Sunday, November 1, 2009

Toronto Star Trash T

Trash Talk: Loft reno represents extreme recycling
October 31, 2009 
Ellen Moorhouse
Special to the Star
Photo By: Geoff Lackner

Renovations invariably mean garbage and dumpsters, so it's heartening to know that building with recycled materials is getting some airtime. The Discovery Channel has just finished broadcasting the Toronto-made television show, Junk Raiders¸ but you can view the six episodes online at

In it, a team of seven people – two garbage scroungers, a designer, two builders, a labourer and electronics technician – were given a month-long challenge to renovate a 1,600-square-foot loft with 17-foot ceilings in an old industrial building, using materials from the trash.

They had to build, wire and furnish a live-work space, including bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and living area which will appeal to young, hip IT executives with a taste for boutiquehotel living. Building owner Ron Smith coughed up $5,000 to cover what they couldn't find in the garbage.

(Team members guessed comparable renos would cost $150,000 to $300,000. Indeed, seven workers would gobble up $5,000 in no time.)

The show has a reality-TV tone, with artificial time pressure, Smith playing a hard-to-please client, general contractor Geoff Woodmansey acting the sergeant-major, and personal tensions manipulated by the producers for dramatic effect.

As designer Michelle Mawby, who runs Lucid Interior Design, describes it: "There were some times when we didn't like each other, and I think at the end, none of us ever wanted to see each other again."

But her design flare, the nifty ideas from the expert scroungers, the skills of the building crew and some serendipitous finds resulted in a great space with striking elements crafted from "repurposed" discards.

Leading the garbage-picking charge were diehard freecyclers Anthony D'Arcy, a property investment advisor and real estate agent (Right at Home Realty), who furnished his own house with castoffs, and Gordie Wornoff, a farm boy who learned carpentry from his dad and has been known to plunder Roncesvalles Ave. greenbins for edible produce. He calls his contracting business A Higher Plane, a playful allusion to notions of enlightenment and the reuse of old lumber.

So where did the team find stuff? Hanging out at the city's transfer station and asking drivers for materials (they also got paint free at the hazardous household waste depots), fishing in the Don River for old grocery carts, visiting house construction sites, cruising the streets on garbage day, lucking out with hotline calls after they posted flyers around town, checking out demolition at Pearson airport (this was 2008) and heading off to Habitat for Humanity's ReStore, which sells recycled materials, to supplement the free stuff.

A downtown church proved a saviour, with a treasure trove in the basement: old windows with divided panes, which Michelle used in the bathroom to striking effect to enclose the tub and shower area; church pews, which were transformed into an eight-foot table; an old oak office desk, which became a bathroom vanity, complete with handy drawers, and assorted other items.

A baby grand piano cover out of the trash became a coffee table, and an old cast iron tub, a couch (just like Audrey Hepburn's in Breakfast at Tiffany's); Anthony used weeping tile for a wine rack and paperbacks, stuffed into a wood frame, to make a chair. Gordie created a hanging light fixture with wood circles around orange shades. The team also turned old shopping carts into chairs, and Gordie used the wheels for a sliding barn door system. Technician Jean-Marc Haddad wired old TVs to create a display wall and built a bike-powered generator to power high-tech gadgetry.

The pièce de résistance, though, was the grill of a 1978 Chrysler New Yorker fronting the kitchen island. Over it is the car hood, with holes cut to accommodate some large bulbs found at the airport, while tail lights became wall sconces. A concrete counter, poured by builder Cam Pikul, was the perfect top.

What can be learned? There's an amazing amount of good stuff that's junked, but finding old wood like two by fours when you need it is a challenge, not to mention the grief of pulling nails and milling to size. But for sure, figuring out how to incorporate found items like old windows produces a satisfying "Eureka!" experience.

As well, a good coat of paint does wonders for beat-up chairs and dated kitchen cabinets. Michelle loved the loft's scarred wood floors, but to work in a living space they needed to be well varnished. "Even if you leave brick walls, you should still coat them so you don't get the residue on your hands," she says. On future projects, when interiors are being ripped out, she'll have clients call Habitat's ReStore, and she'll contact Gordie to see if he wants any of the old wood or other materials heading for the dump. As he said in the show when faced with making old wood usable: "I'd rather waste my time than a tree in the forest." (His email is

Trash Talk appears Saturdays in New in Homes & Condos. Send comments and questions to

Thursday, September 3, 2009



Michelle is a high end interior designer who admits that her business is wasteful, but yet does nothing to counter her industry's wasteful ways. She has no problem tearing out perfectly good new material to make way for what she considers even better and newer goods. She has high end, very particular tastes and a matching sense of style, and won't settle for anything less.


Read all cast profiles here!

Junk Raiders - ION Life Announces Fall Programming LIne Up
  • “Junk Raiders” premieres on Monday, November 2.

Hosted by Geoff Woodmansey, this half-hour series is a journey into ‘freecycling,’ the thriving do-it-yourself subculture that takes perfectly usable objects out of the trash and turns them into something completely new and different. With only $5,000, the “Junk Raiders” team has to turn an old factory space into a functioning live/work loft. Their primary building materials? Other people’s garbage. And they only have a month to do it.

Friday, August 21, 2009

TV, eh? Annouces the premier of JUNK RAIDERS

Freecycling – a thriving, do-it-yourself subculture – is about finding things for free, then finding innovative ways to recycle them, either into their original form or into something different altogether. As the JUNK RAIDERS experiment officially begins, the freecyclers and the wasters get their first taste of what’s in store for them as they hit the streets of Toronto in search for everything they need, including building supplies, electronics, furniture and appliances.

The loft itself is 1,600 square feet. For perspective, the general contractor on the team quoted $150,000 to complete the job. The team’s budget: $5,000. Read the full story here...

CTV Media Announces JUNK RAIDERS Airing Sept. 14/09

A Bold Social and Ecological Experiment: JUNK RAIDERS Premieres Sept. 14 on Discovery Channel, 9pm EST.

JUNK RAIDERS follows five construction and design professionals as they team up with two of Toronto’s top freecyclers – people who cull through dumps to repurpose still-useful items – in the ultimate salvage challenge: transform an old factory space into a trendy, fully functioning live/work space. Read the full story here...

Friday, June 5, 2009

Facebook Page Launched

click logo

Visit Lucid Interior Design on Facebook for latest images and upcoming events. Become a fan for updates.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Thank You!

Michelle & Ruth would like to thank all the people and companies who helped make Lucid's Grand Marnier VIP Lounge at the 2009 Interior Design Show such a success.

Blaz Repic at

Luciano Sestito at

and Robert Wilson

Friday, April 10, 2009

Deal With Your Hang-ups.

Next to a good mattress, nothing is probably quite as important as a great closet.

Well-planned closets have superpowers--they can make you appear more organized, allow for infinite possibilities of outfits, and even get you to work on time. For my favourite clothing item, I have designed a mythical “wall o’ shoes”--an entire wall of beautifully proportioned cubbies for little works of art I wear on my feet. Taller cubbies for boots are on the bottom row. Larger cubbies for hats and bags are utilized at the harder-to-reach top of the wall, with a stunning library ladder on wheels to easily access these treasures. Now, I just need the right house to build it in! Even if you are not a self-proclaimed fashionista, great closets are an asset to every home. All closets, whether large or small, walk-in or standard, can benefit from a good closet organizer. Available in all price ranges, from the custom designed to the DIY kits, appropriate utilization of a closet is imperative. There are many professional companies which provide in-home consultations, so now it’s easier than ever. There are also professional organizers who can help with these hard decisions.

Here are nine simple rules I use to help clients attain their ultimate closet.

  1. If you haven’t worn it in two years, YOU NEVER WILL, so get rid of it. If it doesn’t fit, donate it. My favourite place for donations is Dress For Success who helps dress men and women trying to get into the workforce.
  2. Anything with holes or rips in it, throw it out.
  3. Keep shoes in their boxes and place pictures of the shoes at the front of the box so you know what’s inside. Not only does it keep your shoes neat in your closet, it will also keep them from getting dusty and make it easy to grab that right pair of shoes for the outfit.
  4. Have a friend come over and go through your closet together. Friends can be more honest about what looks good on you and is worth keeping.
  5. Place scented sachets or boxed soaps under sweaters to keep closets smelling fresh and to also keep bugs away.
  6. Go through your closet and analyze how many black pants, jeans, white shirts, etc. that you need. Sometimes we get caught up in wearing the same things, and buying the same items when we go shopping and accumulating a lot of multiples.
  7. Add a bright light to the closet to give the illusion of a large bright space.
  8. Store out-of-season clothes in a spare closet, or pack away into air-tight waterproof containers. Very few of us have the luxury of a huge closet, so keeping out only the clothes that you will actually wear creates more space.
  9. Matching wood hangers create a uniform organized look. Wood hangers are larger and help keep the shape of your clothes, but if space is an issue, invest in slim non-slip hangers.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Mille Femme Toronto

Michelle & Ruth featured in Pierre Maraval's Mille Femme Toronto--photographs of Toronto's 1000 top creative women during the Iluminato Festival of Arts in Toronto June 2008.

The artistic landscape of Toronto – celebrated in the faces of 1,000 magnificent women

Pierre Maraval French artist Pierre Maraval calls his photo exhibitions ‘‘human landscapes,'' each a collection of 1,000 portraits of individuals linked by a common characteristic or shared passion. Athletes, AIDS workers, Internet pioneers, and women from some of the world's greatest cities are among those whom Maraval has celebrated since he began his project in '93. Now he turns his lens on Toronto and the women who enrich the city's flourishing cultural scene through Toronto's Mille Femmes.

Toronto's Mille Femmes is a tribute to 1,000 artistic, creative and inspiring women from Toronto and their protégés, who embody the passion and heritage of the city. Architects, actors, dancers, designers, journalists, musicians and others have been chosen in recognition of their achievements and leadership in their field. Joined together, the 1,000 portraits will become a visual network, a chain of recognition that celebrates not only an extraordinary community of women, but also the creative character and diversity of Toronto.

Monday, March 23, 2009

LUCID INTERIOR DESIGN Featured in IDS '09 Videos

Click to view scenes of IDS '09 featuring Lucid Interior Design's Grand Marnier Red Lounge:

1. IDS 2009 Overview (You Tube Link) Lara McCulloch-Carter takes you on a tour of the Interior Design Show in Toronto. Check out Lara's blog at:

Lucid segment runs 2:04 - 2:45

2. EP 11 - The Interior Design Show (You Tube Link) - Toronto Landscape TV takes you to The Interior Design Show/IDS 09, Canada's largest contemporary design event. Since it's inception in 1998, over 500,000 design professionals, consumers and media have attended. The newest and most innovative in international and Canadian products are annually presented by 300 exhibitors.

Lucid segment runs 1:21 - 1:25

Lucid Interior Design Red Lounge featured on Kim Vallee's Blog

Kim Vallee writes a great design blog at
Thanks Kim!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Vote for Lucid's Grand Marnier Red Lounge 3 at IDS09

(Photo: Geoff Lackner)

Vote for Lucid Interior Design's Red Lounge 3 as your favourite Grand Marnier Lounge Design at the Interior Design Show '09.

Text "Red 3" to <69888>.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Lucid Interior Design Featured in "Spectacular Homes of Toronto"


ISBN: 1-933415-72-X / 978-1-933415-72-7
Price $34.95

Spectacular Homes of Toronto is a rich, engaging collection of well-appointed residences, fascinating people and innovative ideas. Designs range from contemporary chic to traditionally elegant, eclectic cottage country retreats to classic urban dwellings. The inspiring book pays homage to a diverse group of forward-thinking interior designers, from the long established to new talents who have already earned their place in the creative community.

Presenting hundreds of vibrant photographs and insightful editorial content, each collection showcases award-winning interiors and the talented designers who created them. Whether it is the designer's own home or that of a client, these stunning compositions offer a regional look at the accomplishments and diverse styles of the top design professionals working in the field today. Stylish and contemporary, these are extraordinary homes that captivate and inspire.

Exploring a mixture of styles—from sleek, fresh, and contemporary to European-inspired traditional—this volume features the work of dozens of individuals and firms including Lucid Interior Design, Gluckstein Design, Powell & Bonnell, and Kimberley Seldon Design Group.

About the Author

Panache Partners, LLC, is a publishing company based in Dallas, Texas that specializes in developing upscale coffee-table books on architecture, golf, interior design, and travel.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Lucid Interior Design Selected as a Red Lounge Designer, IDS 2009


The Grand Marnier Red Lounge is a place for show visitors to relax, refuel and view more inspired designs. This year, Grand Marnier is hosting an Iron Design Competition, à la Iron Chef, giving four designers a chance to design their own interpretation of a Red Lounge, using Grand Marnier as their inspiration.

Michelle Mawby of Toronto-based Lucid Interior Design has been selected as one of the four designers interpreting the theme of Red Lounge.

Participating Designers
Decor by Jennifer, Jennifer Brouwer
Alison Milne Design, Alison Milne
Lucid Interior Design Inc., Michelle Mawby..

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Lucid Interior Design Blog Launched

Door Knocker, Amsterdam (photo: Michelle Mawby)

Lucid Interior Design blog launched January 2009 to cover news, updates and media activities for this Toronto-based firm. Coverage will include promotional events and projects for Lucid and the media hosting activities and industry presentations by principal designer, Michelle Mawby. Michelle has guest-hosted such shows as Global TV's "Room to Grow", and has been an invited speaker at events such as the Toronto Home Show. In Fall 2009, Michelle will be seen as one of the cast members of "Junk Raiders" on The Discovery Channel. The only female cast member, and the only interior designer, Michelle and a group of "freecyclers", and tradespeople were taken into seclusion for 30 days and given an amazing design challenge to solve. Lucid Interior Design has also just been invited to create a special Grand Marnier sponsored room design at the upcoming Interior Design Show, Feb. 4-9, 2009 in Toronto, Ont.