Friday, 31 May 2013

Pet-friendly design

Attention, exercise and affection will make our pets happy, we know that. But sometimes it's also fun to pamper our animal friends, and give them their own special décor and accessories at home. I'm thinking of cozy pillows and soft throws just for them, personalized eating areas (ever heard of monogrammed feeding bowls?), and fancy baskets for their toys. 

Since my family recently adopted a new, four-legged friend, I have kept my eyes open for pet-related solutions and accessories for the home. This is what I came across at Houzz:
Isn't this a good use for an old suitcase?
Modern Kitchen by Seattle Architect Studio Zerbey.


Friday, 24 May 2013

Eau Claire Gorge design destination

Want to combine some hiking and design? In that case, I recommend a visit to Eau Claire Gorge. Next to the entrance to the beautiful rapids is the studio of furniture designer and craftsman Michael Waram. Wooden chairs, dressers, tables, bowls, frames and candleholders fill the space. You'll find Mission-style pieces and mid-century Scandinavian designs in a wide range of wood species. Michael also does custom work, so go prepared with some pictures and measurements of your dream piece.

If you have more appetite for craftsmanship,
a visit to nearby Maxwell Pottery and Clermont Duval Art Gallery is also recommended. 

In Mattawa, "going on a hike" is just a pretext for taking in some interesting, local design, perfect for a weekend excursion!
Michael Waram's Mission-style furniture,
produced for Toronto-based Harvest House.
Michael Waram in his workshop on 1446 Peddlers Dr.,
next to the entrance to Eau Claire Gorge.

1950s-style teak chair.

More Mission style. Here's how
defines the style: Mission style, type of furniture
popular in the United States during the turn of the
20th century. The furniture, distinguished by its
simplicity of materials and design, arose out of the
Arts and Crafts-inspired movement led in the United
States by Gustav Stickley. Makers of this type of
furniture shared a belief in the social virtues of good
design and handcraftmanship.

Table and bowl.

Mirror and dresser.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Creating outdoor rooms

The May long weekend is here, and many of us are busy getting our outdoor spaces ready for summer living.

This same time two years ago, I wrote a blog post about creating rooms outdoors. It talked about creating destinations in our outdoor space, and how area rugs, screens, plants or a canopy will help define those special outdoor rooms. I'm back to that theme, but this time I want to focus on the importance of the area rug. It is really the key piece that will transform an ordinary deck or patio into an attractive hang-out area. 

I recently helped a client create a cute outdoor retreat, a place she can go to when she wants a break from the busy beach area on the opposite side of the house. This is a client who loves happy colours, so we needed something completely different from the muted browns, greys, and mossy greens that are predominant in our stores (I'd love to see some variety!). We found the right rug - a classic green-and-white stripe - at Pier 1, and instantly, I repeat: instantly, we had created an "outdoor room". Easy! A quick word about materials: make sure the rug is intended for outdoor use.

Here are other examples of outdoor spaces defined by area rugs:

Photo: Houzz.

Modern Patio by Edmonton Architect thirdstone inc.
Photo: Houzz.
Contemporary Entry. Photo: Houzz.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Let's pamper Mom!

A bouquet of flowers and a glass of bubbly go a long way. And so does a special breakfast. Any thoughtful detail, really, will make Mom happy on her special day. What she doesn't want, though, according to a program on CBC Radio that I listened to today, is another kitchen appliance. So now we know!

Here are a few neat things from the Green Store in North Bay that I think Mom would appreciate.

Happy Mother's Day!

Some bling for the wine bottle!

Summer pillows...

A striped summer rug...

A happy bird bath...

A summer door mat...

A big glass jar for lemons...

Friday, 3 May 2013

The power of the personal

"My home looks great, it just doesn't feel very personal". I hear that comment a lot. And while the answer might seem simple - "just add personal things to the mix" - it takes some experimenting to get it right.   

The combined living and dining room used to be two small rooms.
Tina removed the wall and created one large, light-filled room,
which has become her favourite place in the house. 
I think the home of my friend, journalist and author, Tina Esh is a good example of a house with personality.

Her love of colour, pattern and books is obvious as you enter her home. She combines old with new, mixes wallpaper with light-painted walls, has lots of candles and coloured glass. Contemporary and traditional art that is meaningful to her adorns the walls, and from the ceiling hangs the odd, quirky decoration that has a story to tell. 

There is a good balance between "filled" and "empty" space, which prevents the home from feeling cluttered.

Follow me on a tour through Tina's place!

Tina painted the panelling in the front
hall blue, and used wallpaper on the
upper section of the wall. The wooden
sofa is a flee-market find.

A guardian angel greets visitors in the front hall.

Bookshelves flank the walls in the dining room.
The curtains, chairs and accessories pick up the
red from the wallpaper in the adjacent living room.
Bright green curtains in the guest room/office. 
Tina used the chimney stack from the downstairs living room and added a stove in her second floor master bedroom. The exposed brick adds warmth to the white walls.

The blue-and-white master bedroom.

The sun-drenched wooden deck outside the house provides privacy and is protected from the wind. The big pots house lemon and orange trees, olives, bay leaf, strawberries, lavender and lots of other plants that give it a Mediterranean touch.

One of several sitting areas in the lush gardens.
When Tina bought the place, this area was a
field of weeds. But looking carefully, she could
see the remains of a once carefully laid-out garden
which she has since restored. 

Welcome! The home, located in a small
community 200 kms south of Stockholm,
Sweden, was built in the 1920s and has a
soft yellow, stuccoed façade.
Tina, soaking up the sun
on her wooden deck.