Qualicum Beach Smiling Rock

I was visiting Qualicum Beach this weekend and someone put this rock down on the beach path. It put a smile on my face. Thank-you – whoever you are!

Smiling Rock Qualicum Beach  
PATRICIA GRAY INC is an award winning interior design firm writing about lifestyle and
WHAT'S HOT in the world of interior design, architecture, art and travel.
2011 © Patricia Gray | Interior Design Blog™


: : then we continued our vacation at our favorite place...our Swedish summerhouse. With more lazy days filled with family competitions, swimming and diving on the dock, dinners outdoors in that golden Swedish summer light, mushroom picking  and eating (crazy amounts of mushroom), midnight swims with glowing plankton....warming up in the sauna in between. there is no better place in the world!

Costa Brava vacation

: : as you might have noticed, it's been quiet here on the blog. we just came back from two weeks of fantastic vacation in Spain and Sweden. We returned to our favorite fishing village, Sa Tuna, Costa Brava, for one week, this time with our best Swedish friends. There were seven of us in one house with a pool and endless beautiful beaches to choose from. We spent our days swimming, suntanning, snorkeling (we saw octopus!) playing, cooking and eating delicious food at night. And Yahtzee of course, super- yahtzee.

10 Things to do in New York in the Summertime

1. Sit on the grass roof terrace at Lincoln Center. This stylish sloping green lawn is situated on top of a restaurant at the recently remodelled Lincoln Center and overlooks Lincoln Center’s reflecting pool and Henry Moore sculpture. The night I was there was a perfect summer night and the bonus was it was a full moon which hung in the sky with the city scape of New York below it. I had a hard time leaving.

2. Visit Vicente Wolf. I met Vicente when he was in Vancouver this Spring and he invited me to drop in and see him when I next in New York. He showed me around his office and then his showroom which is packed with treasures that he purchases on his yearly trips to exotic locations.

Vicente Wolf New York Showroom
3. See a play in the theatre district. This time I saw Wicked at the Gershwin Theatre. It is the story of the Wizard of Oz long before Dorothy drops in, and the relationship of the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good Witch. It was a great show. Be sure to dress up and have a nice dinner before the theatre, as I think it makes the experience all the more special.

Wicked NYC Curtain                                        A close-up picture I took of the curtain before the show started
4. Have dinner at:
La Esquina in Soho 
You have to walk down a flight of stairs and through the kitchen to get to the restaurant. Book well in advance as it is very popular. It is the best Mexican food I have had outside of Mexico. I was told by a friend to try the deep fried Crickets. I was happy when I was told that they were no longer on the menu so I didn’t have to lie and say I had them. They also have a selection of over 200 premium tequilas. The waiters wore red t-shirts with ‘SEXICO’ on the front. 

Le Colonial in the Upper East Side
The ambiance of French Colonial Vietnam (Indo Chine) of the 1920’s has been recreated in this two storey townhouse, decorated with black and white period photos, ceiling fans, lush potted palms. I had one of their signature dishes - Vietnamese crisp-seared whole red snapper with a light, spicy and sour sauce. Yummm!

5. Have lunch at Bergdorf Goodman’s restaurant, decorated by Kelly Wearstler and overlooking Central Park. 

6. Shop, shop, shop
My favourite street is Madison. I start at Barneys at 61st and walk up to 70th and then down 70th to visit one of the most beautiful galleries in New York - the Frick, with a stop at the Nespresso Boutique between 65th & 66th for an Iced Latte and the best quiche outside of Paris. This trip I also “did Soho” and discovered some new stores:

7. Walk Central Park South East
I never knew this pond was here in Central Park. As we were walking back to our Hotel after our shop, shop, shop afternoon, I saw the trail lead into Central Park – you enter off of 5th Ave and 60th Street. In a few short moments we were transported into another world – a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. It is situated below street level, and  the noises of the city are left behind. We were able to walk through the lush park almost all the way back to our Hotel. 

NY Central Park South

8. Visit Francine at Interieurs. Francine is a friend of mine that I met through the Blogosphere. One of the highlights of my visits to New York is to visit her at her wonderful store and then go out to dinner together. Francine has one of the most outstanding roof decks in all of New York where she hosts many parties in the summer. There is never enough time to catch up on everything. She is busy working out with a personal trainer to prepare herself for climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in September.

Interieurs NYC

9. Have drinks at the Empire Hotel which is where Gossip Girls is filmed and has the official drink Cocktail List of the ‘Gossip Girls’ TV show with catchy names like: I’m Chuck Bass – Dewar’s Scotch, Red Apple, Ginger Bites and Apple Cider. You can read the Cocktail list here.

10. Visit MoMA
Get there early especially if you go on the weekend. We arrived at 10:30 on Sunday morning with a short line-up and by the time we left at 12:30 the line-up outside was down the street and around the corner. I head up to the top floor (and work my way down) to see my favourite painting – Monet’s Water Lilies which I could feast my eyes on forever. It is an amazing 42 feet in length. Tip: This trip I purchased a membership which is very cost effective and means you don’t have to stand in a line-up.

Monet Water Lilies MoMA

PATRICIA GRAY INC is an award winning interior design firm writing about lifestyle and
WHAT'S HOT in the world of interior design, architecture, art and travel.
2011 © Patricia Gray | Interior Design Blog™

Luxury Home

“An upfront interview process allows this Vancouver design firm to meet
all the design needs of busy professionals”.
Luxury Home

Luxury Home Patricia Gray IncPATRICIA GRAY INC
story by Romy Schafer
photos by Roger Brooks

For nearly 30 years, Patricia Gray of Patricia Gray Inc. has been creating one-of-a-kind residential installations for individuals too time-pressed to contemplate their design wants and needs, much less deal with the inherent challenges of renovating a room or entire home. “Most of the clients I work with are busy professionals, so I handle all the details for them,” says Gray, principal of the Vancouver-based design firm, which has executed projects in the United States, Canada, Japan, Singapore and Africa.

“All the details” typically range from ascertaining a client’s needs and wants to designing custom furnishings to arranging amenities. “I offer a complete service for my clients—everything that’s required in making a space personalized for them,” she says, noting that she also does full design-build project management.

LUXURY HOME PATRICIA GRAY INC 1Thousands of sheets of silver leaf were hand applied to the recessed ceiling, reflecting the crystal chandelier, sunlight through the floor-to-ceiling windows and the water of False Creek.

Gray’s recent installation at Vancouver’s The Erickson—a 17-storey residential tower designed by and named for world-renowned architect Arthur Erickson—illustrates her complete-service approach. When a busy San Francisco couple commissioned Patricia Gray Inc. to turn their spacious two-bedroom, three-bath condominium into a second home for impromptu visits, the designer looked to a luxury, five-star hotel for her inspiration. “They wanted a home that they could come to on the spur of the moment and everything would be ready for them,” she explains. “I set up flower delivery, maid service, laundry service and concierge service, so the clients can just send emails [to these service providers] when they decide to come to Vancouver. When they leave, the maid service cleans everything up.”

LUXURY HOME PATRICIA GRAY INC 2Limestone countertops and backsplashes, SieMatic cabinets and Miele appliances give the kitchen a modern, European look.

So how does Gray, an award-winning designer who studied at the Parsons School of Art and Design in Paris and the University of Ferrara in Italy, determine clients’ design preferences and needs—something they often don’t know themselves? “I arrive at that through my extensive interview process,” she explains. “I ask them how they’re going to live in their space, what their entertainment requirements are, what their family requirements are [and so on]. Then, I get to know them, and the style evolves by osmosis.”

Thoroughly acquainting herself with clients’ lifestyles at the project’s onset enables Gray to develop a complete design concept for them, “so they know exactly what their home is going to look like when it’s finished, before we even start,” she says. “Everything’s designed and priced. Then, they approve the concept and the budget, and I proceed from there,” ultimately handing over a completed, customized new home.

But, as every experienced designer knows, the journey from the initiation of a project to its completion can be filled with challenges. “There’s a lot of coordination to do with all the different suppliers and sub trades involved,” Gray explains. “It’s one thing to be able to design something very beautiful, and it’s another thing to be able to execute it. The great challenge is in the execution—it’s like putting together a gigantic jigsaw puzzle. All the pieces have to fit together, and everybody’s got to work together to bring it to fruition.”

LUXURY HOME PATRICIA GRAY INC 3Adjacent to the kitchen, accordion-style doors open the entire 20-foot width of the balcony. Views of the downtown Vancouver skyline and the mountains can be seen in the distance. Patricia Gray Inc. custom pillows in Sunbrella fabric. 

For Gray, working with high-level tradespeople and artisans is key to a successful, problem-free renovation. “I have quite a wonderful group of people that I’ve built up over the years that can execute my designs,” she says. “I think that’s one of the bonuses my clients have in me—my intellectual knowledge, all the years of experience I’ve had and having the right people working with me. I have a wonderful contractor who I can totally count on. Everyone I work with shows up when they’re supposed to and completes their jobs on time and on budget.”

Creating custom-designed furnishings like tables, seating, media and wall units, pillows and artwork further enables Gray to create personalized spaces for clients. “I have a millwork company, an upholstery workroom, a drapery workroom,” she explains, adding, “What I do is very unique and very specific for each client. I like to think of my design as couture. Everything is custom-designed and made specifically for each client.”

This penchant for designing home furnishings has led to a new business venture for Gray: a line of custom furniture based on some of the limited edition, custom pieces that she’s created for past projects. At press time, possible manufacturing partners and marketing initiatives for the line were still being worked out, according to Gray.

LUXURY HOME PATRICIA GRAY INC 4The master bedroom is on a corner, with windows along two walls. Patricia Gray Inc. custom motorized silk draperies and roller shades control the natural light reflecting from the silver leaf ceiling. The linens are by Frette bedding with an Hermes throw and Patricia Gray Inc. pillows made with Jim Thompson fabric.

Creating elegant, personalized spaces will no doubt continue to be Gray’s m├ętier. When asked what she considers the most rewarding part of her job, she quickly responds, “When I hand over the completed project to my clients—when all the months of work are finished, and they see everything in its beauty and perfection.”

Discover more about Patricia Gray.

PATRICIA GRAY INC is an award winning interior design firm writing about lifestyle and
WHAT'S HOT in the world of interior design, architecture, art and travel.
2011 © Patricia Gray | Interior Design Blog™

House Plan Guru Creates New Concepts!

I received a call from a fellow a couple of days ago.  He told me that he has been exhaustively searching for house plans but cannot find one that fully meets his needs.  I always find  it amazing how many people have this problem given the tens of thousand of house plans available online.  But the fact is every client has individual needs.  Why should they settle for a house plan that comes up short?

His condensed building program is this:

  • 1 level home with walkout basement - walkout will initially be unfinished

  • 2 main floor bedrooms - one with en-suite - one using a shared public bath

  • walkout lot from front to rear

  • views of mountains at the rear of the house - rooms should take advantage of that

  • finished floor area  must be 1500 square feet or less 

So based on his building program I sketched out a couple of concepts.  See below.

Spaces are spread across the width of the lot to take advantage of the mountain views.  Simple massing with one dominant gable form running from front to rear.  

A more compact arrangement with a "bungalow" inspired form.

This is one great example of the service we provide that sets us apart from our competition.  Can't find the right design solution?  Give our Guru (Architect) a call!
Simply Elegant Home Designs

New House Plan - The Willowbrook

Over at Simply Elegant Home Designs we will be coming out with a new design in the next couple of weeks.  Below is a sneak preview of our "Willowbrook".

Birdseye View

Main Level Floor Plan

Upper Level Floor Plan

Front Elevation - house left, entry and stairs middle, garage right.

New Unique Small House Plan!

Simply Elegant Home Designs is introducing a new unique small house plan - "The Willernie Cottage" as illustrated below.  Architect Ron Brenner had this to say about the home:  "The design is definitely eclectic.  We combined farmhouse, shingle style, cottage and modern elements into a carefully composed exterior envelope. The interior layout is smart.  Like all of our designs we pay much attention to circulation patterns and potential furniture arrangements to ensure functional yet efficient use of space." 

Image from front

Main Level Floor Plan

Upper Level Floor Plan - Three bedrooms with two baths.

Front Elevation

Right Side Elevation
For more information on the home design you can follow this link:  Willernie Cottage