Arren Williams is the name, and I'm a stylist, editor and trend reporter. You'll catch my work regularly popping up in print in the likes of the National Post, House & Home and elsewhere. I'm also a guest expert on Citytv's CityLine, and you can occasionally find me on HGTV as well as on ABC 7 News in Chicago.

To keep things fun I've tapped a couple of friends - Julia Black and Jenn Hannotte - to contribute their views on design too. Enjoy!


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Pretty nasty

The basement at the house is a bit of a horror show; small dark rooms, icky vinyl floor and spiders, lots of spiders. And well, now things are a bit worse in basement-land... We knew there had been some funny business at some point with the house since the drive-dowwn garage had been bricked-up and the driveway levelled, all to make the basement larger. The funny business was confirmed when a neighbour mentioned that they'd gone to bed one night and woken up to see the work had been done. Funny indeed...

Now, this wasn't a major surprise since our house inspector had mentioned damp issues in this one wall, but still, y'know, in my head at least it's all butterflies and sunshine. We set too ripping off the drywall (well, after a brief trip to Home Depot to pick up the right tools since garden shears weren't quite doing the trick, lol) and you can see below what we discovered. Basically one layer of bricks, 2" x 4"s and some insulation (and a whole lotta damp) is the only thing holding up the driveway. Oh, and they'd kindly left the old wooden garage door frame in place too - Thanks.

Our contractor came over last night and gave us the lowdown - Removing the concrete and asphalt from the front of the house, digging down and removing and replacing the wall with something that's actually structurally sound and, oh, waterproof. Lovely.    


Pretty modern

Bev Hisey is one of the craziest (in a good way, lol) friends that I have, she's also one of the most talented. Bev and I were chatting today while I was in the midst of a haircut - which prompted the barber to ask what we did, always an interesting one to answer... Most people might not realize that Bev is a one woman operation, a tough gig for sure. She's always pushing the envelope with her work and is constantly working on something new. Below are a couple of pics that Bev and I worked on together, shot by Donna Griffith. I think she's a bit of a Canadian treasure...



Rotten and rusty

So here, as promised, are the pics of the back of the house - No more raccoon hotel under a mouldy deck and no more waist-high weeds either. Everything, including a half buried rusty old swing set, made it into the full-to-brimming skip. As usual there were suprises; like the deck's rottten support beams that are actually tied into the brickwork, and the bee's nests in the siding. After all that, David is bruised and achey and Graham claims he was hit by a train.

There are more suprises to come, just part of the joy of older an older home. I know, it's not a Victorian, but even a sprightly 43 year old can have some issues. Take a look at all the 'before' pics in The House Project gallery to do a quick compare and contrast. Oh, and why do you think that the upper windows still have their original aluminum frames and glass and then new vinyl windows on the inside? Strange. 



It takes a sledgehammer

First thing this morning a skip showed up at the new place for the beginning of de-construction. Graham Kaye (our intrepid real estate guy) showed up to help - so much nicer than a bottle of plonk - and he and David went at the back deck with hammer and tong, well, actually sledgehammer and chainsaw. Then the gas powered weed whacker was put to work, with David at the helm, to clear cut the urban jungle of a yard. Honestly, I couldn't be there for the bulk of the work (deadlines) and showed up to lug the remains into the now full skip. I'll post pics tomorrow.

I was re-visiting a bunch of favourite online resources to come up with cool products to feature in the National Post for an upcoming Post Homes Magazine and re-discovered Christpher Jagmin. I like his gear, I've featured his dishware in Flare before, but the graphically etched glasses below are a snappy new addition to his line.


The next tour starts in 5 minutes

The tours have begun. Kind words and concerned looks are the norm, and everyone has ideas, which is always helpful. The place really is a blank but dirty slate - and of course the bathrooms get the most reaction (we've heard a lot of 'eeeeeewwwwws'). But the question is this, do we need a powder room on the main floor? In it's current state it actually has a shower stall in there too (huh?), which definitely won't stay. But should it disappear entirely? The choices that are floating around (I kind of see them as thought bubbles) are - Keeping it but making it smaller. Changing it into a laundry room. Losing it entirely. I'll let you know which thought bubble wins...

In the meantime we've been shopping for loos (fun!) and this is our Top 3. The new Saile from Kohler; a sculptural little dual flush number (0.8 or 1.6 gallon consumption). The Happy D by Starck for Duravit; quite the modern classic in the loo world (1.6 gallon consumption). And finally, the Aquia from Toto; a fave brand and a very simply styled dual flush (0.9 or 1.6 gallon consumption). But lets start everything off with a pic to remind you of the powder room (everybody go 'eeeeeeewwww').