About

 
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 renovation (21)

Monday
May232011

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.

Thursday
Oct072010

Guest blog / Jenn Hannotte: The bath equation

Jenn Hannotte: My bathroom renovation began about three months ago, and we're still working on some finishing touches before we can present the BIG REVEAL. But until then (soon, I promise!), I thought I'd recount the story thus far. Trouble is, it's not terribly interesting. Nothing scary jumped out from the walls, there was no layer of black mold ready to poison my children, no hiccups with the contractors or materials. The only reason why it's taken as long as it has is because I had to go and choose things that you can't grab from your local big- box store.

You might recall that my main source of inspiration was the bathroom featured in the film, The Royal Tenenbaums. To get there, we used a lot of classic materials that really fell architecturally into line with the aesthetic of the rest of the house. Always-right and inexpensive Daltile white subway tiles placed 3/4 of the way up the wall from Home Depot, capped with a classic chair rail profile found at Pollock's on Roncesvalles, just down the street from me. For the floors, it was again Home Depot's Daltile in the 'Octagon and Dot' pattern. I sourced a cast-iron clawfoot tub from Craigslist for a steal at $150 including the faucet, shower head and tub surround. The toilet is from Kohler and it's amazing to not be terrified every time we flush like we were with the old one! My favorite piece is the sink - the Brockway from Kohler. It was this baby that we had to wait for a long time to arrive, but it was worth it once installed. 

Without giving too much else away, I found this amazing wallpaper from Ferm Living that looks pretty   much identical to the shower curtain you see behind Margot Tenenbaum that really sets off the entire space. So the question is, class, can this equation be solved?  

  

Monday
Aug022010

No parking allowed

Yes, our media room used to be a drive-down garage, but that all changed back in the '80's sometime (way before we bought the house) when, in a rather hare-brained scheme, the old owners bricked up the garage door and filled in the driveway to create a v. dingy basement apartment. Oh, it was a delightful surprise when we discovered that that there was only one layer of bricks and some rotten chipboard holding back all the in-fill, take a look here, which meant we had to do a major bit of re-construction.

Fast-forward to now and things are all peachy - That's a Gus* Carter sectional sofa, silk velvet pillows and woven cane hassocks from Constantine, and a fab hand-knotted floor cushion from Bev Hisey. The striped velvet curtains have been discontinued at Ikea, but you can still get your hands on the Kvartal curved curtain rail, as well as the wall-mount Besta Burs DVD storage (topped with a few of my fave collectibles). On the other side of the room you'll catch a white leather tufted chair, an end table, and more of the shaggy rayon rug, all from Elte. Then there's more of that great Ikea Besta media storage, working both as a stand for the LCD TV, and mounted on the wall (we had fun tricking it out with Dioder LED lighting strips). The paint colour is Palais Royal by the no-longer-available Ralph Lauren Paint line from Home Depot. And, thanks again to Angus Fergusson for doing such an outstanding job in shooting the house for House & Home!

Thursday
Jul292010

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.

Tuesday
Jul272010

Guest blog / Jenn Hannotte: What's the 211?

Jenn Hannotte: If you're reading this, chances are it's because you're a design blog-aholic. Never one to leave the party first, I offer to you this new reno-blog (complete with live-cam!) that promises to be thoroughly intoxicating. The Temporale's are a young family who have decided to move up - literally. They've been living in their east-end Toronto home for 6 years and have gutted it and smartly transformed it into a modern nest. But with only two bedrooms and four family members, it was time to make the decision: sell, or renovate? With no where to go but up,  they are constructing a 3rd floor pre-fab addition, and if the pictures from the rest of their home are any indication, it's going to be spectacular. The snaps below show the before and after on the front of the house, and a peek at the interior, before the old roof was peeled off and construction started. Check out 211 Bain to follow along!

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