a year, they were recycled… false economy…as his wife hated the noisy drawers when he rushed out early!

Editing is the most difficult word in designing your spaces…even more so with closets! As they all say, after 2 years of neglect, find a new home for those clothes and accessories no longer giving you a thrill…recycle and give/sell them to the many “Fripperies” here… you will increase the Ch’I – energy in your space and help others…from trash to treasures…

Do allow your self to indulge in your fantasies!!! After all, it’s your space! Make it support your lifestyle…reduce your stresses!

So, I will tell you that I managed to remove the back wall of my guest bedroom closet and turn it into more space for my closet! I realized this by MEASURING… I wish that the genius space planner Tracy Shandley was still in town, she has moved from California Closets…so I did shop around and found a fresh new space planner almost equally talented.   As I do want drama and sparkle, we came up with the idea of having all the walls and shelving white, but we covered the ceiling with glossy BLACK!! vinyl wallpaper on the ceiling, and changed the ceiling light to a super crystal chandelier!   That resulted in a super mirror reflection on the ceiling also adding more light. All the knobs were changed to crystal, and we hung a big silver framed mirror on the back of the door. I managed to have an old ottoman re-upholstered in black vinyl and had interior storage made with a flip top cushion. What comfortable luxury! I feel so lucky every time I walk in!

All my best to my loyal readers, we will have another thoughtfull column soon!

P.S. Aurel has completed 98 half-hours of his radio show: LIVING COLOUR, and you can now hear them on your computer! That is the community radio in Knowlton, and you will find some more of Aurel’s design ideas there. Do let us know of your needs and curiosities at his email:

By for now, your Design Sleuth, Greta von Shemedlapp




Greta Has Painting Trauma

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Hello, My dear design friends & fiends. Your Greta & Aurel are zipping all over town these days working to freshen up several houses.

As usual, we must apologize for our delays in writing, but since you all know by now, paint & light are the 2 easiest and fastest solutions for a fresh change. During these meetings, clients are often worried about the results, so here is a list that covers the most important points. These are the Pills that Aurel & I prescribe to take for the illness of Painting Trauma:


  1. Quality paint, brushes & even masking tape all add to the super results!
  2. Don’t copy or scan a colour from another company– top brands have proprietary formulas, and there will always be a difference.
  3. Your labour is worth more that the cost of the paint- the best quality always applies & coats easily, and their colours’ depth and durability lasts.
  4. Pay attention to the finish, ceilings are best matte, usually in pale tints, unless they are ultra-smooth and painted a deep gloss colour. Walls are fine in eggshell, or satin or pearl; a luster/light reflectance between eggshell & semi-gloss. Usually the darker the colour , the better it appears with some degree of gloss.
  5. Use the effects of warm & cool colours to your advantage!  A long hall will feel feet shorter, if you use a warm coral, a terra cotta, or perhaps ochre at the end. A cool blue or green will appear farther away, better for a smaller room than a hall.
  6. Never look at a room half painted.. the old colour often influences how we see the new one…especially if you are changing from a cool to warm or vice-versa.
  7. Think of taupes as a more dramatic & rich neutral, rather than the predictable beige…A complex warm grey taupe used in 3 levels of saturation, can result in very elegant rooms.   Taupe neutrals accommodate and flatter Art, as well as enhancing fine carpets, and colourful furniture or curtains.
  8. Dead white should never be used for any ceilings or woodwork. Always choose a “off” white that works in a complimentary direction with the walls– often a putty pale grey or a creamy ivory results in a better harmony with the wallcolour. Think of a soft pale peach, or straw tint for the ceilings always more flattering than chalk white…Why not look your best at home?
  9. Prices for painting can vary widely.  Always get 2 quotes, and go to see a recent job if possible. Ask what is included: number of coats, quality of paint, how much prep & plastering is needed.   Get a firm description of the work you want, and completion date. Often a deposit will book your start time, well worth planning, so the rest of the furnishings can be placed in time for the Out-Laws’ visit!
  10. Finally, think about different places that you have seen where the colours & lighting were impressive. Remember whether they were very airy and pale, or shadowy with deep colours. Your reaction will help determine your colour/light bias, an evident key to your best personal atmosphere. Contrast Rembrandt’s art with Matisse’s, and you will understand the difference…
  11. As you all have heard me mention how flattering candle lighting is.   Candles are an easy way to accent a special holiday…. Please, no scented ones at the dinner table, but those scented are super for atmospheric living rooms & bedrooms.   for more info visit for a top quality and elegant complex scent!That’s all for now, I hope this list is helpful – not in my usual chatty fashion, a bit more succinct (shocking!)       So, my design friends, keep those questions & comments coming to Greta c/o Aurel’s e-mail: We will reply to our devoted readers in our next post!