Sunday, 22 December 2013

Practical holiday entertaining

Only a couple of days to Christmas! Some of us will host large groups during the holidays, and that puts extra demands on the logistics of our homes.

Here are five easy ways to create practical flow and stylish organization when entertaining this Christmas:

1) Place an inexpensive shelving unit at the front door, where guests can put their snowy boots. It looks so much better than a jumble of footwear around the door.

2) In the living room, replace a big coffee table with multiple smaller tables that can be easily moved.

3) Use trays to organize your kitchen counters. Glasses on one tray, different kinds of beverages on another.

4) Convert a dresser or side table in the living room into a beverage refill station. It will reduce the traffic to the kitchen.

5) Remove small area rugs and runners. They can be tripping hazards when many people are moving around in the house.

Have a wonderful Christmas! Happy entertaining, and enjoy the fact that from now on the days are getting longer!

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Fun and funky upholstered finds

I love the wave print and channel tufting
on this old-meets-new, stately chair.
It's the creativity that Bonnie Bonell loves the most about her job. With skilled hands and TLC, she gives new life to tired quality pieces, transforming them into one-of-a-kind furniture that will be used and loved for many more years to come.

Bonnie's company, Bonell's Upholstery, celebrates 40 years in business this year, and recently hosted a well-attended anniversary show and sale for the occasion.

Among the pieces for sale were funky chairs, fun ottomans and colourful pillows. Dressed in updated fabrics and with details such as piping and nailheads, they looked current and fresh - totally prepared to give personality and flair to any home. What a great idea for a Christmas!

Here are some of my favourites:

Upholstered in a rich purple velvet and with details in
a contrasting fabric, this chair looks sumptuous and
somewhat decadent. It's the perfect statement chair
for an entrance, bedroom, living room, or creative office. 

A high-gloss black gives this cane chair a modern
expression. The contrasting fabrics add interest.

The vintage needlepoint flower print is a perfect choice
for this curvy bench. Ideal for a "shabby chic" or French
country interior, it's a practical piece for a front hall or at
the foot of a bed.
Bonnie turned a vintage patchwork fabric into a groovy pillow,
with leather on the back. Love it!
A small footstool or ottoman can be that single,
special item that give a whole room a certain mood
and personality.

The fabric on this chair is hand-painted and stencilled by Bonnie.
Contrasting purple velvet on the back. Cute!

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Three hot colours for 2014

Radiant Orchid is PANTONE's colour for 2014 and
"encourages expanded creativity and originality".
A soft blue, a luminous purple and a mellow yellow. These are the colours we should use in our homes next year, if we are to follow the advice from three big paint companies. 

The first two colours are cool, whereas the yellow has a warm glow to it. The purple stands out in this crowd because of its vibrancy.

CIL's Creamy, described as a “soft,
buttery colour that emits a feeling
of calm, tranquility and renewal.”

I would use the purple as an accent colour in accessories, and possibly a focal wall, but can't really see it on all the walls of a room. Can you? 

The pastel blue I'll keep as a contender for a bedroom or a bathroom. 

The yellow will cheer up any room. It's the most versatile of the three. Paired with black and grey, it feels fresh and more contemporary than the French country style that this hue is often associated with.

What do you think, will you try any of these colours next year?

Benjamin Moore's Breath of Fresh Air 806 is
described as a "new neutral", that works in
several different environments.
CIL's "Creamy" paired with greys, whites and black.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Dreaming of a white Christmas

Tulips in December? That's an early start, but I'll
take it, thanks to the Metro store in North Bay
and my thoughtful husband. Whether we'll have
a white Christmas or not, I know my home will
be partly dressed in white for the holidays.
Winter is off to a flying start! At the rate we're going, there's a good chance we'll have a white Christmas.

Will that be true also for the interiors of our homes? Not so sure; the traditional red and green, gold, silver, and to some extent icy blue, continue to be the go-to colours this time of the year. 

I have always liked the idea of a white Christmas. I know, it's not warm and cozy, and it doesn't fit all interiors. But paired with the greenery of the tree, pine cones and wood, it feels so airy, fluffy and light - just like snow. And: it's hard to get tired of!

The colour injection can come from other things, such as food, beverages, porcelain and napkins.

Be inspired by these white Christmas interiors from the company Bemz:


Sunday, 24 November 2013

Simply Christmas

Christmas is in full swing - at least in our stores and decorating magazines.

It's easy to get stressed out about the holidays, but my advice is: don't fret it! After all, much more  important than "the perfectly decorated home" - if there is such thing - is the opportunity to enjoy the season with family and friends. Really!

As a tribute to my relaxed, "simply Christmas" philosophy, here are a few easy decorating ideas, done with a twinkle in the eye.

Photo: HouzzOther Metro Media &
Bloggers Kootut murut


Areaware's Infinite tree stands 17" high and can
take on three cool looks.
Photo: Sk├Âna Hem. "New take" on the traditional
Poinsettia. This is an easy one to copy!
A 3D Christmas calendar, with a surprise for every day.
Photo: Houzz. Photographers Rikki Snyder.

Photo: Houzz. Planet Fur.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Bright ideas for lighting

Soon our homes will be filled with sparkling, light-filled Christmas trees, soft candles and illuminated decorations. The additional light sources will give our homes a layered, cozy feeling that is easily missed once the holidays are over.

But what if we apply some of the principles of Christmas decorating, in particular those that pertain to lighting, also the rest of the year? Here are three ways to do exactly that:

1) Assess the light bulbs in your existing fixtures. Do they give off a cool white or a warm yellow light? You can drastically change the whole appearance and feeling of a room by replacing a whitish bulb with a warmer, yellower version. As clients of mine have experienced, it can save you from having to repaint the room, or having to change upholstery and area rugs.

2) A layered lighting scheme is based on variation in the height and direction of the light sources. You can achieve amazing improvements simply by replacing a floor lamp by a table lamp, or by using pendant lights as reading lamps next to the bed, instead of the more typical wall sconces. Whether it'll work or not, depends on the height of the surrounding furniture and on the other light sources in the room.

3) Christmas lights are all about low-intensity accent lighting. Get the same result the rest of the year by having dimmers on the main light sources; by using products such as LED strips for in-cabinet and under-cabinet lighting; and by illuminating interesting features in your home. When buying light bulbs, make sure they are actually dimmable - not all of them are.

With these easy and affordable measures, our homes will feel warm and inviting all year round. Isn't that a bright idea?

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Break the chair monopoly

Photo: Architectural Digest.
Are you happy with your dining room furniture? I find that many homeowners aren't, and that the problem often is the setup. There are simply too many chairs around the table, and they all look the same. The result can feel static and sometimes boring.

If this is your situation, and if you have a rectangular table, then try this: rather than changing all the chairs, switch out only the end chairs. It will instantly bring new life into your dining room. 

For example, you can mix up your row of upholstered chairs with a more sculptural, airy style like in the photo on the left. Or you can have slipcovers made for your existing end chairs, and introduce some variety that way.

Photo: House Beautiful

Another popular solution is to mix benches and banquettes with the chairs, for a flexible and relaxed vibe. I'm pretty sure our dining rooms would be used a lot more if we lost a bit of their formality. What do you think?

Remember my special price of $25 for a one-hour appointment in November? Book your appointment now if you too want to feel good every time you walk into your space.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Looking at art from the start

"And what should go on this wall?" The question comes up all the time during my consultations. A space just doesn't feel complete if there is a blank wall.

I like to look at artwork early on in a decorating project, because it can give important clues as to what colours to use, and what style of furniture to buy. If you leave art to the last, when the upholstered pieces, rugs, window treatment and so on are already in, it can be difficult to find "that right piece" for the room.

And here's another important aspect: you should love what you put on your walls, especially if it's a focal wall. After all, you're going to look at it every day for many years. 

With this in mind, I suggest visiting our local art galleries for unique pieces that will give your home a personal, original flavour.

For an affordable piece of original artwork, one idea is to select one of your favourite photos - or take a photograph specifically for the space you have in mind - and have it enlarged and printed on a canvas.

For more tips on inexpensive art, check out my previous blog posts Getting the hang of art and A flexible approach to art.
Here's a perfect example of decorating around art, and the importance
of art. This room by Sarah Richardson gets its punch through the artwork,
which is reinforced by the matching ottoman. Photo: Sarah Richardson

Monday, 28 October 2013

Show off your stripes!

Striped rug from Pappelina.
If you're afraid of pattern but want to add visual interest to a room, stripes are the way to go. You can have them on a rug, on an armchair or even on the wall. The colour combinations can be subtle or bold, depending on how much attention you want to draw to the piece.

Here are five considerations that will help you get stripes right: 

1) A narrow stripe can feel jarring and slightly busy, so think twice before introducing it on a big piece of furniture. Very thin lines like a ticking pattern, though, work well on a big piece, because at a distance the lines are blurred and look like a solid colour.

2) Wide, horizontal stripes read "contemporary". Thinner, vertical stripes are more traditional.

3) If you like the idea of a striped wall, consider using just one colour, and paint alternate stripes in matte and glossy finishes. The result is subtle and elegant. Wide bands look best.

4) Stripes' best playmates are solids and florals, not other stripes.

5) Stripes have an amazing directional power; they can make a ceiling look higher, a narrow hallway seem wider, and they can draw attention to a destination.

Are you ready to show off your stripes? 
Contemporary Living Room by New York
Interior Designers & Decorators Pierce Allen.
Photo: Houzz.
Interior Designers & Decorators INVIEW
Interior Design. Photo: Houzz.

Decorators Maria Killam. Photo: Houzz.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Let the sunshine in!

Have you noticed how popular yellow is a as an accent colour this fall?

During a trip to Toronto last weekend, the design stores were full of bright yellow throws, pillows, rugs and the odd chair and side table. The happy, warm colour peeked at me wherever I turned my eyes, making me forget about the rain outside.

Back in North Bay, I saw the same thing at the Great Room. 

Part of the reason for yellow's popularity is that it combines so well with grey - another favoured hue.

Are we maybe ready this year to forgo the traditional red for more non-traditional yellow accents for Christmas? What do you think?

Ah, and if you're looking for something to do this Wednesday evening, why not visit the fundraising event at the Home Furniture store on Highway 17 in North Bay? There will be special sales offers, door prizes, give-aways, and more, including myself, who will be there to answer your design questions. The money raised will go to the CIBC's Run for the Cure campaign. Hope to see you there between 7 and 9 p.m.!
Yellow, the new holiday colour at Crate and Barrel.
The Sonny bench from Crate and Barrel, made from
bentwood in a classic, late 18th century design,
is perfect for an entryway. Elegant and timeless.

Yellow and blue flat weave rugs from Zara Home -
a new store in the Yorkdale Shopping Centre. Well
worth the visit.
And here are some yellow accents from the Great Room
in North Bay, plus other stylish pieces available in the
store right now: