The Baskervillian

I took this photo recently at Wild Fire Bakery. What they really wanted this sign to say was,'Hey you, rude idiot, get off your cell phone!'

I have to say, I've been there, Surroundings is a small store, and just last week a woman came in talking on her cell phone to her divorce lawyer. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE in the store heard that phone conversation. Honestly, I do not want to hear about such personal matters, neither did my clients. WHY, would someone please tell me WHY people HAVE to talk so loud on their cell phone??

The ultimate guy office chair
Over the years we have built a strong client base, but today I want to focus on the men. With young people getting married much latter in life and divorce rates hitting 40%, single men have become a significant part of our clientele. Linda and I were having coffee last week, and we both commented  "love selling to the male clients, they are decisive." 
While our male clients are decisive, they often feel a bit  "where do I start?" When setting up house. If your starting out on your own for the first time or recently divorced, here is the Surroundings cheat list.
Setting up house for the Single Man
1. Do an Inventory. 
Did your mom give you the sofa from the rec room and you have kept it because..... worse yet you own a futon. Take a close look at your belongings, are they hand me downs from family or left overs from a marriage. Ask yourself  " do I really want to keep this."
2. Disposal
Identifying what you don't want is one thing, follow up with the action. Get rid of it! 
3. Sleep
You need a bed to sleep in, and do other things. Please buy a proper mattress. It's totally ok if you want to put it on the floor, that can look very cool. Buy sheets with at least 200 thread count, and bedding. Restoration Hardware does a pre-washed Belgian linen bedding line that is very manly.
4. Eat
You need a place to eat, you can not eat out forever, and let's face it sooner or latter you are going to invite someone for dinner. The men who come into Surroundings always go for a beat up Canadiana small harvest table, I have to say, it's a winner. Put it with modern chairs for a more current look. 
5. Be an Adult
Im stealing this line from a male blogger from girls on the grid. Just because your on your own does not mean  you get to leave a weeks worth of dishes in the sink, a bed unmade, sporting gear piled a mile high at the doorway. If your a busy professional, yes, hire a housekeeper!
6. Make it Yours
As a rule most men shop alone, this is also to your advantage. You make a purchase based on what you want, not what your friends think. I wish I could encourage my female clients to act solo, and not always seeking approval of others. Guys, enjoy your single digs and make them your own.
7. The Sofa
I have watched marital strife over sofa's. Your single, want a sofa you can lie down on, go for it. Just keep in mind that one day when you find the love of your life and you start to meld 2 houses together, she is going to hate your sofa, guaranteed. Sorry, guys I have seen it. So don't spend a fortune on the sofa, unless you plan on being a bachelor for a long time.
8. Work
We work from home, it is what we do. Buy yourself a great desk, something that you will enjoy looking at for years to come. This is the piece I always feel must be an antique. I mean, really, an office depot desk does not impress anyone. Spend some time and find a desk that reflects you. 
9. Walls
I think this is where the guys feel most overwhelmed. To be honest few people know how to hang art mush less purchase it. First, art takes on many forms, a map, old shutters, black and white photo of your dog. We have sold old broken instruments as art. Think outside the box, your male, that should be easy.    
Don't feel the need to fill space. I would rather see a blank wall, than a beer poster, or a fake print from Home Sense.
10. Cook
We all love to eat. Stock the kitchen with cutlery ( matching helps), standard white plates ( Ikea rocks for dishware), 3 good knives ( carving, paring, bread ), pots ( Paderno is good mid-range), and a pepper grinder. Mix-matched mugs, It's one of those things. You can tell a lot about a person from their mug collection. Cook! Cook for yourself, cook for others, cooking is what makes a house a home.
Linda and I are always here to help when comes to design and what works with what, never hesitate to ask. 

 Front garden at Rennick Cottage at sunrise

Last year I was being interviewed for a magazine article, the writer asked what I did on my time off, my response, " I garden". The look on her face said it all, how boring, how am I suppose to write about this so called cool person.
The reality is,  cool people garden. If I think of all the cool people I know they have one thing in common, yep, they garden.
Take a close look at the creative geniuses of Grant Leier and Nixie Barton, their garden in Cedar is now closed to the public, but those of us fortunate enough to have visited during the years were truly inspired. Barton and Leier took gardening to a whole new level, creating a masterpiece.
Closer to home, I have always loved the garden of  super cool interior designer Barb Gergel,
Sidewalk in front of Gergel residence
I relied a lot on the advice of Gergel when planting my own garden. She knew which plants would survive the heat of the Cowichan Valley ( Rennick Cottage is next door to a vineyard), and what the deer would think twice about sampling.
Entrance to Gergel's garden
Creating outdoor rooms, is the essence of Barb's garden. Her best advice, " every time you place a plant in the garden, go inside the house and look out, make sure you like the placement from the inside view. This is where we most often view our gardens from".
The terraced entrance
Gardens have a sense of arrival. Gergel defines space with different levels. The main entrance to the house is defined by the landscape not the architecture.
The courtyard
Privacy in the city was created by a wall that is essentially a large planter. You can rest in the back yard and no one walking by will see you.
Then there is the garden of mega cool artist Marilyn Wallace. I have long admired Wallace's encaustic and mixed media work.
The boulevard in front of the Wallace residence
We have all seen boulevard plantings, but Wallace takes it to a whole new level with a wide selection  of diverse plantings.
The back yard is a carefully planned network of foot paths meandering through the garden. No grass here! Parts of the garden are still young with space still to be filled as plants mature. Wallace has been careful making sure it is not over planted. 
A restful place to sit, although Im quite sure Marilyn never sits. This is the one area that I do not have in my own garden as of yet, a place to sit. 
Some people weed a bit, buy some geraniums and call it a day. That is not gardening. Gardening for us is a creative extension of our lives, spirits, and careers. We take it to a whole new level. creating environments that leave people in awe and hopefully inspire.
Cool People Garden.
We did it! Surroundings has a Facebook page. I know, it's about time. 
When you are looking  on the website you will see a green "f" in the top right hand corner. Tap it and it will take you to our Facebook page.
Finding stock, restoring, selling, and delivery takes up most of my time. Stocking the store with beautiful pieces of furniture and home decor is top priority.
Nowadays having a website, blogging , Facebook, tweeting and everything else is also a big part of maintaining a business. While the website has been up for several years now, it is time for a change. Comments have come in that my out of town clients would like to see more stock on the site. Plans are currently in the works to offer a more comprehensive view of what is in store.
I will be posting on Facebook new finds as they come in, and in general what we are up to at Surroundings.
Working on a couple of blogs for the upcoming weeks, watch for some very cool people and places to know about.
Sometimes in life the most beautiful perspective of a room is looking through the doorway. After I move furniture around here at Surroundings, I often go to the doorway to see how it looks from  a clients first glance. We approach rooms through doorways, so why is it we take for granted the value of one of the most important elements in our homes ...... the door.
It starts with the front door, and I must say I have seen my fair share of ugly front doors! Which the above photo is NOT!  Leaded glass panes surround and comprise a majestic face in the glass, this door dates to early 1900's, solid fir.
The vestibule in the house is framed by more leaded glass, repetition, scale, symmetry.... perfection.
The complete view down the hall to the front door. 
I love the 5 storage doors, with matching hardware, the clients sourced at General Salvage. In new construction we would be looking at cheap bi-folds in an area like this. There is no mistaking the above doors are solid wood with classic shaker panels.
This home was gutted last year and completely redesigned by The Meade Group. The homeowners wanted a double entrance. First you come through the front door, a place for coats and hats, then you move to the second entrance ( photo above) doorways lead to kitchen, stairway, and living area.
You turn right and WOW, that is what the homeowners wanted. This house actually has a great ocean and mountain view, but that is your next left turn. I love how they made the home the starting point and not the view. This house has great doorways and each one offers a view that is spectacular.
Doors to cabinets can be a work of art. These doors purchased at Surroundings are pine dating from  Quebec 1820. The cabinet was custom made for the doors by the English Cabinet Maker on Fort Street.
We currently have a set of 3 doors similar vintage from Ontario, which I think would also look great hanging on a custom cabinet.
Who says double doors are only for the front entrance. This is the bathroom door in my favourite place to stay in Brussels, Chambres en Ville. This petite hotel is known for its super cool decor ( it has been written up in every European design mag).  These doors give a sense of grandness to the space, the bathroom is massive, the doors work with the scale.
Here is a beautiful set of double doors from South Africa, circa 1880, for sale at Surroundings. Just think how grand they would be used interior, as opposed to the front door.
Of course, all those fabulous windows we see in Paris, are really french doors. This beautiful building was across the street from the apartment I was renting. 
 As Im writing this today, Im repainting my screen door. On my farmhand cottage the screen door was stained a burnt Siena. Im now painting it white, to go with the windows, and to stand out more. I will post a pic when Im done. Im off to paint another coat.
Keep an eye on those doorways.