Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Eye Weekly - My Place

Michelle Mawby
BY Hilary Caton   July 14, 2010 14:07
Who:  Michelle Mawby, interior designer for Discovery Channel’s Junk Raiders.
What: Her house at Yonge and St. Clair

1. Mawby had been hunting for this orb lamp for a few months and finally found the perfect replica at Restoration Hardware in Toronto.“It’s really the nicest one out there, and is actually a limited edition piece that was redone. And what’s cool about it is you can use it to do Morse code,” says Mawby.

2. Mawby doesn’t remember where she got this decorative ostrich egg, though it’s in a case of collectibles that she likes for their “different shapes and textures.” Of the long-legged creature itself, she says, “I haven’t seen one in real life, but from what I’ve seen in photos, their eyelashes creep me out.”

3. “These wooden wings are over 100 years old and from a church in Europe. They’re about five feet tall. What I really like about them is that they’re on little iron stands, which I thought was interesting because it gives it another dimension,” explains Mawby. 

4. This traditional Damask print is revamped with the addition of skulls, giving it a bit of a punk-rock edge, a mix Mawby enjoys. “I just like a little tough mixed in with some pretty, plus it’s unexpected and I love the unexpected.” A fashion icon is also credited for the inspiration. “I’m a big fan of Alexander McQueen and he used skulls on everything.”

5. Mawby is an avid diver, an activity she fell in love with the moment she slapped on her first pair of fins and strapped on an oxygen tank. “I have quite a few ocean pieces. I collect shells from diving trips, too. I just love the ocean; I love being in the ocean, it’s absolutely peaceful under there,” says Mawby. Oddly enough, Mawby isn’t much of a swimmer. “I’m not sure I could swim to save my life, but put a pair of fins on me and I’m good.”

6. Adding to her love of the ocean is a silver, hammered-out bowl with a piece of painted coral serving as a stand. “It was actually a piece on loan that I had taken out to show a client and when she decided not to buy it, I did. That happens a lot,” says Mawby.

7. “The first time I saw a rug like this, I was living in Amsterdam and I fell in love with how it has this traditional print that’s faded away so it looks like you’ve inherited it from your grandmother. After I saw [rugs like that] there I sort of became obsessed with them when we moved back.”

National Post - The Ampersand

Retail Therapy's: The Shopper
I’ve always admired Jonathan Adler’s bold and innovative ceramics and housewares. When I was in New York recently I had to visit his newest store at 47 Greene St. in Soho, but it was on his website where I found the coolest items — design your own rugs, pillows and tote bags. Read more: http://arts.nationalpost.com/2010/07/06/the-shopper-old-navy-motorcycle-windbreaker-diy-jonathan-adler-pillows/#ixzz0vVwMFe2h

The Toronto Star - Outdoor Glamour

July 16, 2010  
Photo By: Geoff Lackner

Steamy summer evenings just beg for a cool soiree, but with outdoor rooms being the latest rave, that big box store patio set just doesn’t cut it anymore. These days, it’s about decorating as beautifully on the exterior as you do inside, explains designer Michelle Mawby of Junk Raiders and Steven & Chris.

While decorators are always encouraged to bring the outdoors in during summer, Mawby says it’s also a great time to move the indoors out. She shares the story of an image that has stuck with her: an Italian family moving their indoor dining table — along with their chairs and dishes — into an olive grove for an al fresco meal. There’s a comfort and a beauty to it, she explains.

To achieve that same vibe in her own yard, Mawby mixes indoor and outdoor furnishings and accessories. She grabs rugs, cushions, campaign-style dining chairs and a Le Corbusier lounge from her interior to mix with more traditional backyard pieces, such as a steel-framed sectional with cushions made from outdoor fabric. Putting a little extra effort into moving indoor pieces into the yard — and bringing them back in once the party is over — is also key to getting a luxe outdoor look for less, notes Mawby. Using pieces you already own in a new setting can put a whole new spin on your style, and all it costs you is a little elbow grease to move it through the patio door.

“You do have to be careful,” she notes. “You do need to bring them in at night to take care of them.”

Mawby will even bring out her good china and crystal for an extra touch of glamour.
They “really make your outdoor party beautiful,” she says. “There’s nothing like having the glint of a crystal glass in candlelight when you’re outside."

Further bridging the indoor-outdoor divide, Mawby converted an indoor table into the centrepiece of her backyard dining area. The Chippendale-style table, complete with carved legs and ball and claw style feet, was purchased as a bargain from an old movie set. Mawby took it apart and marine-varnished all the pieces, as well as raising the legs a little to avoid any moisture on her backyard stone. She estimates the project, which included three coats of carefully applied varnish and sanding in between, would take about five days to complete.

“It’s so beautiful. It looks amazing in my backyard,” she says, admitting it needs to protected at night with a waterproof furniture cover.

For indoor style with backyard-worthy durability, Mawby recommends checking into the latest outdoor fabrics for cushions, upholstery, rugs, and even drapes. She’s even used them for interior projects.

While rugs and cushions have become backyard decorating staples, Mawby also suggests hanging drapery to add softness. Carefully consider the fabric you’re using so you don’t end up with mildewed, faded or water damaged curtains. For her own space, she used a simple tension rod and simple sheers to create a billowy vignette on her balcony.

Lighting is also key for setting the party mood in your outdoor room, along with providing adequate illumination for guests to eat and mingle safely. While solar, candles and hardwired are excellent choices to provide the necessary task and ambient lighting, Mawby also suggests exploring outdoor lamps, like those from Kichler (www.kichler.com/) which are completely waterproof, including the shade.

Plan your space to get a higher end, inside feel in your backyard. “I treat my backyard as I do my house,” she explains. “I have a dining room area, a lounge on the back — a little seating area as well.”
Finally, she says, the key to a great summer soiree is making guests feel special, so consider the extra little details that can add to their comfort as well as your decor.

For example, don’t overlook the importance of fresh flowers on the table, which helps to channel the indoor vibe and make your tablescape look more polished.

For added comfort, Mawby has a beautiful wicker fan to keep the air moving on stuffy days as well as a heater to take the chill off in the evenings. Another detail, borrowed from restaurants, is to provide cozy throws on the backs of chairs and benches so guests can wrap up against the cold — and keep the party going late into the night.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

National Post - The Ampersand &

Retail Therapy's: The Shopper
Photo By: Geoff Lackner

Michelle Mawby, The Shopper, jets about town on her Vespa. In heels, of course.
Special to the National Post - June 9, 2010--9:00AM

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Store gazing: Reusing, recycling, redecorating — all in stilettos

Photo By: Rene Johnston/Toronto Star
May 28, 2010
Rita Zekas
Michelle Mawby, interior designer and host of the series Junk Raiders, shopping at Gucci for shoes. She settled on a high-heeled open-toe sandal.
Michelle Mawby pulls up to the Gucci store at 130 Bloor St. W. on her Vespa scooter wearing a Louis Vuitton helmet, with her Birkin and Vuitton bags draped over the handle bars.
“The helmet is from Paris and the stripe matches the hood of my Vespa,” she explains.
We are talking one serious fashionista here.
Did we mention she rides her Vespa wearing stilettos?
Mawby is the only female cast member of seven on Discovery Channel’s “green” show Junk Raiders, described as a “bold free-cycling experiment” where the participants are required to work with architectural salvage to transform spaces on a tight budget. And she doesn’t hesitate to play her “chick” card.
“Sometimes it works in my favour to turn up on sites in stilettos,” she laughs. “But I have three pairs of steel-toed boots — in pink. Tomboy Tools makes pink steel-toed shoes and pink hard hats.”
Mawby is principal designer and founder of Lucid Interior Design and is the recurring design expert on CBC’s Steven & Chris. Her challenges on Junk Raiders have included transforming an old factory space into a trendy and fully functional boutique loft using only recycled materials on a budget of $5,000.
As a result, Mawby frequents dumpsters and transfer stations on the job. A transfer station is where the garbage is dumped before it is sorted, and it stinks.
“They sent me because I am the girl,” she recalls. “I’d been in a dumpster; I’m not squeamish.”
But she did draw the line at salvaging a used mattress.
“I don’t advocate transfer stations,” she stresses. “The best found stuff is at the side of the road; we used an old locker from a church as a front hall closet. I made a shower stall from vintage church windows and I have hung leaded windows as art. One of my best finds was at a church. I got old oak pews and made them into a dining room table.”
Mawby tries on a pair of snakeskin stilettos priced at $1,190 and can actually walk in them.
“I can run in stilettos,” she claims.
Mawby has over 400 pairs of shoes. She even took a shoemaking course in London.
She’s worked in Toronto for 10 years but has lived and worked in Amsterdam, London, California and Vancouver.
“My husband can empathize; he is a clothes horse who has grown into my shoe habit,” she says.
“I have a mythical wall of shoes. I have a big rolling, library ladder but instead of books, I have shoes. Some of them are works of art, pieces of architecture.
“My sister gets all my shoes when I die. Growing up in the Vancouver suburbs, I was always a shoe girl. I didn’t wear jeans until Grade 7; I was always dressed beautifully with ribbons in my hair. I don’t buy fads and I wear a great shoe with cheap jeans and T-shirt and a good jacket. I love Gucci jackets. My main wardrobe when I work is American Apparel T-shirt and Gap jeans.”
Don’t forget that important bag.
Mawby shops at Holt’s, Net-a-Porter, Louis Vuitton and vintage stores for dresses.
She got into interior design via a circuitous route. She has a bachelor of arts in English literature and was in advertising before attending design school.
“I love to read; I’m a bit nerdy, I love to learn,” Mawby says. “When I moved here, I changed things in my first home. I took walls down, picked all the finishings and found out I loved to draft.”
She has designed everything from spas to clothing stores. She doesn’t dumpster dive for her clients.
“But we reuse,” she says. “Shabby chic started it all. I don’t say be 100 per cent recyclable but shop in your house. We all have pieces we love. Mix the old and new: Take five things you love and mix. Redecorate with your own stuff.
“My home is incredibly eclectic. I’m very theatrical; I mix nail heads with piping. I treat my home as an accessory. Every room can have a little animal print but I could end up head-to-toe animal print. They are neutrals.”
Mawby is not afraid of colour. She has been known to paint a bathroom black.
“I would rather be different than homogenous. Your home should be fun, a bit of whimsy.
“I am influenced by having grown up by water and living overseas,” Mawby adds. “Bring indoors out and outdoors in. I’ll bring a rug outside when I dine outside. I’m searching for a great country table to use outside. It is casual elegance but you can put your feet up.”
And hers will be in stilettos.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Destination Style - Home and Decor Magazine

2 Magazine: Freecycling 101

Reuse, recycle, reinvent!

Freecycling: It's budget-friendly, earth-friendly and the perfect way to spend a rainy Saturday afternoon with your sweetie. So what is it? Freecycling reuses items that you, your friends or your neighbours have labelled for the "toss" pile and breathes new life into them via some DIY pizzazz.

Michelle Mawby, an interior designer on Discovery Channel's Junk Raiders and founder of Lucid Interior Design, says that the best part about freecycling is reusing. "It's an opportunity to help reduce garbage—using products that still have life in them and not sending them to the landfill--and get some really unique pieces in your home," she says.

When it comes to making those free-cycled items your own, Grace Bonney, founder of Design*Sponge, a website devoted to home and product design, recommends simple DIY projects that reflect your tastes. "Paint is always the least expensive way to update an item, so repaint pieces of old furniture for a budget-friendly change," she says.

If you don't already have a stash of unused goods cluttering up your basement, online communities can be a great resource for finding treasures. Listings on The Freecycle Network, a global network with members across Canada, include such fun-to-find items as a silver dresser, a dining table and glass beads. Another terrific resource is Trash Nothing!, where you can source funky local finds, from a gazebo and rocking chair to bathroom tiles.


Thursday, March 18, 2010


Sunday, February 7, 2010

National Post Jack Kohane article

Aaron Lynett / National Post

Friday, February 5, 2010

Junk in her trunk

Jack Kohane, National Post

Frilling up a room with repurposed items isn't necessarily a home fashion faux pas. For some, like interior designer Michelle Mawby, the dividing line separating a rarity from ordinary rubbish can be blurry. "But it has to work for the space and the homeowner's tastes," insists the principal designer and founder of Lucid Interior Design in Toronto. "I like to make sure the personality of my client comes out in their home - and have a bit of fun with it, too. I don't believe in stuffy homes that aren't livable."

That zeal for livability looms large in Lucid's home makeovers from Rosedale to Forest Hill, from Ledbury Park to Yorkville. Now the term "freecycling" (passing on, for free, an unwanted item to someone who needs that item) has also entered her lexicon. When asked to join a team of garbage scroungers, builders and design professionals in the task of morphing an old 1,600-square-foot industrial building with 17-foot ceilings into a ritzy and functional loft, using materials sourced only from the trash, for Discovery Channel's Junk Raiders, Ms. Mawby agreed without hesitation. It's the very challenge she thrives on. "I consider myself the original junk raider," she smiles, easing gracefully on to her favourite plush chenille sofa in her living room. "In the world of designing, it's common to rip out and discard perfectly good interiors to make way for new interiors. The idea of creating an amazing living space out of good stuff that's been junked intrigued me." Though the green experiment was limited to a budget of $5,000 (quoted at $300,000 if done conventionally), the prospect of shaping such a special space ignited Ms. Mawby's ingenuity. She turned reclaimed materials into furniture, converted church pews into a dining room table, a baby grand piano cover into a coffee table and a car grill into a kitchen island. By finding hidden gems, transforming furniture and architectural salvage, Ms. Mawby's work delivers a touch of glam with unique pieces that cannot be replicated, giving her high-end clients the exclusivity they desire.

This flair for freecycling and penchant for pushing the design envelope also trademarks her own home, located in an upscale midtown neighbourhood. The three-storey, 3,400-sq.-ft. century house where she lives with her husband, Scott Wambolt, a telecommunications executive, and Holly, their 14-year-old tabby, is also the headquarters for Lucid
Interior Design.

Chosen for its central location, nine-foot ceilings and potential, Ms. Mawby says that a major reno was a must from the moment the deed was signed. On the outside, the exterior looked stark, with red brick and plain white trim, and as it was taller and further forward than the surrounding structures, the house appeared to "bulge" toward the street. To soften that jut, a rounded verandah was added and asymmetric flagstones for front pad car parking. New cedar shakes were applied to the roof, and the windows' wood frames were painted dark grey for a sense of rustic elegance. On the main floor inside, boxy Victorian rooms required demolition. "We tore down walls for an open kitchen connected to the family/living room and formal dining room," Ms. Mawby says. Some exquisite 100-year-old leaded windows had to be taken out, but one of them now hangs above the desk in the kitchen. Nearby, an archaic iron book press, resembling a metallic sculpture, occupies a nook. Ms. Mawby delights in improvising artwork from whimsical bric-a-brac and architectural details. A mess of doors leading from the front hall were purged and an obtrusive staircase relocated away from the foyer to free up the entranceway for a more welcoming feel. A mahogany armoire for hats and coats-from Holland where Ms. Mawby lived for a year - stands tall in the vestibule. At its sides, are decorative teak chairs sculpted by a Shanghai designer.

Midway down the landing to the basement, Ms. Mawby has designed a winsome powder room fit for a celebrity, complete with leather wallpaper, an 8x4-foot mirror set in a gold-leaf frame, chocolate and cream marble floors and a chandelier trimmed with strands of red crystals. "I love the way they reflect in the mirror," Ms. Mawby says. Her favourite room? The living/family room hangout, she anwers, because of its oak floors stained to a burnished ebony, and its intriguing mix of textures and furniture: leather, chenille, silk, cashmere; there's a contemporary plush sofa loaded with pillows, mid-century modern chairs and glass tables and one-off finds. "It's grand and comfortable with full-wall French doors looking out to the garden," she says. "They let a beautiful quality of light in."

Her home design is inspired, she explains, primarily by an enchanting historic flat with towering French doors, high ceilings and big rooms in London, England, where she lived for two years. The concept of mixing old and new in an open-concept floor plan sprang from her Amsterdam dwelling - a refurbished 1635 warehouse.

Born and raised in Richmond, B.C., Ms. Mawby attended Fresno Pacific University in California, majoring in English and theatre arts. It was here that she became hooked on set design. She later came to Toronto, attending the International Academy of Design and eventually winning an ARIDO student award in 1999.

When she approaches a renovation or remodelling project now, Ms. Mawby adheres to two tried-and true principles: the definitive "form follows function" design doctrine; and the idea that "one man's junk is another man's treasure."

But condition is important when selecting reused pieces, she advises. Aesthetics, colour, size and materials also matter. "When scouring junk you can do wonders from stuff found in dumpsters and at transfer stations," she says. "Figuring out how to incorporate found items produces a satisfying
‘Eureka!' experience."

© 2010 The National Post Company. All rights reserved. Unauthorized distribution, transmission or republication strictly prohibited.

Geoff Lackner / Geoff Lackner Productions

Monday, January 11, 2010

Michelle Mawby of Lucid on CBC's Steven & Chris show

Watch Michelle Mawby of Lucid Interior Design on CBC's Steven & Chris show on Wednesday, January 13th at 2pm. Get an inside look of two beautiful homes that show dramatic and daring pairings.