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