It was a natural evolution for Brad and Nicole de Vries to combine their talents and start an interior design business together. Nicole is a fully certified interior designer and Brad is a landscape designer. Success came quickly for the couple, and they currently have four full-time employees and are booking into late fall 2022. They are the talent behind the popular Maison Blonde and Maison Blonde Gardens—check out @maison.blonde on Instagram and note that over 35,000 followers are enchanted by the aesthetic and eager to purchase through their online shop, maisonblonde.com. Nicole works to bring unique home décor to Ottawa through the shop. “I’m very particular about the products; if I wouldn’t use it in my own house, it doesn’t make the cut,” she states.
While Nicole got her start on the commercial side of design, she found her true calling when she took on residential work. Brad’s experience has been on the construction and landscape side which help to round out the couple’s expertise. “Brad has many years of experience in construction and landscape design, so he brings a lot to round out our knowledge and services,” confirms Nicole. But she’s quick to note that they work together, adding, “behind the scenes, we both have a hand in each other’s work and have always been a great team, so it really was a natural progression.”
Brad lends his skill to the construction side of each project and has a hand in the millwork drawings and 3-D modelling. Nicole relishes a concept to completion project and is excited to share her love of European influences with a clientele that is increasingly more open to moodier looks. Pieces that hold a sense of history along with materials that age with patina, like unlacquered brass, appeal to her taste for the imperfections found in natural materials. “I embrace the Japanese wabi-sabi aesthetic, an acceptance of transience and imperfection,” states Nicole. Her style leans towards traditional design but she prefers a monochromatic scheme and often injects a beachy boho vibe which she says appeals to her “summertime soul.”
Brad’s landscape design work took off when the backyard became an escape from the at-home office. “Yards that went unused in previous years during the summer then became lunch spots, happy hour destinations, and mini-vacations on the weekend,” Brad reveals. Outdoor space replaced vacationing so clients saw their backyards as a potential resort. Hot tubs, pools, saunas, and outdoor kitchens all became high on wish lists and, given the Canadian winter factor, firepits became essential for year-round gathering. The idea of giving back through nature is something that has increased in popularity where people appreciate their greenspace more than ever and want to do what they can to preserve it. Brad explains the possibilities like this, “there are plenty of ways to do this such as planting pollinator plants that attract bees and other insects, strategically installing birdhouses and feeders to attract native bird species and choosing native plants that are familiar to local wildlife and require less maintenance. The rewards of creating an environmentally-friendly landscape are endless,” he enthuses.
Brad and Nicole first discovered their strength as a team when they bought and began the renovation process on their current home in 2019. The home needed updating both inside and out. They started by replacing the windows, furnace, and flooring and enhanced the exterior’s curb appeal by painting the brick and, of course, putting Brad’s expertise to use with the landscaping. Given that the kitchen is the heart of the home, when they moved inside to focus on the design aspect, they started there. Nicole sketched the plans while Brad built the kitchen. He used birch plywood for the cabinetry and then applied Benjamin Moore’s Scuff X in Natural Cream. The Hanstone Montauk countertops, supplied through Urban Quarry, are dressed up with brass hardware and faucet which are the perfect complement to the neutral colour scheme.
Next, they’ll re-do their basement and primary bedroom. But, with four new-builds breaking ground this spring and a client list waiting, they’ll put their own wish list aside and first get to work making clients’ home dreams come true.