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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Entries in Cera Stone (5)


Guest blog / Jenn Hannotte: The perpetual kitchen reno

Jenn Hannotte: Last October, after my youngest pulled what looked like 1930s underwear out from behind the radiator in our kitchen, I called John at Cera Stone. "GUT IT," I said. Really, I didn't *want* to renovate the kitchen, I wanted to live with it and save up for the real-deal. 

But after the underwear, and because earlier in the summer I had removed all the cabinet doors because they were covered in SLIME, and because after the bathroom renovation we had a big ol' hole in the kitchen ceiling thanks to the old toilet losing it's shhhhh all over the place - well, it wasn't a kitchen anymore. And so, like I do, I started to rip things apart myself and discovered the original asbestos-tiles, and while not exactly good for the lungs, they were in really good shape which gave me hope for the pine-plank subfloor. Yes, we were going to gut the kitchen, but, no, we weren't going to spend much putting it back! Once everything was out, I decided to have a wall framed out over the messed up plaster that held the old cabinets in place, and we clad it in beautiful birch plywood. The sink, stove and fridge all stayed in the same place to keep costs down. A couple of base cabinets from Ikea, an inexpensive butcher block countertop, rough-pine shelf from Home Depot ($12!) and bingo, we had a kitchen. 

Okay, it didn't go that smoothly - I have hung different cabinets and shelves, moved the fridge around, painted the floors after resolving not to, and painted half a wall black before deciding (surprise!) white it was! This is a temporary kitchen - if temporary means 5 years or more to you. So, because we'll be living with it for quite some time, we figured that we might consider getting some appliances that work. I know people go on about "function and form" all the time, but sometimes I like to ignore that and spend money in places we shouldn't instead of... .getting appliances that work.

And so, this week a new crop of appliances that will bring harmony to the kitchen are set to arrive. Appliances that marry form AND function. I know, what a concept. Once they're here and installed I promise a full kitchen tour. For now, here are some shots of the before and during - and a sneak-peak of the 'after', shot for the Marion House Book last month! (which, incidentally, already looks different!)

For more of Jenn's take on style click here.


Guest blog / Jenn Hannotte: The royal treatment

Jenn Hannotte: Ahh, the sweet, suffocating smell of plaster dust! We're knee-deep in it over here, tackling the family bathroom. When we bought this house, we thought we could live with it for a while. We thought that we could clean it up, and it would be OK. We thought maybe some new towels would help. We thought WRONG. The 'before' picture provides some visual evidence, but the real issue here was the smell. And the strange textures that stained every surface. I won't elaborate, but suffice it to say we are very happy to have it all GONE! It was demo- day here today, and the folks from Cera Stone (who I also used to renovate the main floor of the last house) knocked it out efficiently as ever.

Finding inspiration for the bathroom wasn't a problem. It seemed everything I saw, I loved. Especially anything dark and vintage, with an industrial twist. Like Jenna Lyon's en-suite, or this gorgeous bathroom from House & Home by Connie Braemar. But, I wasn't quite sold on the idea of going to the dark side - something wasn't quite grabbing me. And then, as I do a couple times a year, I was watching The Royal Tenenbaums and there it was, my future bathroom. Nothing dark about it, but oozing original vintage charm with a fresh colour scheme and those great set details found in all of Wes Anderson's films. How close the final product will be to the bathroom Margot Tennenbaum spends  "six hours a day locked up in...watching television and soaking in the tub" remains to be seen, but the hunt is on! [Image 2 via Habitually Chic. Image 3 by Virginia Macdonald]

For more of Jenn's take on style, as well as to see the beginnings of her own reno project, click here.


Principally speaking

Where, oh where, has the week gone? All my best laid plans of it being a quiet week have literally been chucked out the window, and now it's practically the weekend for heaven's sake! Getting back on track, I wanted to show you lot the pics of the principal bedroom and bathroom from the House & Home feature (shot by Angus Fergusson, of course), so without further ado, here we go.

That first pic shows the bedroom under construction, when we'd knocked out the teensy old closets. Now the walls are all papered with grasscloth from Design by Color, the upholstered headboard and bedskirt are in my fave David Hicks designed Hexagon House Chenille from Lee Jofa, and the cream velvet curtains are from inVU Drapery. The ceiling fixture and lamp on the left of the bed are both vintage, while the one on the right (as well as the shades for both lamps) was snapped up at HomeSense. The closet now runs wall-to-wall, and is the Pax system with Vinstra doors from Ikea, and really, we couldn't live without all that built-in shoe storage, lol. The night tables were a sweet $10 each from Value Village, and the dresser was from Frontier, both were refinished to match in that khaki tone by Beresford's. On the dresser is a kooky vintage lamp, enamelled boxes from AT Design, and above there's a lovely West Elm mirror.

The bathroom was tiny, filthy and all pink, so we knocked out the walls and made it 18" wider to make the space that bit more generous. The vanity is KraftMaid kitchen cabinetry, the integral sinks and counter is Corian, and the walls are tiled in a Carrara marble lookalike porcelain tile called Montova, and yep, it's all from Home Depot. The sconces are from CB2, the mirrors are from Walmart (really), and the towels are Ikea. All the plumbing fixture and fittings in the space are from Kohler, and include the swish Oblo wall-mount faucets, the Purist Hatbox toilet (you can just about see it in the reflections) and the ceiling-mount WaterTile shower head. Oh, and I have to give a shout out to Home Depot Installation Services, as well as our contractors Cera Stone, for all their amazing work on the bathroom!


On the (main) level

Yep, the August issue of House & Home is finally out (with our place in it), so I thought it was high time to finally share the heinous 'before' and the lovely 'after' of the main floor of our house! So you can get your bearings, that first pic is me standing pretty much where the coffee table is now, looking back towards where the kitchen ended up, and all before the walls came down to finally open the space up. For more scary before shots click here.

Here are the deets on those glossy after shots, photographed by Angus Fergusson -

In the living room the sofa, chairs, tables and ceiling fixture are all vintage. The ottoman is from Bev Hisey, a couple of the pillows on the sofa are from The Rug Company, the Montigo fireplace is from Odyssey Fireplaces, and the rug is from Sears. Spot looks awfully cute in this next shot, against the brill Manderley wallpaper from Graham & Brown. That's a Besta cabinet from Ikea (crammed with records), topped with a turntable, a Tivoli radio and a vintage lamp. I made the dining table out of scaffolding planks and a vintage table base, and all the chairs were super-cheapy vintage finds refinished by Beresford's and, all the doors and windows in the house are Jeld Wen. The KraftMaid kitchen cabinets, Corian countertop, glass tiles and Quality Craft bamboo flooring are all Home Depot, oh, and the stools are vintage. The fantastic stainless steel slide-in gas range with downdraft (no need for a range hood!), dishwasher and French door fridge are from Jenn Air. In the powder room, the wallpaper was dragged home from BHV in Paris, and the teensy sink is from American Standard. And finally, a major shout out to our contractors, Cera Stone!



Finished out front

Okay, just a quick one - I'm having a barmy week, and next week will be the same - but I did want to share this while I had a sec. Take a look below and you'll see the finished front of the house!!! You'll have to excuse all the exclamation marks, but compared to the way it looked when we bought the place (take a look here), it's a MASSIVE difference. Major thanks go to our stellar contractors, Cera Stone, who pulled it all off on very short notice (thanks John!), and thanks too to our next door neighbours who kindly allowed us to park the skids of interlock bricks on their driveway while all the prep work was happening. Oh, the bricks - We went with the Charcoal Cobble Lite Paving Stone from Home Depot, laid in a nice and chic herringbone pattern, which works fantastically well with the facade of the house that the contractors painted in Farrow & Ball's dark and lovely Railings. I popped in a couple of close-up shots below so you could get a better look. And finally, how fantastic (and eco-efficient) are the Jeld-Wen windows and front door? Gotta fly, but what do you think?