We recently talked to Erin Feasby and Cindy Bleeks, the dynamic duo behind the successful Toronto firm Feasby & Bleeks Design, to answers some design and decorating questions. Here’s what they said.
Do you have any ideas for updating curb appeal as we move into the Spring season?
For a cheap and cheerful seasonal change we always tell people to work with what they have if possible. Update your existing porch furniture by changing the colour scheme simply with new toss cushions and throws – fabric is always an easy way to make an impactful change,” explains Feasby. “And, adding a simple burlap runner to exterior stairs is a great warm look, plus think about your outdoor lights. Lighting is so important, we often switch out drab outdoor lighting with either hanging lanterns or sconces beside the front and garage doors —just be aware of your door swing when you are installing them.
Everyone seems to love the open concept look at home, do you have any tips for homeowners who are considering a reno or who are in an open concept space?
First, people always think they want the open concept look until they take a good look at how they actually live,” notes both Feasby and Bleeks. “It’s best to create a mix of open concept and more private spaces for most main floors – think of it as a hybrid of both.” Here are their top tips for getting it right:
- Think about open concept in areas that you use the most such as the kitchen and family room, areas that you can sit at a kitchen island and interact with family in an adjoining room, a place for kids to do homework, watch television or play games. – These are always the most successful areas in the house for open concept.
- Formal spaces (such as a dining room) are good places to keep more private with walls, so that you can keep them tidy and are not quite so open and visible to a messy kitchen for instance. Entryways are also better as private spaces so that you don’t see the coats and shoes from the other areas in the house. Try and build a happy medium with private and open concept spaces, and think about the way your family lives.
- If you are in an open concept space and are finding it a bit overwhelming and messy, try and define the spaces with rugs and use floating furniture such as sofas and sofa tables to create a cozier feel.
What are some things we should remember if we are finishing our basement?
“Basements are huge right now, everyone has a basement project and they are great spaces to work with,” notes Feasby. The three areas of the basement she and her partner suggest focusing on are flooring, storage and transitional spaces.
“Lots of basements have uneven floors and drains to deal with, so try and use a flooring that follows the levels of the floor and is somewhat flexible – our first choice is always a wood-look vinyl in planks that can hug uneven floors without worrying about cracking. If you don’t want the wood look, go with a small tile such as an inexpensive porcelain and have fun with colour, pattern and design,” notes Bleeks. “As for storage, try and find it anyway you can – under stairs, on the walls with either open or closed storage, with furniture choices – plan ample storage, as you can never really have too much.” Both designers recommend incorporating transitional spaces whenever possible. “Transitional spaces are ones that double on function, so a family room that can double as an office and flow into a guest room is ideal in the basement. Furniture choices are important here, such as picking a sectional sofa that converts to a bed, those are also easy to get down tighter staircases and take apart if necessary. Murphy beds that are built into the wall are also amazing for guests, and take up very little space. We are using Murphy beds more and more. Look at your natural light source in the basement and plan the windows around areas that need light such as bedrooms or living area. Finally, think about adding an extra bathroom close to the laundry room where plumbing is close by – you can always use an extra bathroom especially for over night guests.”
We all know that paint is the cheapest and easiest way to transform a space, can you let us know your favourites?
Best transitional colour
Benjamin Moore, Classic Gray OC-23
Best colour for living spaces
Benjamin Moore, Seapearl OC-19
Best colour for bedrooms
Benjamin Moore, Wickham Gray HC-171
Best deep accent colour
Benjamin Moore, Newbury Port Blue HC-155
Best colour for built-ins or cabinetry
Benjamin Moore, Chelsea Gray HC-168
Benjamin Moore, Simply White OC-117
Feasby & Bleeks Design is a full service Interior Design firm, their work has been featured in House & Home, Style at Home and Chatelaine Magazines as well in the Globe & Mail, on Breakfast Television. They can be reached at 416.233.4567 or through the company website