Author Archives: Dale Storer

More Sketching – Less Kvetching

Ah the many times we have tried to explain or describe a piece or design, when a simple photo or drawing would have saved so much time and frustration. Whether going back and forth with a client or tweaking a new design, one needs an easy tool that makes those changes quickly. While autocad is unnecessarily complex for most of us, Sketchup has become our new favorite friend.

Start with individual pieces, and soon you will feel the love (or at least see it)

Free, easy to use and with a very good tutorial, you can start simply by drawing individual shapes. The shapes soon become pieces and next thing you know, you are placing them in rooms and even adding color. It gives one great confidence with design, since you now know exactly how the piece will look proportionally, and in a setting. You can of course share drawings with others that have the program so they can make their own changes, or you can simply export it as a jpeg and send.

Your pieces "in situ"

Add counters, appliances, and suddenly it’s your dream kitchen come to life!

Sketch-up also has a massive library of images which you can use to fill out the missing pieces in your decor.

Download the program and release the designer within

Another amazing tool is a Tablet with sketching ability. Meaning you get to draw on it, over photos, text, etc.  We especially like the new HTC with Scribe Technology. It’s as easy as taking a photo, dropping the photo in your “notes” section, and then scribbling away. Sharing is incredibly easy, as you can post it on FB or send it by email with just a touch.  Having the notes, arrows or directions right on the photo is an invaluable tool, and so much easier to comprehend then trying to synch up those attached notes.

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Victor Klassen

The Victor Klassen Divan: Smooth lines and saucy curves make this a very inviting piece.

This stunningly creative collection was born 25 years ago in Mexico and has recently made its debut in North America. The artist’s influences – especially Gaudi – are very prevalent in all his work. Nature and the human form are revered and used abundantly to great effect.

Trapped in Wood Series doors, Male and Female (available separately)

These whimsical doors have graced hotels, spas and galleries and have drawn many reactions from surprised onlookers.

Tree Coat Racks

The popular Tree Coat Rack is available in 3 sizes.

The tedious coatrack is given new life.

The Touching Mirror

The popular “Touching Mirror” uses Klassen’s famed cutting, bending and forming techniques. A “Concave Door” is seen in the background.

A beautiful custom room divider/shelf unit

Custom projects like this display shelf are a large part of his repertoire, as clients are encouraged to let their imaginations be their guide.

Victor Klassen has also launched an exciting new feature in which you choose a piece, send  a photo of a room in your home, and they will render that piece into your specified location. Now that’s truly “shopping at home”. Try it out when viewing any product on their website!

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100 Days Later

Sunday marked 100 days since the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan with such devastating force.  The story is no longer part of the 24 hour news-cycle, but of course the tremendous task of rebuilding continues and the country is moving forward with stoic resolve.

I found myself thinking of my last trip to Japan, when I visited the famous Meiji Shrine and was struck by the special significance of my time at this most sacred place in Toyko.

The shrine was built to commemorate the late Emperor Meiji’s important role in the Meiji Restoration.  Construction commenced in 1915 and the shrine was formally dedicated in 1920 only to be destroyed in air raids during World War II.  A public fundraising effort rebuilt the shrine in 1958, which only adds to its cultural and historical significance.

What’s special about the Meiji shrine are the thousands of notes visitors leave, detailing their wishes, prayers, or hopes for the world.  It must’ve been overwhelming to see the  thousands who flocked to this site in reverence after the tsunami hit.

Though we hear less about it today than mere months ago, the story is far from over.  I was very pleased to see a group of foodie bloggers, including Stacie Billis and Marc Matsumoto, have come together to create a cookbook for Japan called Peko Peko with proceeds to Global Giving’s efforts in Japan.  And Reuters is hosting a 2 day “Rebuilding Japan Summit” this week in Toyko, which I hope will bring important news to this side of the world about the successes on the ground and the work to be done.

Although the Emperor was referring to war in this “tanka” or poem, his words seem hauntingly appropriate now:

The seas of the four directions—
all are born of one womb:
why, then, do the wind and waves rise in discord?
Photo credit Dale Storer

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Cherry Blossom Alert: Toronto

Most people are familiar with the amazing photos of cherry trees in full dramatic bloom (called sakura in Japanese) along the banks of the Potomac in Washington DC. What many don’t know is that the Mayor of Tokyo also donated 2000 trees to Toronto in 1959. These have just sprung to life in High Park this weekend, so do whatever it takes to get there and see this awe inspiring sight.

Toronto’s High Park boasts more than 2000 sakura planted around the shore of Grenadier Pond.  These trees were a gift from Japan, presented in 1959 by the Japanese Ambassador to Canada.  They are a gift of appreciation from the citizens of Tokyo to Toronto for accepting relocated Japanese-Canadians following the Second World War.

Map of the Sakura walk in Toronto's High Park

Sakura have special significance in Japanese culture as does hanami, picnicking under the blooming sakura. Indeed, hanami has been a big, big deal in Japan since the Nara Period (710-794).  Embodying that ephemeral quality of life, sakura are featured prominently in Japanese art and poetry and is as significant today as it was hundreds of years ago. In Japanese culture they are a metaphor for life: the transience of the blossoms; the way they burst into life, with staggering beauty, followed so quickly by their death.  It’s a sight to behold.  And if you haven’t experienced it yet, you should do yourself that favour.

You probably have about 3 days left before the blossoms fade and drop. Walking under this extended pink and white canopy is like being on a movie set – but it’s all very real.  With the disaster and pain that has befallen Japan this year, come see why “Sakura Hanami” is such an important tradition.  It is nothing short of  the ultimate spring ritual of hope.

All photos by Toy Garage Photography.

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New for Spring

The end of boring bathroom cabinets

As so often happens with great designs, you have spoken and we have listened. We built a few custom pieces incorporating this eye-catching, asymmetrical 3 door design for some of our customers and they loved the look. So now we bring you the new Usagi Vanity and Hutch. As always they are available in different door styles,stains and hardware. We can also construct our famous Mizuya Cabinets in this style (with 3 doors instead of 2 or 4) Let us know your dream design and we will work with you to make it a reality.

With many doors styles available, you can personalize this til the cows come home

Our black shelving units with the crinkled leather look have always been popular as an alternative to standard shelving. Customers love the flexibility since the large spaces will accommodate more substantial objects allowing you to mix, display and prop with almost no limitations! We have just added the 8 Cube Horizontal style, which is perfect for under windows, stairs and lower profile décor.

Play away with interesting objets

With giant lofts, small condos, and narrow row houses to deal with, we have built our Lattice TV Cabinet in many sizes. This new version is a sexy, space saving model that will take the focus off the TV when it’s not on.

This compact condo piece still packs big style

Casual Dining is such a fast growing trend that formal dining rooms have almost been forgotten. The rustic farmhouse nature of our new Dining Tables is balanced with clean lines, giving you the best of both worlds. Available in 6, 7 and 8 ft lengths, they can be stained darker or glass can be added to the top.

Tuscany? Pennsylvania? Quebec? You make the call.

These items are now on line and in stock. See what’s new at or call us at 1888 222 0195 for more information.

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