We Want To Know: Neil Schmidt
Neil Schmidt is one of those people you meet and instantly fall in love with. His enthusiasm is somehow tangible and he exudes joie de vivre. The positive vibes he puts out into the world are contagious and you can't help but want to be around his energy. I haven't known him for very long (we met at the launch party for Janette Ewen's line of furniture for Mobilia last November) but in the instant we met I could tell there was something special about him, and I think you will agree once you get to know him and see the creative work he does.
Neil's professional experience has seen him through many of the creative arts. He began his career as a design consultant for Chintz & Company, a home furnishings showroom in Calgary, Alberta, designing for the wealthy elite. The work was rewarding and satisfying, but after five years of working in interiors, Neil felt compelled to take on a new challenge, wanting to grow as an artist. He came to Toronto where he worked as both a photographer and as a make-up artist. As a photographer, Neil's infamy for shooting male models was in high-demand, but eventually photography took a backseat to what became a long and distinguished career as a make-up artist. Neil did make-up for close to 20 years before returning to interiors, making the transition from “decorating faces to decorating places” and now works as an interior stylist, and is quickly garnering a reputation for the unique, textured surface applications he creates using paint effects.
Neil has several projects on the go, which suits him just fine – designing and creating for his clients is what he lives for and having a full schedule motivates and drives him. One of his clients is Black Rooster Decor, a home decor boutique in the Leslieville neighbourhood of Toronto, where he visits on a weekly basis to perform transformative store flips so that older inventory still looks fresh next to the new items that are constantly arriving, which is especially important for customers who visit the shop often. All items curated by shop owner Nina are beautiful on their own, but the way Neil displays them together and reimagines them each week will make you want to buy everything in the store. All in one shopping trip! I've always loved this store, and now that I've met Neil I now know why!!! His styling is on point. One of Neil's favourite displays he worked on at Black Rooster was his garden-themed creation. Lush with plants, terrariums, and layered with gardening books, it was also a favourite display of Nina's, and it gives Neil great pride when his clients express their gratitude.
Another project that Neil is excited about is the design work that he's doing for a French bistro opening soon in the east end of Toronto. This is Neil's first commercial commission in Toronto but certainly not his first ever, having done several commercial spaces back in Calgary and Edmonton. Based on Neil's description, I can start to picture the space as if he had shown me a mood board – think deep green tile with copper accents, oversized green glass candlesticks that will be placed in the window, reflecting the light from inside and out, and exposed brick that preserves the brick-making history of the area. This is the perfect project for Neil, who himself is community-oriented and loves to support his local neighbourhood. Neil is a curator of beautiful things and beautiful people and it's his appreciation for this beauty that makes him so engaging, charming, and the kind of person you want to be around.
Now... I've purposely saved the best for last! I mentioned earlier that Neil is gaining notoriety for his surface applications with paint – here is a photo of a fireplace that he painted to give it the appearance of concrete. A lot of time and patience is employed, taking approximately 10 layers in order to achieve the stunning results you see here. Neil has really found his niche with paint effects, and has done applications from floors to walls to objects, and has found it to be especially effective in areas that have awkward angles, making other treatments like wallpaper difficult to apply. Neil earned his study in surface applications through a lifetime of fascination in textures and from constant close examination, research, and photo-documentation of the things he loves.
Want more? Let's hear from Neil himself! Here's what We Want To Know:
Morning's CANNOT start without... COFFEE and farm eggs!!!
I have a weakness for... My Mamma's Ukrainian Cooking.
Most people don't know that I... speak many little bits of many different languages. Always makes an impressive ice-breaker when meeting new people...
Currently reading... The Magic by Rhonda Byrne.
I want... to travel and work internationally.... The Jet-set life calls to me!!!!