Design & Decor Blog

shopping event at west elm

Last night we hosted a shopping event at West Elm in Toronto’s Liberty Village and it was a huge success! So many fabulous people came out for an evening of shopping, music, cocktails and eats {you guys went nuts for the frites!}.

If you happened to see a tall blonde dressed all in black, sneakily snapping pictures of people when they weren’t looking, well, that was me. I’m so glad I got to meet and chat with some of you, and it was great to speak face-to-face with people that I chat to on Twitter and Facebook.

Below are a few of the snaps I took during the event — can’t wait for the next one!

west elm magazine shopping event at west elm

One of the bar areas at West Elm {thanks to all employees for their hard work!}

west elm christine shopping event at west elm

The dreamy bedroom space set up by design editor Christine Hanlon

west elm shoppers shopping event at west elm

Some of the lovely guests at the event

west elm snowglobe shopping event at west elm

Had to sneak this in -- I love this little buddy!

west elm margot shopping event at west elm

Senior design editor Margot Austin tidying up the living room space she created {she also gets my vote for best-dressed of the night!}

west elm overall shopping event at west elm

All the pretty party people

west elm tabletop shopping event at west elm

So beautiful -- a place setting on the wintry white tabletop that editor-in-chief Erin McLaughlin styled

west elm margot sam shopping event at west elm

Two of our faves -- Margot and Pure Design darling Samantha Pynn

west elm line shopping event at west elm

The line-up that wrapped around the store -- we love you dedicated shoppers for waiting in that crazy queue!

west elm editors shopping event at west elm

Fab five -- managing editor Tamara Robbins-Griffith, senior design editor Margot Austin, design editor Christine Hanlon, editor-in-chief Erin McLaughlin and contributing design editor Samantha Pynn

Thanks again to all who came out and to the fantastic staff at West Elm for all their hard work. Hope to see you again soon!


erin mclaughlin at elte

elte event1 erin mclaughlin at elte
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! On December 7th, Style at Home Editor in Chief Erin McLaughlin will be hosting a design talk at Elte, one of our favourite stores in Toronto.

Come by at 6:30 pm for the reception, then join in for a discussion about decorating and design with Erin and your other fave Style at Home editors at 7 pm.

Here’s where it gets really good — during the event, everyone will get 30% off accessories at Elte, plus, one lucky guest will receive a $2000 Elte gift card and personal shopping experience with a Style at Home editor! I’m going to be honest, I’m a little mad I can’t win this myself.

Telephone {416} 785-7885 ex. 783 OR e-mail

Look forward to seeing you there!



encaustic art

encaustic art encaustic art
While redecorating my condo, there were many things to decide upon: Colours, furniture, fabrics and finishes. But the decision I most struggled with was what to hang on my walls. I’m a big believer in the notion that the art you hang on your walls should have some kind of personal meaning or at the very least, that it’s something you absolutely love. Unimpressed with the stock art I was finding, I was thrilled when my designer Lisa Canning suggested we create a large scale piece of encaustic art, using a photo from my personal collection. Artist Becky Simpson from RLS Studios took my photograph, blew it up, mounted it on a canvas and gave it a hot wax treatment to turn it into a truly eye-catching and personal statement piece to hang on my wall.

I loved the result (pictured above) and was curious to learn more about the process. Here, Becky shares her technique:

Encaustic painting is actually the term used for painting with hot wax. It’s an old technique dating back to as early as the ancient Egyptians, who used melted beeswax to do mummy portraits. The wax is usually applied to wood or any other surface that can handle the weight of multiple wax layers. The beauty of this medium is that it can be scraped, carved and molded, as it creates such amazing texture. Different colours of wax are obtained by adding pigment powders, or oil paint to individual tins of heated wax. Most commonly today, the types of wax used are clear micro crystalline or beeswax (which tends to be more yellow in colour).

I became interested in this technique when I was at an art show about two years ago, when I saw a few encaustic pieces for the first time. I was immediately drawn to the texture and the medium and became very curious about how to create this myself. Up until then, I had really only enjoyed oil painting. I did a bit of research online and found an encaustic night class at the Toronto School of Art, which I enrolled in for a semester. After the 13-week course, I was hooked and decided to do encaustic paintings on my own in my apartment. I was fortunate enough to have the space to spread out my materials as it can be messy and cumbersome once you get into the groove of things.

I’m obsessed with taking photos and never leave home without my camera; I find I’m very inspired by the colours and scenery of nature. Most pieces I have done reflect these inspirations, especially from trips over the years to the Caribbean and the East Coast. One of my favourite places is by the ocean and find that I am very inspired the rich colours of teals and cobalt blues. I’ve also taken an interest in painting poppies and other flowers, inspired from my mom’s love of flowers and gardening. Aside from the water and flower pieces, which I usually paint freehand, transferring images into the wax is also another cool encaustic technique. This approach is great for using your favourite photos, illustrations, or any image that you want to give a bit of character to. One of my favourite image transfer pieces was a black & white 9×3 ft transfer I did for a friend of the Manhattan skyline. Having lived in NYC for a summer, this piece was fun to do because I could visualize myself standing on the shore of NJ, looking across the Hudson River to one of the most magnificent skylines in the world!

holiday cards: designs by val

Around my house, it’s beginning to look a lot like Chrisssssstmaaaaas. I’ve got the tree up, the lights on outside, and the table set with sparkling serveware. At the beginning of December, I like to spend one night writing out Christmas cards while listening to my favourite holiday tunes {The Pogues’ Fairytale of New York and Rum DMC’s Christmas Is, to be exact}.

This year, I’ve fallen in love with a collection of cards from Vancouver designer Valerie Lau. Her shop, Designs by Val, is an obsession of mine, but this Christmas has exceeded all my prior favourites. At $4.50 each or $18 for a box of eight, these are the unique kind of cards that will have recipients ooh-ing and aah-ing. Below are a few of my picks for this season, nestled amongst my home’s holiday cheer.

designs by val joy holiday cards: designs by val designs by val tweet holiday cards: designs by val designs by val gifts holiday cards: designs by val designs by val carol holiday cards: designs by val


traditional yule logs done untraditionally

I love a yule log but I can never get it right when I bake it myself. The cake is either too thick or too thin, and it always cracks when I roll it. To save myself the trouble and time, I buy my yule logs now and jazz them up a bit with some special touches.

Here are two of my favourite tricks:

Transform it! Cover each slice in roasted nuts, coconut or anything else you and your guests like. You can even set out bowls of toppings on the table and let your guests create something that’s truly their own. Be sure to have these favourites on hand: mini chocolate chips, almond slivers, pecans and white chocolate shavings. For the kids, try gummy worms – they’ll love pretending it’s a real log!

yule log traditional yule logs done untraditionally

Stack it! Buy two different yule logs. Milk chocolate and white chocolate are my favourites. Put one slice on a plate, cover the slice in whipped cream, sprinkle nuts on top and then layer on the second piece of cake. I like to create four alternating layers, but go as high as you like. Drizzle your favourite sauce over top and ta-dah! A vertical yule log!

Marla Kravice is the President of Baker Street.

shopping for a stove

whirlpool stove shopping for a stove

I’m still on the hunt for new appliances. I’ve decided on my fridge – a bottom mount refrigerator since I don’t use the freezer very much and it’s more important to me to have easy access to the refrigerator. Next up: Looking for a stove. I’m so excited to update my very old, very tired appliances, but I want to make sure I make the right choices to suit my lifestyle and of course, I want them to look fab in my kitchen.

Sophie Boudreau, product trainer from Whirlpool, helps to make the decision easier for me by answering some questions about my needs.

Q: I’ve never shopped for a stove before – what are some of the most important things I need to take into consideration?
Most ranges are 30” wide, therefore replacing an existing range is relatively easy. The first decision to make is: Do you want a freestanding range or a slide in range? Next, decide if you want a gas range or an electric range. Once those two decisions are made, you can decide on which features such as convection cooking, warming drawer, steam clean, suit your lifestyle.

Q: I admit, I don’t cook a whole lot but I love to bake. Is this an important factor?
Since you love to bake, I would recommend a range with convection. In our Whirlpool line-up, we have several models that have this great feature. Some of our models offer Time Savor Plus True Convection while others offer Time Savor convection (also known as fan convection).

Q: Is a convection oven important for me since I do a lot of baking?
Yes, convection cooking is great for baking. Our TimeSavor Plus True Convection Cooking System uses a rear fan and third heating element to circulate preheated air over, under and around food. It keeps oven temperatures consistent to provide uniform browning and even baking to bake the perfect cookies! Another great benefit to this feature is that it cooks food 30% faster on settings such as convection roast.

Q: Gas? Electric? What are the pros and cons?
There are pros and cons to both types. Some prefer a gas range because they can adjust from boil to simmer very quickly and depending on the cost of electricity where they live, a gas range can be less expensive to run in the long term. As for electric ranges, consumers who bake a lot seem to prefer the even heat distribution of an electric oven while others prefer the easy clean up of the electric cooktop. It really comes down to consumer preference.

Q: When it comes to style – what’s on-trend?
Stainless steel remains the trendiest finish followed by black and white. We are seeing a growing number of consumers who are considering built-in appliances such as a wall oven and cooktop, but of course this depends on the size of their kitchen.

featured blog: the brick house

brick house morgan featured blog: the brick house

Blog: The Brick House
Blogger: Morgan Satterfield (and ‘The Boy’)
Location: California

What do you do for a living?
Designer, writer, photographer, stylist, snuggler, jack-of-all trades blogger.

What’s your blog all about?
The blog centers on the continued renovation of our current home. We bought a small mid-century brick house in a retirement town and are attempting to take it from half-way house to all-the-way awesome. With readers, I guess I hope to bring what I get from other blogs — namely ideas, a chuckle, and maybe a little bit of voyeurism.

brick house dining featured blog: the brick house
If one song, movie, or soundtrack could sum up your life, what would it be?

Pretty obvious isn’t it? The Shining. Oh wait no, that’s not it.

Describe your home in 6 words or less.
Mighty Mighty.

What has been your fave post so far?
Probably my favorite post is always the one I just finished. I’m always happiest at the moment I post something — then I reread it later and cringe.

brick house fireplace featured blog: the brick house
What is the ‘$100 rule’?
It’s a rule originally developed by a thrifty friend that I co-opted. It states: do not spend over $100 on any ONE item. You’d be surprised by how well you can stick to it, but of course there are exceptions. Sometimes I will sell a bunch of furniture to raise funds to buy something big like a sofa. Or I tend to trade and barter furniture with folks as well.

What has been your fave shopping find under $50?
Hard to choose — most everything great I find is under $50. Seriously… like, so many amazing things. I once picked up a mint condition vintage George Nelson bubble lamp for $6. That was pretty amazing.

brick house den featured blog: the brick house
Where do you shop for items for your home?
Thrift stores, estate sales, vintage shops, Craigslist, and, of course, Ikea.

If you could pick one celebrity (or writer or whomever) as the demographic for your blog, who would it be?
I just asked The Boy and he said Jeffery Lewis (???). I say Doctor Who. I guess neither makes much sense.

brick house kitchen featured blog: the brick house

P.S. Interested in having your blog featured? E-mail us at

design book giveaway!

design book giveaway design book giveaway!
Our cookbook giveaway was such a success {you guys really love your beautiful books, huh?} that we’re now holding a contest for all you design freaks! Yup, we’re giving away 3 simply fabulous books that we know you will swoon over: Happy Chic Colors and Happy Chic Accessorizing by Jonathan Adler, and Farrow & Ball’s Living with Colour. These gorgeous hardcovers feature page-after-page of delicious design eye candy and colourful inspiration.

Here’s how to enter:

Jonathan Adler is the king of decorating with bold colours, and nobody does neutrals like Farrow & Ball, but we want to know how you decorate with colour. Leave a comment below letting us know your favourite hue for decorating your home {whether it’s a paint colour or one inspired by your favourite bloom}, and we’ll pick the best answer as the winner.

Good luck!



*This contest is now closed; winner of the books is Beth Ferguson  from Vancouver. Contest closes December 3rd, 2010 at 12pm EST. Open to all residents of Canada, except those in Quebec. Not open to any Transcontinental Media employees, their families, or any other persons with whom they reside.*

makeover monday: whimsical wallcovering

Finally! It’s been a couple of months since I spotted and drooled over a certain wallpaper from York Wallcoverings, and have since made it a must-have. Awhile ago, York introduced the Walt Disney Signature Collection, which is composed of designs inspired by Walt Disney. The papers are stunning and nothing like you’d imagine when you hear the name ‘Disney’ {i.e. they don’t have Goofy or Pluto splashed all over them}. Though it was hard to choose, I went with the Illuminata paper, which was inspired by the opening of ‘The Nutcracker Suite’ from the film Fantasia. You can check out all the patterns from the collection on the York Wallcoverings website, and buy from Crown Wallpaper & Fabrics {the Canadian retailer}.

wallpaper before makeover monday: whimsical wallcovering
I’m new to wallcoverings — after years of living in apartments — so I eased into it by doing a small wall in the entryway of my new home. I had a bunch of errands to run on Saturday {HomeSense and lunch with a friend, natch}, so Mick was actually the one to put it up. And he did a fabulous job, might I add — he was a wallpaper virgin and now he’s a pro! Below are a few after shots; I love how it blends in with all the holiday sparkle.

wallpaper after makeover monday: whimsical wallcovering wallpaper holidays makeover monday: whimsical wallcovering
So what do you think? All that’s left to do is paint the trim white {eugh, I hate you, builder’s paint}, add a pretty rug and find a showstopper mirror.



holiday deal: 20% off from modernemotive

The holidays are upon us and two of my favourite things about the season are sending Christmas cards and wrapping gifts. I’m super picky about my choice of cards and gift wrap, and nine times out of ten, I can’t find what I’m looking for at retail stores. Instead, I click through and order from the artisans themselves.
modernemotive 3 holiday deal: 20% off from modernemotive modernemotive 2 holiday deal: 20% off from modernemotive modernemotive 1 holiday deal: 20% off from modernemotive
One of my favourite Etsy sellers is Adele, a British designer living in Toronto, who has created a fabulous eco-friendly paper goods company called modernemotive. She has a very simple, modern style and I find myself buying cards, gift tags and notepads from her all the time. I adore her new line of holidays gift tags for this year {above}. The tags come with vellum envelopes and you can get a set of eight for only $8.50 US. And if you’re looking for some fun holiday gifts, Adele has also introduced her line of 2011 calendars and sassy notepads.

Since it’s the season for giving, from now until midnight on Thursday, November 25th, we’re offering a 20% discount on all products from the modernemotive store on Etsy. Just enter styleathome when it asks for a promotional code.

Happy holidays!


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